meandering simply

Sunday, March 30, 2008

president hillary??

You've not heard me say squat about the US Presidential election. But alas the time has come.

A few years ago after Hillary's book It Takes A Village I sort of started hating her. I couldn't stand how she seemed to want to bring the government into my house to help me raise my babies. No thank you. But during this campaign my respect for her has grown. I don't get to watch much news, but I read a lot and I read some good excepts from her speeches. I love her fiscal ideals and I think the GOP's would do well to take a crash course from her. Anyway I gave her lots and lots of grace.

However she's kind of been annoying me the past few weeks. Has anyone else noticed how she's blamed sleep deprivation for her and Bill's missteps? When Bill got all bent out of shape a few months ago and she had to reign him in, she blamed his behavior on sleep deprivation. When she screwed up and said some sillies in her debate with Edwards and Obama, it was because she was sleep deprived. And then this week when she talked about the sniper fire she and Chelsea were under in Bosnia in '96, that lie - must have been a lie, none of her travelling partners remembered sniper fire - was because of sleep deprivation. I've decided someone prone to sleep deprivation induced bad decisions should stay out of sleep depriving occupations. Wouldn't the president of the US be one of those occupations?

I really like her fiscal ideas and her health care ideas, but when push comes to shove, I just don't trust her.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

gross, but funny

A few days ago a fellow at work was telling another fellow that he was having stomach problems. The sick guy was talking about a hot dog he'd eaten on the Saturday before Easter. He said it had him so "backed up" he couldn't function.

Yesterday I heard another conversation from the two of them. The well one asked the other if he'd like to join him at The Pita Pit for lunch. The sick one let out a disgusting groan then added, "Thanks for asking, but Man I'm telling you that hot dog over Easter weekend traumatized me. I'm not eating fast food again. I'm still afraid I'm gonna end up at the doctor and he's gonna have to pull that hot dog out with a set of tongs."


Thursday, March 27, 2008

married and creating wealth

In the paper today there's an article about couples who fight over money. When I read it I smiled about a brief conversation Gordon and I had a few years ago. First I should say that God has always taken care of us and there have been plenty of times when that is the only thing we had to cling to. "God's taken care of us before. He'll take care of us now."

One day we were listening to the news about a university that had just completed a study proving that married couples are better off financially than singles. We let the commentator finish and then sighed at the same time, "We'd better stick together."

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Happy B'day Stephanie

This day - March 26 - twenty-three years ago was the best day of my life. Around 7am Stephanie rushed into my world, forever changing me. I had never known how much I was capable of loving because I'd never loved anything like a loved that pink bundle of warm flesh. She was so beautiful and so willing to let me comfort her, love her, be her everything. I gladly stepped up to the plate as her protector, defender, nurturer. I didn't know until March 26, 1985 how much love my heart was capable of. I never knew anything so powerful, so pure, so beautiful. Have I ever told you all just how precious that little girl was? She was everything any mother could ever want in a little girl.

