Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Forward

This wasn't my best year. In fact, I rank it among the worst. I told myself I wasn't going to look back. That this year didn't matter... but it did.

Attitude plays such an important part in our lives. Sometimes it is really hard to be positive. Sometimes it is really hard to accept that there are things in my life over which I have no control. Sometimes I just don't want to deal with any of it. Sometimes I just don't want to believe that I have a choice in how I view things... how I feel about things... but I do.

It's been 3 years since my SD diagnosis. I still struggle with it and how it affects my life. I hate it. Sometimes it makes me angry. Mostly, it just makes me feel sorry for myself. But that's not right... I choose to be angry and I choose to feel sorry for myself.

I was listening to Third Day awhile ago and their song, Offering, came on. I just stood still and listened to it...

Magnificent Holy Father
I stand in awe of all I see
Of all the things You have created
But still You choose to think of me

Who am I that You should suffer
Your very life to set me free
The only thing that I can give You
Is the life you gave to me

This is my offering, dear Lord
This is my offering to You, God
And I will give You my life
For it's all I have to give
Because You gave your life for me

I stand before You at this altar
So many have given You more
I may not have much I can offer
Yet what I have is truly Yours

This is my offering

I was struck by, I stand before You at this altar... So many have given You more... I may not have much I can offer... Yet, what I have is truly Yours... I spend so much time going over in my mind all that I can't do. All that I used to do. I've been in mourning for the life I once had.

This year... I'm going to see what I can do.

Have a SAFE and HAPPY New Year!!!

BOOPER!!!








Booper is my boy. My fur baby. My buddy. My pal. He's not always a good boy. But he's always a happy boy.



























Lu Lu is an old girl. I think she loves Booper.

What's not to love?


























Mama... Lu Lu's not being nice to me.

















Well... maybe Lu Lu does sometimes get tired of Benny.
Just a little.



Be Good Boys and Girls as you ring in the New Year!!!

*** Just so you know, what this post actually looks like on the blog does NOT look like what I composed and ... and I'm frustrated... AND I accidentally deleted the last picture... AND I'm not messing with it anymore!!! AaRrUuGgHh!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nocturnal Adventures of a Weird Mom

It is after midnight and I am sitting in my office in sweat pants I've worn to bed for the last 5 days and the shirt I wore today... AND I still have my bra on... AND I am wearing my coat. Why? I'm freezing. It wasn't even a cold day but I somehow caught a chill I can't shake. I crawled in bed right after dinner... fully clothed with another coat zipped up to my neck... a fleece coat that is better than the coat I am now wearing but is up in my room. I fell asleep like that only to be woken (is that a word?) awakened? Ripped from the depths of blessed oblivion by my husband rattling around in the room in preparation of his own slumber. I got up, took off my jeans and replaced them with my rancid sweats which I picked up off of the floor, removed my coat, brushed my teeth and downed two Tylenol PM and crawled back in bed. Only when I exited our bathroom I was hit by the foul stench of a recently ripped one the likes of which make your eyes water and your nose hairs erupt into flames. I complained vociferously as Mr. Macchiato sheepishly said he couldn't even smell it anymore. Uh... yeah! That's because it probably seared his nose cavity for the rest of time! Dead cats smell better than that!

Double Shot has a friend sleeping over. Why? It's Christmas break and his sports take up most of his time and he doesn't really get to hang out with his friends that often. AND his Dad said he could even though it is a work night for him and I used that reason the night before to tell Frappy no to a sleep over with one of her friends. WHO IS QUIET. Double Shot and his friend are NOT. I could hear them banging around in the kitchen as I frantically tried to force myself back to sleep. I took Tylenol PM for Pete's sake!!! Pete and whoever came up with the whole sleep over idea need to both be beat.

I thought I might actually get back to sleep when the snoring started. I then thought if I made a wall of pillows between Mr. Macchiato and I and then placed another over my head that the noise would be muffled to a low rumble that might actually lull me back to sleep. No dice. I felt like I was in the den of a hibernating bear. No, scratch that. I can hear him through the vents above me as I type this. The den of a family of grizzlies with sleep apnea might be closer. I wiggled the bed which is a technique I often use to jostle him without waking him which then causes him to roll over without me coming off like a shrew. If he didn't have to work in the morning I'd go shrew all the way and then let him sleep in the morning. It didn't work for but a few minutes and then he was back to sawing those logs. Meanwhile, the boys were downstairs fixing something else to eat and not being quiet about it at all. Mr. Macchiato flopped around before getting up to go tell them to be quiet. He was back to snoring before I could blink three times.

I could feel myself reaching the freak out zone so I decided to try to leave without waking him. Mr. Macchiato doesn't like it when I'm not next to him. It is sweet but... I'm like a worn out teddy bear with one eye missing. I have to be very careful because he almost always wakes up when I try to sneak away. I have to slowly ease out of bed and then stand by the bed for awhile before I quietly make my way to the door. Inevitably he calls my name the second my hand touches the door knob. He always wants to know where I am going and if I'm coming back. Sigh... Tonight was no different. I assured him I'd be back hoping that it was true.

