Friday, October 31, 2008

My Husband Rocks Friday - The Cheerleader

So today is also MHR Friday.....and quite frankly after the emotion drain I had from writing that last entry....I NEED to focus on the happy. (If you aren't yet familiar with MHR Fridays please click the title of this blog entry to be taken to Katy Lin's main MHR Friday page and feel free to join in!)
So why does my husband rock today? He rocks because of his unwaivering support of me.
Like I said in a previous post this week, I am going to be making a career change in a few days. when I told him I got he job he was so happy for me that he excitedly grinned and hugged me, and joyfully celebrated with me. Now since then he has remained fully supportive, but the realization that we won't be working side by side any longer is starting to sink in for both of us. He can't talk about me leaving for my new job without tearing up, and yet, he smiles and says how happy he is for me. **sigh** He asked me for more pictures of myself and us together to keep on his desk so even if he can't see me in person all day he can at least look at my picture.
I don't know how many couples get to work together, and I don't know how many of them are close enough friends that to do so is healthy, but I can say that for 9 years I have been so blessed by my husband's support, encouragement, love and affection for me both at home and in the workplace that I can honestly say I am a stronger and better person because of him.
So THAT is just one more reason why my husband rocks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Of Snowflakes and Diamonds

Death………I’ve wanted...or rather needed (nobody ever really WANTS to talk about it) to talk about this for a few days now and just didn’t know how to start it. It’s not an easy topic and quite frankly it’s going to be a long, 5 Kleenex blog entry, for both you AND me. However, I think it needs to be recorded for posterity and not just left to scatter to the wind and be forgotten. Also, the other reason for my delay in writing this is because I know Lori will be reading this at some point and I don’t want to cause more pain where there is already so much right now. So Lori, when you see this…it’s ok if you stop here, I won’t take it personally.

We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love. ~Madame de Stael

My first real encounter with the loss of a loved one came in 1999. Now I had lost several relatives before then, but they were relatives that I wasn’t close to, so at the risk of sounding callous, although I truly was sad when they passed, I just never ached that they were gone. My grandmother however, that was a different story. She was ill for quite a while and to see her degrade from the strong woman she once was, to a frail shell of her former self, was difficult. I had taken some leaves of abscence to go down for extended periods of time and care for her before she had to be moved to a nursing home, which I think helped prepare me to lose much as you can be anyway. My mother kept in constant contact with the nursing home…we couldn’t visit because we lived here in Connecticut and she was so far away in Alabama. The nurses kept my mom included in every detail and would give her status updates as often as possible which also helped. I remember though the night that we lost her…..I had a dream that night that I will never forget….one that I have shared some details with people about over the years, but this will be the first time I have EVER shared the entire thing with ANYONE....including my mother and Ben. I guess by keeping most of it to myself it was sort of like clinging onto my own personal goodbye and so I selfishly guarded it. Seeing one of my closest friends though going through such a painful loss has made me finally want to share the whole thing ...Who knows, maybe it will be encouraging to somebody out there never know.

In my dream I was walking in a large green grassy field beside a mountain. The sky was a rich bright blue, and the stone of the mountain was bright golden brown rock. As I walked I looked up and saw a grass covered hill extending from the mountain far into the field to my right. On top of this hill was a massive and beautiful tree, lush, full of leaves, and bathed in bright sunlight. I felt drawn to it and began walking towards it. The branches were full of emerald green leaves and I remember the branches rustling as wind whipped down the side of the mountain. As I got closer the color of the leaves began to change from emerald green to a warm golden orange and they began flying off of the tree with every gust of wind until only a few remained. I remember thinking that the whole scene looked like a Maxfield Parrish painting.
As I climbed the hill to the base of the tree I knew I was coming to the end of something…..I just didn’t know what yet. It was then that I heard a voice in the dream recite to me, Now a little before them stood an oak; and under it, when they came to it, they found an old pilgrim, fast asleep…..” I looked up at the branches of the tree above me and heard the same voice say, “When the last leaf falls she’ll be gone.” I remember feeling very sad and closing my eyes hoping that would stop the leaves from falling. When I opened them again I was laying down on the ground looking at the branches like a child lays in the grass and watches clouds go by. I watched leaf after leaf pop off in the wind and flutter and fly away until there was only one left amid the dark bark and branches. Then suddenly I saw that one wiggle and pop off, but instead of flying off and away it literally floated down slowly and as it got closer to my eyes I heard the voice again, “ ….yet if the sun of righteousness will arise upon him, his frozen heart shall feel a thaw; and thus it hath been with me.” At the last word, the leaf dropped onto my eyes and everything went black.
I remember sobbing in my sleep and waking up to the sound of the phone ringing, my mother picking it up, and hearing her crying as the nurses told her my grandmother was gone.
I found out later that the quotes I had heard in my dream were from Pilgrim’s Progress…a book I had never read before then. It’s been almost 10 years since I had that dream and yet the tears are streaming down my face as I remember it. As time passes, the pain of losing someone may not be felt as often or as deeply as it was in the beginning, but to some degree it will always be there. Now due to my faith I have a lot of peace about certain things pertaining to death, and I have that with my grandmother....but the physical side of life....that's where the hurt is. The fact that we can't hear their laugh, we can't see their smiles, we can't complain about all those little irritants that used to drive us nuts about them...or call on them when we're hurting and feel their comfort. **sigh** therein lies the pain.
A few weeks ago Lori's mom was suddenly and quite unexpectedly diagnosed with inoperable cancer. It was a shocking blow. This woman who had never been sick a day in her life was suddenly struck down....blindsided. The biggest blessing I have seen so far is that where a strained and painful relationship once existed beteen Lori and her mom, there is now tenderness and affection. Where there was hurt and fear of rejection there is now love and acceptance.
Tuesday night I went with Lori to the hospice her mother had been taken to so we could spend some quality time with her. As we tried to make the best of a sorrowful thing we heard the story of the young woman in the bed next to Lori’s mom. Only six short months ago this 42 year old woman had been the life of the party, well loved by all and living to the fullest. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. They had gone in to remove it only to find that it had metastised and there was nothing that could be done. She now lay in a deeply medicated sleep unable to acknowledge or respond to anyone or anything around her. Just hours before we had arrived, her boyfriend, a huge burly biker type, had come to visit his love. Apparently at some point after her diagnosis this once vibrant woman had suffered the fear that he would leave her because of her illness. A fear that I'm sure many people feel when confronted with an illness of this magnitude. Well, that day, quietly, as the other patients in the room and their families sat visiting their own loved ones, he had come in with a group of their friends and family. Amid a sea of emotions he took out an engagement ring, lifted her limp arm and slipped it onto her finger and proposed. As he broke down in body shaking sobs he managed to get the words out, "I promised you I would never leave matter what." his other big burly friends who all looked like they should be bouncers in biker bars all let down their guard and hugged and supported their friend in his impending loss. I think that day, EVERYONE felt his impending loss.
Last year, our pastor lost his mother. She had been ill for a while, but we all held out hope and prayed for a miracle. She was an anchor in the church to say the least, a well loved woman with a heart to joyfully serve others in all she did. When we lost her it was one of the largest funeral processions the community had ever seen. The family has peace about losing her because they know how strong she was in her faith, but the physical pain is still raw. Days before she died I was in church with friends praying for a miracle when I suddenly felt impressed to grab a pen and paper and start writing.
What came next was a miriad of comparisons between snowflakes and diamonds..... Both are beautiful and both sparkle in the light...but that is where the similarities end. Snowflakes are fragile and have no substance...they are just beautiful frozen water and when heat is applied, they melt and are gone. Diamonds however....they are created when heat and pressure are applied and when thy are cut, they reflect light even more.
I think death is the final defining moment to show who is a diamond and who is a snowflake. Some melt and simply fade away...others grow stronger and reflect the light. We don't know how, when, or where our time will come but I pray we are all diamonds and reflect the light until our last breath is taken.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Riding Off Into the Sunset

