Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Lighter Moments

I'm sitting here ripping some new CD's so I can synch them to my new MP3 player (my Christmas gift from my hubby). The best part of my present is that he had snuck around for a few days and had already ripped about 50 CDs by Christmas morning so I was all ready to go. Once I've been able to listen to the new music I also got I'll be able to give my reviews.

But here are some of the lighter moments of the past week or so. I've already posted about B's cupcake withdrawal and my mom's "senior moment" with the lasagna, so I'll move on to others I remember.

Friday after the memorial service, at my Grandma's house: R is high on attention. She's going back and forth between the breakfast nook and the screened porch where most of the family is gathered. "Everyone needs to focus. Focus, everyone," she keeps repeating with deliberate and dramatic hand gestures. Then, "Nana, what does "focus" mean?"

She orders me out of the porch at one point and says only the big men (her daddy, papa, and granddad) are allowed. "Just these mens, Momma. These are the three wise men." They bust out laughing. I reply, "I don't know if their wives would call them that, more like wise guys." D's comeback, "I dunno, we give gold, frankincense..."

My brother gets a chance to e-mail over the weekend and sends some pictures. I wish I could share them. He's super intense and a bit scary looking. To his wife, who is staying with us a for a few days, he sends a picture of himself without a shirt on, to show off his six-pack he's been working on since he's been a bit bored and has been working out a lot. She shows them to my mom and we mention that we didn't get that particular shot in our e-mail. Then we wondered, who took the picture?

D asks R what her favorite part of Christmas is. "Um, getting all my presents." "What else?" he asks. "Opening all the presents." "What else besides the presents?" "Everyone coming to our house."


This has been quite a week (now week & a half), full of lows and highs, laughs and tears. I'll reflect more later but to get you caught up, here I go.

Starting last Sunday: Celebrating B's birthday with baseball-iced cupcakes, family and friends. B screams ear-piercingly in the bathtub as I remove cupcake crumbs from his clenched fists. The boy loves his food. Mom e-mails to say Grandpa has been moved to a hospice hospital.

Monday night: I'm up puking (I've no idea why, don't start rumors). B's up with night terrors.

Tuesday: Mom calls and needs me to go to Winter Haven. Dave's mom is out shopping less than an hour away so I throw some essentials in my bag, switch cars with Dave, and I'm off. I get to the hospital in Auburndale around 1:00. It's rough. My grandfather is uncomfortable, the nurse and doctor trying to get the right mix and dose of pain medication, we are told he has hours to days. Meanwhile, my dad is flying from Knoxville to Charlotte, my mom picks him up, they repack bags, and start driving the 8+ hours to FL. My grandfather is stabilized. They say the hearing is the last sense to go so we talk to him, sing a hymn, and try to make the day go. I leave around 7:30 after my aunt arrives. My parents get there around 10:30. My mom and aunt head to the house around midnight. My dad and grandmother stay the night.

Wednesday: Mom calls in the morning to say that Grandpa has died.
Thursday: Clean house, do laundry, run errands, make beds, wrap presents, deliver presents. My sister-in-law (married to my brother) gets a flight to Orlando for 11:50 that night. Dave makes me sing with Rockband on Xbox to keep me awake. I pick up my sis-in-law and we finally get to bed at 1:00.
Friday: The memorial service. I get everyone out of the house, dressed in their finest, by 7:50 AM for the hour+ drive to Winter Haven. Dump the kids in a nursery with a stranger (to me and them at least). I take one look at the port-a-crib they have and know that Ben will not be taking a morning nap. I think the thing would have fallen apart if she attempted to put him there. The service (at 10:00) is short and simple, very Lutheran, high church. I pretty much made it through "How Great Thou Art," my grandfather's favorite and the one we sang to him at the hospital. The homily reflected my grandfather, even the rough spots, and I had to look at the banners and candles to keep from losing it. My purse was a wad of wet tissues by the end of the day; so was the one I lent my mom. Long receiving line of people I didn't know. The old men with tears in their eyes were the hardest to look at. Had to explain which one I was (a granddaugther, Mike's daughter, the one with the great-grand kids) and we had to explain who Sarah was (granddaughter-in-law whose husband is in Afghanistan). What a trooper she was. Back to the house for lunch with my grandparents' friends and out-of-town guests. Grandpa never liked the receptions at the church and never went. R flitted about from one white-haired lady to the next, plus she had two sets of grandparents and great-grandma. She was pepped up on people, for sure. Made it through, went home, ordered pizza, went to bed early. B woke up at 1:00, screaming again, didn't go back to sleep for good until 4:00, maybe, in our bed. Grr!

Saturday: Threw the Christmas tree up since now everyone is coming to our house for dinner. My parents come over in the afternoon. We eat roast, veggies, and Sister Schubert rolls for dinner--comfort food! Then the girls head out for a movie--something normal, according to my mom. We see Atonement. Very good, though my eyes did shut a few times. We all sleep good that night.

