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  • Be A Pilgrim

    November 26, 2008

    Seek boldly.

    Journey courageously.

    Work diligently.

    Sacrifice valiantly.

    Suffer willingly.

    Persist relentlessly.

    Share extravagantly.

    Serve compassionately.

    Love fearlessly.

    Live intentionally.

    Give thanks unceasingly.

    tall ships

    We are all but pilgrims and strangers upon the earth.

    Peace and grace to you wherever life takes you.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    What Are The Odds?

    November 25, 2008

    The following statistics are based on my own personal scientific research over a period of four decades.

    If you are wearing a black shirt and you attempt to put on deodorant, there is a 97% chance you will get the deodorant on the bottom of your shirt.  If you attempt to put on deodorant while wearing a black shirt and a blindfold, the odds of getting deodorant on your shirt increase to 97.2%   If you have no other clean shirts to wear and you are rushing out the door to give a speech, the odds increase exponentially.

    If you are drinking coffee while wearing a white shirt, there is 98% chance you will get coffee on the front.  There is a 98.5% chance the spot will be right on your boob.  If the shirt is dry-clean only the odds increase to 100%.

    If you are putting on earrings and the drain in the sink is not plugged, the chances that you will drop an earring into the sink are 89.9%.  The odds that it will disappear down the drain are 99.9%  If it is cheap costume jewelry, the odds decrease slightly.  Unless you really like the earrings, then the like factor cancels out the cheap factor and you are back at 99.9% give or take.

    If you drive away from the drive-through lane without checking the bag, the odds that something was left out are 93.7%

    If you have a dog and an ink pen and a light colored expensive rug, the odds that the three will at some point intersect are 94%.  Ironically, these are the same odds that you could own a dog with a tattoo on her tongue. The odds that a dog would chew up an ink pen on a Walmart rug? Zip.

    If you have a child and an ink pen and textiles of any kind any where in your home, the odds that the three will intersect in an unpleasant manner are calculated using square roots and other complicated mathematical formula — let’s just say very high.

    The odds of choosing the one restroom stall out of eleven that is out of toilet paper are around 87%.

    If you have your hands full of groceries and manage to open the door with your foot, the odds that one of the grocery bags will catch on the handle of the door as you walk past thereby jerking you off your feet and spilling all your groceries are 92%.  Ironically these are the same odds that you will catch the pocket of your best slacks on door knobs that reach out and grab things.

    The odds of dropping your cell phone into the 1/8 inch space between your seat and the console of your car (you know, that space that is too small for your hand) are 82%.  The odds that it will lodge under your seat and you will have to stop the car and push the seat all the way back to retrieve it are 99%.  The odds that your husband will call you while the phone is under the car seat is 99.7%.  The same odds apply to car keys.  Any necessary item of any size will magically be able to pass through the narrow space between the car seat and the console. This space is known to have the same vacuum-like physical properties of a black hole.  French fries with ketchup on the other hand are more likely to land on your white pants than into your car’s black hole.

    If you are up on a ladder in the attic with a box of  heirloom ornaments in your hands and you hear the phone ring and you break your neck and possibly some heirloom ornaments to answer it, the odds that it will be a computer call or a telemarketer are 93%.  However, if you choose not to answer it, the odds are 100% that it will be your doctor calling about that suspicious mole. And he will be out of town for the next two weeks.

    Feel free to report the findings of your own studies.

    UPDATE: The day you plan to take a family Christmas picture, there is a 94% chance your child will fall and get a big bruise on his face. Seriously.

    I Am A Mother…

    November 21, 2008

    Phillip Done begins the first chapter of his book 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny with a list that begins, “I am a teacher…”  As I read through that list wherein he describes all the things he does in the name of teaching, I thought to myself that Phillip would make a very good mother.  And so, I’m totally ripping off honoring his marvelous idea and presenting you with a list of my own:

    I am a mother.  I eat the broken cookies.  I have someone else’s boogers on my sleeve.  I laugh convincingly at knock knock jokes.  I have eyes in the back of my head.  I carry Purell and band-aids in my purse.  I jump up approximately 22 times during every meal to get something.  I kick the annoying toys under the sofa.   Dr. Seuss gives me a headache.  I would rip the head off of a bear or a bully to protect my child.  I am a mother.