So the time has tenure at the deathstar has finally ended. After 9 years here, as of November 11th, I will finally be free. Hard to believe......but it's definitely long overdue. I still refuse to go into a long rant about how they've wronged me or whine about things that are just "so unfair" just doesn't serve any purpose...and for that matter I really don't want to look back on my blog and have to read about it.
The fact of the matter is, 9 years ago I loved it here....I planned to retire here....and the fact that my sweet hubby and I have been able to enjoy working together(only about 20 feet away from each other) for so long has been AWESOME! I will truly miss the commute in with him, the last minute kiss and I love yous before getting out of the car in the mornings and being able to go to lunch together everyday. Not to mention the occasional love notes tossed onto each other's desk as you quickly walk past them.
Over time though, things within the company changed, some good.....some not so good...and I have truly learned the intrinsic value in having supervisors who are not afraid to discipline employees when needed, because when unacceptable behaviour is left makes life difficult for all.
So I have been looking for a long time for something better. I've gotten lots of offers and some were very good...but they just weren't where I wanted to be, or doing what I wanted to do. So I held out. Then finally last year something opened on the horizon that i just KNEW I wanted to be a part of. So I tossed my hat into the ring and due to just wasn't time yet. so I waited.....and every time that door popped up again I tested the water to see if it would work. Always the answer was a resounding, "not yet" .....**sigh**.....that was not easy, but I'm a big believer in the fact that "The right thing at the wrong time, equals the wrong thing" so I refused to try and MAKE it just wouldn't have been good at all......for anyone involved.
So I waited more.....then it happened....I checked in again, got a no and patiently set it down prepared to wait more....when out of the blue, a week or so later, "BAM".
My say I was in tears of joy is a major understatement! Euphoric shock is more like it.

So, it will be a complete career change (THANK YOU LORD)....and I'll miss seeing my sweet Benny during the day....but I am soooo looking forward to the change and the new adventure this will bring. ***sigh*** is good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fur Buddies

Oy-vey………so I have soooooo much to share, but I think instead of posting one novel length entry I’ll break it up and post two, or three entries. Make things a bit more interesting…and a bit more organized.

Hmmmm… I think I’ll start with the boy. Now, for those of you that don’t know yet….our little Sargie is an abuse rescue puppy. Without going into a long tirade about his original owners, even though I would like to, let’s keep it simple by saying they had NO BUSINESS owning a dog! Overall, though I would say he has recovered SPECTACULARLY and has very little carry over from those first few months with them. However, one issue that we are still working on is socializing him with other dogs. Some dogs, he gets along with GREAT almost right off the bat….others however, well….not so much. People he has no issues with….he will run to you, hug you, lick you, and cry incessantly about where you have been all his life because you should have been patting him instead of being wherever you were. LOL.

When the family that rescued him for us took him, in they introduced him to their dogs and he LOVED them. Played all day and had a blast….and since then he has done the same with a couple of other dogs that he has deemed “buddy worthy”, HOWEVER…..the majority of other dogs he has NOT been so friendly with. So it has been very frustrating for us because we are doing our best to socialize him as much as possible by taking him wherever we go. In fact, eventually we would like to get him to such a point that he could be a service dog and go into convalescent homes and visit the residents. So conquering his social issues is imperative for us.

So anyway, two of our close friends, Al and Rae, just got their very own rescue dog. An ADORABLE giant gallut of a dog with one of the most docile and affectionate personalities I have seen in a dog in years. Ranger was quite literally rescued from the streets of Hartford after his original owners decided they couldn’t keep him, so they turned him loose in the city to survive on his own.

**sigh** ….oooooooohhhhhhhhhhh NOOOOOOOOOO comment……….

Anyway, Ranger is about the same age as Sargie and about two and a half times his size. Ranger however, THANKFULLY, doesn’t have the same issues with dogs that Sargie does. Instead all he knows is, “PLAY!!!! WILL YOU BE MY PLAY BUDDY?!?!?!? LET’S PLAY!!!!” He’s half Golden Retriever and half Chow-Chow, and he looks like a giant cream colored Sargie…..but a bit more lion like. Just a beautiful dog.

So the four of us decided it would be a good idea to introduce the boys, especially since we have wanted to get together for a while anyway and schedules just hadn’t allowed it. So they brought Ranger out to Isaiah on Saturday to let them meet and let’s just say Sargie’s reaction was far less than enthusiastic and I had to put the muzzle on him (poor thing looks like a K-9 Hannibal Lector when he has it on). In fact, he was downright obnoxious, and I now have a little mouth shaped bruise on my arm to prove it.

Thankfully, Rae is wonderful when it comes to this stuff. Her parents own a kennel and so she was raised around dogs and knows how to train them and how to work with them to get them through this….so her patience with Sargie was not just encouraging, but soooooooo productive. Once we got back home and Sargie realized he was going to have a furry guest at the house for dinner he was NOT happy. For the first hour and a half to two hours, we had to keep the muzzle on him. All the while though, Ranger persistently goaded him to play and refused to give up or even return Sargie’s nastiness (which would have been completely justified). Ranger would bark incessantly in Sarge’s face and ear, poke him with his nose, pull on his ears, pull his tail, chew on his legs, etc….it was hilarious. All the while Sarge would just sit and endure it with a very obvious scowl and occasionally try to nip back. FINALLY, though we had breakthrough. Rae told us to go ahead and take the muzzle off Sarge, so we did, and while she petted and occupied Ranger, we let Sarge sniff him out without fear of threat. Once Sarge decided he was ok, it was HIS turn to do the goading. So Sarge began to bark at Ranger and punch him with his nose. Now one thing you must know is that even though Sarge is a boy, he has the voice of a yippy girl. Horrifically shrill. Thankfully he really doesn’t bark very much (carry over from his abuse….they made him AFRAID to bark), but when he does….get the earplugs! So for about ten or fifteen minutes we all endured his incessant yipping back at Ranger and then it was time for the true test. Rae let Ranger go, and then LOOK OUT!

Now Ben and I don’t have a large house, it’s very small, in fact, it’s TINY. So having two dogs race through the kitchen and living room at full turbo speed was pretty funny. Of course, one of Sargie’s quirks is that he LOVES to play tag, and Ranger was only too happy to oblige. So for the next few hours they ran, chased, wrestled, flipped, jumped, skidded and chewed on each other. The amount of fur lost from them sent little doggy tumbleweeds everywhere. It was great. By the end of the night, after catching their second, third, fourth and fifth wind the two of them finally collapsed onto the floor, covered in slobber and panting like they had just climbed Mt McKinley.

It was sooooo nice to see the two of them playing and having fun. We decided to do it again as soon as possible, but for now, here’s a couple of pics from that night.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is There Such a Thing as Cyber Marital Counseling?