I remember when her Aunt Doobie (that would be my best friend Debbie) took her to Quality Shoe Store and bought her a size 0 pair of Nikes. Back in those days, she was cutting edge. It seems everyone does the designer shoe thing now, but Stephanie was the first baby I knew who wore Nikes. She was unaware of how cute she was, but where ever she went people owhhed and awhhed about her cute shoes. When she outgrew those, Debbie took her and bought her another pair. Man, was Stephanie ever proud of those. I remember her sitting in the passenger seat of Debbie's Camaro. I walked up to the car and Stephanie about threw her back out trying to show me those shoes. And she was sporting a huge smile.
When Stephanie was just getting secure in her walking skills, she stepped off the curb in front of our church cutting her lip. (Five kids later I know that was hardly worth the fuss, but it was a huge deal then). It was her first injury and I was so afraid her psyche was forever damaged. I hadn't protected her and somehow this would always be at the root of all her problems. (I was reading some distressing books that addressed things like that.) I cried, she cried. I felt like I'd failed her by not protecting her better. I was wearing a newer white dress. Her bloody lip was ruining my dress. I was aware of it but marveled that it didn't matter.
She was bright, curious, outgoing, and she was absolutely secure in her knowledge that she was amazing. It never crossed her mind that strangers thought any less of her than her fan club. We often went to Fish Net on Friday nights. When we'd finish eating and begin our exit Stephanie would head to the tables nearest us to say "Bye-bye" and give kisses. I had to intercept or she would kiss everyone there.
She was also curious and a wee-bit into everything. Once at Fish Net when she was beginning to learn the ropes about "decorating" her own baked potato, she insisted (she was stubborn and viciously independent too) that she be left alone to figure it out. She gnawed and clawed at the sour cream packet and evidently succeeded in puncturing it. I know that because when she finally set it on the table to give it a ferocious pound, the sour cream shot out headed east and landed in a pile of hair two tables over. The lady had a big doo caked in hair spray. She felt something in her hair and Kent and I watched in horror as she started patting her doo with impeccably done up hands complete with fake nails and real diamonds. She patted within an inch of the sour cream but never touch it. We held our breath and kept telling Stephanie to shhhh about it. She was totally captivated with the sour cream in the big hair and it was a blessed relief when the lady left the restaurant. (Looking back I don't know why we didn't just tell the lady. She didn't appear the gracious kind. She was un-approachable-looking and I guess that's why.)
At four Stephanie became a big sister. One of my favorite memories of that day is her happiness. Her Grandma Ninky brought her to the hospital. While helping Stephanie out of the car, she noticed Stephanie shaking. She asked her if she was cold and Stephanie responded, "No I's just es-sided (excited). We still say "I's just es-sided" when it fits. I am perfectly convinced Stephanie was the best big sister there ever was. She loved Christopher with fervor and still does.
Sometimes on Thursday mornings, she'd go to Sunshine House while I went to Bible Study. Once when I picked her up she was thrilled that she'd got lunch there. I asked her what she had for lunch and she said with a pronounced drawl, "HorMel chili." (That's another thing I repeat: When someone ask what's for supper, sometimes I answer "HorMel Chili.")
I think I could tell Stephanie stories for hours, but time doesn't allow. She still has all the qualities that she had as a child, but much more subdued. Now she's the mama with the little guy to dote on. I enjoy her doting very much. It will be interesting to see if Roman is as into everything like his mama was. I love her. She still refreshes my spirit like no one else can. She's a delightful person.
Stephanie, I wish you the merriest birthday and happiest year ever. You are one of the reasons I was put on the earth - to make sure you got here. I love you with all my heart.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

To all the voracious readers reading this blog: I invite you to join Mindi and me in our newly established online book discussion group. You can find out a bit more by going to Or you can go to our discussion group site and check it out.

We'll start out by each member choosing three (maximum) books she'd like us to read and discuss. Then slowly and comfortably we'll work our way through our books. The idea is for us all to be reading the same book at the same time so we can discuss it.

The other idea is to get us all reading genre's that may not be our choice. You may put a book on the to-read list that I would never have been exposed to or desired to read, but for the sake of fairness and friendship, I'll read it. (And you'll read the ones I chose too.)

Any takers?


Easter Trivia

Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population has ever seen it this early (95 years old or above). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier.

The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913.

The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. In a nutshell, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the job

This morning Gordon has a meeting that coincides perfectly with taking the girls to school. So I have an extra hour at home. I thought I'd update you on my job. I work for an association. I didn't know until this job how associations across the board have so much in common. My work before life with Gordon was with an association. It was a Christian association, but the similarities between what I did there and what I'm doing now are really pretty amazing. I work for an organization that lobbies and provides supports to the food and beverage industry. Sounds kind of boring, eh? Nothing glamorous at all.

