No Thanks on the Figgy Pudding — whatever it is.

 Just popping in with a short note to say Happy Christmas. 



I feel like a heel because I did not send out all the Christmas cards I wanted.  In particular, I missed all of my favorite blogging friends.  And now every time a card comes in from one of them, I feel like a dolt.  Anyways, I’m going to (try and) post the family video that Ryann put together within the next couple of days.  She did a great job on it. I don’t really know what dolt means.  I hope I used it right.


In other news, I’ve not blogged for a while on account of several things.  I’ve been sick – and whatever I have will *not* go away.  I’ve also been reading a lot.  I’m going thru The Tyranny of the Status Quo by Milton Friedman (everybody in America ought to read that book), America’s Gilded Age: Intimate Portraits from an Era of Extravagance and Change, 1850-1890 by Milton Rugoff (which is a biography of 35 different lives from the second half of the 19th century — superb), Future Grace, by John Piper (another book that everybody in America ought to read) and then I’ve started a new 1800s author, Thomas Hardy, that I am having a hard time ‘getting’.


I wish I could live in a library. 


Lastly, Jess  suggested that we come up with three resolutions for the New Year. She’s cute like that.  I sent her my resolutions but I was only joking around to make her laugh (Jess, don’t you dare even make hints about what I said!).  But seriously, I think if I do make a resolution, it will be to blog less and to make a more concentrated effort in making and investing more time into my IRL friendships.  I have an inordinate compulsion to be very hermit-ish.  I hate phones (hate them), and I’m not good at getting together with friends (even those whom I totally love).  The internet is just so easy, you know what I mean?  But I really am a bad IRL friend, so I think I ought to maybe work on that.


Anyways, I am keeping this short.  I should be sleeping right now, but holy mozers, you should hear how loud Geoff the Great is snoring.  It’s utterly beyond anything human sounding.  Seriously… why can’t anybody in this great age of knowledge and progress find a simple remedy for snoring?


My Family Just Got Cooler.

My little brother, Jay, is officially a Marine.  Is that totally cool, or what?  He’s also an accomplished break dancer.  Anyhow, as you probably can imagine, becoming a full fledge Marine is hard work, and I could not be prouder.  He’s a handsome little bugger, isn’t he?




Our whole family is just pleased and proud as peach punch.  And who doesn’t like peach punch?  Specially if it has ice cream and Seven Up in it.  Um, where was I?  Ah yes.  Pleased and Proud.  Perhaps I’ve had enough punch.


In other news … I have a grave dislike of Christmas traffic.  Even in our little tiny town there was a decided mark up of cars buzzing to-and-fro in a most Un-Southernly-Slow manner.  But we did make it to the post office and sent off all the things we meant to mail.  It was not much. 

I’m going to try and post the Christmas Card DVD that Ryann put together within the next couple of weeks.  She really is a talented girl.  This season we have definitely slacked off, tho.  Coie made no Christmas Candy.  I think that’s a first in five years.  I’m not sad, tho.  The amount of weight I’ve already gained is startling.  I hate tight clothes.  Hate them.  It makes me claustrophobic.  I don’t need any Coie Christmas Candy.  What I really need is a new workout video.


Ok, I gotta run.  I gotta get back to Middlemarch.

PS Congrats to Jess — nearly TEN weeks pregnant!  As cool as my brother is, that’s something he’s not been able to accomplish.


This Boring Post is Mostly About Antiquated Authors. And Spontaneous Combustion. And Impending Danger for Laurie Bluedorn.


James officially knows how to snap.  He has been practicing and practicing and practicing for weeks.  And now, throughout the day, he’ll saunter up, get my attention, and triumphantly *snap*.  He is very proud of his big boy self.  And he keeps telling me, “See? I’m a human”.  Apparently, he feels the need to reassure me (or perhaps himself) that he’s more than a just a common orangutan.  Now if I could only get him to wear something other than that ridiculous Spiderman suit perhaps it would lend a little more credibility to his claims.


So has anybody ever, truly, in all honesty, actually read anything by Charles Dickens?  I tried twice.  And I have honorable intentions of taking another whack at A Tale of Two Cities.  But anyways, me and Coie and Ryann are presently sitting thru nine hours of the 2005 BBC version of Dicken’s Bleak House.  Tomorrow we’re going to wrap up hours seven, eight and nine.  It’s marvelous.  I really really really really like it so far.  Poor Esther.  Dumb old Richard.  And blast that nasty old Tulkinghorn. 


