Tuesday, December 30, 2008

so proud

My brother and his wife Jamie came to visit this weekend for our second Christmas. Our first Christmas was actually on Christmas with Charlie's family, but we celebrated again with my Mom, brother and Jamie. I attempted to take a picture of them before dinner, because the only pictures I had of them were from the wedding. I tried so hard.

Really, I tried so hard. Except my brother said that the orange blinking light on my camera made him cross his eyes. I did not believe him.

I took about 30 pictures I think. I deleted most of them as I took them. Eventually I laughted so hard at the faces he was making and just put the camera away.

The next day we tried again in front of the Christmas tree and the orange light blinked again and his eyes rolled back in his head. Again, we laughed, but I really wanted a good picture. I wanted proof that I really do have a family that is nice. I wanted a good shot to put in the scrapbook I am making for our adoption booklet. Don't you think I would be so proud to put those pictures in our scrapbook?

An then there's the old addage: a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm not quite sure what this says about us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

in which joseph cuts off his nose to spite his face

For a couple of years now my Mom and I have been finding little figurines to paint for Christmas. We started with angels one year, then did snowmen the next year and this year she found a little kids nativity set to paint, along with a few more snowmen. I get excited about it every year, and forget just how hard it is.

Really. It's like childbirth, I guess.

We start out painting and chatting and it's all fun. Then you have tiny details to paint and don't have a brush small enough. Or you take your green paint and accidentally hit the back of your white snowman. Or you paint the figure, and it falls over and messes itself up. I spent so much time on Jesus, Mary and Joseph, getting them the right colors, and using a shiny clear coat on it, only to mess Joseph up completely. I wanted to cuss. And I don't cuss. And cussing at Joseph isn't a good idea, is it?

In this picture, you really can't tell that he's messed up, but the teeny-tiny features on their faces were impossible to get to. In the picture on the package, the eys have the whites and the irises...which I could not do at all. And there were 9 other figures to paint! I figure if I paint 3 every year, I'll have the complete set in only four years! Score.

And, to top it off, when I put Joseph back in the package and shut the lid, the lid took off his nose. I guess the paint must have softened it and now he has no nose. So next year, I'll be performing a rhinoplasty on poor Joseph.

After giving up on Joseph, I turned my attention to a snowman and painted him white with a striped scarf. I thought he turned out pretty cute, but I did have to wash him off several times when I did get the green paint on his back with a freak paint brush accident. It was a comedy of errors.

We did have a good time, some good snacks, and fun with friends. My mom and I invited three people to come and paint with us, and their figures turned out well too. They didn't have as many issues as I did, and they were amused by all my accidents. Actually, what I think was going through their minds was "she has an art degree? Seriously?"

I promise. I actually do.

Maybe this just wasn't my proudest moment.

But I did come home with a really cute glittery snowman that I introduced to the two other snowmen that were already under my tree. They were happy to meet a new friend.

And we won't have to paint again for another year. Amen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

hop on over

My post is on the other site...Pop on over to our adoption blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Santa

My nephew Harrison turned one on Saturday and we attended his party. His parents had bought him a Santa suit that they put on him and we all took pictures of him in front of the tree. Harrison is such a cutie and he really didn't even mind the beard all that much.

Birthdays have come a long way since we were little. I don't think they were such huge events before, and especially in my family. We didn't have big parties each year, and once we turned 10, the parties were over. I could have a couple friends over the spend the night, but a formal party with cake and decorations and favors ended when we were ten. And here is a sad, sad story that still embarrasses me...the year I turned 9, only ONE person came to my party. Seriously. We had just moved to Florida over the summer and in November came my birthday, and I invited all the girls in my class. Only one came. And no one mentioned it after that...and I never wanted a party again until I was 25. You're tearing up for me right now, aren't you?

And I love storebought cake, if I'm going to have cake. And I like cupcakes, cause you don't have to cut them. I believe that everyone should like storebought cake for their birthday. When Charlie and I first got married, and we were going to celebrate his birthday, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted and he said it didn't matter. So I bought a cake. Then I find out that what he really wants is his Mom's red velvet cake that she makes from scratch, and that he asked her to make. I was mad about it, cause I would have made him that cake would he have asked. But he didn't, and he didn't tell me that red velvet was his favorite. But Harrison's cake was really cute.

Birthdays are fun and kid's birthdays are especially cute. We were only at the party for an hour or so, since we had to get to another event on our social calendar (we are soooo popular these days.)

Happy Birthday Harrison.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

pink, pink, pink

A few weeks ago two friends and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Crystal. It was a great afternoon filled with love, little rubber duckies, and wonderful food.

Crystal is having a rough pregnancy though, and has been put in the hospital because she is on her way to being pre-eclampsic. She doesn't have high blood pressure, but her doctor is concerned.

She is due in January, but Baby Girl might come a little sooner. She might be a Christmas present!

I love hosting baby showers. It's such a positive experience filled with all things cute and cuddly. Women ooooh and ahhhh and swoon over little teeny tiny clothes and there is always cake. Or, in this case, cupcakes. It was a great afternoon with friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

prayer request

My sister-in-law has been put in the hospital with concerns about her mental health. These past couple of months have been really tough and overwhelming. I don't want to spend time elaborating here, but she and her husband and baby really need the love of the Lord to surround them right now. Pray that she will be touched by the Spirit and will receive His peace.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm a follower

I guess the old saying mentions something about the road less traveled right...and how that's somehow a good thing. Making your own path, carving your own mountain, wandering down a road that isn't paved with so many other people's mistakes. Or maybe it's something about seeing what others have missed when you have time to reflect, you can see the beauty.

I like the paved road. I do. I like it when other people have been there before and can give me advice. I like to hear about their experiences and any tips they might have to make my life easier.