As I stepped into the hall I saw that Frappy's light was still on and decided to go in there. I've taken to sleeping in there if I can't in my own bed. She was reading Harry Potter. I didn't let the kids read those books when they were younger. That was when I also didn't let them watch TV. I crawled in bed with her and she continued to read all the while grumbling that it was weird for me to get in bed with her. I laid there for awhile... first facing the booger wall. When she was younger she would stick boogers on the wall rather than get a tissue. I guess we should have been glad she didn't eat them... and the boogers are long gone and the wall has been painted... but, I couldn't face that wall because it made me think about them. So, I flipped over and looked at the poster across the room. The one she brought home from college of a green girl with her face over the toilet. It says, "Hug your friends, not the toilet." And her tick tock clock tick tocked and made me think of Peter Pan and the Captain yelling, "I'm a cod fish!" None of which was the slightest bit sleep inducing. Frappy said she was going to tell her boyfriend about her freak mom and I told her she could go back to college. She then decided to go downstairs with her book and I felt bad so I decided to come down too.

I started shivering again. I didn't want to go upstairs and risk waking Mr. Macchiato so I got another coat out of the coat closet. Causing Frappy, now on the couch, to roll her eyes. I went to rifle around in the fridge but Double Shot's super spidey senses kicked in and he wandered up to see what I might be fixing and to make sure I made some for him. Uh, no. Besides, after all the holiday goodies I'm ready for some broccoli. However, as I sit here, in the middle of the night, typing my sad tale, and wondering how many commas I can use in one sentence... even though I apparently don't care about grammar at all... proven by the fact that there is a paragraph above that is in need of commas... and I'm obviously in love with dot dot dots... I will, no doubt, be finding my way back up to the fridge in a bit. And not for broccoli. Well, unless we have cheese. Well, no... I don't know what I'll get.

Anyway, that is how I ended up in the office at this very late hour after deciding that I could, at the very least, get a blog post out of this wretched night. And if you are wondering why I am still wearing my bra... it is because we have someone else's kid in our house. And there might be a catastrophe... in which case, I would prefer not to be bra less in the presence of one of my friend's kids. You may think that is ridiculous but it is not. Now... if I still had on my shoes, which I considered, that would be ridiculous.

If I can't sleep I am going to read, Josephus, The Complete Works.

Good Night.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Perspective...

My friend, Karen, over at Fresh Fixins has this post up today. Karen did not have her granddaughters living with her when we lived in Mississippi and I was blessed to get to spend a little bit of time with them when I was there in October. These girls have been through a lot. It is a beautiful thing to see how Karen and her husband love these girls! Please read her post about something that happened with the oldest, Piglet. You will be glad you did!

You know... I've been in a bit of a funk. The one thing I really wanted to do well in my life, more than anything else, was to be a good Mom. When I see things in my kids that cause me concern involving their character it really freaks me out. I now agonize over how to approach problems with them. All of my kids are currently making choices that I'm not comfortable with...

When I read Karen's post I initially felt bad about where we are at with our kids. They've been sheltered from much... maybe too much. And we've given too much. Our protection of them is often seen by them as nothing but control from which they wish to break free. I felt my heart sinking as I continued reading. It's not easy to admit... but, sometimes, inside, I have a hard time hearing about other people's kids when they are doing really well. I imagine it isn't much different than the feelings of someone experiencing infertility when confronted with the news that someone else they know is pregnant. You have to paste on that happy face and congratulate them, all while you are wondering inside, Why not me?

It made me think about the time there was a couple coming to our church. The wife had a drug/alcohol problem and had gone through rehab. They had three children, two boys and a little girl. The oldest boy was around 10 and the middle boy was around 8 or so. Their little girl had just turned 4. The mother took the family van and ran off with someone from rehab. Her husband only had a truck for work and not enough seat belts for the kids. He could not miss work and it was summertime. He called in a panic and I told him I would take care of the kids. I needed to go to the store so I loaded them all up with my children and we went to Wal-mart. I no longer had sippy cups so I let the little girl pick a special one out just for her. She was darling! All of them were. As we continued through the store she sat in the cart hugging the cup to her chest. She smiled up at me and asked me what my name was. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It made my heart hurt for her and I couldn't imagine my children ever having to be in a situation where they didn't know the name of who was watching them. Those kids were very well behaved. I was incredulous. I had a hard time with it because I didn't understand how a drug addict could have better behaved children. It really bothered me...

Each of us have our own story. It is through pain that our greatest lessons are learned. Those who have been burned by the fire know whereas those who are kept from the fire are only told. This world is made up of unique individuals and each of our lives is a unique story. Any way you slice it, I think that there are times in everyone's life when you would have to wonder which road their lives will take. At some point, children must take responsibility for their own lives and decisions. Maybe there is no avoiding eventually getting burned...

Somewhere, no credit to me, something has gone very right. This is the child of my daughter, the daughter who hasn't spoken to us in years, the crack addict. This is the child who I have prayed for. I was so humbled. Awed. This child acted with great faith. There is no telling what God will be able to do in her life. Amazing.

These words of Karen's resonated in me. I need to let go and let God. Well, actually, I've done that. I need to trust. I need to trust that God is in the story of my children and that He will do His work... and I need to accept that I am no longer on center stage in their lives. There are others He will use and I need not know everything anymore.

I am truly joyous over what happened to Piglet! I look forward to seeing what happens with her in the future and I thank Karen for sharing it with us bloggers!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How it Went

Hmmmm... Christmas Eve at my house...

9 am: Sweetly told my kids to get up because I needed some help (my back is still hurting).

11 am: Told my kids to get up in a matter of fact way. Tried not to get upset because it was Christmas Eve. Told myself that when they finally did get up they would feel guilty for ignoring me and do what I wanted them to joyfully.

