Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All Hail the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

It can remove yellow highlighter from a wood cupboard door better than a pink eraser and/or rubbing alcohol and/or a Pledge wood wipe.  

Go ahead, ask me how I found this out.  

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Really Is a Wonderful Life

Every once in awhile, something happens that makes me realize just how good I have it.  I have a nice house (albeit a bit cluttered and messed with toys most of the time).  I have a wonderful husband who I love very much.  I have two beautiful children who are smart and sweet and funny and good kids when they aren't trying to kill each other.  

We live in a town that is very much like one you would see in a Frank Capra movie.  We have a Fourth of July parade with festooning over the streets and marching bands and candy for the kids.  Our main street is downtown on the banks of the beautiful St. Croix River.  And at this time of year, the streets are all decorated with Christmas lights.  People say hello to one another.  We have a weekly newspaper that still has a social column where you can read that so-and-so's daughter visited them, or about a baptism in a family, or see a picture of four generations of one family.  

My neighbors are incredibly wonderful, caring people whom I am grateful to know.  If I ever need something, I know they will help if they can, and vice versa.  Our kids all play together on the street, riding bikes up and down the sidewalk and in the parks, climbing trees and playing in the dirt.  

Our kids play baseball and t-ball in the summer while we parents look on from our lawnchairs on the sidelines cheering them on.  

Our kids have school concerts and Christmas pageants at our church.  (This year, my daughter was a narrator in her Christmas pageant, and my son was a shepherd in his.)  

Idyllic is a word I would use to describe my life right now.  We are all healthy and happy.  

I am always amazed at the ways that God uses to show me how fortunate I am right now.  This morning, I was standing in line at Target to return some items.  A young mother was in front of me pushing two little girls in a cart and holding a third girl's hand.  The little ones in the cart were probably nine months and just under two.  The third girl was about three and a half.  I looked at the little ones in the cart, and they stared at me with their big brown eyes.  I looked over at the little girl walking, and she also had beautiful brown eyes.  She also had been severely burned on her face and her nose and upper lip area were all disfigured.  She looked at me and smiled.  I smiled back.  I though about how upset I get in the mornings when I put makeup on over the recent scars on my face.  I hate how they look even with makeup on.  But at that moment in Target, God gave me the kick in the pants that I deserve.  I hope and pray that this beautiful baby can have plastic surgery that will give her the beautiful face that she deserves.  One to go with her big brown eyes and her happy smile.  

"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."  Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago, I was a deeply unhappy person.  On one of my last days of work, I sent the following email to family and friends.  I have to laugh when I read it - obviously my sense of humor has gotten me through the bad times in life.  Just thought I'd share.  

"On my commute in to work this morning, I realized that the ending to "It's a Wonderful Life" was probably not going to be a happy one - even if George Bailey was the "richest man in town" and not a failure because he had friends.  If you think about it, if there were 150 people there donating
money to him, they would've each had to give about $53 to raise the $8,000 that he was short.  I guess it could've happened, but back then that was a lot of money for middle-class people.

I like to think that Uncle Billy would've finally remembered that the money was in the paper that he gave to Mr. Potter, and word would've spread through the town and a mob with torches would've terrorized Potter until he gave the money back to George.  Of course, knowing Potter, he was probably one of these gun-toting, self-rightgeous a**holes who would've started shooting into the crowd of townspeople.

There you go - an alternate killing spree ending. 

I'm not well."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hating This . . .

I was doing my usual volunteering in the kindergarten classroom this afternoon, and then I stayed and watched the afternoon performance of my son's Christmas concert.  

Usually, Joe is very excited to see me on Thursday afternoons.  Today, he was busy talking with a little girl named Michelle who sits across the table from him in class.  I have been hearing a lot about Michelle lately.  She is a lovely, bright-eyed and personable little girl who smiles all the time.  I observed a certain dynamic going on between the two of them.  There was much goofy behavior from my son along with side-long glances at Michelle.  There was eye-batting, coy smiling, laughing and hair flipping from Michelle.  She came up to me and told me that Joe is so funny and Joe is so nice.  I watched the two of them work on an art project together with Joe continuing to be goofy, and Michelle working the hair flip.  

During the concert, they were whispering together and smiling and laughing.  My son was totally absorbed in this little kindergarten harlot.  And I am jealous.  

I have seen the future.  I know one things for sure:  I will be the mother-in-law from Hell some day.  

At least she's a brunette.  I'm going to go cry in a corner now.  

Instant Human . . . Just Add Coffee

Two more days of concerts, dances and parties to go.  The husband and I are splitting parent duty tonight - he will attend our son's kindergarten concert and take photos while I go and videotape our daughter's Christmas dance at the dance studio.  I will videotape the afternoon performance of the kindergarten concert, so we will both get to see it.  

Tomorrow are the classroom parties.  I will be helping 22 kindergarteners make snowflake ornaments out of pipe cleaners and beads and ribbon.  What is left of me after that will go to the third grade winter carnival and take photos.  

This was supposed to be the year that I got it all done.  You will remember me bragging that I had my shopping all done in mid November with one sewing project, one knitting project and Christmas cards to be done.  The cards got out early this week.  Half of the knitting project is complete, and I scrapped the sewing project.  The house isn't even fully decorated, but we may just have to go with what we have.  My husband kept coming up with different gift ideas and other things to buy for relatives right up until yesterday.  I am going out this morning to buy the final two gifts, and then I am done.  

