Friday, February 27, 2009

this time I just wrote my own...

Write your own telegram here {thanks, Zeynep!} See you on Monday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

the remains of the day

Yesterday was a pretty good day.

I got this fab book that I have been drooling over for some time {I miss Paris}.

And some flowers from Ben, along with some scrumptious French Toast {I love Ben}.

And I caught a cold {Courtesy of my children}.

Thank you, all, for your birthday wishes.

And now I must go and eat my Captain Crunch birthday cereal in hiding so I don't have to share {I shared yesterday, okay}.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

today is my birthday

Happy Birthday to Me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

hold the applause

I was congratulating myself on getting my girls down to bed at a decent hour. They have been up later than usual the past few nights and this is a problem, especially for my oldest, who is prone to dramatic meltdowns when she doesn't get enough sleep.

Well, hold the applause. I can hear them all the way down the hall. And I can assure you that they are most definitely not asleep.

spiritual alterations {aka a bummer post on Mardi Gras}

The idea of Mardi Gras has always been an odd one to me; a wild party where any kind of indulgence is readily available as a prelude to a period of prayer and fasting seems amazingly incongruous. (I say this as one who is not all that familiar with Mardi Gras and its surrounding events, so proceed at your own risk).

Oh, sure, not all Mardi Gras celebrations are orgies of whichever deadly sin you wish to participate in before you proceed to a drought of pleasures of the flesh. But there Mardi Gras stands on the eve of Ash Wednesday, an invitation to revel in something, none the less.

Maybe it is human nature to want gorge oneself on any or all indulgences that may not be available for a time. (I, for example, may or may not have done the same thing with Cadbury mini-eggs at this time of year.) But this kind of behavior makes more sense if one is a bear and will be hibernating for the winter and the indulgence is the necessity of food. Of course, if it's a necessity, it's not really an indulgence. But it seems counter-productive if what one is actually seeking is spiritual purification and enlightenment.

I suppose if you see the season of Lent as one of deprivation as opposed to spiritual growth, then the revelry of worldly indulgence makes sense. But it's a shame if that's the case. It seems symbolic of a world rushing headlong into pleasure regardless of the consequences, spiritual or otherwise. Party now, pay later.

My family does not celebrate Lent, although we certainly celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ. But I like the idea of Lent.

Spiritual preparation has always been essential in order to receive what gifts certain spiritual occasions have to offer. Like the parable of ten virgins at the wedding feast in the New Testament, we need oil in our lamps.

Anyone seriously awaiting the bridegroom will have long since been storing up oil, because while repentance is possible and necessary for everyone, if word comes that the bridegroom is coming on Ash Wednesday, and you were out all night Fat Tuesday, you may find yourself ill prepared.

I once attended Mass on Ash Wednesday, long ago for my birthday. Maybe because my birthday tomorrow will fall once again on Ash Wednesday these things are on my mind.

"Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" is what the priest intones to the parishioners. And not because he wants to depress everybody there, but because he wants to remind us that those worldly pleasures of the flesh can come with serious consequence for the soul.

"A charge to keep I have," wrote Charles Wesley, lovely man, "A god to glorify. A never dying soul to save and fit it for the sky." I love those beautiful words.

I have a feeling those spiritual alterations can't be done on a rush order.

Monday, February 23, 2009

lessons in parenting

Seven years ago today I was suddenly in charge of a wee little girl with dark hair and blue eyes and I was rather tired. These days she's not so wee little anymore. She's actually growing at a rapid rate that is astonishing to me. But in a case of "the more things change..." the thing that hasn't is being tired.

I was the oldest child and I feel sorry for myself seeing how clueless I am with my own first child. First children get gypped because they are the guinea pig. They are the bottom of a steep learning curve. Bummer for first children.

Parenting lessons are of the learning genre that requires real experience. Books may help, but they are no substitute for the real deal. There is nothing like being a parent to show you who you really are. I have learned a few of my strengths, but boy are there a lot of weaknesses. Motherhood should make me perpetually humble. If only I were wise enough to hang on to the humility long enough, I might actually learn something. I'm trying.

As it is, I was telling Ben of my improvements in being more patient the past little while. Um, guess who wasn't the pillar of loving patience this morning? Still, there is progress.

Saturday night we were out shopping for birthday presents. We were analyzing the merits of two different soccer balls. I took one of the balls and pressed it to my cheek. Ben looked at me quizzically.

"I'm just trying to figure out which one will hurt the least if it gets kicked into someone's face."

We chose the appropriate ball.

