Thursday, December 29, 2011


I can't really say why, but I've had a strange problem lately.  I keep getting zits and I don't know why! 

Now here's a little perspective...I'm thirty years old.  I've never been a person who struggles with acne.  I've always been blessed with clear, fairly smooth skin.  Now all of a sudden, I have...I'm ashamed to admit it...four zits at one time! 

I'm so distressed!  I've been thinking what could be the cause of these sudden outbreaks, and I've come to the conclusion that it must be stress.  Either that, or God is trying to make me more sympathetic to the teens in our youth group...nah, must be stress.

That thought comforts me a little because I know what the solution is for stress in my life..a bubble bath, girlie movie, and most importantly...

                             el chocolate!!!

Well, even if it isn''s worth a try!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Old Man Thoughts On Laura Ingalls Wilder

We have just finished reading the book Little House in the Big Woods aloud at lunch time.  Our usual routine includes me reading a chapter or so as the kids are finishing up their lunches.  (It's a nice, calming influence at a somewhat tired time of day).

Cara has had plenty to say throughout the book, as any of you who know her would have probably guessed.  Every remark about hair or dresses or how much they love Pa brought forth a gush of excitement from my little girl.  Allie would usually grunt her agreement between mouthfuls thus, "Dash da ma ma nash na nee!"  Interesting.

My little old man, however, has remained eerily mute through the entire book.  He was listening I could tell, but he said nothing...until this week.  We had finally made it to the second to last page in the book.  Ma was making a large meal for the field workers.  Just as Laura Ingalls Wilder described all the food they had prepared being put onto the table, Scott had some input.

He put down his sandwich and blurted out in excitement, "Wow, Mom!  That sounds really good!"

Leave it to Scott to think with his stomach...even in a book review!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Lord's Birthday

This painting reminded me what a special thing it is to have Christmas on a Sunday.  It is, after all, Jesus's birthday celebration, not ours!

This painting is "Christmas Eve" by J. Latham.  Is it just me or does it seem like a rare and somewhat foreign thing to associate Christmas Eve with a full church?

I love the lit stained glass windows.  I think I'll have stained glass windows put in at my house next time I have $10,000 to spare.  I love the sleigh with the excited horse.  I do not love the thought of walking kids to church wearing a corset and bustle.  I'm going to have a bustle that's built in if I don't stop dreaming of peanut butter balls and fudge.  <<sigh>>

Friday, December 23, 2011

What Can I Give Him?

by Christina Rossetti

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, 
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him--
Give my heart.

**Editor's Note:  This is my children's favorite Christmas least for this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sentimental Christmas

Okay, grab your hankies, Moms.   This one will make you well up a little...or maybe it's just me.  Look at this painting titled "Her First Christmas" by Robert Gemmel  Hutchison.

Isn't that sweet?  I love her little round blushed cheek.  I remember all of my babies at this stage, overheated and exhausted with the excitement of the activity, lights, and dare I admit...even egg nog.  The toddlers run around smiling, squeaking merrily, until they collapse in a heap like this picture at the end of the day.  What a cool father Robert Gemmell Hutchison must have been.  This painting is way more creative and memorable than a "Baby's first Christmas" onesie or sleeper!  Not that I'm knocking it...I think all my kids have one!

Wipe your tears, Moms.  Remember your precious ones like this next time one of them tries to eat tinsel off your tree!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Word of the Week, Man Phrase Edition 3

I have to say, I'm a lot more comfortable using man phrases since I began chronicling their meanings in my word of the week category.  One of the reasons I have avoided using man terms is because I've been unsure what boundaries they require.  When is it appropriate to say boo-yah!, for instance?

Here is another man term that has had me scratching my head for a little bit.

a hot mess

Okay...just so you know...this has nothing to do with temperature.  Here's the definition that I have concluded from contextual usage...

hot mess: n. a confused situation, something that is abnormally cluttered, a person who is overwhelmed by emotion.

Isn't it efficient of men to use one term for so many meanings?  We women would probably have seventeen separate terms for these definitions!

