Sunday, December 23, 2007

Disconnect to Reconnect

I'm going to unplug the laptop and put it away for a week or so. Blogs and emails can wait, and even if I submit scholarship applications, there will be no one around to review them until after January 1. Rhett has taken vacation time while the kids are out of school, and I crave connecting with the real, live people with whom I share a home and attempt to build a life. We plan on spending some quality time with hot cocoa, popcorn, and good old-fashioned board games. (I may even sneak in some knitting while we watch a holiday movie or two.)

I hope everyone is having (or had, depending on what you celebrate) a joyous holiday season, and I'll see you next year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Finding My Way

I've been a little slow about getting into the Christmas spirit this year. We finally got the tree decorated Monday night, and I got the last of the shopping finished up Wednesday, but decorating and shopping aren't the keys to Christmas for me. Actually, I find that I have to try to feel Christmas in spite of the decorating and the shopping.

Remembering the Savior isn't something we should cram all our energy into between Thanksgiving and the New Year; it's kind of like being saintly on Sunday and Wednesday, but ignoring our spirits the rest of the week. (I think that's part of the reason I struggle with church attendance, like it's my way of proving I can be spirtual on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.) Still, I fall into the trap every year. While decorating and shopping give me more things to lag behind on, I feel guilty for playing into the superficiality of the holiday if I actually keep up. I usually have a melt down at some point because I hate the inauthenticity I feel within myself, and this year was no different.

Then, I reconnected with my favorite Christmas music, and my tattered spirit was soothed. I'm not talking about "Silent Night" or "Joy to the World." I'm talking about Forgotten Carols, the powerful story of John, a mysteriously old man who claims to have been around for over 1900 years, sharing songs from obscure characters in the Christmas story. There's the song by the innkeeper, begging us all to "Let Him In" or the shepherd who heard about the Christ child from his friends that trekked to Bethlehem and still believes even though he didn't actually witness the event himself. One of my favorites (because really, they're all my favorite) is "Handel's Dream," which depicts the composer in his pre-Earth life as a tiny angel auditioning to sing in the heavenly choir announcing the birth of Jesus.

The story and songs by Michael McLean were turned into a musical that has been touring out West every Christmas for fifteen years now. When they released a DVD this year, I knew I had to have it. If I could afford it, I would buy thousands of copies of the CD, book, and DVD and give them away like candy. Instead, here is a little slide show I found on YouTube set to the song "I Cannot Find My Way/Three Kings." Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


One of my cats has been acting suspicious lately. This morning, I walked into the bathroom to blow dry my hair, and Matilda was slurping out of the toilet. As soon as she realized I had seen her, she quickly sat up straight and snapped, "Who? Me? Oh no, I was just checking to see if the bathroom meets inspection. Carry on!" (She is a big Project Runway fan, so she tries to fit "Carry on!" and "Make it work!" into a conversation whenever she can.) She jumped down onto the tile and glared at me while I dried my hair, and as I left the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of her hopping back up onto the toilet seat and sneaking another sip.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't secretly drinking alone a big red flag? I honestly think she has an addiction. I tried to talk to her brother, Murphy, about it, but he just said, "So, she drinks out of the toilet every now and again. She says it relaxes her. As a matter of fact, you're looking a little tense; maybe you should try it." Obviously Murphy is just a big, fluffy enabler and isn't going to be any help. Ever since that ribbon eating incident, I've known that he's a bad influence. (Trust me; a cat that poops rainbows isn't as cool as it sounds.)

I guess we could keep all of the toilet lids down, but then she'll just start stealing bacon from the breakfast table again, and substituting one addiction for another won't do anyone any good. We could send her to kitty counseling, but she always clams up around strangers. Is there a twelve step program for feline toilet drinking? Even if there were, I don't know if it would matter. Have you ever known cats that were willing to admit that they were powerless over anything? I think I'll just lay down the law and tell her there will be no more toilet drinking in my house. She'll probably cry and tell me that I'm being unreasonable, or she may even try to convince me that a little swig of toilet water on the weekends won't hurt. If she does, I'll just put it in language she can understand. I'll say, "Matilda... make it work!"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Haiku Hullabaloo

Youngest has been studying poetry in his fourth grade class, and he has been trying out all of the same forms I remember working with waaaaay back when I was in elementary school - you know, when I only got to ride the school bus after the wheel was finally invented. Yesterday he wrote an adorable haiku:
I love you so much
I'm talking to Mom and Dad
That's my love Haiku
The cutest part, however, is that he used a heart for "love" in the first line and for the "o" in Mom and the "a" in Dad. Isn't that sweet? Of course, this is the same little monkey that was having a farting contest with his brothers not too long ago. Oh well. I'll take what I can get. Youngest's little poem reminded me of my most favorite haiku ever:

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don't make sense
I originally saw that little gem by Rolf Nelson on a t-shirt. I wanted to order one, but it is sold out. Still, go ahead and check out threadless; they've got some cool stuff. Which reminds me, I need to go finish my Christmas shopping. Ooh... Can I make that into a haiku?

I'm getting stressed out
Christmas is coming too soon
Can I just skip it?
Okay, I probably don't want to do away with Christmas altogether; I just want to refocus on what is really important. Heck, I feel that way all year. I think I feel another poem coming on:

Peace, hope, joy, and love
My wish for you this season
Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Open Marriage

It's not that easy to keep secrets in our house. The place is frightfully small, and my husband works from home, so we're together a lot. Anyone would find it hard to hide much of anything under the circumstances. So, I'm not exactly sure why I didn't realize sooner that he was cheating on me.

Sure, he seemed kind of squirrely sometimes, but I chalked it up to him just having an off day. Then, he was avoiding eye contact when we were together, but still I thought I was simply being paranoid. Sometimes, he tried strange new things, but wouldn't tell me how he on earth he came up with such clever techniques. I couldn't ignore his behavior any longer when he started scurrying off to his office at odd hours. I knew he was on the computer, but doing what? I finally demanded an explanation.

