Archive | January, 2012

Nunc Dimittis

30 Jan

That beautiful man handing our firstborn son to his own last-born son is now journeying through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  We request your prayers as this faithful servant of God, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather falls asleep in Jesus.

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints.
________________________________Psalm 116:15

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No Questions Asked

27 Jan

We’re big audiobook fans at our house.  Big.  Fans.

I don’t think I’m giving Lana Quintal too much credit when I say that her portrayal of Junie B. Jones may have been the only thing that prevented our children from burning down the house while I slept off an entire Twin Pregnancy.

And while there is a current Junie B. Audio Ban due to psychosomatic relapses of acute nausea, many others have since filled our 5-CD changer.  The latest is the fourth installment of Harry Potter.

Yes, we’re Harry Potter fans.  I won’t confuddle the issue by trying to defend it, but I’ll happily point you to a smart, faithful Pastor who has his finger on the pulse of this story-line.

So, back to the Triwizard Tournament.  It is right up the boys’ alley.  They love it all – the secret tasks, the obstacles at every corner, the points awarded to their favorite Champion.  They spent three days listening during every spare minute they could convince me to allow the stereo to be on.

And then they got to the end of the last task, and I said something like, “Hey boys, let’s finish the book tomorrow instead of right before bedtime.  They end is kind of sad and scary.”

I didn’t have to convince.  I didn’t have to ask twice.  I didn’t have to nag.  I didn’t have to power down on my own.

Nope.  Up they popped, raced to hit the stop button, and not another word was spoken.

That was three days ago.

Three days without a single request to finish the book.  Three days without mention of Harry Potter.  Three days without the slightest query into the outcome of book four.

In their minds Harry and Cedric tied and will share the spotlight as CoTriwizard Champions.  The End.

These boys definitely belong to me.

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It Could Be Worse

25 Jan

The baby gate alone was sufficient for the rest of the children.

All I can say is that it’s good we got Pete and Cele as twins and not Pete and RePete.

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A Big Ol’ Dose of Reality

24 Jan

I have a problem.  It’s one I’ve been aware of for several years now, and no matter how hard I try I just can’t quit.

I tell people how much I paid for things.

And not in that “Oh, what?  That little summer cottage?  Well, our Investment Portfolio Manager Lackey told us that paying $6.5 million for it would be a steal in this market.”

No.  My conversations usually go like this:

Kind Friend:  I like your belt.
Me:  I paid fifteen cents for it.
Kind Friend: (politely taken aback and unsure of the proper reaction) Oh.
Me:  Yeah, and the necklace was also fifteen cents, and this sweater was totally free because my friend is so skinny she can’t wear it anymore.

I’m not exaggerating.  In fact, I’m not even using a fictitious dialog.  The above exchange occurred just last Sunday.  Multiple times.

When I picked out my outfit Saturday night the total cost of the ensemble impressed me.  $2.05.  Including jewelry.  Shoot.  I just did it again.

Anyway, as my clothes were laid out for church I promised myself that the next morning I would not disclose the cost of a single article.  I didn’t last long.  In fact, my own rule was violated within the first five minutes, and no less than five times.  There was only one person who complimented my clothing that didn’t get a price rundown.  Now I feel guilty.  Please let me take care of that:

Stephanie, if you’re out there, I totally wanted to tell you that I got my dress for a buck at Salvation Army, but we walked by each other before I had a chance to form a complete sentence.  Next time I will pull a Minnie Pearl and proudly sport a price tag.

When I got home from church I decided to take a picture of the offending outfit and write yet another self-deprecating post, but that is when the trouble really began.

I propped my little camera up and fired some shots, most of which were lousy.

Then I captured one that made me pretty happy, and seemed like the perfect replacement for my months-old facebook profile picture.   But there was a fair amount of counter clutter in the background, so I popped over to Picnik to crop out the mess and to make a facebook-friendly square.

Upon arrival at Picnik I learned the site is closing in April and so they’ve opened up all their premium features to everyone.  Free! Even for cheapskates like me who only pay seventy-five cents for a pair of earrings!  Well, I couldn’t help but messing with a few of the previously locked effects.

I changed the coloring, brightened my eyes, and maybe even used the wrinkle remover.  I did not, however, apply Insta-Thin (the shadows had already taken care of that for me.)  Then I somewhat guiltily hit “save” and posted the following picture.

Immediately the little red notifications started popping up.  And with every comment and “like” my dislike and silence on the issue grew.  I wanted to scream to everyone, “That curve cutting sweater was free on picnik!  And I didn’t pay a red cent for that digital facelift!  And those dilated sparkly pupils came at no cost with the click of the mouse!”

What had I done?  There was no more “undo” option.  So, I am now taking the only recourse I know.  Honesty.

I don’t really look like that.  I really look like this:

Here’s a side-by-side for your comparative enjoyment.

See, I didn’t magically get skinnier, or younger, or more effervescent since you last saw me.  My kitchen is, however, cleaner.

Whew.  I feel better now.  I just needed you to know.  Just like I need you to know that my new jeans are hand-me-downs from my sister because she’s losing her baby weight so swiftly.  Next time she should just put them in Picnik and hit Insta-Thin.

