Monthly Archives: December 2006

Merry Christmas!


Yesterday, Katie-of-a-thousand-questions asked us this one: “Why do we give each other presents on Christmas?”

Not having a good answer to hand, I employed the standard parenting stall tactic of answering a question with a question: “What do you think?”

She pondered for a moment, her brows knit together as she thought. Finally, she said, “I think it’s because Jesus is the best gift ever.”

Out of the mouths of babes…

Every day is a great day to celebrate the Best Gift Ever. May God bless you, and give you inexplicable peace, unshakable joy, and a life-changing purpose! Happy Christmas!



Frustration is receiving an invitation to play in the World of Warcraft Burning Crusade closed beta and not being able to get in due to technical complications.

*Katrina covers her face and weeps softly into her hands*

I’ll ask Paul to work on it tonight, but by that time, the emotional scarring may be irreparable.

Bits and Pieces


Thank you for your words of encouragement and concern for our little upchucker. I especially loved Karyn’s containment idea involving a plastic shower curtain and a large dishpan; I’m filing that one away for next time. Meanwhile, the shifting tectonic layers inside Caleb’s digestive system are starting to settle, and the eruptions have ceased. Well, from that end, anyway. We’re still having some detonation issues on the southern border. But that’s material for another post altogether, and I’ve already exceeded my yearly blog limit on descriptions of gross bodily functions.

Last weekend’s massive windstorm blew down trees and signs and power lines all over town. There’s something so forlorn about seeing naked tree roots turned up to the sky, ripped from the warm ground and exposed to the gawking examination of topdwellers like us. One such tree fell over on the North Idaho College campus and completely demolished the car on which it landed, as if venting its fury and dismay in one final, ferocious roar before succumbing at last to its old foe, the wind. The men with saws came and removed the tree, but the car is still there. It’s quite flat. I like looking at it.

Have you noticed that there’s always one more Christmas gift to buy? I declared myself officially done with Christmas shopping weeks ago, but here I am again, picking up one more doohickey to go in the stockings, and one more thingamabob to give to a teacher, and one more gizmo to take to that holiday party gift exchange. I had plenty of money before the “one mores” kicked in, but now I’m broke. So if I haven’t given you anything yet, please accept my heartfelt seasonal salutations and my warmest regards, because that’s all you’re getting.

There is a bulletin board next to my desk, and it has become a constantly shifting collage of my life.

Right now:
*a photo of Katie holding Caleb on the day we brought him home from the hospital (it has the Ugly Couch in it, but I even love that)
*a rubber chicken keychain (a token of Chick Trip 2005)
*a sketch and memory verse penned by Paul’s mom back when she was my age
*Katie’s first lost tooth (carefully preserved in a Mylar envelope, ready to be stuck on a scrapbook page)
*a calico elephant that Paul gave me when we were dating
*our ten year-old wedding invitation
*Katie’s drawing of me playing with her and Caleb at the park
*an engraving of Psalm 138:8 (“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever.”)

As I was cleaning out Katie’s backpack yesterday, I found this story she wrote at school:

“Once there was a little boy and a little girl who baked a Gingerbread Lady. They placed her on a plate and she ran away.

She ran by a fence and saw a princess. She tried to eat the Gingerbread Lady. She ran away.

Next she saw a beagle. The beagle tried to eat the Gingerbread Lady. She ran away.

Then she saw a snake. The snake distracted the Gingerbread Lady and ate her.


Merry Christmas!



*Warning: This post is disgusting.*

Caleb spent all of last night and the wee hours of this morning doing an impression of Mount Vesuvius. Personally, I think I would rather have handled molten lava than some of the stuff that came out of that kid.

The first eruption happened right after dinner. Caleb, all clean and freshly jammied, stumbled toward his dad across the kitchen floor, opened his mouth to speak, and issued forth a colorful display of stomach contents whose only identifiable ingredient was tiny bits of hotdog. (I’ve already scratched hotdogs off of next month’s grocery list. I may never eat another one, in fact.) About ten seconds later, while scrambling away from the unspeakable mess on the floor, he uttered a tiny, high-pitched “oh-no-oh-no-oh-no” and did it again.

Paul is a remarkably agile man, a fact which may have saved his shoes.

By this time, Caleb was wailing, “Get me clean!” and the indescribable smell (you all know—you’ve smelled it) was starting to get to me, so I kicked it into Mommy Mode and sprang into motion.

