Friday, June 29, 2007

it was a fabulous Friday

I took today off work and had a relaxing, do-nothing day. I spent the morning out in the garden and watched the parade go by. The squirrels and chipmunks took turns digging in the sunflower seed feeder, and three rabbits played Follow the Leader, running circles around the front yard. The birds took turns at the water...there were chickadees, rose-breasted grosbeaks (momma, daddy and a baby), brown thrashers, orioles, robins, goldfinches, bluejays, grackles, sparrows, and cardinals. I think there were a few more, but I can't remember them. That is one of the fringe benefits of a prairie flower cottage-style garden. The critters love it.

It's amazing. You can almost set your clock by the times that the birds and animals show up to the feeders and the water every day. They take turns, coming to drink and bathe in an orderly fashion, not descending on it all at once in chaos. It's reassuring to see the order in the natural world and to be reminded of how the God of the universe keeps things happening as they should.

When I get disconnected from God, my Source of all things, I start to feel all discombobulated. If all I do is run from home to work to home to this place and that, then fall exhausted into sleep, only to fly out of bed again in the morning to start it again, I start to unravel. My center disintegrates. When I take the time to just sit outside and allow nature to reveal its intricate design, reminding me of how it was created through the sheer genius of God, I become refreshed and my hope is restored. I remember that God is the one in charge, and I don't have to be. What a grand thing to be reminded of on this fabulous Friday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

free is not always free

I am a sucker for anything free. We could be driving down the road and suddenly I'll be going, "Hey! Hon! Right there. Pull over, quick!" I've probably spotted something on the side of the road with a "FREE" sign. Usually he keeps driving unless I see it way ahead of time so he has lots of warning and can change lanes and such. Actually, I'm pretty sure that I'd lose him at "Hey!" If we were in a cartoon, the minute I said Hey, the ends of his fingers would be popping off his hands as his adrenaline kicked in. I do that to him all the time. I have a grand idea as we're driving, and it's, "Oh, honey!" That's all it takes. He goes into panic mode as he's looking for some little kid or a baby squirrel running out in front of us. I think I need to learn to communicate in a non-excited manner when we're in the car.

Anyway, I've picked up numerous "free" things as we're out and about--useful things, mind you! Unfortunately we don't usually end up using them and they end up in the trusty firepit in the back yard. *sigh* I'm a slow learner.

My most recent free find was when I stopped at a garage sale and there was one of those fun-looking colorful hamster cages at the end of the driveway with a FREE sign. I was so excited. I thought that it might be an appropriate time for a small pet for the girls, particularly E-girl. She was especially attached to poor Otis who, for new readers, was our big, black dog who met his demise recently. It seemed like a perfect panacea. How much could one small rodent cost? It would stay in the cage, not eat much, and entertain the girls.

I brought it home, ran it by my honey, and soon, we were off and running to the pet store! Well, the day we were going to get it, we had decided to get two of them, one for each girl. My cost had just doubled. So I"m thinking, maybe fifteen or possibly twenty dollars at the most. By the time we left the pet store, with bedding, food, dishes, and toys, we were singing to the tune of fifty-seven dollars and some odd cents! Ai yi yi. When will I ever learn?!

Monday, June 25, 2007

clearing out space

I'm in the clearing and whining stages of my PMS. I get to a certain point, and I cannot stand the clutter that invariably builds up each week. I almost can't stand myself. I took almost all my books back to the library. I'm so disgusted.

Why do I keep these doggone things hanging around taking up space, anyway? I just have to keep moving them around. If I don't keep them moving, they start to settle to the bottom of one of the many black holes that keep springing up here like so many dandelions! Then I end up paying for lost books. And then I just have to take them back to get a refund when they finally surface again. What a huge waste of time and energy.

I'm feeling sorry for myself—can ya tell?! I just wanna whine and fuss. Why do I even bother trying to read? I get no time to read. I'd love a porch with a swing and cushy pillows (and a BIG Kleenex box) so I could pass the days away reading great books. But why have one? I'd never get to read anyway. Every time I try to pick up a book, someone insists on talking to me! It's like some strange type of reading radar disease.