11:20 am: Daughter got up and started helping me.

12 noon: Told my son to get up again.

1 pm: Tried to call my husband but couldn't get him.

1:20 pm: I jumped up and down and banged on my son's wall before I slammed my bedroom door.

1:25 pm: Husband called and I told him son wouldn't get out of bed. And then heard him downstairs... he must have hopped up and ran down there the second he heard the phone ring. Talked to his Dad for 5 seconds and did what he was supposed to. Which annoyed me greatly.

8 pm: Christmas Eve service... My husband slept on my right while my son on my left mutilated his candle. I think he was carving a baby Jesus out of it. At least that is what I hope that thing was.

All in all it turned out to be a nice night. We watched a movie, had a fire going and ate Christmas goodies.

Christmas day started early because Benny is a morning dog. He's a morning dog all day long. He's joyful. He's energetic. He bounds around and doesn't care if I am holding a hot cup of coffee. I try to be mad at him. I try to be mad at him every morning. But... he's just so darn happy!

We had guests for dinner and had a wonderful time.

I won't mention the wee little iddy biddy meltdown I might have had about an hour before they got here... You know how it goes. That it's getting down to the wire and you are not quite sure you are going to be able to get everything together the way you want... and no one will keep helping until things are done type meltdown. Nope. Not gonna mention it.

Today Chai Tea flew home and we spent the day with her. We all went out to eat and to see Marley and Me, which was awesome.

Okay... so, someone please tell me... why is Christmas break from school so long? I'd also like to know how my kids can sleep so much. I was not like that. I've always been more of a morning person. When I went through my growth spurt I would take a nap after school and then go to bed right after dinner... but I still got up in the morning easily. I don't get it. It irritates me no end. I think the teen years must really be so Moms can survive her little birdies flying away... in fact, this Mama is having fantasies about an empty nest.

Just saying.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What is it About Christmas?

My husband and I went to the mall yesterday. Those of you who know me well may have just gasped. I hate shopping. Actually, I more than hate shopping. Going to the mall or entering into tiny shops over stuffed with products and people makes me panic. I normally send Mr. Macchiato to do the Christmas shopping armed with a list and his cell phone. The day after Christmas shopping trips with the kids have been taken care of by Mr. Macchiato... except for the few occasions he insisted I join in... none of which ended pleasantly.

I had only bought the gifts I have yet to mail and ordered something for the girls that was supposed to be in before Christmas but is not going to be. We decided to save those items for their birthdays which meant we had to do it all yesterday. Four. Days. Before. Christmas. It actually went very well. There were only two stores that I had to leave to wait for Mr. Macchiato outside and there were just a few very congested areas outside of the shops. It is a good thing that, at 5'11" tall, I am above the majority of the population. I would fall on the floor hyperventilating if I could not see over the people around me!

I happened to snag a seat on a bench during one of my waits and got to indulge in some people watching, something I quite enjoy. I was surprised to see more happy people than I expected. I did see some very stressed individuals, the most of which happened to be men on their own. I saw a lot of parents doing the tag team thing with their kids. One parent would stay outside while the other ran into a shop or two. Sometimes a kid or two would be squalling and I saw two kids in strollers missing one of their shoes. A darling boy missing his two front teeth was on the bench behind me singing Christmas carols. I also saw quite a few couples arguing.

Over the years we've had some memorable... ummm... fights.

One time we were in the parking lot of Target and it was days before Christmas and we could not find an Easy Bake Oven for Frappy or a kid keyboard for Chai Tea. I had a meltdown right there in front of God and everybody complete with jumping up and down and crying. We eventually found a Mrs. Field's Oven and a keyboard. It was pretty ugly until we did though.

Another year Mr. Macchiato took us out to dinner on Christmas Eve. Only... all the restaurants we drove to were closed. We eventually found one that was open but when we learned that there was over an hour wait, Mr. Macchiato turned around and walked out leaving me with all three kids who instantly started crying. We were on our way back home when we spotted a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. The food was excellent! We were the only customers until another couple came in halfway through our meal. They started smoking and Double Shot, who was 5 at the time, got very angry. He started saying, "They are SMOKING! Don't they know SMOKING CAUSES CANCER!" We ended up leaving rather quickly because Double Shot's asthma is very reactive to cigarette smoke. We ended up yelling at the kids before they would stay in bed that night... our beagle defecated in her crate after Mr. Macchiato had just taken her out... Mr. Macchiato chucked her crate and all out into the 20 degree and icy night... then tromped around the front of the house looking for the hose in his underwear... settled down and gave Maggie Mae a bath (inside) and cleaned the crate (outside)... my eardrum ruptured during the night... and we woke up to the kids hollering that Maggie Mae had taken another dump in her crate at 6 am Christmas morning.

