Friday, July 29, 2011

One of My Favorite Poems...


One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.

And I walked earth's highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
"Lift your empty hands to Me!"

So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!

-Martha Snell Nicholson

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ellen Bartelle, Woman of Mystery, Part 5

It was still a dark and stormy afternoon.  Ellen had finished three of her six stops for the day and it was already 4:00.  She peered at her list to find her next destination...764 Downey Street.  That seems familiar.  She rifled through the papers to find the name of the business.  "Ah, here it is." she thought.  It was her old school.  Wonderful, she could check the locker for the Mayor's next Godiva payment.  That'd be a great snack, especially considering how many calories she was burning this afternoon.  She glanced at the papers again to find her contact.  She stopped and gasped.  It couldn't be...but was...Jonathan Miller, none other than the junior high vice principal who had watched her leave the school just a few short weeks ago.

That familiar gnaw came to her stomach when she thought about the possibility of speaking to him face to face.  The truth was, she had always had a crush on him...even back when she was in junior high.  He was the smart, funny guy with perfectly french-rolled jeans.  All the girls were crazy for him, because he was nice, too.  Ellen had admired him from afar, never daring to think that someone popular like him would take the time to notice her.  Then came that fateful day.  She had slammed her locker closed, expertly snapping her padlock into place.  She had turned around and collided with him on her way to gym class.  They were both fine, but her fanny pack had littered its contents all over the green tiled floor.  They both bent over to retrieve her items, and she felt a strange tingle being so near him.  She looked up and saw him smiling, and at her.  Her heart had wings for a few brief moments.  Her poor acne-loaded skin stretched into a smile, until she saw what he held in his hand.  He had inadvertently grabbed the small picture she had tucked away to sigh over later.  Her purple pen had etched 'Mrs. Ellen Miller' and 'Jonathan loves Ellen' all over the poor picture.  By then, others had gathered and someone was broadcasting her humiliation throughout the halls of junior high.  She had pushed through the crowd of jeerers with tears pricking at her eyes never to look him in the face again.  And now, in a strange twist of fate, she would have to march right into his office and speak to him with the very same fanny pack which had been the cause of her disgrace.

She felt a little sick at the thought, then came up with a plan of action.  The secretary.  The secretary was all the protection she needed from a reignition of her shame.  She'd go in covertly, wait for the right moment, then speak to the secretary while he was gone.  She knew she could pull it off, for she had plotted similar schemes all through high school.  She felt a little comforted at the prospect of her plan and continued walking.  She finally arrived, and slipped into the junior high wing through the side door near the kitchen.  She could smell the rancid grease as she passed the kitchen door.  Just one more corner would bring her to a safe place where she could observe the vice principal's office without detection.   She felt her way along the cool bricks of the wall, then quickly rounded the corner into the shadows.  She had made it, but when she took a moment to grab her binoculars from the fanny pack, she felt that someone else was there.  She slowly turned her head and looked straight into the stark brown eyes of Jonathan Miller.  Her plan was ruined, and she needed an explanation, as well as a TUMS.  Her mind was racing to come up with a plausible story when he took a small step forward.

"Ellen," he said.  "I thought it was you."  She looked at him again...he had that all too familiar smile on his face.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Mommy Art

I've just recently discovered the art of Kate Greenaway.  She has a lot of illustrations that are lovely, but I think my favorites are her paintings and drawings of little girls.  This one reminds me of today's outing to a friend's house for a tea party.  Cara primped and sipped tea with two of her lovely friends.  The boys stuffed their faces quickly and escaped to make car noises.

Girls Tea party - Kate Greenaway

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Word of the Week

I have to admit, I've included this word for its Wow-factor alone.  This is a very impressive five syllable weapon to have in your wordie arsenal.

Pulchritudinous: [puhl-kri-tood-n-uhs] adj; beautiful, comely.

Boy this is an adjective of Cyrano proportions.  (Yes, that was a nod toward the epic nose!)  Imagine the impression a young man could make using this well chosen describer...

"Julie, from the moment I first saw you, I thought you were the most pulchritudinous woman I've ever seen."

