Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The One Where They Went Home

Tomorrow two of my very favorite missionaries go home. I haven’t seen them in months… but it is still strange to think that they won’t be here in my mission, and that they won’t be full-time missionaries any longer. Two years of service is quite an offering to God, don’t you think? When you look at most nineteen- to 21-year-old men in the world, there is a stark contrast from our missionaries. I have heard people call it “two years of sacrifice.” I suppose in a way, it is. But most of the missionaries I know do not think of it as a sacrifice, but rather a privilege.

One thing that I have noticed about the very best missionaries… a thing that sets them apart from the rest… is that their desire to bring souls to Jesus Christ through baptism, and their desire to serve… is always far greater than their ultimately human ability to accomplish. No matter how many people they find, teach, baptize and serve, it cannot not match their desire to do so much more.

This desire can be a great thing. It is a motivator. It drives them to work harder, to pray harder… to be more and more obedient to the rules. But it can also be a source of discouragement when their results do not reach their desires. But this, I believe, is where an amazing doctrine comes into play. I don’t believe that we are judged solely on our accomplishments. I have heard people say that Mormons think they are “working their way to heaven.” We actually don’t believe that at all!

There is a part of the Atonement that we call “grace.” Through this beautiful principle of grace, the Savior has the power to add his perfecting power to our daily efforts. He adds to us. I believe that if you are looking at two years of a mission as an offering to the Lord, you take all the work, all the baptisms, all the service. And then, through the power of the Atonement, you add the righteous desires and what is in your heart… the perfecting power of the Savior, Jesus Christ. And that, finally, is the sum total of a mission. That is your offering to the Lord. And when you look at it that way, it is not just “the best two years.” You don’t just “return with honor.” To describe it in such commonplace terms does not do it the justice it demands.

Without the Atonement, a mission is a great thing to do. But through the grace of Jesus Christ, for whom these missionaries serve, a mission becomes something infinitely more. It becomes glorious, even triumphant. Through grace, we become so much more than we ever could by our own efforts. None of us could ever work our way to heaven.

When my own sons return from their missions, I feel what a bittersweet thing it is to finish a mission. Watching them, it has even become a bittersweet thing for me. I feel a little pain, realizing how the mission goes on without them, wherever they served, and yet I am so happy to welcome them home. I must say, I’m a little sad today, thinking that this is the last day of my friends’ missions. But I hope tomorrow is rewarding for these two great families and their missionaries. I pray they can catch a glimpse of that glory and triumph peeking through. There is a little magic in that… the real kind.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Sunday One

I’m teaching the young women at church today. About forgiveness. There is a story I have always loved from the book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” by Spencer W. Kimball. He talks about a woman who “climbed the heights of self-control as she forgave the man who disfigured her lovely face.” He then gives the account from UP newsman Neal Corbett, as it appeared in newspapers throughout the country:

“I would think he must be suffering; anybody who’s like that, we ought to feel sorry for him,” said April Aaron of the man who had sent her to a hospital for three weeks, following a brutal San Francisco knife attack. April Aaron is a devout Mormon, 22 years of age… She is a secretary who’s as pretty as her name, but her face has just one blemish— the right eye is missing. April lost it to the ‘wildly slashing knife of a purse snatcher,’ near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park while en route to a [youth] dance last April 18. She also suffered deep slashes on her left arm and right leg during a struggle with her assailant, after she tripped and fell in her efforts to elude him just one block from the Mormon chapel…

“I ran for a block and a half before he caught me. You can’t run very fast on high heels,” April said with a smile. Slashes on her leg were so severe doctors feared for a time it would need amputation. The sharp edge of the weapon could damage neither April’s vivaciousness, nor her compassion. “I wish that somebody could do something for him to help him. He should have some treatment. Who knows what leads a person to do a thing like this? If they don’t find him, he’s likely to do it again.”

…April Aaron has won the hearts of the people of San Francisco Bay area with her courage and good spirit in face of tragedy. Her room at St. Francis hospital was banked with flowers throughout her stay and attendants said they couldn’t recall when anyone received more cards and expressions of good wishes.

