Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taking a Break

Time to take a break from writing. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with much joy, love and adventure!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cookies, Anyone?

A cookie-lover's dream -- Emily, Pam and Leah's annual cookie exchange! Each person (and there were over 20) brings six dozen of her favorite cookies and after a wonderful lunch, we each get a tin, line up, and start taking cookies from each pile. Oh, there were delicious cookies! Lots of chocolate ones this year, along with hazelnut filled chocolate cookies, peanut butter bars, molasses crinkles, white chocolate pumpkin, Linzers, and snickerdoodles! I was too full from lunch to try any of the cookies.

Today I fasted and once I got home from church and Kate's concert, I was starving! I dashed to the kitchen to sink my teeth into an assortment of delicious cookies, but what to my disheartened eyes did appear but three tupperware dishes filled with bits and pieces of what used to be cookies! My cookies were clearly violated!!

Now, I'm guilty of biting into chocolates to see what's inside, but really? Taking a bite out of a cookie? Can't you sort of get the hang of it by just looking at it? Can't you see that it has nuts in it? Can't you tell it's made of chocolate? That it looks like a gingersnap?

Well, disheartened and disappointed -- but not totally discouraged -- I grabbed the tupperware filled with cookie pieces and a Diet Coke and sprawled on the couch and ate bits of 2o different kinds of cookies.

My Favorite Nativity Depiction

Ahh, it's all there -- the true story of the night of Jesus' birth. I imagine this is between the visit from the shepards and the wise men.

You see throngs, and I do mean throngs, of angels absolutely crowding each other, pushing, yearning to see a glimpse of Jesus, stretching and leaning. There are dozens of them -- all ages and races and sexes. Can't you just imagine their comments, "Oh, I do think he has Mary's eyes." "He's so much smaller and sweeter than I thought the Savior would look like." Well, I know Joseph's not the real father, but there is some similarity, don't you think?" "Oh, just look at those eyes, will you?" "And what about his tiny hands... and his dark hair." " I'm sure Mary is so proud." "Oh, I think she just be overwhelmed and exhausted. She's had all those strange visitors all night long -- and those animals." "The baby has sure been a good little thing. You know, pretty quiet through all the commotion." " If some angels would just take a look and then move on, we could all take a look at the baby." "He's so fragile and tiny that it's hard to believe he'll have to save all humankind."

And then you'll notice Joseph. Does he look happy? No. He looks like he's about to lose it! "Okay, God, you told me about this woman and that I'd need to accept her, love her and trust her 'cause she's on your side, but did she have to bring all these people? How did they find our little manger (cave) so fast? I think the singing and harp playing and 'ooohs' and 'aaahhs' are giving me a headache."

And Mary. She just looks really worn out and pensive. -- most likely thinking of her huge responsibilities in raising this young God. She's a first time mother. she's a new wife, a woman of very limited experience and she is so crazy in love with this little, innocent, perfect creature who has finally been born, suckled, cried a bit, burped and fallen asleep.

And of course -- and this is the sweetest part of all -- Mary's best friends are there! They were probably in Bethlehem paying their taxes, too. And when they finally found Mary and Joseph in the manger, they said, "We've been looking all over for you! We just knew tonight was the night. We felt it in our bones." How perfect. Best friends know how to make you feel good. They know the right words, they bring the right food and drink. They know when you need a break from a kid, or a nap, or a or just a good long massage. They're there to give her moral support and tell her what a great mom is and not to worry -- there will always be people in the family who will be here to help. Good thing, too, because it looks like Joseph needs to pull his act together and nab some buddies to come help him celebrate. And of course there's the dog (and her pups). The faithful canine who will stay with the holy family and love them to pieces no matter what crazy things they may do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

In honor of Thanksgiving, I've listed 99 things I'm grateful for. I hope I never take them for granted:

Colorful autumn leaves
An unexpected snowfall
Fountain Diet Coke
Someone writing on my Facebook wall
A Sunday nap on a sunny couch
Hot drinks on cold days
Cold drinks on hot days
Finding the perfect rock
A belly laugh
Photo albums
Gatherings with loved ones
A hot bath
A massage
A good book – anywhere, anytime
Primary presidency meetings (really!)
D.C. in the spring
Having all my family home safe and sound at night
Google (what did we ever do without it?)
Hydrangeas in Takoma Park
A fully tummy
A crackling fire
Music, music, music
The National Portrait Gallery
Being a U.S. citizen
Having confident kids who know they’re loved
A phone call from a friend
Spotting crocuses on a warm February day
A warm, comfy bed
Road trips!
Playing cards with Mom, Dad and Darryl
Shopping and lunch with Kate
Seeing “my” egret on her pond on the subway ride home from work
Parents who are storytellers extrodinaire!
The smell of rain on red rocks and sagebrush
Lakes, streams, rivers, ponds
The sound of Kate with her friends
Eating breakfast for dinner
Adventures to New York City
Access to doctors and medical facilities
Down from the Mountain album
People with a sense of humor
A good stretch
Darryl’s belly laugh
A colorful family history
Primary songs and hymns
The view out my office window
Puffy clouds
Blue, blue skies
Soaking my feet in hot water in the bathroom sink
A clean house
Having the missionaries over for dinner
Book club
A pantry full of food
People who share because they want to
Compassion and gentleness
Bear hugs
Good families and vigilant parents
A fiercely orange sunset
Growing up surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles
Mom’s chili sauce
Walking through University Park in May when everything is blooming
Bright colors
David’s calm and even tempered nature
Keeping a secret
Alone time
Bread pudding with caramel sauce
Just-picked fruit, tomatoes or corn
The farmer’s market
Second chances (or third or fourth)
Primary kids – wiggles and all
Open mindedness
The long days of summer
Friends who me and still love me!
Reading books with kids
People who look me in the eye
Stupid/funny movies
A heavy rain with lots of thunder (as long as I’m inside)
Getting out the Christmas decorations
Mom’s oatmeal raisin cookes

The Mail Order Tree

Two years ago I was googling what the best Christmas tree was. I was intrigued by the frazier fir but, alas, none of the tree lots here carried them. So I googled even more and found out I could order one from Maine. They'd cut it and ship it the same day. It would arrive at my door. So, with great enthusiam I ordered the tree and anxiously awaited its arrival. Here's a picture story of what happened.

The In Between

It's Thanksgiving Eve which means it's less than a month before Christmas! So, this is the time we try to squeeze in the holidays -- the in between time where we have big holiday dinners TWICE in a month! And haul out all those decorations. And shop, well over shop, for our family and friends. It's a time when we squeeze in a ridiculous amount of parties and get togethers. It's a time to cook and bake like a maniac. For me, it's a time when I resolve to do things differently THIS year, but I usually don't. I guess that's how traditions are formed. so now I'm spilling the beans about the traditions that I have created for myself...and love:

1. Crazy baking. When everyone is gone or asleep, I like to make a ton of candy and butter balls. I whip around the TV so I can see it from the kitchen, get in my sweats and bake away.

2. McShopping. I take a day off work without telling anyone in the family. I get up early and shop and I always stop at McDonalds for a hamburger, french fries and Diet Coke. These must be consumed while driving between stores and Christmas music must be blaring.

3. Wrap a Thon. Again, a solo activity. Must have use of the entire living room and have at least 10 kinds of wrapping paper with loads of different ribbons and card tags. A humongous Diet Coke and some homemade caramels must be within reach!

4. Christmas Clean. I think I got this from my mom. The house has to be spick and span for Christmas. This means every nook and cranny. And it can't just look clean, it has to smell clean. The ironing gets done while watching a Christmas movie. The fridge gets cleaned while the Carpenters serenade me.

5. Candle Mania. I will spend a lot of money on candles. I love Hobble Creek's Orange Spice candle. It IS Christmas! I spent well over $100 last year just on candles. Candles = Happiness!

Now, what I always say I am going to do, but never do:

1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
2. Adopt a needy family.
3. Read the Christmas story out of the New Testament
4. Go to lots of free Christmas concerts
5. Go easy on the presents
6. Write thoughtful Christmas cards to family and friends
7. Watch "It's a Wonderful Life"
8. Play board games with the family
9. Invite people over for dinner, games or dessert

Yeah, those things never get done, so hopefully I'll have a lot more Christmases to work on it.

Monday, November 10, 2008


This is absolutely, positively, unequivocably my favorite time of the year!! I am struck speechless by the dazzlingly colored leaves. I can't get enough breaths of the crisp, chill-laced air. I can't stop looking at the brillant blue sky. I love all the bright red, yellow and green apples piled high. I want to buy every single pumpkin and gnarled squash and gourd I see. I want to skip down every leaf covered sidewalk and kick up leaves into mini leaf swirls.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am rock freak. I love rocks. I love to look for them, pick them up, hunt them on the cliffs and hills of Utah, along the streams of Maryland, and in the fields of Pennsylvania. Well, I have a secret: I am a leaf freak, too!! I brake for pretty leaves. I will go right up to someone's house and knock on the door and ask if I can take some leaves off their trees or grass. I will go on leaf-hunting walks (paper bag in tow) just to find the perfect leaf. And I will arrange them and feel them and look at them and wallow in the wonderfulness of their amazing colors.

