Friday, February 26, 2010

That Sounds So Judge-y; Shouldn't We Use A Proper Name?

During the recent snow happenings around here, we became concerned about ice damming and flooding. We had some water come in our kitchen window, Jake's room, Tom's and my window, and leave a spot on Molly's ceiling. Tom made a valiant effort to move the mounds of snow away from the foundation of the house, and to clean off the roof. One solution he read about and tried was to fill pantyhose with ice melting pellets and put them on the roof near the gutters.

I kind of cracked up when I discovered he had GONE OUT IN THE SNOW to Rite-Aid to buy the pantyhose. I mean, he certainly hasn't seen me wear any in the last decade or so, but I do have a few pairs tucked away in the archives. I guess my kids have never seen me wear any either.

Anyway, the pantyhose thing appears to have worked, and for that I am grateful!

Last night I was snuggling with Molly and we looked out the window of her room onto the roof.


"I hate my view. Other people have views of the ocean, or the woods, or a beautiful sunset. All I get is a dirty old Panty Ho."

I told her I believed they were called Pantyhose, but she wasn't buying it.

"It's a Panty Ho and I'm sick of it!"

Here's hoping you have a delightful weekend, free of encounters with any Panty Ho's.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

She's Baaaaack!

Yay! Thank you so much for coming back. I’ve missed you! REALLY missed you.

Lest you think my week off from electronics yielded total communion with God, long, heartfelt discussions with my spouse, and family time around a roaring fire tossing a pig bladder back and forth a la Little House in the Big Woods, I thought I would update you on our week.

The kids did okay with the fast, but I’m not sure what they got out of it. I was NOT going for the whole "just follow some rules and you’ll be a better Christian thing;" I just wanted us to try something that would be hard for us, and to do it by relying on God.

Tom used the extra time to get more sleep and to catch up on Bible study. The kids and I did some complaining and a ton of reading. Jake read the first 4 books in the Lightning Thief series in the first ½ of the week. Molly said several times, "I HATE LENT!" Not really what we were going for. She pointed out she should get to choose if and what to give up instead of having something chosen by Mom and Dad. Duh. She was totally right.

Now she is planted on the couch for the day with a teeny tiny fever, because apparently missing 2 weeks of school for snow did not cut into her learning time enough. I know I could have doped her up and sent her anyway since she feels fine. I guess she’ll be able to recoup any lost TV time in the next few hours. And it’s supposed to snow again tonight. Excellent.

Some thoughts:

*Fasting from TV during the Winter Olympics kind of stinks. Reading about Shawn White’s gnarly moves in the newspaper is not the same as watching it. And that heart-racing feeling of "don't fall, don't fall!" during figure skating? Doesn't translate to the page.

*I am far too dependent on electronics. I had been checking Facebook 5-10 times a day in order to not miss any breaking news. It was the last thing I did before bed. Not sure about your experience, but I’ve yet to encounter breaking news on Facebook. Totally addicted.

*My dependence on electronics greatly cuts down on the time I spend reading, studying, praying, and paying attention to my kids. It's far too easy to avoid putting limits on myself and instead making what I'm doing on the computer look like "work," while at the same time acting like my kids are wasting their time on the Wii. I mean, hello, blogging is MY Wii, baby. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

* I have made very few attempts to connect with people in person over the past few months because I have the sense of being connected online. I love the blogging community. My online friends have enriched my life greatly, and I hope I enrich theirs, but I still need to cultivate face to face relationships. You see, because of my personality, it is far too easy for me avoid making the effort to connect and spend time with people.

* I love blogging and am quite fond of my DVR. They are not the problem. I just need to keep my priorities in order. I think God used this fast to show me how to slow down and not fill every waking moment with...something!
Last but not least:

*On the bow chicka wow wow front: The fast unfortunately coincided with cramps and bloating. Bummer. And the whole reclaiming the lost art of kissing thing? Not so much.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Missing Kissing

I plan to advise my children, when I get up the nerve to talk about it in about 30 years, to wait to have sex. I know, I know. This may not seem very novel. I would advise them for the obvious reasons: avoiding teen pregnancy and STD’s, not linking yourself forever with somebody who is just, “Eehh...” and because God designed sex for marriage. But in addition, it’s because I feel sorry for kissing. I don’t mean I feel sorry that I’ve kissed people; I mean that with all this sex going on, earlier and earlier, I think kissing is getting, well, the shaft.