Modern psychology would probably dictate that April was simply repressing the horror of the attack, and that it would eventually catch up with her. But that is not the case. I saw her for myself some years later, when I was about 12 years old. She was not April Aaron anymore, as she had married. She had a daughter my age, and although I had read that account in “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” my parents did not tell me that she was the woman from the story until later. All I saw was a pretty mom who was fun and had an awesome family.

I believe that only the Atonement of Jesus Christ has that kind of power. The kind where you can take something so terrible, and give it away. Drown it in the depths of the sea, where you remember it no more. And then take what you have been given, and make something truly beautiful. It certainly makes you think about hurts and offenses that you have not let go… why is it that in our human nature, and maybe more especially our feminine human nature, we find a perverse satisfaction in holding petty grudges and in feeling sorry for ourselves? I think that maybe it is because forgiveness requires faith... a leap we are sometimes unwilling or afraid to take. There was a thought from the lesson that I love. It was that forgiveness is not an act of feelings, but one of will. Can we decide to forgive?

Friday, June 26, 2009

The One With No Cream Filling

Okay, so these don’t have cream filling. But they taste about a hundred times better than their Hostess counterparts. I am catering tomorrow. Wedding reception for 400. We needed something a little chocolatey to round out the dessert buffet, and so I made the Pioneer Woman chocolate sheet cake... except I made the recipe into cupcakes instead. It definitely captured Skippy’s attention.

By the way, I love to make this sheet cake. Unexpected guests? You can have this cake ready in 30 minutes start to finish, because you frost it while it is still warm, and because it is in a big cookie sheet, it cooks faster than a regular cake to begin with. And no one complains when you serve it warm, with a little ice cream.

So I have to get up early to cook. Going to bed now. Just thought I’d share the little bit of nostalgia. I’m a little curious to see if the resemblance makes the cupcakes more appealing, or less. Tell me... do they work for you???

Chocolate Sheet Cake (or 24 cupcakes)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The One Where She Still Had to Eat

I am trying to keep my focus today on things I need to finish. You know what that means… no playing around on the blog. But a girl still has to eat, right? How about a totally spectacular lunch, in about ten minutes? Zucchini... tomatoes... mozarella... *sigh*... all I need to go with this is a slice of homemade bread to mop up the juice. OR you could grill up some chicken to park alongside, and call it dinner. In fact, DOUBLE PRIZES! Here is my top secret grilled chicken non-recipe to go with anything Italian... are you ready? Put a couple of chicken breasts in a bowl, and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. If you have some fresh rosemary around, like I have growing in my front yard, then chop a tablespoon up and sprinkle it on. Sprinkle all over with grill seasoning (I like Montreal Steak Seasoning), and then mush it all up to coat the chicken, and let it sit for just as long as it takes your grill to heat up. Grill on a medium-hot grill for about six minutes on the first side, and five on the second side. For goodness’ sake, don’t overcook it. Nobody likes dry chicken. You can slice it lengthwise and it will serve about four people, unless they are teenaged boys. That is IT! Chicken for dummies. And everyone will ask you about the fancy marinade. Tell them they can go pound sand, because it is top secret. Now, back to this zucchini... I tell my kids that it tastes like pizza, and they totally fall for it and eat it up, even though it is super good for them. Suckers. I love love love this… mmm… gotta go eat!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The One Where They All Flew the Coop

So. We had family prayer tonight. Skippy had gone to bed, and I couldn’t help but notice: there were only three of us. Dillon is away at scout camp for a week and a half, and today we left Ethan deep in the heart of Camp Pendleton for Marine Combat Training. The missionaries are moving out in two weeks. Even Cambria leaves soon for a month with her grandma. Everyone is disappearing, and well, maybe I am feeling a little sorry for myself. All this trouble I have taken to surround myself with adoring minions (is that an oxymoron? Maybe it should be loyal minions, or adoring fans, or something. Whatever, as long as I get to be the queen), and I am telling you, all I can hear right now is crickets.

