Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Quote

Husband, fiddling with the satellite radio: "The same song is on the 70's channel and the 60's channel at the same time. That's metaphysically impossible."

Me: "You're just trying to get quoted on my blog again - stop it."


James Lileks wrote about something fairly unrelated several weeks ago in the Strib, and at the end of his piece is this nugget of information:

"...Minneapolis is full of people who live alone. Forty-three percent of all households consist of one (1) person. Gads. Do you know what that means? Never mind the question of support for schools, or the impact on neighborhoods that no longer ring with the laughter of kids spilling off the bus, or the multi-generational layers of citizenry that add depth to a block. Almost half the city lives alone."

I don't know if this is true in other large cities, but seriously, what a depressing statistic! Perhaps, since I have never lived alone, I can't appreciate that it has a wealth of virtues associated with it. But I think my revulsion to this statistic is more than that - I honestly think it's an unhealthy thing for that many people to live life without the pleasure and the responsibility of someone else's presence. It doesn't matter if all these people are otherwise happily engaged and involved in their communities, busy at work, have many friends. There is a huge difference between having a community outside your door and having one in the kitchen with you at 6:30 in the AM. When you live with others you learn to put your own needs aside in a way that you don't in any other situation. simply because you don't have a choice. For most of human history we have lived together, Christ commands us to live in community - how else should we live?

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said

“To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings.”

I think I’ve alluded to this before here, but I have panic disorder, and since I haven’t written about it at length before, I think it is high time I got on with it.

I think I was born with it: one of my earliest memories is of a panic attack at the hospital while being held down by several nurses attempting to take a blood sample. I was two. Later, it showed up as a regular visitor: stomach aches so painful I would lie in fetal position on the bathroom floor, at least until my mother would nudge me with her foot and say “if you’re not going to vomit, get up and get out.” Later, the shortness of breath – suffocating, that feeling of my breath never “catching”, no matter how many times I tried. “Asthma!”, proclaimed my mother’s internist, who gave me a useless inhaler and never checked me again. It was bad in my teens, when my dad was gone and my mom appeared only to give me an update of her expectations of me (the implied “or else” never spoken, but I knew I was as abandoned by her as I was by the father who told me at 14, “I’m tired of this shit” and disappeared for 17 years*). As I grew up, grew more independent, fell in love, it all began to recede.

Until three years ago. Three years ago, I got shingles. We’d bought a house the prior September, and the following April I’d been laid off. Husband worked and worked and worked, trying to keep us afloat but at the same time disappearing into an impossible travel schedule. My body could only take so much, and it collapsed into excruciating pain. The shingles were five or so vertebrae down, so the pain was smack in the middle of my left chest, right over my heart. With the pain came the panic attacks – not just the stomach pain and breathlessness, but crushing pain, numb arms and legs, and an absolute certainty I was going to die. Finally, my sweet, kind doctor explained what was going on – all the pain, everywhere, was panic. It wasn’t asthma, it wasn’t anything else. My shingles case was healing well but I was getting worse, thanks to panic disorder completely out of control. He gave me some medicine, it worked, and as I left his office hot, angry tears rained down my face. All I could remember was how many times I’d clung to the cold bathroom tiles, how many times I’d gasped for air – and no one had ever cared to know why. I hated everyone at that moment.

The knowledge of what was wrong with me helped immeasurably, but the medicine didn’t. Every time I had an attack I needed more medicine. I feared I’d take too much and die, and wham, more panic would flood my body and I’d need more, and I’d fear I would die, and … well, you can see the merry-go-round, can’t you? Finally, after not eating for days I called my doctor at 10pm on a Sunday night and begged for the hospital. Yup, I sat crying on the bathroom floor once again, but this time I did something productive – I asked for help.

I checked myself into the hospital, where I stayed for three days without any contact with anyone. The only words in my head for those three days were those from the chorus of an old song: “because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone, because I know, I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.” The child who memorized hundreds of Bible verses couldn’t remember a one, but I could hear that song, and I prayed it all day. My doctor called in a psychiatrist who found medicine that worked, and I began to heal.