Here are my sample sentences:

The young girl's not-so-subtle evasion tactics led the Mom to assume the room was, as she suspected, a hot mess. (Again, an instance taken from real life).

The perfect storm of chocolate abstinence, lack of sleep, and football viewing caused the young mother's emotions to erupt until her entire family saw that she was indeed a hot mess.

The woeful mismanagement of Mr. Ling caused Randy and his unfortunate coworkers to scratch their heads in wonder at the hot mess the company had become.  (This too has been taken from real life, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent...and the guilty!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

So Sweet...

I have a theory.  I've been thinking through the deliberate placement of words like "Angel" and "Adorable" on baby clothes.

"I love Mommy" her bib declares.

 I'm pretty sure manufacturers put it there to remind you how cute your baby really is next time you see her splashing in the toilet.  <sigh>

I'm sure that each child has been ten times worse than normal every time I dressed them with "Mommy's Little Sweetheart" across the onesie.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Adoration of the Wise Men

Saw you never in the twilight,
When the sun had left the skies,
Up in heaven the clear stars shining,
Through the gloom like silver eyes?
So of old the wise men watching,
Saw a little stranger star,
And they knew the King was given,
And they follow'd it from far.

Heard you never of the story,
How they cross'd the desert wild,
Journey'd on by plain and mountain,
Till they found the Holy Child?
How they open'd all their treasure,
Kneeling to that Infant King,
Gave the gold and fragrant incense,
Gave the myrrh in offering?

Know ye not that lowly Baby
Was the bright and morning star,
He who came to light the Gentiles,
And the darken'd isles afar?
And we too may seek his cradle,
There our heart's best treasures bring,
Love, and Faith, and true devotion,
For our Saviour, God, and King.
- by Cecil Frances Alexander

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Band of Merry Kiddos

I've been hunting around for some Christmas artwork to add into my very random collection of artwork.  I wanted to find some pieces that are relative to the holidays small task when I only post artwork with expired copyrights.  At least I thought it would be hard.  Amazingly, I was able to find a plethora (use that word today--it makes you feel smart) of paintings of interest.

Here's the first...

It's called "Christmas Caroling" by Kate Greenaway.  I've done one of her pictures before because the kids in them are just so cute and they remind me of my own chubby-cheeked cuties.  Just a minute...(pause)...okay, I'm back.  I just needed to go squeeze my squishy little girl.  She was the only one I could catch!

I love their over-sized coats and the clear sky.  Wouldn't you love a crew of kids singing to you on Christmas eve?  The instruments may be a little much considering their age, but then maybe that's a personal quirk of mine since I've taught fifth grade band before.  However, when I try not to hear beginning violin scratches along with the painting, I find it completely charming.  No one carols anymore...

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An interesting political philosophy

''Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.''

—Groucho Marx

Monday, December 12, 2011

Play Time

The soldiers stiffly circled the flagpole, halting to attention around the American flag.  They stood in silence until the large-headed Captain began, "Ready, men?  Attention, Salute, Pledge...."  They all pledged allegiance in their manly voices.

The Captain continued, "Now, we're going to sing."  He then began a very manly rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner".  The soldiers joined in with dignified gusto.  In their patriotic fervor, they began to clap and yell, "Go Blue!".  Then, it was time for the action to begin.

The men left the camp site for the vastly carpeted terrain below.

"Line up, men!"  the Captain bellowed.

They immediately obeyed, ordering themselves into ranks.  The jeeps and tanks joined them as well, bringing up the rear, slightly behind where the action would soon take place.  The sound of engines roared in the distance as the evil cars began to approach.  They rounded the corner and proceeded to the carpeted terrain, revving their engines to jeer the alert soldiers.  The soldiers stood still for a moment, waiting for the go-ahead from their Captain.

Suddenly, the wicked blue car screeched into the ranks of soldiers, burning rubber all the way.  The Captain yelled at the soldiers, shouting at them to fight back.  The soldiers pulled out their guns, bazookas, and bayonets.  Manful grunts and artillery screamed through the air.  The tanks chugged around and opened fire on the line of villain cars.  The cars began to panic and were about to make their escape when the soldiers broke their ranks and began to jump on top of them.  The air whistled with the brutal sounds of hand to hand combat as the soldiers unleashed their fury on the enemy cars.