I saw the following news article come across the A/P wires Friday and decided this would be a nice piece of brevity to interject right about here……

Online divorcee jailed after killing virtual hubby
By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

TOKYO: A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.
The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.
"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations. The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said. She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.
Players in "Maple Story" raise and manipulate digital images called "avatars" that represent themselves, while engaging in relationships, social activities and fighting against monsters and other obstacles. The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married, and killed the character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his beloved online avatar was dead.
Soooooooooo…………….NOWWWW back to life, back to reality……..(and yes, that was a TRUE news story released by the AP Friday)
Am I the only one that finds that entire news story disturbing? I mean REALLY??? I can’t decide which bothers me more, the fact that this chic lost ALL touch with reality and decided that she “needed” to off this guys AVATAR,(heaven forbid his little pixilated character remarry some little gigabyte tart! LOL) or the fact that this guy was so attached to his cyber self that he needed to go to the actual human police to report the “murder”. Then again it could be the fact that these two were so absorbed in an internet GAME…..G-A-M-E…..GAME…..that they actually thought these two responses were NORMAL!!! Wackos!

If they can’t handle marriage in a cartoon computer world without going over the edge, when they don’t have to deal with dirty laundry, clogged toilets, smelly sneakers, lawns to mow, and no budgets to try and maintain, how will they EVER handle the real thing?

Real life may not be as neatly manicured as a cyber world, but REALLY???? When do we draw the line between harmless fun and internet networking and losing touch with ALL reality?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chocolate Dipped Madeleines

One of the ladies here at the deathstar will be retiring in the next couple of months and today was her birthday. I usually don’t go overboard for people here unless I’m really close to them, but since it is her last birthday here I decided to do something a bit fancier than usual. She loves chocolate, but everybody always makes her all kinds of chocolate so I wanted to do something different that would be a real treat. I decided I wanted to do some kind of cookie and at first I considered making pumpkin moon pies with a confection/cream cheese filling and dipped in chocolate, but decided I didn’t have time for that. So I decided to make chocolate dipped madeleines instead. Now if you aren’t familiar with what madeleines are, they are similar to shortbread cookies, but lighter. After I dipped them I drizzled white icing over the chocolate part so that it looked like lattice. They came out wonderfully, but of course I totally forgot to take a picture of them to post here…**sigh** (Sooooo I went online and found a picture of some plain choc dipped madeleines so you can see what they look like...see above).

Soooo I decided to share the recipe so some of you can make them too if you wish. Like I said I drizzled white icing on the chocolate part of mine but you can also sprinkle on, minced nuts, sugar shots, colored sugars or those little bb’s if you like. They are also WONDERFUL if you add cocoa to the batter and make chocolate, chocolate dipped madeleines.

You will need a special Madeleine pan, and they aren’t that expensive. They come in two sizes, regular size madeleines and minis. You can get a regular sized non-stick one for about $13.00. The pans look like this

Madeleine Cookies

· 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
· 1 cup cake flour
· 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
· pinch salt
· 3 eggs
· 3/4 cup granulated sugar
· 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
· 1 tub Baker’s Dipping Chocolate
· 1 tube white icing with interchangeable tips

Makes: About 1 1/2 dozen madeleines.

Melt butter in microwaveable bowl. Skim off foam from surface; keep warm. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In medium bowl, combine eggs and granulated sugar. Whip on high speed with electric mixer until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Fold in orange zest. Gradually stir in warm butter. Fold in flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray Madeleine pan with vegetable pan spray with flour. Spoon about 1 tablespoon batter into each cavity. Bake 13-14 minutes until Madeleine are firm to the touch. Remove pan from oven and immediately turn pan over onto cooling grid; gently tap pan to release Madeleines.

While cookies cool follow directions on tub of dipping chocolate and then dip end of cookie into chocolate making sure front and back of top are covered. Set down on waxed paper to decorate. (if using icing let chocolate harden completely first)


Monday, October 20, 2008

Dog Burritos, Car Keys and Fish

Ok, so this weekend I kept seeing a pervading theme developing around me…..and actually even into this morning too. One of BEING a friend and helping others when they need it and the intrinsic value of HAVING friends to help when you need it…..and the really cool thing is that I got to see it from three viewpoints…..the doer, the receiver and the observer.

So it all started late Saturday night. I was talking to a dear friend of mine who is going through a really hard time and towards the end of the conversation she mentioned to me that her family (her siblings and elder relatives) had all decided that evening at the dinner table that family is everything…because essentially friends will just stab you in the back. Now, my friend doesn’t feel that way at all but no matter how much she has tried to sway her family they just won’t budge…to them, blood is everything and the ONLY thing. (Visions of countless mafia movies filled my mind…lol) So this got me thinking….and sooooo the chain of events began……

Event #1) Yo Quiero Taco Bell: As this friend was sharing her family’s views on friendship with me, I heard a bark coming from our bedroom. Now yet another quirk that the boy has is he LOVES to attack his toys. He will carry them into the bedroom, jump on the bed, fling the toy into the air, let it land and then pounce on it and bark at it as if it’s going to bark back. We’ve gotten used to this nightly routine of his so most of the time Ben and I just tune it out. So when I heard that bark I just assumed this is what he was doing….even though it did sound a bit muffled. A minute or so passed and then another muffled bark. Again, I didn’t think anything of it because it’s become so normal to hear Sarge do this. So I continued with my conversation, but I could hear Ben get up from his chair in the office and go into the bedroom to check on the him. I heard him saying something to him, but couldn’t hear what it was and a moment later I heard Sarge running down the hall and looked up just as he bounded into the living room towards me. Then I saw Ben standing in the doorway, red from laughter. “Would you like to know what your son just did?” he asked me…. I KNEW this was going to be good so I said yes, and as he tried to hold back his laughter, Ben told me why Sarge had sounded muffled when he barked. On our bed, we have several layers of covering, a top sheet, a cotton blanket, a fleece blanket, a goose down duvet, and a regular bedspread. Lately, the boy has discovered how fun it is to burrow under all the layers of covers and zip around like a mole underground. Well apparently, that’s what he had decided to do, however this time he had gotten so excited that he had tangled himself up in the fleece and in trying to get loose had in fact wrapped himself up tighter like a little doggie burrito…(gives new meaning to the Taco Bell dog…lol). So when Daddy Ben had gone in to see what Sarge was doing all he could see was a whimpering, wriggling lump under the many layers of covers. The pitiful furball was completely helpless and Ben had to come to his rescue….

Event#2) Fish Sandwich: Sunday’s have simultaneously become my most fulfilling yet most exhausting day of the week. Without going into a long self-absorbed brag list of what I do, let’s just say I’m VERY busy with a new undertaking at church. Now I love this new project, more than I ever dreamt I would to be completely honest…but I LOVE it! So when I get to church on Sunday mornings it’s pretty early and I hit the ground running. By about 11 I’m still going strong, but I’m beginning to slow down a little. When 1 o’clock comes around however I’m starting to feel the exhaustion. Now I know in time, once I build up my volunteer base, things will get significantly easier, and the load will become much lighter…until then however, it’s just me and another woman closing up shop and cleaning when everyone else is gone for the day. Thankfully we get along very well….it makes the job much easier when you enjoy the person you are working with. Yesterday however, she had to be somewhere and had to leave early. She felt bad and kept making herself feel guilty and I kept telling her not to worry about it. “Loaves and fishes” I kept saying. I’ve seen it happen too many times out at the street ministry we work at. When all the volunteers have to be somewhere and you’re operating on a skeleton crew…out of the blue, a group of volunteers will show up to help. So I knew somehow it would be ok, but even it if it ended up being just me and taking a lot longer I wasn’t going to make myself miserable by complaining. So we went along doing as many of our chores as possible before she had to leave. Then just as she had to go, a man walked up and asked me if I needed help. I told him I would very much appreciate any help he could offer if he had time. He said ok, immediately went out, and came back a few minutes later with his son in tow. Not only was he going to help me, but so was his son, his daughter and his wife! WOW!!! I was practically in tears…I was soooo thankful. Then, another couple that are in charge of another ministry at the church also came in to help me… just spontaneously decided to help. LOL….it was awesome! It was a total “loaves and fishes” moment complete with so much extra help that I didn’t know what to do with it.