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Stupid Distance

21 Jan

Did you ever have one of those days when you really just wanted to whisper something in your sister’s ear that made her smile no matter what else was going on?  And it certainly wouldn’t hurt if you were both wearing matching polyester green outfits.

Or even if you don’t have coordinating clothes, don’t you want a day to hold her safely onto the vinyl ottoman and tell her that you love her?

Yeah, me too.

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Tying Knots with Sticks

20 Jan

So here’s something you may or may not know about me:  I’m a knitter.  Well, right now I might be better known as a person who knits, but here’s a little proof that I once was a knitter.

Yup, that’s my super cute sister wearing a sweater vest I KNIT FOR HER!  See those cables?  See that ribbing?  See the fitted shape?  That is the work of of a knitter.

Here’s another example.

Fair Isle in fingering weight.  This mitten dates back to 2009.  His partner in crime, is, well, suffering from a severe case of SSS.  That’s Second Sock Syndrome for those of you nonknitterly types.  That’s when finishing the first sock (or mitten) is thrilling, and yet the very idea of starting all over again and knitting virtually the exact same thing is a total drag that you can’t face.

This is a severe case.  Although I’m happy to report that over Christmas break I did pull the 1/4 inch of left hand out of storage and extended it so that at least my lower palm is covered.

I didn’t invent SSS.  It’s been around for hundreds of years.  But I’m not even the one who came up with the first diagnosis.  That honor is bestowed upon Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  You might know her as the Yarn Harlot.  Or you might not know her at all, and that would be a shame.  Go read her blog, she’s a fantastic writer and clever knitter.  Or visa versa.  The adjectives are interchangable.

But it’s not her blog or the frost bite on my left pinky that has me picking up the needles again these days.  Nope, it’s a book.  Her book.  Her latest book  (she has other equally entertaining, educational, and enjoyable reads.)

It’s super cute, isn’t it?  Even if you aren’t a knitter, doesn’t it just look like a pleasant, cozy, not-at-all scratchy read?  Listen to what the Library Journal has to say about Pearl-McPhee.

. . . a sort of David Sedaris-like take on knitting – laugh-out-loud funny most of the time and poignantly reflective when it’s not cracking you up.

That’s the kind of stuff I want people, not to mention librarian people, saying about me, so it’s certainly the stuff I’m going to read when I have a spare moment or two.

And that is when I’m reading this, in my spare moments.  It’s my current “toothbrush book.”   You know, the book that you read while you brush your teeth, or put your socks on, or wait for the gas tank to be filled.

That is, unless I’m knitting.

In case you’re worried, the book isn’t all chock-full of *k1, p2, k2tog, YO, k1* that will make your head spin fast enough to whip up a skein of 3-ply merino.  Sure, it is centered around knitting, and knitters, but there are whole stories that we can all relate to, like the death of her beloved washing machine.  Now come on, that’s a timeless tale.

Plus, it might inspire you to learn to knit.  Face it, you know you want to.

And if you already love knitting, or even love a knitter, this book will make you make sense to yourself, or make sense of that knitter you love.  Promise.

So what have we learned today?

1) You should probably learn to knit.

and

2) If knitting is too fiddly for you then you should at least throw on a sweater, pick up some chopsticks and click them together serenely while reading the Yarn Harlot’s book.

* I’m sorry, those aren’t asterisks directing you down here, just more knitting jargon.  Please carry on.

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Peaches

18 Jan

Why this picture? Well, it’s never a bad thing to remind oneself of one’s supposed “active lifestyle”.  (…like  being forced into a run during Christmas break. Stupid.)

But, That’s not why I’m posting this picture. Who needs to motivate the masses? Not I. No, not I.

What do I need? I need to discuss that sampler behind our heads. “Carolina Peaches”. Hmm. That’s odd. From where did this sampler come? Carolina, perhaps? I don’t know. I’ve never been. Has Mom? Does she have a secret life down south that’s best explored in cross-stitch? Also, aren’t peaches largely from Georgia? I feel like there’s some sort of secret message here. Our mom is hiding something from us. I just know it.

 

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A Decree from Mother Disgusted

17 Jan

I know what's going through your head, and it isn't "Gloria in Excelsis Deo." Well, maybe it is.

On this, the 17th day of January in the year 2012 it has become necessary to remind the inhabitants of our humble abode of certain disallowances.

This annual ban, who’s humble beginnings date back to the unfortunate summer reading of “Junie B. Jones:  Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! P.S. So Does May” will be reinstated every January until the youth of the family are able to control their holiday ear-worms.

The aforementioned ban took effect following the 12 Days of Christmas, on January 6, 2012, but due to an increasingly large number of infractions a formal reminder of the ban must be put in place.

