30 March 2008

Help me, mothers of boys!

I know I could probably just spend a while researching this on the internet, but I'd prefer to deal with anecdotal evidence instead...
Moms of boys -- have you found that your little guys need a certain amount of physical play from you in order to function well?
I ask this because Daniel was fussy/ punky today. I tried kissing him and feeding him and walking around with him and singing to/ dancing with him. All were temporary fixes. In frustration, I held him by his hips upside down in front of my face and started tickling him and kissing him and he started laughing. For the next 30 minutes, I flipped him around and tickled him and had him doing gymnastics and basically doing what my Gramps and Dad always call "getting worked over." He was laughing and happy the whole time. And he didn't want to stop, but my wrist was killing me, so we had to stop. After that, he was pretty content, though he kept coming over to me to wag his head and get some more tickling.
It occurred to me that long ago I heard that boys tend to form intimacy in relationships through physical play, while girls tend to form intimacy through verbal interaction. It makes sense to me that rough-housing would be helpful for a little guy. But I am the eldest of four girls. Our physical contact was either loving or such that Roo and I still bear scars from each other's fingernails. It wasn't playful that I really recall (correct me if I'm wrong, Mom).
Any mothers out there find that your boys need a different kind of physical contact from you than your girls do?

29 March 2008

Gramps update

I got to go see my grandfather tonight. I got there a little while after visiting hours had ended, but I got to go up. When I walked into the room, he was sitting on the edge of the bed with Sudoku and a crossword in front of him. And he was listening to Fox News and had a little pad of paper on which he had written "Alan Bradley" and "Black Liberation Theology". I took that as a good sign.
We got to talk for about an hour and he sounded good, looked good -- a little tired by the end, and it seems as though he is on the right track for healing.
Thanks for the prayers. Those of you who know me, know that my grandfather means the world to me, and to the rest of the family. We are very, very grateful for the time we have together with him.

28 March 2008

Prayers for Grampy, please?

My grandfather is in the hospital tonight. He has been sick for the last few days -- sick enough to miss morning-coffee-with-the-guys at Hardees and today when getting up from his computer, he fainted. He fell and tried to get up again and fell again.

He is getting intravenous antibiotics and has a bad case of bronchitis. Gramps is very strong in spirit, but he has a bad heart, as he is wont to remind us, and this doesn't help. He is supposed to be in the hospital for a few days. If you'd lift a prayer for Kaywin, I'd appreciate it.

27 March 2008

Deluxe dinner...sorta

Tonight, I tried to create a fabulous dinner for us, but it was one of those that just didn't quite...get there. Ever have those?

It fell short on almost every level....
  • The chicken-fried steak with beef I found on mark-down yesterday wasn't really tender like it should be.
  • The gravy wasn't very smooth and there wasn't enough of it. (Gravy scarcity is difficult for a McClure girl to handle. I may have cried.)
  • The mashed potatoes were really good, but not very hot.
  • The crust on the homemade apple pie was lovely on the outside, but turned to mush on the bottom.
  • I forgot the green beans.

I will have to say -- the canned corn was delicious. It's hard to screw that up, though.

Don't you hate it when you try and ALMOST get there? Bugs the heck out of me.

26 March 2008

Beef that won't kill us

So we got half a beef today. It is grass-fed, organic and from a local farmer. We ended up paying about $3/ lb which is considerably more than we would pay for the regular old delicious and artery-hardening supermarket beef, but about as reasonable as we could find for the good stuff.

We haven't cooked with it yet, but I will post my impressions when we do. My sistah, Kali, the Hereford-lover is doubtful, I think, that we will appreciate it. But I think our arteries will appreciate will and they are our primary concern just now.

25 March 2008

Hip, hip HOORAY!!

Oh, I have been far too "vocal" here on this blog today, but I MUST share my EXCITEMENT after coming home from a Ministry Teams meeting at church tonight!


This has been a five-year prayer of mine and tonight, it actually got calendared! And semi-organized! And I had almost nothing to do with it except that I asked if the guys were going to make us a Mother's Day breakfast and then pointed out that April would be an excellent time to have a men's group meeting so that the first big project together could be breakfast for us. And from there... it took off!!

