Archives for December 2006

Little Skater (updated)

I blame the snow tires. My husband got them put on our van the other day. Then, needing space to tote the other set of tires back home, he took my stroller out of the van and left it in the garage. I didn’t realize it was missing till I got to the roller rink. Now here I stood in the parking lot with seven kids and no stroller.

What a pain, especially here. At this roller rink moms are allowed to push strollers out on the floor so that babies can get in on the skating action. Or at least babies whose mothers remember their strollers. I herded my children across the parking lot and inside, mulling over what to do with a bored two year old for two hours while her older siblings whizzed around the rink.

Inside the dim building, music blared. My big kids scattered like dandelion fluff to find friends. I plopped the two-year-old on a carpeted bench and knelt to get skates on my four-year-old, who skated away happily as soon as I released her. A friend came over to greet me.

“I forgot my stroller,” I complained. “She’s going to be so bored.”

“Why not rent her some skates?” my friend suggested.

“Yeah, maybe…” I said, looking at my two year old. “She’s pretty little, though.”

Or was she? Maybe we should give it a try. Heck, even if she didn’t like the skates, it might keep her occupied for a little while.

“Do you want to skate like the big kids?” I asked my little one.

She nodded, a grin spreading across her face. Over at the skate counter I paid for the skates. As I wrestled the skates on over her little pink tennis shoes, she squirmed excitedly. I kept up a cheery chatter, but inside I found myself hoping she wouldn’t like it. She’s too little, my heart kept saying forlornly. She can’t possibly be old enough to skate. She’ll probably ask to have them off as soon as she falls a time or two.

Up on her feet, my baby headed off confidently, falling seconds later.

“Ooh, big bump!” I said cheerily, and helped her scramble to her feet. The ache in my heart was growing. My baby.

Off she went again and fell again and got up again, over and over without a whimper. By the time she’d been skating ten minutes, she was falling less often, and she’d decided she was too big to hold mommy’s hand. She also figured out how to swing her arms for forward momentum. I walked sideways in a protective crouch, ready to catch her when she fell. The ache in my heart was blooming.

By the time she’d been skating half an hour, she sometimes went twenty whole feet without falling. I was walking a little straighter, my stance was more relaxed, and a reluctant pride was blossoming in me. Look at this little turkey, I marveled, skating as if she’s been skating for months! Even if I did remember the stroller next time, she wouldn’t want it. She’s growing up this very moment, right before my eyes. No more stroller baby. Now she’s a skater.

My baby. I’m crying inside as I bid her goodbye.

But this little girl who’s skating alongside me so resolutely, so engrossed in her new-found skill? She amazes me.

The ache in my heart sits companionably beside a newly swelling pride. Next time, instead of that forgotten stroller, I think I’ll bring the camera.

Look at my little girl go!

Happy New Year!

Isaiah 43:18-19

2006 in Review

I saw this meme over at

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
I started blogging. And now I may never shut up.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make one this year. I’m not sure about next year. I’d like to lose 10 lbs, but I hate exercise and love chocolate. So, we’ll see.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Three sisters: one in August, one in September, and one in December. Plus another sister got her referral for a baby boy from Ethiopia–he was born in October, so he counts as a 2006 baby too, even though I haven’t gotten to kiss him yet.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My grandfather, last spring.

5. What countries did you visit?
Um…Oregon? (guess not)

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
An overnight getaway with my hubby!!

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May, when my oldest graduated from high school. August, when she started college.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting regular about writing again, and getting a paying writing gig!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Impatience…I may not have that one mastered ever.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, but my 14 yo broke his jaw.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
There Is No Me Without You. I gave it to quite a few loved ones from Christmas.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I am so blessed by my teenagers. Like anyone, they have grumpy moments, but overall they defy the difficult-teen stereotype. They truly are a pleasure.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My own, when I snarl and grump around at people, usually when I’m tired or the clutter gets to me. But still…I have so much–I should be more grateful, and more conscious of the effect my moods have on my family.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Books, groceries, little-girl clothes…and two leather couches. I was worried those couches might feel extravagant, but they are working so well for us, and look sooo much better than the ancient thing we had before.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Blogging, and getting back into writing regularly.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
??? I’ll add something if I think of one..

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) Happier! But I was pretty content last year too.
b) Thinner…. a whole 5 pounds!
c) A little richer, thanks to my blogging job.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Spent more time with my husband.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Griped at people, bought books I’d only read once

20. How did you spend Christmas?
You already know that one.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
A little more with my husband. His heart and mine are moved by the same things these days, and that is precious to me.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Extreme Makeover, Home Edition and Nightline

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No, except maybe that guy yesterday in the pickup who cut me off when clearly *I* had the right-of-way. (kidding, but he really was a jerk…I rarely get steamed at other drivers.)

25. What was the best book you read?
There is No Me Without You.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
My 16 year old is playing the piano so beautifully these days. It is a pleasure to hear her.

