Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Here we go, another new year

Best things about 2009
Family, friendship, love. The usual.
Knit Night
National Council & Convention
Father Scott

Worst things about 2009
Well, you know. Alex.
Saying goodbye to Father Todd
Pre-Thanksgiving holiday vomitorum in the kindergarten room

Things I could do better in 2010
Be a better friend. Keep in touch. Write letters. Do a Jenny.
Be thankful.


Holiday Wrap-up

While I never located my Christmas spirit, I think we managed to pull off a pretty nice holiday. One of the best things about keeping this blog is that I can look back and see what we did when (example -- we always look for a douglas fir, after first checking the blog from Christmas 2007); therefore, please bear with me while I detail the holiday.

Best Christmas Face - Nathan, when he opened his Buzz Lightyear. Actually, Nathan when he opened anything. No stick lip here.
(OK, so we missed his face. But I promise you, it was cute. Like this:)

Cookie time - Wednesday before Christmas, I fired up the oven. Literally. A Mexican wedding cookie rolled right off the cookie sheet onto the bottom of the oven, and when I finally fished it out, it was a cute little charcoal ball. And, I burned my hand, so the holiday is now complete. So I made iced cutouts (green trees, yellow stars and blue bells), Espresso chocolate drops, molasses cookies, pecan pie tartlets and the aforementioned wedding cookie (or are they Russian tea cakes?) I also made a batch of Chex mix and a batch of hot cocoa mix, dipped some pretzels and baked a coffee cake for Kenny. And, I made a fruit cake, using lovely dried fruits from King Arthur flour and their recipe. Note to my future self when reading this post -- forget the fruit cake. There is a reason why fruit cake is the butt of so many Christmas jokes, and your fruit cake only furthers the legend. NO ONE EATS IT.

Gifts - The thought of shopping made me anxious -- every time I was in WM or Target, I thought I would have a panic attack, and don't even get me started on the mall. We did a lot of shopping online, which turned out very well -- digital video cameras from QVC for the girls, toys for the boys, and almost everything for Will. Although Clay and I had decided to not exchange gifts, we are terrible at that -- I got him a cordless drill/saw set (so he can build that barn this spring) and a few other things; he gave me a subscription to Cooks Illustrated, a ME calendar (of course), some bamboo t-shirts for my trip and the Glee CDs. Sarah gave us a beautiful picture ornament of Allie (plus a sweater and pink water bottle) and Mags gave me a new crock pot. I got the Pioneer Woman cookbook from Karen (beautiful, just like PW's site) and some antique cat salt and pepper shakers from Sharon. Way, way, way too much, but lovely to be thought of, you know? (This doesn't even count the wonderful things from the kindergarten kids and J & L!)

Probably the best gift of the day (aside from Ron's gift certificate and the enormous bra) was the keepsake box Maggie gave to Sarah. She knew Sarah wanted some sort of box to keep Alex's blanket and other things in, and searched online unsuccessfully. I had a sewing box upstairs that my grandpa H. had made many years ago -- he had a little side business making pet coffins for the ladies down at the Eagles, and I think my sewing box was one of his prototypes! Maggie took that box to Nate, who made Sarah a box of the same size. It was beautiful; he carved handles and Alex's name on the inside of the lid. A sweet and precious gift.

Musically, this Christmas was much more relaxed, now that I am down to playing at two churches. The kid's mass at St. A was beautiful, as always -- we even had a 3-week-old baby Jesus. And OLP was wonderful, too. Father Scott came for supper -- we ended up making shepherd's pie with the lamb this year -- I think we may have hit upon a traditional Christmas Eve dish.

I didn't think we could do it, but we did. Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I haven't been blogging, as I have been busy trying to find my Christmas spirit. Let me know if you see it around.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

I've Lost It

My wrestling mom mojo.

It took me quite some time to develop. As a worrier, I had a hard time going to Will's meets when he started wrestling when he was about 6. The clincher for me was when we had to go buy a handkerchief to use as a blood rag -- required gear for the meets. I let Clay take him and report back after each bout.

But as horrible as I thought it would be to go, it was worse not to be there, so when he got to middle school, I put on my happy face, started going, and became the typical wrestling mom -- a fund-raising, snack-packing, purple-wearing, yelling, stomping, whistling weirdo.

