Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One Line Wednesday

After being stretched for thirty minutes, I felt much better, and was consequently able to conquer the Jungle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Three-year-old wisdom

I decided to practice some escapism in the form of shopping today. I headed off to Target and the mall first thing this morning, with my three-year-old niece in tow. I wasn't too far down the road before I remembered what a tonic a young mind can be to a weary soul.

"La La" she said, about 1/2 mile down the road. "Are we at Target yet?"

"No, TT" I patiently replied.

"Got any toys?"

"Ah, no. Sorry."

"Got any music?"

"Well, sure!" I was pleased to be able to answer in the affirmative. This was shaping up to be a long drive. I hastily put in a favored mix CD of mine replete with David Cook, Reliant K and a little tobyMac.

A loud sigh came from the back. "La La, we forgot my van."

"Why do we need your van, TT? Isn't La La's just as good?"

"No. My van has kid music."

At Target, I almost immediately found some items sure to please my nephew (TT's brother) for Christmas. "Look at these! Don't you think Peter would love them?"

TT donned her most critical face. "He has plenty of those."

I was disappointed, but soon found something else. "What about this?" I proudly displayed my find.

Even more scornfully, TT replied, "He doesn't need that." She quickly added as I began to move out of the aisle, "but I do."

As we continued, many "I wants" were proclaimed. Seeing a moral lesson at hand, I firmly told her that La La never gave in to demands. She promised that she would not say "I want" again.

Next aisle over, a plastic doll started crying as we walked by. TT proclaimed, "Oh, I'd really like that!" Catching my hard stare, she said incredulously, "I didn't say 'I want'!" Clever.

Over lunch at the mall, TT overheard a post election conversation that I was trying hard to ignore. "I don't like Obama," she told me emphatically.


"No, I wanted the duck to win."

Ahh. Sounded good to me, too.

She was so well behaved at the mall that I told her to pick out a book at Borders. She excitedly chose an Elmo sticker book. I got some coffee, and we decided to sit for awhile, sipping the sweet nectar of life and outfitting Elmo's room. "How do I do this?" she asked.

Organized, methodical me tried to explain that the sticker sheets had corresponding page numbers. "See, these stickers are for page 5, so Elmo can find books at the library." I helpfully put a book sticker on a shelf.

"No, it doesn't go there. It goes here." She turned the page and stuck the book in the middle of a corn field.

"Good thinking," I encouraged. Why not? It really was freeing to watch her put muffins in the art room and a shovel on a classroom shelf.

This trip was exactly what I needed today. Laughing at a chocolate tipped nose, chair-dancing to "Mambo Italiano" and playing Simon Says on the way home - this is the stuff that makes it worth getting up in the morning.

"Simon Says touch a tree!" TT commands as we drive down the road.

"Now how am I supposed to do that?"

"Oh well, you're out."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Unless I lose my head, I'm not going back to the doctor.

A few weeks after our foray into the wilds of Maine, I noticed a redness under my nose. It was a little bumpy and slightly itchy and tight. I didn't pay much attention to it at first - my skin is as sensitive as Obama whenever Bill Ayers' name comes up. Anyway, after applying creams and lotions and potions to no avail, I decided to make an appointment with the doctor.

You may not realize what a huge statement that is. In the recent past I have had episodes of irregular heart rates, migraine headaches, and excruciating stomach pain, but have avoided the hospital like a plague. Now, because my looks were at stake, I picked up the phone. Ah, vanity of vanities.

My absence at the neighborhood clinic did not go unchecked by the appointment clerk. "Madame, it seems you haven't actually established care here. I see only some scattered visits in acute care."

"Yeeeesss...." I wondered what she was getting at. Was I supposed to go to the doctor if I didn't have an issue?

"Well, if you do not establish care, we will not allow you to keep coming in for problems." I felt she was beginning to adopt a haughty tone.

"So you are saying that I have to pay 20 bucks just to check in with a resident when there's nothing wrong with me in order to be able to come in when there is?" This conversation was making about as much sense as Palin discussing foreign policy.

"That's right."

