Monday, November 26, 2007

And So It Begins

We watched Rudolph tonight and somehow, that always sets my cruise control on "Christmas." I suppose it loses something now that you can own it on DVD and watch it whenever you want. I remember the agony of missing the TV special once or twice when I was a kid - 'cause that was it. You were going to have to wait another year to see it. But the Abominable Snowman always scared me a little bit. I always hoped that somehow, this year, Clarice and Rudolph's parents would avoid that monster altogether so Rudolph would never endanger himself in an attempt to save them.
I've also been tuning in to the Christmas music on the radio. This is a little late for me as I usually begin sneaking a little Christmas into my music diet in August. Mind you, only once or twice....then I put it away until December. Okay, November. Anyway, those stations that you hear played in offices and lobbies start running their music right after Thanksgiving. And I like it, mostly. But I can only hear John & Yoko sing "so this is Christmas" so many times (like, once) or listen to Whitney Houston add so many extra notes to, well, every Christmas song she did before I'm over them. But Bing Crosby singing "Silver Bells" never seems to get old to me. And Gene Autry singing "Here Comes Santa Claus" always makes me laugh. I love when he sings that "Santa knows we're all God's children, that makes everything right." What in the world? Then he finishes it off with "Let's give thanks to the Lord above 'cause Santa Claus comes tonight." That really cracks me up! No wonder we're all confused about the whole Jesus/Santa thing.
So, I also have a very festive red nose. Emma brought some little germies home for the holiday week and just as she recovered and I thought the rest of us were out of the woods (that'd be last night), they took hold of me. It's nothing serious, mind you, but the first time I've had to really medicate myself this cold and flu season. The last time I had sniffles (was that a couple of weeks ago?) seemed to have just been allergies or something super-mild.
Here's my cute, cute, house and the reindeer:

So, sniffle-sniff, I'm off to bed now. Hopefully, visions of sugar plums will be dancing in my head from here on out. Maybe I'll even Christmas up the ol' blog here soon.....

DAILY BLISS: driving by the bread factory today, mid-bake

Sunday, November 25, 2007

As Good As It's Going To Get

Well, I got Emma's room clean anyway. My room is where we always stuff things as we clean up. "Just put it in our room," we say, "and we'll deal with it later." The problem is, I'm sure, obvious - we never get around to cleaning up our room. Then the stuff kind of migrates back to the rest of the house. Secretly. In the middle of the night.
So, I may have to allow myself to get all Christmas-y even without a completely clean house.
The decorating and outdoor lighting has taken place now, and that should help with the ol' Christmas spirit. The boys had their annual light ritual, which always involves dinner at Rib Crib and a trip to Home Depot at the end of the day. My dad then buys them all a new toy, er, tool. They go from house to house and put all the Christmas lights up. Here they are at work on my little house:

And here is a Santa koozie in action (if you are underage or do not want beer, they work nicely on root beer bottles and water bottles too):

Alas, work and school begin again tomorrow. So I bid you goodnight.

DAILY BLISS: My daddy bought me a set of animated deer for my yard. I have desperately wanted them for, maybe, 5 years. So, I squealed a lot and even wore a shirt with a reindeer on it in celebration of the blessed event. Mr. Buck is out there turning his head back and forth, surveying the land for potential danger. He is being watchful and allowing his wife, Doe, to have a nibble of the lovely lantana patch they have happened upon. She lifts her head up and down, declaring to him what a tasty treat this is.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Turkey has been eaten. Family has been celebrated. Thanks has been given. People are starting to go back home now and my Christmas tree is even up.
But I'm holding off on the full holiday swing. What am I waiting for? For the completion of our house-cleaning. It's a floor-to-ceiling clean - or rather a ceiling-to-floor clean. It's much more efficient to clean from the top down. And it's taking forever. We're kind of spreading out Christmas into the rooms as we finish cleaning them up. So, we are now down to Emma's room and mine and I'm not sure if Christmas will ever reach these rooms. It's just too intimidating to look at the piles of stuff. There's a box of clothes to go through on my floor that has been there for so long that the dog has decided to make it her bed. She's sleeping in the box right now, as a matter of fact. My desk that was clean a while back? It's not clean at all now.
I love my house. But right now I'm wishing that it would magically turn into a three bedroom, two bath house with a fireplace and closets. I would just shove everything into the closets and light a fire and have some hot chocolate. No wait - I'm not allowed to have hot chocolate. Make that an herbal tea. Well, I guess that if this is just imaginary, I can have hot chocolate.
As it stands, I will have to settle for a bath and my own willpower to ignore the un-done things and enjoy a lovely evening with my husband, who is in vacation mode still and doesn't have to return to work until Monday. And I really love Vacation Chris. He's a completely different man from Everyday Chris. I mean, Everyday Chris is a wonderful guy and all, but Vacation Chris has some noticeable differences. He's much more fun and makes silly jokes more often. He is relaxed and doesn't shave his beard.
So, fireplace? No. But we do have herbal tea.

