Monday, January 30, 2012

This 'n That

1. It looks like we may have found a photographer who can pinch-hit for us for the wedding. If you've been following my blog, you'll know that our previous photographer has had to step down due to a health crisis. The photographer says he can meet our budget. He comes recommended by a few friends of my future DIL's. This is great news, considering that five others Dee talked with had already booked their wedding date and/or were too expensive for us.

2 . I dont' know about you, but when I make my to-do list, I seldom combine tasks that I want credit for individually accomplishing. "Sweep and mop kitchen floor" are two different tasks. "Fold and put away laundry" are also two different tasks. And of course, "Walk a mile" and "Do resistance training for 10 minutes" are two different things. Perhaps you're a fitness nut who thinks I'm crazy for not just putting "work out" on my list. Oh, no, that's only one thing. I hate to sweat, so when I do, I want extra credit whenever possible.

3. The other night I was chatting with a friend who packs elderly people's things before movers come to move them into assisted living units or condos. Many of her clients are quite wealthy. One woman has a walk-in closet that is bigger than my friend's bedroom, and it's just for shoes.
"You couldn't wear all those shoes in a year if you changed three times a day!" she told me. As for the cost, my friend saw many boxes with the tags still on them. One pair was $1900. Gulp! I don't think I could ever, ever, ever justify spending that kind of money on shoes if I had it to spend! One pair!!!

4. I plan to participate again in the A-Z challenge on my blog. I've been pondering how to go about my posts. One idea is to go with memories again, because I've not used up all my memories, believe it or not. Another is to post a quote and then respond to it. A third option is to
do "Poetry and Pictures" with each day having a picture and a poem I write. That would be a big challenge. Got any thoughts on that?

5. I am still wishing for a blizzard. It's not winter without a huge white blanket of the fluffy white stuff. Temperatures have been much too mild for January in these parts.

6. Pretty soon I'm going to take a weeklong computer fast.

7. Tonight my middle two kids are getting together with a friend to discuss a plan to take to the pastors about reviving the youth ministry. Or something. Reviving might not be the right word, but the youth aren't fellowshiping enough and my Steve and Sarah have a heart to see them grow closer to the Lord and to each other and have a more vital role in the church and community. I can't tell you how blessed I am by this, coming from two people who already have solid-packed schedules.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook 1.27.12

Needing inspiration today, I'm using a favorite slice-of-life meme from a blog called The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...
It's rainy and grey, or is that grainy and rey? My head is as foggy as the mist that hovers over the earth this morning.

I am thinking...
about all the things I want to improve-- internally, externally, maternally, you name it. If it's got a "nally" at the end of it, I probably want to change it.

I am thankful for...
the commitment that my husband and I have to each other, and for God's sustaining grace in our marriage. I am proud of my man, and feel secure in his love, even when the hot water heater of life isn't working. By that I mean, on some days the marriage feels like a cold shower on a winter morning--you're tempted to jump out before the job is done. But on most days, marriage is like a warm bath--soothing and healing to the mind, body, and soul. Either way, you're naked and need a good cleansing to be the best person you can be for another person.

From the kitchen...

the pantry screams, "Reorganize me!"

I am wearing...

a pink Myrtle Beach hoodie and burgundy sweatpants. Pink is not my color at all, and I actually had to buy a pink accessory to wear to my future DIL's bridal shower. The invitation said, "Wear pink, black, or a combination of both." So I found a hot pink boa at a thrift shop for $3.99 and paired it with black and white I had. Pink is really not my color, but a warm pink hoodie on a cold January day is better than any alternative available this morning.

I am creating...

perhaps a small quilt in the near future. My husband thought of me yesterday when he heard about a quilting club that makes quilts for needy babies. At least I think that's what he said; I was half asleep, but smiled at his thoughtfulness. I told him I've only made three quilts in my life and that I'd feel nervous joining a quilting club with my elementary skills. But making quilts for needy babies is certainly motivational.

I am going...
to yank the air freshener out of the wall plug. Too much of a good thing is giving me a headache!