Event #3) Buzzed: So normally Ben and I will take Sunday evenings off instead of going to the evening service, because it’s the only rest we really get during the week. Last night however it was our turn to help with baptisms so we went and had a blast, and I got to take pictures of the people before, during and after they got baptized….it was really fun. Well, midway through the service the cell phone rang. After feverishly rushing to turn it off (in my defense we always leave it in the car which is why I wasn’t used to turning it off before service…lol) I looked to see who called and it was my mom and brother. I thought it was a bit odd for them to call on a Sunday on the cell phone and hoped it didn’t mean there was an emergency. I decided to wait until after service to call back though and dropped it back in my purse. Then about 20 minutes later it rang again (in silent mode…don’t give me that look…lol), so by this point I knew something was wrong. I got up and called my brother back. Sure enough, mom had gone to the grocery store across town and accidently locked the keys in the car, he didn’t have a way to get to her with his key and we had the spare. Sooooooo…..after service was over and we had a couple more spontaneous baptisms, helped clean up and get everything settled, we headed out to help mom.

Event # 4) Nothing is Impossible: So first thing this morning I came into work and there was no heat…..ohhhhhhhhh…joy. LOL. I decided not to complain and just be thankful that for some odd reason I had decided to wear my ski jacket to work instead of my lighter Fall jacket. THANK GOD!! About an hour into the morning one of my friends here at work came over to say good morning and she looked about ready to cry. She suddenly opened up and asked me to pray for a family member….a potentially serious need. So I told her of course I would and gave her as many encouraging words as I could at the moment and told her to never lose hope….that I would stand with her and pray for a miracle. So we are…..

After all of those things is when I began to think about what my friend’s family had said about friendship. Yes, it’s nice to be close to your family…and it’s GOOD to be close to your family…but you need outside friends too. If you seclude yourself into a cluster of family only and nobody else just because it’s “safe”…YOUR entire life suffers as well as those that would have benefitted by having you as a friend. I remember a couple of years ago reading a VERY interesting article about a science study going on in England. It’s called The Eden Project. What it is, is an absolutely Fascinating GIANT domed ecosystem. I highly recommend you read up on it…very interesting stuff. ANYWAY….early on they discovered that the trees grown inside were large and beautiful but they weren’t as strong as trees outside of the dome. WHY? Simple, they hadn’t been exposed to the elements……they had been sheltered. The elements of driving rain, wind, extreme heat, extreme cold…though temporarily unpleasant and potentially deadly for sustained amounts of time…temper the trees with strength. Life is like that too…and so are friends. Sometimes friends will hurt us, sometimes people that call themselves friends, aren’t really friends at all….I’ve had my share of those too, sometimes family will hurt us when they are supposed to be our biggest support. Regardless…good or bad, sometimes we just can’t do it alone and we need people to reach out to us and lend us a hand and vice versa. The more we reach out to others in their time of need, the more they will reach out to us in our own time of need.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT)

9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's "My Husband Rocks" Friday!

So this is my first official “My Husband Rocks- Friday” blog entry (thanks sooooo much Katy Lin at the blog The Great Adventure for creating this weekly tribute! If you click the title of this entry you can be taken to Katy Lin's blog page to learn more.) …..YEAH!!! I started to post one last week, but time got away from me.

So, I was trying to decide what to put in my first MHR post and decided to go with something he did last Saturday. Ben and I usually spend our Saturdays preparing for and then going to feed the homeless and low-income people in our town as part of a ministry called Isaiah 58 Outreach. Last weekend I had a bit of an emotional meltdown (you can read my post “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” if you want the full details.) and decided I needed to stay home, so I gave him a bag of women’s clothes somebody had donated to us and he went without me. While he was out there, he and some of the other volunteers met a young woman who was obviously down on her luck. She lost her place to live and was afraid to sleep on the streets in our city (completely understandable if you knew our city), she hadn’t eaten anything in a few days, had no car and only the clothes on her back, her children had been taken away, and she was trying to find a rehab. Attempting to find a shelter that will admit people on a Saturday is not an easy task where we live. Most of them only take new people on weekdays between certain hours. So anyway, after he and our friends made sure she had eaten a good meal Ben let her look at the bag of clothes I had sent with him. Miraculously, they were her size, so she now had fresh clothes to wear too. Finally, he and a friend decided that since she needed rehab also, they would take her to a shelter that they knew of two towns away. So without a thought, and with total shock from the woman that somebody would actually offer to help her, they took her to this place.

Now, there’s one thing you must know about Ben, if you don’t already. That is that he is the type of guy that defines the phrase, “Knight in Shining Armor”…he always looks for a person in need and rarely turns away. I’m thoroughly convinced he should have a cape and tights….well….maybe not the tights…lol. Once as he was returning from picking up an elderly man to bring to church they saw a car on fire on the freeway. Ben pulled his car over, grabbed his fire extinguisher from the trunk, ran across three lanes of traffic, jumped a jersey barrier, ran across three more lanes of traffic, and proceeded to put the fire out….all while looking dapper dressed in his suit. Then when the fire was out and he knew everything would be ok, he said goodbye to the driver, raced back across the three lanes, the jersey barrier, the other three lanes, popped the extinguisher back into the trunk, hopped into the car and still made it to church on time. LOL. Another time he met a woman and her family who had just moved out of a homeless shelter into an apartment and literally had NOTHING….so he decided that this was not suitable. So he began calling connections and little by little we were able to furnish their entire apartment from top to bottom. Then in his spare time (lol…those of you that know us know the humor in using that term), he mentors male prisoners as a pen-pal to encourage them, help turn their lives around, teach them the value of accountability and give them hope for a better life when they get out. He’s just amazing like that…..he’s my hero….and THAT’S why my husband rocks!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fiddle Dee Dee and Grilled Cheese

Isn’t it funny, the things that trigger memories and emotions for us? So today is one of those for me, it’s what I consider a beautiful Fall day, overcast and comfortably cool. Days like this always remind me of growing up in Alabama. Growing up Southern was quite an adventure and had a distinct fairytale quality for me, even to this day. Not that it was always happy and spectacular, Lord knows, my family took the fun OUT of dysFUNctional… However, there are certain things that will ALWAYS be close to my heart and put a smile on my face. So just for the heck of it I thought I would share a few….

~Rain: Yep, rain…..we never got much snow down in Alabama (at least not compared to the amount we get here in Connecticut), maybe a few inches a year, which was rarely enough for a snowman or snowballs yet would immediately shut the entire state down until it all melted, but that was it except for every couple of years or so when we would get about a foot and that would all melt in a couple of days. So ANYWAY, the idea of a white Christmas as a kid wasn’t all that “Christmas-y” to me. Rain however…that was another story. Rain STILL brings me happy memories of long warm Autumns, family Thanksgivings at Grandma’s, Christmas tree shopping from the Boy Scouts in the rain and leaves still falling off the trees at Christmas!

~Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: My mom LOVES grilled cheese sandwiches and when I was a little sprout whenever she would take me out to eat, she always ordered grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles for the two of us. Three of our favorite spots back then for the best gc’s around the Birmingham area were,

1) The “Giant Chuck Wagon Driver” Drive Through. Neither one of us can remember the actual name of it because that was the nickname we gave it, but when I was little there was a tiny little drive through near the Eastwood Mall that had a GIANT crusty looking, whip switching, chuck wagon cowboy on the roof. They had the best grilled cheese by default because they were just so COOL…therefore they were the top choice and I would constantly BEG my mother to take me there. I’m sure many times she took me there simply to shut me up. LOL.

