Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

As we get ready to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I thought I would share with you my ties to the cemetery.

My Nanna was very serious about caring for her husband’s burial site. She would trim the weeds from around the headstone and clean the granite. She would take flowers for all the major holidays and remembrances or just for no reason at all. I recall there being a border of white rock at one time, bordering the headstone. I remember Nanna’s birth date was already there.

I was Nanna’s tagalong, so I spent a lot of time at the cemetery. I would walk down from my great-grandpa’s grave and try to find where some other acquaintances were buried. There were headstones in the area that had pictures on them, and I was always fascinated by them. Before we would leave the cemetery, Nanna would drive me by the big statue of the Indian man, who I would later learn was a relative of some of my school friends. He had his hands folded at his waist and they often held a little bouquet of flowers. There was a local myth about what would happen if you put a penny in there.

I remember the section separated from the rest of the cemetery by a white fence. The baby graves.

There was also an entire row of identical headstones where members of the Royal Air Force were buried.

I was also nearly attacked several times by killdeers who had their nests in the area.

All of these memories were relived last year when me and the boys volunteered to place Memorial Day flags at veteran graves in our cemetery.

Now we don’t have any family members in the local cemetery, but I recognize some of the names of families we know. We searched for veteran markers and the kids read some of the things they saw on the stones like “mother”, “father”, or “our baby”.

We don’t have a big Indian statue, but we have an angel.  She's missing a finger. 

Today was flag setting out day, and on our second pass, we noticed a very angry killdeer in our way.

Then we heard something behind us and another one was coming at us from behind. We looked closer and found four eggs amongst the headstones.

Then we quickly left the birds to calm down.

My 6YO found a statue of Jesus on one grave and said, “Look!! Here’s where Jesus DIED!”

Then we went to an area where the cemetery maintenance crew was working and a shovel was laid across a couple of graves by the road. “He must have been a farmer!” my 8YO concluded.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Hope that you’re honoring our veterans in however you choose to celebrate this weekend. Go out and enjoy your freedom and your salvation. Both of those have been paid for!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Whip It! Whip it Good!

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."  Psalm 119:37

Okay, so Summer break is upon us and the kids and I have been busy and then there were the terrible tornadoes, and I've been slightly depressed since Sunday after seeing the wreckage on TV, and I haven't felt like writing anything... 

Anyone even notice?

Anyway, let me start off by saying that when the hub came home with a BULLWHIP from a garage sale for our 8YO, I didn't think it was an age appropriate gift. 

My Nanna used to scare me into not playing with such things by saying I'd "whip my eye out!"  I used to picture my eyeball actually on the end of the whip, dangling precariously. 

So far no eye whipping has happened, although every time I try it, I seem to get my arm.  Probably from a lack of practice as a child! 

But, I must say, that if you're in the market for silly kid faces, which we are here due to slight mother depression, just hand your kid a bullwhip and let the good times roll. 

Cue your best Devo impersonation...

Crack that whip!

When a problem comes along, you must whip it. 

Step on a crack, break your momma's back.

Now whip it.

Whip it good!

Go forward.  Move ahead.  It's not too late to whip it.  Whip it good.* 

*My apologies to Devo. 

Apparently bullwhipping is a full body workout if you do it right.  I'd like to be the first to predict it as the next exercise craze.  I'm thinking you add a few Zumba moves, and a couple of whip cracks, some red Lego looking hats, and you've got yourself a show right there!

Just be careful and don't whip your eye out. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Death and Destruction

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

A horrible tornado hit the town of Joplin, Missouri, yesterday evening. So far, 89 people have been confirmed dead. It is hard to know what to say or do in times like these.

Joplin is my second hometown. The town that I’m from is about 30 minutes away, and growing up the long running jest was that the only thing there was to do in our town was to go to Joplin. That wasn’t entirely true, but Joplin did offer the closest Mall and other big stores afforded to towns much larger than ours.

I spent my time in Joplin on dates, dragging Main Street, and eventually going to college. Today my college campus is being used as a triage area for medical volunteers.

My grandma used to take me to concerts at Memorial Hall. We went to see Sawyer Brown once. Last night, they were accepting non-life-threatening injuries at Memorial Hall.