I have two new leaf collections right now. One is my "Waldon Pond" collection -- acquired last month when we went on our "Autumn Road Trip" to New England. The other is my "Election Leaves" collection, which consists of gorgeous leaves I picked up after walking to the elementary school to vote. A gentle rain had just stopped and the sun was at that oh-so-perfect afternoon place where everything looks cleaner, brighter, more vibrant. I didn't ever want to go back into the house. I just wanted to walk and breathe and collect and bask in the wonderfulness of the moment.

From my office window, I can look out over miles of trees -- clear into D.C. At this time of the year, the National Cathedral is surrounded by a sea of yellow-orange trees. I practically have to pinch myself to believe that I am blessed by such a site.

And so, I will love every single moment left during this glorious time of the year....and I'll have my secret leaf collection to steal glances of when Winter finally has her way and spreads her wintery arms across the land.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Colleges, Traveling, and Playing

We had to do our family vacation without Darryl this year. So sad! But we had plans for Kate to visit colleges and to spend time with our family. We've had a great time and put a lot of miles on my mom's car. We've visited four colleges, toured through Yellowstone and the Tetons, gone to Bear Lake, hiked southern Utah, rode 4-wheelers, kayaked, jet skied, rock hunted, shopped, played cards, went to movies, and ate delectable delights. A grand time.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Birthday Blessings

I have the best family and friends ever! They know me so well and got me exactly what I love best for my birthday -- phone calls, hugs, emails, cards and gifts that are so "me" . . .candles, hand crafted soaps, and pretty jewelry. See, Mom, I'm wearing the pendant you bought me. It's so pretty!

I've taken cue from Jeanne and now announce my birthday to everyone who can hear me. I'm not quite at the wearing a tiara all day point, but now I let everyone know it's my special day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Missing Wedding Pics

Just found some wedding pictures taken by the Carrolls. So much fun. Shonda and Tom Carroll (and Zac and McKenzie, of course) are dear friends. Shonda and I were soul mates from the beginning -- when we first met 25 YEARS ago! Love these photos of the wedding and the Carrolls.

Happy Springster Day

Wow! Will it ever end, this season of celebrating? I hope not. The last couple of weeks has been a string of celebrations. We started with Darryl's birthday, welcomed Spring in all her soppy sweetness, celebrated Easter and now my birthday . . .which is an ongoing event!

The Carroll Family made their annual Easter pilgrimage to see us -- this time bringing four additional family members -- their oldest son, Nick, and his wife and two boys. We had a four night whirlwind visit! Kate was able to stay and visit two nights and then dashed out of town for a week at the beach with Katie and her family.

On Friday, the Carroll clan took Darryl and I to Medieval Times to celebrate our birthdays. It was quite an experience -- we watched knights joust for the love of the princess as we ate baked chicken and ribs with our hands and yelled raucous cheers of encouragement to the Green Knight.

On Saturday, we bought eggs to dye and put a serious dent into Target's Easter section. The lady in line behind us asked if we were buying candy for our church! We dyed eggs and watched The Matrix while the more intellectual of the group played a rousing game of Risk.

After the Carrolls left on Sunday, Darryl, David and I headed to our friends, the Bowcuts, for a wild easter egg hunt and delicious dinner.

My birthday celebration started with a lunch on Tuesday with John Porter -- a long time friend. At book club on Tuesday, the ladies surprised me with a lovely birthday cake. Today, I had lunch with my other John (that sounds bad), and tonight I went out for Indian food with my friends Alison and Karen.

The festivities will continue tomorrow! I've taken the day off work and plan on playing until my two handsome men - Darryl and David - take me to dinner. I'll wait on dessert until Kate gets home at 9:30 or so. Party on, friends. Party on.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Here's a conversation I heard on the metro today. I was sitting in front of two females:

"She pregnant."

"Who with?"


"Coco? I done him once but I'se on a break wit my guy. It don't count if you on a break do it?"

"Yeah it do 'cause you got the strings and all."

"Ah, we ain't got strings. Maybe thread. No a piece a hair."

"He got a new girl now. She ugly as sh*#, too. Talks Spanish all the time"

"Umm, umm."

When the train stopped and I got up to disembark, I looked back to see who I was eavesdropping on -- two cute girls, probably 13 or so. My have things have done changed since I'se a youngun!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Irritable, Restless and Discontent

That's me, baby! I am ridiculously grumpy and mean lately. I don't know how anyone around me can stand me -- I can't stand me. I am irritated at every single meeting I go to. I'm annoyed by all the people on the subway. When someone talks, I hear, "blah, blah, blah." I about died in a meeting the other night. I just kept thinking, "Shut up! Shut up. Can't you stop talking? Oh, no. Do we really need to hear this again!? Get me out of here -- fast!"

Does that sound at all normal? No! I'm a total freak. My family is going to banish me from the house soon. I'd probably be out already except that I do provide laundry, taxi, and chef services.