Even married guys could benefit from this one!

"No, honey, of course you're not fat; you totally have that pulchritudinous glow of pregnancy!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Glimpse of Motherhood

****Editor's note:  Here's something I wrote to a friend one year ago when Allison was still a newborn.  Are all Moms like this or is it just me?

Last night, as I looked in the mirror, I had that secret feeling of joy that women get when they feel kind of pretty.  Those feelings are few and far between these days.  My clothes don't fit quite right, I have 3.8 minutes to do hair and makeup before running out the door, or I might have gotten only four hours of sleep the night before.  But as I looked in the mirror, my coral top and denim skirt fit well and hid my Mommy bulges, my hair was strangely calm for a Sunday evening, and I had almost seven hours of sleep the night before.  The feeling of sweet feminine contentment was not to last, however.

As I rounded the corner into the living room, I noticed the downpour that was to take out my happy hairdo.  Rats!

As I opened the car door, I noticed the open window that was to make me look like I wet my pants, or skirt rather, for the rest of the evening.  Double rats!

After choir practice and church music, I got Allison for her feeding, and not long after noticed that uncomfortable, gassy look that usually means...ah yes...there it is...half a feeding worth right in the middle of the lovely coral neckline.

After the next half of the feeding, I fared a little better, and she only soiled a discreet two inches on my right side.  Phew!

After walking into the church hallway, Leah pointed out the lovely mustard yellow on the mid belly of both Allison and me.  "Where's my diaper bag again?"

After turning her around to prevent any more stainage, she really let the water works go and wet through the rest of what was already a disturbing diaper, spilling guessed it...the rest of the coral shirt and the skirt below. 

After changing her outfit, I noticed how clean and lovely she looked and how wet even my initial mishap still was.

Here I was, wet hair, wet backside, puky neckline, puky right side, mustard yellow neckline, and urine- soaked abdomen.  Here is the real Mommy moment.  It didn't even occur to me to shrink away in embarrasment and hide for the rest of the service.  I calmly wiped up as best as I could, said "Oh well", and re-entered the service, happy my baby was clean and fed and happy.  Motherhood leaves no room for personal pride!  I would have been mortified by just the hair five years ago!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ellen Bartelle, Woman of Mystery, Part 4

It was a dark and stormy afternoon.  Ellen gazed out upon the dismal Seattle streets with longing.  Oh, to be down there right now, happily splashing!  Instead, she was trapped inside this awful office.  She sighed.  Sometimes private investigating was so lonely and boring and just plain hungry.  Putting her hands on the glass, Ellen stood on tiptoe to try to see Frank's franks, her favorite hot dog stand.  She jumped, she squinted, but couldn't see it.  Oh, she could just smell that footlong loaded with sauerkraut and onions.  Her stomach began to growl.

"Oh, Ellen, here you are," began Franz Wilhelm, her boss. 

Ellen jolted back to reality, trying to forget about the steamy, drippy dog of her food fantasy.  In fact, she felt a little guilty even thinking about it in the presence of Editor Wilhelm.

"Yes, sir.  What can I do for you?"

"Ellen, I have a new assignment for you which requires you to do a little running around town.  Do you mind leaving the office for me?"  he asked.

Her eyes began to a rendezvous with Frank was a possibility after all!

"No, of course not.  I'd like to help in any way at all.  Just let me get my things."  She all but skipped into her cubicle and retrieved her fanny pack.  She returned to Editor Wilhelm with a smile.  He smiled back, or rather smirked, then said, "Don't you need to put your tennis shoes on?  You'll get pretty sore running in those heels."

A flash of panic shot through her brain.  Had he literally meant that she had to run the streets of Seattle?  His love of calorie burning showed through the merry smile of the hollow-cheeked fitness apostle.  Her stomach growled again.

"Here are a list of the stops you need to make for me.  I'd like you to pick up the response packets from the people mentioned and leave them with Carol whenever you finish.  I know it's a bit of a trot over to Downey Street, so you may just have to bring them in tomorrow morning with you."  Misery exuded from every cell in her being for a moment, then she rallied.  She was a professional after all, and this was the very opportunity she had been waiting for...a chance to come back to the office after most people were gone.  She needed to get to the computers in Accounting if she was ever going to find out who was embezzling from Fit for Life and trying to bribe the mayor.