This morning, Al Roker and the Today Show were in Joplin, right in front of the hospital where my step-dad Roy died. The hospital received heavy damage in the tornado yesterday and patients were evacuated to other hospitals, some nearly 100 miles away, by school bus.

Countless homes and businesses were destroyed by one of nature’s wonders. More severe weather is in the forecast for Joplin today.

Please say a prayer for Joplin today and all those affected by the storm. Pray that the plans God has for them will be revealed. Pray that they do not lose hope. Pray that those most able to help them will be made known to them. Pray that they may be reunited with loved ones lost. And pray that more survivors are found today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One of Those Days

Today is the last day of Kindergarten.  The second grader gets out on Thursday. 

I should be busy doing all the things that I can only do while I'm home alone. 

Like mopping.

Like going to Goodwill one last time in peace.

Like watching non-animated television.

But I'm having one of these days instead.

Must do laundry....

Must go to store to buy rations for hungry children tomorrow...

Must clean house one more time before the tornadoes are home to destroy it....

What?  You say it is almost lunch time?? 

Ok, I guess I'd better get cracking!  No time to spare.  Impending Summer vacation imminent!!  

Hope you're having a more productive day than I am. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Smile! You're On... Nevermind.

“Don't let your dreams go up in smoke - practice fire safety.” -Author Unknown

Had a real life moment of suspecting I was on Candid Camera last night.

My smoke detector downstairs started to chirp a couple of days ago. I thought it wanted a battery, so I replaced it. It continued to chirp. So, I took the battery back out and had a theory that they must chirp for a while as a way of saying, “Hey Dummy, put a battery in me!”

I tried another brand new battery, but the same thing happened.

After thirty minutes of chirping every minute or so, it finally stopped.

All’s well with the smoke detector, I supposed.

Then a full day of no chirping. Problem solved!

Until I was dead asleep in la-la land at 5:15am this morning.

I could hear it in my subconscious.


(Long pause)

Chirp again.

After regaining consciousness and muttering a few choice words under my breath, I headed downstairs to the stupid smoke alarm.

More trouble than they are worth, I’m thinking.

I perched myself up on the step stool, a perilous task for 5:15 in the morning, and stuck another battery in it. Then I headed back upstairs where at least another hour of slumber was waiting for me.

Right before I hit the stairs…


“@$&*!,” I thought.

This time I wasn’t bothering with another battery. I went straight for the screwdriver (another perilous activity for this time of morning) and unscrewed the sucker from the wall.

I threw it out on the front porch and closed the door.

My head had just hit the pillow when I heard:


I thought I must be hearing it through the door now! It seemed muffled in my sleep-stupored mind.

So I went back downstairs, took it off the front porch, walked it all the way back through the house, and put it on the back porch.

I had just made it back inside the house when I heard:


A few more choice words and a WTH???

I expected someone to jump out and say “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!”

But I wasn’t smiling.

Then I looked up.

Last winter when I was inexplicably tired all the time, I’d bought us a couple of carbon monoxide detectors so that one night I didn’t go to bed dead tired and wake up so. This was before we had the Home Energy Audit that basically rendered such detectors useless due to the constant free flow of fresh air that our home enjoys. I remembered installing one in my bedroom, but had totally forgotten about this one. Opposite wall from the smoke detector. Kind of hidden by a tall cabinet.


So I ripped it off the wall, found it to require a different kind of battery than the smoke detector (of course!), headed upstairs to search for batteries, got them replaced and went back to bed.

When I finally got up for good, I retrieved a perfectly good smoke alarm off the back porch. Stuck a battery back in it and screwed it back to the wall.

So far, the chirping has stopped and all appears to be well with our smoke/carbon monoxide levels.

I used to change the batteries when we changed our clocks for the time change, but I never can remember if it is in the Fall or the Spring, and I don’t like to waste perfectly good batteries.

Maybe I should get on a schedule.

Maybe I should change out the batteries in the ones in my bedroom NOW!

Maybe I’m the only one being outsmarted in the middle of the night by small appliances!

Who says I have no nightlife?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Ongoing Debate

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” Matthew 24:7

As I’ve told you before, my husband is from Russia. That makes him Russian.

His family is also from Russia. That makes them all Russians too.