27. What did you want and get?
A laptop! Spoiled me.

28. What did you want and not get?
An agent (I’m not giving up yet, though!)

29. What was your favorite film this year?
The Nativity or The Lake House

30. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I was at church camp, and I turned 39.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I would love, love, love if more of our friends and family were able to adopt.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Jeans and clogs. I also have a new brown corduroy jacket that I’ll probably wear 200 times in the next year!

32. What kept you sane?
My beautiful family and the Psalms. Coffee, chocolate and blogging don’t hurt either.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Angelina Jolie, because of her obvious heart for adoption, and from what she has said about her children, I imagine she and I would find a lot to talk about.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I wish we cared for starving children in Africa half as much as we cared for our toenails, or our dogs’ toenails for that matter.

36. Who did you miss?
My grandparents

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I was so glad to meet Queen Beth along with my baby niece and two nephews.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.
Oh, dear, have I learned a thing this year? How about “never check your bloglines unless you have at least 20 minutes to kill” ?

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Let my Lifesong sing to You.”

Lord I give my life
Living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be your hands and feet
So may the words I sing
And the things I do
Make my Lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you

I do this so imperfectly. But it is my prayer, not only for this year or next year, but for my whole life.

Tent update

After thinking it over, this morning I offered my 4 year old a solution to her tent problem. I told her if she really wanted that tent, she could do some jobs for me and earn the money. Or the other option, I explained, was just to wait and ask for the tent for her birthday.

She thought for a minute and then said, “How many jobs do I have to do?”

“Five,” I said, “and then we can go buy the tent.” (I had perhaps a half hour time commitment in mind. Empty the silverware. Fold your jeans. Easy stuff like that. )

“Hmmm.” She thought for a long moment. “I think I’ll wait til my birthday.”

Guess it wasn’t QUITE as high on her list as I thought.

In the meantime, I dug in the garage and found a perfectly decent little pop-up tent that was her big brother’s from a few years ago. She squealed with delight when she came inside and saw I had it set up, and played happily for the next half hour. Not a princess tent, but I think that will do her quite nicely until that birthday rolls around. However, as my hubby pointed out, she may want something entirely different by then!

Why I love my New York Times

One of the coolest things that arrives at my house each day is my New York Times. It is actually just an email with a list of clickable links that feature various articles in the New York Times for that day. Some days I only click on one or two things to read in depth. Other days, like this morning, all sorts of things sound interesting.

This morning’s clicks:

Islamist Forces in Somali City Vanish
It looks like the Ethiopian offensive supporting the UN-recognized Somali government is having some success driving back the Somalia Islamists.

Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future
I always read any story that features Ethiopia. This one was a tough read, especially in such close proximity to the thinking.

An Annual Letdown: The Strapless Bra
Don’t ask me why, it just made me curious…

Free, Plentiful and Fickle
It’s windy enough to tear shingles off out at our place, and hubby and I have talked about a windmill.

Quick, Do You Know Your B.M.I.?
Here, among other things, I discovered that Stallone’s BMI is 4 points higher than mine. Now that was a day brightener. (all you scientific types– you know who you are — do NOT go emailing me about how his muscle mass is much greater and all that, K? I know. Just let me enjoy my victories where I can!) I was also delighted to calculate that I am a mere 10 lbs from a ‘normal-weight’ BMI. Can ya smell the stink of a New Year’s Resolution coming? And do you see the sad, sad irony of reading this story within moments of reading story #2? Yeah. Me too.

If you want this daily world-broadening extravaganza in your in-box every morning, just go to The New York Times and click on ‘register now’. I just have the free version. But if you want more complete access to all the stories, you can pay for New York Times Select.

Drat Santa

“Santa didn’t get me what I wanted, ” declared my four year old soberly at dinner last night.

Conversation around the table stopped, and everyone looked her way.

“What about your new purple bike?” I asked quickly.

“It has training wheels,” she said disdainfully. “I don’t need training wheels.”

“Daddy can take them off. And what about the other stuff you got?”

“Yeah” chimed in a big sister. “What about your pretty new dolly?”

“And your new dishes set?” said someone else.

The four year old shook her head mournfully. “What I really wanted was a tent. A pink one.”

Drat it. I guess Santa should have listened to his/her mom-instincts.

At least I know what to get her for her birthday. But June is a long time away when you’re four.

Ya think I could run buy a pink tent and give it to her saying Santa forgot to put it in his sleigh?

anyone have any idea why when I try to highlight text with the mouse to drag and drop (mostly in a word document) it will highlight way too much? grrr…darned new laptop..

From the other side, part 2 (Christmas morning)

Christmas morning we heard children thundering out of their beds at 7 am. Yawning, we rolled out of bed ourselves and headed for the coffee pot. Then began the free-for-all. We pushed one couch toward the dining room table to have more space in the living room, and the kids soon had all the presents under the tree portioned out onto piles. A gift for my hubby that I’d lost turned out to have been one of the first gifts I’d wrapped back in November. Then forgot I wrapped. And spent 20 minutes scouring the house for. (If I’m this bad at 39, how air-headed am I going to be when I’m 60 ?)

