Monthly Archives: November 2007

Hail the Conquering Hero!

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NaBloPoMo Ends

Well, I made it!!! Thirty posts in thirty days. At last, I am officially a NaBloPoMo veteran. Shouldn’t there be tickertape and balloons and fireworks and stuff? Anyone?

How about a gift certificate to Starbucks, then? I could really use a good caffeine jolt after all that mad late night posting…

Seriously, thank you to all of you who read and commented and kept me going with your encouragement.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Not Exactly Sick

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Katie was absent from school yesterday. When I called the school secretary to let her know, she asked, so kindly, “Is she sick?”

“Um, no. Not sick. No.” Then there was this awkward pause, and after a moment I knew it was up to me to fill in the blanks.

“See, what happened is that this morning I had to get up super early and drive my husband into Post Falls in the snow (without my snow tires, since I waited too long to get them put on; I don’t know what I was thinking) because he’s doing some training for work all this week in Spokane and is carpooling with his friend, Jesse, and then after I dropped him off it was way too early to bring Katie to school, so we went back home and I decided to use the little bit of time we had left before we needed to leave to finish up a favor I had promised to a friend, because I just knew that I wouldn’t be home for the rest of the day and it really needed to be done this morning. But by the time I got the favor done, we were running like ten minutes late and I bundled everyone back up in mittens and coats and boots and got them into the car and then I was trying to hurry but trying to drive carefully (because our car is like a big ice skate without studs on it) and then we finally got there and I got both kids in their giant puffy coats out of the car and was dragging them through the snow on my way to check Katie in late at the school office when I realized she didn’t have her backpack with her lunch and her homework and everything in it. So I asked her, ‘Where’s your backpack?’ and when she realized she’d left it at home and took one look at my face, she burst into tears and I couldn’t get her to calm down, and at first I thought I’d drop her off anyway and go back to get the backpack at home and drive back to school and bring it in to her, but I called Wal-mart early this morning when I was dropping Paul off and their line for snow tires was already backed up four hours before they even opened and I knew if I didn’t go straight there, I’d never get in line in time for them to get done before I needed to come back and pick up Katie this afternoon and then she’d be standing in front of the school crying because I didn’t show up, so I just told her to get back in the car and now we’re on our way to get snow tires and I have to come up with entertainment for two kids for (at least) four hours at Wal-mart when what I really want to do is sit down somewhere and cry. So the reason for her absence is chaos. Utter chaos.”

The secretary, blessed woman, who I can imagine blinking once or twice under the onslaught of such a deranged outburst, simply smiled into the phone and said, “I’ll just mark her down as excused.”

Shameless Promotion

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Family gift giving. It’s a minefield. That Seinfeld calendar that you thought was so cute and trendy when you were shopping in the mall looks ridiculous on the door of your Aunt Ethel’s turn-of-the-century icebox, and even though you’ve found the perfect sweater for your cousin, Jody, you’re torn between getting it in the size she says she is (which she will never wear) and the size that fits (which will cause her to burst into tears and hate you forever.)

It’s been my experience that the gifts that cause the most “ooh”s and “ahh”s (the good kind, not the painful sucking in of breath that you hear when the fine china serving platter comes out of the box in three pieces) are the ones that are unique, personal, and handmade. Like the baby afghan that you knitted for your beach-ball-bellied sister, or the handcrafted kitchen stool that you bought from a local artisan for your grandmother’s cabin. Whether you make it or someone else does, a gift created by hand seems somehow more meaningful.

That’s why I’ll be doing some of my Christmas shopping this Saturday at the annual Coeur d’Alene Christian School Craft Fair. If you live in the North Idaho area, I’d like to encourage you to come, too. Not only will you be checking off items on your Christmas shopping list, you’ll be supporting a school that is very near and dear to my family’s heart.

There will be over thirty-six vendors selling all kinds of beautiful handiwork, as well as a raffle and a special PTO baked goods booth, the proceeds of which go directly to the school. At last! This is your chance to taste Katrina’s Scrumptious Fudge Brownies for yourself and see that I’ve told the truth about their chocolatey-gooey goodness. (I might even go completely crazy with Christmas spirit and add nuts!)

If you’re not quite in the Christmas shopping mood yet, you will be when you see the twinkly lights illuminating tables full of lovely handiwork–and if you do, indeed, shop till you drop, a little breakfast or lunch from the kitchen, where you can fill your belly with some yummy chili and enjoy a baked potato bar, is sure to revive you.

Also, since Christmas is about giving as well as receiving, you can feel good about shopping at the Kids Santa Store, where your children can buy gifts for everyone in their family at kid-friendly prices from the first and second graders of CCS, who are raising money to construct a Listening Center for their own classroom.

So, to summarize, in just one short hour of your Saturday, you could: find the perfect Christmas gift, support Christian education, eat chili, win a raffle, equip a child’s classroom, and try my brownies.