I really do love alone time. But I believe that one cannot truly appreciate alone time unless she is bombarded with nearly constant familial chaos. Thank goodness for Skippy. I remember when I found out I was pregnant with Skippy. I was 39 years old. I did not necessarily have plans to have a seventh child. Okay, so I did allow myself a moment, standing there in the bathroom holding a urine-soaked pregnancy test, to revel in my apparent fertility. You thought I was going to say, wallow in self-pity, didn’t you? No! On the contrary, a little victory dance… because if there is one thing at which I truly excel, it is conception. I have batted a thousand, having never missed on the first try, and in fact have been taken quite by surprise on more than one occasion at the very tenacity of my own fertility. Never more so than that Sunday morning, standing there staring at a pink plus sign that meant Skippy was in there, growing away, about the size of a jellybean.

I found that despite the fact that my family and I are pretty good sports, and that even my teenage sons were excited about a new baby, it seemed that so many others were less than happy for me. My friends were all done having babies, and there I went, upsetting the status quo. I found myself repeating this mantra: “No, really, we’re actually happy about it.” One day a co-worker of DK found out we were pregnant. I braced myself for the abject horror, patronizing condolences, or pitying smile to which I had become accustomed. Instead, this nice lady… her name is Kay… told me she was happy for me. She said something I have thought of many times since: “You will never get to be 50 years old and wish that you had less kids.” I have a few years left before I find that out for sure, but do you know, I do believe she was right.

When my kids grow up and get married and go on missions and join the Marines and leave for scout camp and fly on airplanes all by themselves, guess what… Skippy is still here making a complete wreck of my family room with hundreds of cars that his brothers have all played with, and in fact are probably antiques because many of them used to belong to DK when he was little. Skippy will still paint my white sateen sheets with red nail polish and cut his own hair with school scissors, just as his siblings did before him. He will be here to cry because there is no homemade bread to go with his peanut butter. He will try to sneak out to play with friends even though he is only five, and then sneak back in under the trampoline and through the back door so I won’t know he left, even though I was watching him the whole time. Skippy will still be here to crawl into my bed in the middle of the night and then snore so loudly that DK carries him back to the bottom bunk within minutes. Skippy will still be here to make the helper who hands him out of the car at the curb in front of kindergarten in the morning stand there waiting while he tells me three times that he loves me before he will turn and climb the stairs to his classroom. It is perfectly perfect having Skippy.

Each one of the seven was perfectly perfect… Truly: any single one worth the price of admission… and I am aware of the fact that even Skippy will all too soon turn into a teenager who knows more than I do, who goes off to be his own man (and to be clear, who a few years thereafter will, like his brothers, realize that he does not, in fact, know more than I). But I am resourceful. I think ahead. By then I will have accumulated a sufficient store of grandchildren to keep things interesting around here. I’m sure they will be just as adept at turning my house into a complete disaster as their parents were in their turn.

So as for this week, I won’t feel sorry for myself. In fact, maybe I will just try to enjoy a little of that elusive alone time. Perhaps just long enough to finish these three songs… that would be lovely.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The One Where We Just Ran From One Thing to the Next

I’ve been under the gun. Last week of school. Visit from my mom. Beach party. Graduate party. Eagle Scout Board of Review. Packing for scout camp. And the list goes on… but it’s all good.

The ocean was beautiful:

At least someone still finds time to have fun: Felkner, Murray, Dillon, Skippy

And here are my lime cookies I took to the grad party. (The recipe for the lime cookies is the “Citrus Variation” of my best sugar cookies. Here are all my favorite variations: Sugar Cookie Variations. You gotta try these… I’m serious. They are cool and tangy:

And check out the creative cupcakes Michon and Kerstin made:

I think I’m going to have to start getting up in the middle of the night to get my songs done! Somebody save me…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The One Where She Gives Them Everything They Asked For

The Welcome Mat. It is just me. Slice of life and all that. Tasty tidbit, occasional tune thrown in for good measure. And I will freely admit, I am pretty boring most of the time. Have you ever heard of Beccah Beushausen? She wrote a blog which chronicled her thoughts, feelings and experiences during her pregnancy and delivery of a terminally ill baby girl. According to a very tender post, the baby survived a home birth, only to die a few hours later. The blog was beautifully written and heart-rending and attracted thousands of followers and over a million hits.