At any rate, and still along the lines of Bleak House, I’m now seriously wondering about the legitimacy (or any historical evidence) of Spontaneous Combustion. I’m going to look into that. I also want to start studying the Great Depression.   Not that it’s related to Dickens, or suddenly bursting into flames or anything.  I just all of a sudden have an overwhelming curiosity.  I don’t want to participate in either.  But it should make for some mighty interesting page turnin’.


In other news, and this is rather alarming, I read a news report (I think it was from, uh, Fox) about an upcoming terrorist drill being planned for IL in mid February.  Apparently, from the story, some government operatives will be testing live toxins, and uh, other stuff, along with non-live toxins including Agent Orange and uh, Agent Mango.  The weird thing is – and this really is weird – the tests being conducted just-so-happen to be taking place on the very same street that Laurie Bluedorn lives on. It’s a weird coincidence. But it is true.  I’d link to the report, but, uh, I can’t access the internet what-so-ever, or something.  The good news is that the government DOES have an evacuation plan.  This very dangerous drill should not be taken lightly and instructions state that anybody living on this street should head down to the Spartanburg / Greenville area in order to keep safe on that Valentines Day weekend.  Somebody ought to let Laurie know. 


Coincidentally, that’s around the same time that Julie Austin is planning the next English Country Dance aka Barn Dance.  It’s open to all humans (which means James may get to come along, too). 

Details are being updated HERE.  If any of you are in the area make plans to attend!  Laurie… don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes.


Lastly, I’m reading Middlemarch by Eliot right now.  So far so good.  And I found a new 1800s author called Margaret Oliphant.  Despite her unfortunate name, she’s a delightful storyteller.  I recently finished Miss Marjoribanks. Very fun.  My second grade teacher was named Mrs. Oliphant.  Wouldn’t you seriously think about changing your last name if you got stuck with something like that?

We rented Prince Caspian over the weekend.  It was pretty good except for the lame kid-romance at the end.  Why do movies do that?  Really, how does kid romance enhance a family film? Is it just me, or does that sort of thing gross anybody else out, too? At any rate, besides that, everybody liked the new Narnia movie.  But right in the middle of it Emmiko and Bo got into an argument that went like this:


Emmi: This movie is irritating me.  I don’t like the way Susan looks


Bo: I like the way Susan looks. She looks just like Coie — beautiful


Emmi: No she doesn’t! Coie is WAY prettier than Susan. And Susan is wearing too much make up. 


Bo: … Coie’s so pretty




Coie: giggle giggle



When the first Narnia movie came out, everywhere Coie went people always said the same thing: “You look just like Susan”. She does, sort of.  But I’m inclined to agree that Coie is prettier.


In other news, we went to a family Christmas party at the lovely Casa de Maria.  I am not exaggerating when I say I have the best friends ever.





And I don’t take it for granted, either.  I hope you have friends in your life who encourage you, strengthen you, uplift you and make you laugh your head off.  It’s not easy finding a group of friends who you can seriously just be yourself around.  I am blessed indeed.  And so are my kids.  They have great friends, too.


Lastly, you guys should have tried the sugar cookies I made with cream cheese frosting. HOLY COW were they ever miraculously delectable.  … and I have a question, besides cheese cake and my magical cookies, what else can you put cream cheese in to make it dangerously delicious?


A Regretful Christmas Confession

Ok, don’t judge me.  I don’t even know why I’m admitting this.  Maybe it’s just a guilty conscience.  I heard a Christmas song the other day that I absolutely fell in love with.  And the song is sort of scandalous, I shouldn’t like it to begin with.  But I can’t help it.  But what’s even worse, is that the version that I absolutely am smitten with is sung by two of my top most despised singers.  The song?  Baby It’s Cold Outside… sung by… oh my heavens I can’t believe I’m going to admit this… Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton.  I’M SO ASHAMED!

*Anyways* today’s going to be a quiet cozy day. Geoff the Great left early. Ry and Em went to a birthday party and Coie is working.  I really like it when I have just the boys.  The whole dynamic of the house changes. 


I’ve been able to spend more time with my oldest son, Bo, over the last couple of weeks.  I love that boy.  A while back we were outside raking leaves and he told me that he wants to get married but he has fears about his wife being in danger when he becomes a missionary/pilot/medic.  He’s eleven.  A couple years ago I would have just chuckled – and a couple of years ago I probably did chuckle.  But now I’m starting to believe him.  He’s been talking about this for almost three years.  And then the other day, out of the blue, he said, “Mom, please find me a wife who is strong like Coie.  I’m going to need someone who won’t be afraid and who will want to be a missionary with me”. 


It would be scary being a missionary’s wife.  So I am praying for that girl, whoever she is. One thing I remember about my mom is that she diligently prayed for her daughters’ husbands even when we all were only infants.  I am so thankful for her prayers.