DAILY BLISS: An impromptu tea party, even if I was too busy and steeped the tea WAYYY too long, and high heels with jeans

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vacation-ette Report

So, we're back from the mountains. It was a small vacation - not nearly what we really needed. But it was good anyway. It's so nice to see Chris' family - we only see them twice a year or so. And the weather was beautiful! I guess, because of the dry weather, the leaf color didn't peak until right before we got there. So, here's what greeted us:

There were ladybugs everywhere. In case you didn't already know, Emma's room is decorated with ladybugs and we often call her "bug," for ladybug.

We took walks and enjoyed the scenery. Notice that Emma is still framing her missing teeth with her smile:

On the way up, I knitted and knitted in an effort to finish stocking caps for the kids. The idea was that I would take a wonderful mountain-ish picture of them in stocking caps and send it out as a Christmas card. I never get around to sending Christmas cards. I had hoped this would be the year. Most of the photos of them came out like this:

We were in this tiny little chapel in the area - it was really beautiful and small. There was a Bible open to Matthew on the pulpit. Here, Emma is being the lector:

I spent most of my time curled up by the fire, trying to finish Nephew Blankie. I did it in the late, late night before we left. Whew!

Games were played, breakfast was made, and some of us fell asleep on couches:

I almost stuck a photo of me making breakfast in there. But, uh, I realized that it was a pajama shot. Pajamas and public don't always mix. Maybe there will be a pajama shot on Christmas, but somehow that is more acceptable!
Anyway, we had a lot of fun. And traffic was fine on the way back. My hands were busy making my brother's Christmas present and our iPod thingy that connects to the radio (see how smart I am?) was being temperamental. So, I held it in just the right spot with my toes. Thought you'd get a kick out of this anyway:

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

DAILY BLISS: getting the Christmas tree up today (this usually takes us several days due to the busy nature of the season) and making pumpkin pie from real pumpkins

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sunflower Fun

Okay, so, one more post before I traipse off to the mountains. Because I did slarp through the mud this morning to get close up to the flowers. Yes, that's two days in a row that the farmers and harvesters working on the beans growing in the rest of the field saw this crazy woman get out of her car waving a camera all over the place.
I love sunflowers. As a matter of fact, when I was in college (that one year) my friends and I gave each other princess names - all flowers that seemed to suit our personalities. And I was Princess Sunflower. But I got married pretty soon after that, so I moved up to Queen Sunflower. And if I ever get a tattoo, there's a good chance it'll be a sunflower, just so you know. I've been trying to talk my husband into that for ever so long. No dice.

My money would be on this one to get painted by my aunt. Nana, something in the composition reminds me of you.

There are several more photos, but I don't want to bore you!

DAILY BLISS: decaf coffee and standing out on my porch's knee wall to let the approaching cold front slap me in the face with its wind

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Checking Out

This is me, checking out for a bit. We leave for our mini vacation on Saturday. But I have oh-so-much to do before then. I've been going crazy at work trying to get ahead before I go. I ended up having to publish three Sunday bulletins, a Thanksgiving worship bulletin, the monthly newsletter, a small order of service for a meeting and the first Wednesday service bulletin for Advent all in the last two weeks. Most of you worship outside the realm of liturgical churches. A Sunday bulletin is usually 20-24 pages long (that is, however, half a legal-sized paper per page). They print everything in there - songs, scripture, and all of that responsive reading stuff that traditional churches do (which I love, by the way).
So anyway, work has been busy and I have managed to overcommit myself (surprise!) knitting-wise. I got too excited and promised myself I'd make too many things. Most of this I still have time to finish before Christmas. However, some of it needs to be finished by Saturday. It's that part that's killing me.
I have an overdue library book that I haven't had time to read, and a couple of borrowed books that are one or two chapters in that are weighing heavily on my conscience, yet I have ordered and committed to read yet another book.
I don't know what's wrong with me.
My next-to-last test results from the doctor came back to me today. The test said my body chemistry indicated prolonged periods of stress. Gee. Ya think? Much of it is probably self-imposed. We will have to see which of Kiki's happy hobbies she has to give up in order to reduce stress. I haven't been able to pick one yet.
Anyway, I got my hair cut today. Nothing drastic. Just a nice trim. I took some pictures, but I didn't like any of them. I'm picky.
Also, this morning I stopped (at my aunt's bidding) to take a picture of those sunflowers I mentioned in the last post. I stopped on a dangerously fast road, placing myself in utter peril, and waded through the wet grass on the shoulder to get close enough for a shot. I'm sure that all the truckers that share this commute with me thought it was pretty funny - me out there in a pretty secretary dress and peep-toe sling-backs with bows on the toes, wading through the grass. I was blissfully taking pictures until a word scrolled across my mind. Does anybody else do this? I have, like, closed captioning in my head. I actually see text when I think. I know - probably nobody else does. Anyway, it was like a scrolling marqee that read "snakes." Just like that and not even capitalized. It did seem like a good place for them to hide, so I hitched up my skirt and trotted back to the car. No harm done. Here's a peek:

I'm going to try for a closer shot tomorrow, maybe. There seems to be a side road that will get me to the other side of the drainage ditch. The colors on those flowers are just magnificent. If I get a good shot or two, I'll share. (And Nana, if you want the full-sized versions of these and other shots, just let me know.) Otherwise, you'll probably not see me until well into next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

DAILY BLISS: there really are things wrong with me - i'm not crazy - and they can be fixed and having my hair shampooed by a professional

Scarf "A" was overwhelmingly voted for and it was, in fact, the one I was leaning toward. My scarf "B" fan needn't worry - it will be knitted and given a fine home in due time. In fact, it will likely reside with me as I simply love the pattern. I'll leave up for a little while longer in case any of you care enough to check out the scarf that won.....then I'm going to just delete it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Things I'm Thinking About Today

1) That new Foo Fighters song, "The Pretender." Now, I like Foo Fighters as much as the next guy (which is always less than my husband likes them, no matter how you figure it). Anyway, when I hear Dave Grohl sing that line "What if I say I'm not like the others?" I always want to go all Sesame Street on his ass and sing "One of these things is not like the others." Am I the only one? Probably. Notice that that would not be funny if I just said "butt" or "hinie" just then.
But, sometimes things are only funny to me and I still decide that they are worth saying.

2) I have seen a lot of bumper stickers lately that say "Watch out for motorcycles." This bothers me. Shouldn't we be looking out for them equally as much as any other oncoming vehicle? Shouldn't they take full responsibility for driving in something that does not encase their fragile flesh in steel and that does not offer a seat belt? In the interest of full disclosure, most of the men that I hold dear drive motorcycles (though I'm never sure if the correct term is "ride" motorcycles). But I trust that they would not want any special treatment.

DAILY BLISS: The field I drive by on my way to work is now planted with multi-colored sunflowers. It's an incredible sight!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


See how I turned Chess into a snoring word? That's because I spent my day at a chess tournament with Andrew. The good news is that he won 3 of 4 rounds and I made considerable progress on Nephew Blankie. The bad news is that I was stuck in a building with hundreds of unsupervised children (whose parents may even actually have been there, but were not exactly supervising) who did a lot of yelling and jumping and bumping and rolling. One kid even had a scooter inside. And, since Drew is young, games in his division are over pretty quickly. So, from 8:00-2:30, he played a total of, maybe, 45 minutes of chess - at the MOST.
Anyway, hubby made considerable progress in his tasks as well and the porch floor is now primed. Yes, folks, that is the very same porch that I started painting last fall.
What with our trip to the mountains coming, we had a lot to do this weekend. Perhaps I should explain that we are going to stay in a cabin with Chris' family to celebrate Thanksmas. I cannot take credit for the term, as a friend of ours does this with his family. But I did totally steal it. We don't like to travel during holidays with the kids. If you have ever done this, you certainly understand why. And his parents live a good 15-hour drive from here. With flying being financially out of the question, we invited his family to join us for holidays. They really want to spend their holidays with their parents, as their parents are aging quickly. So, they used to come here before Christmas. Like, a week before. And stay for the week. They would sometimes leave on Christmas Eve. And, since they wanted to watch the kids open the presents they bought, we would pretend it was Christmas two days before Christmas, which can kind of ruin the effect of actual Christmas.
Anyway, Thanksmas has evolved as our tradition. We meet close to Thanksgiving to celebrate it and Christmas on neither of those particular days. And we meet at a cabin because it's halfway.
So, getting back to the lots-to-do, we have to round up some (cheap) warmish clothes for the kids as they have outgrown all of theirs from last year, and I have, uh, undergrown all of mine, so I needed some too. And we decided it would be most efficient to eat out. So I changed into something cleaner, and smelling less of sweaty, cooped-up kids, and we did all of our junk and ended up at Super Wal Mart at 9:15 this evening for our weekly grocery spree. Normally, I do not take the kids out with me this late. But they were in the car already, and it seemed like a good idea. Besides, I have to make a cake tonight in celebration of my brother's 30th birthday (which we will celebrate tomorrow, also not on the actual day of his birth) and I didn't want to waste precious minutes backtracking to drop them off at home. .
You need to know that I was wearing a black leather jacket and black boots. With dark jeans no less. I felt kinda badass. Chris told me I was more cute than badass, but....I don't care (she said, rebellion gleaming in her eyes).
My brother is getting a gun for his birthday. Hm. I hope he doesn't read this post before tomorrow afternoon. So, I bought him some ammo and a gun cleaning kit. And here, I must say that I felt super badass leaning over the ammo counter and placing my order, then walking through Walmart at (by now) 10:30 PM with a box full of .45 caliber ammo, wearing my black leather ensemble. Then Chris and the kids rounded the corner and I remembered that I am mostly cute. Oh well.
You know what's sad? Most of my adventures seem to happen at Wal Mart in the middle of the night while grocery shopping. I'd say I need to get out more, but mommies don't get to do that. And that's part of what turns us into cute mommies.

