Sunday, November 30, 2008

All is "Rite"

Couldn't resist an attempt at a pun. Today was the Rite of Acceptance Into the Order of Catechumens. For Joe. My 8 year-old is now a catechumen! That's a fancy word for an unbaptized believer. The rite is really neat in my opinion. During Mass, all the pre-Catechumens knocked on the door to the church. The Priest answered from the front and asked, "Who's knocking?"
At that point, each child said his or her name into a microphone (likely not used in the early centuries).
The rest of the dialogue:
Priest: What do you want to become?
Children: A Christian.
Priest: Why do you want to become a Christian?
Children: Because I believe in Christ.
Priest: What do you gain by believing in Christ?
Children: Eternal life.

After the children were welcomed into the church, they lined up in front of the altar and the parents came forward. We were asked some questions, replied, and then the cantor sang instructions about blessing each child's ears, eyes, mouth, shoulders, heart and feet - all having to do with following Jesus and living life for Him. With each blessing, Kevin and I took turns making the sign of the cross on Joseph.

At the end, Father Marc, our Priest, presented each child with a Bible and I think that was Joseph's favorite part. I couldn't help but picture the numerous "Children's" Bibles at home that he has read over the past eight years. This was significant in Joe's spiritual maturity and I was so thrilled for him, and so prayerful for his future. I've seen what a difference being a student of the Bible makes in a life, and I so want my children to know that difference.

Please pray for Joe. Pray that the interest he's showing in God and God's word will continue throughout his life!

Now I'll share a photo of Joseph with Father Marc and one of him with his new Bible. I really wanted one of Kevin and I with Joe but it didn't happen. I'm just so proud to be a part of his life. Please pray for us as his parents as long as you're praying for him!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"A Myna Bird and a Cell Phone"

We went to see Santa today. I am surprised that all four kids actually posed with him for a picture. This is unprecedented. I don't make a big deal about the Santa photo - no dressing up special, no "tell Santa what you want," necessarily. All this to keep the pressure off so that if someone refuses to approach the big bearded guy, it's okay. But today they all went for it! It must be the "safety in numbers" thing. And Santa was nice enough to talk with them a little while we handed over an arm and a leg to pay for the precious photo. On the way out, I asked Joseph what he told Santa. Apparently, he's asking for a myna bird and a cell phone. What? I'm sure Santa would hate to dash a kid's hopes, but high-maintenance pets and communication hardware aren't great choices for a boy of (almost) eight. This is the same boy who last year wanted only a stuffed Santa. I kid you not - he even wrote an essay about it in school. So we go from stuffed Santa to myna bird and cell phone. I'm in trouble.

Cayna wants a "Tinkerbell thing" - which leaves a lot of room for interpretation and therefore gift shopping is made easier. Bethanie wants whatever Cayna wants, so make that two "Tinkerbell things". And John can't talk so he can't ask for gifts.

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent. Perhaps I can focus on that and put off gift decisions a while longer. Egads.

Friday, November 28, 2008

After Turkey

My the house is quiet. Cousins left in a buzz this evening around 6:30 and then our family reflected on the visit. I like "closure" talks like that because I'm always a little sad when company leaves and I know at least one of my children has the same issue. The next hour and a half before bedtime went fast with clean-up, baths, prayers, and 50 million other little things that come up in that last 5 minutes before the kids are all tucked in and our day as a family comes to a close.

I am aware of the completion of Thanksgiving because I'm already strategizing the Christmas decorating. Also, the wishbone from the turkey is drying on the windowsill in the kitchen. I can remember growing up, my mom always dried it on our kitchen windowsill too. Watching my sister-in-law and my mom combing over the turkey carcass last night after dinner was comical. They were getting everything ready to transport to my mom's where she will make turkey stock. And I had requested they pull out the wishbone. It was quite an operation.

For the record, my angel food cake turned out marvelously! It was perfect consistency and delicious. I should have taken a picture, because it didn't last long - it was consumed within 15 minutes. After I had my cake, I proceeded to have a piece of pumpkin pie. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie (or really any pie, truthfully) but I had to have somewhere to put my homemade whipped cream. I ran 6 miles this morning with Rachel, but need to run 180 more to work off all those calories.

I have only good memories of this holiday. My mother and father were here under one roof and it wasn't a bit stressful. I admit I tried not to pay too much attention to their communication or interaction, but if it had been dramatic, I would have noticed. Also, all eight children were delightful. You should know we have a tile floor with crazy acoustics so the noise level rarely goes below a billion decibels, but it felt festive, not frustrating.

Last night after the grandparents left, our family and my brother's family all gathered upstairs and the kids shared what they'd written (or dictated) they were thankful for on little papers tucked in their "Box of Thanks" craft Rachel brought for them. The ones that touched my heart the most: Joseph said "Jesus" which of course makes any Christian parent swoon with joy; Cayna said "Mom and Dad", so that will get me through another year; and Bethanie said, among other things, "Giraffes and Potatoes."

Here is Rachel and me cooking! Her chutney was simmering, my potatoes were boiling.

The kids play a rousing, just-before-dinner game of "monkey in the middle" as James carves the bird in the background. I wonder if the pilgrim children played monkey in the middle while their parents scrambled to get dinner on the table.

Rather disgusting evidence that John likes dark meat. It was NOT his mother who gave him the giant gross turkey leg, I can tell you that for sure.

Rachel and Mom working with the carcass. Ew.

Mom, me, and Rachel.

James, Dad, and Kevin. Note the water splash on Kevin's shirt - he was doing the dishes, because he is wonder-husband!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Tangents

Today I read most of my son's book about sailing on the Mayflower - fascinating! Did you know a baby was born on the Mayflower during its voyage to the New World? He was named Oceanus. Gotta love those parents - first for their fortitude - sailing off for a new life across an ocean while mega-pregnant! Second for choosing that name to commemorate their expedition and the timing of the birth.

