Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stop Looking at Me!

The baby learned to say it recently. Although when she says it, it sounds more like "stoppa-lookin'-me." Still she pulls it out at the right moments, when everyone is giggling at her cute mistakes, when the whole family has gathered around to watch her nurse. I'm pretty sure she means it. Not that she doesn't like being looked at. Just...sometimes it gets a bit uncomfortable.

Recently I had two rather large spikes in my pageloads. A little investigation revealed that Mormon Times had linked my kitty in the Christmas tree pictures and Stumble Upon had linked my guilty gratitude post. Thrilling and yet . . . I kinda had something controversial that I needed to talk about in the relative safety of my anonymity. Now I'm going to have to wait until the world goes away again and just my bloggy friends are here. A few days wait should suffice.

In the meantime, I'll post a link to a piece that speaks to anyone who has ever dealt with addiction. It needs no linky love, as BCC has an immense following, but you might have missed it. Give it a look-in when you have a bit of time to follow the half-dozen links within it. Russell's post is heart-wrenchingly honest and brave. It moved me to tears.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Guilt-tinged Gratitude

Have I mentioned we're poor? American poor that is. No starvation going on here, but in general when the kids take their cans of soup to the food drives or make cards for the needy, those items tend to come back to us.

This year so many people are having financial difficulties that I was certain there would be very few gifts for the children other than what I could procure. The day after Thanksgiving, I did some pretty impressive Goodwill half-price sale shopping and was calling it good.

Then our Relief Society President asked if they could give the children each a present, something they needed.

"Thank you. That would be nice."

A week later, the Bishop told us that he'd recommended us to a company that chooses a family each year to adopt. Clothes, mostly.

"Oh, that would be nice, very nice!"

Shortly thereafter, a sweet lady called and told me that the weirdest thing had happened. She'd been buying a tree and a guy came up to her and asked her if she wanted an extra tree because he'd gotten an extra for free. So...did we have a tree yet? Could we take this one off her hands?

"Um...OK...I love real trees. Thanks!"

As my lovely RS President handed me three big black garbage bags of gifts for my lovely children the week before Christmas, she explained that we had asked for so little she added a "few things" to our requests.

"Wow! Thanks! The kids will be thrilled!"

Monday, the 22nd a man showed up to my door when I was expecting a friendly acquaintance from church.

"Hi! Jami? I'm Bob [all names have been changed, except mine]. This is Sandra, Robin, and Jason. Where would you like these?" says he pointing to a few charmingly wrapped gifts.

"Uh, on the couch I guess. Thanks."

"Oh we'll need more room than that. Ho, ho, ho!" And they proceeded to bring more and more and more gifts in.

I suspected they were the company to whom the Bishop had given our information, but they had probably ten gifts per child, much more than I was expecting.

"Um, thanks so much. Um...who are you?"

"Oh, replied Bob. "I already told you: I'm Bob. There's Sandra and Robin. And he's Jason."

Cute, thought I, but who ARE you? "I mean who are you associated with? Are you related to Dave who was coming over at 10?"

"Dave? We're no relation to him . . . but we know him."

OK, Misters and Misses Anony-mice. I get it. No clues. "You really know how to raise my kids' heart rates," I joked. "That's a lot of presents. Thank you!"

The kids added their heartfelt thanks ["Thank you!"(N) "Thank you." (V) "Thanks." (E) "Niiiice!" (J) "Tanksyerwelcome!" (C)] and our benefactors went their merry philanthropic way.

Ten minutes later, two teachers from the school dropped off a turkey, a huge bag of oranges, a half dozen cupcakes and a big box of food.

An hour after that, Sister Sweet delivered a lovely ham and a huge box of yummies.

The receiving cooled off for a day. Then came Christmas Eve at my mom's, relaxed and wonderful. The angel-monkeys sang for Grandma, and two of them played their trumpets. After that came the gifts. Concerned that the kids were not getting many presents this year, mom and the Yvil-auntie got them nearly everything on their lists.