Not a bad start to the season!

What: CCS Craft Fair
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 9am-3pm
Where: Dalton Gardens Church of Christ
On the corner of 4th and Hanley
Coeur d’Alene, ID

Snow Tired

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I knew I was taking a gamble, waiting so long to get my snow tires put on.

I love winter weather, but I hate winter roads.

Last night, the snow fell. And fell, and fell. This morning, I drove Paul to work, dropped Katie off at school, picked up Kelly for Bible study, and pulled into Michelle’s driveway ten minutes late, remembering at every stop sign and curve in the road why we once nicknamed our car The Ice Skate. All-weather tires might be fine for some, with their fancy anti-lock brakes and their four wheel drive, but when it comes to our Ford, we might as well be rolling around on plastic Big Wheel tires for all the grip they have. It’s only the first snow of the season, and already I’ve gotten stuck in the middle of a large intersection and slid through a stop sign right in front of a police officer (who seemed to be laughing too hard at the panicked look on my face and my wild brake-pumping to give me a ticket.)

And this morning, there were forty-three cars awaiting a tire change at Les Schwab in a line that just kept growing as the day passed. When I called a little before three to see how long the wait would be, the weary receptionist who answered the phone informed me that they weren’t taking any more cars today, thank you very much and try again tomorrow.

“How long?” I asked. “If I bring my car in first thing tomorrow morning, how long until you get to it?” “Well, we could probably have it back to you sometime in the afternoon,” she said.

“Sometime in the afternoon” does not work for me. I have a standing date to pick up a little girl who will not understand if I don’t show up in the school pick-up lane at 3:15 p.m. on the dot. Other tire places are equally swamped by procrastinators (you can tell the people who got their tires changed early by the smirks on their faces as they drive by), and I’m quickly despairing of getting my studs on before the next predicted winter storm hits on Thursday.

Finally, I think of Wal-mart. We’ve gotten our oil changed there many times, and I distinctly remember the sign on the garage saying “Tires and Lube”, so I give them a call. The prognosis is hopeful. If I drop my car off in the morning, I’m told, it will probably take until just past noon to get it back. Four hours at Walmart. Is that all? How hard can it be? We can do all of Caleb’s favorite things: tap on the lobster tank, get a free cookie at the bakery, visit the fish, look at all the toys in the toy department and press each and every button we can find. That will use up at least four hours, right?

No matter, I’m just happy to trade in The Ice Skate for a nice Cleat.

The Home Stretch

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With only four days left to go, this year’s NaBloPoMo is nearly in the books.  I can hardly wait to put that little “I participated in National Blog Posting Month and all I got was this sidebar logo” button on my page.  Then, of course, there are the prizes.  I could win anything from a sock zombie to an Amazon gift certificate.  I’m personally hoping for a zombie–they’re kind of cute.

Meanwhile, as I think I mentioned in my last post, my sister Amber has sweetly asked me to be her matron-of-honor (But can we use another word besides “matron”?  I just don’t feel very matronly.)  Not only that, but she’s letting me pick out my own dress!   (Did I mention how much I love my sister?)  It just has to be green.

So, I’ve been shopping.  Here are some possible contenders:

Green Dress 1

Green Dress 2

Green Dress 3

Yeah, I just put that last one in to see if you were still paying attention.

Thank You for the Little Things

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*notes from Katie tucked into my pocket or hidden under my pillow

*pumpkin flax muffins with chopped pecans

*cute black boots that go with everything and actually zip over my calves

*heat in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer

*money for groceries

*Sunday afternoon naps with football playing in the background

*my new wool coat, so toasty warm I feel it in my toes

*high speed internet connection

*rare moments of complete and total quiet

*health insurance for the whole family

*Amber letting me pick out my own matron-of-honor dress, in my favorite color, and with no mention of the word “taffeta”

*Caleb’s run-across-the-room-and-knock-me-over Monster Hugs

*our Christmas tree, decorated with ornaments from every chapter in our family story

*candles that smell like food

*being lifted up in prayer by good friends

*leftover turkey, eaten cold with cranberry relish

*my library card, and the beautiful new library it opens

*music: fun, funky, beautiful, whimsical, inspiring, haunting, transcendent, invigorating, worshipful (what I’m loving right now: “Into the West” by Howard Shore and Annie Lennox)

*Coeur d’Alene Lake, ringed by green-gold mountains topped with snow

*our car: red, reliable and, best of all, paid off

*Girls’ Craft Night

*Katie’s gifted and dedicated teachers

*a good landlord, attentive and responsible

*hot drinks on a freezing night

*roller skating under a disco ball

*the entertaining and slightly nutso things that people do, like camping out in the Best Buy parking lot on Black Friday

*silky pajamas and fuzzy slippers

*cold, clean water from the fridge

*Bible study groups

*”I love you” phone calls in the middle of the day

Thank You for My Girlfriends

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It’s after eleven o’clock at night, and I’ve just finished watching the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy online. Typically, I’m in a dither. “What is the deal with George and Izzy?” I ask the universe. The universe doesn’t answer, and in the next second I’m dialing up my friend, Kathy, whose fault it is that my emotions are invested in the events of a fictional Seattle hospital in the first place.