See, I have learned something after all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

telegram II

Kids still sick STOP But not sick enough STOP And not well enough either STOP If only television were the cure all STOP But its not STOP Oh STOP STOP STOP Sigh END

(But isn't the above telegraph grand? What does it mean? DH Lawrence, that crazy guy.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Kids are sick STOP Except they wont STOP There is cereal on my bedroom floor STOP No really Please STOP (!)

post script

Oh, yes. Happy Birthday, Mom. You are amazing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

changing rooms

Our current home, rental 5a62b, is a decent sort of place. Not my favorite, by far. That would probably go to our little apartment in New York, the upper two floors of a house that had all kinds of character. I say probably because its great defect was a lack of laundry facilities (and a dishwasher) and I have to say that I like having a home with character AND a washing machine.

I spend time on Sundays in the nursery at church with the small ones. I have been gathering information on the {ahem} sorry man who developed this neighborhood (from one of the other women in there, not the toddlers).

He so obviously had little or no practical imagination when it came to building houses. Our current layout is a one floor affair which I do not love, with a total of three bedrooms, two of which are extraordinarily smallish. Whoever designed this house simply did not take into account the difficulty of arranging the small rooms for more than one person to live in.

This past weekend I moved the older girls in together. Their twin beds fit in snugly. If I could afford it, I would outfit the beds with pottery barn accessories and that would be helpful aesthetically, but as it is, the room is basically beds and that's it.

The other room is better. My son, although approaching three, still happily sleeps in his crib, and I see no reason to change that for the moment. So he and the baby (not so much baby anymore, she's almost two) each reside behind bars, giggling at each other in delighted fashion every evening when I put them to bed.

It's very true that each room accommodates well one twin bed and one crib. And as it was, my children were happily situated with the early birds in one shelter and the night owls in the other.
But I kept thinking that I needed to give the girls a chance to room together. To enjoy each others' company; to learn to sort out the difficulties of sharing a room with someone decidedly not sleeping in a crib.

The first few nights were rough. The girls were delighted during the day and smashing mad once bed time arrived (Name that book: Day play, we play all day. Night fight! We fight all night!) It's one of those transitions that require a little time. But I think it's going to be a good thing, for first daughter and second daughter, alike. (At 8:17 at night, they are both in bed and quiet!)

* * * * *
My grandparents lived in their house in Colorado for many decades. It was where, after finally moving around here, there and everywhere, they were finally able to settle down and put some roots into the ground.

I say the house I live in is a simple affair, but compared to the abode of my grandparents', it's practically Buckingham Palace. But I am utterly convinced my grandparent's desire to live in a palace was nill. Their house suited them very well.

My visits to my grandparents house became few and far between as I grew older, with Things To Do, and People To See, things and people who lived around me and not in Denver. It was wonderful to walk down their hallway a few weeks ago and into their living room to see the pictures of grandchildren everywhere, the painted roses on the china in the cabinet. When Ben and I hauled the kids out at 4 a.m. ready to head back home the day after the funeral, I stood in the dark house for a moment and said goodbye.

My grandpa moved out here yesterday, to live in a retirement home. He is less excited about his move than I am about my current residence. He can't remember why he's here. But we've brought him home to be close to three of his four children. So that his grandchildren, who he doesn't always recognize, can visit him and keep him company. He wants to go home. He misses my grandma.

He is a sweet old man, and he's having to change rooms, and it's hard.

But I hope that he will settle in, just like my girls have settled in; that he will find he enjoys the company, like my girls enjoy the company; that all will be well, and well, and well. That all that begins will end well, and well, and well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

and now for my 501st post....

I'm trying to attach an application to this post that will shoot confetti and balloons out of your computer monitor or whatever electronic device you're reading this on.

But you know how that can be, trying to design something that works for a Mac and PC and whatever. In any case we may just have to do something like this:

That band you see playing in the background? It's, um, somebody famous that I like to listen to on a regular basis these days, which would be, well, okay, nobody really because I'm pretty sure it's not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

And Edith Piaf is, well, dead.

As is Django Reinhardt.

Maybe it's Toad the Wet Sprocket reuniting for Allysha's 501 Posts party. Boy, that was sure nice of them. And Sting is dropping by later. And this entire musical conversation is making me feel old.

But, WOW (!), anyway. I mean five hundred and one posts is a lot of whatever. Some of it's been good. Some of it's just what's been there at the time. Thanks to all who come along for the ride.

In any case, if you feel so inclined you can say hi to me today in my comments and that would make me feel good.

And if you don't, well, I've pretty much worked through any blog comment insecurities at this point so, you know. But then I won't be able guarantee that possible invitation by Sting to accompany him and a few close friends back to his Italian villa for that nice relaxing holiday you've been hoping for...