Needless to say, I was shocked. I always thought that we had the same hopes and dreams, the same goals in life. Then, if you can believe it, he tried to blame me for his indiscretions. He said that I was too hard on him, and that he didn't know how else to cope. He didn't even attempt to stop all the nonsense. He just kept right on doing it, right in front of me, like it was perfectly normal.

I tried to understand why things had turned out this way for us, but the longer it went on, the angrier I became. I eventually decided that two could play that game, and I cheated, too. At first, it was all about spite, but, over time, I began to see things in a different light. Couldn't it spice things up between us? Wouldn't our time together be a little more interesting? After fifteen years of the same old same old, it would certainly be educational. In the end, couldn't we both be winners?

I'm sure there are many out there who would say this is just plain wrong, and I'm not proposing everyone try things our way. However, there is something magical about being open to new ideas. I know that for me and Rhett, anyway, the best decision we've made in a long, long time is, without a doubt, agreeing that we could both use a word builder to play Scrabulous.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Olives for Olive and Snowflakes for You

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Olive who?

Olive you!

Here's the cute little baby hat I've been working on. The best part about this hat is that I made it for a little sweetie named Olive! As soon as I saw this hat, I knew Olive needed it. The pattern is from Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson, and this book has some adorable designs. As a matter of fact, I think it may have helped me solve a problem I've been having.

My sister-in-law in Miami is expecting a little girl in March. This is not just any little girl. This is The Girl Destined to be Most Spoiled in All the Land. You see, my husband is one of four brothers. So far, there are eight grandchildren... all boys. You have no idea how much pink frilly goodness has been saved up for this unsuspecting soul that will grace us in the spring. I have been knitting sweaters for the last couple of new babies in the family, but it seems cruel to knit a Miami baby a sweater. It's like saying, "We're so glad you're here - now go have a heat stroke." But I feel like I absolutely must knit something for her. Well, Itty Bitty Hats to the rescue! Every baby needs a cute hat, right?

Well, the semester is finally over, and I've been taking some time to destress a little bit. I've been catching up on some knitting, reading, napping, and generally goofing off. This morning, Youngest reminded me of one of my favorite forms of procrastination. In honor of CyProWriMo, I would like to share it with you...


Make-a-Flake is so much fun, and there are no little scraps of paper floating all over the house. I love it because I can make intricate little designs that I just can't seem to manage when I try it on paper. Trust me, I've attempted it, but it ends up looking like a drunk monkey got a hold of the scissors. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and give it a try! (I mean, try Make-a-Flake, not handing sharp objects over to inebriated primates.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

A baby pinecone is hatching in the backyard.

The real reason the boys like to go to Grandma's house.

Monday, December 3, 2007

All the Boring Things I Won't Post Today

I've been sitting here for a few minutes racking my brain to come up with some semblance of a blog post. I've started a draft on a few different things, but they are all just excruciatingly boring. Just so you'll know I tried, here's what they are:

  1. My eighth grader's assistant principal announced on the intercom that students are not allowed to congregate in groups of three or more. I'm honestly not sure how they're going to enforce that one. I'm not even sure why. Maybe it's because the school is a global studies magnet, and this is a way of studying what it would be like to live in a communist country.
  2. Rhett evidently swallowed a gerbil. He keeps clearing his throat every minute and a half or so. He's only sitting three feet away from me. Can you tell I get easily annoyed by extraneous noises? I wonder... if I hit him on the back of the head, will it make him feel better? Will it make me feel better?
  3. School is almost over for the semester. I have these delusions that over the month long break I am going to get more organized and accomplish a lot of things that I've been putting off because of school. I know, I know. I said they're delusions, okay?
  4. I've been having panic attacks every night when I go to bed because that's when I remember all the stuff I've been putting off because of school. One of those things is Christmas shopping. I'm getting a little anxious just writing about that one. *think happy thoughts - think happy thoughts - think happy thoughts*
  5. I've been feverishly knitting a darling little hat for a friend's daughter, but I forgot to take pictures of it in progress. Now it's almost done, and I can't stand to take a picture of it so close to the finish line. It'll have to wait until after Thursday because I have a couple of last minute things to tidy up for school. Trust me, though. It's cute.

See? I wasn't kidding. It's a total yawn fest around here. Oh well. At least I didn't try to blog any of that drab drivel. Maybe something intriguing will happen tomorrow.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Don't Hafta if I Don't Wanna!

Guess what... It's December 1st. That means NaBloPoMo is officially over. I don't have to post today! No matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone does, I absolutely positively refuse to post. I will make my presence known in the world by my lack of posting. I am the ruler of my life, and I will not post today under any circumstance.

What? This? Oh yeah, I guess it is, huh? Darn it!

*whispers* Just pretend I wasn't here, okay?

Friday, November 30, 2007

One More Time!

Last time I took on a thirty day challenge, it didn't go so well. NaBloPoMo has worked out a little better for me. Surprisingly, I managed to post every day, and once in a while I even wrote something mildly satisfying. I was so excited at the idea of putting a little badge on my side bar to let the whole world know that I actually finished a project I started - but then I saw the badge on the NaBloPoMo site:

Ack! It's cute and all, but does a fluffy girl like myself really need to plaster a dough boy on her blog? I don't think so. Luckily, some other creative types have come up with badges that they're willing to share with the graphic design challenged crowd. I'll choose one of those non-pastry-oriented versions.

NaBloPoMo has been fun, and I've met some interesting characters. Just check out my links bar to meet them yourself. Now, those crazy bloggers have come up with another challenge:

Check here at the individual voice for the details! Am I crazy? Yep. Will it be fun? Definitely. Will I feel guilty if I mess up on this one? Come on, the logo obviously states, "We Are The Procrastinators"!

Oh yeah, this is my kind of challenge.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can Opener Soup

Have I mentioned how much I love my crock pot? I think it's the best technological advancement in ages. It's like having hired help as far as I'm concerned. Tonight, the house was filled with a wonderful aroma, and our tummies were filled with one of our favorite meals.