I am reading...

The Water Giver, by Joan Ryan

Best book I've read in a long time, it's the true story written by a mother whose 16-year-old special-needs son suffered a traumatic brain injury while riding a skateboard without a helmet. Up until the accident, she had never really felt like a nurturing mom, but one who was preoccupied with "fixing" her child by shuttling him from one therapist to another, reading one book after another to try to change him into a "normal" son, rather than just being the mother he needed. It took nearly losing him for her to accept and love him the way he was.

The book is written by a journalist, so I appreciate the factual medical lingo she includes, as well as her emotional tone. A couple of times she drops the "f" bomb, so I wouldn't give it a 5-star rating for language.

I am hoping...

for a good blizzard soon.

I am hearing...

the whirring of the mini-heater's fan blowing inside and the cling-clang of the wind chimes on the deck, and the pitter-patter of not-so-little dog feet hopping around the tennis ball that Reilly Pup is entertaining himself with.

Around the house...

I see nothing but projects and repairs calling out to me and Mr. Fix-it. A kitchen makeover, a master bathroom makeover, a broken table leg, drawers in disarray, the Youngest's bedroom to be converted to a Baltimore Ravens nest. The second son moved lickety-split into the vacated older brother's room when he moved out, and it is already painted, thanks to him and his girlfriend. Best part: it cost nothing. He was content to use a calm, handsome (like him) blue paint we already had, and I can't for the life of me recall where we used it. That blue exists nowhere in the house. Stranger things have happened.

I asked Ambrey to stand there like a model doing a paint product photo shoot. Isn't she cute?

One of my favorite things...

is finding a handwritten note in my mailbox, either at home or at school. Yesterday I got a thank-you note at school from parents who pick a different teacher each week to pray for. They go a step further and write a note, which the secretary delivers to our boxes. I must've read that thing three times in one hour. Such encouragement on a day I was pondering bad news and big, unexpected expenses.

A few plans for the rest of the week...

The rest of the week? Since today is Friday, that's a short list for a change. Tonight I am going out for Chinese with my former co-teacher and friend, just to catch up on life. She's an excellent listener and an engaging talker. A good conversationalist. The funniest part is predictable when it comes time for us to pay for our meal. I take the check, try to figure who owes what, hand it to her for verification, and then she quotes a line from a movie: "It was my understanding there would be no math."

Tomorrow is a "free Saturday," which means there are no outside obligations on the calendar. But make no mistake, there is no such thing as a free lunch or a free Saturday. Hubby will find plenty of work for us all to do around here.

A picture thought I am sharing...
After the bridal shower, we went for Dee's dress fitting. My daughter started looking around and called me over to check this one out. She called it her dream dress. Well, she couldn't keep a straight face and she was snorting, so I knew it was gonna be ugly. Well, not ugly, just outdated and straight-laced, no pun intended. "Modest is hottest," she said, doubling over laughing, and then snapped a picture of me (in aforementioned pink boa) giving the dress the "oh yeah, baby, what a beaut" look.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Pre-Wedding Septet

Originally intending this to be a Thursday Thirteen post, I decided to cut off my racing thoughts at seven items. You're welcome. Our son's upcoming wedding is front-and-center on my mind these days.

1. I meant to include this photo in my post about his fiancee's bridal shower. To the guests he was publicly addressing, Ben said, "It's always been my dream that the first woman I kiss would be my wife-to-be. Dee is the first." But then--how romantic is this?--he bent down, kissed her, and whispered to her, "and the last."

2. Our photographer has had to excuse himself from doing the wedding because of a serious medical problem. We feel so bad for him, and pray for his complete healing. At the same time, we need to find a new photographer. The wedding is just over 40 days away. I'm sure God will provide a replacement, for He's had this planned all along, right?

3. I am looking forward to the rehearsal dinner. The food at this place is amazing, yet the atmosphere is casual. Originally I wanted a fancier restaurant (since the groom's family traditionally hosts it) but after eating there and knowing the likes and personalities of the wedding party and their families, a casual atmosphere will be just right. We will have half the place reserved for us, but it's not closed off. At first I was reluctant about the lack of privacy, but the more I think about it, the more I like the fact that the general public can observe the fun and love in the group.