Things I love about my new job:
- The hours are phenomenal.
- I have a lot of freedom. If I need to run out and pick the kids up, I just tack 45 minutes work to the end of my day. I cannot believe how generous they've been with me in this department. They've repeatedly told me not to worry about these sorts of things. My boss phoned me a couple weeks ago to inquire how I needed to work spring break. She asked me if I wanted to modify my hours. I couldn't have asked for better support.
- I've been able to build in some good habits with my new job. Right after I set my stuff at my desk in the morning, I go to the back of the building and run the stairs a few times. I do it again before I leave in the afternoon and I do it when I go to the bathroom too. This reinforces my "Baby Steps Toward Change" focus for the year.
- I have a great kitchen at work and I have it stocked with healthy food. Not one ounce of junk.
- I am my own boss, sort of. I have a couple bosses but they work out of different offices. I'm trusted and I love being trusted. We correspond several times a day by email and I get tons of work from her.
- I couldn't have created a better job for myself. God was really looking out for me and I'm so thankful. This job has a wonderful balance of thinking and hands-on stuff plus opportunity to learn lots of things.


the laneys

It's probably criminal how I rob other people's blogs. But Stephanie posted this today. Isn't it sweet?

I could use your help. I need all of you to help me convince JM that Stephanie and Romie Boy really need to see Beppie. PLEEEEEEASE.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tink and company

The story goes like this: A mama named Tink had three little pups. About the same time a different mama gave birth to a piglet. This mama wasn't as good as Tink at mothering. She neglected the little guy. While his eyes were still closed, the owner gave him to Tink to nurse. She accepted him as her own. Apparently Tink is very protective of him. His name is Pink and not because of his color. Pink is short for Pig and Tink.
I hope this makes you all warm inside like it did me.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

dog park

Lucy. That's Bear in the background. (click on pictures to see them up close)

Yesterday at the dog park a male dog came up to Deborah for some love. She blessed him with pats and attention. Then she asked if he was a standard poodle and I told her he was. She wondered aloud, "How can a dog be a poodle and a male?" I have wondered that all my life. It just seems wrong.

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sweet sweet sweet

I thought you might be wondering what Stephanie and Romie Boy look like today. :-)

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

stella & steph's picture

A few days ago I emailed my sister my work photo, the one I had just sent to head office. She said she had a hard time seeing it because it was too big for her screen. My heart did a quick palpitation as I imagined everyone at head office hee-hawing over me sending such a huge picture. "As if she thinks she's so hot that she needs this huge picture. What an ass!"... That's what I imagined them saying in the split second my rational brain took a leave of absence.

It all reminded me of what might be at the root of my picture neuroses. Here's how it went: When Stephanie was a baby we attended church with a lady, let's call her Stella, who stood up every Sunday to make a formal announcement about this, that, and the other. I don't recall that she carried a title, but I have little doubt that in her own way, she ran the church. Stella always had ideas, some of them plain frightening.

One morning she hit me up at the church entrance -- Stella always "worked" the front door. She asked me to bring a picture of Stephanie to church. Puzzled, I asked the whys and what fors of this strange request. She suggested it would be nice to have one of the nursery baby's picture displayed in the nursery every week. I clarified what I understood her strange, but workable request to be. Yes I would bring a framed picture of Steph to be displayed for one Sunday.

The following Sunday as we were leaving the house, remembering my commitment to Stella, I grabbed the adorable 8x10 framed photo of Stephanie off the tv. Stella was of course perched at the front door and was most grateful for my contribution.

After Sunday School, Stella rose gracefully and went to the front of the church for her customary announcements. Imagine my horror - no, there's no way you can - as Stella held up Stephanie's beautiful picture and said, "Look at the beautiful baby. Valerie brought this because she'd like us to put it on the nursery wall..." Then she pulled a plug for nursery workers out of her butt. She closed her announcement encouraging everyone to come by and enjoy a look at Stephanie's picture. Then to spread out the humiliation, she sat the picture on the communion table - right beside the gigantic Holy Bible - where it sat throughout the whole service.

Seconds before my eyes starting shooting lasers, (as in The Exorcist meets The Matrix) she turned to me and said, "Valerie, again thank you for sharing this beautiful picture of Stephanie. It's easy to see why you're so proud."