Oh, I'm just so freaking excited!

AND -- we also decided to do an outreach dinner of some sort in the next few months, we calendared a dulcimer group to play at church and highlight our new adaptable sanctuary. We got Vacation Bible School on the calendar and started getting excited about that. We decided to invite a Bluegrass group to come and play for a special service this summer. The group asked me to look into hosting an ongoing parenting class this summer and we decided to hold an Ice Cream Social again. And we also decided to make a concerted outreach effort to children of folks already in our church as well as folks in the surrounding neighborhood.

I can hardly believe it.

After about five years of blah-ministry-as-usual, folks are excited about church!

I'm praying that nowadays I know enough to shut-up and stay out of the way of the Spirit's moving.

For, lo, it came to pass in Year 7...

that April was excited again!!

Oh, God is so, so, so, SOOOOOOO good!!

Truly magnificent beauty tips

Once again, Ann V at Holy Experience has whispered her gracious wisdom directly to my soul. I have spent the last few days of this week, suffering from skin revenging itself upon me after I put desperate makeup on it.
Ann has reminded me of what true beauty is. Armed with this lovely article and this follow-up and a tub of Eucerin, I will use her wise prescription.
I do disagree with her on one count though. She is extraordinarily beautiful. I don't know how, empirically, anyone could say otherwise and spiritually, she is just... radiant.

My little enabler

Annalivia is an overly-caring big sister sometimes.

Her brother has developed an affinity for washable crayons. He gnaws on them. And despite my best efforts to keep them locked away, the last few days, he has emerged from Annalivia's room proudly holding a crayon with little bits of purple or green or red around his mouth and a tongue that is markedly NOT its normal color.

Upon seeing his stained face, Annalivia will disappear into the bathroom and shortly reappear with a sopping-wet washcloth she will use to wipe up his face as he squirms around and she says things like, "Oooooh, dahlink! I must wash your face, dahlink." (a la Miss Lily on Angelina Ballerina)
Today, I wondered aloud to Daniel, "How are you finding these things, Daniel?"

Annalivia answered, "I GAVE it to him!"

I asked her why she did that.

"I wanted to wash his face," she said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

So helpful.

24 March 2008

News bulletin -- tech-impaired moron learns how to read blogs

I am probably the last person in the blogosphere to figure this out, but I have just learned about Google Reader and I think it will change my blog-reading life.

Easter debrief before moving on

Easter was exhausting.

Probably less so for me, though, than it was for Jesus.

(Just keepin' some perspective.)

We had an incredibly busy end to Holy Week. Our sanctuary carpet/ remodelling thing was finished on Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday evening we had our final Soup for the Soul service, then went to church to set up for Maundy Thursday's dinner. I was there til about 9:30 p.m. Thursday's dinner was lovely -- sparsely attended, but lovely. Once again, I was there far too late and got home about 10. Friday, Dennis got up and went to church at 7:45 a.m. to help set up the sound system. We joined him at about 9:30, then I had a service at noon, went back to church at 1 and he met me at 2 with the kids to finish the sound system. We all left about 6:30 p.m. Saturday we spent the entire morning and early afternoon there and then I came back in the evening. I was hot-gluing moss to the top of Easter centerpieces in the fellowship hall at 9:15 p.m. when it occurred to me that things had gotten out of hand.

Easter morning, Dennis and I were in charge of Easter breakfast, somehow, and mangaed to get to church, with the family in our finery about 3 minutes after we had planned to be there. I also ended up being in charge of Sunday School, though thankfully, I was able to just hand the craft and instructions to another adult and have them supervise the kids as they ate breakfast. Then we debuted the new sanctuary during worship and had a great crowd -- almost twice what we have been averaging in these winter months! It was a great service and, I think, most people ended up leaving happy.