Let me be the first to wish you a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! You might not be reading this early on the holiday, but I am writing it early on the holiday.

I like going to Mass on Thanksgiving. It's not a holy day, but it sure seems like a great day to be in Church worshiping God and giving Him thanks.

Here's hoping I get to see a little bit of the Macy's Parade! SOME people think parades are dumb, but I love a lot of pomp and circumstance (and large inflatable characters) in celebration of anything!

Our menu: Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Oatmeal Muffins, Dry corn, Cranberry Chutney, Pumpkin Pie and Angel Food Cake.

History behind our menu: We assume the pilgrims and Indians ate turkey. My mom makes homemade stuffing (both "inside" and "outside" the turkey) to die for - if you like stuffing, which I don't. I hate it. I won't have even one bite. Blech. Gravy comes along with the turkey. Mashed potatoes - my contribution. Mashed potatoes were one of the first "from scratch" things I didn't screw up early in my marriage. Salad - in our family growing up, it always had miniature shrimp in it which I would sneak out of the salad before dinner. Now it's just plain green salad, but I can almost taste those yummy little shrimp. My mom has always made these oatmeal muffins, and we eat them hot out of the oven. They bake while the turkey is being carved. Dry corn is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition and my dad is bringing it. The recipe for Cranberry chutney is compliments of my sister-in-law. It's delicious. This will be the second year in a row having the chutney instead of sauce or jelly. Pumpkin pie is my brother's favorite. He always has it for his birthday, too - earlier in the month. I'll make real whipped cream to top it with, but my dad is bringing it store-bought. And since some of us aren't huge pie fans, Rachel and I decided to choose a more unique dessert for this year. Angel food it is. It is a favorite of Kevin, and we'll "frost" it with strawberries and whipped cream.

In the morning, Kevin and I will run together for the first time. Actually, we ran maybe once together in college but it was me trying to keep up and impress him. Tomorrow will likely be very similar.

To close, I'm thankful for little Mayflower-born Oceanus. The word "chutney" which is extremely satisfying. DEAD scorpions (number seven found in our house tonight). Finally figuring out something on my camera besides the automatic setting. Rain, which we had lots of today. Parade floats. New pajamas for John. Butter toffee coated peanuts. And sleep.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Learning my camera

I plan to become a fabulous photographer. But I have to read my camera owner's manual first. It's quite convenient that my brother is here, since he is a stellar photographer and has the equipment to match.

With some sit-down instruction time and a little practice, today I got a shot in low light using a feature I didn't understand 24 hours ago. It is difficult for me to work at things I'm not naturally good at. I don't like to try. But little by little I'm determined to figure this out and get over my handicaps when it comes to understanding technical things. That's why I'm posting this picture. Because like I said, someday I'll be a fabulous photographer, and I'll want proof for myself that when I started I was CLUELESS and very confused and doubtful that I could learn this.

There's plenty wrong with this photo, but the main thing is that it's plenty light enough, and I'm telling ya - it was downright dark in the room. Yay, camera! Yay, me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cousins are here!

Elation. That's what my kids are feeling about having their cousins here for the holiday. We're having a good time. But as I type, it's nearly midnight and I have a half-finished overnight crockpot egg dish to throw together. So I'm posting photos, listing some of the fun things from our day, and calling it good.

Hiking Henderson with eight great kids
3-Cheese Baked Macaroni
Honeybaked Ham from Grandpa
Watching "The Office" reruns with brother and sis-in-law
LOVING the November weather in Vegas
Bringing Rachel (sister-in-law) to Moms' Group
Making a Jesse Tree (cool advent tradition)

Monday, November 24, 2008


At breakfast this morning, Cayna's topic of choice was "Marry" (Her way of saying "Marriage".) She is currently fascinated by it. This may have a little bit to do with the fact that at the age of five, she recently met her future spouse. In fact, she went to his birthday party this weekend. His name is Noah, and I have not met him (Kevin took her to the party) - but she pointed him out to me after school today and I must say I had a very "generation-gap" type of response (though I did keep it to myself): "HIM?" He must be at least a foot shorter than Cayna (which may be a problem throughout her life) and he has the haircut of a Bee Gee. I was discussing this with my friend, who also has a betrothed five year-old daughter (all the kids are in the same class) and we agreed that the current style is a psychotic mix of 60s and 80s. Ew! Mohawks also appear to be very popular and in my narrow-minded, conservative opinion - I'm glad Cayna's guy doesn't have a mohawk. That would just be too precious (as if the rest of this whole scenario isn't).

Anyway, over Cheerios, Cayna discussed how she and Noah would live far away and we could visit and if they have children she'll name them Emma and Dominic. I'm guessing none of this has been discussed with Noah - holy Toledo!

When Cayna paused to take a bite of cereal, Bethanie told us she knew who she wants to marry, too. "Who?" ----- "Jesus."

Well, there you go. Two years ago, I would have heard that and thought, "How sweet!" Now that we're Catholic, this means little Miss three year-old Bethanie is considering the Religious Life. In plain words - she's gonna be a nun! That's who "marries Jesus," ladies and gentlemen.

I'll visit Emma and Dominic from time to time, ignoring their father's hairstyle - and stop by the convent occasionally to pray with Bethanie. Wow, I'm 38 and my retirement years are already shaping right up!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Home for the Holidays

Company's coming. You can tell because the house is a little cleaner than usual, and the frig is a little fuller. Tomorrow my brother, sister-in-law, and four fun nieces arrive at our house to celebrate Thanksgiving.