Oddly enough, we had it at my house growing up, too! I remember my mom saying that she was going to give up reading and writing completely. "I could sit here on the couch all day," she'd fume, "and no one would have a word to say. Just let me pick up a book, though, or a pen and paper, and the whole world turns into one big chatterbox." Oh, and the last thing she would always say would be, "I give UP!" And slam! she'd shut the book. And bang! put it on the table. My brother and I would swiff! — out of the room and head for safety.

Now I see echoes of the past here. Now I'm the one slamming the book shut. My kids are doing the disappearing act when I get fed up. Genetics are so unique. Right along with the blue eyes and Type A positive blood, we're passing down reading radar diseases and guilt skills! Some things just never change. I think there's something reassuring about that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

it's so quiet!

Moms with more than one child will vouch for the fact that when one of the children is gone to visit elsewhere, the rest of the household seems to be exponentially more quiet! I'm not sure how that works out mathematically, but the noise level has dropped since E-girl went to D-girl's house to babysit all week long.

It's one of the mysteries of parenthood that I have never solved. Another mystery is that when you go in to the hospital to have a baby, for example, when you return home, all of the children have grown significantly larger! I observed that every time I went in. Well, it happens when they leave, as well. I saw E-girl Monday for the first time in a couple of weeks, it seems like, and I'm sure she has grown at least an inch since she left. She looks a year older, too. How does that work??

It even works in pictures! Every time I see pictures of myself from the past, I've grown larger since they were taken. Wait. I'm really not liking where this is going. Hmmm . . . how do you reverse the trend? Walk backwards and shove the pictures back into the camera? Well, maybe the walking backward part would help, ya think?!

We were watching this show on TLC - Big Medicine. Have you seen it?? It's about people who need help to lose weight because they've gotten so out of control. It's like a bad train wreck for me. It's kind of a horrible fascination. I don't want to watch it, but I can't take my eyes off these people when the show is on. They are pretty brave to be on national TV and let all their dysfunctions hang out. Literally. You know, people who have other addictions or hang-ups can hide them fairly well. You can't just look at a compulsive gambler or a coke addict and immediately know that they have a problem. But overeaters wear their problems, not just on their sleeves, but on every other part of their body as well. Yes, I know I said I hide M&M's--no ahems necessary! Denial is the first stage of acceptance. (I wonder how long it lasts . . . )

I don't want to get to the point of needing Big Medicine, but when a person has a sit-down job, I think they really have to make it a priority to get up and get moving whenever possible. Let's see, I could add extra trips to the restroom. I could walk to one that is farther away when I go. I could walk around the desk and pick up microscopic pieces of flotsam and jetsam that make their way to the floor (or I could do a great job of pretending). I could walk on my lunch hour instead of reading or sitting.

I think sitting on a Bean Deluxe Exerciser at the desk instead of on a chair might be taking it a bit far, though, if you asked my boss. It probably wouldn't look very professional to be laying back doing crunches or bouncing around the desk area while I answer the phone or direct someone to the nearest facility. But it's sure fun to think about. Can you bounce on a Bean, do you think? Has anyone tried it yet?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is one of those days where it sounds like it is about the parent, but really, the kids are the ones who make the day fun. If it weren't for the kids, we wouldn't be parents, so . . . it's still about the kids! And the grandkids. Each of those "Happy Father's Day" wishes is precious and gets savored; it's like collecting treasures, one by one. For my honey, hearing that is better than an A on a report card or a gold star on a project.

I love it when the older kids call or come over and offer their good wishes for a happy day, even when they have become parents themselves. It's very reassuring to hear from them--kind of makes a person feel that all's right in their world. It's a tough balance, raising them to have wings and letting them go, but still wanting them to come back to visit and connect again.

I guess you're never really done parenting until you're no longer breathing. You still feel that longing for your kids. After you have had children, it's been said that it's like having part of your heart walking around outside of you, unprotected. You're always subject to sudden pain if they are hurting or feel far away. It makes me think. Does God feel that way about us? When we forget to thank Him or give Him praise, or if we neglect to take the time to talk to Him, does He feel a sense of longing? And does His heart beat a little faster when He hears from us? Does He do a little leap of joy when we give Him honor and glory? We are made in His image, after all . . . it only makes sense to me.