There was only one problem. It wasn’t true. Reading my blog may be as interesting as watching grass grow… but at least it is always as true as I know how to make it. This morning I was thinking about what makes people read a blog. I am actually working pretty hard not to have extra drama in my life. So I wondered: how do people even find my blog? This is how. These are the google searches that have directed people to my blog in the last week:

1. Buxted Chicken Leg.
2. Old guys with young guys. (Yikes. This one is a frequent flyer, and I have to say, it caused me to rename a couple of posts. Sickos.)
3. The house was clean last week sorry you missed it.
4. Batman welcome mat. (Did you miss my Batman on Facebook post? Classic).
5. Favorite foods of Imelda Marcos.
6. Bumblebee emoticon.
7. House elves.
8. Emily post on funerals (glad I could help!)
9. Oh Sarah…Coldplay.
10. Cinco de Mayo Restaurant in Shelby, Ohio.

You know me. I’m a giver. I thought today I would give everyone what they really want. A song that includes everything they’ve been searching for. Except the old guys with young guys. Somebody needs to get over that one. Ew. So, without further adieu…

Sarah, Sarah, won’t you please…
Just feed me some of those bumblebees
Emoticons won’t let me breathe

Sarah, Sarah, feed me please,
Some of Imelda’s favorite Buxted chicken legs
Sing me some Coldplay
Sing me some Coldplay at Batman’s funeral
And I’ll put out the welcome mat for Emily Post.

Sarah, Sarah, won’t you please
Take me to the wild
Take me to the wild place in Shelby, Idaho
Take me to the cinco de mayo place
Feed me some flan with the bumblebee emoticon

Sarah, Sarah, won’t you please
Clean my house
It was clean last week
Sorry you missed it
House elves never stay
Won’t you please
Put out the
For me


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The One With the Marine Graduation

This has been a fascinating week. It has been three months since Ethan left for the MCRD in San Diego. We arrived at MCRD Thursday morning for family day. The MPs made us all get out and stand in front of the car while they went through the car, including under the hood, and looked through each of our bags, and had dogs sniff all over the place. We passed the inspection and soon we were wandering through the Marine Command Museum on the base, along with a few hundred others who were waiting to see their new Marines. After being yelled at by some drill instructors for awhile, we were directed to stand in the parking lot to await our first glimpse of our Marines… just returning from the Moto (motivational) Run. Ethan’s platoon is that first one you can see running in.

The Marines were released for their first Liberty in thirteen weeks. We were warned to help them keep their uniforms spotless, not to remove their uniforms (apparently there were girlfriends in the crowd), and not to leave the base. So we enjoyed Liberty on the base for about five hours. It was strange to see Ethan, who is now Private First Class, in his new uniform, with a very different bearing. He is rightfully very proud of his accomplishment. The first thing we did was go to a luncheon on the base, sponsored by the church he has been attending. There were ten new Marines from his company that were all LDS, and they attended with their families. The highlight of that luncheon was the cutting of the cake with a Marine saber, by one of the church leaders there, who had been a Marine for over 40 years. The tradition was that he fed a bite of the cake to the oldest “new Marine,” who in this case was a 26-year-old private, and he in turn fed a bite to the youngest, who was Ethan (he turned 18 during basic training). If they pronounced it edible, then everyone else could partake.

We went from there to meet Ethan’s drill instructors. Do they look scary? They should. They told us some very interesting things about Ethan and what he did to serve during basic training. He was the company scribe, and was in charge of many of the day-to-day operations of the company. Ethan told us as we walked away that they had never told him any of that (it was too complimentary, apparently) and that that was the first time he had seen them smile. I found that observation interesting, since I never detected anything that resembled a smile. Like I said, scary.

Skippy took the next four photos. It is interesting to see things from his perspective. The red and yellow emblem above the chest pocket denotes military service in time of war. The hand positioning behind the back was something that Skippy worked to perfect all weekend.