In addition to buying potatoes and cranberries (my mom's doing the turkey) - my greatest effort is going toward keeping my expectations at a reasonable level. I'll let you know how that goes. Gotta fluff up the guest room pillows, plan some outings, and take a deep breath.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Man I Married

In a story involving a platypus, a toothbrush cake, and the entire UNLV campus, Kevin proposed to me 11 years ago today.

Aside from four paltry years of sleep deprivation (one following the birth of each child) resulting in bickering and mild stomping around the house - we've gotten along famously and enjoyed our marriage.

My biggest sacrifice has been giving up the way I like to talk when telling a story to Kevin. For WHATEVER reason, he just wants the nitty-gritty main point... WITHOUT the 244 extra details, 22 tangents, and 650-plus related news items.

Kevin's biggest sacrifice is that he has to put up with a tremendous amount of rigid home-decorating guidelines: i.e. color coordination DOES matter; we DON'T need the backpack display rack he picked up out of a dumpster (he learned his habits from Mr. Mike Nalley); and just because it's cheap, or even free, DOESN'T mean I want it in my home.

Just yesterday, he called me in the middle of the day and I could tell by his voice that he was BEAMING. Turns out his company was getting rid of their giant-size map of the Las Vegas Valley because it is outdated by two years. Kevin got it. Happy day, unless you're the wife who doesn't want the humongous thing hanging in the living room. Good thing it fits perfectly on the wall of the garage. He had fun putting it up today.

Maybe if I'd agreed to hang it INside the house, it could have counted as an engagement anniversary gift. Well, this way we're both happy - he has his enormous map, and I don't have to wallpaper my formal living room with an aerial view of Sin City. Isn't marriage fantastic?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Takes Friday

1) My run today did involve a woolly mammoth (see yesterday's post). I thought several times "I'm chasing a mammoth, I'm chasing a mammoth." And it paid off (that and my nasty mood). Here are some happy stats:

Wednesday: total distance - 3.2 miles
total time - 39:10
fastest pace - 9:22
average pace - 12:15

Today: total distance - 3.2 miles
total time - 36:23 - I shaved off almost 3 minutes!!! Woo hoo! Take that, mammoth!
fastest pace - 7:39, which about killed me, but now I have a record to beat
average pace - 11:21 - THIS is the number I really want to lower

But the most important thing is that I set out to beat my Wednesday time, and I did it!

I wonder if wearing animal skins and carrying a spear would help me further this motivating visualization of chasing a mammoth.

2) I get to go see "Dr. Amazing" later today. I have been working daily on my abs according to his prescription. Big questions for this appointment - 1) Will I get another massage? and 2) How much longer 'til I have that six-pack?

3) Last night just before bed, Kevin said, "Tomorrow we're ordering..." and in a split second I thought, "PIZZA! I don't have to cook! And how sweet of him to initiate that." I ended his sentence in my imagination with: "Pizza. I just got paid and you deserve it, you A-1 homemaker, you!"

Here is how the sentence ended in actuality: "...breakfast burritos at work. I'm getting one with SAUSAGE!!!" (He was very excited.)

4) A week ago, I did these quick takes a la this great blog and now I have a new friend to show for it. She recognized the Priest I mentioned in one of my "takes" and then we e-mailed and met at the park today. It's a new world we live in where friendships materialize out of cyberspace. But I'll take friendship wherever it comes from. And, Vicki - I so enjoyed meeting you! I'll echo Father Phil's words: Praise Jesus! There are no coincidences.

5) Once upon a time (today) I took my dear sweet children to the park. My zoomy one year-old was enjoying many sprints around the grassy field. From about 20 yards away, I saw him bend to pick up what I thought was a leaf. It went in his mouth, and usually he spits stuff like that right out. He didn't. I ran over and it turned out to be a piece of apple.

Acceptable scenario: A nice, well-sanitized child with no communicable diseases was enjoying the apple and dropped a small piece in the grass hours before John found it. In fact, the sprinklers had bathed any remaining saliva off of it.

My scenario: This particular apple fell from a diseased tree miles from the park. A mangy, diseased bird snatched the apple from the ground in its gnarly beak and carried it toward a perch, dropping it once on dog poop but retrieving it. Before the bird could finish eating, it dropped dead and the apple fell to the ground where a rabid dog scooped it up and batted it across the field with a boogery snout. That's where John picked it up minutes later and enjoyed his discovery.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bad Mood = Good Run

If I'm grumpy enough, I can clean my bathroom top to bottom in nine minutes.

Remind me of any story involving my jerky ex-boyfriend, and I can hit a golf ball 200 yards further than usual.

In the morning, I can do 45 extra crunches if I have the right song running through my head.

Therefore - based on the pissy mood I've been in today, I expect to have a FANTASTIC run tomorrow. Honestly, what is wrong with me? It's not PMS; it's not sleep deprivation; I haven't eaten too much chocolate (though possibly not enough); and no one cut me off in the pick-up lane at the kids' school. I'll spend the rest of the evening trying to figure it out - you can just go ahead and enjoy some peace without my ranting.

But I'll leave you with this deluxe ad for Pearl Izumi from the August, '08 issue of Runner's World. The snottiness and attitude of it is right up my alley. Seems they have a rep for harsh ads, maybe they'd hire me to write for them.

Running hurts. It always has. Woolly mammoths didn't just roll over onto a plate and serve themselves up to prehistoric man with fries and a shake. They had to be caught - and running down woolly mammoths was a bitch. Guess what? Running is still a bitch. But one with a purpose. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that we are capable of more than we think. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded and laziness will be punished. Don't expect to learn those life lessons from running's shiftless stepchild, jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads or trails, suffer proudly. It means you run like an animal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eight years ago this month...

...this picture was taken:

When I look at this picture, I think:

1) I'm glad I have new glasses since then.