The mother of all bad Christmas Eves was here in Colorado. It was four or five years ago. We always go to see a new movie at the theater either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. We have not lived near our families in over 18 years so it is a tradition we took from Mr. Macchiato's family. This particular year we went to see some Lemony Snickett movie starring Jim Carey. I felt it was rather dark and not very uplifting. This may come as a shock but... I am not a good communicator in person. I can be upset about something for months before I say anything. Well... I told Mr. Macchiato that I wanted to go to church on Christmas Eve, like we usually do. He said he didn't want to because all the people that don't go to church except on Christmas were going to make it too crowded. I stated, again, that that is what I wanted to do. He totally missed the cues that it was going to be a problem if we didn't. There was an explosion. I even left the house and sat, freezing, in my car in the parking lot of a Walgreens. We had a new bike for our son stored in the garage of some friends that we needed to pick up. I called them on my cell phone and talked to the wife as, unknown to me, Mr. Macchiato was on the phone with the husband. Their version of this story is quite comical... but it sure was not to us at the time! When I told her we did not go to church, she gasped and said, "Even I went to church tonight!" (They were not going to church at that time). I saw Mr. Macchiato driving toward their house and headed home. I thought... if Mr. Macchiato wants to celebrate Christmas like a heathen then we will. He had been given a bottle of Crown Royal for Christmas and I decided I was going to get drunk. I am not really a drinker, although I crack jokes about drinking all the time. I mixed a bunch of that stuff with some 7 up in a large glass. I could smell it and it didn't smell nice. Mr. Macchiato walked in at that point and asked me what the heck I was doing. I told him I was going to get drunk and took a big giant gulp. All my nose hairs, my throat, my esophagus, my belly... erupted into a flaming ball of fire. I started coughing and he started laughing. I then threw the glass down on the floor shattering it while I cried about not even being able to get drunk because it tastes too awful.

Yes, that is how this fine Christian woman acted because her husband did not take her and her family to church one Christmas Eve. When anyone asks Mr. Macchiato what we are doing on Christmas Eve he always states emphatically that he is taking his wife to church! We all laugh about it now... but not with a true from the heart laughter. At least, not from me. A lot of families have unpleasant scenes around the holidays that leave a permanent mark. This was one of those for me. Because I did not have Christmas Eve go the way I wanted... I ruined it for everyone. I especially ruined it for my kids.

When I was growing up we did not go to church. Christmas was a magical time to me. My mom made many of the Christmas gifts and decorations. Her love language is definitely gifts! She has always spent a lot of time throughout the year squirreling away birthday and Christmas gifts. (She loves to shop!) Our house was always clean and decorated nicely. We decorated the tree together while Christmas music played and we ate Christmas cookies and drank egg nog. My mom always appeared to be happy. We always got to open a new outfit on Christmas Eve to wear that night to the big celebration at my grandma's on my dad's side of the family. When we got home late that night we all got to open our new Christmas pajamas, robes and slippers. Once we were dressed in them we gathered in front of the tree and got to open one small present before watching our parents open all of their gifts to each other. Nearly every Christmas I've felt I've fallen short. I never could live up to my memories of my mom at Christmas.

I once told my mom this and she was shocked! Her memories of our Christmases were not the same. She told me about the stress of staying up half the night on Christmas Eve finishing some of our gifts. One year she even wrapped up the material and pattern for a robe for my Dad... and then gave it to him for Christmas the next year. There was unpleasantness around the holidays that I do remember but... overall, my memories of that time of year are very happy.

Jesus was not born on December 25. That is just the day that the powers that be at that time decided to make it. I don't want to get into all the paganism that surrounds Christmas or start a debate on whether we should celebrate it or not. Christmas is what you make it. It is a time that families get together... people reconnect with old friends... and a time of looking forward to a new year full of new possibilities. For me and other Christians, it is also a time to remember the humble birth of our Savior. It also happens to be the time of year with the highest suicide rate... and the time of year that is the most painful for some. Christmas time can bring forth all that someone has lost... relationships, loved ones, jobs... Christmas also brings about a lot of stress with the expense of buying gifts that you may not be able to afford.

One of my favorite Christmas stories is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. When the Grinch took away all of the decorations, gifts, and even the food... Christmas came anyway. Our best Christmas as a family was the year we were really strapped financially. We only had $40 to spend on each child. To some, that may still seem like a lot. For me, coming from a history of Christmas including new outfits for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, new pj's, robes and slippers, many gifts and a stocking filled to overflowing... it was very difficult. We took our time. Even though we didn't have fancy food we all sat down together and had candles burning. Mr. Macchiato read to us all on Christmas Eve and then read the Christmas story from the bible on Christmas morning. I will never forget the way the light streamed through the windows on that morning and glowed around my children as they opened the few gifts they had. Every single one of my kids says that was their favorite Christmas. It was mine too.

Whatever your circumstances, I pray that the love of Jesus Christ finds you this year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Chores...


I finally started baking. But, someone in this house has started eating. One guess... yes, Double Shot. My lean mean eating machine. I had to leave these cookies out overnight so that the chocolate in the middle could harden and half the pan on the stove was gone when I got up.

I've got much to do... shopping, cleaning, cooking, baking... Thankfully, there's not a lot of cleaning to be done.

Time to get busy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Dog Whisperer

Have any of y'all seen The Dog Whisperer? That show is AMAZING!!! I want that guy to come live with us! Tongue in cheek, I mentioned the show briefly in another post as maybe being the answer to problems with kids. In reality, it is through this show that I had a bit of an epiphany about myself.

If you've been reading this blog awhile you probably know that we crate our dogs. Some people have strong feelings against this but our vet crates his own dogs and advises others to do so as a safety for the dog issue. We knew some people in Mississippi that had their dog die under their Christmas tree two days before Christmas because he chewed on the lights. Anyway, crating them controls the amount of trouble they can get into. I've come to realize, however, that I've used the crates too much and in place of proper training.

Benny is very exuberant so he and Lu Lu are always crated when we have guests over. It occurred to me that I go to great lengths to control their environment. I keep all the doors closed to the areas I don't want them. I make sure everything is picked up and put away so as not to tempt Benny. If I cannot keep my eye on them I put them in their crates. Rather than teach Benny how to behave when people come to the house... rather than teach Benny what he can and cannot play with... rather than give him some room to make some mistakes... I crate him.