The Secret Santa school gift exchange gifts were bought and wrapped last night along with the teacher gifts, and I delivered them to school this morning.  

This final week is for finishing the wrapping and baking and going to see Santa.  

Need . . . coffee . . . quickly . . . 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Wonderland

I soooo love Jason Mraz - enjoy!  

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Wish This Holiday Season

I would like everyone to please reach out to their fellow man and give something to charity whether it be a monetary donation, a food donation, or volunteering your time.  No donation is too small.  Remember the power of one.  The little baby you help may grow up to discover the cure for AIDS.  The homeless man may save your life one day.  They are someone's mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle . . . Give them some love.  


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Way Things Are

"Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth."  1 John 3:18

I volunteer in my son's kindergarten classroom on Thursday afternoons.  Last week, their teacher made each student an ornament with their name on it and hung it on the classroom Christmas tree.  She told them they could take them home before Christmas and put them on their own trees at home.  One little boy told her, "You can keep my ornament here on this tree.  We won't have one at home.  We can't 'ford it."  The little boy is being raised by a single mother, and he has three siblings.  This broke the teacher's heart, and she went out and bought the family one of those pretty tabletop LED lighted trees.  All of the students were very supportive and were happy that the boy was getting a Christmas tree from the teacher.  

I just found out today that one little girl in the kindergarten class lives in a homeless shelter with her mother.  The mother has no car, and the girl can't take the bus since they move from shelter to shelter.  So, the mother sends the girl to school in a cab when she can't find someone to drive her to school.  

There are many children in the same types of situations in our school.  The teachers and staff at the school recently donated new and used coats for needy families.  And they also opened a small "store" for these children to go "shopping" for gifts for their families.  I love our school.  

You all know from a previous post that there is a little boy in my daughter's class who had been physically abused by his father who is now in jail.  There is also a little girl in that class whose father is serving in Iraq and will not be home for Christmas this year.  He wasn't home for Christmas last year either.  The little girl told the class that she is very fearful because her father's best friend was killed over there.  

I am so grateful that my children are being exposed to people from all backgrounds and walks of life and that they have such wonderful role models in their teachers.  I believe it will help them grow up to have empathy, tolerance and respect for all people.  And it kind of puts things in perspective - especially at this time of year.    

"I feel you Christmas.  I know I've found you.  You never fade away.  The joy of Christmas stays here inside us.  Fills each and every heart with love."  Lyrics from "Where are you Christmas?" by Faith Hill  

Monday, December 8, 2008

Leave Elvis Alone

"There have been a lotta tough guys.  There have been pretenders.  And there have been contenders.  But there is only one king."  Bruce Springsteen

I heard a new version of "Blue Christmas" where Martina McBride sings "with" Elvis Presley.  With all due respect to Miss McBride, if I wanted to hear her sing, I would buy one of her CDs.  When I was at Target today, I saw that some genius has released a new CD called "Elvis Christmas Duets" where various singing artists perform Christmas songs with Elvis.  Just seeing this gave me a pain deep inside my head.  (I am deeply disappointed in Wynonna Judd, who is one of my idols and a very talented artist, for participating in this recording.)  

Elvis was an immensely talented man who left behind a great body of work that is timeless.  He was used by people he considered his friends through most of his adult life.  He was exploited by his manager.  He became lonely and addicted to junk food and prescription drugs.  He was very ill, and he died alone.  He was the poster boy for the sorrows of superstardom.  

He continues to make his heirs wealthy.  So, I just don't understand why someone would agree to do this to his music.  

It's just my opinion.  

Don't get me started on people who colorize black and white movies.  Leave perfection alone.  

"If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead."  Johnny Carson  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Message Received

"You will find, as you look back on your life, that the moments that stand out are the moments when you have done things for others."  Henry Drummond 

Every year, each classroom at my kids' grade school sponsors a needy family for Christmas.  And, every year, we get a list of items that family needs.  I have made a point of taking my kids shopping for these items and teaching them the importance of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.  
This year, I got a note from my daughter's third grade teacher about the special "Christmas Service Project" in which the third grade teachers participate.  Every year, they collect money to provide gifts to the children of one or two families of County Jail inmates.  The project is conducted by a local charity which purchases toys and new clothing, and then bring them to the school for the children to see what their cumulative donations helped to provide.  The children learn how families are affected by unfortunate circumstances and the impact it has on a young person's life.  

I was a bit taken aback by this request initially.  I mean, in my mind, these people are in jail because of their own doing.  The rest of us conduct our lives so as to avoid these problems.  I was going to boycott this project, and then my daughter begged me to send something.  Reluctantly, I sent in a small monetary donation.  

Yesterday, my daughter came home, and she seemed a bit upset.  They had been working in groups in class, and a little boy who sits next to her told her that his father is in jail and he went on to describe how he was physically abused by his father.  I asked my daughter if she knew any more details, and she didn't.  Then she decided that she didn't want to discuss it any further.  We were both upset by this news.  She has known this little boy since kindergarten.  He is outgoing and funny and just a joy to be around.  I have talked to his mother from time to time.  She is very nice but very introverted.  I never knew there was a father in the picture.  

I am amazed at how provincial and self-righteous I really am sometimes.  I silently said a prayer for this little boy and his mother.  And at the end of the prayer, I looked skyward and said, "Message received, Lord.  Thank you."  

"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance."  St. Francis of Assisi