Let me tell you...there was much rejoicing Christmas morning. N in particular just kept opening each of her gifts, hugging them, exclaiming, "I'm just so happy!" Even I teared up a few times.

I am filled with gratitude towards the founders of our feast. However, I do feel a bit guilty: all of that just for us when so many are needy this year. Also I think I may need to buy some carbon offsets for the wrapping paper/cardboard/shrink wrap abomination that constitutes our garbage this week. And perhaps, just perhaps, we concentrated a bit too much on gifts, and not quite enough on Christ this Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Seasonal Re-post

This is my second post, from way back in May. Only my family read it, and they only read it because I nagged them incessantly. So what was odd in May is downright appropriate in December. Enjoy.

"So Mom is there a Santa Claus?" asked my vibrant six year old this morning. It's a pretty standard question around here-in December. (I've got no idea what brings it up in May.)

I give my standard response. "No, honey. He's a nice pretend person."

[I now pause to defend my Santa-killing position. Every Christmas I teach my children that Christmas is about the baby Jesus being born to be the Savior of mankind. If I teach them that Santa is real, at some point I'd have to admit the truth.
"Sorry Sweetheart, I was lying (in the nicest possible way). Santa is a wonderful pretend person. But not Jesus. He's not a wonderful pretend person. Well, he's wonderful, but not pretend. I wasn't lying about Jesus. He's real. Sure you've seen Santa and he was a fake and you haven't seen Jesus, but I testify to you that he's real. Really, really real."
I didn't want to go there. So back to my standard answer.]

"No, honey. He's a nice pretend person."

"MOM! Don't say that. He is too. He's real. And he gives you one less present every time you say that!" V. informed me.

"Hm...I have noticed the take getting smaller every year. Maybe there's something to that, V."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Did You Know?

The Dollar Tree sells pregnancy tests. A buck apiece. They work too. Due my never-ending paranoia, I test regularly, at least once a month, sometimes more. So last night I picked up three while I was in the Dollar Tree neighborhood. I'm a big girl now, so I didn't buy twenty other items to hide the three boxes, though my inner teen begged me to shield her from the shame. Sometimes I should listen to my inner teen.

The checkout clerk chatted me up. About pregnancy tests. With my fourteen year-old son standing there.

Her: Oh, three? Ha-ha.
Me: Uh...
Her: Just want to be sure, huh? Ha-ha.
Me: Um, I just like to have them on hand.
Her: Yeah, I do that too. Ha-ha. Do you have a goal here?
Me: Um...yeah. I have six kids and I'm wanting to keep it that way.
Her: Ha-ha. Good luck with that. Ha-ha.
Me: Uh...thanks.
Her: Huh-ha-huh-ha! Credit or debit?

What is the world coming to? Next strangers will be asking about how Aunt Flo's visit is going this month. I swear the next time someone does this to me I am going to treat them to the full-on conception to birth story of my latest, the line behind me be damned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Poem

Star Silver
   by Carl Sandburg

The silver of one star
Plays cross-lights against pine green.

And the play of this silver
crosswise against the green
Is an old story……
         thousands of years.
And sheep raisers on the hills by night
Watching the wool four-footed ramblers,
Watching a single silver star-
Why does the story never wear out?

And a baby slung in a feed-box
Back in a barn in a Bethlehem slum,
A baby’s first cry mixing with the crunch
Of a mule’s teeth on Bethlehem Christmas corn,
Baby fists softer than snowflakes of Norway,
The vagabond Mother of Christ
And the vagabond men of wisdom,
All in a barn on a winter night,
And a baby there in swaddling clothes on hay-
Why does the story never wear out?

The sheen of it all
Is a star silver and a pine green
For the heart of a child asking a story,
The red and hungry, red and hankering heart
Calling for cross-lights of silver and green.