Even my escapes to Europe (via my travel DVDs) aren't enough. Lately, when I watch them I just think, "Darn! Why can't I be in France eating a fresh crepe? Why can't I be strolling through Belgium eating some of those delicious twice-cooked Flemish fries? Why can't I be sauntering through a medieval castle along the Rhine in Germany?" And on and on my trippy mind goes for 45 minutes with this ridiculous "poor me" self talk.

So, what's the deal? I don't know. It could be that awkward time before spring; it could be worrying about finances; it could be me stressing out over my kids' future. Or . . .hum . . it could be this ridiculous "calorie counter" website I'm now addicted to where you record every single thing you eat and it grades you. Seriously. It does. I was a freaky perfectionist student all through school and now I'm a 47 year old woman who has to get an A on my calorie counter website every day. I feel like a freaking field grazing goat!

I need to get me some tiramisu!!!

Happy Birthday, Darryl!

Darryl turned 46 on Monday. For 17 glorious days, we're the same age! The kids and I took him out (well, he paid) to dinner at his favorite place -- the Outback. Darryl complained that I always gave him clothes for his birthday so this year, we decided to get him TOYS! I got him two games for his XBox 360; David got him the first season of Psyche on DVD; and Kate got him a big bag of candy. He loved it all. I tried to get him to go to Platos for Tiramisu for dessert, but he didn't want to. So . . .Plan B kicked into action -- chocolate dipped strawberries. Thanks, Joni, for introducing me to such decadent yumminess. We need more birthdays and fewer diets in this world!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Today a crocus winked at me, a forsythia waved at me, and a crowd of pansies nodded an acknowledgment as I walked by. It's spring! Well, at least Spring has poked her head around the corner to let Winter know she's on her way.

The day was warm and breezy and gentle showers fell this evening. I opened the windows upstairs, drove with the car windows unrolled, and had a craving to clean and declutter.

We all went out for dinner at Platos (even David). We talked and laughed with a new lightness and energy. When we got home, I said, "Who wants to go on a walk!?" "Hah", said David. "I do, but I have too much homework", said Kate. "It's 9 o'clock", said Darryl. "Okay", I said as I practically bounced out the door.

Ah, glorious spring air. I could not understand why every single person in the neighborhood was not outside basking in the wonder of the gentle weather. I could not stop filling up my lungs with the fresh air, tinged with that new-life smell that's impossible to describe (but everyone knows what it is).

I walked until Spring's rains gently soaked my face in dewy kisses. I did not want to go inside. The caressing breeze, the smell of spring, the gentle sound of wind chimes ringing from neighbors porches.

It may turn blustery tomorrow and we still have some cold days ahead, but today Spring made herself known and put Winter on notice! I simply could not bear to live in a place bereft of the change of seasons. Though February's long days can drain me within an inch of sanity, I soon forget the misery the instant Spring brings her bouquet of renewal, warmth and new life.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Tricked into a Party

A week or so, Kate started talking about her friend Katie's 18th birthday. After school, a group of girls were going to take her to the Fractured Prune (I swear this really is the name of a gourmet donut place in College Park) to celebrate.

On Tuesday, Kate asked if it would be okay if they came to the house to hang out a while after the party. I agreed but reminded Kate that she was at John's that night.

On Wednesday, Kate asked if it would be possible for a couple of girls to spend the night -- it would be "a dream come true". I asked how many girls there would be. "Just three of us." She assured me that Katie's mom would take them to the Fractured Prune and bring them back. Oh, what the heck. I agreed.

At 7:00 p.m. on Friday, I'm anxiously waiting for Darryl. We've got a date! The phone rings at 7:10. Kate and her four friends need a ride back to the house. Turns out Katie's mom decided she couldn't pick them up. Grrr. That was not part of the plan! So, I get the girls and bring them back. Turns out they are all staying the night. As we're pulling out of the driveway, another girl pulls up to the house with her sleeping bag.

Should I be irritated that I was tricked into having a full fledged slumber party? Maybe. But I thought how great it was that high school girls are choosing to hang out together, that Kate has such nice friends, that they have the thoughtfulness and initiative to make a friend's birthday special, that they feel comfortable in our house, and that they're safe and happy.

When Darryl and I got home, we asked the girls if they wanted us to order a pizza, but they'd just fixed themselves dinner -- Cheerios! We rounded up some chocolate kisses and brownies for their dessert and went upstairs to bed to leave them to their party.

Tiramisu Dreams

Don't have tiramisu for dessert or you might have bizarre dreams! Darryl and shared a piece of tiramisu late last night and we both had weird dreams!