Parenting is not for cowards! So, here's to you, my honey, for taking on the challenge of a family almost double the size of your clan previous to "us". Happy Father's Day, to a man who chooses to sacrifice many things he wants and needs to make sure that our kids get the things they need and many of the things they want.

Being a dad is sometimes a thankless job, but you do it because you believe that is what a man does. You do it when it's easy, and you do it when it's not convenient. You are not perfect, but you do what you think is right even when others don't agree with you. You wear your heart on your sleeve even though sometimes it gets a little banged up in the fray. You always, always make our kids a priority. Thank you for caring, for loving, and for protecting. Thank you for being the best dad you know how to be. I love you!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

summer time is flying

Do you ever notice how fast the time goes by when you're doing something you love to do? My days are passing, just as if I were flipping through the pages of a book. Plip. Plip. Plip.

I planted more annuals, we've been weeding (my honey more than I), we've been rearranging things in the flower gardens, and planning the next steps we want to take.

It's so cool. Even though it's a work in progress, I can look ahead and visualize how it will be by the middle of summer or so, as we keep reworking and refining it. It's kind of like me--a work in progress, but getting better all the time with the hand of the Master reworking and fine-tuning my character. Do you see why I love to garden? I feel so close to God when I'm out there with my hands in the dirt He created.

I feel like I'm repeating myself. I probably am. Ha! D-girl is constantly letting me know that I've already told her things when I think I'm telling her something new. See, that's the tough part. She doesn't live at home anymore, but she visits often. So she'll find out something when she's there, and when I see her again, I think it happened when she wasn't there so I tell her about it. I can't keep it all straight!

I have hope, though. A friend of mine, who is a little ahead of me in age, not very much, said that the forgetfulness seemed to get much better after a while. You know, after the internal thermostat stops being broken and you stop feeling like you're going crazy. After menopause, is what I'm trying to say. But that is another post. Or wait, did I already do that??? LOL. Happy Saturday. I'm headed outside before it gets too warm again.

Watch for new snapshots from the garden...coming very soon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the kaleidoscope has turned

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29: 11

Perspective, perspective, perspective. I'm now able to see my summer job as just another step in God's plan. I'm humbled, disappointed (in myself), and grateful all at once. The first thing that happened to change my perspective was a part from Naomi Remen's book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, which I have in the magazine rack in the "reading room". (Okay, it's the bathroom. I just thought reading room sounded nicer. But then I thought, well, it could be a real room, and I don't have a reading room. I didn't want to be deceptive. Anyway, I digress!)

So, this part in the book talked about perspective. There were three men chiseling stone blocks by hand to build a cathedral. Each of them had a different point of view on their job. The first one said he hated his job. Every day he had to show up and just do the same thing over and over again. Chisel and scrape. Chisel and scrape. (I'm paraphrasing, I hope you know.) He couldn't stand doing it. His job was horrible. (Yes, I hear the similarities can save that comment. Ha!)

Okay, the next guy said that every day when he came to work, he thought about the fact that he was providing for his family by working. Each time he chiseled and carved another block, he was helping to feed and clothe his wife and children. He found meaning in his work because of that. Going to work every day was a positive thing because it benefited his family. (I tried that, but it was kind of a pacifier for the whiner in me, not because I was really deciding to be content.)

The third guy said enthusiastically that his work was a joy every day. His efforts to make these blocks were going to be a part of this awesome cathedral for as long as it existed. His work was going to be a legacy. Each chisel mark he made in these blocks was going to become part of a beautiful building, and people would enjoy the results of his labor for many, many years.

Here is where I started to feel a little humble. It was NOT all about me, and I wasn't taking any time to look for what God had in mind for me here. It was more about my pride than it was about anyone else. What? So no one else is allowed to give me constructive criticism? I'm supposed to be above that? I shook myself and told myself to get over myself!