But in this blogger world, being a follower is a good thing. It shows what you like to read and who you're loyal to in cyberspace. And I'm slow on this blog thing sometimes and I don't pay attention to my dashboard very often. So today when I had to log my husband off, and log on myself, I saw that I have ten followers. Ten whole people who come and read my blog. And some of them I haven't met before, but went off to read. So hi, followers. Welcome to my little corner of the world wide web. I hope you feel comfy here and will continue to come back and share the love.

So, to all ten of you who might be considered on the road less traveled, since I don't have 400 followers, this post is for you. Now that I know about you, I am coming to meet you, to see what you're all about. I think you'll be my kind of gal. I think we'll be friends, I hope so.

And I might have to be a follower myself. Who knows what things I might try now that I am a follower...are drugs and violence next? Just kidding.

Who knows where I might pop up next?

works for me wednesday

Okay, so it took me three tries to spell "wednesday" in the title, so you can tell what kind of day it is. I am tired. I am gearing up for Christmas shopping and I am tired. Already.

But I love these. They aren't new or flashy, but they make life worth living. I honestly avoided my crockpot before these babies.

I love them, and know many of you do too. How can you not? And how can they not have invented these before...oh, wait, they did. They are the SAME EXACT thing as the turkey bags for your oven! If you can't find the liners, you can use those. It works, I've tried it.

Happy Wednesday. Only 7 more days until winter break.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

compromise makes for a superhero

I didn't write about my brush with halloween when it happened, well, I don't know why. I think I forgot that these pictures were taken and I happened upon them today. If you really know me, then you might gasp to see me sitting with my dog, who's wearing a costume, participating in a trunk or treat. And that gasp would be accurate.

There's a lot to this story, so let me back up.

I don't do halloween. I was raised in a family and a church that didn't do halloween. Not at all. It just wasn't a holiday that we participated in, mostly because of the witchcraft elements and all that. We never had pumpkins, didn't dress up, didn't do candy. It just wasn't something we did. And I kept to that for years. When I lived with roommmates after college, sometimes they would give out candy, but I didn't help. It just wasn't my thing.

Then I got married.

Most of you might get the point right then and there. Marriage. The great compromise. The pull of someone else's lives and traditions. And our first big compromise came with halloween the first year, and then with Santa at Christmas (which we didn't do either.) My husband wanted to give out candy, and I did not. It was quite the discussion, but I think ultimately it was a moot point since we were gone that night. In the passing years it has come up again and again. I compromised wtih carving a pumpkin and putting it out, but he gave out the candy and I planned to be elsewhere.

And I can't really explain why halloween irks me so much. I mean, I know it's ingrained in me that it's evil, but I'm an adult, I should be able to make up my own mind. It's probably the candy. And the greedy kids, all hopped up on sugar. And the cold. Just not the best combination.

But this year the church held a trunk or treat thing, called a fall festival. And my husband wanted to do it. I said no. But somehow I ended up out there, freezing my butt off, calming a very nervous dog in a costume, handing out candy to kids. And call me a Scrooge, but it isn't what I called a good time.

Then there was the discussion afterwards, about why I hadn't the best time. And why I couldn't just let kids have fun. And why I had such a closed off mind. You know, you might have had one of those discussions yourself. And I think it came back to this...no one should make you feel stupid because of how you were raised, and that's how I felt. I felt like my beliefs were less important than his beliefs. That's not good. So we talked about it some more and eventually called a truce. Halloween just isn't that important in the scheme of things.

And this post isn't really about halloween, per se. It's more about how we give and take as couples. How two people really have to try to come together and agree on things, or to agree to disagree, which is sometimes how we leave things. Because you shouldn't have to concede defeat if you really believe that something is right or wrong.

Ultimately, all married couples have to figure out how to fight. Do you fight with angry words, or with calm discussions? Or is it somewhere in between? Do you come out the other side feeling better, or worse? Was it productive, or just venting? We try to make sure that we come to some agreement at the end as to how we are going to move forward. It's how we make it work.

How do you make it work?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

deep, philosophical questions

This week we filled out our Statements of Faith for our adoption applications. If you were asked the question "who is Jesus Christ to you?" how would you respond? I already filled it out, but I am curious to see what others might say.

Just wonderin'.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

a little sparkle

I love decorating for the holidays. I love it. I like taking my normally sedate and dare I say, elegant house, and turning it into a home that sparkles. I like glitter and I have to restrain myself from covering my house in it, but I indulge myself when buying ornaments for my tree. I worked at Michael's during one holiday season and I bought so many half price ornaments that I deemed special and unique.

I found this set of Bethlehem ornaments and loved them. They aren't scream-in-your-face religious ornaments, but subtle and lovely. They are usually one of the first ornaments I hang and I like to find them the right place on the tree. Yes, I take decorating my tree very seriously and I tend to rearrange the ornaments until I find the right balance of sparkle and color. I took this picture laying under my tree.

Then I had to figure out how to make a centerpiece for my dining table, and my dining table is huge. Last year I took my spare tree branches and made an arrangement, and I did this year too, but I decided to put that arrangement in my foyer. So I wondered what to use instead. I looked around and decided to take the Nester's advice and "shop my house." I looked around and collected all the glass and metal candlesticks, candleholders, and thingies I had. I found red, white and cream candles. I found a green velvet table runner, some cranberry garland and some leafy garland, and Voila, a centerpiece.

I was pleasantly surprised with the way it turned out. I lit all the candles and then took a step back admired the warmth and coziness that I created with things I found collecting dust in my house.

Have you started your holiday decorating yet? What is your favorite part?