She began her journey outside.  The rain had subsided for the moment, so she dispensed with the pink lipstick umbrella.  She looked both ways before ordering her dog from Frank, then shoved it into her fanny pack until she was out of the view of the building.  She parked herself on a bench and attacked the hot dog like a crazed animal.  She was actually a little out of breath from the rapid ingestion, when she decided to review the Mayor's note one more time.  She drew it out of the fanny pack and gazed at the graceful, curving letters yet again, then at the small red smudge.  She ran her finger over it, smelled it, and then had a Sherlock moment.  The hot dog had done the trick...for now she finally knew that the bribery note was smudged with greasy ketchup.  The same kind of ketchup that was on her finger right now!

So, Ellen thought, perhaps the sender of this note was also a part-time hot dog lover.  She thought about this for a while.  That would narrow the field of people from within Fit for Life by quite a bit.  Most of them would rather die than eat processed meat.  She stood up.  It was time to begin her trip, but she was definitely not going to run.  Walking would give her the time to digest not only her hot dog, but the new clue while she wasted the next few hours.  The later she got back the better; tonight was the night she would break into accounting!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So true, so true...

courtesy of

"The most terrifying words in the English language are:  I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Ronald Reagan

Ahhh, Ronald, we miss you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Word of the Week...across the Pond edition 1

I just located a smashing online dictionary of British English which is full of all manner of brilliant phrases and words.  After I really master this dictionary, I plan to judge some sort of talent competition...must be the thing these days.

bingo bango bongo: n that’s that; done.

I guess this phrase was popularized by some British TV chef or other when he'd pull something out of the oven.   Let's try it on for size...

"If you'd just begin picking up toys in there, before you knew it it'd be bingo bango bongo!"


After Heinrich's rude belching routine, Delores brought the blind date to a complete bingo bango bongo.

Hmmm...having a hard time with this phrase.  Doesn't exactly roll off the  I'd better try to get the hang of a different one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thank you, Anonymous for your lovely poem!

Do you carrot all for me?
My heart beets for you,
With your turnip nose
And your radish face.
You are a peach.
If we cantaloupe,
Lettuce marry;
Weed make a swell pear.

There, you see why spell check isn't a replacement for a very astute editor?
(I've been in the garden too much lately...)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Charming Bully

My little sweetheart is a one-year-old bully.  The thing is, she's so sweet about her thievery that even other small children don't mind.  Here's a typical example:

My babysitting guy, Noah is sitting on the floor, contentedly sipping his bottle.  The bandito approaches.  She crawls over happily giggling the whole way.  Noah spots her coming and watches.  She maneuvers into a sitting position right next to him and smiles.  Sometimes she talks.  "Da da dee da ma ma!", and smiles again.  He can't help but smile back.  The bottle comes out so he can respond with a smile or two year old phrase, "Da Caaarrrr!".  Here's where her deftness comes in...she smiles, she giggles, she gently pulls the bottle from his hand.  In about two seconds' time she inserts the bottle and drains it.  Then she laughs again and leaves.  The poor guy is left alone, milkless, wondering what hit him.  But, for some reason, with him and other children, it never occurs to them to protest.  She's just so sweet about it all, giving due attention and smiles to the victim, somehow they don't seem to mind.  She's the most charming bully you'll ever meet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Word of the Week, Insect edition

Did you know that there is another word for a bee?  Try this on for size!

dumbledore: noun, a bee

Boy, the English language never disappoints.  It's so easy to add a little color into the humdrum activities of life.  Used in a sentence...

"Cara, Scott, don't run out there without shoes on.  You could get stung by a dumbledore."