Since Alex died, it's been hard to put on the purple shirt and drag myself to the meets -- the thought of Will getting hurt is almost too much to bear. Friday night began conference duals at Columbus East -- I made it through with just a few tears and without vomiting, so we headed to Jeff yesterday morning for the conclusion of the meet. I was doing fine, even cheering a bit. Then a boy from Bedford was hurt and carried out on a stretcher.

Fire out.

For Will's sake, I know I need to go and support him. Just like for Tommy, Nate and Paul's sake, (and Sarah, Maggie and Will) I know that we need to try to have a merry Christmas. Putting on the happy face is easy, but shoving the despair, anger and worry down far enough to survive these next few weeks is the hard part.

I'd pray for a little peace, but God and I still seem to be on a "Can you hear me now?" plan.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Value of Worry

"Why worry? If you worry, you will die; if you don't worry, you will die. So why worry?" Father Anthony de Mello.
This encouraging tidbit was shared by our deacon this past Sunday, the first week of Advent.
I know.
I have always been a worrier. Not the wring-my-hands, pace-the-floor, the-end-is-near type of worrier, but perhaps a bit more than normal.
I blame it on TV.
When the kids were little, I thought every disease, accident and mishap I saw happen to other children on the news would eventually make its way here. Thanks to PSA's and cardiac rehab center commercials, I was fairly certain my panic attack symptoms were really little heart attacks in disguise. And just thinking about airplane crashes, kidnappings and foreign diseases and hospitals is enough to keep me from sleeping when Clay is out of the country. (Thanks, Lifetime Movie Network!)

Grandma H., in her journals, often criticized herself for her worrying, and cited Matthew 6:

(26) Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (28-29) Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

While I would like to be as a chickadee or a lily, I'm just not.
I know people who say they never worry. Good for them. Perhaps they have a deep and abiding trust in the providence of God. Perhaps they are at some sort of peace that I have never been able to reach. Or perhaps they are simply delusional.
Worry makes us human. It also makes us gray and wrinkled and a little crazy, but it makes us human. Alive. Real. And as any mom (ie, Linda) can tell you, worry isn't voluntary -- it's a product of living and loving.
It's not so bad to be a worrier. Worry is just another word for concern; perhaps at times it is concern amplified to an unnecessary degree, but concern sounds nicer, more controlled than worry, doesn't it?
I choose to follow this equation:
Example: Someone worried about kids standing up and monkeying around in moving vehicles. Concern about childrens' safety led to the implementation of car seats. Car seats save lives. Therefore, good.
Worry/concern about our brothers and sisters across the planet has led to worrisome things like the Peace Corps, Heifer International, food banks, St. Vincent de Paul and adoption of precious girls from China. Good, good, good, good, good.

Instead of telling people not to worry, let's thank them. Thanks for banning the use of DDT and red dye #2. Thanks for making me wear my seat belt and keep a smoke detector in my home. Thanks mom and dad, for being irrationally strict, worrying about my future and keeping me on the almost straight and fairly narrow; while I don't know that watching "Love American Style" turned other late-1970's girls into wanton harlots and strumpets, thanks for worrying that it might.
As has been proven in this family, worry doesn't keep bad things from happening. But it does keep us aware, thinking, and turning pot handles toward the center of the stove.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rate-A-Record, Christmas Style

I'll give this one a 98, Dick. It's got a good beat and is easy to dance to, as you can plainly see. I love the tribute to our Presidents, plus, bonus points for the accordian -- Merry Klezmer Christmas.

Yes, I bought the album. Is Bob Dylan is just yanking my chain? I don't know, but I love it. It might be the direct opposite of my Christmas CD purchase last year -- Songs of Joy & Peace.

Enjoy these guys; I give them a 98, too. Bonus points just because.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So, I am reading a real book (Julie and Julia), knitting something other than a dishcloth and going to the gym.
For the first time since Allie died, I played at the Lutheran Home today. I think my peeps were glad to have me back. We even rocked out a little to Jingle Bells.
I'm trying to play a little music, write a bit and do something good every day. We'll see.

Oh, and I'm blogging again, too. Did you notice?