When I left the hospital, I began to put things back together. I took my medicine, I went to therapy, but I also went back to church for the first time in years. I exercised, I slept, and I selfishly did everything I wanted. What helped the most, of course, was re-discovering my faith. Or rather, since I never had much but a frightened child’s view of God, discovering what Christ could do with me once I gave up and let Him get on with it. Because of my pain and fear, I know that I need Him. Because of all of this, I know He loves me. He didn’t cause (or even “allow”) this pain in order to get me to obey him (take that, Mom!). Instead, it’s just that this world is broken and we all suffer from that brokenness. What Christ has done is heal my heart, and when the pain comes I have His love as a balm.

“I sing for joy, that You are in my life, and Your love, it covers me.”

Blessings, y’all. Thanks for listening to my free form of therapy.

*Just a note: my father and I reconciled when One was born, and have a wonderful relationship now – God is good!


I had a bad morning this morning, so I curled up in bed for a few minutes with the dog and thought:

I am thankful for:

The gorgeous sunshine today
Hot showers
Cold tap water
Old musicals (other than West Side Story, of course)
The Voice New Testament
The chili dog and cheese fries I plan to eat at lunch today

As well as all the other obvious things.

And I felt better.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Numbah One Son*

Today, at 11:11pm, One is officially NINE YEARS OLD. Yes, the last single digit year is upon him. I can't even begin to describe how old that makes me feel, and how often I am starting to point out that I was TWENTY NINE when he was born, even though I turned 30 the same year.

Well, my dear, sweet, larger-by-the-second son:

Happy Birthday! You are a joy to be with. Your conversation is better than most adults I know. Your love of knowledge and learning is something to behold - you inspire me to learn more about the world, if only to avoid being caught out by your increasingly superior knowledge. At the same time, you are still a sweet little boy, and I count every kiss you give me and keep them close to my heart. I love that you are still young enough for me to take care of - to tuck into bed, cuddle after a nightmare, and kiss before you leave for school. I am so proud of your determination and hard work. You are so like your dad in this respect! If you tell someone you'll do it - it gets done (and done well). You can always be trusted to keep your word.

If there is one thing I could tell you - one thing I pray that you will have more of as each year passes by - it is that your love for Christ would grow and grow. All the things I listed above are the great and wonderful gifts He has given you, and your work for Him will be a gift to us all if you let Him guide you where He wants you to go. Keep reading the Bible, keep listening when He speaks to you, and all your knowledge and love and determination will come together into a life of service for our Liberating King. I pray this for you now and every day, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Happy Birthday, most wonderful child. I love you all the way to the moon, and back.

*Our friends Mitzi and Jerry have christened One this - it's what they think of whenever they read about him here, and I love it.

Family Car Talk

On the way home from One's ginormous birthday dinner, we were commenting on his refusal to be persuaded to eat dessert at the restaurant: he went in decided on ice cream on the way home, and he left with the same thought.

One: "It's my obstinancy."

Chuckles from the front seat of the car.

One: "It helps me with lots of things."

A bit later, on sighting police cruiser lights in the distance:

Husband: "It's the Bellaire police."

Me: "Yup. Out there protecting, helping, and keeping people safe."

Husband: "Yup. One black man at a time."


Husband: "Sorry. I couldn't help myself."

Random Asides

I hate winter because the windshield gets all foggy without AC.

I love winter because the water from the tap is actually cold.

Never let anyone shorter than you take your picture.

That is all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

At 4:30 this afternoon, Husband and I will have known each other 19 years and been married 13 - almost exactly down to the minute. These pictures aren't the best (since I scanned them myself) but here we are at the JP in Blanco, TX - we eloped and were married in a four minute ceremony. I can't recommend a better wedding day.

To our two friends who were with us that day: thank you so much for making that day so special, for the flowers, the champagne, the pictures. Every time we think of you we think of that fantastic day; it was an adventure, just as our lives together have always been!