Eleanor's idea to lick the drip of honey off the tree backfired as a swarm of dumbledores darted toward her outstretched tongue.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ellen Bartelle, Woman of Mystery, Part 3

It was a dark and stormy morning.  Despite the gloom and drizzle, there were people swarming Swank Street in Seattle.  Ellen peered out from behind her crossword to take in the Fit for Life building entrance.  It was now or never.  She slipped on the rhinestone speckled spectacles and crossed the puddly street.  She nonchalantly walked in the front door, flashing the ID badge the Mayor had given her at the disinterested security guard.  Scuttling around the corner, she stopped to let her pulse return to normal. 

In any other business, the hallway by the elevators would be packed at 9:30 a.m., but this was the Fit for Life Association...all it's employees were expected to neglect the elevators in favor of the stairwells.  Everyone, of course, except for the Mayor.  He was lucky enough to have an office on the ground floor, for reasons obvious to everyone who had ever seen him.  Ellen pressed the upward arrow and waited, cautiously peering from side to side.  She tenderly folded and inserted her crossword puzzle into her fanny pack, ingeniously concealed beneath her green frog rain jacket.  Ellen was a master of disguise.  The elevator door opened, and she stepped on, pressing floor nine.  She fished the somewhat crumpled resume from under the rain jacket.  The elevator door opened, dinging conspicuously.  The jealous eyes of thirteen underemployees stared as she made her entrance...they were still glistening with sweat from the jog upstairs.

Ellen slowly stepped toward the reception area.  The wet dog smell of the carpet confronted her immediately.  At least she wouldn't have to worry about her rain jacket dripping on the floor.  There was a hungry looking receptionist directly in front of her.

"Welcome to the Fit for Life Human Resources Department.  What can I do for you today?"  she mechanically said.

Ellen held out her resume.  "Oh, yes, actually, um, I'm here for an interview for the opening in accounting."

The receptionist was obviously unimpressed.  After a brief phone inquiry, she rose to show Ellen into the office of her contact. 

"Follow me, please."  she said.  She was painfully thin.  Ellen was surprised she had the strength to be so surly.  After a neat rap on the office door, she was gone, and Ellen took another sip of her mochaccino.

"Come in!" came the shout from the office.  Ellen entered, closed the door, and smiled at the man behind the desk.  Frank was a stout man with a passion for tweed and peanuts.  There was a halo of shells littered around his desk.  His reckless snacking habits didn't matter, however, because Frank was exceptional at his job and everyone knew it.  He smiled back at Ellen, then hugged her roughly around the shoulders.  It was great luck to have an old friend of her father's already incorporated in the politics of the place.

"Sit down, Ellen, and have a peanut."  He clanked a small nutty bucket near the chair before continuing.  "I'm really glad you were able to come in today, but I've got some bad news for you."

"What's that, Frank?"  Ellen sounded as confident as one can with three peanuts in her mouth.

"Well," he began with a sigh, "I wasn't able to find an opening in accounting without raising questions, but I did find you a job across the hall."

Hmmm..."What floor is it on?"  Ellen queried, worried about what the upper teen levels would do to her heart rate.

"Oh, it's on the third problem there...The only reason I was concerned is because the position is in the Nutrition Center, as assistant editor."

Ellen smiled...editing she could do.  "Why should that be a problem as long as it's next to Accounting?  It should work out fine, Frank...".  She reached for the file he handed over.

"You don't know what you're getting yourself into, Ellen.  You can't so much as bite your fingernail without logging the calories onto your food journal.  You're going to have to stop with the chocolate, and the lattes, and the hot dogs while you're working there.  Do you think you can do it?".

The thought of carrot sticks and hummus flashed through her miserable brain.  For a moment, she wavered.  She rallied after a swig of mochaccino.  She had a job to do, and no matter how much tofu it took, she would pass herself off as a nutritional guru to crack this case.  Besides, she could eat whatever she wanted once she got home.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Compromise at Play

Perpetual weddings grace our rooms.
My daughter's the bride; my son is the groom.
She smiles and dons a long bridal veil.
He stands, not caring; quite typically male.
With singing and vows said under the stars,
Phew! We're let's go play cars.

