Saturday, March 31, 2007

Camp Alacca

I miss my hubby. Today I am in exile. A refugee. Hubby is at home packing and there is no way I can contact him. No cell phone service, no internet. Nothing in the way of communication that I normally take for granted. I have entered the world that my grandparents used to inhabit. Instead of instant communication at their fingertips, there is only what you have right here, right now. Right now I am sitting in a tiny room, probably only about ten feet square. A table lamp casts mellow light, but the corners of the room recede into shadow. My babies, my treasures sleep near me. Natta cuddles her blankie on her floor bed in the corner. Her pixie face has only just relaxed into sleep; her tousled hair still shows dampness from her recent bath. Seth looks like a little ball in the middle of the double bed. How I love them! It is for them I am here.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Pains Of Sleep

by : Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834)

Ere on my bed my limbs I lay,
It hath not been my use to pray
With moving lips or bended knees;
But silently, by slow degrees,
My spirit I to Love compose,
In humble trust mine eyelids close,
With reverential resignation,
No wish conceived, no thought expressed,
Only a sense of supplication;
A sense o'er all my soul impressed
That I am weak, yet not unblessed,
Since in me, round me, every where
Eternal strength and wisdom are.

But yester-night I prayed aloud
In anguish and in agony,
Up-starting from the fiendish crowd
Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me:
A lurid light, a trampling throng,
Sense of intolerable wrong,
And whom I scorned, those only strong!
Thirst of revenge, the powerless will
Still baffled, and yet burning still!
Desire with loathing strangely mixed
On wild or hateful objects fixed.
Fantastic passions! maddening brawl!
Deeds to be hid which were not hid,
Which all confused I could not know
Whether I suffered, or I did:
For all seemed guilt, remorse or woe,
My own or others still the same
Life-stifling fear, soul-stifling shame.

So two nights passed: the night's dismay
Saddened and stunned the coming day.
Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me
Distemper's worst calamity.
The third night, when my own loud scream
Had waked me from the fiendish dream,
O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild,
I wept as I had been a child;
And having thus by tears subdued
My anguish to a milder mood,
Such punishments, I said, were due
To natures deepliest stained with sin, -
For aye entempesting anew
The unfathomable hell within
The horror of their deeds to view,
To know and loathe, yet wish and do!
Such griefs with such men well agree,
But wherefore, wherefore fall on me?
To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love indeed.

The Enkindled Spring

by: D.H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930)

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Memoirs of a Nomad

Wanderer, Bedouin, Gypsy. This will be my 11th move in the past decade or so. I was thinking about it driving home today with the sky growing dark around me. My children sat ensconced in their car seats behind me; Mister slept and Curly watched her Fishy Show on DVD. In a way, my car feels more like home than many of the past houses I have inhabited. Since my third year of college when my parents gave me their 20-year-old Ford Fairmont, my car has been my refuge. In college it was the only place to get away from a tiny house filled with roommates to spend precious time with Jesus. I remember hours sitting in my car reading my Bible by flashlight or praying. It was to my car I fled when my dad battled cancer (and won). In my car I found solace in prayer after my grandma died. I ate many a meal in my car on my way to the Pullman church driving from Moscow. My dad still teases me about the time I tried to eat oatmeal in my car with disastrous results. Living in Pullman, I would drive up to the cemetery on the hill overlooking the town to pray and be with God. Each time I moved, as I struggled with strategies to cope, my car was a constant.

I know how the Patriarchs must have felt. In a land full of established cities with walls and stone houses, they lived in tents and followed their herds. God wanted His people to know that they were not supposed to become attached to the things on earth because their inheritance was a heavenly one. How they must have looked at the safety of those walled cities at times and been so tempted to want refuge there. Yet they did not.

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God...13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (NIV)

Oh God, let me live my life so that you are not ashamed to be called my God! In my heart I have complained about moving again. I have been so envious of those who have nice houses. Yet deep down, I know that this earth is not my home. How much better to look forward to a heavenly home where at last I can be secure, dwelling in splendor with my Lord! In the passage above, the most heart-wrenching verse is verse 15. If we long for those things here on earth, then we will receive the things for which we yearn, to the detriment of our eternal reward. How sad! How horribly, horribly sad, to be so satisfied with life here on earth that I don't even long for the things of God. Yet that is just what my flesh wants to do. I want to have a nice home here. It's not that I will never have a beautiful home, but that I never want a beautiful home to have me. I never want to be possessed by the lust for material things to the point where I care about them more than I care about my Heavenly Home.

I feel in my spirit that God is bringing me to a point where I am at home in Him. Once I learn this lesson that He is determined to teach me, I will be at peace in a tiny trailer or a beautiful mansion. And even if I never live in a beautiful house here on earth, even if I move 11 more times in the upcoming decade, I am secure in my Savior.

Tonight I pondered this as I found myself once again in my car. Like Abraham, I will obey and go, even though I don't like where I am going. Trusting God's plan for my life and my family brings a peace in my soul much deeper than the pleasure I would feel if I were moving into a dream house. To my flesh, the feeling is bitter, but under all that I know that I am obeying the One who created the earth and stars. When I remind myself of this, I am home.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Easter Goodies




Dear Diary,

My day so far has been splendid! I got to sleep in...well, sort of. Little Mister woke up at 4:30 so I snuggled him right in bed with me and went back to sleep. But hubby got up with Curly and they watched the Fishy Show (Finding Nemo) so I got to stay in bed till 8. After I fed the baby, I cleaned out the birdcage, which is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Then we got everybody dressed and drove out to Winchester Lake State Park, which is about 45 minutes south of us. We spent several hours exploring toddler-style, which means we threw rocks in the lake, threw pine cones in the lake, picked up sticks and threw them in the lake... THEN we found a BIG mud-puddle and threw rocks in THAT! But the wind blew, the sun shone and the pine trees smelled heavenly.

