Monthly Archives: December 2010

They won’t be hiring me at the nearest Chinese sweatshop anytime soon

Surprise, surprise, I got a sewing machine for Christmas.  Which means that I’ve pretty much done nothing for the last few days except obsess over the user’s manual just to figure out how to thread the darn thing.

It only took me an hour.

And a nervous breakdown.

With eight inches of snow on the ground, we couldn’t get out for a couple of days to go fabric shopping, so I tore up an old bed sheet and practiced sewing crooked straight lines so that I’d be prepared for my first project.  My parents sent me a gift card to Jo-Anne’s for patterns and fabric and by Tuesday the roads were clear enough to get out and move about, so I spent a few minutes in the store picking out what I needed to make some long, crisp, cotton pajama bottoms.

I chose this fabric with ladybugs and daisies on it because don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower (name that movie) and also because ladybugs have this long-standing habit of sneaking up on Mr. CPQ and it cracked me up to think about him having to sleep next to them every week.

I laid the pattern pieces out and cut them incorrectly, something I discovered after I cut the fabric then called Heather, asking her what I should have done.  She told me it wasn’t a big deal and that I could just wing it, which pretty much sums up my entire life philosophy anyway, so I continued.

I did okay sewing up the inner seams, but some of the illustrations for the next steps were confusing, and I have always been a little spatially challenged so I called Heather again and she walked me through what to do but something got a little lost in translation over the phone and I ended up sewing the wrong seams together and creating knickers for a high-waisted Oompa Loompa.

So I became best friends with my seam ripper and tried again, and came out with something a little better.

And guess what?


I’m a happy Oompa Loompa.

Have a nice day.


Merry Christmas

I didn’t mean to abandon the blog this week but it turns out I was a lot more behind on Christmas preparations than I thought.

Some of those preparations might have included taking more than a few naps.

The boys took me out for a birthday breakfast this morning to IHOP where they dutifully informed everyone within earshot that I turned 41, but it was all worth it when the waitress brought me a hot fudge sundae and, not wanting to disappoint the boys, I ate it.

The sacrifices we have to make as mothers….

We made Christmas cookies this afternoon and then went to candlelight services where we survived another year without burning the sanctuary down.

We came home, ate our snack supper and started a new tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve.  We gave the boys new pajamas not only because they needed them but also because I didn’t want to have yet another year of Christmas pictures full of half-nekkid kids.

Before finishing up the wrapping and going to bed, I wanted to wish all of you, and especially my family in Oklahoma, a very Merry Christmas.  Your texts and phone calls all through the day have been such a delight, and I am blessed beyond measure to  love and be loved by you.

Have a nice day.



At least he has job prospects

Yesterday was one of those days in this journey we call parenting that is best described in one sentence.

I know why tigers eat their young.

I won’t go into the whole scenario but after a series of unfortunate decision-making by one of my children (who shall remain nameless), the day ended with my car pulling into the parking lot at Mr. CPQ’s work where I handed him the keys, the children, and a terse summation of the day which may or may not have left him with the impression that it would be the last time he saw his wife and then I went to the Cheesecake Factory with some girlfriends who commiserated with me over a plate full of unnecessary calories.

The punishment I handed out was rather long-lasting in nature (i.e. you’re grounded for life) and I was greeted by a less than happy child this morning as we straggled in for breakfast.

And then the cat brought in his own breakfast.

Which was still alive.

And flapping.

Which caused me to run flapping and screaming towards the back of the house because I never did like Mutual of Omaha on TV much less in my living room floor.

And I yelled “Child Who Is Grounded For Life, get that thing out of the house!”

And he said, “I will if you give me my computer privileges back.”

And I said: “I’ll pay you a dollar.”

And he said:  “I won’t do it for less than full restitution.”

So there’s currently a dead bird and floating feathers in the laundry room and eight hours to go until Dad gets home because while this mama tiger might be sorely tempted to eat her young right now, she draws the line at negotiating with terrorists.

Have a nice day.