A couple of years ago my mom gave me this recipe for Taco Soup. When you see the ingredient list, you'll understand why the kids and I decided it needed a different name. I'm sure the die hard foodies out there will turn their noses up, but around here, super easy and really tasty trump gourmet any day. Enjoy!

Can Opener Soup

2 lb hamburger
1 diced onion
1 can Ro-tel
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can chili ready tomatoes
1 can light kidney beans
1 can chili beans
1 can corn
1 can hominy
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
tortilla chips
shredded cheese

Brown ground beef with onions. Combine cooked beef, canned goods (undrained), and dry mixes in large crock pot. (I've used a 4 qt, but it always makes me nervous that it's too full. A 6 qt is much better.) Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Big Fat Liar

I am a complete fraud. I am so ashamed of myself. Do you see the title of this blog? It's "Word + Craft." Have you seen any craft around here lately? Nope? Me neither. I originally intended this blog to be equal parts knitting and random musings. So far, I've only made one knitting post. Do you know why? BECAUSE I HAVE NOT BEEN KNITTING!!!

Sorry about the yelling. I'll try to calm down. It's just that I miss knitting. I miss the coziness of the yarn sliding through my fingers. I miss stopping every few rows to admire my handiwork. I miss the rhythm and the repetition. Knitting soothes me, and since I haven't been soothed much lately, I'm getting kind of cranky.

I've been so time crunched between the end of the semester, Thanksgiving, and just playing mom that the last time I tried to knit a few rows, I fell asleep. I decided it was better to put the sticks and string away than to risk a fatal knitting accident. So, I still don't have any progress updates , because there hasn't been any progress. But I can show you what I want to knit...

The Patons SWS in Natural Geranium wants to be a Calorimetry when it grows up.

The Knit Picks Essential in Shoreline Twist is jumping up and down to be a pair of socks for Rhett.

The Knit Picks Shadow in Lost Lake Heather has repeatedly tried to become a Gloriana lace scarf (it's the one on the far left), but I kept having to frog it because I'm horrible at tinking lace.

And, the Manos del Uruguay in Stellar is destined to become My So Called Scarf.

Do you see how patient they are? They just watch from afar and wait for their turn. (Although, the Manos has been known to sigh loudly on occasion.) I can't keep leading them on like this. Soon - at least I hope it's soon - I'll stop being such a liar and help all of my little yarn friends achieve their dreams.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dream On

I had the strangest dream last night. This guy from church - we'll call him Bro. Friendly - was really angry with me. You have to realize that Bro. Friendly is, without a doubt, the nicest guy I know. He is always smiling. He teaches Sunday School and even does a Family Fireside once a month. But for whatever reason, in my dream, Bro. Friendly was not all that friendly. He was all red-faced with a vein bulging in his forehead, and he was right up in my face, just screaming at me. He kept accusing me of stealing furniture from some family I didn't even know. All I could say was, "I didn't do it! Rhett did!" About the time I was sure that Bro. Friendly was actually going to punch me, I woke up.

I wonder what that dream means. Let's look it up in a dream dictionary. Evidently I am a conflicted, anxiety-ridden, attention-starved mess. (Stop giggling, Rhett.) Who knew the images from my dreams could be so accurate? Let's try a couple of other dreams I remember.

I have a recurring dream about my teeth falling out. That means I feel powerless or out of control. (Yep. Most days.) I often dream that I flunked high school and have to go back and do it all over again. That signifies feeling inadequate. (Are you noticing a pattern here?)

Aha! This is a bunch of hooey - I found one where they are completely wrong. When I was pregnant with Oldest, I dreamed I gave birth to a kangaroo. According to the dream analysis, that means I was anxious about delivering a healthy baby. No, no. That's not it at all. That was a prophetic dream about having a son with big feet who likes to carry toys in his britches.

Whew! For a minute there, I thought I was really messed up!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Frazzled, but Happy

This is me after spending the last umpteen hours cranking out my research paper. I'm exhausted, kinda scary lookin', but so glad to be done. Granted, it's only a rough draft, but with the excruciating self-editing I do on the fly, it's smoother than you might think. I may have a few too many direct quotes, but I'll change those to paraphrases tomorrow - or the next day. And just think, I got it all done with three hours to spare until the alarm goes off! (Actually, my fantastic, darling, absolutely wonderful husband has promised I can sleep in tomorrow. Sweet, huh?)

Now I just need to write my play analysis. Anybody out there got 1500 extra words lying around?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Right, Already!!!

I really don't want to post today. Not at all. I've been writing about Sylvia Plath all day, and I don't really have any other words left, but the little voice inside of me keeps pushing me to do it anyway. I don't know why I'm listening. It's not like the NaBloPoMo police are going to knock on the door at midnight and haul me in for my lack of blogging. But still, I am here typing.

That voice loves to nag me. It is the same voice that tells me I need to keep house better, reminds me I'm not exercising enough, prods me to fret over grades (both mine and my children's), and constantly whispers that no matter what I do it's never enough. That voice is torture.

I realize this post is not remotely funny, or interesting, or enlightening. Believe me, I know that. But it is a post nonetheless, and maybe that voice will shut up now - at least for a few minutes.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's Caturday!

I'm still deep in Plath-land, so it's time for more funny kitties - and bears!

Funny Pictures

Funny Pictures

funny pictures

more funny pictures

Friday, November 23, 2007

We Surrendered

The kids have taken over the living room. They have firmly planted a PlayStation flag on their newly acquired territory. Luckily, Rhett and I escaped unscathed thanks to a cleverly drafted peace accord. The agreement gives us rights to the bedroom television and passage to the kitchen as needed. So, we spend the evening as refugees.

Thank goodness for Tivo.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today is all about giving thanks. (Or overeating. I'm never sure which.) Anyway, I thought I'd take a minute to think about what I'm thankful for:
  1. My kids are smart, funny, strong, and healthy.

