Ode to my beloved bar pan

It had so much to live for.

Gravy. Beef Stew. Baked French Onion Soup!

But, alas, Wyler, a shiny jar of beef bouillon granules with so much to live for, decided that he would squander this all away as he leaped to his death from the second shelf of the kitchen cupboard.

He was so young.

The bad thing about those kind of decisions is that you never know who you might affect on your way down.  In Wyler’s case, he destroyed the life of my favorite bar pan by making his rash decision.

Stone, that is what all the others in the cupboard called him, had lived his entire life in service to me.  Sure, he really didn’t like soap, and avoided it at all cost, but we all forgave him.  It seemed his lack of soap when bathing worked for him.  He was always willing to give.


Pumpkin Bars.

Roasted Potatoes.


Endless giving…

Stone was just sitting there minding his own business.  He was half full of delicious chocolately goodness.  He sat  on the counter selflessly offering his goods to this family.

But, Wyler, for reasons unknown to all of us, felt he needed to jump at that exact moment. Wyler hit Stone on his way down and created a fracture that never can be repaired.

Stone was just an innocent bystander (or by-sitter) and now he is unable to continue on.  It is curtains for Stone.

Poor, poor Stone.

We can learn so much from his life. May a tragedy like this never happen again.

My depressing Christmas post…

The Christmas Decorating has begun at our house.  It is always a big job, and I anticipate and dread it at the same time.

I mean who is really excited about risking their own life to ascend the rickety attic ladder?  Then, when you accomplish your task without dying you must navigate the system of boards spanning the rafters that hold the ceiling in your house.  You pray you don’t miss and end up wearing your family room as giant pants.  Then you drag the 400 bins that it takes to house your decorations across the boards of death to your husband who is waiting at the bottom of the ladder of fear.  Then, you get to finagle the bins through the hole in which the ladder regularly lives and to your husband without falling out of the hole.

I mean, this all sounds like great fun, but I really do not enjoy it.  Forgive me, it is not my favorite task.

So, now the 400 bins now reside in my family room.


Now it is my job to pretty up this joint. I enjoy it, but it can be overwhelming. I am thankful that this year I have a whole lot more time to accomplish such tasks!

Christmas decorating night also is Finger Food Feast at our house.  Dinner tonight was comprised of fried mushrooms, fried cheese curds, BBQ and Buffalo chicken wings, and those little pizza thingees that I can’t remember their real name.  You can imagine the heartburn that dinners like this can bring! I am sitting here thinking, “Why in the world did I eat those pizza thingees?!?”

But, Finger Food Feast is something the kids wait for.  Even the man-child asked about the menu.  Yes, a teenager who could not care less if he ever decked a hall again, was eager to munch on the traditional indigestion inducer.

As we unpacked the decorations for the big tree, I was reminded of something that made me very sad earlier this year.  We did not take our bins to the attic right away this year, and they were all living in the part of the garage that floods during a really good rain.  It really should not be a problem because all our decorations are in plastic totes, right?  All of them, except one pretty box from my Aunt Louise that housed my precious collection of the special ornaments.

Every ornament from my ornament exchange from our first church in Buffalo.

Every ornament anyone had given us a gift.

Every ornament that my students had given me over the years.

Every ornament that my mother-in-law gave my husband when he grew up and left home.

Every ornament that my children have made us over the years.

I gasped when I found the box had fallen to the wet garage floor between the totes.

I ripped it open thinking that if things were just wet, I could dry out everything except the paper ones.

But, instead, I found mold. Nasty, black growing mold all over my precious memories.

I bawled. Those were MINE!  They were my reminders of my children’s early years.  They were my reminders of where we have been and how the years have shaped us.

I find myself a little less than excited to decorate the trees this year.  We usually have two trees: One tree prettied up with lovely thematic decorations and one tree where every ornament tells a story.

My trees do not tell their story this year. My kids said, “Oh we will make you new ones!” And, yes, they will make new ornaments, but I am still going to miss them.

Frosty the Snowman spoon from Pack 396

The golden star from our first Christmas party with the Braleys, the Francises,                          and the  Paulsons.

Eleven out of the twelve days of Christmas that my husband remembers from his childhood.

