Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Plead No Contest

I ask myself a simple, straight forward question: Do you want to be fit or do you want to eat that Nutty Bar?

Nutty Bars. Temptation straight from Dante’s Third Level of Hell where Gluttons are consigned to spend eternity perpetually unsatisfied.

What is it about Nutty Bars? I never touch Swiss Rolls, Oatmeal Pies, or Hostess Cupcakes. A nearly full container of Moose Tracks sits in our freezer, untouched by moi. I dared to buy Keebler cookies -- baked by none other than the elves themselves. Did I attack like a ravenous Cerberus? No, I am the very model of moderation.

But then there are Nutty Bars.

I tell myself I’ll be strong. I whisper, You can handle it this time. It’s Lent, remember? Self-control and all that. You are bigger than this!

Folly, sheer folly.

One of the first steps in growth in holiness is a simple adage: Know thyself. Where Nutty Bars are concerned, I know this self all too well. Nutty Bars have company in their uncanny ability to overcome every last shred of temperance. In the face of Milanos and Girl Scout Thin Mints, I am equally unrestrained. Oreos could go either way. On an especially stressful day, I lower my standards. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats sometimes fit the bill quite nicely.

You know, I got away with this for a long, long time. Then I turned forty. My eyes went fast and so did my metabolism. While my trusty readers take care of my declining vision, the muffin top that has arrived courtesy of Nutty Bars demands pesky things like self-control and exercise.


The Deluge Has Ended

But the fun has just begun.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quite a Gift

Ainsley's longest sentence to date? I want a purse.

She also loves books, so I'm not raising a complete Barbie Doll.

My friend Rachel penned a  sweet piece about all  she loves about having a daughter.

I concur 100%.

I love the pink, the shoes, the bows (worn or not!), the dresses, the cuddliness.

I love that she's turning into a book worm just like her mother.

I love her.

I had Ainsley after fully anticipating that my child bearing days were over. I was so very, very grateful for my precious boys. Between my age and the fact that it had taken us six years to produce John, I didn't dare to hope for another.

But God had other plans, better plans.

In Rare Form

I think we should begin rotating where we sit during Sunday Mass. We don't need a change of scenery, but I'm guessing the faithful parishioners around us could stand a break. To put it mildly, John is not the quietest member of Most Holy Trinity.

But he has charm and good looks on his side, and he strategically uses these to stay out of hot water.

He was in rare form this morning. So began the debate: Do we take him out or continue whispering admonitions and threats? As the debate raged, John began flipping through the hymnal. He stopped at a random page and nudged Dave.

"Daddy, I know what this says," John said, pointing to song lyrics. "It says 'I love you!'"

That's your Get Out of Jail Free Card, no doubt about it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Happy Weekend to you!

See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In an Instant

 We blinked our eyes and

'cool has become school,

twuck has become truck, and

Hendwy has become -- sniff, sniff -- Henry.

But lellow remains lellow. The plural of toast is still toastess. Biksit remains biksit.

Small Successes


Head over to Faith and Family Live! to get a little encouragement. This week has been better than last.

1. Bathroom? Painted. Not finished, but my part is finished.

2. Utility Room? No longer sitting in the middle of my bedroom. More space, better organized, lots of junk out the door.

3. Humility? Growing by leaps and bounds as I have an ongoing knack for bringing up a fault of someone else only to then fabulously bungle something myself. My 7:30 meeting last night? It was potluck at 6:00, and I had volunteered to bring a cake.

How has your week been?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Til Our Trophies at Last We Lay Down

File this under 101 Reasons I am Petty, Pathetic, Competitive, and Vain.

Our seventh grade son had tied for second in our school’s science fair. Three days later it was on to the regional competition. He and a friend had garnered second place honors there last year.

At 4:00 Tim’s science teacher called. “Better luck next year,” I heard him say. I hung up the phone and cried.

I cried!

Now,  it had been a very bad week. The call came on the heels of a series of disappointments, some trivial, some not. But none of that fully explains my over-the-top reaction. This is the middle school science fair, I told myself. Your son tied for second. He worked hard. He learned a ton. He even had fun! Why in the name of all that is rational are you crying?