Suddenly, an enormous white horse with rainbow colored hair entered the scene with none other than Buzz Lightyear on her back.  The zealous space knight charged into the fray, clobbering the combatant cars with his space laser.  Sparks flew through the air on his right side, then his left.  Buzz turned his white stallion and had come face to face with the evil blue car.  Their eyes locked in a daring game of chess.  The blue car suddenly began to spin his wheels, then sped toward Buzz, leaving tracks in the carpeted terrain behind him.  Buzz's stallion whinnied ferociously, then charged toward the dangerous car.  They were getting closer and closer...

"Hi Buzz.  Are you ready to get married?" came the ill-timed comment from the festooned, bridal Barbie.

"Cara!!!!!" yelled the Captain.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Keepin' It Real, part 2

There is clutter and dirt
and dishes and laundry.
I need to get cleaning,
but spend more time reading.

No, this is not really my house...Don't worry, Andy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

General Stonewall Jackson on Politeness...

"Good breeding or true politeness is the art of showing men by external signs the internal regard we have for them.  It arises from good sense improved by good company."

Am I mistaken or is true politeness a lost art?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ellen Bartelle, Woman of Mystery, Part 10...At Last!

Catch up on Ellen Bartelle here...Ellen Bartelle, Part 9, or click on the Installment Story label at the top to see other installments.  Now, without further interruption...

It was a dark and stormy night.  The glowering clouds traveled quickly, giving momentary peeks at the half moon above.  Ellen was at her post across from Fit for Life, observing as her guests arrived for the final showdown.  She intended to make a great entrance once her guests had all arrived.

She had emailed invitations to all, under the guise of a party honoring the new calorie counting software being launched next month.  The Mayor had arrived moments before Herman and Margarita, who were bickering as usual.  Next, Frank came, underdressed as usual, leaving behind him a trail of peanut shells.  She held her breath as Jonathan Miller parked and entered the building, speaking briefly to the security guard with a smile.  Editor Wilhelm and his secretary Carla slithered by silently...Ellen smiled to herself...soon she would never have to darken the door of Fit for Life for the rest of her life!  The clouds had passed and the cool night air blew through the damp trees, causing sprinkles anew to fall around her on the bench.

It was time to make her entrance.  She walked up to the Fit for Life building, her red velvet heels clicked and caused mini-splashes as she crossed the street.  She flashed her credentials and a smile to security and headed to the elevators for her final ascent into the office.  She felt a little odd without the fanny pack...instinctively trying to rest her hand only to find nothing.  She ran her fingers through her damp hair, then bit her fingernails nervously.  She was always so worked up for these meetings...public speaking was not her forte.

The elevator dinged conspicuously, reminding her of her first visit to the floor.  She exited the elevator, pausing dramatically in the hallway only to discover that no one was there.  She clicked across the black tile and entered the office.  She posed near the doorway until all eyes had turned toward her...the guests were all helping themselves to the diet sodas and bottled waters she had thought to provide earlier.

"Hello, friends," she toned deeply. "Thank you all for responding to my message."  No one responded; some of the guests looked very confused.  The room took on an air of discomfort.  Carla quietly began to sneer, while Herman searched for a regular Pepsi.

Having made her brief entrance speech, Ellen was unsure how to bridge the gap for her big reveal.  She could feel the red of embarrassment beginning to creep up her neck as the others continued to stare mercilessly.  Frank sauntered over and offered her a beverage quietly, steering her toward the refreshment table.  Ellen would have none of it...she had a mission to conclude.

She gestured grandly, announcing the fact that she had an announcement to make.  "If you would, please be seated while I make introductions."  Everyone chose a desk chair and waited...everyone, that was, but the Mayor, who obviously would never fit into a Fit for Life desk.  He stood nervously by Editor Wilhelm, shifting his weight back and forth.  Then she began...