  2. Rhett is patient with my silliness. Very patient.

  3. We have a roof over our heads and food on our table.

I truly am thankful for these things, but the list feels a little stale. This is the same stuff everybody else is thankful for. I need to show gratitude for the little things, the things I usually take for granted:

  1. Rock-star parking

  2. Yarn ( I would say it's cheaper than therapy, but if you saw my stash you'd know I was lying.)

  3. Warm socks

  4. The way my Dad's eyes light up when he tells a joke

  5. One of the cats, Matilda, being smart enough to stand by the door and use a special meow when she feels a hairball coming on

  6. My favorite song playing on the radio exactly when I need to hear it

  7. Yarn-stealing squirrels in Canada - They give the Yarn Harlot something to write about.

  8. And, of course, I can't leave out pumpkin pie:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Guest Blogger

Murphy here. Deanna asked me to fill in for her today. I guess she's supposedly doing homework. Whatever. I usually don't spend a lot of time on the computer unless I need a warm place to take a nap, but I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get some things off my chest.

First of all, what is with the lolcats? Do you people really think we talk this way? Give me a break! Even that idiot across the street, Snowball, is smarter than the cats in those stupid pictures. I mean, really, who spells like that? And enough with the buckets and cheeseburgers already. It might have been funny the first eighty-three times, but give it up. The whole idea of lolcats is just offensive. Don't make me call the ACLU about this.

One more thing: The human on feline violence has got to stop. Just because you have opposable thumbs doesn't mean you have the right to torture us with the weapon of mass annoyance:

You know it's not a fair fight. All I'm saying is, if you don't want a hairball in your penny loafers, put down the spray bottle.

I gotta run. I just heard the dryer buzz, and I have a feeling there is a basket of warm towels with my name all over it. Later. - M

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's up Chuck?

Since Mike Huckabee is our former governor, and my kids have a penchant for Chuck Norris jokes, I absolutely had to post this:

I still have no clue who I'm voting for, but I like that the Huckster isn't taking himself too seriously.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Oh, Sylvia

When choosing a topic for my research paper, I finally settled on Sylvia Plath's poetry. I know that sounds trite and so overdone, but I feel like I must. When I was in high school, some of my more literary girlfriends were bordering on obsessed with the tragedy of Sylvia Plath. They went on and on about Plath's brilliant expression of her pain in life, always talking about how they, too, would "eat men like air." I never took the bait. Honestly, I was far too busy plotting my own suicide attempts to be fascinated with the poet who stuck her head in an oven. Depression is very self-centered that way.

Now, almost twenty years later, I feel like I've conquered the demon that is Depression - or at least trapped him in a cage where I can poke him with a stick if he threatens to cause trouble. Now I feel like I have the distance I need to even approach Sylvia Plath. Now I've lived longer than seventeen years, and I understand more about the life of a wife and mother that Sylvia chronicled in much of her poetry. Now, I get it.

Don't get me wrong. I actually think some of her poetry is horrible and disjointed. I don't know that she would be so popular if she had lived, or even if she had died in a less spectacular fashion like a car accident or a heart attack. On the other hand, some of her poetry has a clarity and a brutal truth that is hard to find in the world today.

Also, I understand her. I understand not wanting to be alone, but sometimes feeling that men are more trouble than they're worth. I understand motherhood being the pinnacle of accomplishment and simultaneously being the shackles that hinder moving forward. I understand never feeling good enough, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.

I've been reading her journals, and I am struck by her overwhelming intelligence. (Supposedly, she had an IQ of around 160.) The journal is sprinkled with little pep talks she is constantly giving herself, trying to stay one step ahead of the demon. I find myself feeling strangely maternal towards this woman who would be around seventy-five if she were still with us. I want so badly to take her by the hand and tell her it will all be okay, that she is not the only person in the world that feels this way. Sometimes, that's all it takes - just knowing that you're not the only one.

So, even if five or six angst-ridden young women in my class choose to research Sylvia Plath, I don't care. Even if my instructor is sick and tired of reading about Plath's tortured soul, I'm doing it anyway. The truth is, they don't matter any more. This is between me and Sylvia now.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random is Good

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a pounding headache and a desire to do nothing but curl up in bed until I didn't feel like I just got hit by a truck anymore. Then I remembered... NaBloPoMo. (Some things sound like such a good idea in the beginning, but eighteen days later, not so much.) Not only did I not feel like writing anything, but I also didn't have any idea what to write. Well, thank heavens for Library Diva. She tagged me for a random meme. Here are the rules:
  • Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share seven random and or weird things about yourself.
  • Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Here is the randomness of me:
  1. When I was in 8th grade I won the school spelling bee. I later lost the county spelling bee because I missed "yardbird." Yes, I know how to spell "yardbird," I just got so excited that I was given such an easy word that I blurted out, "y-a-r-d-b-a-r-d. " Yardbard? What is that? Shakespeare mowing the lawn?
  2. When I was little, I named everything George - stuffed animals, lizards, my brother's goldfish, all George. We got a dog that the rest of the family insisted on naming Smoky, but to me he was always Smoky George.
  3. I like wasabi peas, partly for their spicy goodness and partly because I just like to say wasabi.
  4. Ditto with edamame, except for the spicy part.
  5. I think being a midwife would be the coolest job in the world. The only thing stopping me from pursuing that career path is my affinity for sleep. I tend to think that a laboring mother would get a little distraught if, after calling me at 3 a.m., I said, "Now's not really a good time for me. Can I get back with you around 10:00?"
  6. When we first got married fifteen years ago, Rhett convinced me to give up my favorite side of the bed, and I've never truly forgiven him. I secretly love it when he goes out of town because I can finally sleep where I want.
  7. One day when Rhett and I were driving home from North Little Rock, I counted 134 silver cars. Why? If you haven't determined my sanity level by this point, it won't do any good to attempt an explanation now.