A Christmas Miracle

I was very close to my college roommate, Annie*.  I spent many weekends at her house and loved her parents as my own, reveling in being included in a family of girls who I counted as my own sisters.  After college, she and I rented an apartment together in Little Rock, furnished it with donations from here and there, and subsisted on coffee, cereal, and yogurt while we embarked on our professional careers.  I lasted for about a year before heading on to graduate school and she stayed in town with all of our close-knit gang and ended up marrying a great guy who lived in the neighboring apartment community. Even after moving halfway across the country, I’d get back home to Little Rock to see her and the rest of my friends who I considered family.

At first, when I came through town for my yearly visits, things were fine.  We’d have a big get-together with all the friends and life was sunshine and roses.

And then my babies came.

And they turned into terrorists toddlers.

And visits were harder and more chaotic.

And no one there knew that I was depressed and longing for some sense of normalcy.

And I would hear stories about what everyone was doing together without me and I would feel sadness.

And I would see new friendships being formed and I would feel left out.

And then one year came when I pulled out of town and no one asked me when I was going to come back.

And as I drove out that day, an insidious thought crept into my head: The people who were my priority had made me their option. I remember calling my husband in tears, grieving the loss of twenty-year friendships that I expected would last a lifetime.

It has been two long years of silence.

I’ve learned a lot in the past two years, more than can be written in a blog post and mostly ugly lessons about myself, but the season of silence has helped push me forward in some ways, forcing me to address issues of loyalty, friendship, commitment, and family.  I’ve come to terms with a lot of painful emotions in that situation, yet I’ve never found peace where things were left with Annie.

Three weeks ago, the day before Thanksgiving, I received an email from her.  It was only two sentences long, wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving, but it ended with the sentiment that she was sad that we’d lost touch.

I cried for an hour.

After many hours of thinking through what I wanted to say, I wrote her back and shared my heart, laying bare my thoughts and emotions, and she has written me back, sharing hers as well and through a lot of tears and “I thought” and “I’m sorry”,  we are inching down the path toward restoration.

I’m telling this story today because I want to encourage someone, anyone, that healing can occur in something you thought was broken. I know not all friendships are made to be lifelong ones and I know God gives us friends for different seasons in our lives and I’m certainly not telling you to call that old boyfriend that got married, but if you don’t have peace about a strained friendship, don’t despair.  This may be a time that you’re learning more about yourself, a time for maturing, a time for healing. And when you least expect it, the opportunity will come to to bring it back together.

It may take a two-year silence.

It may take a two-sentence email.

It definitely takes two.

But it can happen.

Have a nice day.




*Not her real name

Oh, it’s Wednesday. Let’s make a list.

1. This jungle girl doesn’t do cold and it’s been cold all week.  I have wanted to burrow under the covers every single morning but those pesky young ‘uns keep wanting to be fed so I’ve had to drag myself from between the flannel sheets and brave the elements in a less than perky manner.

Go ahead, friends from Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Canada, mock me.

2.  I was looking for creative ways to keep the house warm so I made this toffee recipe because one step in the instructions said “Boil to 298 degrees”.

This version was topped with toasted pecans, but I had a teeny bit of toffee left in the pan so I made a couple of pieces topped with sea salt.

I now wish I’d made the whole batch that way.

3.  After the toffee-making, I was still cold so I oven-baked my microwavable frozen dinner at 400 degrees for an hour.

4.  The electric bill doesn’t come until January.  I’ll worry about it then.

5.  I still haven’t mailed Christmas presents to my family in Oklahoma, so wrapping, boxing, and braving the lines at the post office are all on my agenda today. I will attempt to do it without succumbing to hypothermia.

Stay toasty, my friends.

Have a nice day.

Ask Sus: The Self-Congratulatory Edition

So, Sus, some time ago you said that you were going to start running.  When you announce ambitious plans like that on your blog, it’s usually a clear sign that you’re not going to follow through.  Inquiring minds want to know if you’re still pounding the pavement.

Oh, Dear Reader, I thought you’d never ask.  This past week marked the end of my scheduled training runs for the Couch to 5K program I’ve been using and to celebrate actually FINISHING SOMETHING I STARTED, I signed up for my very first race.

Wow, Sus, a whole 5K.  That’s pretty measly really great.  Remind me again why you decided to do this?

