Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Be Safe out there...

Ice is not to be taken lightly...even in these climates where we are supposed to be used to such conditions. A father of a student at the Things school was killed this morning while taking his older daughter to school.

Who knows how A will cope with the loss of his dad. I smile as I recall running into this family within our neighborhood. A was so proud and excited when he spotted me, telling me "HI P's Mom! This is my Dad, we're shopping". And, then whenever A would see me at school he would say "I saw you at the furniture store when I was shopping with my dad."

And although this encounter happened easily some 4 years ago, A continues to retell this story whenever we would meet at school. Over and Over. Always with the same amount of enthusiasm and pure delight. I would tease him "A, we've got to find you a new story to tell".

I'm afraid he got just such a story today.

Yes, A has autism and who knows how he will process this loss. Just the same, my heart is breaking for a family I barely know as they cope with the reality that you just don't know when you'll be called Home.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 and 4 - "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heaven:a time to be born and a time to die......a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance..."

A Snow Day (at least for me..)

It's been snowing most of the day. Just a slow drizzle of flakes. Just enough to make me want to stay home where it is toasty and warm. And so, I've done just that. I gave myself permission today to do what I want to do and forget about what's on the to-do list. So, I got caught up on some of my TiVo (so, what do you think will happen next on Desperate Housewives?), made a batch of carmel popcorn (and assuming hubby doesn't get stuck in too much traffic, there might just be some left by the time he gets here). I then ventured down to the craft room and with Christmas music playing for background, I've proceeded to crank out about 20 cards. has been a very good day indeed. And a quick glance at the clock tells me that I could maybe even squeeze in a snooze on the comfie couch before I venture out to collect the Things.

Ok, so that would be pushing it, especially since the shovel is giving me the evil eye and reminding me of a promise I made to hubby this morning to shovel...but once I"m done...if there's time, I might just reconsider that nap!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holiday Nuggets

This week's blog challenge:

  • What are 5 nuggets of wisdom that have been imparted to you by people you've cherished? How do those nuggets show up in your daily life... or do they? Have the words of wisdom shaped you? Which nuggets have you passed on to people who cherish you?

1. Are we on the bus to Abiliene? Now, of course, unless I've already shared this pearl with you, you are probably thinking what in the world did she put in her coffee this morning? Well, let me explain. Have you ever caught yourself thinking of some crazy, half baked idea, and it just sort of snowballs. The plan was never a good idea in the first place. You find yourself sort of caught in the wave of excitement. Here at the House of Chang, we call that getting on the bus to Abiliene! Nobody really wanted to go in the first place, but no one paused long enough to be the voice of reason.

  • I hope this Holiday season I am able to stay off the bus. I want to be able to stay focused on the reason for celebrating this magical time of year without getting caught up in the hoopla of it all. Because if I don't, I'll be headed straight to Abiliene and not very pleased when I get there (or when the Visa bill shows up in January!)

2. Fake it til you make it. About 18 years ago, I attended a conference where the then general of the Army Nurse Corps was the speaker. I don't recall the exact context in which she used this phrase but she used it to illustrate the importance of moving forward, even when you think you can't. Eventually, you'll have conquered whatever challenge or obstacle was in your way, even if initially you are just going through the motions, or faking it. Needless to say, it really struck me that a GENERAL said it was OK to fake it? That alone makes it a pearl worthy of holding on to.

  • For the sake of the Things, I shall fake it until I make it. And although I wasn't in the mood to decorate the house on Friday, Thing Two was. And, I just couldn't squelch his enthusiasm and desire to help because I was feeling all bah humbug. So, I faked it. And now that most of the decorations are up, I must admit, I too am feeling my heart start to fill with the spirit of Christmas.

3. Some of the Best Things in Life Aren't Things

  • I'm going to stop here. I know, the challenge was to list 5. But like so often, I'm modifying it. Plus, this one is the perfect stopping point don't ya think? Because here in the House of Chang, these are the best things...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

House, MD

A friend recently mentioned that this was her new favorite show. Since I appreciate her taste in books, I thought I"d give it a try. I checked out season one on DVD from the library.

Oh my! Within the first 30 minutes, both hubby and I are hooked.

So much that I am finally motivated enough to go buy a replacement DVD player for our current one that keeps freezing or skipping. I found it too annoying last night to deal with but I was too hooked on this show to give up all together and go to bed.

Now we're wondering how in the world has this show already aired 2 seasons and is into their third, and we are just now learning about it? Makes me wonder what other good tv is out there that we've missed? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


This week's blog challenge:
  • We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder
  • This week, think in terms of Thanksgiving. Even if you aren't in the USA, really think about the things you're blessed with. But don't blog about the general stuff. Don't make a quick list of what you're thankful for. Don't do a half-hearted attempt at the generic "I'm Thankful for" blog. Instead, meditate on the above quote, and then write.

Of course I am grateful for my family, both near and far. I am grateful for my family of friends. Although they may not be biological they are as close to my heart as those whose DNA I may share. For without others to share in the ups and downs of life, well, it would be a rather lonely and isolating life.

For Christina Rossetti is quoted as saying Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts: and no one to Thank.

So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I of course am most grateful that I am a child of God. That I have been blessed with treasures too numerous to list. And for that I say Thank You Heavenly Father...

