Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mom's Birthday

Today is the anniversary of my mom’s birth. If she were still alive, she would’ve been 80 years old today. She died at the age of 52, when I was 19 years old. I got married about six months before her death. I look at her two sisters: one lived to 90 and the other is still going strong at 91. Yet, her brother died at a young age, too. I don’t remember how old he was—just that I was in elementary school. Her own mom died as a result of complications from childbirth when my mom was only three weeks old. She had a hard scrabble life, but if there was a word to describe her, I would say sturdy. Steadfast. Ok, two words. She was forced to grow up long before her time, and I don’t think she got to experience much joy as a child. My mom abused her poor little body and it just plain wore out and couldn’t go on any more. I have very few of the bad habits she had, and I try to take care of myself. The closer my own age gets to 52, the more I realize how much of a vapor our lives really are. I want to be there for my grandkids. And to be able to be active and healthy for them. She never held one of my children. That’s hard.

In her younger days, my mother was a beautiful woman. She was one of the first two women to graduate with a degree in pharmacology from the University of New Mexico. Because my sister was born mere months after she graduated, she never got to pursue a career as a pharmacist. I don’t know if she regretted that. She seldom, if ever, complained.

She was ill for several years before she died. She was put on oxygen for 24 hours a day when I was a junior in high school. The ravages of heavy smoking and other abuses stole much of her physical beauty, but she kept her wicked sense of humor. She joked quite often about reincarnation and who or what she’d like to come back as. One of my biggest regrets is that I do not know where my mom stood with the Lord. I am totally unsure of that. And that is so, so painful. She attended church regularly and was a deaconess, but I don’t know what her heart state was. We didn’t talk about Jesus and things of God naturally in my family when I was growing up. We went to a progressive church, where we relied heavily on pre-destination and thought that ‘fundamentalists’ were just a little bit inferior to us, and that all those stories in the Bible were possibly allegories. I don’t think I fully believed that just being good and going to church wouldn’t save you at that time in my life. And, if I were being totally honest, I don’t know if I was afraid of what her answer might have been. I hope to see her in heaven. If good works could get a person there, she’s in. But I know that it’s not good works. We’re covered by the grace of God. God knows what was going on in my mom’s heart. If I can communicate one thing, and one thing only, it’s this: share-tell-ask. Ok, that’s three things. Be the gospel to someone who won’t read it. Share it with someone who you think will never listen to or hear you. You have never ever looked into the eyes of someone that Jesus didn’t die for. Have those painful conversations. They are so important.

Whew! This post went somewhere I never intended for it to. I have a friend who recently lost several people close to her, and that’s left me pondering mortality and eternity.

So, Happy Birthday Momma! I love you!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Will you still need me?

Linda, over at 2nd cup, has her Random Dozen theme meme up again. It's all about Jr. High. Or middle school. I guess it depends on your time era or your part of the country as to what you might call it. Personally, I went to Jr. High in 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Only went to high school for 3 years. I was the last 9th grade class in Jr. High. Then, in all their wisdom, Albuquerque Public schools went to middle school--6th, 7th and 8th grades. Folks: 6th graders don't belong with 8th graders. And 9th graders don't belong with 12th graders. But I digress.
Here we go.....

1. Please share one middle school memory. It can be good, bad, ugly, funny. Pictures or words, I don't care, just share.
Um, at the 9th grade dance I was walking in and it was REALLY REALLY windy. This was my outfit: (Yes, I wanted to be at the dance. No, I did NOT want my mother to take my picture)

My skirt blew up. OVER my head. And completely blinded me. I looked like someone who had a blanket party thrown just for them. There was this really weird, really mature but extra short and very hirsute guy outside the building there that reminded me a lot of a monkey. This kid was probably 14 and had been shaving since age 10. He was the only one there and he saw it happen. He just leered. I totally felt violated. To this day thinking about it still makes me feel all skeevy.

2. What's your favorite Beatles song?
I love me some Beatles. Lots of Beatles. Have the whole collection on my iPod. Lately, let me think...ok!
Um…to sing? "When I’m 64."

3. If I asked you to describe your most comfortable outfit, what would it be?
To wear out, would be my new dress I got at Kohl’s over the weekend. It’s a jersey striped dress with empire waist and cap sleeves (vertical, abstract-y stripes). Feels like pj’s. It was on clearance for $15 and then I had the 30% off coupon. Ka-ching! Inside it would be jammie pants with a tank top.