To my husband: I love you even more today than I did on that day in the Hill Country sunshine. The look in your eyes as you stared at me when One was born, the times you've held me as I've cried tears of sadness and joy, all the evenings spent quietly enjoying each other's company - all these things have bound us together in ways that can never be undone. My greatest wish is to never be parted from you, not in this world or the next. I love you because you are the finest, most honest, funniest man I've ever met, I love you because God sent you to me, and I love you because you love me, too. Thank you for all that you are and for all that we share.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And The Award

For the World's Worst Parents goes to this couple in Glendale, CA.

Note to my kids: you throw your toy over a cliff, that's called a personal problem. I won't be helping you out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saving Christmas Cards

When we moved into our first house we had a big bulletin board in the kitchen I had no idea what to do with. I had a four month old - no pictures to hang, no finger paintings to display. So instead I cut out all the Christmas card pictures and hung them on the board; I've done it ever since.

When we moved into this house I bought a new board - here are last year's cards still decorating the kitchen hallway. It really brightens up a dark corner of the kitchen and, consequently, works for us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Random Opinion

You know in the movie Men in Black, when Linda Fiorentino's character says in the end about Dennis Rodman being an alien: "not much of a disguise"?

That's how I feel about James Dobson.

Just had to get that out there.

Chesterton on Government

I'm reading G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy (on Tony's recommendation) and he has this to say about democracy:

"Government ... is ... a thing analogous to writing's one own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These are things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly."

That's as good a thought for the day as any.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meow Meow Meow Meow

For a long time I haven't wanted a cat. My mom is the Cat Lady, and experiences visiting her house have taught me that cats are stinky. No matter what, it seems. Not that mom is the greatest housekeeper or anything, but yea gods, it smells in there! So no cat. And Husband is very anti-cat, having grown up in a house with German Shepherds. You can't be a Shepherd person and a cat person at the same time. If you were your head would explode, because Shepherds are the antithesis of cat. For goodness sake, they probably eat cat for breakfast every morning.

So no cat.

But recently I've been having cat thoughts. And the boys have been having them as well. We finally all discussed this, and a cat is on the horizon. Right now we are in no-new-animal mode, in order to honor Oscar. But in a few months, we may be the proud (and slightly nervous) owners of one of these:

What do you think?

Cave Painting

On the driveway

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sometimes He Scares Me

A week or two ago One and I were reading Edith Nesbit's The Amulet, and we got to the scene in Atlantis where the children come across a giant statue of Poseidon. The god is surrounded by dolphins and horses, and One is delighted that I don't know why the horses are there. The Greeks thought the white caps on the waves looked like running horses, he explains, and therefore believed Poseidon created horses.

And then he goes in for the kill.

One: "And that's why, mommy, in The Lord of the Rings when the river floods and destroys the Nine, there are horses hidden in the waves.

Me: stunned silence.

One: "See mommy - everything is all connected. Isn't it great!?!"

Oh help me.

Sir John Mortimer, QC: April 21, 1923- January 16, 2009

Creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, "his large and sometimes rumpled figure, like that of his Rumpole character, was instantly recognisable; he exuded a universal bonhomie and revelled in a party-going social life even when conducted from the confines of a wheelchair."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two on TV

Two: "Daddy said I couldn't watch something because he is going to watch TV."

Me: "Well, why don't you go snuggle up with him and watch what he watches?"

Two (in a whisper): "No, because it might be football."

Actually, it's basketball. But Two doesn't like "basketball, or football, or any ball. Okay?!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Global Warming

From this site. HT Ann Althouse.

Super Hero

I bet you didn’t know I had a super power? Yup, just like CC, I have them – or at least one.

What is it, you ask? Well, I. Am. SNOT GIRL*. Yes. I know, you are very impressed and almost frightened at the thought of my great powers. Are you worried that I will always use them for good? Well, never fear. I am devoted to the cause of virtue, and will use my amazing powers only to save the day.