4. I found my dress, shoes, and purse all for under $50. I kid you not. Found the floor length deep purple dress at a local consignment shop for $21. Is that okay to broadcast? Well, I am doing just that , because it's an answer to prayer. I asked God to help me find a purple dress for $25 or less. (After seeing "sale" prices at wedding shops for mother-of-the groom dresses, my jaw dropped. No way on God's green earth am I going to drop $300-500 on a dress for myself!) I am just so tickled at my find last week. Twenty-one bucks for a floor length velvet dress with jacket! Does God love to bless or what, people?? As for the shoes, they're higher heels than I normally wear, but I think I can walk comfortably in them down the aisle (and I hope down the grand staircase) without falling. The little gold purse matches the shoes, so I'm thrilled. All that's left to find is the bling!

5. What to do with my hair on wedding day? I can't afford to bring my hairdresser along, but she's the only one who can make it do what I want it to do. Or rather, she's got the patience to give it the right mix of straight and wavy and product. Oh yes, much product to get this hair of mine to behave. Guess I should start practicing patience. Who has 45 minutes a day to straighten curly hair but not flatten the life out of it at the same time?

6. Yesterday I found a bunch of cleaning supplies on clearance, so texted Ben to ask if he needed Windex, Pine-Sol, Febreze, a bucket, or carpet freshener. He texted back, "I could use a broom and mop." Wha? Did I offer those? I was at the grocery store. I texted back, "Sorry, you're on your own for those." Then I felt a twinge of mother-guilt, coupled with the thought, "He needs to learn that part of living on his own is buying the necessities like brooms and mops." I wrote, "You don't need any of these other things?" He replied, "Nope."

Well, the good news is, at least he has those supplies, right? He likes to keep things clean, but I can't remember the last time he swept or mopped when he was living at home. I'm sure I taught him. Think back, Zo.Think back reaaaaalllly far.

7. Wow, you would think from reading this that my son's wedding is all about ME! You mean, it's not? The real kicker is that it's not even really about the bride and groom. It's about God and His decision to unite two hearts and two families simultaneously. Somehow we like to complicate what seems very simple in the mystery of it all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hodgepodge: Giants , Jesus, and Juggernauts

What time is it? It's Hodgepodge time! Let's kick off with a question about patriots (with a lowercase p). Thanks to Joyce for coming up with these virtual conversation starters week after week. Somehow I think that if we ever meet, we will feel as if we already know each other--and still have plenty to talk about.

1. The NFL playoffs were held this past weekend and this year's Superbowl lineup will feature The New York Giants versus The New England Patriots. How do you define 'patriot'?

First off, as a loyal Ravens fan, the mention of the playoffs right now is a sore subject. For the uninformed reader, we lost on Sunday to the Patriots by a field goal. That's three stinkin' points. The kicker, at an easy 32 yards, missed it! Missed it baaaad! I'm talking a kick that landed somewhere in Nova Scotia. Half of us yelled, "Nooooooooooooooo!" and the other half were silenced by unbelief. For a city that bleeds purple, it was a crushing defeat. Our youngest child cried. Literally, he curled up in fetal position and cried. Yes, he tends to be dramatic, but like the rest of Baltimore, we were absolutely heartsick about missing our chance at the Superbowl.

But football aside, I would define a patriot as a person who has a strong allegiance to his native country.

2. What's something in your life right now that feels like a 'giant'?

We just got some bad news about an extended family member's health. I will share more when I'm able. It comes as a gigantic shock.

3. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to being 18?

Misery. I was far from home, by choice, and I had wandered from the Lord, also by a series of bad choices. What I dreamed freedom of choice being like was an illusion. A painful, life-changing illusion.