In college I was a lot less “festive” than my friends (thanks for the description Glennon!) Because of this I was able to avoid a lot of the angst and drama my more festive friends experienced. I had pretty clearly drawn boundaries when it came to sex, so there wasn’t much question about what was on or off limits. This cut down on my stress level, and it also meant I got to have loads of fun kissing. Long, soulful kisses, playful kisses, make-out sessions that went on for hours. There was no rushing.

Kissing was the main event, the entrée shall we say, and I loved it.

I had every reason to believe that while it may be impossible to recapture the feeling of a first kiss, my life would be forever filled with kiss-fests such as those.

What I didn’t realize is that once you have sex, kissing slips from entrée status to lowly appetizer. It gets demoted from flank steak and mashed potatoes to soggy mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce. It becomes a means to an end. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m just too tired, or bloated, or cranky to order an appetizer anyway.

I simply do not approve that kissing becomes merely a brief stop along the road to bow chick a wow wow. Please don’t think I blame my husband for this. I mean, it’s mainly me. I am apt to say something like, “I don’t feel like brushing my teeth, can we just skip the kissing?” Classy, huh?

Kids, pets, mortgages, jobs, traffic, laziness, DVR's and ice-damming have all contributed to the decline.

Bed and breakfasts, watching my husband do housework, letting me sleep in, and Mike's Hard Lemonade improve kissing's plight somewhat.

I guess I would just want to advise my offspring not to rush, as they say on The Bachelor, “to the next level” if it means neglecting a perfectly good order of potato skins right in front of them.

You won’t be hearing from me for a while. My family and I are taking an “Electronic Fast” for the first week of Lent, which I just realized starts tomorrow(!) No electronics except for phone and work email. We are hoping the extra time will bring us closer to God and to our family. I know I’ll have some serious Facebook and blog withdrawal. Tom will have to cut loose from his Crackberry and college basketball. For Molly, it’s TV, and for Jake it’s the Wii. I'm more than a leetle nervous.

Maybe Tom and I will rediscover the lost art of kissing if we don’t kill each other first

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Swish and a Wish

So what do you do when the adorable kid with special needs is the one your kid is to guard in basketball? I’m sure you would say a silent prayer that the other child does well and that your kid remains calm and positive when the boy keeps grabbing his arms, or knocks him over in his exuberance. For 4 periods, your prayer is working, and life is good.

What about when this adorable kid with a heart of gold and awesome attitude “GREEAAAT Game!!” manages to break away from the defender (your son), hooks the ball one-handed over his head and sinks a glorious shot, possibly his first ever? Would you whistle and cheer with the rest of the crowd—an explosion of admiration and awe?

Well, I would and I did. It was stunning and beautiful!

What would you do when your kid, hearing your hoots and the thunderous applause, sags and crumples, chokes back tears for as long as he can, then ultimately gives in to his emotions and needs to sit out for a while? What do you do when the entire gym falls silent, while the coach tries to talk to your son, whose body language says, “I’m done with this! Don’t even bother?”

Well, I tell you what I did, later in the car. I apologized for seeming to betray him, but I explained that this beautiful moment probably meant the world to the other boy, his dad (the coach), and the bystanders who don’t even know the family. It meant even more to the boy that no one just let him score, but that he got that gorgeous shot by working his tail off against a great defender. I explained what a wonderful example the boy’s stick-to-it spirit was to all of us, even the 40-somethings who are prone to give up when things are hard.

Our cheers were for the boy and his accomplishment, not against my son.

As I write this, I am struck by several things:

…how inspiring it is to see someone work extra hard with an awesome attitude to do what comes so much easier to others, and what others take for granted. This makes me want to try harder when faced with challenges, and remember to APPRECIATE what comes easily to me.

…that some people’s struggles are overt, told by a stumbling gait, a too-loud voice or other mannerisms, while others struggle in ways we can’t see, until they come bubbling up like they did for my son.

While most people do not face anything as difficult as the challenges the little boy, Nate, has to deal with every day, many people struggle in small ways every day—ways we can’t see.

It is so much easier for me to show grace to those kids and adults with overt struggles, such as physical challenges, than those which I can’t see immediately or to which I can’t relate.

To Nate, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for the joy you brought the crowd by trying your hardest. Your heart is huge. You even tried to comfort my son when he was crying.

And to my son, I’d like to say: Trying something new like basketball is not easy for you, but you accepted the challenge. I like the way you have taken chances with hard things like going to camp by yourself, playing on teams, and navigating difficult friendships. Being coachable and staying positive take extra effort from you. I see how hard you are trying. Some days are better than others.