2) The “Roller Skate Drive-In” Restaurant. Another one we can’t remember the actual name of, but I’m pretty sure it was located near Irondale and just a short way from the area where Fanny Flagg based her book, Fried Green Tomatoes (even though it was filmed in Georgia). I’ll tell you more about that in another post someday. So the roller skate drive-in was the best because they actually WERE the BEST. To this day, every grilled cheese sandwich I have or make myself is compared to them and they still are the best. Perfect melty cheese, perfect crispy yet sloppy buttery toasted bread….MMM….the fact that they skated the food over to us in cute little plastic baskets was just a benefit. LOL

3) Woolworths. There were many Woolworths all over the place as many of you know and remember…but the one in Vestavia had the best grilled cheese for yet another reason. Now, they were the best not for flavor, quality or uniqueness. They were the best because they had a counter to eat at and toothpicks with frilly stuff! Now, tiny as I was, there was nothing more fun than climbing onto the top of one of there chrome and pastel colored vinyl stools and watching the cook (dressed in mostly white and a little paper soda jerk hat) make the grilled cheese on the griddle. Ok, maybe there WAS something more fun than that…. The next step was then spinning myself round and round on the stool until not only was I dizzy but I nearly launched myself into the booth behind us. It was cute for a while, but when I was one step away from puking, it was no longer cute to mom. Now Woolworths also had an added benefit that made them the best…..TOYS. So after lunch we would roam through the aisles and I would reach up or climb up and finger all the goodies that were so nicely displayed in rows. Woolworths also had another distinct trait that stays with me to this day, the smell. Don’t make that face… wasn’t a BAD smell. It was a clean, dime store smell. It was a combination of clean crisp linen (from stacks of starched hankies and neatly folded pajamas), cardboard boxes, new plastic toy smell, and French fries. LOL….yeah go ahead and laugh but those of us that remember Woolworths, especially the one in Vestavia, I bet they recognize that smell. J

Of course, all three of those places are long gone now; replaced by bigger, better and more modern things….but the memory will always be fresh to me.

~The Birmingham Zoo: For most of my childhood, we lived VERY close to the zoo and the Botanical Gardens, so both of them became favorite haunts of ours. (You know you go to a place a lot when the staff recognizes you.) So anyway, I have many fun memories from inside the zoo over the years, but my FAVORITE zoo memory was actually far outside the walls of the complex. Because we lived so close, I remember on some nights when not much traffic was on the road and all was quiet in the neighborhood, I would sit on the steps of our porch and HEAR the lions roaring. I remember using my imagination and pretending that I was in Africa and the silhouetted trees in front of me were hiding a jungle of wildlife and hidden treasures waiting for me to discover them. It’s not a very big memory…but it’s one of my favorites as a kid.

~Gone With the Wind: Now as far as I know, they don’t do this anymore….but when I was a kid, you could count on several movies being played on TV every year, like clockwork. It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and Gone With the Wind. To this day all four are among my favorite movies, but the last one holds special meaning. My mom just adored the gentle kindness of Miss Melly and admired the fiery chutzpah of Miss Scarlett. We all agreed that while Ashley was a kind and gentle man, he was also a mamby-pamby wimp and while Rhett was a rough around the edges and boorish cad, he was also deeply in love with Scarlett and would have done anything to have her love in return. They were her literary heroes….although she would never call them that, trust me, they were. She wouldn’t throw out the common quotes and sayings of Scarlett that we all hear, like, “Fiddle Dee Dee” and she wouldn’t make us eat like piglets in private so we could eat like birds in public…no none of that. What she WOULD do however, is whenever times got tough, she would ALWAYS rally herself by saying, “I just can’t think about it today, it’ll drive me crazy if I do…..I’ll think about it tomorrow, after all, tomorrow IS another day”. She would then talk with GREAT affection about how she believed Scarlett and Rhett got back together because she had FINALLY come to her senses and realized she truly loved Rhett all along, and how she just knew that she would go back to Tara to gather her strength. Then as the conversation would progress, mom would inevitably bring up how her grandmother was on the board of movie critics in 1939. And how they almost banned the movie because that famous kiss was too long between Rhett and Scarlett and because it was the first time a swear word had EVER been in a silver screen movie (that famous last line where Rhett says, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”…wow…mild compared to today, but I digress). Of course there would also follow the stories of Sherman and the yankees (not the baseball team all you non-history buffs). When they came through, looting the homes, my relatives who were determined not to have the enemy touch their precious things, took all of the family silver, china and jewels and buried them in the back of the property. A great idea in theory, but there was such a rush as horror stories filtered in of Atlanta burning, that no account was made as to WHERE on the property the pieces were buried. So when they came back to retrieve them after the war, some pieces were hidden so well, that they were simply never found. So watching that movie, although a vast Hollywood epic, it does bring back memories of countless family stories I remember hearing as a little girl…and even now actually.

These are just a small handful of memories from growing up Southern….there are sooooooooo many more. I’ll share most or all of them over time….but these are my favorites, the ones I think of the most often. Of course, I’ve finally come to call New England home since my migration North 19 years ago…but I still love and cherish my Southern roots. Maybe that’s where I get some of my Pollyanna-ness….Scarlett and Melly…..hmmmm….food for thought.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want to!

So today’s question is, Can Pollyanna’s Have Pity Parties.

The answer is a resounding, YES!

Now one thing that those closest to me, my trusted inner circle..(You know who you are, you mighty blessings from God!)…know about me is that I always try to be boldly transparent, because there is a wealth of freedom in unabashed transparency so that will be my promise to you readers on here too. If I’m going to share with you the ups in my life then it’s only fair that I share the downs too…it’s the only way you can get a true view of who I really am…..and WHY I’m that way.

So in true Betty Davis fashion, (I never liked her, actually, I couldn’t stand the woman…but the sound bite is appropriate for this… “Hang on…it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

So to clarify….what exactly is the definition of a pity party? Well, contributor “Raspberrymuffin” on the website has I believe the funniest definition I have found thus far. She says, and I quote:


pity party

A way of experiencing grief, in which you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself and whining endlessly about how crappy your life is.
Pity parties can be just for one or for many people, such as maybe your friends and close people, who will try to comfort you or just be there for you while you keep asking yourself what did you do to deserve whatever it is that made you so sad in the first place.
Pity Parties require the proper outfit, which is usually pajamas cause you don’t get all dressed up during those feeling-sorry-for-myself moments. Also you should have no make up on or just the one from the night before; hair undone as well.
It also involves tissues, comfort food such as ice cream; chocolate; potato chips; cookies; cake; and candy. Low fat food is banned
Alcohol might or might not be allowed (if alcohol makes you go wild, no alcohol should be brought to the pity party in that case since the point is not exactly to have fun). The purpose of a Pity Party is to dump. The pity music is also very important at pity parties, including songs like "One is the Loneliest Number", "All by Myself" and any other song that makes you feel like throwing yourself from the nearest cliff.
Pity parties usually end after you are done whining or if someone breaks it up. This will usually be a cynical loved one who will not let you drown in self pity and will take you either to have the best time ever, drinking and partying or will just make you crawl out of bed by making you see how pathetic you look and how you should cut the whining and just do something to make things better

“My boyfriend dumped me and my cat was run over, time to throw a pity party!”