I dreamed that we had three baby girls -- one who could barely walk and two who were tiny babies. We were walking across a field with a lot of people. I wanted to give Darryl a kiss but he was so tall that he had to stop and kneel down to kiss me. The babies were squirming and kept slipping out of my arms. I'm not sure why Darryl wasn't helping me carry them!

Darryl had a dream that we had three kids and lived in a theater that we'd converted into a house. He was running around after the youngest child (a boy) while I got ready for work and then left -- in my underwear.

He had another dream that John McCain was at our house to talk to me -- we were old friends. We were all lying on the bed just chatting. McCain was worried that Hillary and Obama were getting a lot of press coverage and he wasn't getting any. I kept reassuring him that he'd get more once the primaries were over. He told us how stressful the campaign was and how he longed for some quiet. He asked if he could sleep on our couch occasionally to get away from the stress. We readily agreed. (In the dream, Darryl didn't have the heart to tell McCain that he was voting for Obama).

So, you've been warned -- no tiramisu for dessert!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Book Club

Tonight was my favorite night of the month -- book club! It was especially fun for a few reasons: 1) I got to host it; 2) so many of my friends were here; and 3) the book was great!

This month's book was, "The Ladies Coupe" by Anita Nair. It's a novel that takes place in modern India and tells the stories of six different Indian women. Themes include marriage, love, children, aging, extended families, identity, desires, and dreams. The characters were interesting, and there was a lot to learn about Indian culture.

There were 13 of us tonight -- the most we've had in well over a year. Only three of us had read the whole book. Two others read part of the book. The rest hadn't even touched the book! Who are we kidding? We just come to book club to hang out with friends and eat good food. My friend at work has had a book club with the same friends for 12 years. She said they finally got honest and now accurately call it the "Touch the Book Club". I like that!

The discussion is always lively at book club, and tonight there was a lot of laughter as we related our own thoughts and experiences with the themes from the book.

I was tickled that so many of my friends came. I have the greatest friends ever, and to share the common experience of book reading makes the friendships all that much richer!

We usually serve food to go along with the book. I served Mulligatawny soup, chapatis, fresh mangos and blackberries, and a plate of three different chocolate desserts. (David made the brownies for me!)

I had tons of candles in the house and when John came to pick up the kids before book club started, he asked me if I was having a seances. I told him, "I hope so. You never know if enough women will show for a full coven, and you have to have a coven to do a seances." I love messing with him.

This was the first book club I've hosted as a married woman. My friends all love Darryl and asked where he was (he was upstairs playing on his XBox). Everyone had gone except Jana as Darryl came down the steps. The three of us started talking and before you know it, it is 11:45! Darryl can make anyone feel like they are the most important person in the world.

As Darryl and I were cleaning up, the conversation went something like this: "How's Jenni?" "I don't know. I didn't get a chance to talk to her." "Is Brad about done with the kitchen?" "I don't know. I didn't get a chance to talk to Cindy." "Are Kelly's kids feeling better?" "I don't know. I didn't get a chance to talk to her." At that point, Darryl looks at me and says "Why do you even have book club if you don't get to talk to anyone?" I love him; he so gets it!


Monday, February 25, 2008

What's Your Favorite...?

I hate it when someone asks questions like, "What's your favorite food?" or "Where's your favorite place to go?" or "What's your favorite movie?" I mean, seriously, is it even possible to answer such questions? Not for me it isn't. I change my mind too much.

For instance, if someone asked me today what my favorite thing to do was, I'd say lie down all curled up with a book in a quiet pile of sunshine. Next week, my favorite thing to do will likely be going out to dinner with my girlfriends, going adventuring with Kate, or hanging around the house in my p.j.s all day.

Can anyone really chose a favorite food? Maybe I could chose my top 100 favorite foods. Favorite movie? Gosh, that depends on my mood! Sometimes it would be "Under the Tuscan Sun". Other times it could be "French Kiss". It could conceivably even be "Malibu's Most Wanted".

To improve security, my credit union's web site now asks for THREE security questions like "Who is your favorite band?", "What's your favorite movie?" , "What's your favorite activity?" or "What's your favorite book?" Really? Are they serious? Are they out of their minds? Well, I failed the blasted test and got locked out of my account. Is there really anyone who has a singular favorite food, color, movie or song? I'm I the only one who changes my mind?

I just can't imagine having a favorite band or a favorite activity. Silly people trying to make use free spirits stable!

(Oops. My husband just read this and didn't relate at all. His favorites have been solid for decades; Beatles, Baseball and Blue.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's Joni's Fault!

Okay, I'm addicted to this blog. It's like I've been imprisoned in the Don't Express Jail and someone has given me a key to Express Yourself Heaven! But, don't blame me. This is Joni's fault. She encouraged me to create a blog despite my misgivings.