I could tell you it was because I was starting to get winded walking from the couch to the fridge or that I needed to look cute in pictures for my upcoming 15th wedding anniversary trip or that I wanted the preferred rates when it came time to renew my life insurance policy.

But, truthfully, it was just because all of my friends here in town started running and I am helpless in the face of peer pressure.

Did you run the race alone?

I was prepared to, but my delightful running buddy Heather signed up to run with me and brought her daughters to enjoy the freezing cold morning as well.  Being the crazy person that she is, she appropriately accessorized them with blinking antlers and red noses.

And let’s just gaze upon her running outfit, shall we?

No one rocks the knee socks like H-Lo.

She’s a party in a box.

Sus, were you festively dressed as well?

I always believe in dressing appropriately for the situation, so for the 34 degrees and spitting snowfall, I was dressed as that little known character, the Christmas Ninja.

Um, that was nice, Sus.  Please don’t ever post a picture like that again.  So, once you got started running the actual race, did you have any course management ideas or one of those things called a “strategy”?

I had a highly developed and carefully thought out race plan, people. My four goals were:

1.  Finish.

2. Finish under 45 minutes and running the whole time.

3. Don’t be last.

4.  Don’t die.

I’m pleased to report that I ran the whole way, that I beat my goal time by six seconds, that I was at least three spots ahead of the lady pushing her stroller and sipping a Starbucks, and I lived to tell the story.

Mission accomplished.

10K, here I come.

Have a nice day.


Ranger Rick/McGyver Fashion Tip

Last night I scored a very last-minute babysitter and was able to join Mr. CPQ for the company Christmas party which meant that I was scrounging through the closet twenty minutes before walking out the door in hopes of finding something that said “festive and fashionable”.

I mean, you want festive, I’ve got festive (hello, gold jacket).  The fashionable part is a little suspect, though.

In the end I found a silvery long tank top that I was going to pair with dark jeans and a black jacket but the jeans didn’t seem to want to accommodate my body after three hours of eating Christmas cookies with Heather and Rebecca, so I ended going with some black pants that had a little easement in them and they worked just as well.

Spandex, I love you.

I bought the tank at Talbots on an after-Christmas clearance because I am drawn to anything that remotely shimmers, even though it was a little low-cut because I had every intention of taking it to the tailor to get the straps shortened so that it wouldn’t scream “lady of ill repute”.  I, of course, remembered that I was going to do that when I put it on.

So there I was with a perfectly good top that was useless to me and no time left to pull anything else out of the closet.  So what did I do? I summoned my faithful fashion companion to once again pull me out of a bind. Yep, I grabbed the binder clips, folded the straps, clipped everything to my undergarments, pulled on my jacket, and away I went.

I did have to be careful not to be huggy because while my jacket was kinda bulky and you couldn’t see the outline of the clips, you could feel them if you got embraced a little too closely.  Fortunately, I was with a bunch of network engineers who weren’t overly affectionate so that wasn’t an issue.

Binder clips.

Keep ’em in your closet.

You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Have a nice day.


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

This morning we prepared for Christmas by celebrating the Hanging of the Ornaments.

If you capitalize it, it makes it feel more festive and event-like.

I had already spent quite a bit of time on the tree what with the pulling it out of the box, fluffing the branches, and stringing extra lights so I was going to let the boys do it because sometimes I have control issues about where things need to go but in the end decided to join them and I’m so glad I did.

We had such a trip down memory lane as we unwrapped our treasures.  We talked about places we’d been:


Big Ball of Twine, Cawker City, KS

Niagara Falls, Canada

Cape Canaveral, FL



From my dad's trip to Egypt


We talked about the early beginnings of our family:


Our first ornament, given to us when we got engaged

The first ornament we bought for the boys


We talked about Christmas long, long ago:


From my childhood tree

An oldie I've had for years


We laughed over my absolute favorite ornament of all:


It's all about the shoes

And the boys may have seen their mom shed a tear or two when we got to the special box that holds the most precious ornaments we have:



The first project Travis ever made for me. Macaroni and glitter never looked so beautiful.