I sat down and prayed. While I found consolation, I came away with no clear answer. Over the following days, I found myself examining the whole realm of competition, of awards and rewards, of recognition, of honor rolls.

Why do we compete? Why do we have awards? What is achievement? Where does encouragement end and vainglory begin? How do we promote diligence? How do we recognize and nurture God-given gifts?

As parents, coaches, teachers, and Godparents, we should encourage excellence across a wide spectrum of disciplines. We should admire virtue, talent, industry, and beauty. But we live in a culture that has turned recognition on its head. We admire what once might have been subject to censure. We often value what is fleeting and overlook or even mock what is admirable.

Pop psychology has added its two cents to the whole conundrum. Sitting in a waiting room not long ago, I flipped through a popular parenting magazine. An article on encouragement caught my eye. Parents, the author advised, should avoid words that smack of judgment when looking at, for example, a child’s drawing. If your child has done a good job, you certainly shouldn’t say so. Rather, you should comment on the variety of colors chosen or the interesting subject matter.

On no account, the author gravely warned, should you use words like good, excellent, or well done.

In a similar vein, a growing number of schools have eliminated honor rolls and spelling bees because there are winners and losers.

Poppycock, I say. And, yes, that does smack of judgment.

This false egalitarian bent distorts a simple fact: In many areas of life, there are objective standards, achievement, and differences.

My friend Sherre is an artist who imbues home, garden, and canvas with color and texture. I pop into her house and see beauty. She has talents that God hasn’t given to me. Everything my friend Anna bakes or cooks is simply excellent. These women have talent, skills that they have honed over many years. The irrefutable fact is that they do these things better than I do.

That doesn’t make me a bad person. As Anna herself once said, it doesn’t even make me a bad cook.

The author of the parenting article never played Little League Baseball. In sports, awards abound. There’s first string and second string. The batting line up. The Most Valuable Player. Newspapers run stats and rankings.

I remember my first experience with t-ball. Tim was four years old. We never won a game, and my son touched the ball once during the entire season. Toward the end of the season, one of the parents took up a collection for trophies.

Trophies? You’ve got to be kidding me!

A large part of my objection stemmed from purely mercenary motives. We had shelled out the $60 for registration, $10 for a mitt, $10 for a bat. Do we really need to ratchet the whole affair up by another ten or twelve bucks?

Then there was the idealist in me. The experience of playing should be reward enough. And anyway did we achieve something? If so, what, exactly, was it? Discovering the location of second base?

In the arena of awards, I admit to being a bit jaded from my years in the Army Reserves. In the peacetime Army, the brass passed out awards for making coffee by regulation. Truly, it bordered on the ridiculous. I returned from a two week training exercise and had to listen to a grown man – a sergeant with many years' experience – complain that he didn’t receive a certificate of appreciation for the work he had done. The cynic in me was dying to say, “That’s called a paycheck.” There was a pervasive mentality that said I should be rewarded for simply doing my job.

I reject this kind of thinking out of hand.

My kids are better students than athletes. Particularly with my oldest son, I have discerned an odd disconnect between what he does well and what honors he receives. Here is a kid with excellent grades and the ability to play the piano with a shelf full of sports’ trophies. The message seems both clear and convoluted at the same time: Here are these things you do well – school, piano. Sorry, but for now they’re really not that important. But soccer? I know, you’ve never come close to a winning season. Yeah, yeah, but trust me, this is what really counts. Take this slew of trophies. The banquet’s Thursday at six.

My third grader recently played the part of Cowboy Sam in a class production of Pecos Bill. I was thrilled to get a note from the teacher pointedly instructing parents not to bring flowers or other gifts to give the actors and actresses. I have attended elementary productions that ended with 8 and 10 year-old girls flooded with flowers like Michelle Kwan at the Winter Olympics.

Over-the-top madness.

More to the point, it makes the rest of us look bad! We do this long enough and it becomes normal and expected. And then what do we do when our children truly achieve something? They have come to expect the flood of trophies, the barrage of flowers.

On this topic, Mr. Incredible and I are of one mind. Here's an excerpt from one of my favorite movies:

Helen: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.