Friday, November 28, 2008

adoption blog

In order not to bombard you with all things adoption, I have created a separate blog that will deal with our adoption process. I know that many of our family and friends may only want to read about what's going on with that journey, not all the other random things I might blog about. Of course, this now gives me two blogs to update and I don't know how great I'm going to be at that, so cross your fingers. You might see posts over here that just link you to what's going on over there, if I have written something so awesome you shouldn't miss it, or if there is big news.

So, go check it out. Click here to be introduced to Two Plus One Equals Three.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

scary, night-time photos

Well, Twilight wasn't that wonderful. I'm sorry. I didn't love it. I'm really sorry for Stephenie Meyer, really, because the movie doesn't do her characters justice. I could go on and on and on about the bad casting and acting, but I won't.

I'll tell you about the good parts. The good part was that Emily and Caroline and I met up for dinner before the movie and talked. It was fun meeting someone that I only know through blogging, only met on the computer. It's also really strange when you meet someone who you only know through print. You have this idea of what their voice sounds like, but when you hear it out loud, it sounds different than what you imagine. I'm not sure what I sound like to you, in your head, but I've heard myself in recordings and it's not bad.

The best part was in the car afterwards. It was about 11pm and the movie had ended and we realized we had no photos to capture this special moment. So we used the old trusty automatic timer and took some while sitting in Emily's car in the empty parking lot of the restaurant.

We pretended to be moody vampires, like Edward. We pretended to be stuttering teenager girls, like Bella. And we laughed. And laughed. Oh my, it was one of those times when it's late, and you're punchy, and things that aren't normally funny are hilarious. And you're with friends, so it's ok.

So, even though the movie wasn't that great, it was a great night with some really amazing women.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

happy birthday to me

I wish I liked cake. I really do. Well, I wish I liked it more than I do. I think it's ok, but there are better desserts out there. I like white cake with some frosting, not spread on thick, but an appropriate amount. I like mocha frosting, which tastes so good.

I guess you could say I am picky about cake.

I wasn't even that excited about my wedding cake. It was pretty, but it didn't taste that good. I didn't go to a bakery and taste all these flavors and fillings and look at pictures. I just found someone I knew who could make a pretty cake and that was it.

When I turned thirty I had a fancy cake: chocolate with mocha filling and it too was beautiful. But I don't really like chocolate cake that much...but the hostess knew that and she went to a local Italian eatery and had them make a bowl of tiramisu for my birthday. It was the best thing I ever tasted...creamy and a little chocolatey with some coffee flavor in the background. Lovely. MMMMM.

But today I turn 32 and I have no idea what kind of dessert I am going to have. I like cheesecake, too, so sometimes we get that and I blow out my candles on that. Some years I don't even have candles. When did grownups stop having candles? I really liked that as a kid. Candles are fun and I get to make a wish.

This year I wished for a new faucet and a new purse, and I am pretty sure I am getting both. In fact, I know so, since I was asked to pick out both of them. I will show them off later, once the faucet is installed and I actually have said purse. It is red and shiny and you know how I like that!

So, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, dear Sissy. Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

red, white and blue

Sometimes I think the best lessons happen when we can take what is happening "out there" and relate it to what's happening "in here." You know, connect what is happening in the news with our own small lives.

As a teacher, when learning is authentic, the students really grasp the concept a whole lot better. It takes a lot more planning and the vision to be able to see things from the students point of view; to wrap your head around the way they perceive it. It can be frustrating to try to see something from the point of view of a seven year old, but if I ask a lot of questions, I can usually do it.

Well, the biggest thing that in the news lately was the election, and I wanted to cover the election with the fifth graders without really getting into the differences between Obama and McCain. Kids that age don't have much of a view point of their own on elections; they normally just channel what they hear at home. So I decided to have the students nominate people from their own classes to run for president and have the other students act as the electors from the states.

Each fifth grade class nominated two students (and they were all girls, I must tell you) and they had a week to run a campaign. They had to make campaign promises, advertise, and give a brief speech.

I built a voting booth and found a ballot box, and we voted. I counted the ballots and announced the winners. I took pictures of each candidate and I made a bulletin board with their pictures. They loved seeing themselves on the board and the pictures turned out great.

It made for an interesting lesson, and I think the kids really enjoyed learning about the electoral college (which can be complex) and elections. I think it really hit home for them that people they nominated needed to be people that were good leaders. I expected the kids to nominate a few of the popular kids, but in each case I was so proud that the classes nominated good students who were nice to everyone. It was a great moment for fifth graders that they could separate who was a good leader from who was their friend. I was proud.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

show and tell

Wouldn't you love to adopt this baby? I mean, who wouldn't love to pick out their new family member? I would ask for a child that might look like me, or have my husband's eyes, or my sense of humor? Maybe I would ask for two girls and one boy.

With adoption, I keep getting asked what race of baby I am looking for. With some agencies, Caucasian babies cost more, which I find slightly distasteful. One lady told me it was supply and demand (um, we will not be using you.) With others, they charge a flat fee. I can specify sex with some agencies, with others, I have to be more open to whatever comes along.

I keep coming back to the fact that if this were my flesh and blood child, I wouldn't get to pick that stuff. Well, I guess I could determine the race from looking at my white husband and my own pale reflection, but I wouldn't be able to choose anything else about my child. I would have to surrender that to God. He would choose whose nose was mimicked. He would choose the eye color, the hair color, and the sex.

And it might really be better that way. For me to surrender all that to God and let Him worry about finding a birthmother, a good match, and my child. I need to put all those worries in His basket and then let them go. I need to trust that God gave me PCOS so that another woman out there with an unplanned pregnancy would have a good home for her child to go to. I need to trust in His plan.

For now I am talking to lots of agencies and eliminating the ones that charge ridiculous amounts for Caucasian babies and will give me African American ones at half price. That leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. Yuck.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

more questions

Just want to give you an update that our appointment went well and it certainly answered a ton of our questions, but it also gave me more questions to deal with myself.