DAILY BLISS: making homemade carrot cake and laughing so loud in public with my family that we drew (ahem) attention

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I am seeing holiday decorations everywhere.
However, the title of this post was intended to fool you into a sour mood, ready for my complaints about the too-soon appearance of Christmas displays in stores.
I actually love it.
I love, love, love Christmas.
And I love to sneak into those aisles of Christmas decorations in October. I like to just stand there and take in a deep breath of Christmas.
And I always slink back out of the aisle with a big, dreamy smile.
Yes, yes, I know all about the commercialism and nasty Western implications of stores and Christmas. But I don't really care.
I need a little Christmas whenever I can find some.

DAILY BLISS: a quiet evening, new possibilites on the horizon, and an impending vacation in the mountains

Monday, November 5, 2007

Playing Outside

I really do like Mondays. Not for the same reasons my friend Becky loves Mondays, though. She loves the fresh start and productivity that the day offers. I love the two hours of "me" time between being done with work and picking the kids up after chess club.
Usually, that time is taken up by something that I have to do, an errand or whatnot. But today, I wanted to play outside. So I just decided to.
I came home from work, put on some jeans and my polka dot open-toed wonder shoes, grabbed something to knit, and headed to the lake. I almost went for the lake in town that has been turned into a park and sits adjacent to the botanical gardens. I do like that lake. But instead, I went to the lake with all the ducks and swans. I found a bench that wasn't too close to the homeless guys congregating at the east end of the lake, and settled in with my knitting.
I briefly considered the fact that I should just be unplugged and enjoy the sounds of nature. There was a young-ish swan sitting next to my bench. Every now and again, he was throwing his head back and honking at me. A duck on the opposite side of the joke laughed and laughed at some duck joke I wasn't privy to (it was probably the one about how many mallards it takes to change a light bulb) and a fish or two jumped and made happy circles in the surface of the water. But if I remained unplugged, that is, if I didn't turn on my iPod, I would be left alone with my thoughts.
There are times that I just know it's best to avoid myself. This was one of them. So, since I was knitting up one of those trash-tastic Santa beer koozies, I zipped my iPod out and went straight for Led Zeppelin. It just seemed appropriate to the project.
It was one hour of complete, mindless bliss.
Before I left, though, I caught sight of the cloudless sky and decided to put it all away. Just one deep breath and a slightly long look at the sky was enough to feel I'd at least paid attention to my surroundings, and I heaved myself up off the bench and headed to get the kids.
I think this may become a ritual. Robert Plant not included.

DAILY BLISS: Drew quoting Napoleon Dynamite at a perfectly appropriate moment talking out loud to that swan. I bet even the homeless guys thought I was nuts.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