Then it hit me... I did that with my children. I spent more time controlling their environment than I did training them.

I've been accused on many occasions of being an overprotective mother. That is a common accusation made against those who homeschool. I couldn't see it because I wasn't sheltering my children as much as others I knew were sheltering their children. I told my children about others' beliefs and views...

If we had it all to do over again... we would still choose to homeschool. We would do it from the very beginning and then send the kids to school in Jr. High or High School. We did homeschool Double Shot that way and I think he's going to be much better prepared for life when he hits 18.

I can see now where we had the girls on too short of a leash. We sent them to an early college program for their senior year of high school last year. We were planning on sending Chai to college 6 hours away this fall. We thought it would be wise to have them take college courses on a college campus while still at home so that they could better transition from homeschooling to college. We let some slack into the leashes and allowed them to make more of their own choices. Chai Tea had been straining against that leash for a long time and when she got some slack she took off running and yanked it right out of our hands.

I'm trying very hard to use the crates less often. A couple weeks ago we had some friends over and asked them to please bear with us as we tried to get through Benny's excitement of being out while they were here. It was not easy because he could go from person to person which kept him wound up. We are having people over on Saturday and this time I think we'll try taking him on a long walk before they arrive. It would be nice for Lu Lu. It's really not fair that she gets crated because Benny gets upset if she is out and he is not.

And... hopefully, we have learned to gradually release our leash on Double Shot.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going Along in my Automobile...

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Colorado!


I drove Little Miss Chai Tea up to Denver International Airport so she could fly away to Washington state to spend Christmas with my Mom and Step Dad. It will be the first Christmas we have not spent with Chai Tea since she was born...

Those little birdies do eventually fly.



It was a beautiful drive...




























Colorado really is a beautiful place to live...








Just Gorgeous!

It was nice to be able to have that quiet time driving.

I had another botox injection yesterday. We know that the Doctor got the 10 units into the right spot last month because they used the camera down the back of my throat and could see the needle. He injected another 10 units into the left side yesterday, again being certain of hitting the right spot. It was a difficult injection. I took this picture yesterday. Today my neck is bruised. Supposedly, botox resistence is rare and usually takes years to develop. We have seen some improvement in my voice over the last couple of injections but it is minimal and very short lived. My doctor said that we can try botox B next month but he wasn't real positive about it. It will be a last ditch effort. And for those who know how this goes... yes, it hasn't been 24 hours and it could still work. However, it has been my experience that I knew the injections worked the next morning when I woke up and I've had dozens of them.
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Yet, another blow on the Spasmodic Dysphonia trail. My voice is not as bad as it gets right now but it is deteriorating. I don't know, I might get a little boost from this injection like I did the last. However... it is just a matter of time before it deteriorates down to the worst. I can't see continuing to pay to sound like I do. I can handle the low volume... but, the breaking up and losing of words I can't. It is embarrassing. It would be easier to just not talk at all.
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Depressing post. I know. Looks like I'm going to have to learn some sign language that doesn't include my middle finger. I just made myself laugh so I am leaving that in. Nice Christian that I am... Sigh.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

All Dolled Up for Christmas!!!

Hi.
I'm Coffee Bean.
I've been taking too many Ibuprofen.
My kidneys hate me.
And back still hurts anyway.

The Basement Tree

Yes, we have a little tree in the Basement.

It has all of Frappy and Double Shot's personal ornaments.

Chai Tea has hers on her tree in her apartment.

That I helped her decorate.

It has football players like Jonathan McNab...
*editing here... I've been corrected, it is Donovan McNabb! LOL!


And Angels and Fairies...




And even little Jail Bird... Michael Vic.

I hope he's learning how to treat dogs.


The Living Room Tree



It has all hand painted ornaments.

I painted Santa.

Grandma painted the drummer boy.

Rudolph was painted by Frappy.

The Christmas tree was painted by Double Shot.


This is what our living room looks like clean.

It is glorious.

I took a picture so that I will always remember...

(JK... my living room is usually clean... it is those rooms with doors that you can't see from the front door that aren't!)

And the Dining Room...

There used to be a half wall there...

with ugly spindly things that went up to the beam...

and a horrible step up into the dining room...

that we called the suicide step because people were always tripping off it.

Now... it feels like an apartment...

but, we can fit a lot more people around the table.

This is the top of an antique cabinet in my kitchen.

No picture of the kitchen just yet...

There are pots soaking.

And... The Family Room.

It's been awhile since we've seen the top of that laundry... er, I mean... coffee table.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Got Problems?!?!

I sure do!

#1 My back started really hurting on Saturday... this morning I can hardly stand upright!

#2 There is something funky going on with my computer. I forgot to have Mr. Macchiato look at it last night. Everything is super slow and it keeps freezing up. Typing this, I have to wait a couple seconds before each word finally appears. I had to shut everything down completely and start over before I could get this far.

Update on Grandma in Ohio: She went home from the hospital last Thursday afternoon. On Saturday evening she fell and hit her head on her dining room table. She was taken to the ER, x-rayed and given one staple/stitch on her scalp and then sent home. Sunday morning they were called by the hospital, they sent an ambulance and admitted her because the doctor felt she might have a possible neck fracture. They were not able to do a MRI until yesterday afternoon and we still have not heard the results. She's been doing well but is cranky. She keeps taking the neck brace off and throwing it on the floor. My mother-in-law is very upset and feels it is her fault. Please pray for them!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thanks!!!