In other news, my coffee pot busted on Friday. This made me nervous.  But the very same day I went over to my most magnificently excellent friend’s house and she pulled an extra one out of her basement and sent me home with it.  Now that’s a friend indeed.  AND even more extraordinary, my friend Gina was not kidding when she offered us her king sized pillow top mattress.  I think I’m gonna pick it up in Jan.  I’ve got the greatest friends EVER.  I feel guilty about profiting from my whiney-ness, but still, boy am I ever thrilled.


Lastly, next week I *think* I’ll get to unveil a neat-o project that I’ve been working on.  I will also be able to give you a link where you can sign up to win a brand new version 3 Rosetta Stone Language of your choice.  So check back for that iffen you will. 


For Seriously Last, I am awarding Emily with my very own Encouraging Friend award.  I like this girl; she encourages me a ton – and I couldn’t even really tell you why.  I think it’s just who she is.  She is a neat friend and I appreciate her.  And my awards are the very best because they don’t come with a link or a graphic and she doesn’t have to tag anybody else when she gets it.  The End.


O! Christmas Tree


I hate it when I‘m trying to sleep on my stomach and I can’t find a sensible place to put my arms.  And I think I need a new bed.  Ours has pretty much had it.  It’s a king sized bed but there’s still not enough room for me to sufficiently sprawl out, and the springs have gone out on Geoff’s side so everything slides towards the right (me included) which means every night I have to sleep on an incline.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I might complain thru this entire post.  I woke up on the wrong side of my dilapidated bed.


In other news, our Christmas tree went up, and we had a cozy time of it.








Of course hot chocolate with whip cream is a must for tree decorating.









And here’s Dip completing a real book with real words, from the library, out loud to somebody who can’t read.  Thrilling beyond all expressive sentiments.




Lastly, my dad got Emmiko a violin for her birthday and we finally got her into lessons last month.  She loves LOVES loves her teacher and she practices her violin faithfully every day. 



She can already play four songs.  One of my friends described the early days of violin lessons sounding like a cat being choked.  Pretty nearly.  But boy am I proud of my girl.  She is hoping to have Silent Night down within the next two weeks so we can accompany her with Ryann on piano, Coie singing, and me on guitar.  I need to start thinking up some catchy names for our new family bluegrass band.


95% Smart Aleck Free


I know I should never ever ever drink coffee after 4 PM.  But did I listen to myself?  No, not at all.  And so now, here it is well past my bedtime, and I can’t sleep a wink.  Serves me right.  But anyways, I’ve had some things on my mind I’ve wanted to put down, so I guess this is a good time.


This whole week I’ve been dumbstruck with thankfulness.  It’s a pity that being thankful comes so easy and heartfelt when everything in the world seems right.  But it does, doesn’t it?  And as the year wraps up, I can’t help thinking over the contrast between 08 and 07.  And I cannot help reflecting on the gifts (of all sorts) that have rained down on us this year.  There are too many to list.  But I want to talk about one.  I’ll save it for last.


A while back one of my friends ended her email by commenting that God seems to be pouring out His overwhelming blessings on us the same way He did for Job.  While I’m no Job (except the parts where he whines and stuff) there are some similarities.


In 07 my family suffered devastating losses and experienced other heinous trials.  That is not an overstatement.  I aged considerably in 07.  And yet, thru out the hellish circumstances that piled up month after month, I knew God was ever present.  At least in my head I knew that.  I couldn’t count on my feelings worth a hoot, tho, on a lot of those days.


And yet it wasn’t all bad. Most notably, I had a major life-changing reconciliation with my sister.  This was no small thing.  I also had a major reconciliation and began a new relationship with my dad.  This was a balm to my soul during that awful year.  I don’t really like that overworked phrase, but it actually sums it up pretty well. Soul Balm.  Anyways, it was nothing short of miraculous. 


We also saw friendships develop and deepen.  Our faith was constantly renewed as we saw God working thru His people.  I found friends that I didn’t realize I had, and they upheld us while we went thru some life changing events.


So where am I going with this?  There are a couple things, I guess, that have really been on my mind. 


God is able to use very bad things to make our lives better.  It almost sounds callous to say such a thing, don’t you think?  When I’ve read Job in the past I’ve thought, “Sure, maybe God ended up giving him lots of stuff and blessed him tons afterwards, but that doesn’t erase the agonizing pain when he lost everything to begin with”.  Does it make any sense if I say that agonizing pain creates a stark contrast which enables one to feel the real indescribable joy on a deeper level when it comes later?  It makes sense to me now.