"So then, when the resident leaves after a few months and you send me a letter saying I've been assigned to someone new, I have to come in to "establish care" again?!" Now I was thinking that even my looks were not worth this much hassle.

I reluctantly agreed to make an appointment in acute care for the following day and an appointment with the Resident of the Month for the following week to establish care. So far this call had cost me 40 bucks.

The doctor at the acute appointment was confident that the rash was fungal, and prescribed a cream. Add $15 to the tally.

A week later, faithful applications of the cream proved futile, and I arrived at my "well-person" appointment not so well. This doctor disagreed with the acute care diagnosis, and thought that some simple OTC hydrocortisone would do the trick. Sigh.

That was last month. Can you guess the end of the story? Yep, rash is still there. All we have established is that I don't care to return to the doctor any time soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Camp War

"Is their son at war?" the nervous bystander whispered to my sister as other anxious faces awaited her reply.

"He's eleven. He went to camp." my sister responded, suppressing a chortle as she added, "About 3 hours ago."

OK, so perhaps Gregory and I overdid the somber upon discovering a missed call on the cell from our son. War, camp...whatever! Our boy had left the home front and was out there on his own! By missing his call had we sent a message that we were not there for him? That we were out celebrating his departure? This was grave matter!

Much to my surprise, I discovered as we pulled away from Chivalry Camp that afternoon that parental distress does not go away when your child is out of your immediate care. If anything, it intensifies. I tossed and turned a good part of the first night. I wondered if he was homesick. I wondered if his mattress was comfortable, if he was warm enough, and if his pillow was hypoallergenic. I got up to place the phone on my nightstand, "just in case".

After two days of a churning stomach and distracted attention to my duties, I knew something had to be done. I had been praying diligently for him since he left, and yet I had no peace. Then it hit me. Phillip is not really mine. He has been entrusted to my care, and certainly I am responsible for his well-being, but he is not ultimately mine. He is God's.

This reminder changed my outlook entirely, restoring my peace and instilling a sense of freedom. Like Hannah before Eli, I willingly give my beloved son to God's service, and trust that as I let go, Christ will take hold.

Yes, he's eleven, and yes, he's just at camp, but in a way he is at war (or at least he is a soldier in training). The purpose of the Chivalry Camp he is attending is to train boys to be gentlemen ready to protect and defend their Faith and Christian culture. So as he learns to wield his sword, I will tie a yellow ribbon and prepare a hero's welcome for his return home, no matter how temporary it is.

Friday, August 1, 2008

L.L. Flexible

I never, EVER buy something advertised in an infomercial.

Well, until recently.

Newly discovered bingo arms and the ham hocks attached to my hips aside, I can't really explain why Chalene enticed me to agree to the 3 easy payments for Turbo Jam. Clicking the "BUY NOW" button just seemed so thrilling and full of potential ...

I was marvelling about my impulsivity again this morning as I suffered through Turbo Sculpt. It was mat time, and as I stretched my jiggly arms toward my distant toes, a revelation struck.

Flexibility. I desire flexibility.

My resourceful husband spent days on Google maps a few weeks ago, plotting a route from our driveway to the Blackwoods Campgrounds of Acadia National Park. We even knew where all the Dick's Sporting Goods stores were along the way so that we could stop to return some of the spoils from an overzealous pre-camping shopping spree. He printed out about 40 pages of maps: zoomed out, zoomed in, with points of interest and without, the route there and the route back (including a stop for Mass on Sunday at a church in Waterbury, Connecticut. We searched for a Mass time and location which would fit our travel plan for hours.) He entered each leg of the journey into a borrowed GPS as a supplement to the printed maps. We felt ready, seasoned and wise.

In stages throughout the week, however, our Boy-Scout-merit-badge-worthy preparedness developed some holes. 1. All of our research into the trip did not reveal the fact that the campground had no showers. 2. Some of the maps became campfire starter, which was fine except for that the trip back maps which were carefully removed from the fire ring vicinity got lost somewhere in the van/wimp tent, not to resurface again until we were back in our driveway. 3. Masses have no rain delays, which is unfortunate. 4. "Clean and convenient" in an on-line hotel review doesn't always tell the whole story. "Ghetto nearby" and "Scary men leering over balconies" is far more accurate.