Although we had planned to have a picnic, we gave up on that idea and went to a cafe in Winchester instead. (Winchester, ID has a population of 308, according to the sign.) The cafe was in a little hole-in-the-wall storefront in the almost-deserted downtown section. The walls were wood paneling and the floor was waxed concrete. There were four vinyl booths, two tables and several bar stools along the counter. When we trooped in with my daughter chattering a mile a minute, the locals stared in surprise, but they soon accepted our presence and smiled at the cooing baby. We ordered French toast and while we were waiting we examined the row of tanned furs hanging for sale on the wall. Two beaver, two red fox, two coyotes and a badger hung by their noses, all well-tanned. I had to chuckle at the sudden picture I had of a city-bred environmentalist walking in here. Because hubby's dad used to trap, we discussed the art of good trapping for a while.

Back at home, the kids both took a nap, lulled to sleep by the long car ride. Hubby and I went downstairs, intending to do the same, but I got distracted by a new book, so instead of sleeping, I read it through. The book was "Nurtured by Love" by Suzuki, and it explains the philosophy behind the Suzuki Method of teaching music to young children. The book was recommended to me by Curly's soon-to-be violin teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now everyone is up again and we plan to go up to Wal-Mart to buy Curly a pet fish. She has watched her Fishy Show approximately 3,604 times, thus qualifying her to own her own live fish, tended by mommy, of course. Hubby and I could answer any trivia question involving Nemo and plan to open up our own line of merchandise (j/k).

All in all a wonderful Saturday with my family. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I am an evangelist after all

The most precious thing in the world happened today. I got to share the gospel with my two-year-old daughter for the first time. There will be many more times before she is ready to decide to accept the gift He offers her, but today was the first.

We were sitting at the table eating lunch. She chose noonels and corn and for once I humored her starchy food choices. I sat next to her, talking with her. I told her I love her. "Sing the I love you song, Mommy," she said.

So I sang "I love you a bushel and a peck" from Guys and Dolls. Repeating a few of the words, she requested it again and again. After about ten repetitions, she looked at me and commented, "That's a great song."

My mouth twitching, I launched into "Jesus Loves Me". Then I sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children". She asked for repeats on both then sat and thought about the words for a while. I spooned corn into her mouth.

"Mommy, Jesus loves the children."

"Yep," I said. "You are a child and Jesus loves you."

"Jesus loves Nally."

"Yes, He does, very much, just like I love you and take good care of you."

She repeated, "Mommy takes good care of you." I sang "Jesus Died for all the Children". Again, she repeated, "Jesus died Children."

"Jesus loves you and died for you," I said. He died to take away the bad girl things and help you be a good girl. Jesus wants you to be a good girl and He shed his blood to make your heart clean so you can be a good girl."

"Yep," she said. "Want a noonel, Mommy?"

"Sure," I said. I accepted the proffered noonel, wondering if the words had floated past her ears into oblivion.

Several minutes later as we munched noonels, she piped up out of the blue, "Jesus makes good girl." Oh Little Curly Miss, how the wisdom of the ages is revealed unto babes like you. How many theologians have wrestled with that concept for millennia?

I smiled at her. "Yep," I said.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Playing!



The Perfect Church

During the past year we have visited at least ten evangelical/pentecostal churches in this area, both in the Valley and one up in Moscow. I think the thing that strikes me the most is the similarity between them. I don't think I am just being cynical, but here are my impressions of a standard service:

We walk in the front door and are immediately "greeted" by the designated greeter or the Pastor's wife. They usually stand right in our paths and try to make small-talk. Having done this job before, I know they don't even see us or care about us. They're just doing a "good deed" for the Lord. Their eyes and voices hold no sincerity. One church even gave a sucker to Curly without asking me, much to my disgust as we spent the rest of the service trying not to get stickies on anything.

We make our way to the Nursery where Curly may or may not stay with the strangers there. Most nurseries have some sort of security system where you are assigned a number. We were #247 at the most recent service. As long as I had my magic number 247 I could collect my child at the end of the service.

In the sanctuary, people who know each other chat. A few people say hi to us. Oddly, down here in the Valley a lot of people know my parents and they greet me because they recognize me from when I was little. I remember some, although they look 20 years older. Some I do not remember and have to fake it so as not to offend them.

The service starts. These churches would be highly offended if you suggested to them that they have a liturgy, but they do and it is all the same. They might as well read it out of a published prayer book. We have clever opening comments by a pastor then the several Passion-style worship songs by a too-loud rock band. The words are always projected on a PowerPoint with a pretty background and the songs belong on a professional concert CD because they are completely unsingable by the average worshiper. A few people raise hands but most kind of mouth the words and wait for it to be over. Then an offering is collected and the pastor begins a sermon, accompanied by prepared PowerPoint slides. He runs through his three or four points, adds witty stories as needed and ends with a quote from Spurgeon. Finishing with a scriptural blessing, he releases the congregation to go to their overdue lunch. The whole experience smacks of a social club, not a spiritual experience. The subject matter is God and Jesus and the Bible. They advertise their wonderful youth programs and their life groups (or cell groups or small groups). They make announcements of family swim parties.

I suppose there is no harm in these happy little feel-good, seeker-centered services. There are always a few nuggets to be gleaned from the fluffy sermons. The songs have nice words. But in my spirit, I know there is more.

I picture a church service in my mind:

We enter the meeting place, which isn't necessarily a fancy building that costs a lot of money. We're accepted as a brother and sister in the Lord and we chat with people we know. If it is our first time, someone with a name-tag helps us to find the nursery. They act friendly and helpful but they don't treat us like they're walking on eggshells so we'll like their church and become regular attenders thus boosting their church growth numbers. They're there to worship the Lord, not collect usher counts.

We settle into the service. The size of the building does not matter. The size of the congregation doesn't matter either. The congregation is encouraged to take some quiet time to enter the Presence of the Lord after all the bustle of getting ready to come here. Nobody is dressed any particular way and nobody is eying each other to see if the outfits they bought their kids are as nice as the ones Suzie bought. We take a few minutes to breathe and pray and quiet our spirits. We finish our conversations with cherished friends. In my perfect church, we'd start with the sermon or teaching. The pastor would remind us how great God is, teach us about Godly living. Practical stuff. Challenge us to be more like Jesus. Then we'd have worship. Maybe guitars and drums, maybe just piano, whatever. But we'd sing simple songs that glorify God. We'd praise Him for who He is and worship, welcoming the Holy Spirit into our midst as we corporately remember the greatness of the One we worship. The people don't worry about the possibility of a visitor being "weirded out". They simply come together and adore God. The visitor recognizes the Holy Spirit, tangible in the room, and he either responds with joy or hatred. Either way, he is changed. We are all changed. We don't care about the songs or the singing ability of the worship team or choir. We are focused on God. The leader leaves periods of quiet when our spirits can just be awash in His presence. There is a time of sharing where people give testimony to healings and ministry in the community. Instead of the pastor trying vainly to inspire the people to go do SOMETHING, ANYTHING out there in "your city", let the people who are doing God's work share about it. Let the foster parents share about the kids who were recently adopted from their care into a loving home. Let the prison minister share about the many conversions and the Bibles handed out. People present legitimate needs they know about, both for prayer and for financial support. If this isn't practical in the service, then the info is written in the bulletin.