The cherry on top was meeting a member of the San Diego Marine Corp. Band, who very kindly gave us a 30-minute tour of the band building and answered every question Ethan had about his upcoming experience in music school. The nice young Marine happened to be the Drum Major the next day for graduation:

Graduation was a very imposing sight with all the new Marines in their “Bravo” uniforms, made even more so by the amazing sky that morning:

The badge on his chest is for being a “Rifle Sharpshooter.” (As always, you can click on any of the photos to view them at full size)

Yesterday was Ethan’s first day of actual “Boot Leave.” He has ten days. It has been interesting, as the stories come out little by little of what it was actually like. Ethan told us what he thought was the hardest thing about bootcamp. He said he loved the Obstacle Course. He didn’t mind the food. Even the legendary “Crucible” was just fine. He said he actually ran up the last hill. But the hardest thing of all was not swearing. It is so much a part of the culture, that it was a constant and ongoing struggle to maintain clean language. There were items of clothing and gear that were called after profanity. He had to either refrain from referring to them, or point! I have to say… this is a unique path that he has chosen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The One Where Joe Took Back What Was His

Okay. So I wasn't going to post for a couple of days, because we are down in San Diego for Ethan's Marine Recruit graduation. Which, by the way, is pretty darned amazing. We saw him today, and it was crazy... it reminded me of what it was like welcoming home a son from a two-year mission. They don't look quite like you remember, and they don't sound quite the same. But this, after only three months. After seeing what they have put him through, the rapid transformation is understandable. But still kind of strange. I have some great photos, but I forgot my card reader. So the photos, and the post about the graduation, will wait until we get home. Meanwhile, here I am in a cool condo in Escondido, and I opened up my little blog, and saw that picture of Joe staring back at me. It occurred to me that there is a story that really needs to be told. Yes. The quintessential Joe story.

First of all, let me just say that Wendy went out and found herself a husband that was very much like our dad...many of his good qualities, and a few of the bad. Joe won't mind me saying that, because he love love loved my dad. He is generous to a fault, faithful, thrifty, brave, reverent... clean... oh wait. That is the boy scouts. Joe also came equipped with a bit of a temper. That has mellowed over the years that I have known him, but make no mistake: it is still in there... just in case he needs it.

As he did, one morning a few weeks ago. Last year his son's Specialized bike was stolen... right out of their garage. As the months went by, they knew they would never see the bike again. But one day... the most incredible thing happened. He was driving his 14-year-old daughter and her friend to school, looked out his window, and there it was! A boy riding that Specialized Hard Rock... right there in plain sight. Joe called the boy a bad name under his breath where no one could hear it, and then rolled down the window. "Hey! Where did you get that bike?" The boy stopped, looked at Joe for a moment, and then bold as brass: "I got it from you." And then he continued to ride along toward the school. Clearly the boy had no idea who he was messing with. (pardon the grammar)

Joe's blood began to boil. He drove alongside the boy all the way to the junior high school, calling out to him the whole way. "Hey, get off my bike." Getting angrier by the minute. "You better give me back that bike..." But the boy didn't even look his way. He just rode all the way to school, and went straight for the bike rack. Joe pulled in and got out of his car. "Are you going to give me back my bike?" The boy didn't even answer. He just parked the bike, and stepped back. Joe looked him squarely in the eye, and then marched over, hoisted the bike up and stowed it in his car. The boy stood, wide-eyed, for another moment, and then took off into the school.

Triumphant, Joe got back in the car and took off. "Can you believe the nerve of that kid?" he asked his daughter and her friend. "No," his daughter replied. Usually he is such a nice guy. "Wait. You know him?" Joe asked. "Well, yeah... don't you remember? He is from church. His mom got a divorce...?"

And then the light began to dawn. That wasn't his son's bike that was stolen. That was the bike that he fixed up and gave to the lady at church who had gotten divorced... for her 12-year-old son who didn't have a bike to ride to school. When Joe asked the boy where he got the bike, and he answered, "I got it from you," he was not being flippant... just entirely truthful. Yes. At this point in the story, let us pause. A minute of silence for what may be the Biggest Jerk Moment of All Time. Are you feeling it? Okay, let us continue.

Horrified, Joe had to call the boy's mother and explain his mistake. I would like to say there was a happy ending. Remember in "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," the Grinch told Cindy Lou Who that he had to take the Christmas tree back to his workshop to fix it... because there was a light on one side that didn't light quite right? So maybe Joe tried that tack... "I was just picking it up to give it a tune-up for you, little fellow..." Yeah, that's the ticket... a tune-up.

So of course Joe returned the bike. He probably did tune it up. Here is how that day went for the boy: Poor kid went to his first class, still holding it all together. Someone asked him how he was... and the dam broke. He burst into tears, choking out the words, "Some big dude just jacked my bike!"