4. Coconut-mashed potatoes-vanilla ice cream-mayonnaise...which white food would be the hardest to give up?

Mashed potatoes, no contest. Well, okay, vanilla ice cream would be a formidable contestant, but since I fix mashed potatoes much more often, I'd miss them much more often.

5. Describe an incident or a day you remember as the coldest you've ever experienced.

That's easy. And it wasn't winter. It was in early June of 2000. My friend Barb was visiting from Kansas, and had never seen the Atlantic Ocean. She wanted to stick her toes in it, at least, and maybe swim. The two of us went to Rehoboth Beach with my three older kids who were 12, 11, and 9. Ben was grounded for the first 15 minutes on the blanket for misbehavior, but the younger ones ventured into the tide. They were good swimmers with respect for the water, and obedient. The air was a bit cool for my likes, so I knew the water was too cold for me. The kids, however, seemed to be enjoying jumping up and down in the surf.

As they drifted farther out, I waved them to come in. Then I hollered at them to come in. Still they went out farther. I knew they weren't deliberately out that far, that they were trying to come back, but were being pulled out. Fearing for their safety, I ran out toward them, and then swam with all my might. Adrenaline propelled me. I got hold of Stephen's skinny little waist, but Sarah was beyond where I could reach or even touch the bottom.

The water was so cold I could hardly breathe. Every time a wave rolled toward us, I hoisted Stephen as high up out of the water as I could and said, "Hold on, baby!" and held my breath underwater. Jesus was underwater with me, as I prayed, "Please don't let me die in front of my children! Please save us all!"

Barb had yelled to a lifeguard, "I think they're in trouble!" and in a flash of red boogieboard and shorts, he darted into the water toward us. He got to us just in time for me to say, "Please help my dau--!" and then, just as if we'd been lifted onto a raft, a gentle wave took Stephen and me in to shore. The lifeguard rescued Sarah and soon were were reunited on the sand, shivering and shaking from much more than the temperature. I have never felt so close to death, and the worst of it was not the thought of my own death, but the possibility of losing any of my children. The second worst part was wondering if they were about to witness their mother's drowning.

That episode has kept me from truly enjoying the ocean the way I once did.

6. You're hosting a brunch...what's your favorite dish to prepare and serve?

I love to serve brunch. When the kids were little, we often had fancy brunches, complete with printed menus. We'd host invite special guests--grandparents, aunts, elderly neighbors, friends from church. The kids would dress up and be waiters and waitress while Paul cooked and I managed the staff. The kids' favorite part was finding a $3 tip for each of them, left by impressed and generous grandparents.

But you didn't ask about brunch memories. Sorry. I tend to wax nostalgic these days. My favorite dish to prepare is a sausage or bacon casserole. I can assemble it the night before and pop it in the oven 45 minutes before service time. It sticks to the ribs and I can sit and enjoy my guests in simple style.

7. How do you combat negative thinking?

With a trifecta of antidotes: prayer, scripture, and a prescription pill. Every day I need all three to keep me from spiraling slowly downward in my thoughts, which leads to a downward spiral of feelings. I used to believe that all I needed was more faith or more love. But then many people much wiser than I, and more compassionate than others, helped me see that my brain is an organ that sometimes needs help just as the heart or skin or pancreas or thyroid sometimes need help.

And yes, I do need more faith and more love, but that would be the case whether or not I struggle with occasional bouts of depression. I think it's heartless, naive, and utterly damaging to tell people that all they need is more faith.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

On the way to my future daughter-in-law's bridal shower on Saturday, we (my daughter, my second son's girlfriend, and I) had to pull off into a rest area for bladder relief. This rest area was not just a dog-leg off the highway; it was strangely way off the beaten path, and invisible from the road.

In the snow and fog, it was kind of creepy, abandoned, with only one junky ole tan truck was parked there. As we approached, I said to the girls, "Well, it looks likes it's just us and a serial killer. He preys on women between the ages of 20 and 46, who are wearing pink and black."

Just then a small car filled with two young men and an elderly woman parked beside us. I said, "And there are the witnesses."

At that moment, I didn't really care. I was thinking, "When it's your time to go, it just might be at the time you're "going"!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow. Shower.