Then the congregation is dismissed to go home. We didn't notice how long or short the service was, hopefully children aren't as cranky and hungry. We come away changed by the Presence of God, not smiling at the social club we are lucky enough to be a part of. We are determined to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to go out and be better Mothers and Fathers, to help our neighbors, to pray for the sick.

I know others who long for this kind of church also. Most Christians are fed up with hypocritical, shallow church. So why do we settle for it week after week? We are the hypocrites, allowing life to wash past us. We blame the pastor, but it is us. The pastor wants a spiritual service as much as we do. We long to touch the Spirit but so many times we go away unsatisfied. Lord, send your Fire. Wake us up!

Monday, March 19, 2007

The best week

There is one week out of the year when I love living in the LC Valley. The third week in March is that week. During that week Spring comes in full force. The weather goes from chilly at the beginning of the week to too hot at the end. But during this week it is perfect. Every flowering tree is in bloom. The ugly barren hills robe themselves in green. Mellow sunshine pours down from a sky dotted with fleecy clouds. Nowhere in Idaho do so many flowering trees and shrubs abound. Tulip trees, dogwoods, apple, cherry and flowering plum dot the landscape with pink and white. Lilacs burst forth. The last few days I've been taking the kids to the park almost every afternoon. Each day the grass grows greener and more flowers open. Like a gift, tulips appeared in my yard, between the leafing rosebushes. Forsythia grows everywhere, its flowers the color of sunshine. I am soaking up the springtime this week.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Another round on the emotional roller coaster

How do you rejoice in an answer to prayer that you didn't want to pray? We have an accepted offer on our house. We got the price we asked. I should be thanking God and instead I want to go crawl in the smallest hole I can find and cry. I want to call all of my girlfriends and go drink a big coffee and eat a decadent piece of chocolate cake and talk about anything other than the fact that I have to move back into that horrible trailer park. God, give me strength to get through the task you have set before me. Give me peace in order to be a support to my family. Help me to endure the comments of my parents and grandparents who don't want us to move back to Moscow. Jesus, I need you!

No-shows

I'm sitting here on my couch surrounded by a sparkling, kid-free, hubby-free house. We had an appointment to show it at 9:30, but the people have not shown up. Oh the joys... this has happened before. We rush around cleaning the house then we wait and....nothing. I wonder if people realize how rude they are when they do that?

Today we had two groups coming to look. The second party showed up, right on time. So our efforts were not wasted. Their comments were positive. Maybe I'll get an offer. Who knows? I am not going to let myself think about it yet. Selling a house by owner can be an emotional roller coaster for me if I let it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Grandma Doris

My grandmother actually skipped her St. Patrick's Day luncheon at her church to watch my daughter for me. I felt so blessed. I think this is the first time someone has actually gone out of their way to help us with our children in a long time. Usually I have to go out of my way to accommodate them. And it has been really hard finding sitters so we can work on our trailer. But Grandma Doris cheerfully told me that she enjoyed Curly and it would be more fun to play with her today than to go to her luncheon. Way cool! Not only do I get a sitter but I don't have to feel guilty for saddling them with a huge problem, which is how I usually feel when I ask for babysitting. But MORE FUN?? A two-year-old? Still, there was no mistaking the sincerity in her voice.

So Curly went to Grandma Doris's house. She loves it there. Grandma Doris takes her for little walks in the trees across the street. They swing on the garden swing and eat snacks from the little pull-out cutting board in the kitchen. They explore the "dark tunnel" under the raspberry bushes. They play with the toys in the toy cupboard.

Watching her with Grandma Doris brings back memories of my own childhood. Grandma's gentle patience and her unending creative ideas for things to do turned my own visits to her house into delightful adventures. Like Curly, I spent long hours sitting in the garden swing with Grandma Doris. The same toys in the same toy cupboard enticed me along with my cousins and my sister. We ate snacks in the kitchen set out on the cutting board, which was just our height.

As I got a little older, Grandma taught me how to do crafts and to sew. When Grandpa re-shingled the roof, we made birdhouses together out of the cast-off shingles. She taught me to use her sewing machine by making dolls' clothes for me. She has an entire bedroom dedicated to her projects, whether it is toll-painting an antique wooden cupboard or creating another sock doll for the newest grandchild, she always has something going.

I used to stand in her hallway for hours examining the photo board of the family that she hung there. A huge bulletin board covered with yellow-and-white checked fabric, the board is always crammed full of snapshots of family. From her own wedding photos in black-and-white in the center, the generations radiate outward. My aunts, uncles, parents, cousins... and me! Such a warm sense of belonging would always steal over me as I looked at my own picture snuggled in among all the others. My children now have their pictures on Grandma's hallway wall.

Of course like all family members, Grandma Doris has caused her share of frustrations. Her rural traditional viewpoint at times feels stifling as she shares her opinions freely. But watching her today with my daughter, I remembered all the wonderful times with Grandma Doris and frustration left me. Few people have such a genuine enjoyment of the company of a small child. Not many can sit for hours teaching small fingers to paint or watching without criticism as a young person sculpts with craft clay. I remember the feeling of acceptance I felt when I was with her, quietly doing a project together. She is one of those rare people who enjoys life and the people around her. She has a knack for creating beauty and drawing it out of others.

