Thursday, November 30, 2006

I spent an hour on the phone with my mom tonight. She relocated to the midwest where we're originally from, along with one of my younger brothers and his family. My older brother already lives there with his wife, three kids and his in-laws.

It was not a good call. My sister-in-law has been tested and diagnosed with Huntington's disease. Her mother has slowly been wasting away from this disease before their very eyes, and now she has the confirmation that she too has it and is developing symptoms. "Susan" is a sweet woman and it is so difficult to hear news like this. She is in her forties and just gave birth to their third child about one year ago, a beautiful baby girl. The diagnosis for Huntington's is not good. There is no treatment or cure and no leads at this time. It ends in death in ten to twenty-five years.

My heart aches for her and for my brother. I can only imagine, as a mother, the devastating blow that this would be to me if I were in her shoes. It is one of my greatest fears; that something would happen to me and I wouldn't be around to take care of my children.

My brother has been somewhat in a state of denial up until this point. Susan suspected heavily that she was experiencing symptoms and had even told several family members. He had been brushing her fears aside, thinking it was only the fatigue of getting older, caring for three kids and dealing with her parents who live with them. He has been unable to confront the possibility of this diagnosis. I know that it is a deep blow to him.

For those of you who know the Lord and have chanced upon this post, please lift them up in your prayers. They are believers. My brother was somewhat instrumental in my acceptance of Christ. He and his wife are going to need His assurances and presence more than at any other point in their lives thus far.

For more information about Huntington's Disease visit

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Preparations..Part Two

In an attempt to stay within a modest Christmas budget I have been experimenting with some handmade gift ideas from Ruby Glen. This ornament is an attempt to create teacher's gifts for my sons's teachers and I may also use them as an easy idea to have on hand for other impromptu gifts such as Sunday School teachers, and business contacts I have made.

These red ornaments came from Target where I get just about everything. I went to Jo-Ann's and found several paint pens in various colors to use in decorating ornaments. The boys used clear ornaments with red and gold paint pens. They are very abstract and look super-cute!

Christmas Preparations

While my husband was paying for this year's Christmas tree, the man working the tree section let me sift through all their extra cuttings and pick out some branches for free. I had great ambitions for making an advent wreath for our family to use this Christmas.

I got instructions from Ruby Glen when I was looking for creative, handmade gift ideas. The base is a wire hanger that has been stretched into a circle. Next, I bunched up branches of evergreen and wired them to the coat hanger. It took about two hours to complete.

I was really pleased with how it looks, considering it was a first attempt. The only downside is that from the back it looks horrendous, and I don't think that it would hold up in a vertical position. But, just like when you shove all your junk in the closet and close the door, it looks pretty on the outside!

The traditional color for the tapers of an advent wreath are supposed to be purple, but, I am not from a liturgical church i.e Catholic/Lutheran/Episcopal, so I made my own modifications....simply because I am not crazy about purple. The purple tapers are supposed to symbolize penitence and fasting before the birth of Christ, which is represented by the white center candle. That isn't exactly the angle from which I am approaching the tradition, so I didn't mind leaving it by the wayside.

I had wanted gold tapers to symbolize the birth of a King and one of the gifts of the Magi, but apparently there had been a stampede on gold tapers just before we arrived at Target, because they were completely wiped out. So, I had to settle for bronze. The bronze may work out well because it looks very earthy and could easily symbolize God leaving the glory of Heaven to inhabit the earthly realm.

For those who are not familiar with an Advent wreath, each Sunday before Christmas Eve, an appropriate Scripture, leading up to the Christmas story, is read and you light the corresponding candle. You begin lighting them four Sundays before Christmas, starting with lighting one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second Sunday, three on the third Sunday and four on the fourth Sunday. The center candle is lit on Christmas Eve night. So, on Christmas Eve, all five candles will be lit. It is a great way to build anticipation for Christmas and remind our family about the true meaning of Christmas.

This will be the first year that we have done this with our boys and I am excited about instituting the tradition!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Catching up...