I'm not sure what I expected. I think I expected them to tell me that they were always looking for people "just like us" and that a nice birthmother would just want to give me the baby tomorrow. And I know it isn't like that. I know that. But maybe I was hoping that the meeting would be encouraging and she would calm all my fears. She didn't. She was real about the entire process...that it can take two years, that many times the birthmother changes her mind, and that it is expensive.

My husband came away feeling like we were on our way. I came out a little deflated. It just shows how different we are. He was ready to talk, and I was ready to sit and think and process.

I think I have a difficult time getting my head wrapped around the waiting. I guess I didn't think it would take so long. Don't know why. I'm impatient. And not conveying all this very well, either. We came home last night and went to bed. I didn't watch any TV or get on the computer...we just crashed. It was a day full of heady emotions and we were exhausted.

Today I am doing more research. If any of you out there have adopted and would recommend your agency, comment and let me know what the name is. Right now we are searching blind and it's hard to know if anyone is reputable or not.

Monday, November 10, 2008

three meanings

Veteran's Day brings with it lots of memories. Each year for the past eleven years I have paused to remember. And for the past five years I have paused to smile. This day is a day filled with love, laughter and tears. And tomorrow brings a new emotion into the mix: the excitement of a beginning.

Eleven years ago my dad died on Veteran's Day. He went home to be with Jesus right after the Veteran's Day parade passed our house. My dad was, in fact, a Veteran and is now buried in a National Cemetary that looks like Arlington, but is in Florida. It's somewhat strange and coincidental that he died on that day, and that each year I get a day off to honor his memory. And I pause to let myself remember and mourn, then I move on with my life.

Five years ago I decided to spend that day with Charlie. At this point we were still friends and I asked if he would spend the day with me. I had such a crush on him and on this Veteran's Day he chose to tell me that he liked me. It was such a sweet thing to have happen on that day, a day which had been previously filled with sadness. From that day onward, Charlie has been by my side, loving me through this day.

Tomorrow we are going to visit an adoption agency. And while I don't know if this is the one we will ultimately use, it feels like the beginning of something special. We have been reading and researching and talking with several friends that have adopted and now we have questions. Questions that need to be discussed and addressed before we can move forward. But we are moving forward.

And it feels right to begin adding to our family on the day my family fell apart. Yes, that is dramatic, but when you are 20 and you are daddy's little girl and that daddy is gone, it feels that bad. I think he would've loved being a grandpa to my children and doing all that grandpa stuff. He was a great dad and would have enjoyed watching my family blossom whichever way it happened. I'm not writing this very well, about how special he was, and how much I miss him, but I'm sure you can understand.

Say prayers that we will find the agency that God wants us to work with. Say prayers for birthmoms out there that are considering adoption. Say prayers that I can now tame the butterflies in my stomach and not stumble my way through the appointment.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

decisions made

This week has brought quite a bit of change. And I am not someone who normally likes change, but this time I have welcomed and accepted the changes.

Now, I'm not talking about the election, although this one certainly was historic and Obama's whole campaign was based on a nation that was ready for change. What I'm talking about is a lot closer to home. It is certainly more personal.

Here I am with my nephew Payden.

My husband and I have decided to persue an adoption.

I explained a couple of months ago that the Lord had not led us to the point where we were ready to stop trying to get pregnant, and persue a child another way. But it seems this last couple months of disappointment and a heartfelt discussion with my husband, we have made a prayerful decision.

I know it won't be easy. This much I know. But there is a certain amount of relief that comes with making a decision and progressing toward that goal. And we are blessed to be surrounded by people that have adopted both internationally and domestically who can offer support and advice.

And I know I have you all, who will offer up prayers and whatever advice you have. I know some of you have adopted, and I have read your stories online. Feel free to email and refer your adoption agency or counselor. At this point we're researching all our options, so any help anyone can provide would be welcomed.

Thank you for sharing these past couple of months with me. While I was looking forward to sharing a pregnancy with you, now I can share my "paper pregnancy." Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

whisper the words

Yesterday our head pastor was out of town and our youth pastor delivered the sermon. He doesn't get to speak that much in front of the whole church and so hearing him is a change of pace. And while his speaking style is very different from that of our pastor, I was really touched by his words.

See, he was talking about faith vs. fear. And I deal with fear. In a major way. In a way that impacts my health to a certain extent. Fear grips me and takes over sometimes and exerts control over my life. Fear is a very real thing to me, and the thing is that Jesus did not give us fear. It was not a perfect gift that He bestowed upon us. Not at all, yet it sits on my doorstep and attacks me daily.

And I let it.

I give in. I deal with it and take medicine for it, but I don't often pray about it anymore. I guess I've given up the idea that God will still want to heal me and take away the fear. Like He has a statute of limitations on how long is too long to pray for something. Like I passed the expiration date so long ago that it's too late.

It isn't too late. I just have little faith.

Why is it easier to believe for other people? Why is it easier to pray for miracles and healings and finances and horrible relationships when it's other people? Why can't I dedicate time to praying for the things in my life that need searching out and attention? Why can't I trust that God can take away the fear and restore me to wholeness? Cause it's easier to deal with the fear than the fact that God might say no.

So yesterday I cried and prayed and tried to take in the lesson that God is there to calm the storms. That He doesn't want me to be paralyzed by the worry and the stress comes my way. He wants to whisper the words that smooth out the waves and clear the skies. And He can. I'm just not in control of WHEN He will.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I am America and so can you!

I voted. Yup, I'm done. Actually I was done last week, but with everything going on with the funeral, I didn't get to tell you about it. Not that everyone was dying to know that I voted, or that you cared who I voted for. Like my little out-on-a-limb self is so important that you model your political minds after me.