Now for the tagging:

Thanks for playing. Now I will return to my regularly scheduled miserableness.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ten Things You Probably Don't Know - Or Even Want to Know - About Me

1. I was born without eyelashes. (I guess I was undercooked.)
2. My earliest memory is of my older brother and my cousin holding a big plastic spider over my crib.
3. When I was five, I wanted to be a hula dancer when I grew up.
4. When I was fourteen, I wanted to be Whitney Houston when I grew up. (Now I'm kinda glad that didn't work out.)
5. After I saw American Idol auditions for the first time, I vowed never to sing in public again. Thank heavens my shower isn't in public.
6. I love the smell of tabasco sauce. Seriously. Like huffing it love it.
7. When I was eighteen, I rented a studio in an old house converted into apartments. One night, one of my friends (who worked for my landlord) said, "I did the wiring in that house. I'm surprised it hasn't burned down yet." A couple of hours later, there was a fire.
8. My first job was cleaning chicken poop out of chicken feeders. I guess gagging the whole time made me a less than stellar employee, and they asked me not to come back a second day. I was totally okay with that.
9. I love lolcats. They make me giggle.
10. I'm a member of Mensa. If I'm an example of the top two percent of IQ's, we should all be very worried.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

34,000 Ways to Say I Love You

I just found a sock in the middle of the living room floor. I know, I know - as a mother of three boys I should not be all that shocked. What you have to understand is that it wasn't just any old sock laying there abandoned and helpless. It was a handknitted sock.

My boys don't fully realize what that means. In At Knit's End, Stephanie Pearl McPhee (aka Yarn Harlot) says that the average handknitted sock is made up of 17,000 stitches. Yes, you read that right. 17,000 stitches. Now first of all, I didn't realize I had the attention span to do anything 17,000 times. But even more surprising is the fact that, in order to make a pair of socks, I actually had the attention span for 34,000 stitches. In fact, I cherished every single stitch.

You see, when I knit a pair of socks, I'm not just producing an item that I could buy for $1.99 at Wal-Mart. Every inch of the four hundred yards or so of yarn that goes into those socks slides between my fingers as I knit, and I put a little bit of myself into that humble knitted gift.

This is important to me because my boys are getting older, and I often have to send them off into the cold, cruel world to fend for themselves. But I know that when they wear those 34,000 stitches, I'm with them in some way. Since nobody really notices socks, it's like our little secret. I keep their little feet warm. I cushion their step as they run and jump and play. I give them a foundation to stand on when they are faced with a difficult choice.

I know it sounds like a lot to expect from a pair of socks. But trust me, it's in there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Rules and How I Break Them

To have an entertaining blog, there are a few rules one should follow. Being that I generally love to bend, stretch, twist, and otherwise manipulate rules, it should come as no surprise that I don’t follow the rules for blogging either. Let us review:

1. Always have something funny, interesting, or enlightening to say, even if you are only posting that you have nothing to say.

Even though Rhett thinks that I never shut up, I actually do run out of things to say occasionally. (That’s usually when I resort to poking penguins.) Even if I haven’t run out of subjects to blather on about, I can’t promise that I’ll be remotely funny, interesting, or enlightening. Now funny looking I can work with.

2. Be constantly on the go. Make trips to interesting places like festivals, or vacation in exotic locales.

Here’s my current list of places I travel: school, back home again, the grocery store, and sometimes I actually make it to church. Scintillating, huh?

3. Take pictures of everything, and then make even the bad ones seem witty.

Have you heard my motto? It’s “Oh crap! I forgot the camera!”

4. Have remarkable friends with clever screen names who provide amusing anecdotes for your blog.

Um, yeah. Did you catch the part where I said the places I go are school, the grocery story, and home? The only people I regularly hang out with, I either married or gave birth to.

Oh well. Next week, my new pal KangarooCharmer and I are going to the first annual Knitting with Noodles Festival, and I’ll be sure to get pictures of the “linguine lace” class. Maybe I’ll have something good to post then.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Lately I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, and this morning was no different. I was stressed about a Spanish exam, I still hadn’t decided on a topic for my research paper, the dust bunnies in the closet were ganging up on me, the fat lady in the mirror scared me half to death, and I accidentally stepped on the cat. By the time I got out of the house, I was a self-conscious, overly worried bundle of nerves. Then, something magical happened.

I went blank on a couple of items on the Spanish test – and it was okay. I saw the fat lady’s reflection in a window – and she wasn’t so scary any more. At lunch, I actually let myself just enjoy eating lunch instead of frantically searching for a research topic while I dripped salad dressing all over my books – and the world kept right on spinning. I had no idea things could work that way.

Who knows what changed. Maybe the planets all aligned. Maybe some wish I made on a star one night so long ago I’ve forgotten what the wish actually was finally came true. Heck, maybe I’ve just achieved some kind of miraculous hormonal balance that has washed all my cares away. I’ll never know for sure, but this afternoon has been absolutely splendid. The changing leaves are more vivid, my husband is more handsome, my children are more precious, and the fact that I have no idea what to fix for dinner doesn’t bother me in the least.

Yes, life is good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Do you ever feel like you've totally bitten off more than you can chew, and that you're about to fail miserably, and your whole family and anyone who ever knew you is just waiting for it to happen so they can say they knew it would all along?




I mean, yeah, me neither. I was just curious.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We Caught a Critter!

Last year we had the pleasure of hosting a little possum family in our back yard. We actually discovered them because one early morning, just before 6 am, a baby possum - not much bigger than my fist - bumped into our patio door. Over the next few months we watched a mama and four or five babies as they traipsed through the yard occasionally on the way to their home in a little grove of trees and vines in the corner of the property. They never bothered us, we never bothered them, and even the cats only seemed mildly interested in our new neighbors. Eventually, we stopped seeing them. After doing a bit of research, I learned that possums are gypsies by nature and don't settle in permanent homes, but may return to favorite hang-outs off and on.

A couple of weeks ago we started hearing noises under the house. Rhett looked in the crawl space and couldn't see any animals, but did see a trail of food wrappers leading to the house. We had learned that possums are scavengers and wondered if our little friends had returned. I love those little possums, but I only love them in the yard. Once they start scratching around under my bathtub at 3:00 in the morning and giving me the heebie-jeebies, it's time to move along. Procrastinators that we are, we finally got the (humane) pest control guy called yesterday. He closed off the entry points to the crawl space and set a trap.