If I paint a white cloud on a white piece of paper, it pretty much looks blasé and unimpressive.  But if I paint a white cloud on a black piece of paper… striking.  Pain and suffering is the background that makes true joy pop off the page.


And if we are able to measure this joy in a human, temporary way, how will it be possible to contain the living joy that will explode like a nuclear blast when our Hope is finally realized when we see Him face to face?  That is awesome in the literal sense.


Yes, God has poured out His love, mercy and grace in my life in 08.  But He laid the groundwork for it in 07.  And even if we didn’t have a spectacular 08 – the truth is, joy comes from the living hope in His promises.  It is about what He has done, and is doing now, and will do later on.  It’s not about what God is doing for me now.  There’s a much bigger picture than that!  And that is where the joy is.


Wow, this is getting long.  I will try and wrap things up.  So that has been on my mind, but here’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about…


When Jess was a little kid and lived with me and Geoff (after our mom died when she was 11) she used to drive me utterly mad.  Good heavens she made me crazy.  And that made me feel guilty.  And it should have made me guilty, because even way back then I knew she got the message, loud and clear, that she irritated me. 


I knew she was going to grow up.  I knew she would.  And I had enough insight to realize that someday she’d turn into a human.  And I would lay in bed at night and stress about the fact she might grow up and I’d want to be her friend, but by then she would not want to have anything to do with me because I wasn’t as kind, or patient, or loving as I should have been.


I could only assume I would want a relationship some day because, after all, I didn’t act *anything* like I did when I was eleven, so logic dictated she probably wouldn’t either.  And there was a good possibility I was blowing my chances for that future friendship. 


And sure enough, I was right.


I had no idea how amazing she would turn out. It’s shocking, really. She is so funny, and so loving, and generous, kind hearted, cheerful, truly caring, fun, interesting, and so very very godly.  In short, she is the absolute best choice for a best friend I’ve ever met. 


And this is where the real miracle is.  Despite me being “me” for so many years, instead of being bitter or resentful, she has eagerly jumped forward with no holds barred.  I knew someday I would probably want to be friends, but I had no idea she would (or could) become my best friend.  That’s a major thing to think about. It makes my head swim. 


My kids will become adults someday, too.  Am I investing enough now so they will want to be around when I want them as ‘grown up’ friends?  Or will they say, “No. You had no time for me when I was little and boring and now I have no time for you when you are old and boring.”  I hope I am investing wisely; and I think I am.  I will continue to try harder, that’s for sure.  But anyways, my main point is that I am so grateful for grace. And so thankful for Jess.  What an unbelievably undeserved gift. 


 I am thankful.

Thanksgiving Fun


Ok, well, not that I’m complaining or anything, but Geoff the Great burnt the bar b qued turkey.  It was bad.  The bottom caught fire and then all the rancid smoke seeped all up into the meat.  So it *looked* lovely, but it was decidedly deplorable.


But the rest of the day was fun. 



Coie made all the desserts (two cheesecakes, two chocolate fudge puddings, two apple pies).  Well, almost all of them.  Emmiko made an incredible trifle using the gorgeous birthday gift she got from the gorgeous Mrs. Johnston.  That trifle was the only thing I liked besides the stuffing Gramma Sally made.




Here are me and Coie cooking and cleaning. Check out the matching head scarves.  



Very Pilgrimesque, I daresay.



And here? I have simply no idea what they’re doing






So what is this about, you ask?



Geoff the Great came in and said, “Close your eyes and open your mouth”.  I am NOT good at that.  He wouldn’t tell me what he was aiming towards my mouth and he was overly adamant that I obey.   It took about fifteen minutes of shrieking and blinking and such before I could do it.  Naturally, Ryann ran to get a camera



I was so worked up and overly stressed that I was unable to recognize it was chocolate malt ice cream.  He had to finally spell it out for me, and then I was delighted.  But right about when this picture was snapped I wanted to shove that ice cream spoon right into his eyeball socket. 


Anyways, after four hours of starving and longing and dreaming and waiting to eat our lovely lunch, Geoff brought in the burnt turkey.  We were all thrilled





Gramma Sally also thought it was magically delicious.



Notice Spiderman?  He’s literally been wearing that outfit for the last four days.


Hope your Thanksgiving was swell!  We really did have a tremendously lovely time.  I have about three things I’d like to say, but maybe I will save it for another post.


We are very blessed, indeed… burnt turkey and all.

Where’s My Other Slipper?