In Case You Were Wondering How the DSL Installation Went

Yesterday, I went to the SureWest office to pick up my modem for the DSL. We weren't on the schedule. *twitch-twitch* But the kind lady still gave me my modem and told me I should have SERVICE by 8 PM. *smile*

Home again. Home again. Jiggedy-jig. J-Teen plugged the plugs. What a good and competent child he is! *smile* We began our OC checking of the connection. (Do we have SERVICE yet? Not yet. Do we have SERVICE yet? Not yet. Do we have SERVICE yet? Not yet. *twitch-twitch*)

At nine o'clock I called tech support and was placed on hold while someone walked the portable over to the tech guy in India. *twitch* When I had difficulty with Mr. Tech's accent, he was kind enough to repeat each instruction for me two or three times. Repeatedly he had me type "ipconfig" which he would spell out for me each time. [I as in India. P as in Paul. C as in Charley. O as in ornery. N as in nightmare. F as in ... failure. I as in India. G as in getting-nowhere.] He sent me hither and yon, through various files and secret spots within my mysterious machine. Finally, he asked me to get a pencil and paper and bade me write the numbers 20358. Ah, the key, a code to unlock my dormant DSL! *smile* Alas, 'twas but a ticket number; someone would be calling me tomorrow. He thanked me for choosing SureWest and hung up. *twitch, twitch*

After my tantrum, I connected to the Internet using my dysfunctional dial-up, posted the previous post, and brushed up on my Lamaze breathing techniques. *deep, cleansing breath*

At about eleven, after a bit more OC checking ("Do we have SERVICE yet? Not yet. Do we have SERVICE yet? Not yet. Do we have SERVICE yet? Not yet.), I decided to try tech support again. I was again placed on hold while someone walked the portable over to...Fresno! OMGosh! She speaks English. Clearly. Be still, my heart! Literally, five minutes later, she had me delete the dial-up connection from my Internet options. AND IT WORKED! I had SERVICE! *smile* Ms. Tech seemed a little nervous as I pledged my undying gratitude and love, but then she remembered her lines. She thanked me for choosing SureWest, and hung up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008



Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Loved It First

I've been a regency romance fan for a long time. I still remember the first I ever read: Regency Gold by Marion Chesney. It didn't take itself too seriously and was laugh out loud funny. A charming heroine, a gorgeous hero, and a bunch of mischief. I was 12 and I was hooked. Good clean fun.

Not too long after my introduction to the genre, I ran into the works of Jane Austen. "Hey," thought I, "these are just like regencies. Only not quite so funny." Still I happily devoured Austen's works and every other novel set in the England's Regency era that I could get my hands on, nearly twenty years of delightful escapism. Sadly, those two decades have also included a dreadful decline. The regency genre has been dying and the few regencies that I've read in recent years have been disappointing. Not good, not clean, and not fun. Frankly, I have missed them.

Then along comes Heidi Ashworth with her book, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind. A new regency? A clean regency? Gimme! Her countdown until the book came out was driving me crazy. [FOUR MORE MONTHS?] So I begged. Gimme, please.

Ms. Ashworth was kind enough to send me a galley proof, so that I could be among the privileged first to read it. I love being first. However, as I awaited the book's arrival, I began to worry. What if it was crap? What would I say? "Um, thanks for lending me a copy." "Loved the cover. What kind of rose is that anyway?" Uh...awkward.

No need for worries! I can whole-heartedly recommend Miss Delacourt. It is a delightful romp, everything I'd hoped for: an outspoken (yet lovable) heroine, a dashing (but repressed) hero, and all the impediments to true love I could ever want, all neatly resolved within a gorgeous hardback. It's fresh, funny, filled with love, Shakespeare, some rose patent infringement, and a lot of fun!

So now it's your turn. Sure I cheated, cut in line and read it first, but you can now order your own copy of Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind through Amazon with a pleasant little discount, or you can ask your library to order it so you can read it for free. I did both, but I'm betting Amazon will get it to me first. By a long shot.