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Rebekah 2007.

I saw a dwarf today. I don't recall the politically correct word. Is it dwarf or midget? One's been deemed derogatory, - I think it's midget but I'm not positive. Perhaps I should say I saw a vertically challenged gentleman.

When my sister Stacie's twins were little they were as cute as could be. (They still are). In this particular memory they must have been around 4. Straight black hair, black observant eyes, thick little cheeks, thin dark bodies. They were somber and studious. Instead of asking tons of questions like my kids tended to, Rebekah and Emily studied people and surroundings quietly. They were very gentle little people.

(When I was a single mom with just Stephanie and Christopher, I briefly dated a fellow from hell. In our last blessed conversation he asked me, "Why can't your kids be more like your sister's?" Dreadfully mature, I responded with, "Why can't your breath smell like something other than a rotting armadillo carcass?" -- But that is a totally different story.)

When Emily and Rebekah saw their first dwarf they were impressed with the oddity. Stacie carefully explained that he was a midget. The second time they saw one, Rebekah recalled the former conversation but not perfectly. "Mama there's a pigeon," she said. Stacie corrected her quietly and gently with, "He's a midget, not a pigeon. A pigeon is a bird."

Months passed. Stacie was walking with the twins, holding each one by the chubby little hand, when they saw a dwarf entering a doctor's office. Studying him, Rebekah said, "There's a pidget."

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

from gordon

A dog is truly a man's best friend. If you don't believe it, just try this experiment. Put your dog and your wife in the trunk of the car for an hour. When you open the trunk, who is really happy to see you!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I've told on different occasions how sheltered I was. I just thought of an example to drive that home. Soon after Gordon and I married we had communion at church. When I drank "the wine" I was aghast that the juice had gone bad. I leaned over and whispered, "this juice has gone bad." Gordon leaned back and said, "it's wine."

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

garbage can

I've had this garbage can since Kent and I married in 1984. It's gone through 24 years, 5 kids, 2 husbands, 2 countries and 9 moves. Several people have offered to buy me a new garbage can but I've been determined to see how much life I could get out of this one. With the new job and Deborah now having garbage duty, more and more garbage bags were getting torn and spilling because of the old dilapidated garbage can. So I finally put the can where it should have gone a good 10 years ago and got a new one - just like the old one except it's black. I figure with the kids growing up, this can should be with me in old age.


not your ordinary lazy Saturday

We're tired. Very very tired. As you know, I've started this new job and some days, especially the days where someone in the fam has after school activities, it's hard squeezing in a good family meal.

Well, my worries are over - at least for 4 or 5 weeks. I made 14 meals today. My beloved husband chopped, diced, and minced vegetables and meat. I would have hated this day without his help. But help he did. It was enjoyable since I wasn't doing it alone. At the end of the day, we were very very tired. We went to Gordon's mom's in the evening and after ice cream and cookies, lots of both, I fell asleep on the sofa.

Here's what we made:

Baked Jambalaya
Beef Goulash
Taco Soup
Hearty Hamburger-Tomato Stew
Rainy Day Chicken with Rice
Denise's Black Beans with Sausage
Winter Pot Roast
Ham-and-Swiss Pastry Bake
Chicken Chili
Taco Pie
Slow Cooker Beef Goulash
Green Chile Enchiladas
Rosie's Meat Loaf
Deborah's Sweet-and-Sour Chicken.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

John Mark

Fall 2007 John Mark and a roaring Romie Boy.

This week my son-in-law John Mark has been on my mind. I have smiled many times as I've recalled things he said and expressions he made while I was with them in October. I felt very comfortable (too comfortable??) there.

One night Stephanie had indigestion. I encouraged her to drink a cup of water with a tad of baking soda in it. Stephanie and JM were sceptical about my home remedy. I waxed eloquent guaranteeing it would do the trick. Stephanie wasn't sold on the idea. I reminded her of the burping contests Christopher and I had had in the past. I swear JM's eyes lit up when I said, "burping contest." I was only too thrilled to mix each of us a cocktail and proclaim confidently, "just give it a minute." Within moments we were burping loud and proud, trying to outdo each other. Stephanie was an under-achiever in the game, but I had fun and I think JM did too. (Should you want me to lead a burping contest in your living room, my services are free for the asking.) John Mark and I bonded that night.