4. Would you rather host a party or be a guest?
A guest, but very happy to help. My house is little and overcrowded…Unless I could host it somewhere else....

5. Do you think we will move completely from traditional books to digital ones, and if we do, are you OK with that?
Oh, I hope not! I can’t imagine reading until I fall asleep with a Kindle. And what about the smell of a book? And then, what if my batteries run down in the middle? And reading in the tub? No, give me my trashy paperback dime store novels or give me…hardback at least?

6. Do you learn best by reading, listening or experiencing?
Experiencing…or watching. If someone shows me how, I can usually get the hang of it.

7. If you are (or when you were) single, what is the kiss of death for you concerning the opposite sex? (That is, what is one trait or behavior or habit or anything at all that immediately turns you off from considering that person a potential match for you?)
Being unkind to anyone who is not in a position to be unkind back (restaurant server, small kid, furry animal….) That and/or picking his nose and flicking it....ewwww!

8. Snacks. Salty or sweet?
Yes. Salty and then chocolate. I think that salty may be my trigger food that makes me crave chocolate….

9. Look around you in a four foot radius. What object is around you that you didn't realize was there or forgot was there? How long has it been there?
This kind of strange looking blue stuffed shelf sitter dog with a green nose and wobbly neck on a spring. There's a patch on it's belly that says "Too blessed to be stressed." Amy bought it for me about 4 years ago at the retreat.

10. What is your favorite Tom Cruise movie?
Far and Away. Director’s cut. "Pretend you love me." "I pretend I love you." "I pretend I love you, too."

11. You buy a bottle of shampoo and discover that you don't like what it does to your hair at all. What do you do with that full bottle?
FlyLady would put it in her toilet brush bowl and keep her bowl shiny. Me…use it on Claire or give it to my kids. I have 4 kids. SOMEONE is bound to be ok with it.

12. Your favorite Fall comfort food? (Last week it was beverage.)
Cream of Potato Soup. With bacon. And a grilled cheese alongside it.

p.s. Linda is going through a very hard season right now. Please lift her in your prayers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's All About the Shoes, Baby....

Missy, over at It's Almost Naptime is hosting a fun meme called Friday Favorites.

This week, it's shoes...Your favorite shoes you own, and the shoes you WISHED you owned!! I did a similar post back in the day, but this one seems like a kick! (Pun intended).

Because I'm trying to post more, I seem to be doing more memes. I think this is because my creative juices are dry. But ANYWAY.....

These are my very own favorite shoes that I own. I love them SOooooooooo much that I bought them last June to wear to my bff's daughter's wedding on October 3. And I haven't bought the dress yet! Yea..I know. That's kind of backwards thinking, but that's how I roll. Anyway (drumroll, please....):

Note the pretty gold band around the toe and the super sexy side vamp. Yes, patent leather slingbacks. Clinton and Stacy would be proud. Now I just have to go find a dress that goes with them. Good thing my Kohl's coupon came....30% baby!!!

As to shoes I WANT to own...I've been in the market for a new pair of black ankle boots. I live in jeans and black or grey slacks in the winter for both jobs. My current boots are at least 5 years old. Still way cool. Added bonus is that they are wearable since "the fall." I have a hard time still with my ankle/foot. Both were broken then. Happily, I found these:

Even more happily, they are at Altrec, one of my FAVORITE sites! I'm not too sure about the brownish sole, but they look way comfortable, and stylish, too! And at only $99.95, I can probably buy them for myself for my birthday next month.

Anyway, pop over to Missy's, show us your kicks and participate in linky love!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Donut holes are smaller than they acutally appear...

Conversely, however, just looking at this picture seems to make my hindquarters expand...sigh.

Lidna, over at 2nd Cup, has a fun meme that I've now actually particpated in for 2 weeks running. I KNOW. So copy, paste and post and pop on over and visit Lid and get in on the linkage love with Mr. Linky.

1. Which is worse: a long, boring meeting or standing in a return/exchange line after Christmas?
Standing in line. Inevitably, I’m next to someone with a suspiciously tubercular cough and within eardrum splitting distance of someone with a toddler who is either a) singing Dora the Explorer or Manny the Handyman or b) pitching a temper tantrum where pea soup comes out or his/her mouth as the head spins around.

2. Except for maybe Rosie O'Donnell or Ann Coulter, nobody likes confrontation, yet we all have to deal with it. When you feel cornered and defensive, do you "bite back" or become passive aggressive?
If I am personally cornered, passive/aggressive. When I see someone/thing else under attack, especially someone who may not be in a position to defend themselves (i.e. the little elderly widow the other day that was told by the DirectTV installer that there was an ‘installation fee’ and to make the check out to him personally), I go on the attack. I can be a real momma bear.