The wings are the outline of JJ's four-year-old hands

Tommy had just learned to spell his name, ran out room, and smushed it in there anyway.


Our Christmas tree may not be the biggest one the block or smell the freshest or have the most lights.  You certainly won’t be seeing it in the pages of Southern Living anytime soon, and yet, it’s absolutely perfect.  It tells the story of us with dozens of touchstones, reminders of happiness and blessing.

Oh, Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

We had a fun weekend.  Friday night Mr. CPQ and I went out to dinner while the boys hung out with their friends at our school’s babysitting night which raises funds for the 5th grade end of year trip. We ate at Chow and I had the pimento cheese burger because somewhere there’s a cardiologist with medical school loans to pay off.  Then we went to Kroger and wandered the aisles because someone didn’t think I had the right kind of food in the house which when we got to checkout, the right food turned out to be eggnog and Spam.

Saturday morning we rediscovered the front porch and sidewalk after raking jillions of leaves and just as we were finishing up our chores, it started to snow. The weatherman said we wouldn’t have any accumulation, but we ended up with about an inch which was enough to for a little snowball throwing and some miniature snowman building.

I’m glad I took these pictures since snowmen-eating zombies disguised as JJ and Tommy came stomping across the deck mere seconds later, smashing their creations to smithereens.

The snow was still on the ground Sunday as we made our drive to church where my Sunday School teacher got all up in my business with his lesson on repentance and it just didn’t seem right to stick my fingers in my ears and say “La la la, I can’t hear you” so I was forced to sit there and be smacked repeatedly between the eyes with a two by four.

Fun times.

Hi, Steve.

Love ya’.

Mean it.

Then Sunday afternoon we went and looked at model homes because I’m a we are gypsies at heart and can’t stay settled and after talking eighteen ways around the pros and cons, I think I’m finally getting Mr. CPQ a little closer to sticking the “FOR SALE” sign in the front yard and moving on to our next adventure.

We’ve only lived at three addresses in the ten years we’ve been here.


And then we came home and hauled down decorations from the attic and started red and greening up the place.  I bought little pre-lit trees on clearance last year for the boys’ rooms and they were really excited to have them as nightlights but once I turned off the overhead lights, their rooms were still lit up like Christmas and a few certain someones read by the light of the tree until midnight when I went in and shut the party dowm.

I’m clearly going to have to rethink this strategy.

Our big tree is celebrating its last season with us.  We bought it years ago and half the lights are burned out and the entire mid-section is dark so we’re headed to the store to get a few strands of lights to fill in the gaps so we can put the ornaments on and call it a day.

It’s starting to feel festive around the house.

Must be the eggnog.

Have a nice day.

Insert Title Here

Today’s the last day of school for the year for the boys and you’d think I’d have  a list a mile long of things to accomplish before picking them up but instead I’m home, enjoying the last two hours of quiet I’m going to have for a month.

I’ve got a few fun activities planned while we’re on break.  We’ll put up the tree and decorate for Christmas this weekend and next week we’ll do some crafty projects to get ready for the holidays.  The boys have been wanting an Advent calendar and I think we’re going to make this one because it has lots of hiding space for candy and I need to stash the contents of a Dove chocolate miniatures bag whose siren song bids me come and feast.

We may make a trip or two out of town.  The boys want to go to NYC to see the world’s largest Toys R Us store Statue of Liberty and if Mr. CPQ’s schedule allows, we’ll violate the “no trips north during winter” rule and head up there for a day or two.  I also want to pop over to Salisbury to visit the Transportation Museum and let the boys take a Santa train ride.

Mainly, I’m looking forward to easy mornings, sleeping in, having a pajama day or two, hot cocoa, forts in the living room, and other than a few Christmas parties, an intentionally empty calendar.  Mr. CPQ has been doing a lot of travel, more so than usual, so we’re planning on staying put for Christmas and I couldn’t be happier.

And with that, blogging time is up for the day.  I’m off to Michael’s to pick up a few craft supplies for next week’s projects and then it’ll be time to collect my charges and take them for a celebratory track out lunch at ChickFilA.

Move over, chocolate.  There’s a peppermint milkshake calling my name.

Have a nice day.