Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
One thing that they all instilled in me is the crazy concept that your house must be in order before you go somewhere big - like a vacation or something. After all, you could die in a car crash or have to go to the hospital, and then people would go into your house and find it in a terrible mess. Who wants to be remembered by that?
So up until this past year, I would sometimes be up almost all night not only trying to get things packed up, but also trying to totally clean house as well. Or should I say, make the house presentable?
The Chinese had a horrible superstition that my mother and grandparents would have enjoyed. Spring Festival (the Chinese New Year based on the lunar calendar) required EVERYTHING to be cleaned top to bottom before the new year began. After all, it was exceptionally bad luck to take old dirt into the new year. The ladies would clean like mad and almost wear themselves into a frazzle cleaning before the big event. And my students were mortified to find we didn't have such a custom. Many of them assumed that was why we took such a long Christmas break in America...to clean for the New Year.
I've thought about both of those traditions/customs off and on the past few days. Partly because I actually had several days off of work, thanks to Christmas and the weekend falling back to back, and I used some of that time to actually straighten up some things that were in desperate need of attention. I've actually cleaned out five kitchen drawers (and yes, I crazily tend to ignore the big things like sweeping and mopping and go for the minute details that no one else will see).
I was supposed to clean Grandma White's house the weekend before she entered the hospital for a routine surgery, but due to various reasons it didn't happen. She told me we got it clean enough the last time and it wasn't how she wanted to leave it but it would have to do. She had other things in the house to get in order. She died in the recovery room. My other Granny, whom we called Rea-Rea, died in her sleep. They said her house was meticulous. The dishes were washed and in the drainer with the cloth over them as she taught us, the broom was in the hallway, and as always, everything was spotless. They both had their houses in order. Me? I've left instructions that when I die no one is to enter the house until someone comes in to clean.
I don't think I'll ever reach the "cleanliness is next to godliness" mantra. I'll probably never once reach the Chinese level of cleanliness before a New Year. But I might actually manage to finish cleaning out all the kitchen cabinets. So if I die and you come to my house to weep and mourn, overlook the floors and dust, but you can check out my organized kitchen cabinets and pantry!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
hahahahahahaha What was I thinking?
Gone are the days when my nieces were predictable little people whose personalities were blatantly obvious and they were very easy to shop with and for. Deja vu to the '80's where I exasperated my mother to no end, only this time I was in the adult shoes. I didn't have any objection to anything the girls picked out or wanted to try on; they did a great job of choosing modest clothes that met their own personal sense of style. And there's part of the rub...I can't quite figure that style out. If I get the "look" right, the colors would be wrong, etc. They weren't rude or snobby about it, but I could tell by the facial expression that Aunt Monica was Soooo out of touch. And after almost three hours of standing in line, fighting traffic, and observing, and getting a headache, I had yet to look at one thing I was interested in. I noticed my sister didn't look for anything. Talk about an eye opener! I knew my life was scheduled, but I had never realized how, well, selfish it is. I enjoyed the day; I learned a few things about my nieces, but I also had to constantly focus my mind on the girls as people with individual wants, personalities, and needs. Today when I spent part of my time shopping my youngest niece, I was reminded again of the change, and realized how quickly that day is coming/has come when she will no longer be thrilled with what I predict she wants, for her developing personality will be trying out new things and changing.
I don't want to be a stuck-in-the mud person. But I also recognize for us to maintain a somewhat sane balance in life's rat race, we must stick to our rigid schedule. Bobby's disability and my stretch for some semblance of order demands it. And yet somewhere in this structure, I also recognize the need to flex myself in ways that aren't happening. People with large families develop that flexibility as there are multiple personalities to contend with. In our household, there's just two people to make happy: me and my husband. And most of the time that's fairly simple. Six weeks out of the year when the kids come, that dynamic changes considerably. And I struggle - bad. I want my life back in order, I want my job back in order, I want my relationship with my husband back in order....I want, I want, I want. We're supposed to be thinking about New Year's Resolutions, which I quit doing many years ago, but I'm contemplating that maybe some changes are in order. Having kids in the house for 6 weeks should make me realize how selfish I am...but a shopping trip? Guess I've got more to work on than I wanted to admit.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Two years ago, like this year, it was our turn to have Christmas in NC instead of AL. So I made my Christmas Eve phone calls, and took up Granny's habit of answering the phone that morning with "Christmas Eve Gift!" as Dad had already got me. Only halfway through my list of people to check off, Bobby's niece called. We don't have caller id, so I had no way of knowing who it was. There was a dead silence on the other end, and I quickly realized I had a non-AL relative on the other end. I started laughing and tried to explain, but got a drawn out, "OoooKay" as if to say "Aunt Monica is totally crazy." Bobby suggests we should get caller id just for Christmas Eve, and the crazy thing is: I actually briefly considered it!