What, you ask, does Snot Girl do? Well, she can catch bad guys with her, you know, snot. Yes, when sick she is so overwhelmed with snot that she can release it at will, as a super crime-fighting tool. She has caught many bad guys with her fantastic power, and she will continue her fight for justice wherever evil preys on the innocent. At least, she will when she’s sick.

*Husband bestowed this name on me years ago, and I have used it ever since.

Beyond Belief?

Looking at the website for this documentary and the trailer for the movie, I'm once again amazed that atheists have decided that it doesn't take an act of faith to believe in their hypothesis that God does not exist. It would seem that efforts like this are proof in themselves that a suspension of belief is required to not believe in God. Atheism is something you have to be convinced of, not something that is a natural state of being. If it were not so, why do atheists proselytize as much as they do?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nightmare Material

Just looking at this picure is going to give me nightmares for weeks.
Picture from Drudge.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lonely Girl

Poor Lambchop:

I think she's trying to stay on one side of the blanket, just in case.

Fiber and Protein and Pasta, Oh My!

We ate this for dinner:

And, despite the fact it's made with bean flour, it was delicious. And it has 10g of protein and 4g of fiber in a serving. Wow!

Playing with Matches

Whenever I see this a warning like this I first think of my profession and it's ridiculous nature. But then again, on the other hand ...

When Husband was little his brother had a match collection. Some children collect Matchbox cars, or baseball cards - my brother in law collected matches. From restaurants near and far - wherever his parents went out to eat they would pick up a matchbox and bring it back to their precious first-born son.

So, maybe, some parents need warnings, some of the time. ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Empty Spot

The one in our hearts is much bigger.

Things I Know

I know I'm supposed to cook a vegetable with every meal, but isn't it enough that I cooked something? What's wrong with meat, anyway?

I know you're supposed to brush your teeth after having a glass of milk at bedtime, but if warm milk puts a over-tired eight year old to sleep (finally), do I really have to wake him up again?

I know I shouldn't let the boys watch scary movies right before bed, but if all it does is make Two come in and snuggle with me in the middle of the night, what's the harm?

I know I should make the boys wear something nicer than Crocs on their feet to church, but didn't Jesus get by with sandals?

I know I'm supposed to go to work even when I'm sick (suck it up and be a grown-up, in other words), but isn't it better for everyone else that I keep my germs at home?

I know I shouldn't buy my son everything he wants, but what if all he wants are books?

Guest Photographers

Husband is the photographer today for Wordless Days and One is it for tomorrow. The pictures are from a trip to San Jacinto and the USS Texas.


Monday, January 12, 2009

One on Cough Syrup

"Hi. My name is putty legs."

Two the Dog

I saw some friends last night at church who mentioned that they had seen the boys at their babysitter's on Friday (without me, of course).

Mitzi: "... and how surprised we were when Two came crawling through the dog door to say hello!"

Me: "sigh"

When I got home I told the boys Mitzi and Jerry had said hello, and related the story of the dog door.

Two: "yup. I can fit through it but One can't!"

Me: "sigh"

Flying Time

We got a call this morning reminding us that we had the Upper Elementary parent orientation tomorrow night at school; One is moving up from one Montessori class to another for the first time since we came to this school. Upper El is much different than Lower El: homework for the first time, 10 day-long field trips away from home, and, most of all, all 60-75 kids in 4th-6th grades all in one room with 5 teachers.

Am I really the mother of an about-to-be nine year old? How did this happen? Or, more accurately, how did this happen so quickly? When I was searching for Oscar pictures over the weekend I saw 100's of One as a little guy. I have to say in many of them I cannot see the resemblance between that tiny two year old and the long-haired giant currently in my living room. My memories of those times are fairly clear, but the pictures themselves were a little shocking.

I'm getting old. Sigh.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oscar Dog

Our baby Oscar dog is gone, just one month shy of his 10th birthday. Here are some pictures of our sweet, sweet boxer rescue puppy. He was the best of all possible pets - a jarhead among dogs: loyal, devoted, fierce and kind.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I Invented a Pudding

No, seriously, I made this up and it's fantastic.