Bob: It's not a graduation. He's moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade.

Helen: It's a ceremony!

Bob: It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.

Of course none of this diatribe explains my boo hooing over the science fair. To be continued...

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Yesterday I caught sight of John and wondered if there were anything more captivating than a three-year-old boy tearing through the backyard with his Batman cape flying behind him.

Today I see him zooming out the backdoor wearing a Buzz Lightyear hoodie, short pants, and cowboy boots on the wrong feet.

I'd call it a draw.

I'm reminded of this photo. A two-year-old John in his first snowstorm. Adventure awaiting, arms pumping, cowboy boots flying.

How I love you, sweet John.

Friday, March 18, 2011

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Happy Weekend to you!

See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Small Successes


Head over to Faith and Family Live! to share your successes. I fully intended to report remarkable progress on the fabled bathroom re-do. Maybe next week. Instead I have:

1. Outfitted three skiers who head off tomorrow for the mountains of West Virginia - gloves, hats, ski pants, etc. pulled from yawning tub 'o winter gear. While they're on the slopes, our fair city is supposed to hit 87 degrees.

2. Fixed the space bar on the keyboard. Do you know how hard it is to type with a partially stuck space bar? Do you know how hard it is for me to fix anything mechanical?

3. Shipped ten bags of stuff off to our community swap. Came home with one bag. I didn't plan to embark on the Forty Bags for Forty Days, a Lenten de-cluttering plan, but when it's day 6 and you've already purged 13 bags? Well, I just may have to get on board.

Gosh, my successes look small indeed. Do I get extra credit if I did it with a raging sore throat?

Mistah Harbor Fweight

I hope Ainsley turns out to be a Mama’s girl as we have a houseful of Daddy’s boys.

Last night John had reached his limit. He was tired and grouchy and headed for bed. En route to La La Land, John spotted Daddy tinkering with the bathroom sink. You can forget about all plans for slumber when there are tools in use.

The boy who had been wailing and whining was suddenly smiling, perched atop the toilet, making robot fingers with Dave’s ratchet set.

“Wanna help us bix it, Mama?” John asked. “Get some tools. We bought them at Mistah Harbor Fweight.”

Mistah Harbor Fweight.

For the uninitiated  -- you fortunate few -- Harbor Freight is a deep discount tool store that for some with a mechanical bent might more accurately be known simply as crack. Yes, it’s  that addictive.

Dave and John have enjoyed many a trip to Mistah Harbor Fweight. We have a plethora of free flashlights to prove it. Their latest trip snagged a trap for the mysterious rodents drilling holes in our backyard.

“We bought a jail for da mouse,” John informed me. To his delight, we netted the mouse on the first try.

So Dave dismantled the sink as a contented John sat nearby, played with tools, and chatted. At 10:15 Dave held out a pair of Spiderman slippers wondering if they fit John. Seems they needed to make a quick run to the Hard Work Store (a term Kolbe coined years ago).  Alas, Mistah Harbor Fweight was closed. So John, outfitted in Spiderman slippers and Batman jammies, took off with Dave to the Big Box up the street. There John enjoyed trying out the riding lawn mowers and building another memory of time spent with his favorite person.

The Wearing of the Green - The Blowing of the Green

This time last year:

This  morning I wrestled up green clothes for one and all. Half day of school. Parade at 2:00. Would all be nothing but festivities but for the fact that every nose in the house seems to be the color of our clothing. Yucky!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not Too Hard

“It’s not a successful Lent if you don’t fail.” So said my late friend and mentor, Father Dan Munn.

By that measure,  Lent 2011 is off to a good start.

Now last year was one for the record books. In my mind, we began on a sour note.  Despite heroic intentions -- on day one, no less -- I overslept, encountered a broken appliance, and growled at the kids. That was just the warm-up. Three days later Kolbe broke both his arms. Yes, two ulnas and a radius barely 96 hours into the season of penance.

This Lent didn’t begin in such a dramatic fashion. Kolbe thoughtfully broke his arm in early February. With Easter being late this year, it was fully healed and out the cast well before the close of Ordinary Time.