“Which do you want?” I asked Paul, “Floor or boy?” He chose the floor, so while he ran for paper towels, cleanser, and the scrap rag bag, I stripped off the nasty pajamas and dumped Caleb into the tub for a good scrub and shampoo. Fifteen action-packed minutes later, a pink-skinned little boy in clean footie pajamas was wrapped in a warm blanket on the living room floor, watching cartoons and declaring that his tummy felt better.

I concluded that the whole episode had been caused by the spicy hotdogs we had for dinner, and went back to what I was doing before the gastrointestinal fireworks started.

Twenty minutes later, Paul called me out to the living room for Round Two, and the Vomit Task Force swung into action once more.

The worst thing about a three year old puking is that he doesn’t, generally, recognize the signs of impending spewage, so getting to the toilet before it happens is virtually impossible. He just gets this puzzled, horrified look on his face seconds before the vomit bubbles up out of him and all over whatever surface he happens to be sitting/laying on, like one of those baking soda and vinegar science fair projects in elementary school.

Again and again, Caleb threw up; again and again, Paul and I washed up. Dirty rags, dirty clothes, and dirty sheets went through the washer. Paper towels and antibacterial wipes were wrapped in plastic bags for safe disposal and buried in the trash. Even Caleb’s beloved Tigger took one for the team, and instantly joined the growing pile of reeking laundry. By the fourth or fifth incident, Paul and I had become a finely tuned cleaning machine, sweeping around in a cloud of disinfectant and wet rags, moving faster and more efficiently than a NASCAR pit crew.

Hours passed, time blurred and all other pursuits ground to a halt while we took care of our child. It was one of those nights you have to go through from time to time if you ever want to wear the parenting Badge of Honor. One of those nights that bring out everything tender and patient in you, even while you’re doing the most unpleasant tasks imaginable. One of those nights your kids remember years later, even though you thought they were completely out of it.

Finally, as I tucked Caleb into bed for the last time at 3 a.m., he turned to me, exhausted, and said, “Sorry I frowed up, Mom.”

How I could still be completely charmed by a child who had just redecorated the place in gastric juices, I don’t know, but I was. “It’s okay, Caleb,” I assured him, “We’re right here.”

With that, he dropped off to sleep and, mercifully, slept all the way through till morning and then some.

Final Tally:

5 pairs of pajamas
2 sets of sheets
3 blankets
15 soiled rags
35 paper towels
8 oz. of Shout
2 loads of laundry
½ bottle of Febreze
1 Tigger, not much worse for the wear



It was the usual swish and rustle of best dresses and uncomfortable ties as the students of Katie’s elementary school prepared for their annual Christmas musical program. We delivered Katie at her classroom door, pressed and punctual, in time to take a class portrait with our digital camera before we hurried away to find seats for the performance.

Katie was beautiful in her black and white checked dress with the little roses around the waist, and shimmering (unbeknownst to us) with the excitement of a carefully hidden surprise.

After last year’s program, we weren’t expecting anything beyond the joy of seeing our little star standing up on stage with her class and sparkling under the lights. Even that was a sweet victory. Imagine the thrill we felt when the music came up and our girl was not only doing all the motions, but was belting out each song loud and clear with the rest of her class!

We snapped picture after picture. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Katie stepped forward to help introduce one of the songs!

Child #1: Why don’t any Christmas songs mention the tenth reindeer?

Child #2: The tenth reindeer? Which one is that?

Child #3: Olive, of course.

Child #4: I’ve never heard of Olive before.

Katie: Yeah, you know: (singing) “Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names!”

As the audience laughed their approval, Katie was grinning from ear to ear, clearly pleased with her perfect comedic timing. No punchline was ever delivered with greater panache. Paul and I were giggling and squeezing out tears at the same time. I know now what it means when they say your heart “swells” with pride. Mine felt a bit too big to fit in my chest at that moment, and it was a little hard to breathe past the lump in my throat.

After the show, she was still beaming, wanting to know what we thought of her surprise. I looked my beautiful, special child in the eyes and told her the truth–that she took my breath away!

Trained Monkey


Sometimes I hate computers. They are such a huge part of my life, from my blog to my email connections, from photo sharing with my family to storing my music. It seems that computers touch everything I do. I think I hate them more because I am so reliant upon them—and yet I lack the ability to effectively communicate with them.