2) If only I knew how big my baby would be, maybe I could have had surgery THAT DAY. A month early. Elective. Like the celebrities who want to avoid the pesky stretch marks that appear in the last month. JUST KIDDING!!!

3) Boy that dresser looks different since we finished it.

4) How can it be that time has flown and we're planning this kid's eighth birthday party?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Day for Natural Family Planning

Kevin and I just returned from a visit with our friendly neighborhood Natural Family Planning Instructor.

More precisely, this woman is employed by our diocese to instruct parishes and individual couples on "Fertility Awareness." It's good stuff. Plus, she's just a great person with a gob of knowledge and insight. She's an R.N. as well, and a mother of four. Geez-o-Pete, she's busier than I!

Every time we have an appointment with her, we check our chart, we answer questions, and we ask questions. And then we spend another 60 minutes or so (because we have a babysitter and love the subject) discussing morality and ethics as applied to Church teachings on life; the medical field; you name it. It's well-worth the one-time, lifetime "membership" fee we already paid. It helps that she's also (would HAVE to be) a strong, orthodox Catholic. We newbies, Kevin and I, soak up her perspective like sponges.

I leave there every time with a stronger desire to share the Church's teaching on life with the world. My involvement in our Moms' Group, as well as our parish's RCIA program might give me an avenue for that sharing. AND - on my sassier days, I am still VERY tempted to order and wear this T-shirt and see what kind of conversations might start in the grocery store check-out. How 'bout you? Would you just want to kick me in the teeth? Laugh at me (especially if I'm 7 months pregnant, wearing the maternity version, and towing along my other four kids)? Or simply write me off as LuLu?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Way to Spend a Monday (Laundry Day)

Wake up early to the Prince song "1999". Perhaps I should choose a different station for my alarm. Or maybe it's good to wake up to a song that takes me back 20 years and makes me dance into the bathroom.

Put on running clothes.

Meet running partner and discuss crucial topics during one hour of exercise.

Shower and dress and sort HEAPS of laundry. Six people + seven days + one daughter who wears four outfits a day = dirty clothes spilling out of the closet.

Start first load.

Wash hands (don't you after touching other people's underwear?)

Read a chapter in the book of Luke. Pray. Rest my head on the headboard for one second. Read the day's paragraph in my "eating" book. Pray more.

Fold towels from last week's laundry.

Greet early-rising daughters, give hugs.

Wake up sleepy son. Get breakfast.

Challenge daughter to try to go longer than five minutes without saying "Poop" or "Pee" unnecessarily.

Send children off to school in a flurry.

Nurse baby, watch DVR episode of "Oswald" with Bethie.

Keep laundry going.

Haul ladder out of my closet where it's been in the way for over a week since I last worked on taking down ugly wallpaper border. Work on taking down ugly wallpaper border.

Walk Beff across the street to play Pla-Doh with Jacob. Put John down for morning nap. Back to ugly wallpaper border.

Pick up Cayna and Michelle at school. On the way, spot Kevin on the road going the opposite way (his jobsite is 3 miles from our house). He is wearing his Bluetooth. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I HATE those! He doesn't wear it at home probably for fear I'll make fun of him (which I might) - but he wasn't at home.

Make lunch, eat lunch, clean up lunch. Quit eating after lunch. This last part is hard for me.

Baby down for afternoon nap. Girls play. Keep laundry going.

Spend time organizing some church Moms' Group stuff.

Wake baby up from nap to pick up Joe and Megan from school. Drop off Megan.

Home to put away laundry, serve snack, help kids start homework, try not to pull my hair out when everyone starts to have afternoon grumpies.

Make dinner, eat dinner, leave for meeting at Church.

Home. Crash. Another Monday done.

Sweet Dreams.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


(Teri's Kitchen Post #1)

ForEVER I have said I'm a horrible cook. It's just not true. I am NOT a horrible cook. I am an intelligent person who can read a recipe as well as anyone. The problem is, I'll never be a cheffy person - the type who tastes a dish and discerns a need for "just a little pinch of this-or-that." And worst of all, I don't think I'll ever enjoy cooking. I suppose this stems from a stubborn, snooty, over-entitled belief I hold that comes from God-knows-where that someone else should cook for me. Or, rather, that meals should appear out of nowhere with no effort required. Honestly, if it weren't for nutritional deficiency, I would stock my frig with Lunchables, ready-made shrimp salads from Trader Joe's, and store-bought smoothies. Even when I hear of a fabulous restaurant with a delectable menu, I'm more about the ambiance than the food flavor. This must be hard to understand for any real "foodies" out there - but it's true of me. A well-dressed, friendly and interesting server in a well-designed, well-appointed restaurant would do more for me than the gourmet meal on my plate. Especially if my fellow diners are good friends with great conversational skill.

If you already think I'm weird, here's the doozy: I don't feel the same way about cleaning. I ENJOY cleaning. I'm great at it. I'm a natural organizer and am perfectly comfortable concocting a toilet cleaner out of random ingredients - but can't say the same for a stew. The nights that Kevin does the cooking and I clean up afterwards are my favorite. But, in my defense, I don't slack on the meal-providing responsibility that is part of my job description. Unless I have a newborn or a terrible mood, I plan meals weekly, shop accordingly, and pull the whole mess together begrudgingly every. single. week of my life. And once in a while, I pull off a meal that is worth the boring, slogging effort that it is to me. So, I'm going to share a favorite from time to time - if only to redeem myself in my own eyes. And I think I'll do a kitchen post once in a while either to encourage other kitchen misfits like myself - or to give a good laugh to the population in general. I have a LOT of misadventures there. When I cuss, it's usually in the kitchen - even more than in traffic!