We picked Curly up in the mellow evening light of a spring sunset. Of course, Grandpa Dave wanted to know how our painting went today, so we stayed to chat for a few minutes. With delight, we reported that the painting is finally done and only the carpet and small projects remain. Curly entertained us with stories about her day. I'm sure Grandma, who is 80-something, will climb into her bed tonight in complete exhaustion. Heck, Curly wears me out and I am 1/3 her age. But as usual, Grandma did not complain, only talked about the enjoyable day they had spent together. I echo Curly Miss's sentiment when she said, "I yuv Gramma Do'is."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Knitters

God challenged me today, I think. He pulled me a little farther out of my comfort zone in the shallow end of life and into deeper water.

Talking to strangers has never been very high on my list of things I love to do. It may be my personality or it may be that my careful, introverted parents drilled into my head the idea that strangers were the enemy, to be shunned, avoided. Whatever the reason, I have never in my adult life approached people I don't know without fear, sometimes bordering on panic. In college, when we used to go door-to-door and invite people to our church's Easter play, I imagined that hell probably would be less torment. Yet, I love people and I wish I could be outgoing and friendly and unafraid. I watch those around me chat effortlessly and a longing fills me to do the same. So today, I congratulated myself on overcoming the fear once again.

I followed Hubby into Starbucks with the intention of nursing my fussy baby. Anyone who has ever nursed knows that only certain chairs lend themselves to nursing, especially when your 20-pound darling falls asleep into a warm squishy ball of dough during the process. But as I glanced around the shop, I noticed that the only chair with arms sat facing two ladies who were chummily knitting. They looked to be between 40 and 50. Each wore chic clothes and trendy hairstyles. As usual, I felt immediately frumpy; no, I felt intimidated. By these two ladies, these strangers who had never met me and thought nothing of me as they glanced up from their knitting at the chattering of my daughter.

But the chair beckoned me. The only chair with arms. I look around the shop again just to be sure. Hard wooden chairs flanked hard wooden tables, empty, except in the corner where the knitting ladies sat. Desperately I looked back at them. Afraid they would think I was staring, I looked away again. A knitter myself, I was curious about their projects. I knew from years of sour looks that by the time I figured out what they were making with my poor eyesight, I'd be given the evil eye for rudely staring. I don't mean to stare. I just can't see people without looking for a while. I stared at the chair instead.

Resolutely, I made up my mind. I needed the chair. With timidity I approached the imaginary circle that two people engaged in conversation draw about themselves. Swallowing, I invaded it. As they glanced up, I smiled and asked if they minded me using the chair. Instead of shooting barbs of eye contact at me, they looked at my baby. Whew. Sure, they said. Go right ahead.

Seth and I arranged ourselves in Mommy-milk Dispensing Position while the knitting ladies resumed their conversation. Their circle still existed, but I was uncomfortably inside of it. I listened quietly for a while to talk of people I did not know and work situations I could not relate to. How I wished their intimate discourse included me. I longed to have the gift that comes so naturally to others to enter into a conversation and contribute, to enrich. People who don't know me very well call me quiet. How could they know that inside I am screaming to be free to express, to share, to be included, to give and to listen?

My daughter saved me. She barged into the imaginary circle with brash two-year-old innocence, shattering it like broken glass. She wanted the small pink yarn-marker sitting on the table. She eyed their Rice Krispie treat. Smiling, the ladies began asking me questions. How old is she? Wow, she talks so well. What is her name? Natalie? Oh how pretty. I sighed an inward thankful breath of relief as the conversation turned to babies, naturally including me. I found it easy now to chat, to smile and tell little cute stories or to listen, making contact with eyes I was now close enough to see. The encounter did not last long, maybe twenty minutes, but in that time two ladies went from being frightening strangers to almost friends as they invited me to bring some knitting next week at the same time.

As hubby pushed the stroller through the dark toward home, I reflected that I was glad after all that Starbucks did not have another armchair.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Of Banana Bread and Babysitters

The smell wafted through the house. Freshly baking banana bread. I had pulled two brown bananas out of the freezer at ten last night and began concocting one of Hubby's favorite treats.

Ten o'clock is when Natta finally got to bed. Hubby and I went to see "Bridge to Terabithia" together. We hired Natta's favorite babysitter, T. She is 14 and does a wonderful job. Natta was thrilled to get to play with her. They ate pizzas and watched the Fishy Show. I was a little concerned since Natta wouldn't stay with K the other day, but Natta did great. Not a fuss. I cannot figure that kid out.

So we got our night out. Baby Seth came with us, of course. He likes movies. He gets to sit in the dark and nurse for two hours. And when he does come up for air, there are fun bright lights to look at. We loved the movie. We'd both read the book and knew the story. I thought they did a great job adapting it to the screen. Hubby and I both wished we'd known each other growing up so we could have been friends like Jess and Leslie were. We both could really relate to feeling like an outcast in school like those kids.

After the show, we stopped by Starbucks. This town has such a hopping night life that Starbucks now closes at 8:30 because they don't have enough business. Sigh. I miss Moscow. The coffee shops there play live Jazz or Celtic at night rather than closing. Anyway, we got there at 8:45. The baristas had forgotten to lock the door so we went in. C, a friend of my sister's was working that night and he went ahead and made us a coffee anyway. Sipping a shared vanilla latte, we drove home to a happy child and a tidy house. T does a great job babysitting. Natta and I drove her home then came back to do Bath and Bottle works.

At last she was tucked in bed with her CD of lullabies. On impulse, I pulled out the Bisquick and frozen bananas and started the oven. I like making banana bread because it is so easy. Hubby was playing on the computer and holding the baby, but as the smell began to fill the house he reappeared. He checked the timer and sighed. Then he went back downstairs. When the bread was done, I cut him a couple of pieces and topped them with vanilla ice cream and fresh banana slices. Normally I add warm caramel sauce and nuts but we were out. I took it down to him and surprised him with it.

A simple evening, filled with the warm scent of baking banana bread. The love of my family and the good memories of tonight will probably always come back to me with that smell.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Popcorn Lover

This is Curly's popcorn bowl. She holds it while the popcorn is popping in the microwave.

Curly is 28 months. Her favorite movie is Finding Nemo. She loves to go to the park and can slide down the slide and land on her feet.


Messy House, Happy Mama

"A man would prefer to come home to an unmade bed and a happy woman than to a neatly made bed and an angry woman." ~Marlene Dietrich.