I’m from the US. All my family is from the US. I’d say we’re all Americans. Sometimes we say we’re Norwegian, or American Indian, or whatever, but we can all agree that first and foremost we are Americans.

Now the husband threw a kink into all this 8 years ago when he became a US citizen.

He says he’s an American now.

I argue that he’ll never be an American. He is a US Citizen, but is still Russian.

He says he’s learned the language, adopted the “way of life”, which I argue only includes going to Wal-Mart on Sunday, and that he’s an American.

I say, “Well then I’m Russian because I married one.”

He makes terrible faces to the contrary, and I reinforce my opinion that he’ll never be an American.

Then I say, “If I moved to Russia, and ate borscht every day, would I be Russian?”

He says, “No.”

So I tell him that he’s not an American!

We both get kind of huffy about it sometimes.

Apparently we both have a great deal of nationalistic pride.

So what do you think? Is being American (or Russian) more about your birthplace, or your heritage, or your culture, or your current location? Can someone originally from another country really become an American? Or are they just citizens?

Thanks for settling this matter in advance.


The American

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Like a Herd of Turtles

"Try to be like the turtle - at ease in your own shell." - Bill Copeland

Here we are in the throes of Springtime, and what says Spring like a herd of turtles?
Sunday we saw a giant snapping turtle who was trying to cross the street near our church.  Unfortunately his story did not end happily, as the road by church is not a good one to cross if you're not in the crosswalk and can't travel faster than a 1/2 mile per hour. 

And so, at the mandate of the 6YO we are now destined to pick up every turtle we see on the street.  Sometimes I just don't point them out, but on the way back to Kindergarten on Monday we saw one on the overpass of the highway. 

He turned out to be cute, and friendly, so we took him to Kindergarten where they watched him all day.  He had more fun when we got home that evening, trying to be fed and enjoying the false hope that he was escaping many, many times before nightfall.  My son even built him a "pond".  It was more like a hole that he filled up with the garden hose, but the turtle ended up with a bath nonetheless.

I finally coerced my son to let him go before he himself had to get into the bathtub.  He chose the neighbors' pond as a turtle oasis.  Much better than the highway overpass, I'd say.

Today, after dropping off the kids at school, I saw this little guy crossing the road by our house.  Naturally, being a good turtle herding momma, I corralled him for the kids to play with later this afternoon.  

He is not so friendly or as curious as the other turtle, and appears to have had a liquid diet for breakfast.  His bladder also appears to have control issues, but I'm sure they will love him just the same.   

I'm sure he'll enjoy the turtle oasis that is our current designated release spot. 

Perhaps that's where he came from. 

Or perhaps that's where he was going. 

Perhaps he'll forget after all this trauma!   

Monday, May 9, 2011

Good Kitty!

"So the Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.'"  Genesis 3:14-15

I have a lot of enmity for snakes.  Perhaps not as much as some, but don't get me wrong, I hate them. 

I know some people think there are beneficial snakes. 

These snakes are not beneficial to my health because they still give me a heart attack if I see one not behind glass at the zoo. 

So, if you're a snake lover, STOP right here! 

This is what we found in the driveway this morning.

Crushed head for sure. 

Not by man, though, but by cat! 

Mittens was very proud of his kill.

The hub is even less fond of snakes than I, but sometimes chastises the cats because they are fat and lazy. 

I believe Mittens just earned a year off!

And my 6YO thought he needed an extra special breakfast for doing such a good job with the snake. 

So much for fat and lazy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day


In honor of Mother's Day, I'm listing the Mother's Day Questionnaire answers as dictated by my children, ages 6 and 8. 

She weighs 90 pounds.
She is 100 feet tall.
Her favorite place to shop is Wal-Mart. 
Her favorite TV show is The Weather. 
Her favorite song is "You Belong To Me". 
She loves to drink fruit punch.
She is special because she loves us.
I know she loves me because she hugs and kisses me every night.
I like it when my mom plays with me.
My mom can do many things!  I think she's best at fighting with the dog.
My mom has a pretty smile!  I like to make her smile by cleaning my room.
My mom is as pretty as a butterfly.
My mom is smart!  She even knows how to fight.
I'd like to tell my mom she's beatuful. 
If she had a million dollars to spend, she'd buy lots of jewelry. 
If I could take her anywhere in the world for Mother's Day, we'd be off to Wal-Mart.
I would buy her a new bathroom if I had enough money.