Everyone was delighted with their loot. Favorites included:

18 yr old–that Insignia 2 gig mp3 player I was telling you about last week. Eldest says it is super easy to load up– she got 192 songs into it very quickly, and it’s not full yet. The picture quality and sound quality are both great!

16 yr old–Pirates of the Carribbean piano music.

15 yr old–Trip to Seattle to tour Microsoft and hang out with Uncle J (gift from Uncle J). He gets to fly there with J and fly home on his own!

12 yr old— Nerf Dart tag (we got 3 pairs of these guns–the boys have been running around like nuts having a blast!)

8-1/2 yr old— Galactic Battlegrounds, a computer game, rated ‘T for teen’ which he wanted desperately and I’m hoping won’t scar him for life. He was sure he wasn’t getting it. And that we decided he is OLD ENOUGH for such a grown-up game–oh, my! I played it with him this afternoon and got trounced in 10 minutes. I was relieved to discover it’s not any more violent than Age of Empires…no blood. Just lots of droids and light sabers…

8 yr old–Gameboy Micro from Grandma-finally he doesn’t have to borrow big brother’s Gameboy!

4 yr old–dishes set (a tea set and baking set complete with a rolling pin–cute!) The little girls and I had a tea party this afternoon, conplete with crackers, hot water, and plenty of sugar.

2 yr old–a playhouse made by big brothers from a huge cardboard box

John–a speaker system for the TV

Me— laptop, of course

Part way thru the morning we managed to clear a path through the living room and enjoy our french toast strata, which is divine with blueberries. By 1, we were at Grandma’s house, visiting with all of John’s family and eating yet again. By 4 we were back home, setting up John’s theater sound system and (after a little more path-clearing) settling in for a dinner of leftovers and a movie.

Lovely, lovely Christmas…we are blessed. I hope yours was good too.

Hello from the other side…

…of Christmas, that is!

Does this post look extra-bright? Shiny? Crisp? Well, it does from this side of the blog. Why, you ask? Because I got a LAPTOP for Christmas!! (Showing once again that my hubby spoils me completely rotten.) Now if I can only get used to this touchpad ‘mouse’. Gracious, it’s odd. But I am having so much fun writing from various places in the house, and imagining how awesome it will be to be able to write on trips!

So when does your trash man come? Always, the week after Christmas I can’t wait for the trash man to come and carry away the traces of our spoiled-ness. It really is embarrassing how much trash we generate over Christmas. Even considering the size of our family, it seems extreme. At the moment, all 4 of our trash cans our full. There are 3 Hefty bags of trash in the garage, and 4 big boxes crammed full in our front entry way inside the house. Thankfully trash day is tomorrow, and I can once again say goodbye to that huge pile of trash that always makes me think we really ought to be more moderate in our gift-giving.

We did our celebration a bit different than usual this year. I blogged before that usually we do our private family celebration Christmas Eve morning. This year we had church then, though. So we did stockings Christmas Eve morning. I’m afraid the 4 year old won’t believe in Santa much longer. When she spotted the candy canes in the stockings supposedly from Santa, the 4 year old said, “But I know the candy canes are from you, Mommy, because that’s the same kind you bought, and you left the box right there on the table.”

Silly mommy.

After stockings we went to church, then had a buffet style lunch. After lunch the kids handed out all the presents they had bought for each other and for us, which turned out to be a nice way to highlight those gifts.

In the evening on Christmas Eve, we always head over to my mom’s house. I am the oldest of 8, and with all the cousins and various inlaws this year there were 41 people at mom’s. We always do clam chowder in bread bowls, along with fruit trays and veggie trays.

After dinner, we gather in the living room. The gifts are piled waist high around the tree, and folding chairs tightly pack every bit of wall space where there aren’t couches. The ring of chairs overflows into the dining room and the den on either side of the living room. We always begin the gift-giving by reading from Luke 2.

Usually my brother Pete does the reading, in honor of my dad, who died in 1988. (However this year Pete was at the hospital with his wife who just delivered their second child, a baby boy, on Christmas Eve afternoon! We all agreed that they gave the best gift to the grandparents this year!) So this year, my youngest brother Jonathan did the reading.

After that, we always sing some Christmas carols, selected by the littlest children: traditionally lovely songs such as Away in A manger, Joy to the World, and Silent night are requested. This year my two youngest made me giggle (and blush) by requesting Jingle Bells and the ABC song.

Then, gifts. We always draw names, which is fun. And then Mom and my step-dad always end up with a huge heap of individual gifts from various ones of us, and they always buy each of us something. It is a precious time. I’ll blog over on my Ethiopia blog later today about the our charitable gift dilemma, and how it all went…

After the big shindig at mom’s we went home and set out cookies for Santa, and scurried off to bed to recharge for yet more partying on Christmas morning.

To be continued…

Christmas Blessings to You!

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.