What do you get when you cross a thin layer of snow and ice,

icky rain and old windshield wipers, too little sleep the night before, followed by too much coffee the morning of, fur-lined snow boots and daringly high heels, pink
carnations and baby's breath, toll booths that could bankrupt a Rockefeller, fifty women dressed in pink and black, one really tall dimple-faced guy in a Ravens polo, a lot of prayer and Kleenex,

darling shoe-shaped white chocolates, a show-stopping leopard print chair and a tiara, delicious food, thick gloves and thin stemware, a heavy microwave and a light Christmas ornament,

with a petite dimple-faced sweetheart of a girl who thought she was just going to breakfast at Chick Fil-A before an 11:15 premarital counseling appointment at her church?

You get a surprise bridal shower in New Jersey, that's what!

Ben did a super job of getting Dee there without her suspecting anything. She expected to see our daughter later in the afternoon at her wedding dress fitting with bridesmaids, but she was clueless about the shower.

She dressed in casual pink and black (her signature colors) and looked adorable, as usual. But her twin sister had brought her a leopard print jumper and black high heels and black sweater to change into.

He stuck around just long enough to eat lunch and publicly honor her with a few words.

I had the distinct privilege of hearing so many good things about my son from ladies in that church who have gotten to know him over the past year.

I heard the following.

1. "So you're Ben's mom! He is
such a mature guy. Really a great match for Deirdra."

2. "Ben is a real man's man. A strong leader. I can't imagine him saying, 'Whatever you say, dear. Whatever you want, honey.'' I chuckled, "No, not at all. On the small things he'll compromise, like wearing pink in the wedding, but on the big stuff he sticks to his convictions."

3. "Deirdra used to babysit my girls and we all just love her. When she told me she'd met this great guy and fallen in love, I had to meet him. Had to see if he was good enough for our DeeDee. Don't worry, he is!"

4. (From Dee's mom) " I could not have picked a better man for Deirdra if I'd tried. He treats her so well. When you're a single mom, that's just extra important to know your girls are being taken of. Ben is an answer to many years of prayers." Dee's mom knew he was special when he helped pack, carry, and load up boxes and stuff into her car after her other daughter's wedding. "He is so helpful and such a gentleman. I don't know how we could've done it without him. I knew at that moment he was a keeper."

Dee's twin sister, Siobhan (pronounced "Shuh-vahn") knows her better than anyone. The shower was perfectly decorated in a very Dee way. Check out this chair, but first the story behind it.

As you know, twins have this mysterious "thing" between them --a sixth sense, I guess--that they are really in sync with each other when they're miles (or states) apart. Siobhan was looking at Craigslist for furniture for her own place when she spotted (no pun intended, truly) this leopard print spiked-heel shoe chair. She emailed her mom the link. "We've got to get this for Dee. It would be great for her shower and her house!" Of course this was all hush-hush. Siobhan bought it for $30 really fast. A few hours later, she got a text link from Dee. "Check out this chair. I love it! Ben would kill me if it came in the house, but isn't it great?!"

photo credit:
Ambrey Zaun

(The shoe chair and all the ones with brighter lighting are her pictures. The others are mine.)

Cupcakes courtesy of her friend,
Katie, who has her own cupcake
business. One word for these:

The prayers of blessing meant so much
to us. Marriage will be a big adjustment, but maybe moreso for Dee since she will be leaving all her friends, her mom, and her church in NJ. Thankfully her sister lives ten minutes from their new apartment.

One woman asked if I was embarrassed as Ben's mom to see Dee opening
lingerie. I jumped up with my camera and said, "No way! If it leads to grandkids, I'm all for it!" (I'm all for it anyway, but I can hardly wait to have grands of my own.)

Hugs and kisses for the soon-to-be Mrs.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Five and Company Girl Coffee

Writing for two memes today, just to be efficient. Or would that be "wordy" and not really efficient?

Five minutes of nonstop writing. Ready, get set, go!