Yup. The big dude bike-jacker killer-of-young-boys'-dreams... that is my brother-in-law. I love that guy. And I'm feeling his pain. Because at one point or another we all make the mistake that makes us feel like a complete heel. And I have to admit, as Joe told me about it, we laughed until we cried. Because what else can you do? Just cry?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The One With the Post-Partum Amnesia

Today is Wendy’s birthday. Wendy is my sister. My closest sister in age, with whom I shared a room until I was a senior in high school. She is the one that I loved the most, hated the most, hit the most, and missed the most when I left. This is a pretty bad picture of her. I should have a good one... we collected pictures last summer for a slideshow. But Wendy was at Girls’ Camp and left her husband in charge of sending the pictures. In the one he sent of the two of them, Wendy seemed to be wearing something that looked a little Texas polygamy compound. So instead you get this one. There are four of us girls in the family. DK likes to make trouble, by saying that there is a pretty one, a smart one, a talented one and one that married well. Believe me when I say there is no virtue in trying to figure out which is which. Anyway, back to Wendy. She has it all. Even the marrying well part, sort of… last summer when we all got together for a little family reunion, one of my boys said, “Mom, wasn’t it good of Aunt Wendy to marry Uncle Joe?” Um, yeah, I guess… “She really had to take one for the team, and we appreciate it.”

This isn’t really Wendy’s birthday. We celebrated June 10th as her birthday for the first fifteen years of her life. And then the time came for Wendy to apply for a social security card so she could get her first job. She came home one day around her 16th birthday, a little bewildered. “Mom, my birth certificate says my birthday is June 9th. How can my birth certificate be wrong?” At which point my Grandma Hamblin chimed in… “I told you she was born on the 9th! I told you that for years…” Grandma wasn’t usually an “I told you so” kind of person. But that one was just too good.

Happy Birthday, Wend! Hope you milked it for all it was worth both days. Tuna fish tuna fish tuna fish! (sorry...inside joke involving vomit)

Here are the sisters... The one with the glasses is my sister-in-law, Carolyn. There is something hanging down from the top that must be some sort of medieval torture device. Clearly I was feeling tortured.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The One With the Imelda Marcos Gene

I wasn’t even throwing the stuff away. It was going to Goodwill. Deseret Industries. The thrift store… whatever. Blessing the less fortunate (although what they are going to do with some really short tuxedo pants, three Ralph’s uniforms and a really skinny boy scout uniform, I don’t know. But I don’t care.) While I hate straightening and organizing with a white-hot passion, sometimes it has to be done.

I am actually fine with sorting and tossing. But that is because I was not born with that gene. You know the one. It causes one to feel mild discomfort throwing away anything made of paper. If the item is made of something slightly more substantial, such as cardboard, rotting food or photo paper, the discomfort is greatly intensified. Throwing away anything made of cloth, glass, leather or wood is physically impossible. It is like trying to escape earth’s gravity. Jump as high as you can… you are still going to come crashing down. Remember Imelda Marcos? When she and Ferdinand were exiled from the Phillipines in 1986, she was said to have left behind 15 mink coats, 508 gowns, 888 handbags and 1060 pairs of shoes. Okay, so she had an underlying problem. Newsweek recently cited her as being one of the “Most Greedy People of All Time.” But face it, the woman could not throw anything away (and is it me? or does it look like she forgot to remove the cardboard inserts from her sleeves?)

I figured out Skippy got the gene. He inherited it from DK. I learned a long time ago that if I am going to throw anything away, I have to wait until DK goes out of town. Or slip it into the trash right before the trash collector comes around. I have found him pulling stuff out that I have thrown away on numerous occasions. Just last week I tried to throw away an archaic piece of computer equipment. I thought it was gone. Nope. I just tripped over in the side yard this morning. He is sly, that one. This morning in the course of doing laundry, I took a good look at what passes for his “casual wardrobe.” It is not good. Honey, the 80’s called. They said they don’t even want any of that stuff back. You know how when you see some guy in line at the grocery store with a scruffy beard and long hair wearing work boots and a beer belly hanging over really short cutoffs, and you set your groceries down next to his egg salad and tallboy Budweiser and think, “Oh, that poor guy. Not married. If he had a wife, she would never let him leave the house in that.” Yeah. It’s like that. I think it’s time for some new jeans, DK. I have thrown away the old ones, and I defy you to find them.