Angela at Free Spirit Haven blessed me with this award on Friday. Thanks Ang! I love the word fabulous! My son calls me "The Fabulous Twit."

Now I am to share 5 things that I am passionate about (Angela changed it from addicted to) and then pass it along to 5 other bloggers. However, I am going to answer with the 5 things I am addicted to because... well... I'm just feeling silly. I've given it a good think and decided I should put those things which I absolutely must do each and every day!

1. Bathing!
2. Moisturizing!
3 Brushing my teeth!
4. Wearing clean underthings!
5. Eating!

Bloggers I am passing the award on to:

1. Paula
2. Laura-Peach
3. Chris
4. Trisha
5. April

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Real Deal

I'm full of excuses this morning. I was hoping to post pictures of my house all decorated for Christmas last night and maybe a video of my dogs meeting a little toy dog I bought yesterday. However, Mr. Macchiato had other plans that included a dinner for two at Outback and a night at home alone minus Double Shot who spent the night with a friend. So... I have not finished decorating or cleaning and we slept in. I'm sorry I'm not sorry. So, I am going to share some pictures from our week since I found my camera chord.

This was a picture I took on the way to Double Shot's school one morning.



This is what it looked like when I went to pick him up.


The snow was melting as it hit which meant we'd have problems with ice on the roads later.

It was a very windy night.

Mr. Macchiato was in Ohio so I was up much of the night.

But JOY came in the morning in the form of a school cancellation!

And in an absolutely beautiful day!
(you don't see snow accumulation because of the wind)


I decided to tackle this here bucket of lights.


I even bought this handy dandy light tester.
I fixed half strands of many stands of lights and after some hours pulled my hair out and threw the lights back in the bucket.

Our porch light quit working. I thought I'd take it apart and whisper sweet nothings in its ear. Instead I broke part of it. And said not nice words to the ceiling.

But, I gathered myself and got it all figured out.
I'm amazing that way... sometimes.
Well, rarely.

Doesn't that look fabulous?
I'm sure we'll get that fixed before one of our parents come to visit.

This is the state of our manimal's room.
Unfortunately, it mirrors much of the rest of the house.

See the laundry just kicked down the stairs?
I did that.
Carrying a basket down two flights of stairs isn't as much fun as just kicking it down them.
When my house is clean I will take pictures.
Only, I can't clean it today.
We had to sleep in.
Then... I had to blog.
Now I think we are going to go out for breakfast.
Breakfast for lunch.
And then we have to get ready to go to a fancy Christmas Party.
Hopefully, I will get my house clean before Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ACK!!! Running, Running, Running Today!

I had to take Double Shot to school today. Well, I had to let him drive to school while I worked on my overall muscle tone in the passenger seat. Have I told y'all his school is half an hour away? Yeah. Funny how long that seems at some times and how short at others. Like when I only have half an hour to get ready to go somewhere.

Double Shot is getting better at driving but a little too comfortable behind the wheel for my taste. The way he switches lanes is undoubtably racking up some additional grey hair. He comes up to stops just like his father. FAST. I tell him to, "slow down... s l o w D O W N... SLOW DOWN FASTER!!!" That makes him laugh. Not me.

I'm going to post pictures and possibly some video tonight around 8 pm.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Questions, Questions, Questions... Maybe an Answer

If you've read this or my other blog for any amount of time you are probably aware that I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff. I can't help it. It is how I am wired. As I've wandered through my home this morning I found myself, once again, pondering my life. I just have so many questions that go unanswered. Maybe y'all can help me.

1. Why do I like to watch work out shows while I eat my breakfast?

2. Why have I moved stacks of neatly folded towels from the coffee table to the ironing board and back over the last two days instead of putting them in the linen closet?

3. Why do I like to wear work out clothes but rarely actually work out?

4. Why do I not clean all of the clothes I don't wear out of my drawers so that I don't have to cram the clothes I do wear into them? And why do I sometimes move the clean clothes on my bed to a basket on the floor in the very room the closet and drawers are that those clothes need to go into?

5. Why do I clean my silverware drawer, top of my fridge or inside of the microwave when the sink is full of dishes?

6. Why do I sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and write out lists of what I am going to do each day and then go blog?

7. Why do I use Splenda in my coffee and drink Diet Coke at the same time that I eat cookies or cake?

8. Why do I watch what I eat during special times but then turn around and blow it on something stupid like a peanut butter sandwich?

9. Why do I put on make-up to go on a hike but not to go to the grocery store?

10. Why do I write down addresses and numbers on all kinds of crazy scraps of paper and then shove them in my address book instead of writing them in?

I really want to know.

Also, if you've been reading this blog, you may know that I don't like parenting books. Not. At. All. They suck. However... I may have found an answer. He is the Dog Whisperer! My mother-in-law gave us the entire second season on DVD this summer. We watched a couple of episodes and then forgot about it. I've been watching them while I neatly fold things that I don't put away. That guy is AMAZING! Of course, my dogs just stare at me when I try those techniques and then do what they want anyway, causing my son to fall on the floor in fits of laughter, however... there are incredible nuggets of wisdom in there. Just substitute what he's saying about dogs and apply it to your kids. No, I'm serious. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Baby's Hug

This was sent to me by someone who is a big softy and doesn't want anyone to know it!