From Knissues to Tissues

What a gorgeous weekend! We have had the windows open all day and night and got a lot of cleaning done. I hate cleaning, you know.
It's been a little rough. Things are in such a state that I just walk into a room (say, my room) and feel so overwhelmed that I don't even know where to start. It's a good thing Chris has been there to help me out. He just keeps plodding steadily along in the cleaning-out-before-the-holidays routine. Me? I walk into a room and eventually lock on to one thing that is out of place. I pick it up, put it away, walk back into the room and feel overwhelmed again. I have to sit down for a while. Or else, I pick something up and on my way to put it away, find something else I could grab that goes in the same direction, and by the time I get back to the first place I was, I've completely lost track of what I was doing and feel overwhelmed. And sit down for a while.
I guess I've been tired and overwhelmed a lot. But now I think I know why. We were having the most lively discussion tonight during church about the existence of God outside the bounds of time and nature. If you remove those constraints from your ideas of God, it really brings interesting interpretation to scripture and is maybe not the place. I'm certainly not a physics expert, nor a student of theology. But, midway through our wonderful discussion, my nose filled up. Just like that. All of a sudden. And I'm sick.
No wonder I've been tired. I've just been too busy to notice that I was getting a cold. No biggie - it seems to be just a cold - but it's a nuisance anyway.
I made my way to the Super Wal Mart to get the groceries that I should have gotten Friday night or Saturday morning. A surprising number of men shop late on Sunday nights. There I was - the only girl - sneezing, sniffling and shuffling.
Anyway, that's neither here nor there, I guess.
But that is all I can think of to say. My brain has just stopped right there.

DAILY BLISS: cinnamon tea on a chilly morning and a new washing machine (new-to-me, that is, and a big relief since mine has been broken for, like, two weeks)

Friday, November 2, 2007


I'm having knitting issues, guys.
My sister-in-law, Mindy, was the first one to say she wanted a scarf when I learned how to knit. So, I practiced up on a few other peoples' gifts, and now I'm ready to start on hers. I want hers to be extra-special, 'cause she is (awwwwww). And I'm just stuck. I think I'm aiming for such perfection that it's impossible to really hit it. So, I'm asking for some help.
Since she reads this blog, I can't exactly post photos and ask you what you think. I don't have a website that I can link to and make a little temporary page or something. So...I just made another quick blog with a poll in the corner. I'm sure there are much more clever ways to go about it, but that's the best I could come up with and it only took, like, five minutes.
Here's the deal. I have two patterns started and I can't choose between them. Take a look and let me know which one you like. I have a leaning toward one, but I don't want to say which one, in order to refrain from giving you a biased view, and also so that I can say "yeah, that's the one I liked," regardless of which one you all choose :)
Also, I'm feeling a little unsure about the color.
Also, the pictures are not very good.
So anyway, Mindy, no clicking, but everyone else.....check out what I've got on the needles at

These shoes:

Chris doesn't know I bought them yet. But seriously - how. cute. are. these peeking out from under wide-leg jeans? A smile with every step.

I mean, I've been listening to Kent most of the night (thanks to my brother), but I'm thinking about finding that Paolo Nutini song about New Shoes!
Anyway, bliss is new shoes AND my windows open, curtains billowing out in the dark night breeze.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Parent/Teacher Conferences

The annual end-of-first-quarter parent/teacher conferences were today. I suppose lots of parents dread these things, but I have come to anticipate them with delight.
Emma's teacher was glowing with praise. She noted that she loves to see the stories Emma writes and that her drawings are so detailed. She is "one crazy girl" - but in the very nicest of ways. She received straight A's, of course, and is impressing one and all with her reading skills.
And Andrew, my Andrew....his teacher sat across the table from us and nearly made me cry. She praised his character and his academic skills, and boldly said that if she ever has a son, she only hopes he will be made of similar stuff. Sigh. Just what a mom likes to hear. His grades were also amazing - only one B - but what impressed me is what an outstanding, well-rounded guy he is. Of course, you know what they're like at home, but it doesn't always translate to the same thing when they're at school. So it's nice to know that he's confident and growing in so many areas.
Between his conference and the school pictures that came home today, I was really struck in the car on the way home by how much he's growing. Moms are never really prepared, I guess, for this stage. I know less and less about what goes on in his life and in his mind. I am starting to have to trust in his own ability to be who we have taught him to be. It's really scary.
When your kids are small, you really can't ever envision them being much more than what they are. And you know them through and through - you know their little bodies and you know what goes on in their heads, and you're connected to them in the everyday details of life. I can't believe how quietly that erodes.
Don't get me wrong - I'm super-proud. I love the people my kids are becoming and it's so exciting to begin seeing bits of who they will be in the long run.
There are just those times when it hits you between the eyes. The whole bittersweet thing. The slow pulling-apart that you never really see coming.
And, while it's tempting to be proud of myself for the people they are becoming, I know that I had little to do with it. Sure, I've molded and bent and shaped them a little bit, but the core of who they are came to me in a complete package at birth. I'm so honored to have been assigned to the care of these two people. It's like I always say - I was just standing in the right line when God was handing out kids.

DAILY BLISS: a good hair day, finding a pretty bracelet at the bottom of my jewelry drawer, and Wendy's chili