This morning I was taking my boy to school and got to the usual intersection where I make a left turn, with a green arrow. I clearly have the right of way, opposing traffic must wait. They, by law, MUST wait, but twice in the past month or so, a school bus driver has cut me off, jumping in front of me even though he clearly has a red light. I laid on my horn both times (Dec and today) and both times the driver kept going. Mind you it's almost 9 a.m. and everyone is trying to get their kids to school, but darn it, you're responsible for what--60 kids--and I'm responsible for one, but he is the most precious one in this whole scheme if you ask me, which I know you didn't. If I'm turning on green, you hold still, buddy ol boy of a driver. I took down your bus number , it's 383. I would've followed you and shaken my finger and given you a tongue wagging if I hadn't needed to get my kid to school. You kept going to your school just a quarter mile from mine. How dare you be so reckless. I called the school, they said sorry but it's a transportation dept issue, so I called the public school transportation dept and they said Mr So and So who is in charge of that particular school's bus drivers is out of the office. Aren't they always out of the office when you have a complaint? Well, I don't usually go on and on, but twice in a month when you put lives in danger because you're in a hurry and selfish, is just inexcusable. I'm not saying you are the same bus driver as in December, but if that's how you all drive your kids, I'm sure glad my boy isn't isn't on your bus. The end. For now. I've got a number and I plan to use it.

I'm heading off to the vet's for a well visit and a rabies shot (for my dog, not for me personally, in case you're wondering. I'm not THAT mad. I can become rabid-angry and foam at the mouth, but not today.) To link up , see my sidebar for Home Sanctuary. You'll enjoy the Flash story (Flash is Rachel's donkey who teaches life lessons and drops turds like any other animal. ) No time to link to the Friday Five meme URL now. Sorry. My five minutes are UP.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hodgepodge: Talent, Miracles, and Disney Songs

Here's this week's Hodgepodge.

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?

I did not watch it. Usually I like to catch some of it, but I have strong opinions about what parts of it should be nixed (starting with the swimsuit competition). If I were a contestant, my talent would be sticking my foot in my mouth. I can do it with or without shoes on, walking forward or backward, underwater or high in the sky, I can do it with my eyes shut tight, in a plane or on a boat, on any day of the week, and in any media format. I'm telling you, when it comes to the talent of saying regrettable things, no one could beat me. I'm unstoppable, except by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?

I have just one houseplant--a real, live, red poinsettia from a thoughtful and (not-so) secret Santa. When it dies, that's it; I'll chuck it, having loved and lost without remorse. It used to make me feel guilty that I couldn't keep houseplants alive. Then I remembered I have enough other things in my life to nurture and feel guilty about. I would put the Guilty Over Dead Houseplants card into the Discard Pile of Feelings. Now I just don't even buy houseplants. And for the record, I don't like fake plants.

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student?

That depends on the years we're talking about. In K thru 2nd, I changed schools often and was insecure, so I hid. I even went by my middle name in second grade because "Zoanna" was such a weird first name. In 3rd-10th, I was confident (stayed in the same school, was a good student, became a cheerleader in 7th grade, competed in speech contests, and was generally comfortable with teachers and peers. The only classes in which I hid were math and science classes if I didn't understand the material or was the oldest student.

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?

I LOVE Chinese food, and it's hard to pick a favorite meal. Mongolian Beef at PF Chang's ranks up there, and I also like Chicken with Broccoli. Last night I made Oriental Chicken Salad with pineapple, mango, curry, sour cream, mayo, and scallions. Yum.

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?

A miracle is something that can't be explained or predicted, that actually goes against the odds of happening. The billions of things that have to happen to create a healthy , full-term baby is a miracle. A brain-injured person whose been comatose for a month and then wakes up is a miracle. Beating cancer is a miracle. And, when certain people show up on time or do what you ask them, it's a miracle.

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here.

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." In fact, when I posted about my new fridge, in which you can see Naked drinks stocked up, I found myself singing, "Super-cali-voyeuristic-my-they-look-delicious..."