Sweet Barley Pudding

1 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 T apple juice
1 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1T honey
1/2 T agave
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cook barley according to package directions. When done, splash in apple juice and put the lid back on for a few minutes. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together; add this mixture and the rest of the ingredients to the barley. Stir over very low heat for several minutes. You may want to taste and check if it's sweet enough. If it's not, a dash more agave should do the trick.

You can serve right away, let it sit a while with the lid on, or refrigerate and serve cold later on.

Delicious. And since barley has tons more fiber than white rice, this is a rich, creamy and healthier alternative to rice pudding.


I Never

It's the blog world's version of I Never over at Melanie's; I'm going to join in.

Stuff I've never done:

1. I never went to a Grateful Dead concert. And this disappoints me somehow, with Jerry being really actually dead now and all.

2. I've never hitchhiked anywhere.

3. I never nursed my children. I fed them breastmilk for a year each, but I used the pump for a variety of reasons. I am really bummed about this now, although at the time I didn't care at all.

4. I've never been to Washington, DC. Husband finds this endlessly strange so I include it here.

5. I didn't have a "real" wedding. We eloped with 2 friends in attendance and were married by a JP. It took 4 minutes to get married, and afterwards we tailgated on the maid of honor's Tahoe and drank champagne out of plastic cups. I recommend this as the best of all possible weddings.

6. I've never been to Vegas. And I will never go. I prefer my sin obviously nasty, rather than shiny and glimmery and faux-glamorous.

7. I've never read the Bible all the way through.

8. I've never broken a bone either. Knock on wood.

9. I've never been robbed (again, super-double-extra knock on wood).

10. I've never gotten a tattoo. I'm completely fine with them on others, but I couldn't ever do this to myself. One flu shot a year is more than enough contact with needles, thanks.

Join in (but keep it clean, girls). ;)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Another Little Tip

If you ever have a young child beg you to "warm up" his hard-boiled egg, do not give in, even to stop the whining. Put the little beggar in time out and continue to say "no".

Your microwave will thank you.

Lileks Makes Me Laugh

He's mad at his scanner:

"Yes, I turned it off, turned it on, reseated the cables, reinstalled the software, restarted the computer, ran the setup assistant, checked the site for drivers, aligned the unit to face true north, painted the room a soothing grey, daubed lamb’s blood on the top and chanted blessings to Ra, and all the other rote things we do. It’s worked fine for a year or so, even though it drinks print with a thirst that brings to mind Dracula in a convent, and wouldn’t remember my preferences if I engraved them on the motherboard with a woodburning tool in three languages, and occasionally makes scanning noises for no reason like a dog sighing in the next room. It was only seventy dollars. Nine hundred, counting the ink. I hate it."

I [heart] James Lileks.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm Just Sayin'

If you happen to really, really like whey powder and think it makes things like shakes so nifty, I still wouldn't go so far as to add it to your macaroni and cheese. Just in case you were thinking of doing such a thing. I was a little concerned and thought you might need a tip.

Just thought you should know...

Recycled Wednesdays

Here are a few WFMW posts I wrote recently and neglected to link to.

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
More Fabric Gift Bags


Christopher Hitchens on Gaza

"... It is only when one begins to grasp all the foregoing that one understands exactly how disgusting and squalid is the behavior of the Hamas gang. It knows very well that sanctions are injuring every Palestinian citizen, but—just like Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq—it declines to cease the indiscriminate violence and the racist and religious demagogy that led to the sanctions in the first place. Palestine is a common home for several religious and national groups, but Hamas dogmatically insists that the whole territory is instead an exclusively Muslim part of a future Islamic empire. At a time when democratic and reformist trends are observable in the region, from Lebanon to the Gulf, Hamas' leadership is physically and economically a part of the clientele of two of the area's worst dictatorships. ... Gaza could have been a prefiguration of a future self-determined Palestinian state. Instead, it has been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and made into a place of repression for its inhabitants and aggression for its neighbors. Once again, the Party of God has the whip hand."