How is it that I never have enough energy to get my house clean? Or willpower? When I used to work full time I had an excuse, but now...no excuse. Is it just that I would rather spend time chatting and blogging on the computer with my friends than do housework? Of course, that must be it! But if all I did was housework all day I am pretty sure I'd go stark-raving mad. So I sit here surrounded by toys with the beds unmade and the sink piled high with dishes. The house is quiet; the kids are sleeping. And I am happily blogging and chatting.

But then I feel guilty. Hubby is so nice that he'll do the dishes when he gets home. Then I feel REALLY guilty. He just put in a long 11-hour day away from home. He had to get up at 5:45. He should NOT have to come home and do the dishes. So I'll tear myself away from the computer. I have an idea. I'll turn on my new iPod while I do the dishes. :)

Friends

I don't have a long, profound post to write today. But I was thinking about my friends and how much I love them. I am so grateful for all of the good friends I have. They are certainly a diverse bunch. Some are single, some are married, some have kids. I have been friends with some for over ten years! That is pretty cool. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up and I was really lonely. I think the biggest lesson that has taught me is to never take my friends for granted. I have a hard time getting close to people so making new friends is really tough. For that reason, I cherish the friends I do have, even the ones who live far away or the ones who are really busy that I don't see very often. So for all my friends who read this blog, thank you for being my friend. I appreciate you!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Roly-Poly

First Rice Cereal Feb 21! Mister thought it tasted a bit strange, but he went with it. He has been smiling all the time lately and talking to us. I am pretty sure he says "Hi" on purpose now. He still doesn't really try to roll over, but he gets fussy so soon after I lay him down that he doesn't get a chance. I hope he'll want to play and wiggle more pretty soon.

Mister had his checkup and shots two weeks ago. He weighs 17 lbs. 10 oz. which is the 95th percentile! He's a roly-poly for sure. :)






Mister is 4 1/2 months old. He has rolled over once from tummy to back but hasn't repeated the feat. He mostly just likes to be held. I was worried for a while about his lack of eye contact but he has resolved that and will now look right at people or follow them across the room.

The Highwayman

The Highwayman
Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)


Loreena McKennitt sings "The Highwayman"
From Book of Secrets

PART ONE

I


THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
          Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

II


He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
          His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

III


Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shuters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
          Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

IV


And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
          The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

V


"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
          Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."




VI


He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
          (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.



PART TWO

I


He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
          Marching—marching—
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

II


They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
          And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

III


They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
          She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
          Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

IV


She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
          Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

V


The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
          Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain .

VI


Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
          Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

VII


Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
          Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

VIII


He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
          The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

IX


Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
          Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

* * * * * *

X


And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
          Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

XI


Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
          Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Artistic Endeavors

Hubby is usually the one to go to work. He pulls himself out of his bed every weekday morning at oh-dark-thirty and heads up the hill for a nine hour day. Well, today was my turn! Yes! For the first time in four months I had a whole day with no children. Hubby stayed home with written instructions, the Fishy Show and frozen Mommy-milk. I escaped. I had planned to imitate the oh-dark-thirty thing, but it did not happen. After nighttime interruptions, I decided a sleep-in day would not hurt my escape plans at all. So it was more like nine when I finally left, but it was still glorious! No matter that I was headed up to Moscow for still more painting instead of something a little more fun. I felt as free as a bird.

My mission: the kids' room. In planning out the paint colors for the house, I had decided to use a can of paint I already had on hand. A lovely sky-blue color, it begged to have some clouds sponge-painted onto it. So I did. Of course once you have a blue sky with puffy white clouds, you need to have some green hills, right? So the kids' room has become a mural. Natta is going to love it. Rolling green hills circle the room. Purple wildflowers grow in the corner. A red barn sits on the front of the closet door.

Happily I painted all day long. I set the iPod to my favorite playlist and let it run. The joy of creativity coursed through me. I found myself praying and worshiping. I had not had that much time alone with Jesus for a LONG time.

Reluctantly at seven, I washed my brushes. I still had an hour's drive through the dark. My still-healing body ached with fatigue. But my soul felt renewed. I drove home with a smile on my face and a song on my lips.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 30th birthday!! Very cool. I hope the decade of the 30's is a good one.

This morning I fogged my way upstairs when Natta woke up. As I stumbled through the kitchen a big stack of presents on the kitchen table confronted me! WOOOOOO! I knew right away they were from my parents, not only by the handwriting on the card, but by mom's wrapping style. My day suddenly felt birthday-ish.

But first things first. Natta was beginning to feel abandoned and started to scream. I hurried in and did our morning routine of diaper and bottle. She followed me, wandering into the kitchen.

"Oh wow!" she said, "lots of presents!"

"Yeah, it's Mommy's birthday today." Oh joy. I had someone to share my birthday with. I would not have to wait a long day for hubby to return from work. I felt like a little kid again.

"Mommy's birtday." She repeated.

"Let's open them," I suggested, carrying the pile to the couch.

"Okay."

I excitedly tore into the first card. I guessed what was in the little square box. Still, habit was stronger than anticipation and I dutifully read the card first. My mother had continued her tradition of choosing a perfect, special card. Smiling, I reached for the box.

"Open this one, Mommy," Natta pointed to the biggest box.

"How about this one first?" I pointed to the small square pink box.

"Okay! Yeah." She leaned on my knee to watch. I undid the wrapping, expecting her interest to follow the paper and bows to the floor like it had at Christmas. Not so now. My baby is growing up. She now knows to look for the goodies inside the box. We opened it and she couldn't resist any longer. Her little hands lifted the tissue paper out.

WWWOOOOOOO! An iPod Nano! Oh wow! It did not matter that Natta's little hands claimed it immediately. She knows all about iPods. Hubby has a big fancy one and her favorite little treat with it is to watch the music video to Weird Al's "White and Nerdy". She held my new little iPod in her small hands. My sister had received an iPod Nano for Christmas and I had been drooling over it in secret ever since. I had asked for one for my birthday. I wasn't sure it would happen though.

We went on to the next card and gift. A beautiful card about sisters and a case for the iPod emerged. My sister and I match now. I couldn't wait to get it all set up.

"Open this one, Mommy." The biggest gift still claimed my daughter's attention. It was a square garment box almost half her height.

