30 October 2007


  • Daniel has graduated out of the travel system car seat. That means he weighs 22 lbs. He is a CHUNK. It's crazy how different he is from Annalivia. He is in 12-18 month clothes as he approaches his 9 month birthday. Annalivia was wearing 12-18 month clothing when she was 2 years old. Annalivia was always a 50th percentile child and for girls that's less than boys. Daniel has been at the 75th percentile and he's right on track, I guess. He seems huge. But maybe that's just because I tote him around.
  • The farm that Dennis and I have coveted for almost 5 years went on the market this weekend. We have an appointment to see it on Saturday. If it is to be ours, a number of truly miraculous events will need to occur. We'll see how it all unfolds.
  • We had a great visit from Annalivia's godfather, Jimmy, this weekend. It was lovely to see him.
  • I preached a terrible sermon while Jimmy was at church. There were many mitigating factors, but it just stunk big homiletic doo-doo. One of my favorite parishioners came up to me afterwards and gushed on about how great it was. Then she called me today and talked to me again about how much it helped her and spoke to several circumstances in her life. I'm so grateful that God works. Even when I don't.
  • Flylady and I are friends again. I'm sort of doing what she tells me to do. Whenever I do that, life goes so much better. I should just listen to her all the time.
  • My childhood best friend and her husband, one of my dearests from seminary, and their family, are moving to the twin city across the river from me. He is going to be the associate at the Disciples church over there. I'm excited. Friends! Here! Less than 3 hours away! I'm giddy with excitement.
  • I thought Annalivia was getting better at sharing things with other kids. She had done REALLY well at some different public places sharing toys and, um... intellectual property. But today I had some blood drawn at a clinic in Dixon where they have one of those intricate bead toys attached to a table and when we were leaving, she ran over to it and pushed a child who was considerably younger than she was who dared approach it. The mother looked like she was about to slap Annalivia so I grabbed her and apologized profusely while moving quickly towards the elevator. Luckily someone was holding the door so we had a pretty fast getaway.
  • Today while hanging out at our favorite bookstore, Books on First, in Dixon, a place we go at least once a week which is entirely too often, I found out that Dixon has a free concert series put on by the Episcopal church called The Canterbury Concerts (I love those Episcopalians and their gift for naming.) I also found out that our area has a community concert association and we can pay for a subscription and get tickets to some very cool concerts. Last year, Eileen Ivers was one of the featured guests. I think we'll try to subscribe next season. I'm so heartened to find out, after 7 years of living here, that there is some underground cultural opportunities. Lovely.
  • Today I got to meet Andrea for the first time! Our husbands drive to work together, so we probably should have met in person long ago, but we met first via blogs. Andrea is young and gorgeous and has a very handsome husband and beautiful, probably very well-behaved, children. (right, Andrea?) Her children were so sweet and her blog has a precious picture of them.
  • We met Andrea when we all happened to be at Woods' annual Halloween thing for the kids of employees. This is the first year that we made the trip. Annalivia did pretty well saying, "Trick or treat, please." But not so well with, "thank you," "hello," "I'm fine, thank you," or any of the other social niceties. Daniel was just pretty happy, which was good.
  • On the way home, I got to drive the van by myself and Dennis took the kids in the truck. 35 minutes of me-time. I spent most of it talking to Dad. It was lovely.
  • We are now into week 4 of no television at our house. It is interesting how my desire for media has diminished to almost nothing. I used to be an information junkie -- on the internet a lot, listening to NPR constantly in the car. Now I get online in the morning, sometimes, to check email and then when the kids go to sleep. I do my blog-jog, but don't comment usually because it takes too long. So apologies to Heather, Amalee, Jan, Jill, Amy, Amy and Jim, Andrea, Kalin, More Cows, other Andrea, Dusty, Geoff and Holly. Among others. I read; really, I do. Keep writing.
  • Even though I watch no television and spend less than an hour on the computer, I never get to read. How do you folks with 20 children find time to read? I need to know the secret.

Edited to add: The arm is better (thanks, Julie, for asking). I have a short cast on it and will, hopefully get it off on Nov. 7. The bone graft site is not so good. I still have burning, aching, shooting, prickling, any-other-sort-of-adjective pain every time I walk or stand for more than 2 minutes. I hobble around a lot, but I am choosing to believe that it will all be ok in the end. I'm alive. That's what this has kept in constant focus for me. I'm alive to enjoy my family. And that's more than enough.