My wish is that you remember these words and that they go all the way into your heart: Your emotions may seem too powerful to you, and that is hard, but they are part of what makes you you. I love you, I love the way you are made, and I am proud to be your mom.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stuck in Short and Sassy When I Want to be Long and Silky

Just made a list of products I remember from childhood to young adulthood. These take me back to various eras of my life. Now the jingles and slogans are dancing around in my head.

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo
Ivory Soap
Johnson’s Baby Aspirin
Dimetap Elixir
Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers
Love’s Baby Soft
Clairol Short and Sassy Shampoo
Jean Nate
White Shoulders
Impulse Body Spray
Oil of Olay
Alberto V05 Hot Oil Treatment
Aquanet Hair Spray
White Rain
Johnson’s Baby Oil
Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee Sunscreen, SPF 4
Dep Gel
Paul Mitchell Hair Spray in a huge can
Bare Minerals
Moroccan Miracle Oil

I guess the list will soon read: Geritol, Preparation-H and Botox.

What products represent your past?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In the Archives: Hall Bath Re-do

So, I haven't been to work in a week, and the kids are STILL out of school because of snow...

Thought I'd go through the archives and show some before/after pics of our house. Please keep in mind I am a terrible photographer and that there aren't really any "afters" in our house, just "durings," because there's always much room for improvement. We didn't have a digital camera at the time of this project, either, so these are scans.

When the realtor showed us our house, with its seafoam green carpets and 3 kinds of wallpaper, she bit her tongue. But when she made it to the kids' bath, she said, "That is one of the ugliest light fixtures I've ever seen. It should be in a book." And people, that heinous fixture was just the beginning of the issues in that bathroom:

That light fixture was 3 feet wide.

The single sink and groovy laminate countertop weren't lovely either.

We tried and tried to get the wallpaper down, but it wouldn't give. I remember running the hot shower all night to help my croupy baby. I just sat on the toilet, rocking her and peeling paper off the walls. The steam helped a bit, but the wallpaper ultimately won.
About 6 years ago, when we had a little money saved, we hired someone to re-do the bathroom by gutting it completely.

Good news: Relatively Inexpensive. Bad News: Sometimes, You Get What You Pay for.

Here is a pic of the kids saying goodbye to their beloved green toilet and tub.

I chose all all-white scheme. The "bathroom guy" had never seen beadboard or subway tile before (red flag, perhaps??) so I purchased them myself. When it came to tiling, I stopped him in the nick of time as he was placing the subway tiles in straight rows. "No, it's like BRICKS," I said. "Oh, the Brick." We were okay after that.

Other notable incidents:
The time he:
1. Brought a day laborer he had picked up at 7-11 into our home. Got in an argument with him, then left the guy stranded in the 'burbs.
2. Dropped a hammer or something in the new tub, chipping the finish. Covered it up with paint, or was it White-Out?
3. Placed the countertop onto the vanity, crushing the top drawer. Instead of telling us, he just screwed the drawer shut like a false front, as if we wouldn't notice.
4. While installing the medicine cabinet, poked a hole through the wall into a hallway. Luckily the children weren't walking by at the time the saw poked through.

We aren't all bent out of shape with the experience. It has been a good teaching tool with the kids regarding integrity.
When the bathroom was complete, in under 10 days and under 10 grand, we were pleased with the results and still are.
Going from a single sink to double sinks was great, and one handled faucets are perfect for kids. These are Kohler "Fairfax" faucets and we have a matching shower head and handle.

The subway tile looks great and goes all the way up to the ceiling.
And I love the beadboard. The toilet is by Jacuzzi, and I just love its old-fashioned lines and white porcelain handle.

The color is Benjamin Moore's summer shower.

This new little niche works for baby keepsakes now, and for Molly's make-up later.

The light fixtures are pretty basic, but much improved, no?

Six years later, If I could do things differently now, I would have:

1. Purchased 2 framed mirrors instead of a big frameless one. Unfortunately, this one is glued to the drywall, so we may either frame it out ourselves or go to to buy a frame for it. Do you think BLACK or WHITE trim would look better? I need advice.

2. Purchased a nicer vanity and countertop. This one was PRICEY and is made out of flimsy particleboard. We bought it through the bathroom people rather than shopping around. This was right before lovely, furniture style granite-topped vanities were widely available at Lowes and Home Depot. Waah!
3. Realized that chrome fixtures get pretty spotty pretty fast.