Still I find myself facing that unrealistic expectation that says come Ash Wednesday, I will somehow be instantly different, instantly better.  Early on I run slam against my own willfulness, my own “I want what I want and I want it now!” In short, I fail.

To be sure, we have had our share of stresses this week. Many of these probably don’t faze other people nearly as they do me. The science fair brought great excitement (and a tie for second place!), but it required converting the dining room into an obstacle course. The dining room table took over the living room. Meanwhile, our stalled bathroom project remains stalled. The huge box holding the vanity is in the family room. Three boxes of blinds are stashed in a corner. A third box holding a new printer is stuffed behind another piece of furniture.

All this -- and a few unmentioned trials of an entirely different nature -- leaves me off-kilter.

A few years ago I was praying with friends and talking about deep peace and how to find it. Chuck shared an award-winning cartoon that appeared in American newspapers just as World War II was ending. A small bird sat holding fast to a slim branch as Niagara Falls roared in the background.  The lesson was simple: Being at peace is not dependent on the circumstances. Cling to that slim branch no matter the surrounding turmoil.

Of course a part of me – a big part of me – considered that image and immediately thought, “Fly away, bird. Fly away!”

Sometimes we can’t fly away. In those times, I need to focus less on the crashing torrent -- the noise, the spray, the tumult -- and more on the stability of the branch. For me that means prayer and sacramental grace. It means kind words chosen over hasty, harsh ones. It means a combination of planning and flexibility. It means putting people above things.
Michelle Reitemeyer has a nice series of thoughts about Lent. I was especially was struck by Part Two on the nature of penance. Michelle begins with a quote from Saint Benedict:

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted, in order to avoid more easily that which is not.”

So much wisdom packed into one succinct line.

Michelle shares that some of her kids complain that Lent is too hard. She writes, "It is hard.  But not too hard.  We must practice.  Now.  When it is easier."

So true.

Head over to Mrs. Henderson's blog to read some odd things people have given up for Lent. My oddest fast? Yelling at my kids between 4:00 and 7:00, the witching hours as they are known to many of us. One afternoon I was chatting with a friend who knew about my No Flying off the Handle Zone. In the middle of our conversation, one of the kids concocted some harebrained scheme -- I think it involved the top of the fridge. As I wrestled with my temper, my friend checked her watch and quipped, "It's only 3:30. Let 'em have it."

Yes, here we are back in Lent, that season of penance, that time when we say No in order to have the strength to say Yes when it really matters. No doubt I will encounter a few more torrents as we move toward Easter. With God's grace, may I hold fast to my branch and stay focused on that which sustains me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Good Scissors

So we had teacher conferences in the pre-school the other day. That probably sounds serious, but it was simply a nice chat about John. His teacher shared two minor concerns: John doesn't seem to distinguish colors very well, and he hasn't mastered the use of children's scissors.

I have wondered if John is partially color-blind. Time will tell. Not shocking -- it runs all through my family.

About the scissors...

It would seem that John's lack of dexterity lies strictly in the realm of children's scissors. Hand him my razor sharp Fiskars and there's no job too big for the nimbled-fingered John. I have no fewer than three data points (still coming down from the science fair) to support my hypothesis:

1. As I was finishing up a phone call, I saw John dashing out of the room with the good scissors. I followed him into my bedroom where I spotted him hiding under a blanket.

Note to John: If you want to be truly incognito, act naturally. The whole "blanket-over-the-head-behind-the-chair"? Not working so great for you, bud. Might as well post it on Facebook. Maybe it's time to adjust the m.o.?

There John sat utilizing the good scissors to open a nifty Space Shuttle that I think Dave intended as a future birthday or Christmas present.

2. This morning Ainsley's Mylar balloon got a face-lift courtesy of John and the good scissors. Hacked to pieces, it was.

3. This afternoon John appeared at my side with an unwrapped oatmeal pie -- ambrosia to the Dolin children -- and told me, "I opened it with da scissors by myself."