I was going to blog earlier but it was Emily and Marshie’s fault.  They were busy crushing me into a humiliating ball of ear wax.  As a public service warning, take note and do *not* play Word Twist or Scramble with them on Facebook.  Don’t do it.  You’ll be sorry; unless of course your ego needs a good whompin’.  They’ve won EVERY game I’ve played with them.  Real friends let their loser friends *win* every once in a while. 


In other news, my mother in law finally brought my kids home from MI and now we are keeping her captive.  I like having her here.  Whenever I run off and hide in my room to get beat up online by E and M, she goes into the kitchen and cooks.  Oh. My. Heavens can my mother in law cook.  We are all begging her to move in with us.  And I also like her because she lets me beat her in Boggle every time we play.  She’s the greatest.  She’s fun.  And I think I’m only about thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close in getting her to like me more than Geoff the Great.  Not that I’m competitive or anything. 


In other news, I’m having a hard time living so far away from Jess.  I actually dreamed that we moved up to Alaska, but the weird part was is that I liked it.  Like I said, I was dreaming.  Some how, some way, I’ve got to figure out a way to make Charley move his family down to TN.


I’m going to pull all my Christmas junk out of the basement today and start decorating.  Mutter groan moan. 


PS if you stink at Word Twist or Scramble feel free to challenge me to a game.

Ohhhhhhhhhh, The Weather Outside is Frightful

If any of you have been reading my ridiculous blog on a regular basis, then you might know how I feel about Christmas.  I like it, but I get irritated when it induces guilt for Christians who accidentally think there’s almost a biblical mandate to celebrate the birth of Christ (like communion or baptism) and then end up feeling like a failure for enjoying the non-religious aspects of it, like Rudolph, Frosty, Elf, etc.   

And this makes me somewhat of a Scrooge.  And I enjoy that, especially because it tweaks so many of my Abundantly Overly Christmas Fanatical loved ones (like Jess).  None-the-less.  To prove I have a Warm Christmassy Heart Made of Hot Chocolate and North Pole Snow, here is a survey that my friend Shay sent.  And I actually filled out all the answers.  Feel free to use it and let me know so I can come and smirk at, I mean read thru, your answers. 



1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?  Toilet paper, tin foil, paper towels or anything else on hand that doesn’t require an extra purchase.


2. Real tree or Artificial?  If we must have a tree, then I’d rather it be artificial.  Trees are an entire ecosystem of unwanted living organisms.  Sadly, I’m always out voted and we end up with a live one


3. When do you put up the tree? If we must put up the tree, it generally goes up right after Thanksgiving.  But we have a family tradition where on Christmas day after all the presents are open everybody takes a nap, and then while they are sleeping I throw the tree off the back deck.


5. Do you like eggnog?  No.  Stuff that thick should not be pawned off as a liquid


6. Favorite gift received as a child?  A game system called a Vtrx or something.  That thing was cool.  It was lost in one of our moves.


7. Hardest person to buy for?  Everybody I know


8. Easiest person to buy for?  Coie.  Because anything I get her, she will like, and she always shares with me (clothes, books, cds, candy etc).


9. Do you have a nativity scene?  Yes, but all of the pieces are busted


10. Mail or email Christmas cards?  Bah humbug.  But now Ryann has taken over and mails out three-minute Christmas DVDs of our family doing ridiculous things set to music


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  Geoff the Great got me a Buns-of-Steel work out video for our first Christmas.  But after several months, it turned out to be a pretty good gift.  That was one heavy duty work out


12. Favorite Christmas Movie?  Elf.  But I also accidentally get sentimental over It’s a Wonderful Life.


13. When do you start shopping? We never really officially ‘shop’ except for buying tons of candy to stuff in the stockings.  And that generally happens the day before Christmas


14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?  I recycle almost all of them.  It’s true.  So think twice if you are ever tempted to get me anything.


15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  Sugar cookies with icing.  And snickers.  And whatever candy we get for the kids.  I steal 40% of whatever we put in their stockings.  This is how I teach my kids about Democratic tax policies.


16. Lights on the tree?  We always end up with ‘em


17. Favorite Christmas song?  I have a new favorite.  It’s “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day”.  The words are most excellent


18.Travel at Christmas or stay home?   Lately we have stayed home.  Glorious.


19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer’s?  No.  And keep them away from Coie because she would probably shoot one and carve it up for Christmas dinner.  That’s no joke.


20. Angel on the tree top or a star?  We have an old beat up angel that always always always stays crooked thru-out its entire career at the top


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?   One on Christmas Eve and then the rest on Christmas morning.


22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year Diamond commercials. 


23. Favorite ornament theme or color?  Blue and white


24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Something I didn’t cook


25. What do you want for Christmas this year?  30 thousand dollars.