He also put some kind of cream filled cake in there, along with some peanut butter crackers, as bait. We woke up this morning and guess what we found...

A possum! Isn't he sweet? We are wondering if he's one of the babies from last year because he seems so small compared to the mama. Notice the empty cake wrapper. In America, even the little forest creatures are junk food junkies! I don't know about you, but when I eat too much sugar, I may feel good for a while, but eventually I crash and get really REALLY cranky...

I guess I'm not the only one! In all actuality, even though he looks like he's snarling at me in this picture, he's just showing me his teeth. Whenever I got close to the cage, he would just calmly open his mouth like he was saying, "See, they're pointy. I could bite you if I really wanted to, you know." Then he would close his mouth again and go back to being cute.

I think I'll name him Harold. He looks like a Harold, don't you think? I wonder where the pest control guy will release him. I honestly don't know if Harold would know how to survive in the wild. This is an urban possum who likes his fast food. I have a feeling if he gets dropped off in the woods, Harold will find his way back to the land of Twinkies and Doritos. Maybe he'll even drop in and say hello. But the Smith Bed and Breakfast for Possums is officially closed, so he'll have to use the campsite in the corner of the yard when he visits.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Study Break

I've been trying to force myself to get some homework done today. (Note: the keyword there is trying.) This afternoon, a squirrel caught my easily distracted eye, and I decided I should take a few minutes and play with my new camera. First, I tried to get a shot of the squirrel:

Of course I had to snap this with the optical and digital zoom through the patio door because when I head outside, he always disappears. (He's squirrely that way.) Most of the pictures turned out as a blur because he would always move as soon as I focused in on him. Next, I ventured on outside and snapped this:

I don't know why I even like this one. I just do. I guess it seems quiet and contemplative. Here's a shot of "The Little Begonia That Could":

When the weather got so unbearably hot last August, I gave up on keeping the flower pots on the front porch watered. When they became an eyesore, I asked Rhett to just stick them in the back yard. Once the weather cooled down, these little begonias came back with an explosion of red. I'm curious to see how long they last. One more:

Another survival story. After being horribly neglected during the heatwave, I actually wondered if the rose bush would survive. Not only did it survive, it is cheering up my mess of a flowerbed with its delightful pink goodness.

Well, I can't put off writing this silly poetry analysis forever. (Okay, I could, but I'd flunk.) I'm off to be a good little girl now - at least for a few minutes.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Whatever happened to "my dog ate my homework"?

Bomb threat today at school. Second time this week. I was turned away at the gate because the campus is on lockdown. Does somebody really think this is funny? Haven’t they heard that the beauty of college is if you don’t like it, just don’t go?

Oh well. I guess I’ll take a nap.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In Memoriam

Poetry is dead –
Killed by the over thinking of it.
Dissecting the once lyrical lines has made them stilted and stagnant.
Delving too deeply for hidden meaning has left me in nothing but a muddy hole.
I hear the authors groan collectively at the overworked interpretations and attempts at intellect.
“Just read it,” they say.
“Take it in; let it become a part of you. Listen to the songs we sang just for the singing of them.”
But in Academia, nothing can be just for the sake of being.
Every particle must be named and discussed and stretched thin.
Math likes it that way. Science thrives on it. History revels in reliving itself.
Even Prose weaves its way through verbal minefields invigorated by the adrenaline rush.
But not Poetry.
Poetry was a free spirit, flitting through our lives,
Leaving us changed, with us not realizing that Poetry had done the changing.
But then,
Poetry was trapped by a textbook and bound by a curriculum;
Forced to fit into the categories allotted to it, and
Then, finally, smothered by the weight of it all.
If only Poetry will forgive me!
Forgive me for the part I played in picking it apart until there was nothing left.
Gorging myself on the deliciousness of it until Poetry lost its flavor.
Oh Poetry – you will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Jokes My Kids Told Me

Since there's a big writers' strike going on, and the late night shows are in jeopardy, I'd like to submit some of my boys' finer material for consideration. Jay, Dave, Conan - you know where to reach us if you want some of this comedy gold for your monologue!

Q: What do cannibals eat at parties?
A: finger food

Q: Why did the elephant sit on the marshmallow?
A: So he wouldn't fall in the hot cocoa

Q: What do you get when you cross Star Wars and road construction?
A: R2Detour

Then there's always the Chuck Norris jokes:

A lot of kids wear Superman pajamas... Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

Most kids check their closet for the boogie man... The boogie man checks his closet for Chuck Norris.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

Today I'm working on a little presentation for my Theatre class about The Angel Project, a self-guided theatre installation/walking tour of New York that was held during the Lincoln Center Festival in 2003. As I've been reading reviews, there seem to be two major questions asked over and over:
1. How do I tell who the "angels" are vs. who the normal people on the street are?
2. Why can't I have this experience every day just by taking a deeper look at the world around me?
That second question inspired me to take a few minutes and really appreciate the view from my kitchen table.

Just beyond my laptop I see a stack of school books that I still need to put away. And there's the paperwork from parent-teacher conferences that I still need to file. Is that a dirty sock one of the boys took off from church yesterday sitting on the dining table?!?!?

Maybe I should look out the window...

Uh oh. Oldest still needs to pick up the wood scraps from his latest project. And who left their socks under the trampoline? We have really got to get the leaves raked. It certainly wouldn't hurt to sweep the pine needles off the patio.

Perhaps I should try the kitchen again...

Oh crap. The laundry is staging a coup. There is dried scrambled egg on the counter because my children eat like farm animals. That plant is dying of thirst. I really need to mop this floor.

Oh, never mind...

I suddenly don't feel a need to appreciate my surroundings at all. I liked it better when my blinders were on.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Five Reasons Fall is My Favorite Season

1. The crisp air – it somehow signals to me that it’s time to snuggle up with somebody I love.
2. Hot cocoa – drinkable chocolate, need I say more?
3. Changing leaves – The world never looks more beautiful or more comforting to me than it does right now.
4. Pumpkins – pie, muffins, cookies, whatever… it’s all good!
5. Sweaters – I finally get to wear yarn and not just play with it. :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Are We Done Yet? or ¡No Puedo Aprender Más!