The boy can cut when he's so inclined.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Graces of the Cross

An excerpt from Litany of the Graces of the Cross

We adore you O Christ, when we do not get our own way.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, in the midst of day-to-day aggravations, frustrations, and

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, when we live deprived of recognition or gratitude.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, when dealing with others who exalt themselves and demean us.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, when injustice gets us down.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, in the face of worry, anxiety, and fear.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, when we forgive others and show them mercy, especially when
it hurts.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, in the face of others' thoughtlessness.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, in confronting our daily inner rebellion.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

We adore you, O Christ, in refusing to give in to vanity and self-importance.

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Compiled by Father Peter John Cameron. Printed in The Magnificat, March 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Seriously Bad Hair Day

Small Successes - The Science Fair Edition


Highlights of the week:

1. The Science Fair is over!.

2. I have reclaimed significant portions of my home, and my nervous twitch is subsiding.

3. Tim and his friends spent a month experimenting with his robot, and Ainsley never dismembered it! This defies all Laws of the Known Universe. Graph the probability of that, and you'd have a winning project.

Thanks to the awesome Mr. S. who inspires my son and so many other kids in their love of science. I know very well how much work these projects are for the teachers. We are grateful!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Simple Luxury

A year ago I posted the following:

Life goes ’round. You tackle the piles of laundry, the runny noses, the carpools, and the dishes. Sometimes the tedium gets to you.

And then something happens to shake you out of your reverie. You realize with startling clarity that life can change in a second.

It comes in the form a phone call, a letter, a headline. It brings news of a diagnosis, a catastrophe, an accusation, a lay off.
Suddenly that endless To Do List of the ordinary seems a glorious luxury, a comforting normalcy that has slipped away and threatens to be gone for good. You would gladly pay the bills, mow the lawn, scrub the bathroom.

These were not theoretical sufferings, but true stories, so very close to home. Today some of these issues have been resolved, some fully, some with significant fall out.

On a much less serious note, we have faced wide-scale layoffs in Dave's field.  For now we are fine, in fact, more than fine because sometimes I need a wake-up call in order to fully recognize God's provision in my life. As I sat quietly with the Lord the other morning, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the ordinary life I live.

I am a stay-at-home mother. While in some quarters this might invite derision, I fully recognize that it is a luxury. Most of my friends blend work in the home and work outside the home. With small children in particular, it is a juggling act that demands a daily dose of fortitude, creativity at times, diligence always.

Many of my friends with older children are in the work force out of love for their chosen professions, but most of the ones with young children work out of necessity. They are not funding expensive summer camps and luxury vehicles. Working mothers leave tiny babies with trusted caregivers so that the family carries health insurance. They cram in billable hours while their children are at school so that the budget balances at the end of the month.

I sat with a friend while she lamented putting her newborn in childcare everyday. Her husband was self-employed; her salary was small, but she carried the health insurance. I implored her to look past the guilt and tell herself, "I go to work so that my kids can go to the doctor."

It was heroic and hard.

I don't do any of this. Mine is certainly no life of leisure. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Taking care of four children is the most demanding job I've ever had. I don't, however, carry the added burden of getting out the door in a power suit or scrubs every day.

The other morning, as I pondered how quickly and completely circumstances can change, I lifted my heart in thanks to God for blessings that I too often take for granted. Suddenly the long hours seem a trifling annoyance, and I have an overwhelming desire to kiss my insurance card. I am grateful for all Dave does to make our life happen. Completing seven years of engineering studies was not easy, not fun. He has coped with a long commute and a stressful job for twenty years. Baby, you earned that commemorative clock!

On the heels of this prayer time full of thanksgiving -- as if to test the extent of my gratitude -- I encountered a series of days chock full of mis-communication and frustration, mostly of my own making. I sent a note explaining how a significant ball was dropped only to drop a ball myself only minutes later. I was ready to tear my hair out over someone's glaring lack of organization only to confront my own.

We have dealt with missing backpacks and belts gone AWOL. I spent 60 minutes making phone calls to get a ride for one child to one soccer game. We are all sniffling and blowing. I reached for a Kleenex only to find that someone had dismembered every box in the house and then deposited the unused Kleenex in the trash.