Thanksgiving has come and gone and there is no turkey left in the fridge, which is a good thing. Actually, we spent Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law's newly built house. House might be a little bit of a stretch; mansion might be a more appropriate word. It was absolutely beautiful and everything still gleamed with shining newness. There were no glass panes smudged with grimy handprints, no faint traces of crayon or marker on the walls, and no furniture sprinkled with telltale nicks and gashes. It was the home of an upwardly mobile, socially entertaining, trendy couple with no children.

Of course, my sister-in-law is pregnant and I will be curious to see the state of this same house in about two years! I predict a few casualties will be lost to the toddler years that are sure to come.

There are no more efficient testers of the endurance and strength of household products than the average toddler. We lost a DVD player in about 1 week to a set of two toddlers after one Christmas. They were entranced by the power of the open/close button on the player and decided it must be some sort of teleportation device that would work better if stuffed with Duplo blocks. We managed to get it working again, but not without hearing grinding/moaning noises every time we use it. We also discovered that the desk portion of our expensive computer cabinet could not support the full weight of a two-year-old who had decided that laying on it might be a good way to actually learn how to use this strange device with which Mom and Dad were always tinkering.

Consumer Reports would be well-advised to hire about 30 two-year-olds to test every product. They would be sure to find problems and defaults that no sane adult could ever imagine. For instance, what happens to a toaster if you pour glue into it? Are the pieces of a product small enough to fit in your nose, and if they are, can you remove them at home or would it be better to make an ER visit at 4 am? Is the slide on the swing set high enough to cause instantaneous flight when you jump from the top of it? Does the dog's toy hold up to an 18-month-old's teething needs? Just a thought that Consumer Reports should consider.

Anyway, we had a great time at Thanksgiving and my boys especially enjoyed watching cartoons on satellite channels that we don't have and on a flat-screen HDTV that we will never own. The food was good and so was the company. Plus, I didn't have to cook anything. What could be better than that?

Monday, November 20, 2006

I have had a crazy, busy weekend. My business has been really doing well and I owe it all to God. He has really been faithful in meeting our needs in an exceptional way this month. With the way my business goes, it can be an emotional roller-coaster ride. Feast or famine are usually the two modes in which everything operates. For a very routine person like me, that can be very unsettling and frustrating. I frequently have to talk myself down from worry or speculation about worst-case scenarios.

I don't remember ever feeling this way when I was on my own and working my way through college. I never recall feeling anxious about whether I would have enough money to pay the bills, plan for my future, or get by in life. Life was definitely work at certain points, but my thoughts usually swirled around the concerns of the single:..will I ever meet "The One?"...what should I do with my life?......what career path should I take? With those things mostly settled in my life, I rarely think about them now.

Being a mother has raised up all sorts of scary thought patterns that you didn't know existed within you. When you hear a tragic news story you instantly can picture your child lying in a hostpital bed, kidnapped by a predator, or trapped in a burning car. It is just a split-second of a thought, but it can reduce a normally sane, practical person into a mound of tears. Empathy for strange mothers and their children can leap up move you in unexpected ways.

Having thoughts like this pop up are not necessarily bad, but I must remind myself of God's promises in order not to overly fret about the multitude of ways that disaster can strike. He always is faithful to His children, even in the midst of uncertainty.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dog Park Dilemma

A couple of weeks ago I took our dog, Tink, to the local dog park. She loves to go and it makes me feel like a good pet owner to take her! We used to go at least once a week, but lately we've only been about once or twice a month. She perks up and does flips anytime she hears me utter the mere phrase "dog park."

Going to the dog park is always a great adventure because you don't know who you are going to meet there, or what might happen when 40 dogs are bounding about at breakneck speeds. It's a microcosm of humanity and their four-legged friends. I have been peed on by a dog, jumped on by a great dane, and had mischievious mutts run off with my tennis balls as I played fetch with my dog. Minor irritaions that can be overlooked; although, I didn't really appreciate being marked as territory with urine. Luckily, I was able to wash my jeans off with a hose, but was contemplating retaliation before I found the strength to resist the urge.