Each phone call I answered was my chance to encourage, help, direct or serve another human being. Perhaps something I said was exactly what that person might have needed to hear at the time they called. Every time I made a mistake, I had an opportunity to learn more about my job and my institution so that I could do a better job the next time the situation came up. I had forgotten that I didn't have to be perfect; I only needed to make myself available to the best of my ability. So I started looking at it that way.

Here’s the kicker: My perspective changed. My attitude changed. My outlook on my job improved. Today I was offered a promotion for the rest of the summer. I did nothing to get this. I didn't apply. I didn't ask. I didn't even know there was a position. I don't know how much clearer God has to make it for me. My security comes from his hand alone, not through my heroic efforts. The first summer job that fell into my lap led to the second job being offered to me. Do you hear Him telling me not to worry??! I was offered more money, and I will be doing something that fits me better…oh, Lord. Forgive my doubting, complaining heart!

Monday, June 11, 2007

mismatched Monday

This absentmindedness of mine is disconcerting! I got ready for work this morning and I had picked out clothes that were mainly cream and sky blue, with small red accents. They are comfy and not bad looking.

I got to work and settled down with that nice feeling that you get when you are reasonably well put together — do you know what I mean? Well, I was sitting at the desk when I looked down and saw that I was still wearing my hot pink power shoes. (Okay, other people call them Crocs.) I had worn them when I walked the dog this morning, and I never changed my shoes!! I was well put together, all right!

I thought about it for about thirty seconds, and then I made the executive decision that matching didn't matter today, for the simple reason that . . . it was Monday. Yeah. Look at me not worrying about what people think. It was either that or try to make my feet inconspicuous all day long, and with size 11's, that was kind of a lost cause. It set the tone for the day: about a half bubble off plumb.

Well, tomorrow could be Terrific Tuesday. You never know!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Satisfied Sunday

Oh, it was a beautiful day from start to finish! We started off the day with a visit to the first "real" church that I had attended regularly in the past—and, it's now called Real Life Community Church! Is that a happy coincidence or what? The associate pastor is going to be helping another church plant get going, so it was his last Sunday at RLCC.

Let me explain that a little better if I may...this is the first church I attended after I left the church of my childhood. There was a break in between there of about nine years, during which I had given up on finding another church. For a while, I had even given up on God. Fortunately, God hadn't given up on me! This church is a place with so many great memories. I was saved when we were attending this church. Almost our whole family was baptized here. We saw lots of friends today whom we hadn't seen for a was so fun! My twin came with. We had a sleepover at my house last night. I felt like a kid again!

After church, we went to Lowe's and bought flowers for our Stacking Pots. Hers was looking quite spectactular when she got done. She has a great eye for color and design. I like mine, too, but hers are extra pretty. I have petunias, violas, and impatiens in mine. She has the additional added attraction of hot pink vincas and liriope. When they fill in a little, I'll post pictures.

My honey was so sweet. He did all the dishes and laundry this weekend. I am so spoiled. If he's not careful, there's going to be a rotten smell from my side of the room if he spoils me too much. I so appreciate him.

We had homemade Mandarin Asian Chicken Salads, and they were pretty tasty. My honey called them girl food, and he might be right because the boys showed no interest in them whatsoever. Some of the girls came up and scrapbooked with us in the afternoon after we bought the plants, and we saved the planting for the evening when it had started to cool off. It was a day like summer days ought to be.

But like all good things, my day has come to an end. The girls and my twin had to go home. It's time to put the toys away, to balance the checkbook, and to get ready for a new workday. (groan...) I feel a definite lack of enthusiasm at that thought, although the sweet memories from today ease the sting.

Friday, June 8, 2007

once again, it's finally (favorable) Friday

You thought I was going to whine again? Not today—I'm choosing a positive attitude. Many bloggers write a thankful Thursday post; well, I'm determined to find the favor in this Friday.

● I start work early, which means I'm getting out early.

● Tomorrow is Saturday so I can shut off the phone and sleep in.

● I had time to walk my Augie-doggie and make coffee this morning.

● I get to go to a baby shower tomorrow for my very dear niece, who thought she would not have any more babies. She's having a long-hoped-for boy!