In the spirit of the Autumn theme I got going on last night, here is my absolute favorite Fall recipe. I got it out of "Cooking Light" magazine YEARS ago (2002). It is hands-down the tastiest thing I cook. Plus it's healthy. Unfortunately, it doesn't fulfill my other, all-important menu requirement: My kids rarely eat it, unless I deprive them of all snacks for up to 10 hours before. If you cook it, and your kids eat it, bravo! Invite me over next time you make it.

Lentil Stew with Ham & Greens
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 c. fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 c. dried lentils
1/2 c. chopped carrots
2 bay leaves
3 c. chopped Swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach (I use fresh bagged spinach)
1 1/2 c. chopped baking potato
1 c. chopped smoked ham
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. parsley

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add broth, lentils, carrot, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add spinach, potato, and ham; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes, or until potato is tender. Stir in tomatoes, basil, thyme, and pepper; simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley.
5 (1 1/2 c.) servings, 320 calories, 8.6 g. fat, 15 g. fiber

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Try to hide your disappointment, as I am, but it hasn't been cold enough to put the flannel sheets on.

Our poor tree in the backyard, the only one with the propensity to display any typical Autumn hues, can't get enough low temps to change! It's mostly green still, with just the slightest hint of maybe going orange and red all over.

Welcome to the desert, right?

Around here, the only real sign of a shift in the season, besides holiday decor, is my mustard-yellow tea kettle sitting on the stove and whistling its heart out.

Then, I pull out my favorite brown mug, decorated with leaves in honor of the season-that's-supposed-to-be, and make some tea. Good Earth makes a sweet & spicy herb tea (thanks, Heather Haight!) that I adore.

And there you have a cozy Autumn post. All that's missing is a photo of me and my expression right after burning my tongue.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Five Quick Takes

This "Quick Take" idea is taken from a blog I like to read, Conversion Diary. Gives me an excuse to talk a little bit about a lot of things --- something I'm good at!

1) Bud Vases. I got one for my wedding, and it annoys the heck outta me. It's just so SMALL! I know, it's a bud vase - not a "2 dozen roses" vase-- it's supposed to be small. Also, it's tippy. Frankly, I'm surprised it's survived six moves; a couple California earthquakes; four children pounding on the china closet; and my proclivity for trashing things that annoy me. But survive it has, and since our thirteen rose bushes are currently THRIVING despite my husband's disdain for them and the aphids' love for them - I brought out the bud vase and am making use of it. This photo was taken more to feature the rosebud than the bud vase, sorry.

2) Last night was our "Dinner with a Priest", chapter two. Chapter one was well over a year ago, before we were officially Catholic, and had our parish Priest over for pork chops (they were dry, if you were wondering). Father Phil, who is Kevin's spiritual advisor, came for spaghetti. It was his request, and he gave my sauce (or rather, Trader Joe's sauce with my homemade turkey meatballs) a thumbs up. He's fun to listen to, has great stories, answered several of my questions about life as a Priest, and the kids adored him.

3) Tonight, at an undisclosed location (because I don't want any more people to show up) Santa Claus arrives by horse-drawn carriage not far from our house. The evening promises Victorian carolers and "fake snow". Duh. Even marketing directors of the most successful venues can't promise real snow in Vegas in November. If we do decide to go, I'm afraid we all might have to climb a tree to get a good view of Kris Kringle - AND the fake snow.

4) Since I quietly removed my "weight loss" sidebar, I wonder if I've left my faithful blog-readers on the edges of their seats wondering how I'm doing. Today, I'm happy to report that all is well in Weightwatcherville. Tomorrow may be different but one day at a time, right? Seriously, I've enjoyed talking with a friend of mine who is recovering from a drug addiction. She's been off drugs for years now, but still struggles with food issues. The comparisons are amazingly interesting to me. Anyway, I appreciate her and the book she steered me to: Inner Harvest - Daily Meditations for Recovery from Eating Disorders. There is a page for every day of the year, helpful wisdom, and truth about recovery being connected to a "Higher Power", in my case Jesus Christ. I'll let you know when I reach my goal!

5) I had my appointment at the sports medicine doc/chiropractor/massage therapist's office. IT WAS DREAMY. I had questions answered, a MASSAGE!, and was given exercises to do along with a lot of encouragement in my running. Plus I felt like a real athlete hanging out there with folks like eight-foot-tall basketball players and heavyweight boxers and such. I had two x-rays and this doc says I do not have scoliosis. Kinda confused about that one since the family doctor called it "pronounced". But he showed me the images on the computer and pointed out how well-aligned everything looks. No disk problems, no nothing. Basically just the spine of a woman who has given birth a bunch of times and needs to strengthen her core. AND... the best part: I go back in a week. I'm hoping I need another massage.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, James

Today is my brother's 37th birthday.

We didn't talk today, but we did leave voice mail. Good thing he'll be here in less than two weeks.

I can vividly remember him in Winnie the Pooh pajamas walking around the house making me laugh. Now he walks around his own house making his wife and four daughters laugh.

We visited him at his home in August and together spent a few days in a cabin on the Snake River. He would be ashamed at the poor quality of my photos because he is an expert photographer, but I'm posting them anyway since I'm thinking of him today.

This was taken moments after he fell in the river. He was trying to jump into the kayak. No joke. He's actually pretty intelligent. He's a college professor and everything. But they don't talk about launching kayaks in computer courses. Kevin is looking on. You just don't tell James how to do things.

Despite his lack of kayak-boarding prowess, I do trust him with my children. In a rowboat, that is... This photo is blurry and you can't even see his face but I love it because my kids are cracking up. I'm sure James was saying something hilarious or maybe even singing a funny song.