"How about this one?" Purple paper revealed some cute striped socks. I am a sucker for socks. My mother knows this. Only the other day I had to tear myself away from a clearance cart at WalMart full of socks. I was there to buy clothes for the kids, but those socks.... And now I have two new pairs with darling stripes on them.

"Oh, socks," my daughter commented unnecessarily and threw them on the floor. "Open THIS one." That big box was just too tempting. Mommy gave in. We pulled out the big box. Inside, we found a beautiful green jacket. I was already looking forward to trying it on. The suspense over, Natta rushed on to the next present. A blue one. This one had a shirt box inside that happened to have silver shiny stars all over it. Natta was immediately captivated. This was way better than the iPod.

"It's got stars on't," she exclaimed joyfully. "Look, mommy! It's pretty sparky." She tipped it this way and that, admiring the way the light bounced off the silver stars. I smiled. My baby was still there. Under the sparky lid was a new shirt set. Oh goody! I had gotten only one new shirt in the past year. My clothing budget went almost entirely to two small babies who outgrew their clothes as soon as they were put on. Now I would have a nice new shirt to wear when we went out. Natta hardly gave it a second glance, but instead went back to the iPod.

"Mommy, open't?" She shook the case.

"Later," I promised.

She and I looked at the tumbled litter of wrapping paper on the floor. One of the cards had shiny pictures of birthday items on it and Natta claimed that one. Like a raccoon, she loves shiny objects. She gathered up the card, the star-covered lid and the iPod. I wondered if she'd carry them away, but she seemed to know they belonged to me.

"It's got a present an' a birtday cake an' all kinsa stuff." This referred to the card.

"Yep. It's so pretty."

"Mommy's Birtday," she said. I could not have had a more sincere Happy Birthday from anyone.

My adorable daughter did something else this morning that absolutely cracked me up. We have a large grate in the floor of the living room that serves as the air intake for the furnace. It's holes are just too tempting for small fingers to poke objects down and Natta has gotten in trouble repeatedly for stuffing things down there. Well, this morning I glanced over to see her squatting by the grate, fruit snacks in hand, poking a fruit snack in. "Natta!" I barked. She jumped about three feet and started to cry. She knew she'd been caught in the very act. Then, tears streaming, she handed her security blanket to me. (We take it away when she's in trouble.) I melted. Repentance was written all over her little features. I took the blanket and asked if she'd be a good girl and not stuff her fruit snacks in the heater. She nodded through her tears. My mouth was twitching as I fought the urge to break into hysterical laughter. I handed her blankie back and she cuddled it close, her brown eyes huge. Oh, these moments are precious.

Now I am sitting on the couch surrounded by birthday. The Fishy Show playing in the background, I enjoy a few minutes of tranquility before my son wakes up and wants to nurse. I feel so blessed to have a mother who sees that a grown daughter needs a birthday too. I make a mental note to give Natta a big stack of presents on her 30th birthday.

Insert Interesting Title Here

Well, the kids and I went back up to Moscow today to paint some more. I am really not sure I want to get this painting project done...I so do not want to move back into that little icky trailer. Natta was good and took a nap. Seth fussed for quite a while then he too slept. I painted...and painted...and painted. I was doing the edges so it seemed like nothing was getting done. Still, when I stepped back to look at it, it's getting done, slowly but surely. It certainly looks better to have lovely creamy paint instead of cheapy dark paneling. Then we'll get the carpet installed and things will really look nice. Now I am running a nice hot bath to soak my tired bones.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Just like Caillou

As I was sitting on the couch this morning, I was listening in on Natta's cartoon viewing, like I do every day. Caillou (Kai-you), the four-year-old who lives in Canada with his mommy and daddy and little sister, discovered that spring was coming. I snuggled down on the couch, thinking happily that spring was coming here too. Then the bombshell came.

"Why don't you put your winter coat away," Caillou's mommy said.

"No! I don't want to!" Caillou responded. "I want to play outside some more."

Instead of insisting, his mommy said nothing and later in the show Caillou's daddy talked him into putting his heavy winter coat away in favor of a light spring jacket.

After this exchange, I knew there would be big trouble in little China. Natalie adores Caillou. Every show has him doing fun, interesting things that she can relate to. His mommy and daddy are always ready to play with him and he has lots of friends. She tries to imitate him as much as possible, even wanting a toy dinosaur like Caillou has.

There is a problem with this thinking. For one thing Caillou is four and is able to be a lot more independent than my headstrong two-year-old. For another, Caillou's cartoon world is extraordinarily safe. Not hot stoves to burn hands or cars roaring down a busy street. His mommy gets up cheerily at seven in the morning, filled with boundless energy and ready for the day. Her patience is unlimited. His daddy seems to always be around ready to play or to have Caillou's help on his projects.

Sure enough, not an hour later, the inevitable happened. Since we'd played out in the sunshine yesterday, Natta was eagerly looking forward to doing it again today. We got dressed and ventured out of doors, only to find the weather turning off. The sun slid behind the clouds and a breeze picked up. Rain threatened. I warned that we might have to play indoors today.

"No! I don't want to!" My child parroted. "I want to stay outside with my chalk."

"You may stay out for one more minute," I compromised, wishing Caillou had never been invented.

One minute later... "Time to come in. We'll play outside later when the sun comes out."

"No! I don't want to!" Heck, it worked for Caillou. But my lovely child found that it did NOT work with mommy. She found herself in a nice, tidy time-out in her bed instead. She kicked and screamed and threw a huge fit, something that Caillou never does.

We ended up in conflict all morning as Natalie decided she was in charge, just like Caillou. She even began bossing me around the kitchen as I fixed lunch. This got me thinking.

How do you handle outside influences on your children that run contrary to your own values? Not only Caillou, but all of the cartoons on PBS that she loves have a very different value system than what I would like to instill in her. Since Caillou is so family-oriented, it seemed to be one of the better ones. The Big, Big World teaches evolution, universalism, and earth-worship. Dragon-tales uses magic.

My parents' solution with me was to simply not have a TV. This certainly is a tempting option. But living in a bubble isn't possible in our society and to be socially isolated turns out to be a huge disadvantage in the long run. I will not be able to shield my child from everything I don't like for the rest of her life and turn her into a little automaton of what I want her to be.