The ban includes, but is not limited to:

  • all singing, humming, screaming, and rhythmic inference of Jingle Bells.
  • spontaneous performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
    —This portion of the ban encompasses all Christmas carols contained in the Straight No Chaser arrangement of the counting song.
    —Please note that while technically a Hanukkah tune, Dreidel,  Dreidel, Dreidel will not be tolerated in its original form, or the more Christmasfied “Cradle, Cradle, Cradle . . .” version which has received so much popularity in our home.
    —The singing of Rains Down in Africa will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  • the blaring Latin refrain “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.”  However, a gentle, head voice singing of this most sacred of angels’ songs will be tolerated and possibly even encouraged, especially on Sunday mornings, and usually in English.
  • any audible reference to  seasonably inappropriate music as determined by persons over the age of 18.

 

The above ban will be lifted on the first Sunday of Advent, December 1st, or with the arrival of a large tree inside our walls.  The exact date will be determined by the generosity and patience of the parentage of the household.

All attempts to request an early lifting, or violations of said ban could result in the extension of the prohibition until the official start of the Christmas Season.  The Official Christmas Season begins at Midnight December 25, 2012.

 

Winter Warmth

14 Jan

Winter finally arrived here in Michigan this weekend.  I want to hate it, but it has that snow-globe, brighten-the-gray, picturesque ambiance that is actually melting my heart instead of freezing it over.  This is the kind of snow that makes you understand how Narnia under the rule of the White Witch might have seemed like a good idea at first.

But it wasn’t, remember?  Let us not ignore the main message behind C.S. Lewis’ most beloved work:  Winter is Bad.  Spring is Good.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the main message he had in mind, but I don’t think it was accidental either.  In fact I think he was rather on to something with the whole “Always winter and never Christmas” bit.  I would be winter’s biggest fan if the season ended on January 6, too. (That’s right folks, I’m taking one more stab at pointing out to you that the 12 days of Christmas occur after December 25.  I’m relentless like that.)

But it doesn’t.  In fact this year it didn’t even get a good go at whitifying the area until now.  So I suppose I can cut the season a fortnight or so of slack.

But do you hear that, Winter?  I want you out of here by Jan 31.  No exceptions.  In the meantime, thank you for your tree outlining beauty, and your ability to give me an extra day or two home with my husband.  You’re pretty cool.  Which is also what bothers me about you, but I will ignore that as long as I can knit warm wooly goodies, and snuggle into my flannel sheets every night.

So, I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with all this bipolar polar opining?   Here:

Doesn’t she look like the coziest damsel on the block?  That bright red warm-up suit was my Dad’s from his Lutheran High wrestling days.  That’s right, my Mom married a stud, and then she got to nap in his clothes.  It’s one of the most awesome plans to acquire comfy sleepwear I’ve heard to date.

There are so many other things I love about this photo, the lines of the couch, my Dad’s coin collecting jugs on the end table, the bottom of the treble clef sign that Mom made out of some sort of orange rocks.  And that linoleum?!?!  Isn’t that the bee’s knees in floor covering?  What I wouldn’t give to have a little of that under our dining room table.

But most of all, I love that it’s yet another picture of my Mom sleeping.  Lest you get the impression that she is a lazy woman, please know that there is no more busy body in a three county area.  Well, there might be some busybodies, but they’re too busy moving their yappers to keep up with Mom.  She goes, goes, goes all day long.  And then when she sits, she falls asleep.

It happened over bowls of vegetable soup at dinnertime, it happened with every book she ever read us, and it even happened in the middle of bedtime prayers.  The night sleep interrupted her mid-sentence was a favorite, “Dear God, thank you for oh plip . . .

We might have rudely woken her with our laughter after that one, bwe’ve thanked God for Oh Plips many times since.  Oh Plips are a source of joy for our family.

So, as winter wraps it’s blanket of snow tightly around us it’s time to take a lesson from my Mom and go slip into the warmest of my husband’s duds and hibernate.  You should, too.

Oh, excuse me for just a second.

Mom, Mom?  Wake up, Mom!  We’re at the end of the post, it’s time to get up!  Okay?

Goodnight.

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I’ll take your advice

13 Jan

Do you know what I love? Book recommendations. Love them. Do you know why? Because if someone is passionate enough about something to actually recommend it then it must be worth at least a glance. Don’t you agree?

For instance, the book I’m reading now, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, was a Facebook status recommendation. One of my friends just threw it out there. So I picked it up. Why not? The only thing I knew was that this particular friend liked it. What didn’t I know? I didn’t know whether she and I had similar literary taste. She’s an intelligent gal and she doesn’t give a book recommendation every other day, so I felt like this book deserved my time. And let me tell you, a charming read it is. Wonderful. Clever. Interesting. Makes me chuckle. Great recommendation.

Now, I suppose that not every paperback plug is going to be as wildly successful as the one I just mentioned. But what I love about taking a literary suggestion is that I’m bound (get it?) to stumble upon at least SOMETHING interesting because SOMEONE found it just that. Hey, I may even glom onto a new genre obsession. How great is that? Expanding my horizons and that whole bit? Good stuff.

So that’s it. Tell people what you love to read. Make a suggestion on your status. Tweet about it. Recommend something to your pew-mate. Carve your favorite book in a bathroom stall. Buy a billboard and use that. Pass out “I ❤ Atticus Finch” buttons.  We can all benefit from a little reading recommendation.

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