Happy Birthday, Brother. Hope you enjoyed your pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On My Rocker

Ten dollars at a garage sale. Going on one year in the shed. Stripped it with the wrong stuff (last winter) so I had to hand-sand the resulting goop off. Pain in my butt. It is now ready to paint. I'd love to stain it, but it just lacks natural beauty - or, you can surmise that my sanding was none too friendly to the grain of the wood. This ain't no masterpiece of craftsmanship, but ten bucks is ten bucks. So... the options for painting:

My idea: A light, grayish lavender to match either my room or the girls' room.

Cayna's idea: Blue on the top with white stars. Pink and white everywhere else except the seat which should be painted "like the seas and a river".


Tuesday, November 11, 2008



My favorite day.

Kirsten called to wish me a good one.

Other than that, still waiting for flowers or chocolate. Or a card. Singing telegram?

I have a sinus headache.

Edited later - HUGE, warm hug for Heather R.H. and Pamela N. who acknowledged the big day on my facebook wall.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanks to my dad...

...I'm once again reading a book I wouldn't ever have heard of otherwise. This isn't a bad thing, but when I see on friends' blogs what they're reading, I realize I am in a far away genre I suspect many women my age and stage of life don't tackle.

Currently, I am reading Devils Will Reign - How Nevada Began. I'm including the link in case you want to join my funky reading club and see the book on Amazon.

After our trip down through Utah from Idaho this past summer, my dad and I were talking about the history of the Western states and I don't even remember what I brought up, but he said, as he has at least twenty-two thousand times before - "I've got a book for ya." So I'm reading it. It actually is fascinating, and may keep me on the history wagon (so to speak) for a while. A few years back I read another offering of his about the pioneer settling of Northern Washington written by a woman. Years before that, when I had a crush on Kevin and knew he loved the movie "Tombstone", I read Doc Holliday's Woman and followed that up with I Married Wyatt Earp when a friend gave it to me.

It's fun to think about the influence Dad has had on my reading. Just looking at the shelves around me right now, I spy Treasure Island, which he read out loud to my brother and I when we were probably too young. I should read it again. My whole Dave Barry collection can be credited to Dad. He sent me a clipping of one of his columns two decades ago - and I am a devoted fan to this day. Other selections influenced either directly or indirectly by my father:

Anything by Steinbeck. My favorite is Cannery Row, purchased while in Monterey after strolling in the area.

Lots of short story volumes. I wish I had the guts to try my hand at writing short stories.

Some antique Buddy books. I'm trying to convince my son to investigate these. He's currently addicted to Double Fudge by Judy Blume. Unique.

Jack London's Call of the Wild

My birthday present a few years ago, right after he finished reading it: Anna Karenina, which I didn't like, but I'm glad I read it.

I refuse to read Stephen King. My little goody-goody imagination just can't handle it, but my dad can't get that through his head. He keeps recommending. Blech.

Also, I have tried to read Moby Dick a number of times. Can NOT get past the first page. I don't care what I'm missing - if I can't even get to page two - forget it.

Well, I could go on and on, but a little Nevada history is waiting for me upstairs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

GREAT day for a race!!!

A whole week ago, traffic signs for today's Silverman Triathlon were up and beckoning me. With a big, fun race like that going on right in my neighborhood, I visualize myself in several roles: participant; reporter covering the race; volunteer handing out Gatorade; or spectator. With the amount of crazy energy coming off an event like this, even the role of spectator is pretty cool.

Last year, John was just over a month old and as much as I wanted to set up a folding chair on the race route to watch, I couldn't manage it with his feeding schedule (being constantly) and the chilly weather. But THIS year was my year!!! Right after church, we drove around a good portion of the race route hoping to spot some cyclists or runners. I have no idea the time frames for a race like this, so I wasn't sure what to expect and when. But the volunteer stations were all ready and the Henderson police were all over the place ready to direct traffic. We drove around for nearly half an hour, stopped to get gas, and called my friend Monica who lives in a 3-story observation tower right on the route (another exciting new addition since last year - and she is a good enough friend to humor me and walk upstairs to look out the window and report what she could see or not see). Three of the kids were being very whiny during our cruise, so we went home to eat lunch.

After lunch, I cajoled Bethanie into "going to the race" with Mommy. We parked near the bike-run transition point and walked right up. It was - honestly - one of the most exciting things I've ever seen. I got so into it and I don't even KNOW anyone who raced today!!! I talked to the wife of one of the athletes from Chicago. She said this is his second Silverman but he's done lots of triathlons and this one has a well-founded rep for being a killer. It was insanely inspiring to watch those men and women come in on their bikes, hop off, (or stumble off) and jog up to the tent where they would change their shoes and head off for the run. I could have stayed all day just to bask in the energy, really. I admired everyone I saw and I imagined how their morning had already gone. Heck, I imagined how their last WEEK had gone. I wanted to invite all of 'em out to dinner and ask a million questions about training, what drives them, even watch what they'd EAT. I guess to maintain some dignity, I'll just try to find a good book written by a triathlete and settle for that. Oh, and my Runner's World Magazine. You can bet I'll be glued to that for a few days.

We ended our race fan afternoon by parking right across the street from the turnaround point for the run. There was just one lonely volunteer sitting there on the sidewalk with a few road cones nearby. She would direct every runner to turn around and then cheered them on. Next year, I want her job. Or maybe I'd like to be the girl who grabs the bikes and points the way to the tents. Or maybe I'll SIGN UP to race the sucker!

Me and my "race buddy"

Runners at transition

Beff watching the action. Her baby didn't have such a great spot.

Runners just before the turnaround mark.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


My baby is over a year old now. I've reached those golden days for the fourth time when I get a good look around me, take a deep breath and realize, "Oh, YEAH... things ARE different when you're not seriously sleep-deprived and constantly nursing and lacking any control or predictability!"