And the expensive clothes (not many, mind you) that I have -- well, that's Jeanne's fault. I was perfectly happy tromping around NYC buying $4 earrings on Canal Street. But, noooo -- Jeanne insisted I try on a most unusual leather coat in a little shop on Orchard Street. She practically held a gun to my head and made me buy it. (Okay, so she just oohed and ahhhed and said she'd never seen anything so gorgeous and unique and that I looked incredible in it and that I'd regret it if I didn't buy it -- after all, we only live once). So now I have a $300 amazingly unique leather coat that I've worn exactly twice in three years

And Donna Ayres is totally to blame for my love affair with books. Heavens! She's exposed me to more kinds of books that I could imagine. She made every title enticing, irresistible, exciting! She made me crave reading -- and then took me to book stores and introduced me to fabulous Websites that had book great reviews. The nail in the coffin -- she showed me how easy it was to use "one click" on Amazon. Now, it takes a nanosecond to buy a book.

Jenni is to blame for my new love for "savories", as she calls them. It's really a euphanism for foods that are high in salt and fat -- like brie and pistachios baked in philo, peppery pastrami, big Greek olives. The shame of it!

Darryl is to blame for my junk food consumption and ridiculous new adoration for Italian subs and greasy hamburgers from Five Guys. He's also to blame for my new addictions to Monk and House. I also blame him for my newly acquired lax housekeeping skills and propensity for doing nothing on weekends. This new "relaxing" thing is starting to catch on, and I'm a bit worried about what that means for the state of the house.

I gotta get some new people in my life -- maybe some frugal vegetarians.


Hum . . .well, this is me. I was actually trying to figure out how to add a bunch of pictures, but this is all I could come up with. This was taken in December when Mom and Dad were here. Dad took us all out to lunch!

Why Not to Steam Clean on Sunday

Even if you're really tempted to do it, don't steam clean your carpets on Sunday. Why, you ask? I'll tell you:

-You'll stub your toe while moving your furniture
-Your steam cleaner will dispense the soapy water, but it won't suck it up
-You'll run out of cleaning solution when you're only half way done
-You'll drop the dispenser in the toilet when you're dumping out the water
-You'll break the handle of the cleaner when you knock it over
-Your home teacher will make an unexpected visit when you're halfway done (the part when you're cursing the machine for not picking up the water)
-You'll discover someone took the last Diet Coke from your secret hiding place in the fridge (but not until you're done with the unusually grueling job and ready to sit down and admire your hard work)
-Seeing your frustration, your teenage son will say, "I told you so!"

The Escape Gazelle

Nine months ago I bought at Gazelle (exercise machine) from a U of M student who lived in a grimy apartment in student housing. I paid $75 cash. The Gazelle sat in my basement until January, when I suddenly had a burst of post-holiday energy and assembled it.

Almost every day after work, I don my ill fitting, outdated gym clothes and hit the Gazelle for 30 minutes of so. But, this is not your ordinary Gazelle. This one has magical powers -- assisted in great measure by the wonder of a DVD player and free travel DVDs from the library. Each time I exercise, the Gazelle whisks me away on a new adventure. I can hardly wait to see what wonderous place awaits me each day.

In the past few weeks, I've been to Greece, Turkey, Israel, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia and Hungary. I stare in wonder and amazement at the adventures awaiting me someday (someday far, far off, I fear), I can nearly hear the crashing sea off the cliffs of western Ireland, smell the grapes in the vineyards of France, hear the accordian at the folklife festival in Germany, and taste the freshly pressed olive oil in Italy. Last night, I truly cried at the sight of the emerald fields of Ireland - home to some of my ancestors. I'd never seen anything so amazing, so charming, so alluring.

I never imagined that this humble machine, bought used and without warranty, would bring such pure pleasure as I ride it minute after minute in my lowly basement. It sets my heart soaring (literally and figuratively); my imagination run wild!

So, even though my clothes are actually getting tighter and my appetite is increasing (if you saw all those gastronomical delights, you'd come off the Gazelle ready to eat the house, too), I am not about to give up my escapercise to anything right now. My secret fear: i know I'll eventually run out of travel DVDs and then be condemned to ride a decrepit machine in a dark basement.

UnHoly Sabbath Day

Normally, I wake up every morning before 6:00 a.m, with or without an alarm, weekend or weekday, usually bright eyed and bushy tailed. Today, I didn't. I forced myself up at 8:20 a.m, when I realized I had to get Kate from her dad's house, finish preparing sharing time, and get ready for a 9:00 a.m. Sacrament Meeting. I was tired. It was cold. I was comfy under the covers and it was not at all fair that on the one day I didn't want to get up, I had to. Anger and resentment coursed through me. I was ticked off.