My friends who were more patient, and who waited until recently to re-do their 1960's baths used Craigslist, HomeGoods and design blogs for ideas, options I didn't know existed back then.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little, blurry tour. If you have a preference of white or black mirror trim, please let me know! Since we're still snowed in, there might be some online shopping in my near future.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Contrarian Librarian

February 10, 2010

Dear Noah Wylie and TNT Executives,

When my family and I discovered your made for TV movies about a Librarian who must save important artifacts from getting into the hands of evil-doers, we were ecstatic. We found the first 2 in the series to be in the same spirit as Indiana Jones and the National Treasure franchise, but without so much killing and those freaky Nazis. We also enjoyed the supporting roles played by Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin.

Imagine my chagrin when we watched “The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice” last night. I thought we’d get some more zany globetrotting adventures with historical allusions thrown in. You know, secret passageways, codes to decipher, and bad guys whose quests for power needed snuffing out by a hero who always gets the girl. I even fancied that it might be a little bee-blicle, given that Judas was in the title.

I’m not sure how you managed to turn it into a into a vampire movie where we had to deal with: voodoo, Count Dracula, and a bunch of ape-shit, or should I say bat-shit vampires flying around sucking everyone’s blood. I had gotten used to fast forwarding through the TV movie’s obligatory bedroom romp. My son asked me, “Why does Flynn (Wylie) have a different girlfriend in each movie?” But a little sheet time was nothing compared to exposing my 8 and 10 year olds to fangs, skeletons, the un-dead and bags of blood.

I will expect to receive from you, by FedEx or UPS, a King-sized Serta Perfect Sleeper to replace our current Queen. Mr. See and I do not anticipate sleeping alone together for quite some time.


Anna See

And the Winner is...

Deidra, of Jumping Tandem, has won the Land of 1000 Hills Coffee Giveaway!

Deidra is a lovely lady and her blog is one of my must-reads. Enjoy your coffee. I'll mail it to you when we are able to dig our way out of the snow. I hope that will not be in April.

A big thank you to all who entered the giveaway!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowy Day Valentine Craft

When you look out the window and see this:

You may decide it's a good day to stay inside and make a quick, easy Valentine craft.

Jake, Molly and I made these little Hershey's Kiss Gnomes for their classmates.

Tell me these are not the cutest things you've seen in a while!

BTW, you can really see the class size difference between public and private schools coming into play when one kid has to make 27 and the other 12.

All you need: Hershey's Kisses, felt, and googly eyes. I used a glue gun, which may or may not be toxic, but was very fast. We'll give each classmate 2 kisses: a gnome for looking at and a kiss for eating. For complete instructions,

go to Family Fun Magazine.

Now if my kids ever go back to school, they will be ready.

p.s. Don't forget to leave a comment on this post to enter my coffee giveaway.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drink Coffee Do Good Giveaway!

I remember getting the phone call from Compassion International in 1994. They wanted to let me know that the little girl I had been sponsoring in Rwanda had disappeared.

Disappeared? It was hard for me to fathom how this could happen, because I couldn't yet conceptualize the brutality and genocide taking place in her country. At that point I could barely find Rwanda on a map, and I had not yet learned of the 100 days of chaos and violence that would pit neighbor against neighbor, proving that ordinary working people, including those who claimed to be people of faith, could take the lives of those around them.

Many months later, Mukanoheri-- the girl I sponsored-- was found and was able to return to her town. I continued sponsoring her until she became an adult.

Today, 16 years later, to say "Rwanda" conjures up images of violence, and if you are like me, you may wonder how people could ever heal from and move past such tragedy.

Personally, I think healing and reconciliation in the face of such despair requires a miracle. The good news is, miracles are happening there every day.

I'd like to share with you one business that is hoping that Coffee and Forgiveness, not Genocide, will be what you think of when you think of Rwanda.

A small Roswell, Georgia-based coffee company has been working in Rwanda to help farmers set up small coffee farms. Former enemies work side by side. Can you imagine a young girl growing coffee right next to the man who killed her family? It's hard to fathom, but it is happening in Rwanda today.

A "better than fair trade" wage is giving hope and a future, but forgiveness, despite impossible odds, is what is healing Rwanda. And if you are like me, you realize that forgiveness is just as important for the one doing the forgiving as the one being forgiven.

I know it's hard to wrap the mind around reconciliation of this magnitude, and I'm glad it's not our place to make miracles, but we can play a small part, and that's where today's giveaway comes in!