We had planned to go out for Easter brunch with friends, but other friends cancelled and so on and so forth, so we ended up having brunch here. We got home about noon and our friends and Dennis' mom came over and because of shoddy planning on my part, we didn't eat until 1:30 p.m., which is exactly when we would have been eating had we gone out to eat. Oh well. It was good and everything that was supposed to be hot, was, in fact, hot. Except the asparagus, which was sort of lukewarm.

And when the friends and Dennis' mom had left and Daniel was asleep and Annalivia was having some quiet time, the dishes were washed, the nice clothes were shed, and we had vegged out in front of our laptops, I laid down with Daniel to get him back to sleep and ended up taking a two-hour nap with him. It was lovely.

And so was the weekend. It is exhausting, but in one sense, I truly love the activity involved in this special time. There is something about making these celebrations as significant and precious as possible that is just very fulfilling for me. Fulfilling at the same time it is energy-depleting. I think I will probably feel different at some point in my life, but for now, this is good.

Today has been a day of recovery. I am enjoying doing almost nothing.

Tomorrow, we'll move on.

20 March 2008

More on CVS...

Since a couple of folks have asked about it...

Here are some great links on the CVS Extra Care Bucks Program.

A great intro is here. An article titled CVS 101 has more detailed info. There's even more info here, Making CVS Work for You.
It can be overwhelming. My advice is -- don't give into the pressure to find The Perfect Deal your first times doing it. I wandered around the store today for 30 minutes and emerged with nothing. Digest what you can and if you think it will help you and your family, go try it out, and try not to get discouraged.
And let me know how it goes!

Let's celebrate the first day of spring with... um.... a Winter Storm Watch?

Yep. That's what we're going to be looking for tonight and tomorrow. Good Friday services are going to be contingent on what happens after the stinkin' Winter Storm comes through.
This winter just doesn't want to give it up, does it?

19 March 2008

My new best friend, CVS*


I went and got a deal today. I am such a newbie at this and am almost completely unable to do it on my own. But thanks to brilliant, wise and amazing Money Saving Mom and the very creative Centsible Sawyer, I was able to get -- 1 lipgloss worth $8.99, 1 bodywash worth $6.99, 2 deodorants worth $1.69 each and a gallon of milk -- ALL for $3.12!!!

AND I got $12 in Extra Care Bucks to spend next time. "Next time" is going to be tomorrow, I think, when I'm going to try out a different deal and see if I can make some more ECB's! So much fun -- and all this stuff I don't really need!

*with apologies to my real best friends.

18 March 2008

Bloggity blahggity blah blah blah -- 10 things on a Tuesday

  1. Dennis is home! I picked him up from O'Hare on Sunday night at 7:40, got him home with requested pizza by 9:40. We walked into the house and Annalivia said, "Hi, Daddy," like it was any other day. Daniel was running laps, thanks in part, I think, to the steroids he's on. We all got to bed late, but it was worth it.
  2. Daniel is doing much better after a bout with... asthma, maybe? We were in the emergency room on Saturday for about 7 hours while he cried and wheezed and gasped and so on. But he's better now.
  3. My Holy Week is ending up to be pretty organized. I have services on Wed, Thurs, and Fri. I only have a bulletin, a meditation and a sermon to finish. I'm feeling pretty good about it.
  4. The carpet is almost done at church, which means we are going to get to spend some time on Thurs and Friday playing with Easter arrangements in the mostly finished sanctuary.
  5. My church secretary has been totally amazing lately -- coming in early, working hard, finishing everything in time, AND not doing anything "helpful," thus causing more work for me.
  6. Dennis has agreed to have a couple of yard sales this summer and spend the summer decluttering, organizing and painting up the parsonage as though we are going to live in it for the NEXT seven years, too. He has no classes this summer. That means he gets to be my peon. :)
  7. Our Easter outfits are coordinated and mostly assembled. I love Easter outfits.
  8. After church on Sunday, we are going out with some other pastors and their families for brunch. One couple we know very well. The other we are getting to know, but like tremendously so far. I'm looking forward to it and am praying for exemplary behavior from my daughter.
  9. I got an anonymous political comment recently. I kind of feel like I hit the big time.
  10. My Sunday paper did not have any of the coupon inserts in it. It had plenty of ads. No coupon inserts. This bothers me because I'm trying to legally pillage CVS through the Extra Bucks program and I planned to triumph today. Since my call to the paper has not been returned, I guess I'll have to wait.