“Hello?” she answers.

“What is the deal with George and Izzy?” I splutter, and without asking why I’m calling so late or what I’m talking about, she proceeds to explain in great detail exactly what the deal is. A lively half hour discussion of various characters and subplots ensues, followed by a conversation that touches on all our latest news and thoughts, and finally I hang up, a little enlightened and a lot entertained.

Girlfriends.

It’s hard to imagine life without them.

Today I’m dishing with Kathy over trivia, six years ago I was floundering around in the deep waters of personal crisis, and her hand was one of those that reached down and grabbed on to keep me from going under. A good girlfriend is equally at home in your life on your best day and on your worst.

It’s been my joy and privilege to enjoy the friendship of some amazing women.

Tracy. I met Tracy on my very first day of college classes. We were both freshman, and I knew from the first moment of talking to her that we were going to be life long friends. Her calm serenity and even temper were a balm to my flighty and fidgeting spirit. When we accidentally dyed our hair pink in a Clairol experiment gone awry, she was the one who helped me see the funny side of it. She’s spent holidays at my house, we’ve gotten tattoos together, and we’ve walked each other through the jungle of dating disasters. I confess, when she got married, I felt a little jealous. Not of her, but of her husband, Perry. How dare he step in and break up the team? I consoled myself with being her maid of honor, and a year later, she was mine. Our friendship has not only survived marriage, but grown over the years. Though she lives a thousand miles away, every time we talk on the phone, we’re roommates again, alternately cheering and commiserating in equal measure.

Regina. Regina, another college buddy, makes me glad that first impressions are often wrong, because it definitely wasn’t love at first sight when the two of us met. Where at first I saw a flirtatious, hairsprayed Southern cheerleader-type (to say nothing of what she thought of me), I soon learned to see an indispensable friend–and to stop making snap judgments! We’ve been through a lot–car trouble, boy trouble, and just plain trouble. Our friendship has run hot and cold, and we jokingly refer to the Three Day Rule (the period of time we can be together without getting on each other’s nerves) but she’s been around through thick and thin, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Every couple of years, she and Tracy and I get together to catch up, spill our guts, and eat good food. They’re the sort of girlfriends to whom time and distance don’t matter.

Kathy, Jen, Marci, and Kim. One December day, just after we had moved here to Idaho, I got a phone call. It was a big deal. See, we’d landed in Coeur d’Alene in a maelstrom of chaos and emotional struggle. I was hurting, and I was lonely, and even though we’d come here to visit Paul’s parents at least once a year throughout our married life, I felt as if I knew no one, and no one knew me. I was sinking. Then the phone rang. It was Kathy and Jen, and they invited me to go Christmas shopping with them. I said yes before the question was finished and they picked me up for a whirlwind tour of retail hotspots, lists in hand. There, in the middle of Toys R Us, unknown to my shopping companions, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that everything was going to be okay. Their asking me to come along was a simple gesture, and they probably didn’t know how desperately needy I was (or they would have run the other way!), but it was the beginning of some of the sweetest friendships of my life. Kathy is outspoken, honest, genuine, and funny. Jen is warm-hearted and gentle-spirited and one of my spiritual heroes. Marci is a devoted friend with a wry sense of humor who reaches out to draw everyone into her circle. Kim is quirky and fun, saves everything she’s ever owned, and can talk the ears off an elephant. One year somebody (I’m still not sure which one of them it was) wanted to plan a trip to Seattle for a girls only getaway. The invitation was open to anyone, and the five of us were the ones who ended up piling into a van and striking out for the coast. It turned out, somehow, that we had perfect chemistry, and the most satisfying weekend chick trip ever ensued, complete with getting lost, eating at a fancy restaurant, endless road trip chatter, and laughter, laughter, laughter. Since then, we’ve cried together, prayed together, faced health crises and marriage problems, worked side by side in ministries, and basically entered into each other’s lives at the deepest level. They’re dirty house friends, every one. Each of these girlfriends totally deserves her own blog post.

Amber. A sister is girlfriend and family all rolled up into one. Amber and I are five years apart in age, and our relationship has gone through different stages as she’s grown from pesky little sister to cherished friend. She’s lived with me, fought with me, borrowed my clothes and checked out my boyfriends. She’s seen my bad habits, my temptations, and my disappointments up close and still she’s there for me. Not all sisters turn out to be friends, but mine has become one of the best.