3. Do you know anything about your genealogical background? (What country, culture, ties to prominent historical figures, or other stuff.)
I had an aunt who traced my dad’s side back to the 1700’s in Scotland. Grandma on dad’s side was a cousin of Robert E. Lee, so I’m something like a 16th cousin a dozen or so times removed. On mom’s side, no claim to fame, but I am 1/8 Arapahoe Indian and my granddad was in the Oklahoma Land Rush.

4. What is the quickest way a person can endear him/herself to you?
Mentor, compliment or brag on my kids--especially to someone else, but within my earshot. Be kind to anyone, especially people who aren’t in a position to return the kindness.

5. Cake, pie, cookies, or ice cream? (Note there is no "all of the above" option. You must choose one. Feel free to elaborate on flavor or memories tied to this dessert.) If you'd like, you can share a recipe, but you certainly don't have to.
Hmm…probably cake. Chocolate with chocolate icing. In a bowl with milk poured over it. I know it sounds kind of gross, but that’s how I roll.

6. Females: Do you regularly change your handbag to coordinate with your outfit
No. I tend to use a ‘statement bag’ (thank you Clinton and Stacy) and change it with the seasons. Recently decided I am done with cheap handbags and purses. I’m too old and rather than looking cute and hip, they just look cheap. If I am going somewhere formal (wedding, for instance), I do use an evening bag, or something that coordinates.

7. Are you task-oriented or relationship-oriented?
Mostly task oriented. I LOVE being around people, but when I am given a task, I really enjoy the sense of accomplishment I feel when I think I’ve done especially well. I don’t really need anyone to tell me I’ve done well, not that the odd accolade is unwelcome. I find that the control-freak in me appreciates the control I have in a task over the chaos that some relationships have. And even if Excel makes me want to tear my hair out, it’s never pouted or called me a name or gossiped about me.

8. IHOP, Bob Evans or Cracker Barrel?
Cracker Barrel. IHOP’s season fries rock, tho’. Don’t have a Bob Evans and not sure what it is.

9. Have you ever left a movie in progress in a theater? Why?
Twice. When I was a little bitty girl (maybe 3-4—I’d have to check the release date) I got very sick during the 10 Commandments, with Charlton Heston. Threw up pretty much everywhere. My dad actually sat through the end of the movie with my sister while Mom and I waited in the (COLD-wintertime) car. And the first time I saw Mad Max, even tho’ I hearted Mel Gibson, I had to leave when it was implied that severe cruelty would be inflicted on a child. I can’t do movies where kids are threatened and/or hurt. Totally agreeing with Lidna about Slumdog...

10. What is one area of life in which you would like to develop more discipline or organization?

My desk. Sigh.

11. Was middle school fun or painful?
It was mostly fun. I was a top dawg in middle school. My parents hadn’t yet become ill, my sister had moved away from home (we never got along), and I was a straight-A and popular student. I pretty much loved it, but having reached my full height at age 12, was uncomfortable dancing with boys who were eye-level with my non-existent bust line during the mandatory square-dancing. Come to think of it, PE in general was painful. Especially those awful, horrible blue romper things on which we had to embroider our name using white thread.

12. What is your favorite Fall beverage?
Not necessarily restricted to Fall, but I love a good cup of coffee. With Pumpkin Spice flavoring in the fall, I guess.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What were you doing...

We all remember.

Everyone who was living in the United States on September 11, 2001 more than likely remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard the awful news that our country was under attack. The very date evokes a memory in most people's lives. The events of the day don't even have to be recounted; the date itself reminds us all of where we were and what our initial feelings were.

I was in my laundry room, attempting to find 4 pairs of matching socks for my kids to wear to school. It was an ordinary Tuesday. Ted, working at the airport, called and told me that he believed we were at war. Situated near, and sharing runways with, one of our key defense bases, the airport was under incredible tension. Within 2 hours, the tarmac was covered with planes that were landed immediately, in an effort to forestall any further attacks. I turned on the television and watched an airplane hit the second tower. Ted asked me to get as much cash out of the bank as I could. He wanted me to make sure we had ample food and drinking water. I wasn't to send my kids to school. I was chilled. I was shattered. And I knew that we, as a nation, would be forever changed. I did all the things that Ted asked. And then came home and went to bed. And waited for my husband. And wept for those whose waiting would never end.