“Sorry to break the pity party, but you seriously have to get out of bed and get over it”

whining whine depressed pathetic sad
by raspberrymuffin Aug 1, 2006

Now, I don’t know about you, but that definition alone was enough to bring me out of my little pity party. LOL. Whether you agree with everything that she said or not, she definitely got the gist of it and nailed a freeze frame moment for all of us.

So what was my pity party about? Well… make a long story short…EVERYTHING…..and yet, nothing. I had a classic female meltdown in a most obnoxiously grandiose fashion. Stress from the Deathstar (read my very first blog entry for clarification), stress from hearing, reading, and seeing TOO MUCH bad US politics, stress from the global, national and state economy and how it’s trickling down and affecting our personal finances (insert mental picture of empty wallet with moths flying out). Stress from an over busy schedule, stress from too little rest, stress from living inside the eye of the hurricane, here a stress, there a stress, everywhere a stress, stress… a word, STRESS.

It wouldn’t have been so bad, but my Knight in Shining Armor was feeling it too. Now normally he and I blend so perfectly that when one of us is down, the other bolsters the down one with words of encouragement and hope and in no time, we are back on track again. This time however we were both battle weary. (I told a couple of dear friends yesterday it feels like being nibbled to death by a duck! At which point Rae put her head down and tried to hold her laughter in until Allen made a Pac-man hand gesture and referred to Aflac, which sent us all into hysterics….sigh…..thank God for laughter.)

So my dear sweet Ben crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn Saturday morning only to come home hours later from a tedious battle with our local bloodsucking state run DMV…don’t even get me started on that one….and the poor guy was just drained. He opened up and told me what he was feeling and in total and complete empathy, I got teary eyed and hugged him. It’s horrible when your hero feels worn down to nothing and you’re so worn down yourself, that you don’t have the strength to pull yourself back up, let alone helping him back up.

So as he was sharing I was listening and doing my best to give him a safe harbor to vent to, when in the midst of his own transparency he happened to hit upon a raw nerve of my own. It was something I had already been beating myself up over and struggling with the fact that I needed to address it (What is the “it” I’m talking about? Dust bunnies, dirty dishes and laundry…..things that when I’m so mentally and emotionally exhausted I just don’t have the drive to do…one of my worst traits) and the fact that it was bothering him too made me feel worse than worm spit…... So how did I respond? Did I agree and tell him calmly how much I was struggling with it myself? No…..what did I do instead? I turned into a raving witchy Tasmanian she-devil, saying things I shouldn’t say, crying uncontrollably and going on a cleaning tirade powered by shear anger and frustration. Meanwhile poor Ben and Sargie both developed eyeballs the size of dinner plates and backed away from me as quickly as they could to avoid being hit by my verbal shrapnel.

Oh I was a sight to be seen, red eyed and snotty nosed from crying and going on and on like an unbearably whiny broken record stuck on the highest volume setting. Rambling on and on about why on earth did he ever bother marrying me because after all I am SUCH a bad housekeeper and wife and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH… Pull out the world’s tiniest violin and play Moon River for me! I was obnoxious!! Absolutely toxic! Not at all the picture of grace and decorum I TRY to maintain. Finally, out of pure fear for his life Ben decided to go run an errand and leave me and the boy alone for a couple of hours…..I don’t think Sarge appreciated that gesture very much, but he was safe under his living room chair.

So after about a half an hour I calmed down enough to gather my brain cells and rethink my behavior.

Now, it’s at this point that I would normally be able to rally around my faith and be fine. However, I was tired and WANTED to feel sorry for myself. I wanted a good cry, I wanted a moment to be the victim (something I very RARELY do)….so I sat…like a lump….sniffly and quiet and let the mid day sun streaming through the living room windows just bathe me in warm light. Silence….it truly is where I gather my strength from.

I sat there in total peace and quiet for about an hour and then as I was finally feeling receptive to encouragement again, my mother called. Thank God for that woman….we haven’t always had the best relationship, in fact years ago it was downright volatile, but we’ve come a long way since then and in spite of it all, there are so many times that she knows EXACTLY what to say to bring me out of my pity party. This was no different. Her words were the start of hope again. Hope that everything will work out regardless of what it looks like now. Things that I’ve said to her in years past when she felt beaten down and hopeless she now reminded me of and encouraged me with. When I tried to slink back into it, she pulled me right back up…and then….she prayed. Something I have come to value more than life itself. When I got off the phone with her about an hour later I was starting to feel a trickle of life again…..but I was STILL was feeling pretty beaten down…. So I did more cleaning and when it came time to go to the street ministry…..I stayed home to squeak out some more self centered sulking while Ben went by himself.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too incredibly well that night and the choice to sleep in and skip church just wasn’t an option. I recently accepted a new leadership role at church that requires my presence every Sunday and until my team gets solidified, there are no days off. So I went and tried to be as perky as possible….even though I still felt crummy. When I finished everything I had to do before service I went upstairs to take my seat next to Ben. I was finished a bit early so I got to sing the last worship song, which was no mere co-incidence….especially considering the song was, “The Healer”…and BOYYYY did I need some emotional healing.

As the pastor got up to speak, (whom I must say I just ADORE because he’s so real and transparent which is something more pastors should be, but are usually too afraid to because it may compromise how they are perceived. Then there are the other type that are too caught up in deep “intellectual” sermons that don’t easily translate to the daily battles of the average person and leave the parishioner feeling like they just wasted an hour or more of their time. Soap box…sorry…ANYWAY) he announced that he felt he needed to deviate off his scheduled sermon and do something a bit different. He shared that he himself had been feeling worn down, weary and a bit hopeless due to the current world events….and knew that there were others of us going through the same thing. Everything he said…all of it….was exactly what we all needed to hear. There were collective sighs of relief that flooded through the room as he hit different topics…and of course tears…I was one of them. I felt like a dry sponge that was having cool water poured all over it…just soaking the life back up. It was then that I decided that it was time to snap out of it. Time to pick up and move forward.

So yes, Pollyanna’s have pity parties and they have hissy fits and other things just like everybody else…..but this particular Pollyanna doesn’t want to STAY there. Going through difficult times is normal, but how I respond to them is my choice. In fact, one of my favorite quotes refers to just that.

“All men and women are born, live, suffer and die; what distinguishes us one from another is our dreams, whether they be dreams about worldly or unworldly things, and what we do to make them come about… We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live."

~Joseph Epstein

Friday, October 10, 2008

To Gag or Not To Gag, That Is The Question......

Somehow I doubt Shakespeare ever encountered this particular situation. Although, you never know…I suppose it’s possible that good old Wills had to chase around his little dog, Julius Woof-ser and stop him from eating the nasties….


Ok, so here’s the new rule. In order to prevent all of you from gagging…….or worse, from now on when I’m going to post something that will be in gross detail I’ll start the entry with that. I know at this point only two of you know the whole story behind that warning…and at some point, either Beth or I will have to retell the story to fill you in…but until that day comes….just trust me when I write that. LOL

So…..this morning as we’re going through our normal routine to get ready for work, Sarge is being his usual cute self and wanting to cuddle every five minutes and wanting to have his toys thrown to him every two minutes. I had taken him outside already for his morning potty and he was happy. Well, he has learned our routine well enough that he knows we will be at work all day so if he has to go again before we have to leave he lets us know. Not a problem, I appreciate his mindful consideration so I don’t have to worry about an accident on the floor if we get stuck in traffic on the way home.