"It was four short weeks ago that I began my work here in the Fit for Life editing department.  I've gotten to know many of you during that time, but I have a confession to make to you all...I am not just an editor's assistant by trade...(she paused here)...I'm a detective."  She locked eyes with Jonathan's bewildered eyes, only to have the moment spoiled by Herman loudly spouting to Margarita, "There!  Did I tell you there was something else going on?  I don't know why you can't trust me about these things..."  Margarita interrupted him with a detailed assault of exactly why she couldn't trust him.  The bickered quietly from their desks in the corner.

The Mayor decided the moment had come to take credit for everything Ellen had accomplished.  He tottered to the front of the office, congratulated Ellen on a job well done and began making a speech about in-house ethics and how important he always considered it.  Ellen had been upstaged before the reveal, and she was unsure of how to get things back on track.  Just then, fate took a hand.

A cell phone began ringing.  It rang unanswered for many minutes, it's jazz trumpets blaring the same eight bars repeatedly.  People began ignoring the political hogwash in search for the unanswered phone...who wasn't here to answer their phone?  Or was someone there who wouldn't answer their phone in the present company?

Ellen took the Mayor's momentary lapse to jump back into the spotlight and announce grandly, "I know who that phone is ringing for!"  People were checking their watches and trying to make a discreet was obvious they didn't care where or why the phone was ringing.  Feeling the excitement waning, Ellen walked boldly over to Carla the secretary.  She met her smoldering gaze fiercely, and with fists clenched (a very conspicuously odd movement) she invited her to answer the phone.  Carla's eyes gleamed with acknowledgement, but she only snickered aloud and claimed no knowledge of the phone.  Ellen walked over to Carla's desk and from the second side drawer pulled out a pink cell.  "You do know of this phone because it has been your source of communication with the outside man who is blackmailing the embezzler of Fit for Life."

That statement finally made a bit of an impact.  The Mayor waddled over, his piggish eyes green with excitement, Carla began shoveling insults out about Ellen's BMI, Jonathan was carefully listening, clearly intrigued, and Herman and Margarita were of course still arguing in the corner.  Frank looked on keenly.

Ellen quieted the mini-mob with the promise of an explanation.  They quieted nervously and listened as she began.  "I was approached prior to my introduction to Fit for Life by the Mayor, who was obviously concerned about the embezzling of funds from this...(her voice caught a little as she thought up a complimentary, yet honest adjective for the hated job)"  Ellen  glanced over to the agitated and perspiring politician.  "It was a bold move to hire someone to uncover the source of the embezzlement from without the company.  His reasoning was obvious...the mayor himself is the embezzler."  Ellen had anticipated a gasp of astonishment, but apparently this news didn't surprise many. Even the Mayor was tonguetied in his own defense.  He pointed his finger at her, trying to summon up a speech, but was perfectly speechless.   She cocked her eyebrow, then continued, "The Mayor isn't the only breach in ethics here.  He embezzled thousands of dollars from this company to fund his reelection campaign under the watchful eyes of Carla and her well-seasoned blackmailing companion in crime.  The red mark on the blackmail letter was a dead could be no one else but Frank."  This time there was a gasp.  Frank, her lifetime friend stared in shock at Ellen.

He began, "Ellen, how dare you accuse me..."  Ellen realized her improvident blunder.

"No, no, Frank, of course I don't mean you...I mean Frank from the street.  You know, Frank's franks?  His real name isn't even Frank!  It's Troy...who buys hot dogs from a guy named Troy?  I couldn't believe it at first, either, but there's no mistaking that horseradish ketchup he makes.  Who else would be able to see the secret happenings of Fit for Life?  Who else would have known which waif to approach with the idea of blackmail?  It had to be someone close.  Some one the Mayor would never suspect.  Someone who had been able to photograph the Mayor eating all those nitrates.  It was him."  Ellen finished with a smile, then casually ignored her growling stomach while she calmly dialed security and the police.

Frank and Editor Wilhelm were strong in their praise of Ellen's blame-pinning palate.  The Mayor was arrested, as Ellen had already forwarded all Fit for Life financial data to the district attorney.  The police would be out late into the night looking for Frank, er, Troy, who would be hastily thrown under the bus by the  now unemployed Carla.