Could I deal with it? Could I follow all the great advice about taking a deep breath, stopping a moment to breathe, saying a prayer, starting my day over? Not on your life. Not only no, but hell no! I was miserable and armed with determination to stay that way.

Kate dared not breathe a word on the wayback from her dad's house. I caught her stealing glances at me, but sent her silent body language messages saying, "Don't say a single word...especially if you're going to be cheerful."

Sacrament meeting was long, and I was annoyed by the French speaker and his interpreter. Two-year old Mimi sat in front of us and kept looking back and smiling at me. It's irritating to have to smile at a toddler when you just want to stew in resentment. I thought the talk on food storage was targeted at me and the stake counselor was admonishing me for my lack of preparation.

Now, onto Sunday school. I'd planned a riveting role playing activity (all in accordance with the written Church guidance) where the children could act out a Book of Mormon story -- the one about Abinadi. I'd gathered robes and ropes, make crowns of gold and a thrown for wicked King Noah.

We did this for both junior and senior primary. The King Noahs ended up being the most angelic of girls and had a hard time being wicked. The first Abinadi caved in the second King Noah asked him to recant his testimony. Then he burst into tears as the guards tied him up in preparation for his burning death. The second Abinadi did some rather impressive karate moves on the unsuspecting guards and then yelled, "Gotcha!" to King Noah as he tore out of the room. King Noah then through his gold crown and the guards started hitting each other with their cardboard swords. I completely forgot about poor Alma (who "ran away" into the far corner of the room to escape the wicked priests) until we were singing the closing hymn.

My irritation stretched into a total "ticked off" state and I looked forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon since the kids were at their dads. That's when Kate told me that since she'd be here tonight, she'd rather just come home with me.

Okay, now I did say a prayer asking for a little grace, a smidgen of gratitude. (After all, I am a blessed woman whose teenagers still hug me and tell me they love me.) Inspiration came: make waffles for lunch! Done. Kate and I quickly downed the waffles and then came -- the sugar coma. Lethargy settled in as all the energy I exerted being angry finally wore me out. I snuggled up on the couch to take rare afternoon nap.

Apparently, Darryl is not yet adept at reading the obvious body language of DO NOT DISTURB. He woke me up to ask me where I put the wet dry vac (the same one that had the wolf stuck in it in my dream of a few nights ago). You would have thought I was the wolf as I woke up startled and yelled "Shut up!" But, he was persistent. Not only did he want to know where the machine was, he wanted me to tell him how to change the filter.

Just as I settled back down, the door burst open and David and John came in. And, of all the rare, rare, rare occurrences, David was in a chatty mood. Honestly! I grumped and pouted until he told me to stop being so "emo". He suggested I go to the library or to the basement if I didn't want to be disturbed. Hey, doesn't he know this is MY Sunday? This was supposed to be my day to "rest" and get revitalized? This was the day I'd carved out for some alone time? This is my house, after all. What are these other people doing here? Oh, that's right. This is my family. Real parents don't get every other weekend off. Real parents don't have kids going to a different house every other night. Real parents share all of their house and space. Guess I've lost perspective over the last ten years.

So now I sit amidst a pile of Book of Mormon costumes feeling guilty about not having a food supply. I'm also not feeling inclined toward having family prayer or reading my scriptures today. I think I'll top off this most unholy of Sabbaths by steam cleaning the dining room and then settling down with a nice cold Diet Coke. Some Sundays are just like that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And Now . . .the Rest of the Family

I formally met my ex-husband's (we'll call him John) wife (we'll call her Monica) two weeks ago. Although I've been in the same room with her on several occasions, we've both aptly pretended that the other doesn't exist. But fate does create opportunities when we need to be pushed.

Here's what happened: I was on a business flight from Baltimore to San Diego. And, of all the flights, of all of the destinations, of all of the airlines, and of all of the times, John and his new wife just happened to be on my flight.

We were able to ignore one another on the five hour flight - after all, you barely move on those flights. The problem arose at baggage claim. There we were, standing in close proximity. I felt awkward. I finally just said to myself, "Well, get it over with, Donna. Come on, you can do it." And so I, walked over to them, extended my hand, and said, "Hi, Monica, I've not formally met you, but I'm David and Kate's mom, Donna."

She introduced herself, John smirked and nervously laughed. It was one of those ten second conversations that had few words, loads of meaning, and seemed to last forever. My stomach was in knots, my hands were shaky and clammy. The nerves didn't abate until I'd had a good walk in the sun around San Diego and done a lot of breathing. In fact, the entire time I was there, I was half afraid I'd run into them again.

Well, tonight I got to see the rest of the family -- John, and Monica, along with her boys, came to see Kate's play. Actually, it was great to see the boys! They looked like nice young men, and they'd driven a long way to come and see Kate. That's classy. That's support. That's FAMILY. I'm glad my daughter's family is growing. The more people we have in our lives who love us, the better off we are. There are all kinds of families. We can create the family we want. We just have to have the right combination of circumstances, open mindedness and willingness.