A thumb on the nose to all those who believe that the Palestinians are just innocent lambs in the face of Israeli oppression. Oppressed, yes, but by their own leadership.

From Slate. HT Instapundit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


For Oscar is this coming Saturday. He's just not happy anymore. He's not in pain, but it's time for him to go.

I'm not doing very well with this, even though it's the logical and necessary thing to do.


I'm in debt. Up to my eyeballs, actually. I've not admitted this before on this blog, but somehow I thought you should know. I am slowly (read 5 years at current income) paying off credit card debt I incurred while I wasn't working full time. It's really not a overwhelmingly huge amount, but given our lifestyle (in particular our mortgage payment) I can only put a little towards it every month. So I don't save for retirement, I force Husband to take more than his fair share of the monthly expenses, while I chip unendingly away at what I know will never disappear.

Debt like this is such a huge sin. You really have no idea until you're squashed under it. I can't tithe (or really give anything to charity), and that is such a huge deal, especially in my church. I can't even tell you how much it upsets me. And because I can't tithe, even though I've been asked to attend leadership meetings several times, I won't do it, because I don't think I should take any kind of leadership position at all if I can't meet my Christ-ordered responsibility of giving to the needy.

I am trapped. Absolutely stuck. Stuck in debt. Stuck in the consequences of sin. Yes, I've asked for and received forgiveness. Yes, I've changed my behavior and no longer even own a credit card. But the consequences go on a long time and the shadow they've cast is very dark sometimes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fiesta Bowl!

Sing it with me:

The eyes of Texas are upon you ...

The Office

Starting today through the 10th Wordless Days has pictures taken at my office. Don't be put off by today's set; they get better.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Joan Bright Astley: September 27, 1910 - December 24, 2008

"... in April 1939, she received a mysterious message instructing her to go to St James’s Park underground station on a certain day wearing a pink carnation. There she was met by a woman who led her to an anonymous office where she signed the Official Secrets Act and was assigned to work in the Military Intelligence directorate of the War Office."

Joan Bright Astley worked with Churchill's wartime cabinet during World War II.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dinner out of the Pantry

After the BBQ feast yesterday, today we could barely eat. Seriously - I went to bed 9 hours after eating at Smitty's and I couldn't have eaten a thing. Today we eased back into eating slowly, and out of sheer laziness I cooked dinner out of the pantry. It turned out so good I'm sharing it with you.

1 can black eyed peas, with liquid
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid (you could make these Rotel if you weren't cooking for my delicate flower-children
1/2 lb ground beef, cooked (or the equivalent amount of TVP if you've feeling vegetarian)
1/2 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 package Seeds of Change Tigris grains (in a ready to heat and eat pouch)

Chunk it all in a large saucepan, heat and eat. You can top it with some cheddar cheese if you want as well. Wow - lots of protein and whole grains, and it tasted great, too. I think I can make it through the evening without grazing on something bad. I like that.

Friday, January 2, 2009

BBQ Pilgrimage

We drove 450 miles today on our central Texas roadtrip - first to San Antonio to visit the Alamo and then to the Texas State History Museum in Austin. In between the two we stopped at a near-holy spot: Lockhart, TX. BBQ heaven, to those of you who don't know. We worship at Smitty's when in Lockhart, just off the town square from the magnificent courthouse:

Just to make y'all jealous, I'll take you on a little tour.

Here we are at the shrine of BBQ: no plates, no silverware, be prepared to get messy.

Now in the door and down the hall - can you see the smoke? You have no idea what this smells like. None whatsoever. Then around the corner into the smokehouse. Warm - can you see why?

Does this look at all good?

And the dining room - nothing fancy, but very cozy and comfortable.

Nothing but meat, and onions, jalapenos, white bread and cheddar cheese for sides. The best food in the entire world. God bless Texas.


We're off, on a Texas-sized roadtrip. Back late tonight with all the details.