How instead do I teach her to filter out all of the voices coming at her from every side? How do I instill in her a sense of what is truly important and what is expected of her? How do I show her that the love of Jesus is more precious than the approval of man or the appreciation of self? How do I teach her to be obedient without breaking her personality? I know these are questions that all parents ask themselves. My only answer to myself is to pray for wisdom and handle each situation as it comes.

For today I sat down after time-out and had a long talk with my daughter. As well as I could in two-year-old terms, I explained that she needed to obey mommy. Even Caillou eventually put his coat away. I tried to explain that Caillou is older than she and was able to do more things that she would be able to do when she was four. I remembered to tell her how much I loved her and how it made me happy when she was good. She agreed with each of these sentiments, probably so I would let her get up.

Later, I would hear again, "No! I don't want to!" and would need to confront rebellion yet again. God, give me strength. Give me patience. Give me wisdom to know how to pick my battles. Most of all, give me the ability to convey to this little precious person how much I love her and how much You love her. Help me to set secure boundaries around her to keep her safe and to teach her how to be a God-fearing person who will someday embrace a personal relationship with You.

Maybe for a while we'll watch KSPS. They don't run Caillou.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Time of the Turtledoves

Song of Solomon 2:10 My beloved spoke, and said to me: "Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. 11 For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. 12 The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!

Spring is here! The sun is shining, the air is almost 60 degrees. I have my front door open and the fresh air is wafting in, with patches of sunshine spilling onto the carpet. Natalie and I burst outside like butterflies out of a cocoon today. I gave her the sidewalk chalk to play with. She can't quite get the words right so she calls it "high white chalk". She busied herself drawing happy faces for ten minutes, then that got boring. So she began taking toys outside. "Mommy, can I take this outside?" I worried that she'd transfer the entire contents of the playroom to the front yard, but she stopped. Whew!

I set up her little play tent. Busy as a little bee, she put the toys in there and set up housekeeping. Then we had a picnic lunch on the front step. This was a novelty and she looked so solemn sitting up straight on the step with her little plate in her lap, I just had to laugh. We ate "noonels" and "brockie". She gets to be better company every day. She was having so much fun, I hated to make her go take a nap. But she was beginning to fall apart and I knew sleep was the cure. She lost her chalk under the porch and you would have thought the world was at an end. So I sent her off to bed. Mean ol' mommy. When she gets up, her tent, toys and chalk will be waiting for her.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I'd still like to have a career. To this day I wonder why I taught school in the public school system. I never wanted to do that. I look back on my rationale for going the direction that I did and it ran something like this:

Growing up I wanted to be a guide dog trainer. For years I wanted that. So I wrote letters to guide dog schools asking what to do. They said a degree in education is desired. As I looked at degrees in education, I decided that music was my favorite subject so I began to pursue Music Education. Much to the dismay of my father, I might add, who taught school for a year, hated it, and was convinced I'd do the same.

So, I earned my degree and did my student teaching. I remember thinking "This is NOT what I want to do" as I sat in Proseminar class. I felt as if the music education department was a large machine churning out clones of public school music teachers and I was caught in the flow and directed to the same outcome as everyone else. After graduation, I followed the course of least resistance and got a public school teacher's position. I hated it. I am sure my dad thought I was trapped in some cosmic generational curse at the time. Since I am the most stubborn person I know, I didn't settle for one year of misery but immediately found another position, this one full-time and did it again. I still hated it. Only this time I got caught in the meat grinder of school politics and by the time I got spit out the other end my health was poor and I had a fiancee.

Then came marriage. Talk about a life-changer. Now I had two careers to worry about: his and mine. I dropped out of the rat race and went to work at a sales-clerk job. When this was too much for my poor health, I became a secretary. Although I loved the work, this was interrupted by two miserable pregnancies and two beautiful babies. Now I am a stay-at-home mom and as far from a career as I could possibly get.

Now I have all day to sit here and think. Some women are happy being moms and have no other ambition. That's fine if that is what you want. I want more. I want to be challenged, to contribute, to think and to have an identity beyond dishes and vacuuming.

I have learned a lot about myself in the past seven years. But what do I really want to do? I think back to my lifelong dream of guide dogs. From where I sit on the couch in rural Washington, it looks about as far away as the moon. First of all, my family would have to move to a city where there is a training school. Then I'd have to get into the apprenticeship program and be hired. I have little qualification to even do that as I have never officially trained dogs. Once hired, I would need to be healthy and fit enough to stand the grueling work of training dogs and walking all day. I'm not sure I ever will be. Every time I have hopes that I am going to be able to exercise and get into shape, something sets me back.

Is this dream really impossible? If it is, what else should I do? I have considered so many options, my head spins sometimes. Church work, more teaching, more music, even new directions like Pharmacy. I see people around me and loved ones fight to do what they love. I see others settle for a job and just resign themselves to it. I have a family to consider. I have a husband who thinks about the future even more than I do. If I could take him and hand him a little bookstore and coffee shop to run with access to his guitar all day, he'd be happy. I wish I could do that. I'd gladly become a Pharmacist (which sounds like Purgatory) in order to have him so happy and fulfilled. Is that what I should do? Am I really strong enough to do it?

I believe God has a perfect plan for each of us. The problem is that I don't believe we always hit it exactly or that we always like it as much as we should. Right now the "hitting it" is my trouble. I don't expect God to boom from the sky "This is what to do". So how am I to find the way? I guess I could sit around and wait for something to drop in my lap. But I could be sitting around with an empty lap for a very long time. On the other hand, I could go searching and run right past God's plan like Wile E. Coyote zooming past the Roadrunner.

This same dilemma exists in finding my niche within the church. I want to serve within the Body of Christ, but what do I do? It's easy to see the needs. Teach Sunday school. Isn't that what every mother is supposed to do? Sure. I can do it and do a good job. I've done it before and will assuredly do it again at some point. But I don't find it easy, fun, rewarding or fulfilling. Is all the talk within the church about finding your niche just empty talk?

So for now I am going to list my likes and talents and leave it there to dangle in cyberspace like a piece of music that ends on an unresolved chord. I hope when the ending gets written that it sounds good.