We have started carrying Land of 1000 Hills Coffee in the store where I work, and I'd like to give away a 1 lb. bag to you.

Some Facts:

• Every bag purchased provides a rural farmer with a proper Living Wage and the dignity and self respect that comes from providing for oneself.

• In 2004, Land of a Thousand Hills committed to paying at minimum of $1.26 per lb. to the grower for their finest coffee, more than three times the unjust 40 cents often paid by other coffee companies. Currently, the growers are consistently paid an average of $1.86 per lb.

• Land of a Thousand Hills also invests one dollar per 12 oz. bag sold to fund micro-finance programs that help Rwandans start small businesses. Approximately $3 total per 12 oz. bag is invested in the Rwandan economy.

So leave me a comment by Tuesday at midnight and win some great coffee! Let me know whether you would prefer ground or whole bean. I encourage you to check out the website yourself. Land of 1000 Hills delivers the best coffee in the world, right to your door.

Drink Coffee. Do Good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Check it Out!

I'm excited to tell you that An Inch of Gray was featured this week on the blog Quilting in My Pyjamas. Ms. Pyjamas and I are bonded through our love of renovating on a budget and drooling over house blogs. And while I can't quilt, I do spend a lot of time in my PJ's, so there's that. What a thrill it is to have a new buddy in Australia! I mean, she says, "Mum" and everything. Thanks for the kind words, Quilting in My Pyjamas!

Happy snowy weekend to those of you who are house-bound like I am!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Please Take Me Home, Country Roads

Family Ski Trip: The Highs and the Lows

So we took the kids skiing this weekend. Here are some highlights and lowlights.

Low: Driving in a full-blown snowstorm up and down treacherous country roads.
High: Dramatically improving my lackluster prayer life during the drive.

Low: Having Tom scream, “Shut up! Shut up! Won’t you two ever just SHUT UP???” to the kids who were fighting, weeping and wailing in the back seat the entire car ride.
High: Finally sealing the deal that we wouldn’t ever be allowed to be judge-y with other parents. If you had told us 10 years ago that we’d use such language with our spawn, I mean precious children, we would have told said were crazy.

High: Saving $10,000 when Tom yelled at the kids in the car, “We were PLANNING on taking you kids to Europe this summer. Now I know we can’t take you ANYWHERE, EVER!”

Low: Saving that $10,000.

High: Taking a Jacuzzi bath with Molly in our hotel room.
Low: Having Molly look at me au naturel, scream in horror, and say, “I’m never growing up!”

Low: Wasting $100 upon discovering it was “Donate A Canned Good and get $10 Lift Tickets Day,” but finding ourselves absolutely can-less.

High: My saving us tons of money by generously abstaining from skiing (as I have since 1989).

High: Finding enough quarters in the crappy waiting area to buy a treat from the vending machine.

Low: Pushing the wrong button and getting a Baby Ruth.

High: Can't think of one.

Low: Having Molly, all zipped up and outfitted to ski, tell me she hated me, hated skiing and she would never ever ski in her whole entire life.

Low/High: Spending 2 hours talking her off the ledge by appealing to her Disney Channel and I-Carly sensibility by sharing with her that I always felt left out when my friends and BOYFRIENDS could ski, since I'd never learned how.

Super High: Seeing her go off with her class for a beginner’s lesson knowing she would kick skiing’s butt (and not mine for at least another hour and a half).

Low: The fighting, the fighting, did I mention the fighting?

High: Watching the kids swim and laugh together in the indoor pool, having more fun together than they have had all year.

High: Reading books inside the crappy waiting area while my family skied in 10 degree weather.

High: Watching Molly feed a cow-sized deer a kernel of corn without being stampeded by the deer's 6 cow-sized buddies.

Higher High:
Seeing Tom’s attitude and outlook on life improve as he shared his favorite pasttime with his smiling, skiing kids.

High: Finally getting ready to drive home!

Nadir: Mere moments after finishing a book about being a good Christian wife and mother, when Jake started wailing because he didn’t want to carry his skis, finding myself so pissed at his infantile behavior that I threw his ski boots onto the floor (sending one boot down a flight of stairs), snatching out of his hand the pack of Resee's Pieces I had just bought him, and storming out of the (very public) building.

Infantile? I’ll show him infantile!

Not sure how to wrap it up except to say that both kids really took to skiing, Tom and I have started talking again, and we're already planning a day trip before spring.