“Rudy” the mongoloid reindeer that #3 made at our first home school group

So many more, and every one was special.

So tonight, I sit here just a little bit sad.  I look forward to the new memories, but mourn the reminders of old memories. Christmas is a great place to start making new memories.  Even if my memories are of risking my life to find decorations, or getting heartburn eating my kids most anticipated meal.  They will remember it as their parents trying to make things special for them.


The “Frivolous” Fast

What should I be spending my time on?  That is the question.

What is important?

What is worth my time?

What is worth HIS time?

These are the questions running through my mind.

Since my “retirement”  I have really struggled trying to find our routine and the pace of our new home structure.  I know without a single reservation that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to do, but I have been struggling with just how that s supposed to look.

I want our home to be happy, warm, cozy, and peaceful.  For the most part, life has been much more so since my unemployment.  Just having mom not ready to pull her hair out EVERY moment of the day really helps.  Still with all the changes we don’t have it all quite figured out yet.

I went for a run yesterday morning, and was able to just spend some time alone with God and my own mind.  I was praying about how to fix this very problem.  God really impressed on me to go on another “frivolous” fast.

The last time I went on a frivolous fast, I fasted strictly from frivolous internet use.  This time I am going to expand it to any frivolous wastes of the precious time I am granted each day.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Facebook and my goofy Facebook games.  I do enjoy them, and there is truly nothing wrong with them.  The question is, what am I NOT doing because I am busy harvesting fake crops? I do love the perfect squares that are bloom perfectly and symmetrically! But, really, my fake gardening squares accomplish nothing except for satisfying my OCD tendencies.

God has been really working me over in all my entertainment choices.  I recently started a Kelly Mintor study named Nehemiah.  I only have made it to one of the video sessions, but I know that I was appointed to be there.  The one statement that has run over and over and over in my mind is,

“If it put my Jesus on the cross, then it is not funny.”

UGH.  Straight to my heart.  How much crass humor do I excuse because it is just funny?  I love to laugh.  I love funny.  Just because I love funny, it isn’t necessarily good.

Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report….

Think on THESE things.

The things that I am taking into my mind and heart… are they pure and lovely?

What am I doing with the precious time that I am given?

What is truly important?

I know it doesn’t mean that I can have no fun and only watch the church channel.  I just know that I must be mindful and walking in the Spirit.  If I am doing that, I believe He will make me mindful of the correct balance I need as a child of His and a mom to them.

I know God wants more of my time.  He wants me in the Word. He wants to spend time with me.  I know I need to make that a priority.

I know that I need to make sure my job here at home is important. I need to concentrate on that, especially with the Christmas season upon us.

I know that God has called me to write. I have said that for many years.  So, I am going to concentrate this month on doing more writing.  

I am going to concentrate on the important things.

So, I am sorry Farmville and Words With Friends friends.  My kids may answer my requests and keep my little farm alive, but I am going to take a month off.

Christmas is coming, and the next month will be busy. I am pretty sure that I won’t be bored!

Thanksgiving Eve

I have always loved Thanksgiving.  The holiday that MOST people can agree on.  Who in their right mind isn’t thankful for something.  You can’t argue about Thanksgiving. I mean, I realize that people call it Turkey Day or do not give true thanks to the God that has blessed them, but most people are thankful for something.

I sit here on the day before Thanksgiving and I can’t help but think about years past.

Thanksgiving Eve 1993 – My grandpa had been having lots of heart trouble. He had open heart surgery earlier that week.  I remember that his situation was dire and the hospital had given us an entire waiting room for our personal use.  We were sleeping, eating, and spending our time between updates from nurses and the two-at-a-time visits.  I remember barely sleeping, and the nights turning to morning in a blur.  Very early that morning, his heart finally gave up.

I remember being inconsolable.   What is strange is my most vivid memory is Pastor Swanson arriving shortly after he was gone.  I remember him hugging me. I remember his cologne. I remember the feel of his shirt. I remember his coat.  I remember where we were standing. The rest of the night is a blur.  It seems strange to remember THAT, but that is what I remember of that Thanksgiving Eve.