But, I'm proud to say that I went, stood in line, and voted. It only took about 40 minutes and I took part in the democratic process. Of course, I hit a snafu since I had both gotten married and moved since my last voting experience. So I had to sit at this little sidetable with other wrong-record-losers and fill out new forms. Then I voted.

And I know I avoided the big election day lines. And the school where I work is not a voting precinct like many, so we actually have school that day. So I would have had to go and vote before or after. Not fun.

I remember the first time I voted and thinking about how grown up I was. I was in college and I came home for fall break. I went in to fill out and absentee ballot, but they let me vote early. Of course, this was in Florida and I could have done it all wrong, but I felt proud that I was grown up and making choices. My mom gave me sage advice that day, "When in doubt, vote for a woman." I still laugh at that, but it isn't any worse than any other non-informed voter theory.

My Pastor says he doesn't care who you vote for as long as you vote. And I agree. You can't complain unless you vote, in my humble opinion. At least I made a choice and took part in being an American. More than it being my right, it's my priviledge. Many countries don't vote, and many don't let women vote.

So, all this to say that I am done. I cast my ballot, wore my sticker and now can sit back and enjoy election night returns.

Happy Voting!

*** the post title refers to Stephen Colbert's book of the same title. Makes no sense, but makes me laugh. Of course, this note is for those of you not cool enough to watch the Colbert Report to begin with.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a brief hiatus

I am going to take a break for a few days. A friend of the family has passed away suddenly and I am going to be wrapped up in that over the next couple of days. Say some prayers that I will muddle through with dignity.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the holidays are a comin'

The other day at work my principal asked us what we looked forward to in the second quarter. Many of the staff said that they were looking forward to Christmas vacation, and I can relate to that. But holidays are strange around here.

Family can be hard, especially with two sets of parents in the same town. My mom is now living here and the husband's family has always lived here. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the traditional big holidays that mean family gatherings, big meals, and full bellies. But recently there have been changes in our family dynamics that are going to make this holiday season really interesting.

My side of the family isn't very big. It's just me, two brothers and my mom. On Charlie's side, there are more siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and now GRANDCHILDREN. This year we added three babies to that side, and so Christmas will mean presents for kids, not just adults.

And some of those people don't get along with some of the other people. One year at Thanksgiving there was a huge fight complete with slamming doors and squealing tires. There were about 25 people at Thanksgiving dinner and I maybe knew 10 of them, and then there was the fight and all I could do was sit there and think that my past Thanksgivings had consisted of about 8 people that I knew well.

My husband and I decided that we would do things a little differently this year and host Thanksgiving with some friends. This may make waves with the family, but it's what we have chosen to do for this holiday. I don't know what our Christmas plans will be, but I'm sure it will bring changes as well.

How do you handle the holidays? Marital bliss does not always equal holiday happiness, so I would be interested in knowing how other people do it. Let me in on those secrets for making the best of the holiday craziness.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

too tired for a title

My mind has shriveled up and I am exhausted. All thanks to the Book Fair that breezed through my library and left me a puddle of mush. Today my library is back to normal, but I am still on overload. Too much time spent talking to kids about what they could spend their 50 cents on when all the books are 3.99 or above. Too much junk food that wasn't on my diet. Too much chaos in my normally well ordered library.

Forgive me if this is all I can type right now. I was too tired to even take pictures of the library before and after, so I can't even show you. Suffice it to say that my library looked like an African Safari complete with miles of green paper, leaves, tigers, gorillas, and books.

Wish I could take the day to recover. Sadly, I am back at work.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

life isn't like the movies

I think many of you know that my life hasn't been the easiest of late. In the spring there was all this upheaval and uncertainty in my job, added to the fact that I am dealing with infertility and my mother moving into my house. Lots going on. And most of the time I think I handle it pretty gracefully. At least, I hope I handle it gracefully. I would like to.

But every now and then something comes along that really hits home and it hurts. Like this movie that my husband rented recently. Then She Found Me is a movie with Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler and the guy married to Sarah Jessica Parker. He has a name, but I can't remember it right now.

In this movie, April (helen hunt) is 39 and wants to have a baby. Sadly, her husband has just left her. She herself was adopted, and doesn't think she wants that life for her child. She then meets two people...a new man, and her birth mother. It's an interesting conversation movie.

But when she is lying on the table waiting to be InVitroed or whatever, she refuses to pray. She feels like she has lost faith.

I get like that. All the time.

I feel like maybe my prayers aren't good enough, otherwise God would answer them. I wonder if I am wrong to pray for a baby. Like maybe that's too bug a something to ask for. And I know it isn't, but here I am, a year and a half after we started trying, sitting here with no baby. And another month has just past where I have not ovulated. And I am sad.

So Friday night I had myself a little cry, brought on by this movie. And in the movie, April and her new man eventually adopt a little girl from China who is adorable, and they have a happy ending.

I'm ready for my happy ending, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

brought to you by the letter V

I haven't ever been particularly political. While I aspire to be a patriotic American, I fall short of really knowing my issues, candidates and bills. I know the basics, but I don't really delve deeply into the views of the particular parties or candidates. I read a little bit, I watch a little Jon Stewart, a little Tina Fey and some CNN.

But I don't really talk about it all that much. I don't get the bumper stickers or the yard signs and I don't rush to the primaries. Maybe you might label me as apathetic, but I do my part. I vote. I support charities. I pay my taxes.

But, I don't bring my views to work. I don't sit around at lunch and talk about how stupid the other candidate might be. I don't trash the other party.

Here's why:

You never know who's sitting in that room. You don't. At all. I don't know who's reading this blog. I can imagine that there are people out there that support both parties and both candidates. And here's a news flash...THAT'S OK!