15 March 2008

24 hours

This time, tomorrow, Dennis should be home. Thank you, Lord.

14 March 2008

Interesting info on Muslim thought

Did anybody else out there catch the Mar. 3 broadcast of NPR's Talk of the Nation? It was an interview with Dalia Mogahed, one of the authors of a recent book called, Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think which was based on a self-funded six-year Gallup study of Muslims throughout the world.
I thought it was very interesting. I would like to see the hard data -- in addition to the interpretation -- and have asked my library to see if they can inter-library-loan it for me so it can sit on the desk waiting to be read until I return it. The program was about 30 minutes. As with all call-in shows, part of it is ridiculous, but part of it is fascinating. I'd recommend it if you have the time.
Among the interesting points --
  • That which is most admired about the West by both Westerners AND Muslims was freedom and technological advances.
  • That which was most criticized about the West by both Westerners AND Muslims was the breakdown of moral values.
  • Radical Muslims are not more likely to live in poverty or be undereducated.
  • Those who identify themselves as radicals do not generally identify themselves as more religious than moderates.
  • Most Muslims thought Americans were likeable, though most had not met Americans.
I don't really know what all this means, but it is an interesting conversation and one that could be very informative.

13 March 2008

Not to count chickens prematurely...

BUT -- I must record this here because it is just too...full, I guess, to hold in my brain alone any more.
  • Amazing things are happening at my little church.
  • The carpet in the sanctuary has been torn out.
  • To do that, the junky funeral-home organ and piano and everything else have been moved out.
  • The gorgeous hardwood floors under the pews have been refinished.
  • While the carpet was torn out, a group of folks decided that we may as well change the chancel while we are at it.
  • We got bids and hired a contractor all within a week (it took 7 (SEVEN!!!) years to actually agree to getting the carpet replaced.
  • Work begins tomorrow.
  • The built-in pulpit and weird railings are coming out. It will be opened up into a lovely design a la my sweet love.
  • Work should be finished on SATURDAY!
  • The new carpet -- a completely new color -- goes in on Monday.
  • We should be back in the sanctuary on Easter.
  • There has been talk of not moving the organ back and getting a clavinova instead!!
  • There has been talk of taking down the picture a friend calls "the Olan Mills' portait of Jesus" that hangs over the baptistry in the very front of the church where normal churches have a cross (I know, I know) and getting stained glass windows to hang in the baptistry window instead.
  • I have not been part of any of the discussions, for the most part, and have been doing behind-the-scenes scheming and influencing instead.
And, lo, it came to pass in year seven that...something changed. And the place where the minister was confronted about an affair in worship and the children stopped being baptized because they were no longer there and half of the congregation walked out of worship after a pastor was fired -- was suddenly -- not the same.

This is big.

12 March 2008

Mamet, I concur

Friends, and folks with access to my Facebook profile, and people who drive by my van with the John McCain sticker, know that I am trending towards a more conservative political view these days. David Mamet, well-known playwright, has recently published a piece, "Why I am no longer a brain-dead liberal." It resonates with me. You can read it here.

(Those with delicate sensibilities should know there is a bit of profanity.)

08 March 2008


Right now, Annalivia is playing with our family friend, 14-year old, K. K is here to spend the night and then will go to church with us in the morning. I am SO grateful that she is here and is able to entertain Annalivia while I finish stuff tonight.
My mother-in-law just headed home after having dinner with us tonight. She came over when I had to visit a parishioner in the hospital. Tomorrow she is going to watch the kids while I am at my choir rehearsal and Evensong and then she's coming over on Monday to stay with them while I'm at the doctor's office. Then on Tuesday, she's going to go with us to the Quad Cities and on Wednesday, she's going to watch them during a church service.
Thursday she's going to Wisconsin for a much-needed break.
During this time that Dennis has been gone, it has amazed me how much help I've received from other people. His mom has been available at the drop of a hat; my grandparents entertained us in their basement after an impromptu visit. My sister and mom provided diversions when we got out of the car after our trip south, or before getting back into the car to head north. Friends have watched Annalivia and Daniel run around while I was cleaning up a church dinner and church members have stepped in to lend a hand so I wouldn't have to do so.
We are so blessed. I find every day to be filled with unexpected gratitude for others.
It leads me to pray I never again go through one of those pitiful phases of life wherein I think no one cares about me or the perceived challenges of my life.
The evidence to the contrary is just overwhelming.