So if you for some weird reason have to call me tomorrow and I answer with a loud "Christmas Eve gift!", the proper response is to say something along the lines of "Christmas Eve gift to you, too" or "I'll get you next year!" I'm really not expecting a gift.
So now you know!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Photo #1: Jessica Reese standing and rocking Baby Jesus backstage to the beat of We Three Kings Of Orient Are.
Photo #2: Josh McLean grinning, looking at his costume, then drawing his arms back into a karate stance.
Photo #3: Justin turning his head left and right to see what's happening around him while I'm trying to place his headpiece on his head.
Photo#4: Jasmine asking me for a candycane because my "daddy" wants one. I asked her if it was for the guy in the wheelchair, and she nodded and said, "yes, for your Daddy." I laughed and told her that was my husband. She then insisted that he eat it, which he couldn't because it had paper on it. Josh McLean stepped in to help, and then got in trouble for having sticky hands! Serves Bobby right for picking on kids about their candy!
Photo #5: The primary girls going through the hand motions of Away in a manger, and the boys belting out their parts.
Photo #6: Dress up time in the nursery.
Photo #7: Jonathan's facial expressions as I teased him about his Christmas list while he helped me set up communion.
Photo #8: Michelle's smile as she calmed down.
Photo #9: My finally up and ghastly lit Christmas tree. I ran out of lights and mistakenly bought a strand of colored lights instead of clear. 3/4 of my tree has clear lights, and the top part has multi-colors. But I'm too tired and ready to get it done and over with to go back and redo. And it will probably save me time because i won't be as inclined to sit and smile and look at it.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Yesterday was one of those days. I was pleased with how my to do list was continuously getting checked, feeling as if I were headed in the right direction. Then I called my Mom, and as I heard her tears, my heart lurched, and ever since my head and my heart have been riveting from one bunny trail to the other, feeling as if so much of life is so unimportant.
Thursday my cousin went to her doctor, and was told that due to an infection they were going to induce that afternoon. Hours after giving birth to a healthy baby boy, she was airlifted to B'ham, her husband being told at departure they didn't expect her to make it. She is still in critical care. All last night while listening to people talk about babies and pregnancies, my mind is pondering if Sharon will make it, what her life will be like physically if she survives, and wondering how her husband is coping with a child in one hospital county, a wife at death's door in another, and a daughter with relatives. How do you explain to a child that Mommy left home okay but will now be in the hospital for a while? It seems I constantly hear the news of mothers killing their children, but a godly woman will be taken, leaving her children behind. I know that thanks to sin we live in a broken world and broken things hurt, but sometimes I just wish things didn't seem so out of whack.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
1.5 sticks of butter
1 tsp sugar
1.5 c crushed graham crackers
Melt butter. Add sugar and crackers, firmly packing in 11x13 pan or dish.
1 can Eagle Brand Milk
1/2 c lemon juice
2 T sugar
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 large cool whip
Optional: chopped nuts and cherries
Slice bananas onto the crust. In a bowl, mix milk, juice, and sugar. Spread over bananas. Drain and spread pineapples. Put cool whip on top. If desired, decorate with chopped nuts and cherries. Refrigerate. Eat!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
- tea cakes - I LOVED making these at my Aunt Linda's because she would let us eat the dough. Mom would only let us eat the tiny portions of scraps left over at the very end. And speaking of scraps, evidently most people don't roll them out and cut them into various shapes. Most pictures I found online were circles or were not what I remember as tea cakes.
- Instant Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
- Ritz crackers & peanut butter coated in chocolate - both white and dark!
- Hawaiian pie - Pineapples, bananas, nuts, cool whip, sweetened condensed milk - all on a buttered graham cracker crust....YYYUUUUMMMM!
- chocolate covered pretzels
- fried apple pies (individual size) - This was my Grandma's speciality, but something I haven't quite mastered. My big apple pies are okay, but not these small ones.
- sausage balls
Mom also made something she called Martha Washington Candy, though it wasn't my favorite. Bobby's family has peanut butter balls (a peanut mixture, coated in chocolate of course!) which I absolutely love, homemade peanut brittle, which is also awesome but I haven't ventured into the challenge of making, chocolate chip cookies (and no matter what I do or how many tips she gives me, mine NEVER turn out like Mrs. Bryan's!), and my older sister introduced me to Oreo balls - oreos crushed, mixed with cream cheese, then coated in chocolate.
