Monthly Archives: December 2010


I have boxes of journals in my closet dating back more than thirty years. The first one is smoke stained; it was sitting by the door when our neighbors were pulling what furniture they could from the front room before all was lost to the fire that destroyed our home in 1980.

That journal lasted me until the age of eight, at which point I began to write prolific adolescent entries. Then there are my young motherhood journals and scrapbooks, from back in the day when I had time to do such things. And while there is still a journal by my bed that contains deeply personal thoughts, it occurs to me that most of what I’d want to share with my children is on this blog.

It also occurs to me that there are a lot of things not on the blog that I might want them to know, but don’t particularly want them to search for in my more personal entries. (And yes, I kind of sort of hope another disaster claims the boxes in my closet. There might be some worthwhile things there, but most of it is probably teenaged drivel.)


I spent an entire day this week cutting and pasting the past three years of my blog  into a Word document. (Don’t tell me: you know of an easier way to do that…)

And I have a new blogging plan for 2011. My approach will be geared more towards my family, less towards random rambling thoughts and not at all toward social networking. Which, let’s face it, I abandoned long ago. I read a very few blogs anymore, and comment hardly ever. And I hate feeling like I can’t write in my own blog because I’m not holding up my end as a reader of other people’s blogs.

Here’s my plan so far (feel free to snicker up your sleeves when three postless weeks go by and you realize that once again, all my resolutions have fallen flat):

Saturdays: I will profile one of my children. I know, I know, yawn–it’s the digital equivalent of flipping out the ole wallet full of photos, but looking back over the archives, it’s something I wish I’d done more of.

Sunday: my post will reflect some of my deeper convictions I would like to pass on to my children.

Mondays-Fridays: I have a topic for every day that reflects my goals for this year,  not all of which you probably want to read about at this point, but if you follow along, you might catch on to a pattern.


On the Denim Trail…

My seven year old and I have a morning ritual. It goes something like this:



“I don’t have any pants.”

Occasionally we argue a little bit about what constitutes actually “looking” for something but eventually the hunt falls to me. After thirty seconds or so of futility , I generally give up, grab whatever pair of jeans he just took off, run them through a quick cycle in the washer and throw them in the dryer by themselves. The inseam doesn’t freeze to his legs as long as he keeps moving.

This Monday however, even I came up empty handed. When I ascertained that the pair he wore Saturday had been left at his cousins, I became determined to locate, once and for all, every pair of pants the kid owns and I don’t know, thumbtack them to the ceiling. Surely he has more than that one pair of blue jeans languishing in my in-law’s dirty laundry hamper, correct? Surely his jeans are just mixed in with an older brother’s or fallen behind the washing machine or inexplicably folded up in the bottom of the Lego bucket, right?


Actually, no. Apparently we’ve been washing and wearing the same pair of blue jeans for three months.  Which might explain how thin they are getting. I spent two hours last  night emptying every dresser, every laundry basket, and sorting the resulting mountain of denim.

The kid has one pair of pants–the ones at his cousin’s house.

I did, however, discover 10 pair of jeans one size up, six of which I bought, brand new at the beginning of the school year. I have also been washing those jeans over, and over, and over, even though nobody wears them.

(Because we all know what happens to clothing you try on that doesn’t fit, right? Onto the floor, back in the hamper, and it’s a merry-go-round of laundry to keep mother entertained and out of trouble.)

I confiscated Mr. Nobody’s jeans until next fall, when hopefully he will develop enough of a derrière to hang them upon, and tonight we are going denim shopping. He’s going to try on every pair. In the store. And model them for me.

And then I’ll stick them to the ceiling with thumbtacks. He can ransom them one pair at a time by trading me for the dirty ones, maybe. We’ll see how generous I’m feeling.



Done, and Done

Finished the last of 31 profile pieces I wrote for the Herald this month. That’s 31 interviews conducted, 31 articles written, one invoice mailed off.  And I believe I mentioned that as of Saturday, this semester was officially over.



Traveling 25 mph in a 70mph zone can make you feel a bit sheepish, even in the worst of winter weather. Especially when a steady stream of other vehicles flies past your own cautious little caravan and disappears into the blizzard ahead.

Until you see them in the ditch. I swear to you, I did not sneer anything out my window as I drove carefully past… Not one time. They all looked miserable enough, standing out in the driving ice and snow, cell phones pressed against their ears, surveying their hoodless/doorless/mutilated cars.

And yes, I would have stopped to help had there not been emergency vehicles already there.

As it was, it took us almost four hours to make a seventy minute trip home Saturday from Ellensburg, where we bought a car for my sixteen year old. I should take a picture, but it’s cold outside… and you already know what it looks like.

Three words: pop-up headlights.

That’s right. A 1988 white Honda Accord, with pop-up headlights and a black rubber strip down the side. Two door. Manual roll-down windows and doors that you have to lock with a key. Apparently the locking mechanism inside the car does not work. She points out that if she is ever accosted by a car jacker, that she will be completely at his mercy. And also that the trunk does not stay open, all by itself. Was this not a basic feature some 22 years ago?

I’m not really worried about carjackers honing in on this vehicle, quite honestly.