7. I should have picked up my students' portfolios to grade yesterday.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My daughter now informs me that, if she gets a full-time job with the school system in the fall, she wants to move out. Waaaa. She said that seeing her brother's new apartment is making her really want to get out and decorate her own place.

Hospitable Kids

They wasted no time in showing hospitality after moving in.

What a joy to get a text from Dee that very night to come over the following day. The occasion? The NFL play-off game between our Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans. While I'm a big fan of the home team, my greatest thrill was being among Ben's first party guests. I never expected that to happen so soon. I thought for sure he'd want his buddies to come over instead of his family. The only one who didn't go was his dad, who was (and is) still not feeling well. After an hour teaching Sunday School, Paul was "wooped." But that didn't stop the rest of us.

I thoroughly watching the couple in action, setting up snack trays and putting in pizza for us. We took some munchies and more drinks after asking, just to be good guests. It's pretty cool being your son's guest. A first for me, and I loved it.

This is one happy host and hostess, let me tell ya.

Steve dug into the tortilla chips 'n salsa.

Isn't this dip-and-chip bowl adorable? The chips WERE in the helmet. Believe me.

Big sister, little brother.True fans of the Ravens--and each other.

The Ravens looked amazing on Ben's huge plasma TV that he got a GREAT deal on. To think that 25 years ago we moved into an apartment with a 19" TV that had a dial. The remote control was a person--the sucker who had to get up off the couch to change channels. All three of them.

The twin sisters have their men well-trained. I need to learn
the secret to getting a shoulder massage so easily.

By the way, for the uninformed--the Ravens won! One more
win and we're headed for the Superbowl, baby. I hope Ben
and his Dad can be together for that. I did tell Ben that if
he wants his dad to come over, tell him you need help fixing
something. He can't resist making himself useful, especially
to his kids. Maybe it's a generational thing. Ben had a confused
look on his face as if to say, "And why does he need a
reason to come over?" I don't know. All I need is an invitation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Moving Weekend

Call it grace or else I'm just getting crusty in middle age, but I didn't cry.

I didn't cry when he was packing. I didn't cry when we were loading the truck. I didn't cry when we unloading the truck. I didn't cry when, with permission from his bride-to-be, I was arranging things in their new kitchen. I didn't cry as we drove away, nor when I came home and walked into his empty room .

What is wrong with me? I wondered a few times. I thought I'd be a blubbering mass of protoplasm on this day. I wasn't.

I call it grace, and I will call it grace when I do cry, if that happens, which is perfectly normal behavior for a mother when one of her babes leaves the nest to build his or her own elsewhere.

Not gonna lie, my oldest and I? We've had our share of arguments, disagreements, fights, and whatever other synonyms for altercations you can think of. The boy--the young man--is so much like me. Stubborn at times. Strong-willed. Tough to reason with when he gets his mind made up. I would be lying if I said I never wanted to kick him out of the house. I'd be lying if I said he wanted to live here indefinitely.

But his stubborness, strong will, and toughness are also traits of determination and focus on a goal. That's the upside when channeled properly.

He is more mature than I when it comes to quick repentance, however. It takes me much longer to admit my faults and failures. He will duke it out and then calm down, apologize, and get on with the business of living peaceably. Me? I let things fester and ferment. I am seldom inclined to be the first to apologize. I'm so glad God gave me Ben as a role model for repentance. I have told the story about how he was in breech position when it was time for him to be born. Fifteen minutes, the doctor had said. If he doesn't turn in fifteen minutes on his own, I will have to turn him or take him C-section.

My husband and I told the OB doctor that we were Christian and wanted to pray that Jesus would turn our baby. Could we have fifteen minutes alone? Yes, she agreed, but sounded doubtful. Babies don't usually do a 180 on their own when they're full-term. She left the room. We prayed a simple prayer. "Father, please cause this baby to turn even though it seems like there's not a cubic inch left in there for that to happen." I had faith and was determined to deliver him naturally, with no drugs, regardless the pain to me. About ten minutes later, I felt a "flip" in my womb and there was no mistake. This baby had turned from "feet first" to "head first," which astounded the Muslim doctor. We gave all the credit to Jesus. In that delivery room, God demonstrated His power to turn lives around in an instant when we call on His Name in faith.