Sunday: Church in the morning. My kids are in their Christmas outfits. Man, they looked good. Mom and I then go to Costco and Publix during naptime to shop for Christmas dinner. INSANITY! Then Amigos and margaritas for dinner and a drive through Spring Valley to look at lights. More normalcy returning.
Monday: Christmas Eve service was wonderful. I loved the music, the lights, the stars, the candles. D got R for the last few songs and the candle lighting. We come home to what we think will be our traditional Christmas Eve lasagna but there is no delicious fragrance awaiting our arrival, despite the oven being on and the timer counting down. The problem? No lasagna in the oven. Mom won't be living that one down for a while. So we get out some cheese and crackers and pop open champagne (sparking wine to be precise) and toast our departed on a bittersweet evening. We finally ate around 7:00.
Tuesday: All manner of family descend on our house. Long day short, we eat, we eat some more, and people play Rockband. B does his screaming from 8:00 til 9:30 at night instead, which is an improvement. I run out of diapers (the only time I have ever done this) and have to go to Walgreens at 9:30 on Christmas Day. At 1:00 AM, R gets up to use the potty and screams that she doesn't have any hand sanitizer. B sleeps till 7:00.
Wednesday: Meet the family for breakfast at First Watch. I don't want to eat again until New Year's. D starts a house purging. We run out of steam around 10:30.
I know this has been a long post. Thanks for reading this much. I'll post more humor from the kiddos, reflections, and new music reviews later.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Christmas Poem

Christina Rossetti was a poet in Victorian England. Her brother was also a poet and painter in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. While Dante Gabriel's subject matter was mostly myth or legend, Christina's was Christian. One of her most famous poems is "In the Bleak Mid-Winter," which was later set to music and is now a carol. I loved singing it as part of a choir a few years ago. The Paul Coleman Trio has recorded a contemporary version which has introduced it to a larger modern audience.

The painting is taken from Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "The Seed of David."

"In the Bleak Mid-Winter" - Christina Rossetti (1872)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dinner & a lecture, lunch & a chat

Monday night I went with a friend to a "dinner club." Over the past few years, she has been involved in this ladies' dinner club hosted by Linda Warner of Circle Christian School/Ministries. Basically, once a month you meet to eat a catered dinner and then Linda speaks. Often there's a skit, music, occasionally singing.

So when M said she had an empty spot at her table, I went. Linda Warner will be speaking at our ladies' retreat in January so this was a good chance to hear her. She's been speaking about our hearts, having just finished a series on our hearts and God, now moving to our heart for our family. I think she's a good speaker though I didn't quite follow the development of the lesson. (Sorry, the teacher and curriculum instructor in me is always evaluating). For me, the most important point she made was the instruction to get a picture of the woman we want to be--in 20 years, in 50 years, at our funeral--and then start to make decisions that will get us there. The vision-casting language gets a bad rap from the overuse of business-lingo but when we consider what attributes we want to have in our life and compare it with where we are, we begin to see where we fall short. Having that picture in mind is helpful in curbing our tongue, changing our tone, prioritizing our time, attending to our responsibilities, and all of our other disciplines.

This fits with a thought I had after lunch with the Diva and Brooklyn a few months ago and since the Diva came for lunch again today I thought I would give her her credit now. ;) She's real good at checking on us, asking us where we're at, how healthy are we, scale of one to ten. When she asked me, I looked at her cock-eyed and said, insightfully, "I dunno." Because truthfully, I don't spend time thinking about how I am. There may be some benefit to that (I'm not in my head too much) but also some detriment (I'm not self-reflective enough). If I'm not checking my emotional and spiritual health, I could be miles into a rut or way out of my devotional walk, before I notice it--usually because it's adversely affecting my relationships. And if I'm not checking myself against my picture, how will I know if I'm working towards it or moving farther away.

And then doing it. Linda's other main point was our responsibility for our thoughts and our hearts, not our husband's or our children's. Because God is writing their story just like he's writing ours.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Birthday Boy

In honor of his 1st birthday, a list of great things about Ben:

  • The Chub - He's huge, what else can I say? I love that he's big, solid, and all boy. He could use a mansiere, though. But he has the sweetest, little voice that belies his Incredible Hulk frame.

  • His Jowls - The most kissable spot on him. He is one of the most kissable babies since despite the potential for back pain, people want to hold him just to get those cheeks.

  • His Eyebrows - The most expressive eyebrows I've ever seen. He gets mischievous, serious, flirtatous, and joyful--all in the eyebrows.

  • The Nicknames - With such a regal, rich name, it's great that we get to call him Benzilla and B. Diddy and have it be appropriate.

  • The Laugh - Though I'm slightly jealous, Dad and Sis make him giddy with laughter. Any bodily function sends him into a fit of giggles, especially daddy sneezes and belches. Spitting things (or pretending to spit things) also gets major laughs. Peek-a-boo, especially with R in the closet, makes him hysterical. He sucks in air when she hides and lets loose when she reappears.

  • Bedtime Snuggle - The only time he approaches snuggly is when we walk to the hallway at bedtime. The lucky parent gets a head on the shoulder for an instant (I usually get a hug, the back of my neck rubbed, or a slap on my cheek) until he sees his crib and tries to hurl all nearly 30 lbs. of him out of our arms.

  • Kind to His Mother- Always been an efficient eater. Rarely upset or angry.

  • Potential Danger - His dark, curly hair, gray-blue eyes, and girl-catcher eyelashes.

Happy Birthday, big fella. We loved your first year and can't wait for the next!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Damn you, Martha Stewart,

...your floppy bangs and your ridiculous recipes.

This evening I attempted to bake gingerbread men, those classically shaped seasonal cookies with their icing smiles and buttons, from a Martha Stewart recipe. I even had a gingerbread woman cookie cutter for equal opportunity cookie enjoyment.

Two hours (and mind you, I made the dough yesterday) and miles of wax paper later, I have barely half a Tupperware container of somewhat well-shaped gingerbread men and rather misshapen women who look like flattened angels. We ate the really deformed. (This sounds so Jonathon Swift!) The dough softened into an almost liquid form in between the rolling and the cutting so my evening was spent rolling, freezing, cutting, freezing, baking. My baking sheets do not fit in my freezer--at least not flat. So I had to angle one over the cube steak and the ice cream. And I'm not even sure I like how they taste. We'll if icing can improve them!

I had grand plans to make these as gifts for my neighbors. Now I think I will anonymously drop them off for the RTS concert dessert table and pray no one sees me!

D's commentary: Why not just make chocolate chip?

Why not, indeed?