Five hundred dollars, people. That’s like… one car payment. It has brand new tires, clutching and breaking system and, my brother assures me, just about every other part that could possibly wear out in the near future. It wasn’t his car, but he’s done all the work on it over the past year or so, and I’m crossing my fingers he knew what he was doing.

Now I just have to teach her to drive a standard…

Exhibit A

Proof positive that mankind is not employing a significant portion of his brain capacity:

We still don’t build residential bathrooms with drains in the floor.

Why is that?

How many of you have never, ever had a toilet over flow? A pipe break? Or just an overwhelming urge to take a handheld shower head and pressure wash the entire room?

Look me in the eye and say it’s never happened.

Now how hard would it really be to put a drain in the floor? There’s already one for the sink and the tub–just run a few more feet of pipe for heaven’s sake. Or my sanity’s–whichever floats your boat. (And don’t you dare point out that I did the plumbing here myself–I was influenced by centuries of faulty thinking.) I say it’s time for a residential plumbing renaissance, people!

Or maybe just time to put the toilet paper under lock and key…  I could dole it out like they do at restrooms in Mexico–three or four sheets per customer. I might even insist on a tip–it’ll finance the next remodel, which, at this rate, will be needed way too soon.

Ousting Angels

I hear that my daughter opined, on her facebook status, that the ugliest angel in the world lives on top of our tree. (No, we aren’t friends–in that sense–thank you. We actually speak, face to face. Well. Most of the time. Sometimes she texts me from her bedroom.)

She might be right about the angel. It’s made out of corn husks and fake hair. Probably circa 1983. When I inherited it from my mother-in-law, I stripped all the peach-colored ribbons and lace from it and modernized it somewhat. Circa 1993.

Which is, granted, older than all my children:

And yes, this year we are having a truly traditional Christmas, complete with our own Tiny Tim. (He eats Cheez-Its and has an MP3 player, which probably breaks all Dicken’s rules, but hey, it’s a twenty-first century remake.) We stuck his bed in the corner of the living room so that we aren’t tripping on him all day, nor does he have to spend an entire month in isolation downstairs. He did a number on his leg while sledding the day after Thanksgiving, thanks to which I spent a significant portion of my time off in the ER, but he got to have a star-trekish experience in the radiology department, so it was all good, right? He gets a cast of smaller dimensions and the ability to arise from his pallet a few days before Christmas, but then he won’t get to spy on Santa, either, so it’s a trade off.


Daughter called me from Target yesterday. “Mom, there’s a star here that would look good on top of our tree.” This is the child who vetoed all her childhood ornaments this year–along with every other ornament that was not red or gold. You should have seen their reactions when I tried to oust some of these ornaments in previous years. Pure panic. Anyway. The tree looked really nice–minus the angel.

So I told her to buy the star. That was the easy part.

Getting it on the tree? Not so much.  My husband came down after a ten minute wrestling match, with glitter on his face and a pronouncement that we need to affix the thing to a ten foot rod and jam it down the center of the tree. Not a bad idea. For now it’s somewhat lopsided:

The ousted angel lay on her corn husk back, staring up with disdain at the entire process. She’s thinking, Serves you right–thinking I could be so easily replaced.


This is me, coming up for air, after a long semester.


Almost after.

I have one class left to teach, one syllabus left to revise, one paper to proof and turn in.

I thought that at this point, I’d be feeling some sort of euphoric glee, you know? The post-effort afterglow of a job well done, and done and done.

Mostly I just feel like dropping back under the surface and disappearing for a while.

Maybe I’ll go Christmas shopping all by myself in a town really far away where I won’t run into a single soul I know. (Yeah, right, when’s the last time you went to a place really far away and did NOT run into someone you knew?)

Maybe I could borrow a wig and some big sunglasses.

Maybe I’ll spend an entire day trying on bras and blue jeans and find exactly the right style or maybe I’ll sit on one of those benches in the changing room and just stare at the wall for an hour or so.

Speaking of wigs.

A woman I know just found out that she has breast cancer. She is the mother of my daughter’s friend. She dated my husband in high school. I’ve visited her home regularly for a year or so because in our church, that’s what you do–you pair up and you go visit a couple other women in the congregation once a month and make sure they’re doing okay, etc, etc.

I know her, but I don’t know her, if that makes sense.

I’m not sure why it bothers me so much that she has cancer. I know lots of women who have had cancer and it was a shame, but it never rattled me beginning at some place deeper than my own breastbone before.

I don’t even think that it has to do with her age (mine) or her body type (mine-ish, only she’s way more fit) or the fact that she has little children or a daughter the age of my own.

Or maybe that is it. I don’t know.

And maybe that’s why I don’t feel any sense of euphoria as I surface today. Maybe I look around me and nothing has really changed, for all my learning and all my struggle and all the hours and days and nights spent working and writing and revising and compiling lesson plans and all the thousands of dollars on tuition.  Maybe I tread here in place until the tidal wave of the next semester hits to pull me under and even though I know that all of these things are for our good–that every struggle brings strength and everything I have ever needed has been supplied–still… well.

It bothers me, okay? Do I really need a reason?