One evening I went with them to their small group Bible Study. In the course of the evening an elderly lady motioned toward JM and said, "It's like John David was saying last week..." Puzzled and probably looking it, JM leaned over and said, "last week she called me John Paul." Something about the way he non-chalantly accepted his lot of being called different names struck me as so funny. I leaned in and responded, "pretty soon you'll be Jesus Christ."

One day Romie Boy had two white dots on his penis. JM was changing him and discovered it. He called Stephanie (the nurse) in to look at it. She called me in. We stood over Roman all looking at the dots. Stephanie touched and discovered one dot was a piece of lint. She picked it up and authoritatively declared, "This is a piece of lint!"

John Mark who knew all along that that dot was lint - it was the other dot he was concerned about - looked at Steph. With the corner of his mouth slightly upturned he countered, "Stephanie, I know what a piece of lint looks like."

Every baby penis I've ever known has does the white-dot thing. I wasn't concerned a bit. Steph and JM continued to probe around the little white dot. Again with unabashed authority, Stephanie announced that aside from the white dot, "that's what a penis is supposed to look like." JM looked at Steph with just a hint of irritation and said, "Stephanie I know what a penis looks like." I about split my gut laughing.

But the hardest I laughed the whole time I was there was at an expression he made. How can I accurately describe an expression? I can't. You'll have to trust me on this one. But it went sort of like this. A somewhat proper friend at Steph's work, Sally, had asked a hugely invasive question when she came to visit Steph after Roman was born. Steph couldn't understand where the question "came from" as it wasn't the tone of their friendship at all. However inappropriate Sally's question was, she still asked it in her "proper" way. The nearly horrifying question? Well it was, and I quote, "Have you and John Mark been able to resume sexual intercourse?"

Now for me, the horror was the question being asked, period. Steph shared my sentiment. It was the question itself that was so out of bounds. Stephanie somehow forgot to tell JM about this until I was there. I will never forget how it went. I was so expecting JM to be repulsed by the question having been asked. When Steph told him, he wrinkled his nose ever so slightly and his top lip turned up in a sickened grimace, and he said, "resume?" It was the word resume in the context of sexual relations that so repulsed him. I can in no way relate how funny it was. It was at that moment I discovered I had incontinence issues. And still, months later I find myself curling my lip up and saying, "resume?" and laughing out loud.

Every evening when JM got home he took Romie Boy and together they cuddled, fitting together like hand in glove until Roman went to sleep for the night. It delighted me to my core.

A couple years ago I didn't know how a child-in-law changes one. For me, prayer focus has always been on my offspring, but now to fully "cover" my Stephie Pooh in prayer, I pray for JM. For in praying for JM, I know I'm praying for JM, Steph, and Roman. I'm profoundly thankful that me prayers for JM aren't borne out of burden, but rather thanksgiving.

"Thank You God for JM and for helping him be a good husband, good daddy, and good man."

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rush hour traffic

Yesterday during rush hour I was in the innermost left lane pulled into a busy intersection waiting my opportunity to turn left. Simultaneously, two semis roared by shaking my van and casting a ominous shadow (as in the valley of the shadow of death) on me. One went past on my left, the other rumbled past my right having turned in front of me. I shuddered in my little fork between them thinking about the margin of error I had not built into my turn.

That thought quickly led to a cute Christopher moment. Several years ago he and I were at a similar fork downtown during rush hour. I pulled into the intersection as two lanes sped toward us, turning (their left) right in front of us.

Christopher was hunkered down a bit in the passenger seat. His hand was on his forehead as if ready to cover his eyes before impact. As cars sped past us - all of them looking like they were coming right toward us - Christopher drawled, "I'm about to pee my pants."

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