Despite the grimness of these holes, they were opportunities to limber flabby character muscles and stretch further than I thought I could.

Same resourceful husband hooked up a primitive cleansing area with a few trees and an extra tarp. We dubbed it a "bucket bath" and steam actually rose from the top of the tarp while in use. It was surprisingly refreshing. (Photo courtesy of Allison)

Without the maps to rely on on the way home, we had to trust the GPS, and my limited knowledge of how to work it. What an opportunity for my husband to gain patience and for me to learn to make fast decisions!

Not going to Mass was a hard blow, but it led to a good discussion of avoiding legalism and the worth of an honest intention.

Without a reputable hotel in sight, we bucked up and headed straight for home. A 13-hour day in the car is a stretch for anyone, but we made it.

Now planning is a good thing, and I do not regret a moment of the prep work we did. But I am grateful for the storms that cause us to bend in the wind.

I noticed this morning on the mat that the third time I stretched my arms down my extended legs toward my toes, I was closer to reaching them than the first time (even without a map or a GPS!) Flexibility can be learned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Novel Endings

I've heard that authors spend months - years even - birthing the first line of a book. It's important stuff, setting the tone and reeling in the reader and all that. There are a plethora of fine examples of first lines. A few quick picks from my bookshelf demonstrate:

"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."

"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

"Christina Brannigan would have laughed at the empty sheet of college ruled paper if it weren't so sad."

Not bad, eh? Are you hooked?

I picked up a book recently called Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston at my favorite library. I fell in love with the title, the cover, and then the author. I truly LOLed through the whole book. I loved his style, his humor, just about everything except...the end. Why is it that authors (save those who penned the above quotations, of course) who spend so much time crafting the beginning of their works seem so darn sloppy at the end? Perhaps they get tired, or bored, or pressing deadlines trump creativity. Whatever the reason, I often find myself disappointed as I approach the back cover.

There is a possibility I expect too much. Look at my college career, for example. The beginning was exciting, fresh, intense. The middle long and drawn out to be sure, but the tantalizing question of "how will it end?" kept interest high, like the obsessed viewers of The Truman Show (see video below). The end turned out to be disenchanting. As you can see, I didn't even blog about Graduation. It rained, I wasn't given the Summa status I earned because I transferred too many credits, and I spent most of the time cold and worried that the black from my drenched gown was going to bleed on my nice new dress underneath. Disappointing.

But, you say, what else did you expect? Where did the experience fail you? I suppose I anticipated a feeling of satisfaction and completedness. Kind of like the satiated sensation I experience after summer fare of grilled chicken and pasta salad, or the accomplishment of lying in the middle of a room I've just redecorated. Or the rare exultation of closing the cover on a book which ended in a lovely way I didn't expect.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Final Final

Rain. You might know.

I should have hired security guards. Maybe I should have called my insurance agent. At the very least, I could have invested in a plastic bag!

I was on my way to my final final and in my hand I held my ticket to success: a crib sheet. The guideline given by my professor was one 8.5 x 11 in. paper with as much information as I could fit in my own handwriting. I've been working on the sheet for days. I've kept it by my side for safekeeping, protecting it like an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. Now, mere yards from my goal, it was raining.

I angled the broken umbrella kept in the van for such emergencies and clutched the sheet close to my body. One drop of rain could wipe out paragraphs of my microscopic script.

I reached the classroom without mishap and set up my space: two sharpened pencils, a big eraser, a granola bar that I wouldn't eat because I hate making food noises in public but in Paddington-esque style felt bringing it was necessary, and my crib sheet. My professor had warned that at the end of the three hour exam, he would probably have to wrench the test from students' hands. I was ready for intense.

Ever feel like you're braced for a gripping drama just to be let down by an anticlimactic end? Well, join the club. The test was done in an hour and a half, and I barely needed my cheat sheet. I think it was my professor's ploy to get us to study more writing it all down.

I left O'Leary Center to find bright, beautiful skies. I am done.