I feel like I've hit a wall. I'm at that point in the semester when I just want to take a nap, and hopefully when I wake up it will be winter break. It's not that anything is really that difficult; I just don't seem to have the stamina to keep going. That's why I'm blogging right now instead of writing my two-page critique of Barefoot in the Park. And don't even ask me to conjugate subjunctive verbs in Spanish. I feel like that for every new Spanish word I learn now, one that I learned long ago falls out of my brain. I have reached full capacity. How on earth am I going to major in Spanish if learning to say, "Recomiendo que tú hables con tu mamá," means that I forget how to say, "¿Cómo estás?" Then there's the poetry paper, the research paper, the play analysis, etc... Never mind all the normal family chores that I'm supposed to be doing, but woefully neglecting. Let's just say I'm a little overwhelmed. So, I'm going to take that nap. I fully realize that when I wake up it won't be winter break yet - it will only be Saturday afternoon. But for now, that will have to do.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finally, Some Knitting!

So, it's only day two of NaBloPoMo, and I'm squeaking in under the wire yet again. Tonight we went to see Barefoot in the Park at The Rep, and Rhett talked me into going out for dessert afterwards. Oldest and Middle are on a Scout campout, and Youngest is staying at Grandma's. I couldn't very well say no to pretending we don't have kids to come home to! At any rate, that got me home a little later, and then I spent the last fifteen minutes trying to figure out posting photos to the blog. Here we go!

This is the first time I've tried toe-up socks. I'm still trying to decide if I like it or not. The cast off seems a little ruffly to me, and the short row toe and heel aren't as portable as I'd like. It frustrated me when I couldn't take this project to school because I knew I'd have to concentrate too hard on the short rows. But hey, one down, one to go. I'm also working on this:

This is Wavy from Knitty. It seems like it's not as wavy as I'd like it to be yet, and it doesn't seem as wide, but it measures like the pattern. I made one of these for my niece a couple of years ago, and it seems like I had the same concerns last time, so I'll just keep on knitting.

I guess that's all for now. I had better post this quick before I miss the midnight deadline!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


So, a couple of weeks ago I heard about NaNoWriMo, where completely insane people spend the month of November cranking out a 50,000 word novel. First of all, I'm just not a fiction gal. Second of all, I really don't have the attention span. But tonight I read about NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), where people (who may or may not be sane) vow to post to their blog every day in November. Now that's more my speed, so of course I signed up right away. Since November 1st is almost over, I am hastily posting the little ditty you're reading now. Pardon me for the scattered, slap-dash post. Just think of it as my little way of saying, "Happy NaBloPoMo!"
P.S. (I keep hoping to finally post some pics of my latest knitting adventures, but real life keeps getting in the way. Maybe tomorrow.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Obligatory Dear Husband Post (For That One Guy Up in Michigan)

One of Rhett’s buddies cruised by the blog the other day, and his main comment was that my dear husband is conspicuously absent from my writing. I don’t know if this truly concerned him, or if he was just making a casual observation. I honestly hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess after rereading previous posts, I can see why he thought that – but he’s wrong. Rhett’s presence is all over this blog. Just maybe not the way you would expect.

First of all, there wouldn’t even be a blog if it weren’t for Rhett. If I hadn’t gone back to school, I never would have remembered how much I love writing. Even now that I am back in school, Rhett is my number one cheerleader, constantly encouraging me to keep going. Rhett’s never-ending patience with my insanity/eccentricity ( I never know where one stops and the other begins) allows me to indulge my creative side, whether knitting or writing, while I try to decipher who I am and who I want to be.

So, never fear. Rhett’s absence is his presence. If you read about my latest escapades in academia or my tangled world of knitting, just know that Rhett is behind it all. Whether he’s helping with the housework or reminding me that I can accomplish my goals, Rhett is unmistakably important. Just like the old adage that says behind every successful man is a good woman, I firmly believe that behind every successful woman is a man who isn’t afraid to do the dishes.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'll Take "Safe Answers" for $500, Alex

Sunday night we were all driving home from my parents' house, and the boys were discussing the difference between nerds and geeks. Evidently, according to Oldest Son, there are stringent criteria for each classification. After listening to the debate for a bit, I posed the question, "What am I?"

[Insert cricket chirping sounds here.]

Evidently the boys were afraid to answer, and I have to give them props for being smart enough to not call me a geek or a nerd (at least not to my face). I finally broke the silence and gave them some advice that will take them far in life (especially when they get married), "No matter what the conversation, if a woman asks you 'What am I?' the answer is 'beautiful' boys. The answer is always 'beautiful'."

Not missing a beat, Rhett chimed in with, "And if a woman asks you anything else, the answer is always 'Yes, dear.'"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Two Favorite Black Holes

I had industrious plans this evening. I was going to study for my Spanish exam and come up with a dazzling thesis statement and outline for my next paper. I was even going to post some ridiculously witty piece of writing here on this very blog. Then, I checked my email.

Now, it's not the email checking per se that has sucked the productivity out of my evening. It's where a particular email led me that is causing so much trouble. The subject line appeared harmless enough: "Do we read the same books?" Considering that the sender recruited me into her book group, I was thinking, "Of course we do, silly. We have at least one book in common every month." But curiosity got the better of me and I opened the email anyway. The email was actually an invitation to, an absolute paradise for book readers and list makers alike. Not only can you keep track of what you've read, are reading, and want to read; you can also network with other readers. It's like Facebook for bookworms!

My other big time-waster lately has been Ravelry, which is to knitting what Goodreads is to reading. Not only can I keep track of my yarn stash, my needles, current projects, and projects-to-be; I can see what others have knit with a yarn that has been sitting in my stash way too long, or I can see what yarns other knitters have used for a particular pattern and then substitute without fear. I could get lost on Ravelry for days. I even broke down and ordered a digital camera just so I could post pretty little pictures of my stash and works-in-progress. (Yes, I do realize I'm the last person still using film.)