So... it's amazing what jobs I've come up with that I'd like to tackle now that life has a little more shape again:

Finally finish tearing down ugly wallpaper borders

Finish sanding my rocking chair and prep it for painting



Select paint colors for a fantasy world where we buy this house & can liven up the walls

Check off jobs from the list of "big" chores I compiled

I was thinking it was the work that brought me peace, and to some extent it is. But I think it's just the fact that for now, for however long it lasts, I can breathe a little. And while John takes a reliable nap in the afternoon, I work in the yard in the sun with the rest of the family and feel the joy of a little more rest and a lot more ability to do something like prune a rosebush or re-orient stepping stones.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Missed it by THAT much.

Just saw "Get Smart." Gets two thumbs up from me. But I don't know how objective I can be --- I was a huge fan of the TV show, saw "The Nude Bomb" in the theater, and on top of all that history, I love Steve Carell.

Two nights in a row of sitting on the couch laughing out loud. Last night "30 Rock" which we watched for the first time and tonight "Get Smart." Nice.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Crichton died.

My only source of news is my husband. And if you know Kevin, you can imagine the odd variety of information that he deems important to share with me. (Take my previous post for example. You don't think I just found that out all on my own, do you?) But tonight, I gotta give him credit, he told me Michael Crichton died a few days ago. It was November 4th to be exact, and this article does the job if you want to hear a brief bit what he was about.

Jurassic Park was Crichton's. My favorite. The Yahoo article gave some interesting info about his motives, research, and personality. What I wouldn't give to have a reason to have lunch with a writer like that just once. I'd settle for eavesdropping on a conversation including him. I would have LOVED to have heard his case against global warming, not only for the information, but to witness his inclination to "provoke debate."

I truly admire the work this man did. Sad to hear he's gone.

More Running Terrors

Don't I have enough to worry about when I'm running?

"Do these pants make my butt look too big?"

"Am I the right personality to wear a running skirt?"

"Might I trip over a rock (pothole; beer can; dead pigeon) today?"

"Is there an attacker lurking in that bush?"

"Can Melissa tell I didn't brush my teeth?"

NOW, on top of all that - I read this horrifying article and I have a whole new set of thoughts. If you don't have time to read the whole article, just read the headline - it is quite sobering (once you stop laughing).

Personally, after I stopped trying to visualize how I might have reacted in the same circumstance (no doubt QUITE differently than she did) I started trying to visualize this woman running along all whacked-out and toting a frothing-at-the-mouth fox along with her. In my current, rational, and not-currently-being-attacked-by-a-scary-mammal state I can tell you that I would have dropped that mutha (I don't get to use that word nearly often enough) in a heartbeat, jetted to the hospital and just told them to go ahead and gamble that the dang thing was rabid. DO YOU REALLY NEED TO BRING IN THE OFFENDING ANIMAL JUST TO MAKE SURE????? Like any physician in her/his right mind is going to say, "Gee, patient, if only you had let the animal STAY LATCHED ON to you, we could have been sure whether to give you the shot series." NO, PEOPLE! Maybe there's more to it, maybe rabies shots don't work that way. Or maybe this woman had a heightened sense of getting all rabid animals "off the market" so to speak in order to prevent the same horror from occurring the next day to another jogger on the same trail.

Come to think of it, this little ditty has brought up enough questions in my mind about rabies, I might just go spend some time researching it. You feel free to go do the same. The jogger's world will be a better place.

Read this with your eyes open :)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Daughter Mary & the Little Old Woman I Hit

If the story of my day today had a title, that's what it would be.

I'm in a mood that is rare for me - I kinda just want someone to give me a hug or bring me a cup of tea or even a pat on the back would be nice. I'm not all victim-y or anything, but I'll be happy to go to sleep tonight and finish November 5th.

I started off great. Today was marathon-busy, and I had a little moment of self-talk this morning something like this: "It's going to be a stressful, non-stop day. I have some power here, and to some degree my attitude can make or break the whole thing for me as well as my children." Exercise, prayer and scripture reading, and attitude got me off on the right foot. Then, between seeing my children off to school after a month-long break and heading to a Moms' Group get-together, I hit an older woman with a walker in the library parking lot. The important part of this story is that she wasn't hurt. I had barely released the brake and I heard a loud noise (she later told me she shouted but in my mind it was more like a bang) and I stopped. I really am a little afraid of having some form of a nightmare tonight about that moment when I turned around from looking over my left shoulder to looking over my right and seeing someone standing behind my van and realizing I had just hit her. I realized later that I was fully expecting her to fall down, which shows that I was out of sorts since I wasn't going that fast - but somehow I also perceived really quickly that she was elderly. John was already crying loudly, I'm not sure why, and I jumped out of the car to go see if everything was okay. I was really scared at that point. I knew the woman was still standing, but that's all I knew. Immediately she smiled and looked at me and said, "I'm okay, I'm okay."

I'm so thankful. The "almosts" and "could haves" of this story are awful. But the saddest part was that she thanked me for coming to check on her. That brings tears. Every so often, I just get deeply sad about this world (not to sound all fake-philosophical or anything) but this is one of those times. I don't like oil spills; crime; hurt and disappointment; or an elderly woman I almost backed over thanking me for checking on her.

Fast forward to tonight. Our church is having a first annual Children's Christmas Pageant and the "tryouts" were this evening. Joe and Cayna heard about it at choir and both wanted to go. Over the last few days, I've heard them discussing the "show" and Joe mostly said he wanted to be a wise man. I alternated between just nodding and smiling and saying "cool." to almost whispering "there are only three" - "just remember that!" - (whispering so I'm not totally guilty of being the mom who quashes his dreams).