But you know, I married late and enjoyed many years in the working world before hanging it up to be a stay-at-home mom. I loved my job, but the working world holds no false illusions for me. I have a keen understanding of office politics, the interminable nights of grading papers, the daily grind that gets every bit as old as missing belts, spilled milk, and crumpled Kleenex boxes. On my bad days at home, I know the grass isn't greener. Mind you, the pay is better and the clothes are much, much spiffier, but the workplace -- just like the home -- comes with its own crosses to bear.

For today that endless To Do List of the ordinary is a glorious luxury, a comforting normalcy. Once more and with renewed appreciation, I will tackle the piles of laundry, the runny noses, the carpools, and the dishes.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Queen's Speech

Wasn't it just last week I was writing about John's emerging speech? He continues to charm us all (when he's not asserting his will of tempered steel). Yesterday he threw his squishy arms around me and shouted, "Mama, I love you big!"

Doesn't get much better than that.

Suddenly Ainsley's speech is taking off. She charged through the house this morning bellowing "Awful! Awful!" It's not a description of her brother's behavior, but rather her breakfast of choice, her inimical way of expressing, "May I please have a waffle to start the day?"

Here are a few other Ainsleyisms:

First word: Mama!

First two word combo: Oatmeal pie

First Sentence: Dere's a brudda!

The cast of characters: Mama, Dada, Baby, John John, Koba, and Dim (My apologies to Tim who adores his sister despite the dubious moniker).

Thanks to John: Bad Guy

Thanks to all the boys: Naked

Moving toward two: No! (Even when she means yes).

She's a diva: Shoes! Shoes!

She still won't wear one: Bow! Bow!

Much to her brothers' disgust: Elmo Word! Elmo Word!

To the delight of her mother, the English teacher: 'tory! 'tory!

To the chagrin of her mother, the English teacher: Show! Show!

As she barrels into the big boys' room each morning: Up! Up! (Gosh, they appreciate this!)

So sweet. So fun.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

Hallie over at Betty Beguiles is hosting Seven Quick Takes. Here's a snippet of our life:

1. John's pre-school teacher is wondering if he might be color blind, a thought I have shared before. Hmmm.

John loves both school and his teacher. I love that with child # 4, I can hear of a potential problem and remain perfectly at peace with a sure sense that most things come out in the wash.

2. John came crying to us in the middle of the night. "There was a bug," he sobbed, "and it turned into a spider web. I was so scary."" Not scared - scary. Love that. He spent the rest of the night with his arm wrapped around mine. Love that even more.

3. Kolbe's cast came off this morning. Four broken bones in one year!

4. On the way to school this morning, the boys taught Ainsley to say the word naked. I'm simply beaming with pride.

5. Went to Tim's soccer game yesterday. 
Time spent making arrangements for Kolbe, packing snacks, loading babies, watching game? Three hours, easy.

Playing time? About one hundred and twenty seconds.

Showing your son that your support is unconditional? Priceless.
6. I'm convinced that the person who first fashioned the ladder back chair never had a toddler.

7. Melanie Bettinelli who blogs at (and has just had a beautiful baby boy) included Connie Willis in her book reviews a while back. I am hooked! Blackout and All Clear are awesome reads especially if you love time travel and history. I just started To Say Nothing of the Dog.

Off on retreat for the weekend. Hope yours is peaceful.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Small Successes


If you need encouragement, head over to Faith and Family Live! Here are a few snippets from our life:
1. The bathroom project has been stalled by sickness and the fact that I ran out of paint. We are all feeling better, and I picked up another gallon. Onward and upward! This will not take three years. This will not take three years. Say it with me!

2. Our seventh grader and his friends are making great strides on their science fair project. I planned to report that the whole enchilada was done, finis, as in dotted I's and crossed T's. Such is not the case, but they are making progress and, you know, they're learning something to boot.

As I was driving one of the kids home last night, he turned to me and said, "That was so much fun!"

It's all worth it.

3. When someone broke the news at 9:30 p.m. that he had an essay due this morning, I exercised heroic restraint and did not revile and threaten, disenroll him from school, or write the paper for him.  I poured myself a glass of wine and read a book. The paper is finished.

What about you?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Spring has sprung here in the Deep South. John and I walked around the block looking at all the birds' nests. My many northern relatives enduring gray days and icy roads can take heart.

The birds are migrating!