    If you leave a comment adding your own description of motherhood, I will randomly choose one lucky commenter at the end of the day to win one of Mr. Done’s books, autographed by the author himself — which let me tell you, will be a perfect holiday gift for any teacher in your life.  Now I haven’t exactly asked Mr. Done if he will go along with this, but he’s super nice so I think he will. And if not? Then I will send you my copy of his book autographed by me.

    * * * *

    Philip says he’s in! An autographed book for one lucky commenter!

    * * * *

    Winner! AggieMa Michelle – Congratulations girl! Your autographed and inscribed book is on the way!

    Regaining Perspective

    November 20, 2008

    Earlier in the week, Sean and I set out on a nature walk to see what we could see.  It was late afternoon and it was chilly. 

    Along the way, we stopped and visited our favorite Labrador Retriever, Whitey. We don’t know if that’s really his name, but that’s what we call him.  Whitey is old and fat and when we get to his house, I whistle loudly for him and Sean calls his name.  It takes him a good while to waddle over to the fence. He plops down, exhausted, and leans against the fence. He sticks his muzzle through searching for a friendly hand and sniffs and licks.  His eyes are  tired but bright and he thumps his tail on the ground telling us he’s glad to see us.  We pet him through the fence and tell him what a good boy he is. He closes his eyes in doggy contentment.

    We continue on our walk, collecting beautiful leaves and acorns and other autumn treasures, all of which gets stuffed into the pockets of my jacket.  It’s somewhere in the Bible that moms have to carry all the stuff.

    When we got to the pond, Sean wanted to stand on the steep slope and put his hands in the water. I recommended against this action citing that the water is cold and he could easily fall in. He argued that he could do it without falling in. So I said, okay by me, but if you fall in, it won’t be very comfortable walking home cold and wet. This is the hard part of parenting, letting him make his own mistakes, letting him fall in cold, dirty pond water.

    “Well,” he said in a very authoritative manner, “I’ll be the judge of your persistence!” which roughly translates to “I’m the boss of me.”  Mr. Malaprops strikes again.  He didn’t fall in.

    It had been kind of a cruddy week.  When I heard myself laugh at Sean and his awkward mastery of the English language, I realized that somewhere along the way, the crud had fallen away and my head had cleared.

    An afternoon walk with my little boyfriend, petting an old fat dog and an amusing malaprop – good medicine for a bad attitude.

    Another Investment Goes South

    November 17, 2008

    When Sean was somewhere around three, he discovered Lightning McQueen. I’m not really sure how that happened.  I think someone gave him the DVD for his birthday and on a long car trip we pulled it out, out of desperation, and after that there was no turning back. His world became all Lightning McQueen all the time. Ka-chow! Which roughly translates to Cha-ching!

    We have since invested untold millions into Lightning McQueen. Okay not millions, but untold dollars.  More dollars than I care to consider at the moment.  And I’ll be honest here, I’m to blame.  It seemed safer than investing in the stock market and it turns out I was right.  Whereas the stock market took our money away, thanks to my savvy investing skills, we now have a fine collection of Lightning McQueen die cast cars.

    The truth is I became addicted to seeing Sean’s eyes light up every time I brought home one of those little Lightning McQueen die cast cars.  And then every time I went to the grocery store, I would check to see if there were any new ones, sqealing with delight if there were and lamenting if there were not.  I’ve even trolled eBay looking for Darrell Cartrip.   “Someone” recently suggested that maybe the cars aren’t really for Sean, that maaaaybe I’m really collecting them for myself. To that I say, “PROVE IT! Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!”

    In addition to the die cast cars, we’ve also “invested” in Lightning McQueen clothes, backpack, lunchbox, shoes, socks and undies – and on and on. So then, Sean goes off to school every day carrying a Lightning McQueen backpack and lunch box and occasionally wearing a shirt bearing the image of Lightening McQueen.

    A week or so ago, as Sean was getting dressed for school, I suggested that he wear a certain Lightning McQueen sweatshirt since the weather had turned chilly.

    “No.” he said firmly.

    “No?” I asked, surprised. “Why not?”

    And then like a copy writer for J. Peterman, I proceeded to try to sell him on the sweatshirt pointing out its stylish yet rugged features, constructed of an uncommonly luxurious polyblend with superior stitching, ribbed cuffs and collar for uncompromising comfort, spirited handsome styling at home on both the playground and the lunchroom…

    But I could not overcome his objection of “Because I don’t feel like it.”