Life goes on. God remains sovereign. The earth continues to spin at some 67,000 miles per hour. But for that brief moment, time stood still for us all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Dozen 9.9.09

Lidna, over at 2nd Cup, is hosting a fun meme. Please join in!

1. What is something that you have changed your mind about either recently or over a number of years? Hmm…tattoos. I don’t think they are nearly as creepy as I used to. Secretly, I kind of admire them, but would be afraid to get one.

2. Choose either subject, but does your a) church b) job feel more like a dental chair experience or an easy chair (recliner) experience? Hmm…I work at my church. Neither one really describes it. Maybe more like a controlled cyclone? Controlled most of the time, anyway.

3. Kisses or hugs? I actually typed "huts," which might have been a more interesting question. Usually hugs. Have an old friend (male) ALWAYS greets me with a kiss. Never fails to creepy me out a little.

4. What do you think is the biggest threat to families today? The acceptance of disrespect towards parents, dads in particular. Man-bashing has become a part of most sitcoms. When we don’t respect the authority that God placed in our homes, everything disintegrates. There has to be one head.

5. A day after you grocery shop, you open a perishable item that is horribly spoiled. Do you take your receipt back to the store to be reimbursed or just throw it away and forget about it? Depends on how much it cost. A $.99 head of lettuce? No. $8 roast? Yes.

6. What personality trait (feel free to address good or bad or both) do you notice yourself adopting from your parents? My dad had little to no patience with little kids. I fight that in myself the older I get. I also have this sour puss thing I get from him. Not easy to disguise when I’m disgusted with something.

7. How many slices of bread do you leave in the bottom of the bag when you throw it away? Two? Three? Just the heel? None? (I really want to know if you eat the heel.) I’ve been known to make a pbj turning the heel inside out, if I’m desperate. But usually, they get tossed out. (both heels)

8. What mispronunciation or usage error really irritates you? When someone says, “I could care less.” This indicates the person has SOME degree of concern. What they really mean to say is, “I couldn’t care less.”

9. In honor of the uniqueness of today's date, what does the numeral 9 mean to you? (Any special life moments attached to the 9th? Are you the 9th kid in your family? Can you count by 9s really fast? etc.) My dad (a banker) taught me that if I list 0-9 vertically in ascending order in one column and then descending in another column, I would end up with multiples of 9 through the number 10. It helped me teach the times tables to my kids:

1-8 (x2)
2-7 (x3)
3-6 (x4) etc….

10. Does the general color palette in your closet match the colors you chose to decorate your home with? Yes mostly…strong colors, heavy on earthy tones.

11. When you're hanging out with friends in the kitchen, do you automatically ask to help, or do you sit there and chat until the host asks if you'd like to help? I'm not implying that the 2nd choice stems from rudeness or laziness, just not a first-response like it is for some people. I always help. I feel awkward if someone else is doing something and I’m not. Martha-Martha-Martha!

12. Let's end on a pleasant note: What do you enjoy about September the most? My daughter’s and husband’s birthdays, the smell of green chile roasting. Not having to wear a coat, but not sweating too much!Thanks for participating!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's a girl thing....

I secretly love that my daughter borrows my scarves and jewelry and perfume and shoes and belts. Admittedly, I resent a little bit that she does all this with infinitely more style and grace than I have. And she rejects much of my clothing and accessories. She is smarter than me, more athletic than me, more driven than me and pretty much what I wanted to be when I was a teenager. Sometimes, I feel like it’s just the two of us protecting femininity in a sea of testosterone. She’s also one tough cookie and, according to her brother “slaps harder than most men hit.” Not that she would ever slap her brothers…
We’ve discovered the secret to making mornings bearable. Like me, she is an unrepentant night owl. Owls are her favorite animal, by the way. She is grumpy in the mornings and can have an ugly temper. We’re all careful not to ask her too many questions; in general we stay out of her way in the mornings. But, if I wake her with a glass of orange juice, her blood sugar equalizes and she’s at least bearable. This year, she has to leave for high school before 7 a.m. Before 6:30 a.m. on the days she has Senate. That’s a tough time for anyone, much less someone who didn’t crack an eyelid before 9 a.m. for most of the summer.
She loves Jesus, her daddy and her brothers and me. She is a brilliant student, but shyer and more modest than she needs to be.
Fifteen years ago today, she came into the world with lots of silvery blonde curls and a family that treasures her. She’s my only girl and a big piece of my heart…

Happy Birthday Amy! I love you!!!!