Is it any wonder why Mom always thought we had enough sweets on hand at Christmas and I didn't need a birthday cake?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
I never quite know how to answer someone when they ask me what time I get up. Our alarm goes off at 5:45am Mon-Fri, at 6am on Sundays, and Saturdays depends on what we have to do. Note I said our alarm goes off. That doesn't mean I wake up. It's not uncommon for me to wake up with a very bad pain in my shoulder or neck where I've (unknowingly, of course) turned off the alarm clock then scooted as far away from Bobby's pointy elbow as possible, meaning I'm about to fall off the bed. I've even been known to get up and answer the telephone, and a few times even talk to the person before I wake up. That's never a good feeling when you wake up with a telephone in your hand and someone on the other line.
Now, having said all that, my parents very seldom let us "sleep in". Sleeping in meant being up by 8am. So while I consider 8am late (and my husband thinks the day is half over at that point), my energy level is far from its potential at that point. I guess you could say my schedule is like this:
5:45am - shut off the alarm
6:00-6:15am - get up to shut Bobby up
6:25am - hit panic mode and start rushing
7:20am - hopefully Bobby's out the door and I start getting ready
8:30am - I head to work
10:30am -I'm wide awake, ready for a snack or second breakfast and ready to go
4:30pm-6:30pm - Don't sit still or I'll fall asleep
8:30-9:00pm - start getting Bobby to bed
10:00pm - I've got my second burst of energy and have to decide whether to lay there until I fall asleep or do something until I get tired (or until 11:30pm, whichever comes first).
As a teenager, I used to think that it would be neat if the whole world operated on a late morning late night schedule. Especially those mornings when my little sister, whom I shared a room with, got up at 5:00am just to wash and dry her hair for school. (Remember the big bangs days of the '80s?) But then years later I spent a week in Thailand where it's that way. I discovered that I still wake up fairly early because that's what my body is trained to do. And while I don't mind staying up late and sleeping in, there's something to be said for eating breakfast either as or after the sun has woken up as well. These mornings before sun up, well, they aren't even for the birds.
does that answer your question, Sara?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
- Art -all those little idea starters in that drawer? On canvas or paper. Who knows? I might even try one design in every single medium I could think of!
- Read - that pile of books on my dresser that I keep thinking I'm gonna get to... :O) They'd be replaced by new ones (because I'd have time to finish those, of course!)
- Quilt - Not only would I finish Bobby's quilt, but every single quilt idea I have sketched out, or tucked away somewhere in my brain, or have actually bought material for - they'd all be finished. Yeah, dear, I know....there's not enough time in a year for all my project ideas.
- Sew - the only sad part is that 2 of my 3 nieces would no longer be thrilled with home-sewn clothes.
- Create - I've always wanted to make a dollhouse...how cool would that be?
- Sew - finish up the few costumes for the children's play. (Deadlines, aren't they wonderful?!)
- Quilt - Get Bobby's quilt pinned and into the frame, and at least DECIDE about a quilt for Andy and Amie. (Realistically, this won't be ready for their June wedding!)
- Read - Um, that book our ladies' book club read by Elizabeth George about our minds? It's 3/4 read, so let's finish that thing and get that off my dresser!
- Art - finish that one big painting I've started.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I think this tissue holder is hysterically funny. My husband would not. He would not even let me add his name to such a gift. My sisters would laugh, but they would never ever buy this, much less put it in their homes. But what would my future sister-in-law do? And there is my dilemma. She's fashionable, much like my little sister, but she also hikes and fishes and watches football, like my older sister. Two out of three. Dare I hope she could match all three of us and possibly share mine and Andy's sense of humor? I fear she'll be like most girls and not have the same sense of humor. I may break down and change my mind and buy some frilly little crystal bowl that she'll only use on special occasions, but I doubt it. And if we do the pounding like someone has suggested (for those of you who don't know, a pounding is where you take staples and canned goods to someone's house), then I will continue the FWBBC shower prank of providing a nice big box of canned goods -with all the labels removed. And since my little sister didn't like all the poetic hints I taped to hers (I was TRYING to be nice), they'll just get the plain old naked cans.
Monday, December 1, 2008
- parents who not only love me, but taught me how to walk in Truth
- family who practice the story of the Good Samaritan, and not just hear it
- my church family
- the rich life of America - adequate roads, vehicles, hotels, restaurants, well-stocked grocery stores, houses with extra bedrooms & heat, etc.
- police & EMS crews - who actually respond to calls in a timely and mannerly fashion
- my job - I'm part-time but still have vacation hours!
- Dr. Pepper
- the diverse beauty in our nation
- the small smidgen of artistic talent humans receive from God, as we display in architecture, design, artwork, etc
- Alabama winning the Iron Bowl!
- my brother-in-law graciously allowing us to crash at his house to watch the Iron Bowl on his nice tv
- my brother-in-law allowing me to quickly use his internet to catch up on things
- a week without internet or cell phones at Mom & Dad's
- a husband who graciously drives 12 hours one way to spend 5 days with his in-laws and never complains!
- and so much more!