25 October 2007

One to remember

Tonight Annalivia and Daniel were in her room when I heard Daniel begin his trademark being-tormented-by-sister squealing. I peeked around the door and sure enough, Annalivia was sitting in a chair pressing her forehead down upon the head of her brother, who was trying to stand up in front of her. I separated them and began my standard mini-lecture to Annalivia.
"Annalivia, no hurt Daniel. Daniel is your little brother. Treat Daniel kindly. Love Daniel. You're his big sister. Your job is to take care of Daniel."
Annalivia responded, head down in penitence, "Okay, Mommy."
I said again, just to be sure she got it, "You no hurt Daniel, ok?"
To which she raised her head, eyes so sincere and pleaded, "Pleeeeeeaaaaaasssseeee?"
I'll admit -- the big sister in me had a little bit of a hard time saying, "no."

Sales experience

Last night I found myself selling the enchiladas I made for dinner to Annalivia with these words,

"They're just like macaroni and cheese, only with tortillas instead of macaroni and with hamburger and sauce instead of cheese."

And in a desperate last-ditch attempt,

"Besides, Dora eats this kind of food."

For some reason, she was still skeptical.

18 October 2007

That bone has canine marks in it

My sistah, Kalin, is the youngest of the four McClure girls (known around Eureka as "The four McClure girls"). She is 11 years younger than I, 9 1/2 ish years younger than Roo, and 4 years younger than Lil. In other words, her life is cake.
(No, not really...but...sorta.)
The thing about Kali is that since she was born, her older sisters have been throwing ourselves upon the pyre trying to get Kali to toss us a figurative bone. We've been trying to impress her since she was a round, wrinkly little one, hoping for some token "Well done, sistah. You may be dismissed." And we've kept at it as she's aged and not just because she's slated to take over Dad's financial planning business and will eventually hold our financial futures in her extremely capable and unattainable hands. We just want some part of Kali-dom, so we end up trying to think up increasingly clever ways of getting her approval.
And we've been denied.
Oh, she loves us, yes, but for the most part we're all haunted by a sneaking suspicion that she could pretty much take or leave us.
I have been thinking about all of this because recently, Kalin has been updating her blog. I usually try to read her blog when a.) I'm not drinking anything lest it end up coming out my nose when I laugh and b.) when my bladder is completely empty lest, well, you know... Sometimes she uses technical terms I don't understand like "futures and options market" and "commodity trading" and "horse", but for the most part, her blog is pure mirth. Or at least, it was.
Anyway, a couple of days ago, she added to her blog a little section that explains a little more about her. It is charming of course, but the real highlight is this brief sentence, (it really deserves its own line...
"I’m the youngest of four girls and my sisters are my best friends."

FINALLY!! THE mythical figurative BONE!! I would not be lying when I tell you that my eyes teared up a little bit when I read that.

Then I was talking to Lil about it and relating how I chose to ignore the fact that closely following the sistah sentence, there is a link to six bulleted descriptions of her animals (incidentally, there are six of us in our immediate family... hmmm...) and Lil pointed out that she is highly suspicious that the sentence in Kalin's dossier that reads, "Along with my family, my pets are very important to me," originally probably read, "Along with my pets, my family is very important to me." I conceded that could be the case, but I continued to give my precious little sister the benefit of the increasingly-more-probable doubt.

Then I saw in her new Google ads section that Kalin has a new family. To refresh your memories, our real family looks like this...

Slightly pale and somewhat in disarray, granted, but that's no reason to turn to these folks.
Is that Skippy, Madison, Breanna and Ali McCloor at their Cancun vacation home? Interlopers.
Bone, indeed. Kali, how could you?

14 October 2007


  • A Laura Ashley flannel sheet set in the loveliest rosebud pattern, found on sale, and washed up deliciously by my sweet love to create a divinely scented and welcoming bed on a brisk autumn night

  • A surprise 83rd birthday party for one of my dearest parishioners who was actually surprised despite the fact that our entire community knew about it

  • A lovely linen cutwork tablecloth and a soft embroidered and crocheted tablecloth and some crisp Christmas pillowcases found at an antique store

  • A different furniture arrangement that allows for plenty of play and does not allow for the presence of television

  • A pile of wonderful fabrics and the promise of a quilt class on Saturday next

  • A restored turtle nightlight that, with the addition of new batteries, makes bedtime a tad easier

  • A perfect cup of Constant Comment tea and three Walkers' Scottish Shortbreads all to myself

  • Anne and Gilbert together, apart, together

  • A sweet love who is the definition of long-suffering, generous, sacrificing, and brilliant (not to mention strong and manly)

    What delights you lately?