For the first time in a long time, I'm not worried or jealous or threatened. I'm feeling rather blessed. Although I didn't quite have the nerve to introduce myself to the rest of the family, I'm sure I will in time. I want to know all of Kate's family!

Friday, February 22, 2008


After passing up an opportunity to spend the evening together at Kate's play and then ignoring me all night, my husband suddenly had an interest in doing something together when he observed me writing a new entry on my new "Davis-Franklin Family" blog! I don't think his new found interest in being together is so much about being together as his fear I may put a bad spin on the Davis name.

But, hey, if it gets his attention, and I don't have to jump up and down without any clothes on shouting, "Here I am. Pay attention to me", this may be just the ticket!

The Hamster Child

David is my hamster child. At least that's what he told me tonight. He thinks he was the "experiment kid" and Kate's the "real" one. Ya know, in a way, I guess the first child in all families is the hamster child -- the first one, the trial, the experiment. I'm not sure what the middle child is, but I'm pretty sure the last one is the gold fish child.

I know one thing for sure: if children were born teenagers, more humans would follow the example of other mammals and eat their own.

I Say, Jolly Good Acting!

Blimey! Kate was simply the bees knees playing a sassy Brit named Cecilia in her school play, "My Very Own Story", a fun, entertaining and fast moving play about miscommunication, love, and morals.

Kate's performance was simply smashing! As always, she exudes confidence and grace. Her stage presence always tickles me and fills me with pride.

What Kate liked most about the play: 1) she had good friends in the play; 2) she got to wear several different costumes --including a gorgeous wedding dress; 3) she got to have a British accent; and 4) THERE WERE BLOKES (that's British for boys)! Hey, that's a pretty big deal when you're in an all girls Catholic school!

I love watching Kate act because her passion matches her talent! And the best part . . .it's not every night you get to take a star home!

Dreams, Blues and Longings

I awoke from strange dreams at 2:32 a.m. The sound of sleet hit the roof. I longed to be basking in the sun of an Italian villa. It's that time of the year, isn't it? Christmas holidays seem far away; the promise of Spring seems fragile.

The Dream.
I was sitting on the floor of the back room. I had just opened a large cardboard box that sitting on the front porch. Tons of the nasty packing materials had exploded and I wanted to get it cleaned up. I pulled out the wet-dry vac. To my dismay, the hose was gouged and sliced with deep cuts. I fetched the duct tape to make repairs. Once I had the duct tape, I decided I needed to duct tape my toes. I didn't get it quite right on the left foot. Right then, Mom walked in. I asked her if she knew what happened to the vacuum because it had been fine earlier that day.

Mom picked up the hose and started pulling things from the gashes. Finally, she had it out -- the large carcass of a big gray wolf with a ferocious mouth. Shocked, she threw it into the box. We both stared in unbelief. Within moments, the wolf began to transform. It lost its fur, turned a slick coffee-reddish color. We could see the skin moved where the heart was beating. A strange creature began to come to life, open its eyes and then leaped out of the box and dashed out the door into the back yard.

As soon as the creature landed on the grass, the backyard transformed into a prehistoric world of deep emerald green vegetation, looming cloud topped mountains, and skies swirling with gray-blue clouds. Two by two, strange animals appeared out of nowhere -- just emerged (like the fade in-fade out feature on PowerPoint). They were gorgeous, huge creatures with brilliant colors -- majestic, intelligent, powerful! As a pair would fade out, two different creatures would fade in. I was fascinated, mesmerized, frightened.

The Blues.
There's a reason February is the shortest month; it's so dreadful, I don't think we could stand another two days of it! Poised between the magic of the holidays and the vibrant glory of spring, February -- even with its three holidays -- is simply depressing. And long. And cold. I need sun. I need warmth. I need light. I want to find a place in the house where the sun streams through the window so that I can curl up and soak in some solar glory. I want to be awakened at 6 a.m. by birds and sunshine. I want to stop craving soups and bread and be immersed in the season of salads and fresh fruit. I want to pick fresh basil and rosemary and inhale it until I feel lightheaded and bursting with delight. Come on, Verdant Green Spring -- put your lovely arms around Cold Gray February and melt him clean away!

A true Italian slice of pizza in Naples. A Nutella and banana crepe in France. A big plate of grilled vegetables and hummus in Turkey. The ruins of ancient civilization, a glimpse into the lives of foreign cities -- I long for that. I'm yearning to experience the smells, tastes, sounds and strangeness of different cultures. I have read and watched and listened about others' adventures for far too long. I want a turn! I yearn for the adventure of the unknown.