● I get to plant flowers with my twin this weekend. (In our Stacking Pots--look out for us gadget girls.) Flowers and friends. It doesn't get much better than that!

● We have scrapbooking planned for this weekend, too! We're making Bling Ring books--doesn't that sound like fun?

● It rained last night, which means that all the flowers got watered in one fell swoop.

● It's a cool day today, but it looks like it is going to be sunny. My idea of a perfect kind of day.

● I only have ten weeks left in my summer job. (Wait. Is that backwards whining?)

● I am the chosen child of an awesome God who is infinitely bigger than all of my problems put together! Hurray!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

a productive evening in the garden

Before the daylight was gone last night, I got a couple of dozen annuals put into the ground. Slowly but surely the empty spaces are getting filled. Every time I get some more plants planted, I sit back and take time to envision what they are going to look like when they have matured. They look pretty spindly and scrawny right now, but with some water, fertilizer and TLC, they will be spectactular. There's nothing like a nice drift of marigolds along the sidewalk, some zinnias popping their bushy, colorful heads out of the greenery, and some dwarf dahlias adorning the edge of the path that winds from the driveway up to the house.

A picture says a thousand words. I was going to post a couple of them here, but when I took my camera with me today, I left the memory card in my PC at home. You'll just have to use your imaginations until I can get them on here. :) It's a good thing I took pictures of them right away because my honey went after them and nipped off the flower tops. He insists that it makes them put out twice as many flowers. They just look a little bare for a while.

Okay—I have one picture posted here, now. In a few weeks, they'll be outstanding. (I hope!)

I accomplished absolutely no weeding yet because I had to get the poor babies in the ground. I discovered that their little roots were wrapped around the outside of the dirt about six hundred times. It's like going out to a Chinese buffet, eating too much, and having to come home and put on your comfortable clothes so you can breathe. I had to take them out of their too-tight little pots, loosen their roots, and put them in the ground so they could expand. They're very happy, now!

We found the cutest "critters" at the local greenhouse. They're called "Portlies" and they look like they've been overstuffed. Somehow he got this one that looks like a giant bumblebee to stick up out of the coreopsis...I want to name it but haven't come up with the right moniker yet. He likes to hide them so they surprise you when you are at just the right angle to catch a glimpse of them. He's such a creative man. You know how they always used to say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? He knows that the way to my heart is through my garden! Gotta love that man.

a better day at work today

Hey--I get to report good news today! I had a pretty good day at work. I'm starting to feel like I know my way around the front desk, and I don't feel like such a newbie anymore. I still have a lot to learn, and I'm sure I'll make more mistakes. But I've got my little zone staked out, and when I don't know, I know who to ask. Hurray for a better day!

I'm off again to get some more plants in the ground, and if I have time before it gets dark, I'll even get some weeding done. I'll just have to beware of the fourteen-year-old driving the little cart around the yard--I'll be sure to keep my toes tucked in when she comes zipping around. If only I could harness the energy into something that I want done instead. (smile) What an adult point of view, hmm? I guess I kinda forgot what it's like to be fourteen-almost-fifteen. It might be fun to remember.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

what do you do with unexpected free time?

I have two free evenings this week that I didn't expect. Amazing. What do you do when that happens? It happens so rarely for me that I'm just in a tizzy trying to figure out what to do! It's a case of having too many choices. I could clean the kitchen. I could do some laundry in the middle of the week instead of waiting for the weekend. I could pick away at the stack of stuff at the end of my bed. I could vacuum and dust in the dining room. Those would be responsible things for a mother to do.

However, I don't feel I have to be particularly responsible right now. My honey already cooked dinner, the animals are fed and walked (those who need to be walked), and I hear the call of the outdoors. The dishes and the laundry will wait till tomorrow. The garden is calling my name. It's so faint I almost didn't hear it. I had forgotten how much fun it can be, but now that it's on my mind, the lure of fresh dirt and new six-packs of flowers is more than I can resist. I love putting plants in the ground. I love combining the different textures and colors to create a living work of art. But most of all, I love how the process always feels like having a day out with God. I feel so close to Him when I have my hands in the dirt He created, planting the exquisite flowers He designed. I get such satisfaction from creating a visual bouquet that with any luck will last all summer.