It's ok that you might want to vote for the other guy. THAT IS YOUR RIGHT. As an American. That's why there are TWO candidates...so we have a choice who we want to run our country.

I try to be respectful of other people's views and beliefs, and even if I disagree, it really isn't my place to attempt to change their minds. Not at my job. Sure, if I have someone over to my house and we're talking politics, I might take a minute to point out some things, but that's in the safety of my house. In the relative public arena of my teacher's lounge, I feel that room isn't the place to broadcast my political views. I don't want to get into it with my co-workers. I have too much to do at work to sit around and debate the election.

So, whatever your choice is, I respect it. I'm just sayin'. And you may choose to write about it on your blog, but I will not be telling you who I am voting for. That's my business. And your vote is your business.

Ok, off the soapbox now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

buy the book

How do you pick out a book? Do you have a favorite author that you gravitate to or do you just wander around the bookstore and look in the genre that you like? I can spend hours in Barnes and Nobles and I could spend hundreds of dollars in one visit. In fact, I often do. Of course, it isn't my own money...it's for my job. Yes, I do have a really great job.

But I used to be an art teacher and I guess you never stop being an artist, so I love cover art. You aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover, and I don't, but I can definitely appreciate good cover art. Usually, in a photograph, the eyes draw you in, but I was intrigued by this painting where the face isn't even shown. The Other Boleyn girl was an awesome book and a great movie.

I love too that the cover art can vary by the country the book is published in. I happened upon a Harry Potter from Australia one day and I snapped it up. The cover is completely different and I like seeing how that artist interpreted it. And critics will tell you, we here in America definitely had one of the best interpretations of that magical orphan.

The color and art can draw you in. It's like an invitation to a party of one. Do you want to pick me up off this shelf and begin an intimate conversation, a cover might ask? The Midnight Twins first spoke to me with it's bright colors and, I hate to admit it, there is a tree on the front. I know, it's sad. I love trees.

This one is certainly about the eyes. Or...eye. And once you read the story, you keep looking back at that eye. I did. All the way through those 600 pages.

There are many reasons why I choose books. I have many authors that I like and will usually gravitate toward those names if I can't find something that draws me in. But I am open to being invited by new friends to their parties, and it's great when you find a book that has intriguing artwork and design elements. I don't know if they have contests and hand out awards for cover art, but they should. And this post would serve as my nominations.

What makes you choose a book, or are you as open as I am? I would love to hear your reasons as I know it will certainly help me understand my students better.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My name is Sissy, and I am a Twilighter

Saw this little linky on Bug's blog and went right on over to find out about myself. Thought I would be an Alice, but I guess not. Wonder who some of you would be?

I'm a Bella! I found out through TwilightersAnonymous.com. Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!
Take the Quiz and Share Your Results!

Go on over, take the quiz and then come back and leave me a comment telling me who you are. Go on, you know you want to.


My mom recently went to an Apple Orchard and bought a huge box of apples. I like apples ok. They're all right. I can't eat a whole box of them, though.

So we decided to make pie.
Yummy, sugary, cinnamony apple pie.
Piled up high with lots of apples and put in a not so homemade crust.
Ahhh...this is the way to eat apples.

The crumbly topping melted and crisped up to make this hard sugary layer on top of the apples. It was really flavorful because we mixed several kinds of apples together to make the pie. I was really proud at how fast it came together and that we made something so yummy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the royal musicians

As Queen of the Indoors, I am sure you've guessed that I like to be inside. And I do. I like to look at nature, but from the safety of my window. I love trees and grass, but our yard isn't even close to being lovely enough to go outside and enjoy. And because of this, and because I like to read, I like music as well.

But I am spoiled. Well, what Queen isn't spoiled?

Spoiled by XM radio.

Oh, what delights the royal musicians, XM radio, have brought me. No more commercials. Music divided by genres. All sorts of genres. Two hundred and twenty-seven something genres. We have XM through our DirecTv satellite dish and I have a receiver in my car.

And I love the features it has. If I am in the house, I can scroll through the channels to see what I want. And each time a new song comes up, you can see the title and artist. So helpful if you happen to like a song and would love to buy it for your iPod but the stupid DJ never tells you who sang it or what it's called. And in the house, I can even rewind if I want to, because we have a DVR. Lovely.

In the car, my unit is nice as well. Simple, but nice. It has 8 presets that I can switch between, but it also shows me the title and artist. This is the feature that spoils me. When I am driving with other people now, I keep looking for the information. And some newer cars have that kind of thing, but older cars don't. I want to know who sang that song. Sometimes it's not important, but other times it can drive you crazy not to know. Especially if you've heard the song several hundred times but can't identify who the singer is. So frustrating.

And, if I want to be outside, which I rarely do, I have a nifty little set of speakers that my car XM unit pops into and it becomes a boom box. Love it.

So, you see. Along with my title and my crown, the royal musicians have spoiled me for good. I can never go back to life before XM. Sigh.

Isn't life good?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

pumpkin time...

Fall means:
  • Pumpkin spice candles
  • Thanksgiving
  • Turkeywith gravy and mashed potatoes made with real butter
  • That other scary holiday

  • Crisp apples with caramel
  • Leaves swirling around my neighborhood in an array of colors
  • Orange sunflowers that my husband brought me
  • Cool walks with a dog on a leash
  • Yard sales

  • Planning for Christmas shopping
  • My birthday
  • Sweaters and coats and scarves and mittens
  • Football Frenzy (at my house at least)
  • Cuddling up with a good book and a blanket

What is fall to you?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

stretched to the breaking point

Out on a limb. That's me. Well, this girl isn't me...this is come chick I found on the internet in a cute red dress who happens to be sitting on a tree limb. But that's how I view this blog. Like I'm Out on a Limb. Stretching the boundaries of who I am and who I should be striving to be.