I am blessed with other wonderful girlfriends, too. Girlfriends from my Bible study group. Girlfriends I call when I want to go shopping. Girlfriends who like the same movies that I do. Girlfriends who watch my kids, and ask me to watch theirs. Girlfriends who are up for an adventure. Girlfriends I exercise with. Girlfriends who are just easy and fun to be around. Even a few girlfriends I only know from the internet, whose encouraging words and shared emotions are no less real for our having never met in person. Some of my girlfriends I’ve known for years, and some I’m just starting to know, waiting and watching the delightful and gradual intertwining of experiences that makes up friendship’s rich history.

Even one good girlfriend is a gift of inestimable worth, and I am blessed with many. I only hope I can bless them half as much.

Thank You, Lord, for my girlfriends.

We Interrupt This Program

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Due to both a hectic Black Friday shopping schedule (which involved getting up at 4am to go stand in line in the freezing cold for the Best Buy Doorbuster sale) and a quickly approaching evening appointment to meet some friends for the Coeur d’Alene Light Parade and fireworks, tonight’s planned blogging topic, “I’m Thankful for My Girlfriends”, has been preempted and rescheduled for tomorrow, when I can do the subject more justice with a mind less sleep-deprived. My girlfriends, I am convinced, will understand.

Thank You for My Blog

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I had heard of blogs, of course, but I was a little fuzzy on the details. I just knew that somewhere, “out there” in cyberspace, people were keeping online journals. I didn’t know where they were or that you could search for them or even that, unlike their RL (real life) counterparts, they mostly aren’t meant to be private.

Then I got an email from an old high school friend, Jill, announcing that she had started her very own blog, Egg in Spoon.

Suddenly, I was interested. Jill was one of a circle of aspiring writers I hung around with in high school, and I had always admired her talent. And she had a blog? I had to check this out. Clicking on the link revealed a large archive of Jill’s thoughts and prose that kept me busy clicking for hours, reading entry after entry and enjoying a long look into the past few years of the friend I had misplaced for nearly a decade.

It wasn’t long before I felt it. An itch. A tingle. An inkling of inspiration, begging the question: “Why not me?” I used to love to write, but then I got married, had kids, got involved in a lot of really great things, and the demands of being a “grown up” temporarily eclipsed the desire to write with a laundry list of activities and responsibilities. I just didn’t think about it that often, and the “extra” time I was waiting for never materialized. One email later, the desire to pick up writing again was pounding in my veins, and before I knew what was happening, I was logged in at http://www.blogspot.com, with my own brand new shiny blog, and my fingers were hovering over the keyboard as I tried to decide what to write first.

After I had a few posts under my belt, I sent out an announcement of my own to friends and family. It read:

I’ve started a blog. For those who don’t know, a blog (or “weblog”) is an online creation that allows virtually anyone, regardless of age, sex, or ability to string two coherent words together, to share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences with the world at large. As far as I know, the world at large doesn’t read my blog, but you are certainly welcome. It’s mainly silly, with an occasional side of serious, and, most importantly, it’s a lot of fun for me! So please drop in—you can leave comments, visit my favorite links, see a picture of my eye, all kinds of wonderful stuff. Maybe you’ll even start your own blog—let me know if you do! Notes on a Napkin

I know that a lot of people choose to blog completely anonymously. I discarded that idea almost immediately, sure that if I didn’t invite friends and family to read my blog, then no one would. There have been a few moments since I started blogging when I wondered if that was a good idea, after all. Like when one of the sweet old ladies at church came up to me to tell me that she’d loved my post on bikini waxing. Overall, though, it helps me remember that I am accountable for my words, both spoken and written, and that’s no bad thing.

I’m thankful for my blog. It’s been a place I come to explore my feelings, vent my opinions, and confess my shortcomings. It’s been a writing exercise, a way to scratch the itch, and a workout for the part of my brain that still needs to know how to speak something other than Four Year Old. It’s been a vehicle for getting in touch with old friends, and for making new ones from around the world.  It’s been a tool for keeping track of my extended family and helping them keep track of me.  It’s been a way to share my faith and to ask the deep questions of life.  Not too bad for something that started on a whim.

With more than 80% of bloggers burning out within a month, I’m rather proud (and more than a little bit surprised) to find myself on the other side of my two year blogging anniversary.  It’s hard to believe.

It occurred to me the other day that if I died tomorrow, I’m leaving something behind me.  It’s not much, taken one post at a time, but all together I think it’s a pretty fair picture of who I am.  My kids and my husband would know that I loved them, and what I wished for them.  The next generation could read about my struggles, and God’s grace in my life, and I could do my small part to further the legacy of faith in those who come after me.

Good thing I back up my posts, huh?

Anyway, thanks for reading.

(And Happy Thanksgiving!)