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?'

Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.'

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.'

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments. We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing . As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.' Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.'

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.' I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?' when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter ... , we must become as little children.'

If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on. Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, most importantly, how we feel about others. The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.'

It is better to be liked for the true you, than to be loved for who people think you are......'

Author Unknown

**Editing to add a comment from another blogger:

I went looking for this story today and am furious that it is uncited all over the place. This was written by Nancy L. Dahlberg and published in at least two of William Baush's books. This is (a) stolen and (b) changed. It properly ends at "My God, my God, forgive me" other sentences are changed as well. Nancy L. Dahlberg is an ordained Christian minister and deserves to have her work properly cited and shared in it's original form, or if not, noted as changed. --

Ellen

Thank You Ellen!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Mr. Macchiato's Mom and Grandma live near Youngstown on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border so he flew Colorado Springs to Chicago to Pittsburgh on United. He was delayed in Chicago and got in three hours later on Saturday. Yesterday he was delayed in Pittsburgh for an hour and a half but then there was a problem with the bathrooms on the plane so there was a longer delay before they had to fly to Columbus to switch out. That meant he missed his connecting flight to Colorado Springs in Denver. They had him coming in on an 8 am flight this morning so I had to drive up to Denver last night to get him. We didn't get home until nearly midnight and had to drive through some pretty dense fog near Colorado Springs. I just sent my very tired hubby out the door to work.

Grandma was not released from the hospital yesterday and they now do not know when she will come home. Her veins kept blowing out so they had to switch her to oral antibiotics which aren't as effective and the pneumonia is still there. They've been trying to get her out of bed but she is non-compliant and has been cranky... which is very unusual for her. She may need to be moved to a convalescent home because my mother-in-law cannot care for her if she will not walk. If you feel led, could you please pray for Mr. Macchiato's Grandma and for his Mom? His Mom has terrible trouble with her back and knees and it is difficult for her to walk. This all is very stressful for her! Thank you!!!

My day is going to consist of laundry, ironing and cleaning. WOO HOO!!! Hopefully, I will find that camera chord while I'm at it!

Also, I am wondering... Have any of y'all seen the commercial for Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise? When I was in high school I was quite obsessed with WWII and the Holocaust. I've read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich several times (many many years ago). I've always found Hitler's rise to power to be utterly fascinating. Anyway, every time I see that commercial I want to jump through the screen and slap Tom Cruise! This is a movie about German officers who try to take Hitler down from within... couldn't he muster up a German accent? Oh my gosh does his American accent annoy the living bejeebers out of me! I don't even know that I'll be able to watch the movie! I've gotten to where I have to switch the channel but just hearing him speak makes me crazy for at least 20 minutes every time I hear him. Really, to do the story justice they should have filmed it in German with subtitles or AT LEAST used German accents!!! AARRUUGGHH!!!

I'm sorry. I just can't take it.

Today is my Step Dad's birthday! My kids call him Grumpa. We all love him very much! For years my Mom and Step Dad came out over his birthday and we had a little Christmas celebration with them early. They haven't been able to do that since they've been taking care of my Grandma and Down Syndrome Aunt. I so appreciate the sacrifices they've made over the last four years and it breaks my heart that they can't get away together. Chai Tea didn't go with us to Seattle this summer so she is flying out for 10 days with them next week. It will be weird for us to not have her here for Christmas but things are going well between us and it will be good for her to see everyone in Seattle. She wasn't speaking to us on Easter and that was very difficult.

hApPy bIrThDaY Keith!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Going Crazy!!!

Double Shot is enjoying his first snow day! That means that even though it is almost 11 am he is still sleeping. I am about to make him his two cups of oatmeal and 6 egg breakfast. Can you imagine eating that much at once? He's on a "diet." His is to gain though. We are a bit concerned because he only has 6% body fat and he's growing. The strength and conditioning coach handed out a diet for the boys that need to gain at the banquet last week... only we're having to add additional fat to Double Shot's. Can you imagine? His effort to gain is just as frustrating as mine to lose. We cracked up when we saw that he has to eat a peanut butter sandwich before bed every night. My husband has been doing that for years. It is his favorite nighttime snack!

Anyway, I'm losing my mind because I cannot find the chord to my camera to download pictures! I always keep it in my desk drawer or on my desk. I just don't know where it could have gone! GGRRR!

Mr. Macchiato will be getting home from Ohio tonight!!! His Grandma should be going home later today. Of course, we are still concerned. She sometimes sees people that aren't there and is not entirely with it anymore. My husband said that he wasn't sure if she really knew who he was at times and then others he thinks she knew who he was but had trouble remembering his name. She did know who he was and what his name was a lot of the time though. Thank you to those of you that remembered her in your prayers!

Mr. Macchiato left Saturday morning and the house looked like a Christmas store blew up in it with boxes and stuff everywhere! I'm not done decorating but it is my goal to be before I leave to pick him up. I'm glad Double Shot is here to help me! I totally over decorate... I'm rethinking that for next year...

Hopefully, I will find my camera chord!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blog Award and Seven Things

My friend, Amused Momma, gave me this award last week and I'm finally getting around to posting it. Thank you Paula! It comes with a Seven Things Meme...