Well, at this point, I really do need to get busy. I still have a Spanish exam tomorrow, and I still have a paper due next week. But first, I just want to add one more book to my list...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Just Do the Math

I read an article called "30 Days to Success," and the premise sounded simple enough. Try a new habit for just thirty days, and then you can go back to your old miserable ways (or not). I decided I would try getting up each morning at 5:00 a.m., because as we all know:
early to bed + early to rise = healthy, wealthy, and wise

Unfortunately, I forgot a few other key equations. Like...
early to rise - early to bed = sleep deprivation

sleep deprivation + PMS = total meltdown

early to rise + momof3gr8kids = What the *#%@ was I thinking?

Monday, October 1, 2007

I'm Missing an "H"

I've always felt defective. I understand now that I've been measuring myself against an impossible standard: my mother. She is absolutely amazing and always so full of energy. I truly believe that she accomplishes more before 8:00 a.m. than an average person does in an entire week. But when I was I kid, I didn't realize that. I just saw her buzzing around and felt incredibly inadequate.

Seven or eight years ago, I was finally given a name for my perceived inadequacy: Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. (Unfortunately, naming the problem didn't cause my bathroom to instantly shine or get me caught up on laundry.) What I noticed about this diagnosis was the glaring absence of an "H". You see, my type of attention deficit is known as "inattentive". This is the zoning out kind of ADD, the kind where I am blissfully ensconced in my own little world until something truly interesting comes along. ADHD, on the other hand, is for the unfocused types who run around, always busy with something, even if it's the wrong thing to be busy with. The way I see it, the "H" is the crucial difference between the two types. So, I've decided I desperately need my missing "H".

I think my Mom has this elusive "H". Let's face it, what we might call "hyper" in children, we just call "having a lot of irons in the fire" in adults. I also think that the "H" can skip a generation. While Oldest Son is a dreamer like me, Middle Son definitely has the "H". (The jury is still out on Youngest Son. So far, he seems miraculously balanced. It must be his father's fault.)

Now before anybody gets upset, let me make it clear that I don't think having ADHD is necessarily easier that having ADD. But, you see, I've already got the whole unfocused routine down. I've been working on that for thirty-five years. But if I found my missing "H", I might actually get something done. Sure, I might only get the dishwasher halfway unloaded before I get the brilliant idea to make a tutu for the cat, but at least half of the dishes would be put away (and the cat would look really cute, but miffed). So, needless to say, if you see an extra "H" floating around, send it my way!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rules of Engagement

Let’s just say that I’m a woman of ample figure. I personally prefer the term voluptuous. I’ve decided that my ancestors must have lived in some incredibly cold climate where extra body fat ensured survival because my body seems genetically prone to extra padding. (Admittedly, I’m sure that both my unnatural affinity for chocolate and my extreme aversion to exercise haven’t helped my situation.) Even the times in my life when I was somewhat slender (which have been much fewer and farther between than I would have liked), I’ve always had a little belly bulge that could easily be mistaken for a baby bump. That being said, you can understand that I live with a mortal fear of someone incorrectly assuming that I’m pregnant. Luckily, most people have enough good sense not to say anything – even if they’re secretly wondering, “Is she, or isn’t she?” So, imagine my horror during the following scenario:

The other day, I noticed an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen for a couple of months. I waved and said, "Hi Michelle*!" She smiled and shot back instantly with, "Hey girl! Are you having another baby?"

Okay, Michelle has just broken the first rule of communication regarding suspected pregnancy: Never ask a woman if she is pregnant unless she exhibits one of the following signs:
a) She is wearing a t-shirt with some sickeningly cute "baby on board" style motif.
b) She lovingly rubs her belly on a regular basis. (This one can be tricky,
however, especially with the lactose intolerant crowd. Beware of confusing
baby love with indigestion.)
c) She is overheard gushing over her latest ultrasound or the wallpaper she's
chosen for the nursery.
I, by the way, had exhibited none of these symptoms prior to my encounter with Michelle.

After I recovered from the initial shock of Michelle's blatant disregard for rules of propriety, I tried to laugh it off. "Nope – my last due date was May of 1998." Michelle, however, insisted, "I was just sure you were having another baby!"

Now, it's bad enough that the first faux pas occurred, but we all make mistakes. Enter the second rule: If you ever erroneously assume that a woman is pregnant and blurt out that assumption due to a momentary lapse in judgment, at least try to soften the blow by saying something like, "Sorry, it was a wild guess because you are just absolutely glowing!"

Stunned once again by Michelle’s brazenness, I flatly replied, "No Michelle. I'm just fat." But, bless her heart, this woman just wouldn't give up. As if her sheer force of will could have made her allegations true, she diligently rubbed salt in my wounds, repeating yet again, "Oh girl, I really thought you were pregnant."

At that point, I simply walked away.

Unfortunately, aside from a scholarship to charm school, not much can be done for Michelle. But let us all learn a lesson from this experience. The third rule is simple and trumps all other rules: If in doubt, just keep your mouth firmly shut. Ladies, you never know when you’ll be the victim of a bad combination of post-lunch bloating and trendy empire-waist fashions and desperately need the same consideration from someone else. For the sake of women everywhere, please, just be quiet.

As I’ve reviewed this experience in my mind over the past few days, I’ve tried to determine if I could have made the situation less awkward. After careful contemplation, the answer I’ve come up with is no, probably not. But I could have said something so outlandish that I would have at least gotten a good chuckle out of the look on Michelle’s face. Something like, “Of course I’m not pregnant. I’m just bulking up so I can go as Buddha for Halloween.” Needless to say, it’s so much easier to be witty twenty minutes after the need for wit has passed. But rude people are lurking in the most unlikely places, and when I go into battle with the next one, I’ll be ready.

* Names may – or may not – have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. But, if your name is Michelle, and you had an eerily similar conversation with a fat lady last Tuesday, you might want to reevaluate your manners.