****Editor's note: This happens on a regular basis.  You do what you have to do to get a playmate!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In His Steps

I've decided to actually review some of the books I've read lately.  Now that I have children, I've found it somewhat difficult to race through books like I could when I was first married, but I do find some time to read here and there. 
In His Steps

I recently finished the book In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon.  For some reason, before I began it, I had the impression that it was going to be a non-fiction, instructional book.  This is a fiction which follows the lives of several members of a well-to-do church when they commit to viewing every decision in their lives through the lens of what Jesus would do in that situation.  There were many personalities involved... musicians, pastors, wealthy socialites, businessmen, a newspaper editor, and it was intriguing to me how well Sheldon was able to deal with the personal struggles that arise in all types of professions. 

The book is a little older, and you can tell through a few things here and there, but overall it was really applicable for today.   It struck me as a little sad how far Christianity has come in general.  There isn't the outrage over a newspaper publishing who won the prize fight, or the fact that the city allows a bar to run.  The world has changed some, too.  The minister in the book was treated as an intellectual professional man, on par with the president of a university.  Ministers rarely get that kind of respect anymore.  I guess it was a good glance on how American culture has changed over the years.

The plot is interesting, the book moves along well,  the characters are pertinent and believeable, and the message is convicting.  What would Jesus do as a blogger?  What would Jesus do with His time at home with children?  It's a good read to get you thinking without the heaviness of a spiritual instructional manual.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When you become a Mom, you become a toddler all over again...

An exciting night out involves Sam's Club and samples.

Grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly seem like balanced meals.

You don't care what your hair looks like.

You have a very short attention span (ie "Comeherewhatdidyousaydon'tdothatthegrilledcheeseisburning".)

You wake up at 7a.m. even on Saturdays.

You can cry at the drop of a hat, and some days you do.

You don't notice your belly hanging out.

You're too busy to listen to who's talking to you.

You're constantly running.

You love Daddy.  A date with him is the ultimate treat!

You have no idea what is in style.

You can translate what other two year olds are saying.

(Sigh...I used to be so intelligent!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Word of the Week

Here's an interesting one for you meanies out there...

Schadenfreude [shahd-n-froi-duh]: noun
satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.

It shames me to say that I have occasionally fallen prey to the sin of schadenfreude.  Better practice the pronunciation a bit on this one before you teach it to your kids.

"I tell you, Honey, I never thought I'd see the day when a son of mine would hit someone with a toy, then be so shamelessly full of schadenfreude about it."  (sigh comes here)

Paul's smirk of schadenfreude nearly betrayed his plot to feed his roommate the laxative 'vitamins'.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Have you ever discovered the true poetry that happened in the friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson?  It's intriguing. 

They were as different as different could be.  Adams was a straightlaced, hard working, plain speaking, puritanical New Englander, Jefferson a leisurely, gentlemanly, charming, introverted Southerner.  They were nearly perfect opposites, yet they helped form a nation together, they wrote the Declaration of Independence together, and became friends of a lifetime. 

They became like brothers for a time, against a backdrop of Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia, Paris, Denmark, and Washington.  As is often the case, then politics took its toll on them.  As they ran against each other for two presidencies, their contrasting ideals and political gameplay drove a seemingly incurable wedge between them.  Theirs was the bitterest enmity of brothers parted on bad terms.  Then, late in their lives, as they were both dealing with the loss of their wives, age, and semi-infirmity, they began a cautious correspondence which blossomed into a tenderer friendship than they had had before.  Their letters to each other were comforts and delights.  The kinship of forming the new nation was sparked yet again, and their personal interest in each other's lives were rekindled.  They corresponded regularly the rest of their lives.  In fact, in the final act of poetry, they died on the same day...July 4, on the fiftieth anniversary of the nation whose Independence they had drafted together.  Truth is stranger than can't make this stuff up.

***Editor's Note:  For more reading on this subject, check out John Adams by David McCullough.  It's fantastic.

photos courtesy of Wikipedia

Friday, July 1, 2011


Here's my Mom's favorite Nash poem...which makes me hungry.  This is why I don't write much food poetry.


Celery, raw
Develops the jaw,
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.

I think the Wonder Pets also like this poem.  You have to be a Mom of a small one to understand.