I wonder if He felt the same delight when He created me. Let's see...I'll give her a soft heart, full of compassion; a ready smile; a quick mind for learning; enough patience for eleven children (and a husband); a pinch of discipline; and an unending fountain of tears. I'll give her happy tears, sad tears, tears of empathy for others...oh, look! Her eyes even start to gloss over when she thinks about crying. I gave her just the right amount. Now, let Me look at her. I think she's just about right. I'll season her with experience, test her with frustration, bless her with the gifts I chose for her, and there. Just watch her grow into the woman I created her to be.

I'm off to play in the garden and to spend time with my Lord. Have a happy!

Friday, June 1, 2007

it's finally Friday!!

Whew! I've almost made it through another week! Almost is the key word here. It's my honey's birthday today, and we were both a little crabby this morning. I was a little on the snappy side. Not what a person wants to do on their favorite person's birthday, you know? I did some serious talking to God about my attitude, let me tell you! Because I definitely had one. It was an "I wanna stay home in bed, not go to work" morning for me.

So I've been trying to act "as if" I'm in a good mood — putting on my positive attitude for the day. I even got a nice visual of how to do it. At the front desk this morning, a couple walked in and the guy was just being a poop to her. He was deliberately trying to embarrass her by talking loudly and saying things like, "You need to check yourself. You just need to go back home, talking like that." He just kept talking junk to her. And she, bless her, modeled a perfect example of grace for me today. She didn't raise her voice, she kept her composure, she behaved with dignity and just did what she was here to do. She just humored him and did her thing. She didn't get all snappy and irritated like I for sure would have. I was looking around for a brick to throw at him. She just treated him like nothing was happening, no big deal. He looked like a big buffoon, and she looked like she had total peace. I'm going to let that sink in today.

I'll even try to think of things that will cheer me up. Okay, I have lots of things to be in a good mood about. We get to go to a beautiful wedding tonight. There's a nice dinner and dance at the reception...not that we'll do much dancing with my honey's arthritis kicking in, but it's still fun to watch. We have several friends who have children graduating this year and we get to go celebrate with them this weekend, too. How fun is that?!

We'll get to squeeze some time in this weekend playing in the garden again...we have some annuals to plant. We have marigolds, dahlias, zinnias, geraniums and New Zealand impatiens--I'm getting all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about them! My honey got a nice dark pink peony for his birthday, and that's in the ground already! It's got one nice big bud on it that looks like it will open soon. Next year I hope it has a big ol' bunch of blooms!

I'm trying to figure out what the heck my twin said to me yesterday that had me laughing so hard. I wanted to tell my honey, and by the time class was over and he picked me up, I forgot!! That is the sucky part of getting old(er). I thought I was going to choke from laughing, and I was trying to be quiet about it because there was someone across the hall talking on the phone to a client. And then, later, even though it was that funny, I couldn't even remember what it was.

Oh! I read the funniest posts about the worst date ever. Check it out at Presbyterian Gal. Actually there are three chapters to this date, it was that bad. But it was funny the way she told it! I left a comment and told her my -- oh, phooey! I tried to use the right abbreviation for best friends forever (BFF) and I put BF which I think usually means boyfriend. I thought it looked funny when I wrote it. Aauugghhh!!!

Oh well. Got that out of my system now. I should have just said twin. Yes, my boyfriend, Beth. Some days every step I take just sucks me in deeper! Now I'm causing trouble in her life, too! Just kidding. I am such a dork. I absolutely know that my G-girl would be rolling her eyes right now. Anyway, I told Presbyterian Gal that my BF Beth always says never to waste the material that life gives you. Make someone laugh with it instead. And indeed, Beth does that very well. You know, I think she should be the next host on The View now that Rosie is gone. Beth is way funnier than Rosie. I wonder how I can submit her name.

Gotta go before I figure out that I didn't wear underwear to work or something! (I did! That was just an example. That's a story for a different day.) I hope you got to laugh at me--no, I mean with me, today. :)