When I use the computer, it’s as if I am one of those actors or opera singers who memorize their lines phonetically, without having a clue what they are actually saying. I can be taught, much like a monkey, what buttons to push and what icons to click, but I don’t, in fact, understand why any of it works at all. So when something goes wrong, the word “troubleshooting” doesn’t even enter my vocabulary, except in my unhinged, lunatic threats against the inanimate object that’s causing my frustration (as in: “If you give me any more trouble, I’m shooting you in the processor, right after I break off your USB ports one by one! You got me?”)

Trained monkey that I am, I especially hate changes in my little technological world of stimuli and response. For example, Microsoft recently updated my web browser of choice, Internet Explorer. I’m sure millions of people just love the tabbed browsing and the other new features. All I can see is that my little “home” button is no longer comfortably settled in the upper left hand corner of the screen next to my little “refresh” button and my little “stop” button.

I hate this.

And now, even as I type, Blogger, in its wisdom, is switching my blog over to the new beta version. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. I can’t see through my tears to find out. What will go wrong? Will you even be able to read this post? Will all my page elements reject the unfamiliar scripting and be sucked into a swirling vortex of mangled text?

Changes. All those computer nerds flippantly wreaking havoc on my little trained monkey world. To rephrase Tom Cruise, they’re glib. It’s as if (caution: another poorly considered metaphor ahead) I’m on a trip to France, having taken the trouble to learn French in high school. It’s a wonderful trip, and everywhere I go, I am secure in the knowledge that I have mastered at least one important phrase: “Where is the bathroom?” I use it over and over, and avoid the international embarrassment of wetting my pants on the steps of Notre Dame. Then, one day, I ask someone, “Where is the bathroom?” and he looks at me with complete incomprehension in his eyes. I spend two hours jumping up and down with my legs crossed attempting to explain what I mean by “bathroom”. Finally, just as my bladder lets go, a lightbulb goes on and the Frenchman tells me, “Ahh! We don’t call that a ‘bathroom’ anymore; it’s called a ‘uriportico’.” And he walks away, laughing at me and leaving me standing in a pool of…frustration.

Nevertheless, progress continues its relentless march across my peace of mind, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon, even for wet pants. I guess I should just be thankful to have someone around who does know how to talk to computers, and to me, and is willing to put in the time to retrain this monkey when she needs it.

Glam Gadgets


Since you asked, here they are:

My iSkin evo3–my iPod would be naked without it:

And the cute little jacket I made for my Cricut* (I know; I’m sick.):

Next on my list, a macrame camera cozy for my Nikon CoolPix 5600…

*update* Clickable link added for you non-scrapbookers who don’t know what a Cricut is. Technology meets art. It’s a beautiful thing.

Liquid Crystal Display


We’ve been talking for a while about buying a new TV. A widescreen, high-def, flat panel LCD, to be exact. The plan (and it was a good one) was to wait until February and the arrival of our tax return check to make all our home entertainment dreams come true, including surround sound speakers, a new receiver, a DVD player, and a television that would magnetically draw our friends for hundreds of miles around to our place to watch the Superbowl.

Saturday morning, the plan changed. Our old faithful television of nearly a decade suddenly decided to take a permanent break from transmitting television signals, opting instead to display a peaceful swirl of greens and blues overlaid with a patina of gold. It was lovely. It just wasn’t Nick Jr. And we need Nick Jr.

So we did The Bad Thing. We dug through our dresser drawers until we unearthed the deeply buried, hermetically sealed envelope containing OUR CREDIT CARD. We took it to the store, and we used it to buy a Vizio HD 37-inch LCD widescreen flat panel television. And then we took it to another store and used it to buy a brand new entertainment center because our old one was too little for our fabulous new movie screen. And the worst part of all was how not painful it was. (The spending part, that is. The rest of it was a little painful for Paul, who actually had to assemble the new entertainment center without a power tool and rewire all the gadgets to work together, a job that took all of Saturday night and much of Sunday afternoon. I’m so glad to be the girl on such occasions.)

So we have a new television. I can now see the pores on Gerard Butler’s nose when I watch Phantom of the Opera.

And don’t worry: we still have a plan. The credit card went right back into its envelope. Now I just have to find another good place to hide it.