Now I'm not sure I'm convinced they got even half of the answers right, but all I know is what the tell me:  You're the best mom ever. 

The truth is, I'm the only mother they've ever had, so I'm pretty glad they don't have anyone to compare me to. 

Whether you're the mother, the stepmother, the used to be, the future, or the present, I hope you're having a lovely Mother's Day today. 

I'm getting ready to cash in on the promise of an uninterrupted nap.  We'll see how that goes!  I've left cookies in my absence. 

Have a great day. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Good Day to Fly?

My reputation is getting out.

I guess there are worse things to be thought of than the Butterfly Mom.

It is a common first grade project around here for the teacher to order caterpillars of Painted Lady butterflies (not sure why on the species. Maybe they are hardy?) and raise them through their stages into butterflies and then the kids let them go.

Well, there were a few non-takers of freedom this morning.

Maybe it was too cold.

Maybe they are too new and haven’t got their wings under them yet.

Maybe all they’ve known is captivity and the wind is throwing them off.

Maybe they just wanted to go home with me today.

One of my first grade teacher friends was ready for me to clean up her hatchery doo dad. I did it last year and I guess she’s gotten spoiled or something.

Raising butterflies is messy work. Or at least it is with Painted Ladies, it would seem.

They are pretty leaky after they hatch.

And they leak red which is probably my least favorite of all leaking colors.

Monarchs leak orange.

Just so you know.

Anyway, the teacher with the non-takers of flight sent them home with me too. So we’ve been oohing and aahing over the brand new butterflies today.

And taking lots of pictures.

And we’ll try to let them go this evening before the sun goes down.

Hope you’ve got your wings under you today and that the wind isn’t throwing you off. Oh, and minus the leakiness too!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Musings


What a weekend!!

First, a birth certificate.

Then, a royal wedding.

Then, a trip to the ER for a broken arm.

Then, a terrorist was killed.

Only one of these four things impacted my family directly, but I think I’ll talk about the one that had the greatest indirect effect on my life.

It was a Tuesday. I was driving to Spiro, OK, to do my job as a bank examiner for the government. I was 24 years old. I was listening to the radio, as was my habit while driving to the ends of the earth, and suddenly all I could find was news on the radio.

World Trade Center

New York


I remember stopping to use the restroom at a convenience store and I ducked in and ducked out as quickly as I could.

When I got to Spiro, the images on the TV were even more unbelievable than the stories I’d heard on the radio.




I stayed in a motel that night in Poteau, America. After hours and hours of watching the news on the TV, I had to get out. I went to Wal-Mart. There was no one there. The workers were all glued to TVs in the stores and stared at me like “why aren’t you at home watching TV?”




I probably bought some brownies and something to drink. My motel comfort food.

Then I finished my stay in Spiro and headed home for the weekend.

Our church service on Sunday included a photo montage of images of the burning buildings, the fiery planes, the terrified people. My hub stood crying beside me.

I looked over at him and said, “I’m not going to take my pill today.”

And he said, “Ok.”

I’d been on the fence concerning the whole child thing. I swore I’d never have children. I didn’t want to get fat. I didn’t think I’d be a suitable mother. I had three brothers who died, so I was sure my kids would die too if they were boys. I didn’t like kids, so I didn’t think they were a good idea. 

My husband thought he wanted one, and if we had one, we’d need another because he and I both were only children in our families, and the first one would need someone to play with.

And so it was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day that plunged me off into the sea of anticipating motherhood. It was a terrorist that I blame for my children. A terrorist who is now dead.

I’m happy to say I was wrong about children and motherhood and dying and getting fat (well, depends on the day) and all the things I thought seemed like excellent excuses to never try it. I’ve had an enormous amount of fun and pride and love and stickiness that I could not have experienced without them. They complete me and I’m a better person for having had them. I think.

So even though my kids are too young to understand the implications of the death of a terrorist, I want them to know that good can be found in even the grimmest of circumstances. People are changed by such traumatic experiences. People do extraordinary things that they wouldn’t normally have done.

And we will never forget!