BTW the owner of the offending pooch upon seeing his dog in the process merely said in a quiet, dead-pan voice, "No Bobby." What? Can't you at least yell at your dog and make an effort to stop him? Would it be so difficult to express to me that you're sorry your dog used me like a tree?

And that's what brings me to the point of this post....yes, there really is one. The last time I went with Tink to the park, we encountered a large, pure white dog. It was either a husky or malamute, or possibly even one of those wolf hybrids that some people want to own as proof that they themselves are rugged, wild-at-heart individuals. Initially, the dog would just get near my dog and chase her for a few seconds. Tink hates to be chased or bullied by other dogs and usually turns around, faces off with them, and barks to let them know that she wants them to cut it out. She's about 35 pounds and a medium sized dog. However, this dog would wander off and then come back to try and assert him/herself over Tink. Eventually, it was clear that this dog was not playing. It came back around while I was playing fetch with her, pinned Tink to the ground and wouldn't let her go. When things were broken up, Tink was bleeding and hurt. The dog had bitten her ear and broken the skin on her neck. It wasn't a serious injury; but, it also wasn't dog "play."

Once I saw that her ear was bleeding, I grabbed her collar and started to lead her to the nearby hose. The owner of the white dog was just standing there and her dog was nearby. I asked her if she could hold onto her dog for a minute while I cleaned the blood off Tink. She looked at me blankly and made no move to get her dog or apologize for her dog's behavior. I got the hose and as I tended to the wound the only thing she said to me was, " I don't know why you brought your dog in here!" At first I was just shocked that she would say such a stupid thing. After about two seconds of staring at her, I said, " OK...your dog just attacked mine with no provoaction and actually injured her....and you want to tell me that my dog shouldn't be here? Are you kidding me? I can't believe that you would say that to me!" She didn't reply to me and simply walked off with her dog and eventually left.

The problem with the dog park is that there are only two options...the small dog section and the large dog section. My dog doesn't quite fit either category. The small dog section is usually inhabited by chihuauas, jack russells, yorkies, poodles and other truly small dogs. The large section has just about everything else. There are many other dogs the same size as mine in the large dog section, so it's not like my dog is running only with great danes and rottweillers.

What made me so ticked off was that this woman seemed completely disconnected with what happened. At no point did she say "Gee, I'm sorry that my dog bit your dog," or maybe even ask, "Is your dog OK?" Instead, she seemed not to care. What's worse is that she appeared not to realize that her dog had done something that could prove dangerous to other people or animals. What would she have said if her dog got loose and attacked her neighbor's dog? "I don't know why you had a dog! Don't you know that my dog likes to dismember other dogs! How stupid can you be?"

The whole thing has left a bad tase in my mouth that I can't quite seem to get rid of. My poor dog would love to go back, but I am not sure that I could contain myself if I encountered this woman again.

Still looking for the good in this bed of weeds......

P.S. Tink's fine and her ear has healed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Family Portrait?

My youngest drew this beautiful creation and it's hanging on the fridge for all to see. I am the person with the green hair and the only one with fingers and toes....I wonder what that means? He is the one with large eyes like mine, and the other stick figure is his brother. For some reason his brother only has dots for eyes. What would the child psychologist say? The blue blob at the bottom of the page is our dog, Tink. I asked him where his father was in the picture and he said,"He's at work!" Ah...those poor fathers always getting left out. Don't start playing the "Cat's in the cradle and the silver moon" music just yet. Their Dad actually is a good father and spends lots of time with them.


This note was posted on the refrigerator by my oldest. It reads...I know you want us to obey you but it's hard for us. This came after the previous day was spent in various modes of conflict. I smiled when I read it because he can be so frustrating and cute at the same time. He is surely meant to be a lawyer. Every conflict between us results in a very lengthy, detailed explanation of why his behavior was not only justified, but actually the most correct way of dealing with things. He's six going on thirty.

A few minutes after finding the first note, I found his next one. It reads.......I hate doing bad things. Boy, can I relate to that. I can think of quite a few times in my life when I could have written that little note. At least I don't have to guess about what he's thinking!