So Saturday I kicked two white trash bags down the stairs. They were full of outgrown clothing. Like I said from the beginning, they were not going to the trash, but to the thrift store. Skippy spotted them, and began running his hands over the outside of the bags. I gave one another good kick toward the door. And then I noticed that Skippy was fighting back tears. Surprised, I asked him, “What’s the matter, bud? Are we giving away something you really wanted to keep?” I’m not a monster, for goodness’ sake. It is not like I was trying to give away his favorite blankie or something. “Uh-huh,” he nodded. “Well, what is it, Skip?” At this point, he burst into tears and buried his head in my leg. “I don’t know!” he sobbed. “I can’t see what’s in there!”

So I live with collectors. What do you collect? Here is my missionary board, with all the missionaries I have collected over the past few years...

P.S. As with all my photos, click to enlarge!
(Unless the photo is of my FACE)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The One Where She Is Grounded

I am grounded. It is a punishment my parents didn’t utilize much. Or at all, really. I think they realized that it was like punishment for them. Maybe they couldn’t get me out of the house to begin with. Either that or I was really good and never needed punishing. (Yeah, that’s the ticket) Anyway, I’m making up for their oversight right now. I have been neglecting something important. Something I am passionate about. My songs. Under construction. I need to write three more songs in the next five weeks. So I am going to power through some composing this weekend. Lyrics, here I come. (I’m psyching myself up… can you tell?) I can do this.

From what am I grounded, you ask? (ooh... beautiful grammar) The Blog, of course. My comfy Welcome Mat. I’m not allowed back until I get the lyrics written for one song. I have already grounded myself from the TV, my favorite books… food… I’ve tried to ground myself from my responsibilities, but darn them, they keep following me wherever I go. So really, all that is left is the blog. My last refuge. My home away from home, right in the comfort of my own home. My little bloggity-blog, with my blog-alicious friends. My favorite time-sucking pastime. So close, but just out of my reach. There’s a little tear in my eye, right now.

Just to prove that I’m punishing myself, and not you, I’m posting a little love for you here, in the form of this mp3. Let’s call it “Wait For Me.” Oh! Another little tear… maybe I’ll stay up all night.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The One With the Walk on the Wild Side

I change my bloggy skin fairly often. I must admit, I like it here in the blog. It is its own world. It has certain, shall we say, advantages over the real world… for instance, it is always clean here, and if I leave for a couple of hours and then come back, SURPRISE! It’s still clean. Not so in my real house. I would love to decorate my house, but I find it prohibitively expensive. But here in my blog, I can slipcover, reupholster… even using this particular fabric that looks like it costs $85 a yard… and the cost to redecorate? $0. Take that, Mastercard. At that price, I can afford to change my blog every time I change my mind.

I probably won’t keep this “skin” for long. It is really a lot to take in. But as I was browsing through blog decorating land (this one is from www.shabbyblogs.com), I saw it and just had to try it on. And when I did, I found myself transported, somehow. There was something about it that reminded me of a favorite book, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. It was though in my room a forest grew… and grew… until the ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around. I am just waiting for the ocean to tumble by, with a private boat just for me, so that I can sail through night and day, and in and out of weeks and almost over a year… to where the wild things are.

I enjoyed Where the Wild Things Are as a child, but I enjoy it even more as an adult with a Max of my very own. Every one of my boys has had a little Max in him. Sometimes more than a little. Last July Skippy was about to turn five, and the day before his birthday, a package arrived from Amazon.com. It was a beautiful hardcover edition of Where the Wild Things Are for Skippy from his missionary brother, Casey. There was a card inside. It read: “To: Skippy (The Wild Thing). Have a Happy Birthday. Eat lots of cake. And cause lots of mischief… just as long as you’re wearing a wolf suit. Love you much. From Casey (The Original Max).”

I think we’ll just walk on the wild side for a couple of days... cause some mischief... eat lots of cake. I might even get out my wolf suit.