12 October 2007

Daniel's day off

Today the McStews were visited by some good friends who happen to be interviewing in our fair city-ish for a position. They came for breakfast and some good conversation and then left for the interview, leaving their 2-year old son to play with us for a few hours.
Since I'm apparently raising a little hun (who was recently removed, in dramatic and wailing tears, from a public pumpkin patch by her mother, after pushing a little girl down when the poor child dared to enter a playhouse which my daughter had claimed) I tried to soften Annalivia up to the idea that little E would be coming to visit. "E is coming," I said, "And you're going to be a good and kind friend and share your trains." I said this approximately 9,732 times between last night and this morning, but realized I missed something when I found Annalivia playing with a little car this morning and told her that I would find Daniel's little car of the same style for E to play with and she replied emphatically, "No. E play with trains."
Needless to say, Annalivia was non-plussed by a contender for her trains and cars, books, baby dolls, chair, etc. She had a hard time sharing and spent a good deal of time in the corner or on her bed or in tears.
E, for the most part, played on. He's a daycare boy and knows how to handle other children's temper tantrums, shoves, and shouts of "Noooooo!!! MINE!!" and "STOP, E!!! MINE!!!" and "Shoo, E!! GO AWAY!!! MIIIINNNNNNEEEEE!!!" I think he actually had a pretty good day.
The other person who had a good time was Daniel. Usually he's the recipient of Annalivia's ownership issues. He basically crawled around and destroyed carefully constructed train circles and various other creations, but was largely ignored in favor of the child who could respond in kind with shouts, cries, and attacks. Daniel, unfettered, really enjoyed himself.
And when I was telling Annalivia and E's godfather about the day this evening, I told him that Daniel had the day off and he told me that should be the title of the blog post for the evening. And so it is. Though perhaps "The Rampages of Annalivia the Hun" would be more appropriate.

We went to the back yard to get a little space from each other. Annalivia and E put on a parade. Shortly after this pic was taken, they were on the ground wrestling over the possession of the large flag. I couldn't get the camera working in time to get a pic. It would have rivaled the Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima.
But not really.

Annalivia and Daniel at the pumpkin patch, pre-forceable-removal.
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10 October 2007

The tax man calleth

I don't know if the non-clergy folks who read this blog realize that when it comes to being taxed, lots of clergy get skewered by our dear US IRS. Since many of us are considered self-employed, we pay the part of our taxes that normal people have paid by their employers.
Figuring out taxes has been a major struggle for my 7 1/2 years of paid ministry. It got slightly better when I married Dennis and we had his company start with-holding enough to cover my part of our joint return. It got even better when I took a large paycut post-Annalivia and we also got our child tax credit.
The best so far has happened this year, though. Today our accountant called and we are getting an $800 refund from the Feds and $300 from the State for 2006!!
Finally, we have won the tax war! And this year, with Daniel's birth and a little less with-holding, we should be right on the money, so to speak. Maybe we'll actually file our taxes in April. Probably not. This is a pretty nice 3rd quarter surprise.

08 October 2007

It's about time

In my convalesence, I am reading the Anne of Green Gables series. Despite the fact that I could probably still recite the movie versions verbatim (except for that terribly disappointing third movie), because I literally, at one point in my life, watched the tape of these movies every single day, I am reading these books for the first time ever in my life. I don't remember now why exactly I haven't read them before, but I read through #1 today and laughed and cried and felt very ashamed by my negligence.
It's about darn time, eh?

03 October 2007

Still there?

I want to offer apologies to those of you who still come by daily to check on the world of the McStews.
First, I want you to know that I appreciate so much your undeserved loyalty.
Second, I feel like I owe a bit of an explanation to those who've not seen or talked to me recently. Thing is -- this bone graft has kind of knocked me down. Literally. I've had some complications at the harvesting site on my hipbone and consequently have some pretty deep nerve pain in my leg that makes it hurt to walk, sit, limp about -- do much of anything, really. Further, I have a long-arm cast on my wrist that allows for almost no rotation in my arm so typing is a bit of a job and should be reserved for bulletins/ sermons, etc. Finally, I am trying to be not-the-worst-parent-in-the-world right now as I find that my normally thin patience is about non-existent, and my patience and parental effectiveness is just not helped by internet time when the kids are awake. And my healing is not helped by internet time when the kiddos finally get to bed.
Third, I wish I could offer promises that posting and updates will be more frequent. But I can't. There is so much that is bloggable right now in life -- so much I want to remember some day. It bugs me to not document it somehow
So. There y'are. My excuses/ explanations.
Again, thanks for stopping by. Y'all are appreciated. Really.