Out of habit, Herman began cleaning up and turning off the lights.  There was only one light left on in the office, as most people had already left to spread the gossip around Seattle.  Ellen looked at Jonathan, seeking his approval and understanding.  He came near her and offered his congratulations...then he invited her out to dinner with him and his girlfriend.  Her heart sank...seriously?!  Ellen smiled slightly and thanked him, evading the invitation for now.  She stepped forward and shook his hand, standing eye to eye as equals.  She would never feel inferior to him again, for she had proved her worth to him and all Seattle.  She was alone, but she was a force to be reckoned with.  She was Ellen Bartelle, woman of mystery.

She put on her red ladybug sunglasses, turned on her velvet heel and walked away slowly.  She left the building, grabbing the lipstick umbrella on her way out into the damp streets of Seattle.  The storm had calmed, just as had the mystery of her life...until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Word of the Week

Here's an interesting word suggested by my little brother.  By the way, once you're a little brother, you're always a little matter how many doctorates you collect.  So there!

I like his style...being a polack as well, the verb form of this word can come in handy for every day life.

tump: v. to bump or knock (usually with over)

               n. a small mound; a clump of trees, shrubs, or grass.

How the word has such very different meanings, I have no idea.  Does that stop us from using it?  Not one bit.  Let's try this out in every day life...

The tired toddler followed her mother moaning for a full fifty minutes during the dinner preparation, despite the mother's unfortunate habit of tumping into her every couple of steps.

(In case you were wondering, yes, this did happen to me last night...)

The dinner party was ruined when the zarf-like guest tumped the punch pitcher over onto the leg of lamb.  His rival watched the public example of clumsiness with schadenfreude

 (Yes!  Extra points for me for using three vocabulary words in the same...uh...two sentences.  I tried for one but it wasn't meant to be.  That would have been triple points...but who's keeping track anyway?)

The terrific athletic teen trotted to the top of the towering tump before tumbling down, to his trepidation.  

All right, give it a try...alliteration or not, I'll love reading your sample sentences! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Charlotte's Web

Here's a book review for those of you who have the little ones around.  We've made it a habit after our school time is over to do some reading aloud together...well, minus Hurricane Allison, of course.  The first book we started with was Charlotte's Web by E.B.White.

Would it surprise you to hear that I never read this book until college?  I had no idea that it used to be the book every first grade teacher read to her class, and is now pretty standard for kindergarten teachers.  It really is a great book!  It has an interesting plot, including good and evil and cleverness (and vocabulary!), yet it still maintains a sweetness and innocence which is becoming a thing of the past for the little guys.  I won't go into the ins and outs of the actual story, since most of you probably already know it, but I have to say, I really enjoy the descriptions in the book.  Even without Garth Williams' classic illustrations, you can just imagine what Fern looks like feeding the pig, Wilbur, from a bottle.  You can practically see Templeton's bulging body after gorging himself with loads of chocolate, ahem, fair food.

I guess it comes down to this:  it's a well-written, classic book that kids of today still enjoy!  It also has a great ending...unlike this book review.  Try it with your kids...they'll love it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lines on Being a Landlord

(This is a poem for my parents...both landlords in their own right...this is what I've learned about it!)

In Apartment one, they're drunk all day
In Apartment two, they're drunk all night.
They're not so bad in Apartment three,
In Apartment four, they always fight.

The police came out to Apartment five,
A weird smell comes from Apartment six
Apartment seven is really clever
At not-paying-my-rent type tricks.

There's ten people living in Apartment eight,
Ten animals in Apartment nine,
They run and scatter when I show up
because they have to pay a fine.

Apartment ten is the best of all
For they've torn large holes in all the floors.
Silly owner, don't you know
That every piece of fault is yours?

I work a lot, without much pay,
I replace the floor in Apartment ten.
I think I'd like to sell this place,
But not right now...I don't know when.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Made Me Laugh!

Even though our gas here has finally dipped below $3/gallon, I thought this picture was hilarious.  I guess even the gas station owners are somewhat helpless to the prices!

Picture courtesy of