06 March 2008

The problem with being repetitive

So, someone in our house recently left for Russia. Upon saying goodbye, those of us at home gathered in the living room where I was a little teary. Annalivia climbed up on my lap and asked me why I was crying.
I told her that I was a little sad and why.
She wiped the tears off of my cheek with her hand and then asked very gently, "Can you go do your fussin' in your bedroom?"

05 March 2008

The perils of motherhood

Tonight, I had a church service to lead so I dressed sort of carefully in a new top and similarly-toned cardigan.
I made the mistake, however, of putting my clothes on a couple hours before I left. Mothers of small children, will tell you that's a poor idea, especially during cold season. I was reminded of this during a conversation with one of my more fun parishioners who has raised several children of her own.

Parishioner: You look nice. I think you have something in your hair, though.
Me *feeling hair*: Ugh! I think it's snot.
Parishioner: You also have something on your sweater.
Me *looking at smudge on sweater*: Also snot.
Parishioner: I hesitate to mention it, but you also have something there *pointing to my top*
Me: That would be... snot.
Parishioner: Well.... at least it goes with everything.

04 March 2008

A proper tea...ish

Annalivia has been wanting to have another tea party for a while, so today after Daniel went down for his nap, we had a proper tea party. Sort of. We had table linen and a lovely embroidered runner, teacups and an actual teapot and creamer jug. And we had hats.

What we did NOT have was a proper appreciation for tea.

I promise -- we did have a nice time...

02 March 2008

Our resources

Dennis and I are not what I would call "frugal" people. Not at all, really. We like getting a deal on something as much as most folks, but I would not say we have a frugal mindset.
Or, rather, we haven't.
In the past few months, I've been taking notice of the expendable and disposable nature of many of our daily choices in our lives. We have not been deliberate in using our resources, I'm ashamed to admit. And it is something we are working on changing. Our goal is to learn how to live on less than one income and it has been, rather abstractly, for some time. Now we are taking concrete steps towards that goal. Baby steps, but actual movement, nonetheless.
I've found a lot of inspiration from several places recently: Like Merchant Ships, Money Saving Mom, Frugal Hacks and Frugal Abundance. Most of the women who write at these sites are motivated to frugality less out of absolute necessity and more because of their personal philosophies and especially, their faith.
I am very appreciative of these people who challenge me to put faith into action in ways I've not considered, or have been lax in enacting. I'm realizing that the way I treat my resources -- and not just the money we earn -- but also my time and my talents and the treasure I have in possessions and, most importantly, people -- speaks volumes to the extent of my desire to follow Jesus with my whole self.
So I'm working on becoming a "frugal person" with a frugal mindset. I'll be letting you know how it goes.

01 March 2008

The looming departure

So I've not mentioned it here because it may be stupid, but someone in our family is getting ready to go to Russia pretty soon.

It's not me.

This weekend, we are preparing ourselves: Doing important things like airing out the mattress -- well, our version, anyway, which involves opening all the windows in a bedroom and shutting the door; And we're doing lots of laundry; And cooking lots of stuff; And making lists; And making sure bills are paid and that there are detailed written instructions about what to do in case Chechnyan separatists ruin the trip. That sort of thing...

AND, and, and!!! Dennis and I are going on a date tonight!! By ourselves!! (I'm kind of excited -- can you tell?)

There are definite advantages to preparing for absence. One becomes acutely aware of presence.

And that sure is a good thing.