Things I like to do:

Help people
Teach people who want to learn, especially adults
Play music
Create graphic designs on the computer
Create textile art, such as banners
Solve Problems using creative ideas
Develop new techniques for doing things
Reading and Writing
Low-key, low-pressure performances
Having people around
Lots of variety
Being in control of my own agenda
Working independently

Things I am good at but don't enjoy:

Teaching small children
Bookkeeping
Administration
Tedious, repetitive tasks
Attention to detail
Working alone all day

Things I don't like or am no good at:

Teaching JH or high schoolers
Selling stuff
Physically demanding work
Work that involves interpersonal conflict
High pressure performances
Talking on the phone
Coordinating groups of people

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Natalie Dictionary

Tanny: A candle. An object to be removed from decorative use and put in the playroom.
Mee-yo-box: Mailbox. Holds "Nally's Mee-yo."
Gosses: Glasses. Items that indicate whether Mommy's awake or napping.
Double-Double: The letter W. Important letter in spelling the Wal-Mart Store.
Bai-nana: Banana. Preferred fruit for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Happies: Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal.
Potty treat: Junior Mints. Reward for doing the deed in the potty chair.
Nammidge: Jammies.
Nap: Security Blanket.
Washina-chine: Washing machine. Place Nap goes when it gets sketti sauce on't.
Kiya-egg: Quiet Egg. Since reading The Big Red Barn all eggs are quiet.
My Fishy Show: Finding Nemo. Our Netflix rentals are permanently stalled because we will never be able to return this one.
Nilk: Milk.
Seth's Cry-light: Baby monitor. Allows Mommy to eavesdrop on Daddy's telephone conversations.
Gramma Doh-is: Grandma Doris. Playmate and provider of snacks.
Dark Tunnel: The adventurous path under Doh-is' raspberries.
All kindsa stuff/Must be SOMEwhere: Phrases copied from mommy's constant use.
Seth's Bee-bee Gin: Baby Gym. Place where Natta can pretend that she too is 4 months old.
Twinkle shoes: tennis shoes that blink.
Nally's awake: Useful phrase for almost any situation, including discipline.
Heigh-ho, ready to go: New words to the "Farmer in the Dell".
Tids: Kids. Mommy loves her Tids.
Tiss: Kiss. Tiss it better?
Pridge: Fridge. Place to put the nilk when lunch is over.
Proot Snacks: Fruit Snacks. There ought to be a never-ending supply.
Go tha store an git more?: What to do when the Proot Snacks are gone.
Icky Bug: Any member of the insect population or imagined member thereof.
Nally's all fine: When the icky bugs are gone.

Auxiliary People

I've wanted to do a post on these guys for a while now. Hubby made them up, but they're so funny they certainly deserve mentioning in my blog. Auxiliary People are the little guys who live in your body and run all the different functions. They have offices, desks, communication systems. They scurry around doing their jobs running your body and brain. The brain ones like to take breaks. You know when you go into another room to get something and when you get there you forgot what it was you wanted? Your Auxiliary Person took an unannounced coffee break. The ones in charge of hubby's listening comprehension are really lazy bums. They put the second-string crew on duty all the time and those guys are awful at getting the message through. Hubby says he will punish them by sending them to do intestine duty for a week, but is doesn't seem to help because when I talk to him, those guys are still loafing.

I have some very disgruntled Auxiliary People in my right big toenail right now. I hurt it six weeks ago and now it has turned entirely black and it on its way to falling off. The Auxiliary People who are in charge of growing that particular toenail have found themselves laid off indefinitely. They laze around collecting unemployment and reading Dilbert comics, laughing at those poor chumps on the other toes who still have work to do.

I think the Auxiliary People running my stomach right now are both female and hormonal. At least they demand chocolate on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, I've had to order supplemental crews on fat storage detail because the Auxiliary People there were overworked. It's all the fault of those chocolate-loving stomach people. They simply are not happy when I don't eat enough chocolate. Their morale drops; they form unions and protest with marches and signs painted in fluorescent colors. They picket. They whine. So I give in, feed them chocolate and the fat-storage people go on overtime.

My most productive crew to date has been the baby alert crew. Those little guys are a lean, mean, communication machine. The people stationed in my ears can get the message through to the crew on wake-up duty in my brain at lightning speeds. All my baby needs to do is whimper in the night and that crew kicks into high gear. They are like the Marines of Auxiliary People. The few, the proud. Sometimes at 2:30 AM I wish they were not so efficient.

Another highly organized and effective group of Auxiliary People live in my nose. I can't believe how observant those guys are. They can smell anything. And I mean ANYTHING. They must sit at little computers analyzing smells that come in all day long. I can imagine their conversations. "Look at this, guys!" one will holler, "I got a whiff of Arby's from the hubby's shirt! That must be what he had for lunch today." The others murmur agreement. Another will add that the radar shows a higher level of coffee smell than usual too. This crew knows when cookies are done baking or when a diaper needs to be changed. They'll send a message through if it's raining outside. A scented candle sends them scurrying, while lotion from Bath and Body Works gives them an excuse for an office party. They are certainly a fun-loving crowd, that bunch. Unless I get to close to someone with B.O.

I picture Auxiliary People all over my insides, as if I was a big city. Highways of blood vessels connect Auxiliary commuters with destinations all over. My right knee resembles a construction site as work crews scramble to repair a spot of tendonitis. Like all construction projects, this one is taking far longer to finish than it should. Special milk-producing crews work hard making mommy milk, which yet more People carry to the distribution centers. As I get older, the crews in charge of joint lubrication seem to grow lax on the job. At least they don't do as well as they used to.

Baby Seth, being only four months old, is running on skeleton crews right now. I can picture little help-wanted signs everywhere. Advertisements appear for specialists in hands, walking, balance, talking... The only place that he seems to have overstaffed is the drooling department. Natta is in the process of training her Auxiliary People. The ones working in Emotions often get away from her. My guess is that the problem lies in middle management. But I figure that with time, they'll improve.

Knowing about Auxiliary People has some definite advantages. For instance, I recently sent a memo to all of the ones in the Worry Department and told them to go on vacation. They used to sit at their desks thinking up things to worry about. Now they are far away, sitting on a beach somewhere sipping iced drinks and watching the ocean from under striped umbrellas. I like it this way much better. I'm sure they do too.