In any case, Happy Tuesday, blogosphere! And happy 501 posts to me.

image on flickr

Saturday, February 14, 2009

a valentine

A quick knock at the door. The knock of a child.

I'm expecting two of mine home any minute with their dad, and sometimes they knock just for fun. I open the door. It's the neighbor boy from across the street. A sweetheart of a kid, five years old with light brown hair and adorable glasses. He holds out something to me. "This is for Ella," he says.

"Thank you," I say fervently, taking from him a little valentine wrapped around a package of candy. Yes, fervently. I am unbelievably grateful that this little boy would deliver a small note to my daughter.

Ah, my daughter. Blue-eyed child somehow born into a stormy sea. The second I saw this child I was overwhelmed with love for her, and this memory comes back to me on hard days. She can be, for lack of a better word, my most difficult. Her basic temperament and her sensitivity clash inside her, and some days are magic but others are...well, difficult.

She is second child, second daughter and all-consumed with her place in this world. When her older sister comes home with more valentine's candy, oh! her heart is broken. Somewhere inside her small self there must be a voice that tells her if only she were different, older, oldest, better, she would get more candy, too. She doesn't have enough experience with the world to understand that the candy you get has to do with the size of your class, and pre-school is smaller than first grade.

Oh, it's the normal jealousy of candy, too. Sibling rivalry is sometimes just that simple, without all of the psycho-analysis heaped upon it by a mother at the end of her wits. How to say "You are simply amazing!!! Who cares if you didn't get that extra lollypop!" My love just isn't quite enough today. And that makes me sigh.

And so this little valentine delivered in such an unassuming manner sits here on my desk, waiting for my girls to come home. Waiting, ready to greet my second daughter, who will be happy, who will hopefully feel a little bit more of how she is sweet and special. A Valentine that will say "Oh you wonderful girl. Here is the extra candy, love and friendship that your mother so wanted you to have. Something she didn't have the power to give you herself."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

my very special love grandma

Along time ago, about 11 years actually, I was in the Kennedy Airport in NYC waiting for my flight to Paris. I was on my way to be a missionary where I would teach people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And some English, on the side.

There were several hours between flights and so I called my mom--collect, of course; I didn't have any money. She answered the phone, excited to talk to me. I heard a muffled voice in the background.

"Grandma says hi, " my mom reported from her mother. My grandma! She was at my house and I was in New York! I hadn't even known she was coming in. Not that it mattered. I was taking off to France, and scared to death at the prospect.

More muffled voice. Reprimanding.

"Excuse me," my mom said. "Grandma didn't say hi, she said to tell you she sends you her very special love."

That gave me a laugh, and a little boost of confidence when I needed it. And from then on that was my Grandma's title: My Very Special Love Grandma.

Not one given to intimate conversation and the bearing of one's most appalling secrets, Grandma relied on numerous adjectives she kept at her side, in her pocket, in her handbag next to the gum, in her cookie jar.

If ever greeted by her voice when answering the phone she would identify you and then proceed to tell you how marvelously sweet you were, how amazingly talented you were and that she was so proud of all the good things you did and who you were. That you were an Angel. Definitely Capital A.

She promptly sent birthday cards, with every word underlined at least twice. And the words she thought were most important would be underlined even more times. It was as if she couldn't bear the thought that you might not quite understand how much she loved "you." (She was notorious for adding quotation marks to the pre-printed card inscriptions as well. All her emphasis was on "your" amazing greatness.)

Ask her many grandchildren if they think they were secretly her favorite. Every single one of them will raise their hand.

My Very Special Love Grandma passed away peacefully on Saturday morning. She was an amazingly fun and humble woman. It's odd to think she's really gone. But I suppose it's the season for my grandmothers to be passing on to the next life. My grandma lived a life full of service, a life that was not easy. But she was happy and faithful and truly someone to emulate.
I love you, Grandma. Thanks for your very special love.

We're driving out to Colorado for the funeral so I'll be back next week.

Monday, February 2, 2009

my baby is grumpy this morning and other tales

Oh, my dear people. I have things I could say, but they would surely come out in muddled fashion.

I could tell you heartbreaking stories, and hopeful stories, and deep thoughts about the possibilities of switching which kids go in which rooms. I could write about not being able to fall asleep and my husband humoring me with conversation that includes naming our next child (whenever next child comes about) Gandalf Blanco (should said child be a boy). Instead I will wish you a Happy Monday. A Happy Groundhog Day (Sorry, six more weeks of winter) and A Happy February.

On a side note, February is not my favorite month. This year however, as it makes a perfect box of days on my calendar, starting with Sunday and ending with Saturday, I am liking it for it's symmetry. And the ease with which one could pack it up. Good qualities in a month, I'm sure.