    Something didn’t add up, so I pressed him a little bit more.

    “I’m off Lightning McQueen! OK?! ” he finally confessed with an exasperated sigh.

    R-R-R-R-R-rrrttt! (Cue sound of screeching breaks)

    What? (breathy gasp of disbelief) Off Lightning McQueen?  OFF?

    “The boys at school say that Lightning McQueen is for bay-beeez!” And then he scrunched up his face in disgust because when you are five there is nothing worse than being called a baaaay-beee.

    Well that’s just great. My investment in Lightning McQueen tanked due the whims of a few pre-schoolers.

    I supposed if the government isn’t going to exact restitution from the AIG execs, I can’t expect any help recovering damages from a bunch of five-year-olds either.

    Make A Joyful Noise. But Not Too Loud

    November 16, 2008

    Whispering is not what five-year-olds do best.  This is almost always a problem. 

    This morning at church, Sean leaned over to me and stage whispered, “MOM, I LIKE EVERYBODY AT CHURCH!” 

    I beamed with pride. In a congregation of any size, it’s unlikely that even one person can honestly say they like everyone, and yet my little boy does. 


    I hunched my shoulders to my ears and closed my eyes as though I had been swatted upon the head with a rolled up newspaper, like a bad dog. 

    I prayed that I might disintegrate into dust and that someone would sweep me up and put me in the offering plate when it passed by. 

    When that didn’t happen, I turned around to catch the eye of the woman, not sure what I would do after that. 

    When I did, she looked me in the eye and gave me the warmest most genuine smile. 

    So then, either she is a) incredibly kind and forgiving, b) has children of her own, c) is deaf — three characteristics I like in a Christian.

    The Secrets Of Motherhood

    November 14, 2008

    A parenting magazine that I sometimes read recently ran the headline, “The Secrets of Motherhood.” 

    And honestly, that kind of headline makes me roll my eyes.  Because really, after several thousand years of recorded history, am I supposed to believe that women are just now  revealing the secrets of motherhood? That we’ve been able to keep those secrets under our collective hat all this time?  I don’t buy it.  I know better.  Women like to share. Women like to share in a way that makes men queasy. There are no secrets among the motherhood. 

    For example: 

    Woman A sees Woman B for the first time ever at a local playground. They share a park bench as they watch their children play.  Woman A turns to Woman B and compliments her shoes.  Woman B repays the compliment by telling Woman A her birth story in complete and graphic detail from the conception through the delivery of the placenta. Woman A reciprocates by tellling Woman B that she pooped during the delivery. Woman B then says, “I like your shoes too.” 

    See? There are NO secrets in motherhood, all is known, revealed, discussed and blogged.  And then commented upon.

    And if the secrets of motherhood were somehow going to be revealed after 6,000 years, I’m sure they would be revealed to Oprah first.

    The Bob Is The New Helmet Hair

    November 13, 2008

    When AD and I moved to our current home eight years ago, we visited many a church looking for a church home. By default, we became professional church visitors.

    At one point we decided that we should start a business secret shopping churches. We would visit your church and then, for a small fee, we would send a follow-up report letting you know how we were greeted, were the restrooms clean, did anyone help us find our Sunday school class or invite us to lunch and if you are indeed as friendly as you think you are. Probably. Not.

    Be that as it may, one of the churches we visited was very near to our home (points), had a modest but nice, paid-for facility (no building program, bonus points) and supported traditions and doctrine that jived with our own (triple bonus points). The down side was that no one in the congregation was under the age of 70.

    In spite of being in the middle of a vibrant area known for its growing population of young families, this was a graying congregation. Now let me say here, there is nothing wrong with old people. In fact, probably by your standards, I am one myself.  But I think in a church, it’s important to have a good mix of old and young and in between. It’s just better that way.

    Stick with me. This really is about hair.

    As I was sitting in one of the last pews of this church one Sunday morning, staring out over a sea of gray heads, I came to the startling realization that all the ladies had the exact same hairdo, the hairdo I think we all know as helmet hair – slightly blue, shaped just so, perfectly starched and sprayed into place. Like a helmet.  Hence.  It was sort of like the The Stepford Wives meets The Golden Girls.  A curious phenomenon.  How does helmet hair happen I wondered.

    Well, I’ll tell you how it happens. At a certain point in your life, your hair will decide which hairdo you will be stuck with for the rest of your life and you will be powerless to stop it.