I think I put myself out there in print. But being real in person can be so much more difficult. Sometimes I just gloss over my hurts and pains in real life instead of addressing them and getting past it. Then I come and dump it all on you, my ever faithful readers. And you take it and pray for me and wish me well. I think. I hope.
In my real life, I don't think I'm brave at all. I think I shrink into the background many days and become the wallpaper. There, but not really all that present. Appreciated, but not really noticed.
Sometimes I feel that way with God too. I feel invisible, and I know I am not. But it's hard to keep the faith sometimes. Today is one of those days where I feel horrible and am feeling low. I know it's all supposed to work together for good, but I guess I just gotta keep praying. I have to trust that this will work out and if I'm supposed to be a Mom, it will happen. But I feel overwhelmed and hormonal and tired and stretched beyond my capacity for intensity. And I know that many of you will sympathetically tell me to be patient, and I know I need to hear it. So I will keep waiting.
And waiting. With my box of tissues. Out on a Limb.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I missed him last night...

For him..

Not quite a fair trade, ya think?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

like a long lost friend

When I was an art teacher, I taught high school, and I loved it. I really liked working with teenagers figuring out who they wanted to be. I felt like I had some influence with them, and I could talk with them about their interests. I was also lucky enough to chaperone a trip to Spain, then lead my own to Italy one year, and London/Paris the following.

I loved traveling. It was all I wanted to do growing up in a small town. I wanted to see the world. When I studied art in college, my textbooks were filled with artworks, cathedrals, museums, sculptures, etc, that were all somewhere else. America is so young, and Europe is full of history everywhere you go. Sit on a park bench, someone famous probably sat there.

Anyway, when I got the chance to go...I packed light on clothes and heavy on film and I went. Sure, it was a guided tour, but I think Europe with a tour guide is good. With a translator is even better. I saw so many places and things that were in my textbooks. Sometimes I broke down in tears when standing somewhere that I had only seen in books. I was so touched. In Rome, I wandered in awe around the coliseum, where Christians were fed to the lions. How often can you walk in footprints that are thousands of years old? Not on this continent.

The last trip I took culminated in Paris. Such a pretty city with a really snotty attitude. I think the French countryside is gorgeous and the people are warm. I visited Versailles, the famous Monet gardens and bridge and walked the Louvre. Stood in front of and under this:

Don't know why I thought you couldn't walk underneath it. Seems silly now, but I guess I thought that would be off limits. It's not. Just so you know. And it is painted a chocolate brown. Didn't really think about that, either. I thought it was just faded black, but it is brown.

But interestingly enough, there was always one sight that warmed my heart and beckoned me closer. The bright lights, the tantalizing smell, the familiar menu. Ahhhh, McDonald's.

I hang my head in shame. I know. Travel that many miles and eat at a McDonald's? Seems really like an insult to the French people, the Italian people, the Greek people, the British people! But let me tell you, you will be so happy to see those Golden Arches if you ever travel abroad.


Let me explain.

Our tour included breakfast and dinner in the cost, so those meals were preplanned and not always so scrumptious. In fact, often they were repititous. And sometimes strangely foreign. Now I like to try new things, but I would like to choose them, not just have them set in front of me. So for two weeks our stomachs experienced some upheaval as we adjusted to food that we weren't used to eating.

But at lunch, if we were in a big city, sometimes we were able to find a McDonald's and it was so exciting. I remember in Rome, we walked down this street with some fantastically expensive shops, a bookstore and a Prada. Then, the McDonald's. It was like seeing the American flag waving and welcoming me home.

Double cheeseburger, no pickle, fries and a Sprite.


Isn't it funny that such a small thing can help us adjust and feel normal? I love to travel, but there are times when I am tired of absorbing the newness around me and just want something familiar. A security blanket of Americana, if you will.

And, I may apologize to the British, and the Greeks and the Italians for skipping the local fare and eating under the arches, but I won't apologize to the snooty French.

I think you know what the French can kiss. My derriere.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I have cheated, and I'm not proud

Can I just say that I normally hate Walmart and I don't shop there much. Not much at all. I don't like the bad lighting and the crowds and the odd selection of stuff they stock. I like a SuperWalmart alright...one with a McDonald's ain't half bad. But even then, we have to drive 40 minutes to a nice one and I don't have the time, the inclination, or the gas. Plus, my friendly neighborhood Target is three minutes away.

Then my Mom moved to town. From a town that only had a Walmart. And she needs her Walmart fix every now and then and she took me with her last week.

Look what I found.

Cute plaid pajama pants. With a satin ribbon. For $10.

Now, these were hidden amongst a big rack of nothing special. And they were the coolest things I saw the whole trip, but they are soft and cute and I bought a black shirt to go with them. I love them.

Am I a convert? No.

I will continue to be happy with my well-lit, cheerily decorated, slightly more expensive but better quality Target around the corner. As it is, I feel like I have cheated on Target by showing you all these flannel pants, but they are so cute. I had to. I did also show you my pink plaid flip flops from Target, so I guess my conscience is clear.

It feels so good to un-burden.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

my kingdom for a chainsaw?

Dear Yard,

As my current title is Queen of the Indoors, I am sure you are wondering why I am writing to you this fine day. It has been busy here in the kingdom and I wanted to explain why the King and I have been working in the yard. It seems that the previous King and Queen of this Castle did not serve you, yard. They had their own interests in mind and neglected you.

We will not do that.

And while it has been my previous position that I would not venture out much into my kingdom, the King asked for my help this week. I would like to apologize for the chainsaws, the root killer, the airater, the tiller and any other gas powered appliance the King brought into the yard. He is only trying to make you shine, but the yard needs to be weeded. And trimmed back. And scaled down.