Seven things I did before:
1. Homeschooled.
2. Taught Sunday School.
3. Inner city/homeless ministry.
4. Meals on Wheels.
5. Talked on the phone.
6. Once a Month Cooking. (where you make and freeze 30 meals)
7. Soccer Coach.
Seven things I do now:
1. Blog.
2. Drive my son all over.
3. Go to my son's sporting events.
4. Play with my dogs.
5. Research stuff I'm interested in.
6. Procrastinate cleaning, laundry and ironing.
7. Think about what I want to do with my life.
Seven things I would like to do:
1. Write books.
2. Be more self-disciplined.
3. Missions work.
4. Help people.
5. Make a difference.
6. Get back to cooking dinner every night.
7. Speak clearly.
Seven things that attract me to my husband:
1. He prays out loud with me... even when I don't.
2. He is faithful and responsible.
3. He makes me laugh.
4. He is handsome and smart.
5. He still gives me butterflies and makes my knees weak.
6. He is bad at flirting.
7. He's not a door mat.
Seven favorite foods:
1. Big salads with all kinds of stuff thrown in!
2. Hot-n-Sour Soup.
3. Grandma style pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy.
4. Homemade rolls hot from the oven.
5. Fruit salads.
6. Anything made with pumpkin.
7. Fancy coffee drinks with all the fixin's.
Seven things I say most often:
1. I'll be off the computer in a couple minutes.
2. Shut up Paco!
3. No! Benny! NO!!!
4. I don't feel like cooking.
5. When will you be home?
6. You are p*ssing me off. (Sorry. It's true. I'm on my third teen and I just can't take it anymore)
7. Love you!
Seven people I am tagging:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Never Alone

I love music even though I can no longer sing and I do not know how to play any instruments. I listen to all kinds of different music depending upon my mood. This song is one of my favorites. Honestly, I could have written it... it is that close to how I feel. DC Talk's I Wanna Be in the Light is another one that so perfectly captures the desire of my heart. I wanted to share this because the holiday season often brings with it introspection of a spiritual nature for some.

It seems to me that many Christians experience their faith in differing ways. I am very cautious of the emotional and very mistrustful of feeling. I want things to make sense. I want proof... I've known many Christians that talk of God speaking to them. I've heard so many times about someone praying for peace and receiving it. That is not my reality. I spent so many years trying to be a good Christian. I did my best to do and say the things that I believed would make me better but I could never live up to my own expectations. I struggle to accept the true concept of grace, even now.

These past 10 1/2 months have been the most difficult of my life to this point. The pain of having a child walk away from our family was unreal. It caused me to re-evaluate nearly every choice I/we've ever made. In the beginning it felt as though we'd been abandoned by, not only our daughter, but by some of our friends, our church, and yes, even God. There were days when I was all alone in the house, especially in the beginning, where I just didn't think I could survive it. Previous to all of this I saw The Church as being where we went to worship each week. I now understand that The Church in our lives is not limited to a building, a denomination, or a location. The Church did not abandon us. Our true friends did not abandon us. And God did not abandon us. I cannot tell you how much the understanding, love and support that has come from you fellow bloggers has meant. I am ever so grateful.

Chai Tea is going to church with us this evening. It will be the first time since she left in January. She was very involved at church and she is fearful of what she'll experience when she walks through those doors. I understand. Walking through the doors of a church to attend a pre-marital course while obviously pregnant with her was one of the hardest and humbling things I've done. But, I'm glad I did.

Not long ago I mentioned in a post that we've given up all illusion of being a good Christian family and that we are just people that believe in Jesus. It seemed to strike a chord and I got several private e-mails that both touched me and broke my heart. I spent many years sitting in church wondering what was wrong with me. I thought everyone else had it together. I wanted to have a close personal relationship with Jesus. But, what does that mean exactly? Whatever I thought it meant... I didn't have it. I've had to walk away from those expectations I had in my mind of what that meant. I just believe. And that is enough.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This is AWESOME!!!

It Just Keeps Getting Worser and Worser

I am absolutely shocked by Rick's Copy and Share that he has up today! Shocked! It did make me laugh given the mess I've got going in my attempt to create warm and fuzzy memories in my home of the Christmas season. It's a lot of work!




Yesterday was miserable cold.


You really shouldn't attempt to take pictures while driving in this kind of weather. You might drift a little too close to the icy shoulder and you might over correct and it might just frighten you.

Does this not look miserable to be out in?
a
It was.

This morning the sun is shining and the snow is glistening!

I've got an old black and white movie on. It is a 1958 Susan Hayward movie called, I want to Live. It's about a woman with a criminal background that is convicted of murder and given the death penalty. I missed the first part but she is apparently innocent of the murder. The role the media plays in it all is very interesting given the year the movie was made. It appears the problems with the media have been long standing. Anyway, I was kind of expecting her to not be executed... but she just was. They went into great detail setting up the scene. Not an uplifting movie...

Our lights are a mess. Last night Mr. Macchiato tried to help me. We've got a lot but there is something wrong with nearly every strand.

We've only got lights part way up the tree and some blink and some don't. We gave up late last night. So, now I'm watching TV and staring. I should take a shower.

UGH!
a
I did accomplish some things yesterday... but not so much on the decorating front. I even made dinner. I hadn't in a couple days. It was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Impressive. (For those that are new to my blog... nearly 20 years ago I made Macaroni and Cheese with breast milk and my husband ate it... of course, not knowing what I made it with. It is my greatest prank ever)
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The, "It Just Keeps Getting Worser and Worser," is in honor of Karen. She has a story she tells about a retreat we went to in Florida some years back that she can hardly even tell because she laughs so hard. That is a line that is repeated throughout that story.