    In the past ten years, I have had my hair cut in approximately ten different styles and yet my hair always looks exactly the same.  I’ve had the Rachael, the Spice Girl (the skinny one who is mad all the time), the flippy (both the flippy under and the flippy out), the just-got-out-of-bed, the wispy, the spiky, short layers and verily I say to ye, even long layers. Yet the first time I shampoo and blow dry after my “new” haircut, I have a bob. It might be a short bob or a slightly longer bob, but it is a bob all the same.

    One of these days some young gal will be sitting behind me in church looking at my bob among a sea of gray bobs wondering how in the heck that happened.

    The bob.  It’s the helmet hair of the new millennium.

    Circle Therapy

    November 11, 2008

    The other day I got a Lillian Vernon catalogue in the mail. I think I ordered something from them fifteen years ago and I still get their catalogues. Lillian holds out a lot of hope for me. As do Harry and David. 

    Sean was sitting at the kitchen counter, so I plopped the catalogue down in front of him.  I gave him a pen and told him to circle the things he liked.  I used to do this with the J. C. Penney catalogues that my mother got in the mail.  I’d sit on the sofa and spend hours pretending I could order anything I wanted, all I had to do was circle it and it was mine.

    I’d circle everything from toys to clothes to appliances.  I never ever got anything from the J. C. Penney catalogue, but I have sweet memories rather than bitter about all that fruitless circling. For me, circling was an exercise in dreaming rather than coveting, possibilities rather than the limitations. 

    Sean got busy with that pen, and just like his mother, he circled just about everything, except “girl stuff” which he denounced as yucky. 

    Antique Daddy walked in the room and asked what we were doing.  I offered my best explanation but his puzzled expression told me he didn’t understand the value of circle therapy. 

    “Sean, you can’t circle everything,” he said as though logic were involved. 

    “Yes, I can,” he said. 

    “That’s right,” I agreed, “He can circle everything.  Circles are free.” 

     Dream big. Circle everything. Both are free.

    Birthday Party Theme: Obscure Minimalism

    November 9, 2008

    Last Saturday, Sean had his first ever birthday party beyond the standard cake and ice cream at home with family and friends.

    Last school year, we attended approximately 187 birthday parties thus making him fully aware that he was being rooked out of a party and that his mother was somewhat of a slacker in this regard.  So this year, we agreed to a class party.

    Earlier in the year, Sean attended a birthday party at a nearby gymnastics place and it worked out well, so I totally copied and rented the same facility.  Why re-invent the party wheel? I see no reason.

    So then this past week I spent my spare time trying to pull together the details for said party.  I really had no idea where to start.  Although I’ve attended kidlet birthday parties, I guess I wasn’t paying attention. There were midget barbarians and cake and that’s all I remember. I self-medicated with icing and the rest is a blur. 

    So I set off to Party City looking to get a clue and buy a party. 

    When I got there I trolled up and down the aisles looking for shindig supplies and hoping what I needed would become apparent and jump in my basket.  I settled in a row that seemed to have boy party stuff.  I stood looking at a wall of party hats and party favors and party napkins and all manner of party crap supplies wondering what in the heck I was doing.  Another mom was in the aisle filling her basket like one of Santa’s elves.  “I have no idea what I’m doing,” I said more or less to myself. 

    “What’s your theme?” she asked helpfully. 


    She nodded expectantly. “Batman? Spiderman?” 

    “Well, I really haven’t decided on a theme just yet,” I lied. 

    A look of horror came over her face.  She seemed shocked and appalled by this bit of information. 

    “Well, once you decide on a theme, you can decide on a center piece,” she chirped.  

    “Oh,” I said and nodded knowingly as liars often do.  It had not occured to me that five-year-olds would give a flip about a center piece. 

    I stood there for another 30 minutes scratching my head and looking at “themes” from Batman to Sponge Bob.  Nothing seemed right.  By design, Sean has no idea who any of those characters are.  I finally decided the theme was Birthday and the center piece would be Cake. And for a creative and unexpected touch I would have balloons.  

    I ordered 15 theme-less balloons and left the store. 

    Fun and cake was had by all the midget barbarians in spite of the lack of theme. 

    However it is highly likely that I will not be put in charge of class parties any time soon. 

    See? There is an upside to being incompetent.