That son who left my womb nearly 24 years ago has now left my home. Our home. He has grown up wise and wonderful, if I do say so myself. I don't think he could be better prepared to live on his own. I have no doubts that he is ready. He is a man, strong and skilled, healthy in mind and body, with a work ethic akin to his dad's and a social ethic akin to his mom's. He'll be fine.

This moment came without a breakdown for me. Although, I will say something took my breath away for an instant. When I got home and needed something out of the garage, I saw a lot of empty space where his couch, love seat, chair, dining table, and end tables had been stored.

But I didn't cry. I felt a small pain in my heart, but what overtook that pain was a peace that this transition had come seamlessly.

And maybe I know why.

This past summer Ben and I had come to a place of forgiveness and healing and understanding that had never been there before. It took a breakdown on my part, a humbling that was more like an emotional crash. God has given Ben (and Steve also) a combination of spiritual fortitude and compassion for people bound up. I had been bound up in bitterness and couldn't unbind myself. They were there. Ben fought many a spiritual battle on my behalf, many times being up half the night rebuking Satan and his minions, calling on God to help us in our time of great distress and pain. Steve and Sarah did as well, but Ben is definitely a warrior and a counselor. We have hugged and said "I love you" more times in the past seven months than in the past two decades.

I got a hint of the warrior he'd become when he was a little boy. He turned everything into a gun when I was going through my anti-guns-in-this-house phase as a new mom. We didn't buy toy guns nor let family members give him guns. We took away any guns he "inherited" from friends. But he would use his thumb and forefinger because Mom couldn't take those away! I just didn't understand boys back then. I had grown up with all sisters and we just weren't the gun-slinging types. Our thumbs and fingers were for braiding hair and holding baby bottles. I'm grateful that God has given boys that innate desire to protect and defend; I have always felt safe because of it.

Ben has always had a way of drawing out the real reasons we do what we do. At times I hated it; I preferred the neatness of status quo as opposed to the messiness required in repentance and restoration. I thought he was just stirring trouble for the fun of it. No, he wasn't. He was wanting authentic relationships. . I think he and I finally one of those.

This past weekend of literally moving was nothing short of a merciful moving of God's Spirit in our lives. I can let go of my son with peace and confidence in the grace of God.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

French Door Fridge

When our fridge died a couple weeks ago, and my handy hubby couldn't fix it, we were left with two options: spend $500 to have it repaired, or buy a new one.

It was a no-brainer.

After a few hours of shopping, we concluded that this one at Sears on clearance for half price would be best for us. It's an LG French-Door Bottom-Freezer style. I love the way it opens so wide to make room for large trays or dishes after a party. Not that we've had time to throw a party this week. It gives easy access to our food without all the bending. Tall people around here especially love that.

It came with plastic protective coating that we later peeled off per the instructions. The only thing I don't like is how old everything around it looks now. It would be lovely if the new fridge came with
a new kitchen. You know the salesman could've thrown that in, couldn't he?

My first thought when I saw the fridge opened and brand spanking new and clean in my kitchen? Take a picture. It will never look this good again.

We haven't done a huge shopping yet (too much else going on) but I must say I really enjoyed (which is quite rare for me) going to the store to get some essentials. I also transferred a few items from our chest freezer for a photo op. It's all about the blog, right, friends? (Tell me you don't think in blog posts and I'll tell you I was Miss America.)

Our fridge is not just a fridge. It's also a nudist colony. Take a peek.

Not all of our groceries are voyeuristic. Some are discreet. Or perhaps they're downright frigid.

I put the veggies and small stuff in the shallow drawer, and the pizzas and meats in the
large bottom drawer.

I feel so organized. Bless my salted sweet butt.

The kids want to host a Ravens play-off party tomorrow. Guess we can put our big ole--I mean big new--fridge to the party test. Go team!