Let me say, yard, that I did not want the King to chop down that particular tree. I specifically asked him not to, but as it is leaning towards the Castle, it had to be banished. I wanted no part of this trip to the guillotine, but I needed to verify the King's safety and I ventured out to help.

No, I am not smiling as I haul the tree away. That is not me. I have been framed. That is an imposter who hates trees and all they stand for...things like fresh air and shade.

I am sorry, yard, that this had to happen. Come spring I will bring new life into my Kingdom with new trees, plants and flowers. The Kingdom will blossom, if you will. Please be patient, yard. The King and I have not forgotten how you have brought much joy into our lives. Do not rise up against us and go your own way. We will lead you in the right direction if you would but allow us this chance.

Sincerely, and with much affection,

The Queen

Thursday, September 25, 2008

what a moment...

I admit it...a man standing in the rain outside a rest stop proposing to his girlfriend...took my breath away. The damp kiss. The huge smiles. What a moment.

A made for tv moment. I know, I know. These people aren't real.

But Jim and Pam are wonderful and engaged and I'm so happy. I love them like I love Twilight, Pride and Prejudice and a man with a British accent. Sigh.

I love the Office.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

what's appropriate?

As a librarian I have lots of choices to make. Every time I order or shop for books I am faced with multiple decisions. And the toughest of those questions is "Is this book appropriate for my school and our readers?"

Let's back up and I will give you a few facts. I teach at a K-8 charter school. It is a public school, not a private or Christian school. But I would bet cash money that the majority of people who send their kids here are Christian and would like a private school atmosphere without the hefty tuition bill. And that is kind of what we provide. But, like you might find anywhere, some families are more liberal and some are more conservative.

Also, with so many grades in one school, my library is divided into sections: general fiction and middle school fiction. We call this the Blue Dot section because the middle school books have blue dots on the side.

What makes it Blue Dot, you might ask? Is the book level high? Is the content a little more in the PG-13 range? Is there a lot of violence or kissing or (gasp) sex?

Now, I am one person. I cannot possibly read everything that Barnes and Nobles puts on it's shelves. And if I am ordering it from a catalog, I know even less. And while there are sites that can help you figure out what interest level the book is, I can't read about all 75 books I might buy in one order. I try to preview the most popular things, but again, I am one mind. What I might think is ok, you might label as smut. And what you might label as smut, publishers and critics might be raving about it.

And that has happened. Not recently, but it happens. Remember the Harry Potter controversy? All these people up in arms about a boy wizard? I still have parents that don't allow their kids to read them, and that's their choice. And I hate banning books. I really do. It makes me uncomfortable. I think it's easier to expose kids to tough things through books and discussion rather than through TV and movies.

And teenage girl books are the toughest! Some parents might think it's ok for their daughter to read about kissing and boys. Some don't. Some parents buy their daughters books I don't shelve here and I wouldn't recommend for a sixth grader. Some parents still have their daughters reading Little House on the Prairie. And don't get me wrong...I love some Laura Ingalls, but many seventh and eighth grade girls are beyond that.

So, all this floats around in my head everytime I shelve a new book. Who will love it? Who will it offend? Where do I draw the line?

I would love to hear from some Moms out there. Especially of teenage girls. Where do you draw the line?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Have I ever told you about my love of Friends? I mean, really told you? I know, I've mentioned it before and even quoted a couple lines from it, but have I ever really confessed my deep and abiding love for all things Friends?

Get ready. It's not pretty.

Well, this picture isn't half bad.
I remember watching the first season of Friends. It was MUST SEE TV and I was in high school. It was my senior year and Friends was just a little show on Thursday nights. It started with a rich girl in a wedding dress running out on her wedding and looking up a friend she hadn't seen since high school. And I was hooked.

Friends went to college with me. Even when I didn't have a TV, I would find a buddy who had one and was watching Friends. I made friends with those people over episodes of Friends. We bonded over laughs and Ross and Rachel and OCD Monica.

Friends was there when my dad died. Every week the show brought laughter into my life.

Friends was there when I moved into my first apartment. My second apartment. My third apartment. Friends was there when I met Charlie, who'd never watched Friends before. (I almost couldn't date him, just for that reason, right?) But I introduced him to the six people that I'd grown up with. And he liked them too.

In fact, Charlie is the one who bought my first season on DVD. Then the other seasons started appearing for various holidays and occasions. We bought the fifth season right before our wedding and took it on our honeymoon. We watched episodes on my laptop.

I cried when the last episode went off. But they ended it perfectly. They wrapped up everyone's lives and made them happy.

Ten great years of Thursday nights. Ten years of my crush on Matthew Perry. Ten years of consistency. Even if everything around me was changing, Friends was on. Friends is still my therapy. When I am sad or blue, I put in a DVD and I can count on them to cheer me up. I never tire of seeing that purple apartment and frame around the peephole. I can quote half the lines and annoy others who watch with me.

I say all this because I bought this:

You're not really surprised are you? Come on. How could I resist?
It was only $3! And it doesn't look like it has been played that much. And I may not really play it either, but I will read the cards and learn more facts about my favorite show. Emily said she would play with me, and that I shouldn't cheat, but it is quite tempting. I mean, look at those smiling faces....they want me to open the box!
Now you know how deep my love really is for these fictional people. And I do know they aren't really real. I do. But they were there for me for some pretty big ups and downs and I thank NBC for that. And I find it quite ironic that Monica and Chandler experienced infertility and that I am going through that now. I have gone back and watched those episodes and they make me feel better. I know that Courteney Cox experienced infertility in her real life and I am proud that they explored it on the show. What a way to use your medium.

Now you know the truth about me and my Friends. Don't feel bad if your love isn't as deep. Don't be jealous that I now own this game. Don't laugh at me behind my back!

Come over and play!