In the car on the way there, the two of them decided Joseph would be Joseph and Cayna would be Mary. They sounded very assured, though neither had any idea what a "tryout" is. We arrived and things were organized and children were being shuffled and sorted into different groups. It was announced that all girls ages 4 and 5 were automatically angels. They were to be seated in one section and there were other sections for older girls and for boys. Most of the children picked up on the director's instructions and began moving to their places. Cayna stood still and looked unsure. A friend nudged Cayna, said something about being an angel and isn't that great, and "I think you need to go over there." But Cayna stood still and looked at her and said quietly but confidently, "But I'm going to be Mary."

Over an hour later, tryouts were finished, roles announced, and we left the building. Cayna will be a sparkly angel with a dozen other little girls and I'm sure she will ADORE her part. Joseph won the role of Joseph. That kid amazes me. And my lesson for the day is that I might be able to control my attitude for the day, but never, NEVER the outcome.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dear President Obama,

I'm writing to congratulate you even though I didn't vote for you. And to say that I am genuinely happy for you. And I'm proud of America for electing a Black President. I will pray for you throughout your Presidency, and for your family.

We just watched your speech in Chicago, and I liked what you had to say. Despite my cynical posture when it comes to politics, I can appreciate how you sound, what you say, and who you appear to be, except on the issue of abortion. Beneath all the joy and accomplishment, I'm aware of an underlying evil that darkens any hope for change. Many of my strongest Christian friends are willing to overlook your views on abortion because they believe the economy and foreign policy to be more important than Somehow in this country on this day, justice is important for everyone except the unborn. So I'm curious to see how this all turns out. If so many are willing to compromise God's Word in search of "change" I'm afraid of the outcome. It's uncomfortable to be curious and afraid at the same time.

You said tonight you would listen to me, especially when we disagree. I hope that's true. I hope you'll listen when you hear during your term that not all of us think abortion should be legal through the ninth month. I pray you change your mind.

Meanwhile, I do hope you'll enjoy these days of celebration. Like you said, there is a rough road ahead.

Teri Love

What are you doing?

I'm not watching TV. At the moment. I'll go back to it, but I needed a break.

I have a pretty early date with my running partner, so I can't stay up all night watching election returns. Or maybe I can.

Today was a big day. Tomorrow is another one.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Field Trip

I can't speak for Des Moines, Iowa, Saskatchewan, Chicago, or the Everglades - but in Henderson Nevada the weather was absolutely perfect today. We headed out to the Clark County Heritage Museum with jackets in hand but they were promptly tossed in the stroller (a.k.a. Mom's Pack Mule) and I was left wishing I'd applied sunblock all around.

This is a gem of a museum with a low-low admission price and really a LOT to see and tons of fun for the kids.

Here are some photos of my little museum-goers, squinting in the sunlight on this November day in the desert:

Joe, Cayna & Bethie on board a train

John, having missed his nap

My daughters in "jail". According to Joe, this was his favorite part of the whole museum. It is what he chose to illustrate to show Kevin later in the afternoon. But he never stepped foot inside. Maybe he just enjoyed locking up his sisters.

Cayna by the big red barn. Her favorite display was inside -- a waving cowboy.

Joe and his sunglasses

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Post-holiday observation

I think if you gut a half a dozen pumpkins, rinse the seeds, douse them in canola oil, salt them, and toast them for 90 minutes then eat a handful they sorta get stuck in your intestine going around a bend and stay there all prickly and blockade-ish (which isn't something you want going on in your digestive tract) to where you feel kinda sick.

Is this a good reason to eat candy bars instead?

You Are Mine

Mass is crazy for our family these days. With John the age he is, we don't get to sit all together anymore. And today we were particularly divided. Kevin and John were in the cry room, where Bethanie eventually joined them. Joe and Cayna were in the choir, and I sat by myself. It was nice, though, to see Joe and Cayna sing in the choir. It was Cayna's first time singing with the children's choir during Mass. It was a special thing to watch her up there.

For reasons particular to my conversion from Protestantism, where we didn't enjoy communion of the saints, hearing the Litany of the Saints sung by anyone moves me to tears every time. Hearing my children sing it was amazing.

Second to the Litany was a hymn called "You Are Mine" and the words impacted me today:

You are Mine
By David Haas

I will come to you in the silence
I will lift you from all your fear
You will hear My voice
I claim you as My choice
Be still, and know I am near

I am hope for all who are hopeless
I am eyes for all who long to see
In the shadows of the night,
I will be your light
Come and rest in Me

Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine

I am strength for all the despairing
Healing for the ones who dwell in shame
All the blind will see, the lame will all run free
And all will know My name

I am the Word that leads all to freedom
I am the peace the world cannot give
I will call your name, embracing all your pain
Stand up, now, walk, and live

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My name in print!!!

Well, if I can't have my own newspaper column, I suppose the next best thing is being quoted and named in obscure articles here and there. (Although this writer probably wouldn't appreciate me calling his article "obscure".)

When we went to the dedication of the new Church in Yucaipa, I spent almost the entire service outside on the lawn with John "Squawker" Love and Bethanie "Squirmer" Love. This did not allow me to enjoy the dedication Mass, but it did put me in a prime place to be "interviewed" by a newspaper reporter. The reporter also interviewed our good friend Steve, who was on the same lawn with his children, Cheyenne "Squirmer" Cox and Sedona "Squawker" Cox. For whatever reason they did not quote Steve, and for this I am sad. Being quoted together in such an auspicious paper might have made up for a VERY long time spent on a VERY small patch of grass with four VERY active children.

Click here to see my name in an article written by someone other than me!

Please note the reporter's error. I do not have three children. I have FOUR. I made the trip with FOUR children. I have given birth to FOUR. No big deal, just lettin' ya know.