Honestly, I don’t even remember if we had Thanksgiving dinner that year. I really don’t even remember his funeral.  I just remember him being gone and how much it hurt.

Years went on, and new Thanksgivings softened the memories.  I began to love Thanksgiving again.  Some years were rough, but most were great.

Thanksgiving Eve 2005 – Again, so much time is a blur.  We had had two months of insanity. A sudden cross-country move and then the early birth of this spectacular little boy stretched us thin.  From the day he was born, he had been a NICU resident.  If you had been in NICU, the emotional roller coaster is exhausting.  We so wanted our baby boy home by Thanksgiving, and God answered our prayers.  We brought him “Home” to my parents house where we were squatting, on Thanksgiving Eve.  I remember feeling that life had made a full circle from death unto new life 12 years later.

I sit here on a rather ordinary day that happens to be another Thanksgiving Eve.  Sure, we have been fighting a nasty little cold and fever thing, and my husband is overwhelmed by food poisoning, but nothing too exciting.  It is a pretty ordinary day.  I am so thankful for a nice ordinary day.

I am so thankful for how extraordinarily I am blessed!

I am so thankful on this Thanksgiving Eve that I am surrounded in my little home, by my little family, and that God has giving me that.


AND people wonder why I have high blood pressure…

Is it a full moon?

Have they been drinking some Mountain Dew?

Has someone fed them red food coloring?

Are we on Candid Camera?

Because the animals in this house have gone crazy.

We all know what happened to the dog…

And pretty soon I will blog about the coyote…

But it all started around here yesterday morning.  The kids came storming in to inform us that there was a groundhog… or a really big squirrel… or large chipmunk… maybe a skunk… or a possum… in the shed.  Jp instantly went for his pellet gun.  They were pretty sure it was a ground hog.

Imagine, JP and I stalking a wild animal in the shed.  See four children… “Helping”

Add flashlights and a pitchfork, and you might get a good mental picture.

When we finally all calmed down enough to get a good look, it was indeed an animal.

It was a fluffy tan CAT!  We had to move a ton of stuff out of the shed, including a broken riding lawn mower with flat tires that the cat was using as its panic room, but we finally shooed the cat.

It then ran around the house, and right into our garage.

We have caught glimpses of her, but that is about it. We can hear her running about. We see the stuff she knocks down.

Later that afternoon, JP called me into our room where his beloved little mouse lives in her cage.  “Sylvia” is a white mouse with black spots and a excellent temperament   We noticed that she has been acting strange, but we finally discovered why.  It seems there were TWO young BROWN mice in her cage!  Please tell me how this happens?

How does a single WHITE mouse get baby BROWN mice in her cage?

We do hide Sylvia in the garage or the shed when Grandma comes to visit, but could she have gotten pregnant in a cage?

Could a field mouse have given birth to them on  her cage?

We were baffled.  We put the entire cage into a rubbermaid and left it until the morning.

This morning, I noticed the absence of chirping from the front room, and I soon discovered that poor Freddy had finally joined his three previous wives in Bird Heaven.  If anyone (like Julie, Joanna, or Lorrie) remembers that last bird death in our home you will know why this worried us as parents.

Just imagine the wailing.

After the bird crisis was contained, JP went to our room to discuss the mouse problem. He lifted the top of the cage off, and I had the bottom of the cage.  Well, little baby mouse decided he didn’t like that and he jumped right out of the cage, ran across our bed and disappeared.

Call in Manchild to help.

Three people chasing a two inch mouse.

Phone rings. My mom (who is terrified of mice) calls from MO. I knew I couldn’t tell her about the escapee because she would have a heart attack, so I had to just keep chatting.

I sent in oldest girlee. Trying NOT to alert little kids.

More chasing.

Eventually, I return to the hunt and the four of us are chasing tiny rodent. Under the bed, behind the dressers, behind the chair, Up, down, back forth.

Our tools consisted of a roll of wrapping paper, a used Priority mail box, and a Road Ranger Cup.

Tiny little Mickey got caught in cup more than once, and escaped.

After a wasted hour, and the destruction of our bedroom, tiny mouse was finally caught in Road Ranger cup.

Tiny mouse siblings were then taken to the woods and let free to live as mice should.

This is my life.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.