So anyway,…..when we got down and had about a half hour left before we had to leave, Sargie asked if he could go out again. Since I was doing my hair Ben took him this time. Moments later, they returned and Sargie trotted down the hall past me and popped the door open to go to his fort. (If you don’t know about that read my last entry) I looked over and saw him come out a moment later only to run into our bedroom and jump on the bed just as I heard Ben come walking down the hall. I saw him eating something and when I looked up at Ben, I noticed he had a banana in his hand and a small knife. So I assumed he was eating a piece of that. Now you have to understand, Sargie has a few favorite foods that he will tackle you for….and bananas are one of them. So I sweetly asked him, “Sargie, did daddy give you a piece of banana?” Sargie looked up at me and Ben with that oblivious “MMMM-MMM GOOD” look at the exact moment that Ben said, “No, I didn’t give him any yet…that’s why I came down here”

Oh, here we go again!

Instantly we were both like “….Dear Lord…what is he eating NOW?!?!?” We rushed into the bedroom and cornered him on the bed. There was a large wet spot….and as he innocently looked up at us we noticed he had white…..cream…on his lips and flecks of black…stuff….on his face. Both of us instantly recoiled but Ben was the first to say what we were both already thinking…. “What IS that????” I rushed around the side of the bed and as I did so, Sargie, who knows the routine by now, flipped the thing out of his mouth so we could inspect it closer. We both leaned in until we were hovering about three inches above this thing. Through all of Sargie’s spit, it looked like a cross between a chewed up piece of black gum and the inside of a walnut, neither of which would cause him to look like he had a milk mustache. As I got even closer to try and figure it out, all of a sudden Ben stood up straight and in a tone of voice that revealed he knew EXACTLY what it was, he burst out with… “AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW…………….was that a CATERPILLAR?!?!?.....UGHHHHHHHH!!!!! (It was at this point that both of us traded our previous gargoyle like faces of disgust for even WORSE gargoyle like faces of disgust as Sargie sat in proud admiration of his tasty tidbit.) “I saw it outside on the ground and realized one of us had stepped on it…but didn’t see it again. Then I saw him pick up what I thought was a leaf off the kitchen floor when we came in…..I guess it wasn’t a leaf……UGHHHHHHHH!!!!”

Ben grabbed a Kleenex from my side of the bed and tossed it to me so I could pick up the bug carcass and wipe the boy’s face and mouth, but by the time he saw the Kleenex coming his way he quickly licked his lips. UGHHHH……..

By this time Ben was thoroughly disgusted and left the room at which time Sargie had the rapturous realization of “BANANA???? Dad’s got BANANA?!?!?! I want banana………BANANA……GET THE BANANA!!!!!!” and leapt off the bed chasing Ben into the kitchen.

Meanwhile, I stood there….staring nauseously at the wet spot on the comforter and trying to dab it dry with the Kleenex….. All the while the only thing running through my head was that famously gross line from The Lion King cartoon where Timon, (who’s voice was provided by the perfectly sardonic, Nathan Lane) grabs a caterpillar from a dead log and says, “OOOHHH, the cream filled kind!” and pops it into his mouth.

I don’t think I will ever be able to watch that again without gagging.

Not how I wanted to start my Friday morning!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

Every boy needs a fort and apparently, boys of the K-9 variety are no different. If you haven’t noticed by now, our little fluff boy is very quirky….in a good way….and a VERY entertaining way. I know he thinks he’s human……and the way we pamper him, talk to him and take him everywhere possible…..well…..I’m not going to be the one to tell him he isn’t. LOL.

So ever since we got Sargie he follows us EVERYWHERE, he feels the need to be with us no matter where we are. Even when he is sooooo exhausted from a long day of playing, car rides or various other adventures…he simply cannot let us out of his sight. He will wake up out of a dead sleep and get up to follow you only to collapse on the floor of whatever room you’re in, then lead the way back when you’re done. If Ben is sitting at his computer in the office and I’m sitting in the living room on the laptop, Sarge will position himself in the kitchen doorway so he can see us both at the same time. There is however one exception that we have discovered.

In the guest bedroom, I have an old antique bed that sits very high off the floor in the far corner of the room. Next to it I have an antique leather steamer trunk that sits open against the wall to display my collection of teddy bears. On the other side of the trunk is a wooden rocking chair, which sits next to the bedroom closet. Now….in order to fully understand what I’m going to tell you next, we need to shift from human perspective to dog perspective.

Tall bed+ corner +floor length comforter = fort

Trunk+ space beneath open lid+ next to fort = tunnel

Rocking chair+ next to tunnel = camouflaged look out point

Open closet door+ next to camouflaged look out point = U-turn or emergency escape hatch

See where I’m going with this now? Yep…..the mini marine has created a fort for himself….and he plays in it EVERY day. Sometimes it’s cute, other times it’s exasperating. Usually it’s cute though and chances are if I can’t find one of his toys….or all of his toys…it’s because he has carried them inside the fort and hidden them somewhere that only he can see. When we’re in that bedroom using the ironing board or doing something else he will run in and slide across the wood floor as if he’s sliding into home plate then scuttle himself right under the bed just as quickly as his furry little feet will take him. Instantly he begins his back and forth run under the bed, through the tunnel, behind the look out point into the closet to turn around and do it again. Sometimes he will sit at the lookout and monitor what’s going on, other times he will lay down and relax inside the tunnel or in the cool corner of the fort. It’s his own personal game and he thinks you can’t see him. If you sneak over the top of the trunk though and peek down to look at him he gets very upset that you’ve found him and spoiled his fun.

This morning as I was ironing my shirt he went through his usual routine only to find that I had closed the closet door the night before. This I found was COMPLETELY unacceptable to him, and he didn’t think twice to verbalize his frustration to let me know it. I could hear him batting at the door to try to open it and when he wasn’t successful he immediately called my name (in dog language that is) so I could come help him. I walked over to the other side of the rocking chair and was met by his white eye lashed blinking eyes. I asked him what he wanted (as if I didn’t know…lol) and his response was to turn and bump the closet door with his nose then turn back to look at me (Don’t tell me dogs don’t understand! This kid KNOWS when we talk to him). I decided to play hardball to see what he would do, so I said, “No, you don’t need the closet door open…you can come out and turn around.” I went back to my ironing. A moment passed and I heard his frustrated sigh as he pawed at the door more to try and get it open then finally let out another yelp. I went back to look at him again and he stood there staring at me, blinking those adorable eyes and wondering WHY on earth I wasn’t helping him. Finally, I relented and opened the closet door. He happily clambered inside, turned around, and went back through the tunnel and into the fort.

Now like I said, usually it’s cute like this morning was when he goes to play in his fort. However, other times, it is much less than cute. As I’ve mentioned before, he loves to steal paper, empty toilet paper rolls and dryer sheets….among other things, but those are his favorites. Well this past week I caught on to a VERY sneaky little trait that he has developed……pre-meditation.

So…..when the other rooms are not in use we close the doors. A new habit we have developed since we discovered Sargie’s little recon missions to raid things he deems chewable. The doors aren’t locked, just lightly shut to keep him out and he is VERY good about adhering to boundaries…..that is until he discovered the privacy of his fort. Well it seemed harmless enough to let him pop the door open so he could retreat to his little area whenever he felt like it. Until the other day when I witnessed something that blew me away. I sat on the bed working on the laptop and saw him come into the bedroom and walk over to Ben’s trash can to see what was inside, a few ripped up pieces of junk mail…not a big haul. I watched him to see if he was going to pull anything out and was pleasantly proud of him when he didn’t. He turned back around and walked to the hallway completely unaware that I was watching him. Then I saw him go to the guest bedroom door and pop it open. I smiled thinking how cute he is that he was going to go to his little fort and I started to look back at the computer screen. That’s when I noticed him turn back around and slowly walk over to Ben’s trash. He slowly leaned his head over the top of the rim of the basket and looked for a moment then reached in as if trying not to set off an alarm and grabbed a mouthful of paper. Then as if shifting gears he spun around and flew out the door and towards his hideout. I couldn’t believe it! I shouted his name, tossed the laptop to the foot of the bed, and took off after him. Let me tell you chasing after a dog that just dove under a fort and skittered for his escape hatch was not my idea of an evening’s relaxation.

Yeah….you read that right. This adorable and highly intelligent little furball just learned how to carry out a pre-meditated crime! Unbelievable! I was in such shock I had to call Ben…and of course now that we’re dog parents I had to do it correctly, “Ben…..come look what YOUR son just did!!!” I know it was all he could do not to burst out laughing in spite of my shocked frustration. Sooooooo the dilemma now is not to keep the door locked, but every night we have to empty the wastebaskets throughout the house to make sure that he can’t scrounge for paper. Thankfully, he doesn’t touch the kitchen garbage, that doesn’t even interest him…..just the paper trash….only DOGS eat out of the kitchen garbage I guess…..LOL.

**sigh** Never a dull moment in the Babij household…

Remind me to tell you about the "baked bean incident" one of these days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Enough is Enough...and That's Enough

Soooooo it’s been a loooooong five days. I woke up last Friday with a very distinct prelude to a cold. That hollowed out feeling in your stomach; a slight fever and that “THING” in your sinuses that makes you sound as if you’re talking from the bottom of a well. I did my usual, loaded up on Zycam and Tylenol, and bundled up. Figured it might last a day and then things would be back to normal….other than that though, I wasn’t really too bummed because I knew it meant I would actually get some rest over the weekend.

**sigh** Friday came and went, Saturday came and went, Sunday came and went….STILL felt like a lump of germs….Monday came and went, Tuesday came…..still no relief. I slept until about noon when the dog woke me up. I went to take some Dayquil and had to stop myself. I hadn’t eaten and through trial and error Dayquil and I have come to an agreement. I will never again take it on an empty stomach and it will never again make me lose my cookies in an unflattering way. So upon recollection of this agreement I knew I had to eat something.

I shuffled my way to the kitchen trying not to trip over the fluff boy along the way because he was so joyously jumping up and down that I had finally felt good enough to get out of bed and play with him. All the while I’m feeling like a slug.

So I arrive in the kitchen and open the refrigerator only to realize there is no food that doesn’t require cooking….and last time I checked condiments, though readily available, still don’t make a meal. **SIGH**….not even bread for toast...I really must go grocery shopping. Hmmm…no energy to cook and no appetite to eat anything having to be cooked. Time for plan B, I decide to go look and see what canned goods I have. Maybe a nice soup…. So I trudge downstairs to the where the pantry is and proceed to open the cupboards. Hmmm…the only soup is cream of chicken, cream of celery and cream of mushroom. Not an appetizing choice at the moment. Cranberry sauce….ehhh…no…. Tons of tomato sauce and canned tomatoes for Mr. B’s chilies and salsas….and every hot sauce imaginable to man…..I really do need to write an entry one of these days about the Bear and his pepper fetish. Anyway, just then I hit the no cooking required mother load. Let’s see a whole little section of possibilities….albacore tuna, wax beans, beans and franks, and turkey Spam. After much deliberation,…I settled on the beans and franks. Not at all a favorite, but considering I couldn’t taste anything ANYWAY it seemed the least offensive.

A short time later as Sargie and I sat curled up in bed, me eating my lunch feeling crummy and him gnawing on his bone I had another one of “THOSE” moments. What good is coming out of this….5 days of feeling crummy….where is that, “oh, well that makes it all worth while” moment….it had to be there somewhere and I just hadn’t seen it yet. Yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now I REALLY DO believe this about EVERYTHING and REALLY DO attempt to always practice what I preach. So I asked God, “Where is it? What was the reason behind me being here this long….I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much or had much impact on anyone or anything. I mean, I trust that you have a reason….I just sure as heck don’t see it…..”

So I finished lunch and decided to turn on the computer and catch up on emails and Facebook and consider my next blog entry as I pondered my question. Just then, the phone rang. I considered not answering it…I felt crummy and the thought of talking to somebody was a bit daunting. I decided to check the caller ID though and see who it was. Lori…hmmm…it was after her lunchtime and she knew I was home sick, so she was probably checking in to see how I was feeling. I picked it up.

What met me next was a sound you hate to hear in general and it’s even worse from the other end of a phone…especially when it’s coming from somebody you care about. Sobs, hysterical and frantic sobs. I immediately jumped up and tried to get her to tell me what was wrong. Amid the sounds of crying, her car keys and door alert in the background and the car engine starting I heard the word “mom” and I instantly remembered her mom had gone to a Dr appointment that morning… My heart sank, Oh Lord, no….not her mom…not now….. Over the next few moments she explained to me as best she could, what was going on….and the outlook was bad…VERY bad. Instantly I began to pray out loud… pray for peace, to pray for wisdom, to pray for protection as she tried to drive on one of the busiest highways from her job, 6 towns away all the way to the hospital where her mother was in the ER. Anything that crossed my mind as being important to pray for at that moment I threw in there like a machine gun set on rapid fire.

In an instant, I told her if she wanted me to go with her, I would, and she did. I swear I have never gotten showered and dressed, walked the dog and fixed my hair with time to spare, so quickly in my life. I sent out a quick blurb to some friends who know her and called Ben to let him know what was up and I waited.

In the hours that followed, there was a lot of waiting and hugging and waiting and crying. At one point as we waited for her to be given a room of her own and transported from the ER, I sat in the waiting room thinking and people watching. Then I realized something…..if I hadn’t been sick for the past five days I would have been at work when this happened. If I had been at work I wouldn’t have been able to pray with Lori at that moment, I wouldn’t have been able to jump up and go with her to the hospital at a moments notice and I wouldn’t have been able to stay with them as they waited. So I had my answer….my “Oh, well that makes it all worth while” moment. Was five days of bed-ridden crummy-ness worth it to be able to be there for a friend when she needed it? Absolutely….and I would go through it all again and worse if need be.

Lori and I talked a lot last night…. In person for hours and over IM for a while too. In the end we BOTH concluded that now more than ever, regardless of what happens in life, good and bad….it ALL has a purpose and good will ALWAYS come of it…no matter what. It sounds corny, and the ultimate in Pollyanna thinking, but it’s sure a heck of a lot better than the alternative. I would far rather go through life looking for the good in all the sad, painful, and frustrating things that come my way than to turn bitter and miserable every time things don’t turn out the way I had hoped.

This morning as I was catching up on reading my devotions I was intrigued by yesterday’s entry. The entire thing was very good, but one of my favorite scriptures was highlighted and it was just soooooo fitting.

“Proverbs 31:25 reminds us, "she can laugh at the days to come."

She [The Proverbs 31 woman] was filled with such incredible joy not because life was perfect but simply because she had decided to make laughter, peace, and truth the hallmarks of her life. Proverbs 31:30 goes on to say this was a woman to be praised because she so reverenced God in the shrine of her heart. She knew without a doubt, He was - and still is - enough.”

Now Lori and her family have a long road ahead of them, and it won’t be easy… and it won’t be tearless….but ultimately, good will come of it…every single moment of it. Things in my life won’t always go the way I hoped and sometimes they will just plain suck and look hopeless, BUT good WILL come of every moment of it. Why? Simple…..because God is and always will be….ENOUGH.