Catching Colds

I woke up this morning with a stuffy nose. Thing Two has had a case of the sniffles for a couple days now. So, I said to him "thanks for giving me your cold buddy".

His first repsonse was a very sincere "I'm sorry Mom". Followed by a sniffle. After which he quickly added "but I think you only caught half of it because I've still got my cold!"

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kiss Goodbye the "Best Day Ever!"

Thing One has been a very excited boy these past few days. Ever since his class earned a party and they decided it would be a "hand held game day". Yep, they'd get to bring the usually forbidden game boys and play with their pals for an hour. Talk about a dream come true! He started a countdown to the "Best Day ever". Each morning, he would announce how many more days until "all his dreams came true" and he got to play Pokemon with his classmates.

He was truly over the moon with excitement.

Yes, that's right, was over the moon. Now, we're struggling with the flow of tears that breaks your heart as a parent. Game Day had to be postponed. The class is going on a field trip in the morning and naturally the teacher didn't want such items on the field trip. Nor did it seem like a safe situation to have students bring such pricey items and leave them unattended in the classroom. Granted, school typically is a safe place but if even one slightly untrustworthy type knew that there were riches to be had in Rm. 35, well it could become problematic.

As an adult, I get it.
As a protective Momma Bear: well, don't go breaking my boy's heart. I know you didn't mean to, but you did. So, between this and the Bolivian Conspiracy, I'm fighting back.
Told Thing One that I would have his Game Boy with me and when he got back tomorrow, he could come to my classroom and get his game boy. And, while the rest of the class has a movie party with rootbeer floats, he'll be watching his Pokemon Movie on his game boy.

If she can change the rules, so can I!
At least now he's no longer sobbing!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bolivian Conspiracy

Thing One has to do a report on an international city. To save us all the frustration of listening to 22 reports on the same city (because even I"m not a teacher and I know they'll all do the copy cat thing if you let them), the teacher assigns them a city. Thing One will be learning all about La Paz. (and well, so shall we, because come on, admit it, we help our kids with their projects!)

First, I took a quick peek over at wikipedia to make sure that I knew where LaPaz is. Yep, Bolivia. Thought so. But, it's been awhile since I've needed to know this fact so I wanted to make sure.

Next stop, the local library's online catalog. I like to know before we head over there what books they have vs. which ones we might need to request from inter-library loan. (Hush, I'm a Martha, these things I can't help...being organized and efficient).

That's when I decide it is a conspiracy against me and my precious child.
For what do I discover? Of the 4 books that I figure might be appropriate, (you know, children of Bolivia, Culture and Customs, all the Jr. Nonfiction stuff), THREE ARE MISSING! No, not checked out, not out for repair, stinking MISSING!

Geez, just when I thought the teacher was starting to like me and my kid, I run into THIS problem. I just KNOW she did this on purpose....and it is a conspiracy against us. "See if he can get the report done without library books".

Well, as many of you know, I"m the queen of Google. We will manage somehow...and if not, Plan B is to ask if he could please do a report on La Coruna( I'm sure with a little help from his friends he could do a kick-arse job!)

And finally, if you think I really believe she did this on purpose, then you just don't get me and my love for spinning a good yarn!

Rites of Passage

This week's blog challenge:
  • rite of passage  1.Anthropology. a ceremony performed to facilitate or mark a person's change of status upon any of several highly important occasions, as at the onset of puberty or upon entry into marriage or into a clan.2.any important act or event that serves to mark a passage from one stage of life to another. Write about a rite of passage. It can be your own experience or someone else's. It can be an event that you're anticipating, or one you're anticipating for your child. It can be a long forgotten memory, a touching ancedote, or a funny story.There are so many many rites of passage in this life - your first kiss, learning to ride without training wheels, noticing your first gray hair, standing up to your Mom as an adult, cooking for the new inlaws for the first time.... Think about it, and have fun writing!

Last year I became the first mom in my circle of friends to have BOTH boys in school full time. Oh sure, I have a couple friends ahead of me in this parenting process, so yes, I wasnt' really THE FIRST mom ever to be in this situation. But in my immediate see every day friends, I was the first to cross into this long anticipated land of being home alone during the day.

It is what us stay at home types look forward to for so long. Like becoming tenured or earning that prized 5th week of vacation in the working world. We dream about "when they are both in school" what we will our lives will change, and we'll find that state of perfection we all seem to think is possible...Once they are in School...

And so how was it? Well, for starters there was a bit of "is this it?" I really thought those first free hours that came when the youngest one goes to school for only a couple hours every other day made me more giddy. Perhaps because that alone time was such a precious commodity and came at a time when the boys were still very needy. I definitely made good use of my 1.5hrs of free time, 2 days a week. Maybe even better use of that time than I did when I had all day with not a lot on the agenda.

Then came the sadnesss and reality that I don't get to see my boys during their peak times. I got the sloppy seconds: the groggy "we don't want to go to school" mood of the morning coupled with the after school fatigue driven meltdowns. That made me appreciate what Hubby had commented on at various times in the past. We don't get to see the boys at their happiest points. Instead we see them coming or going.

I found myself lonely and yet had no one really to complain to. My working outside of the home friends could get the part of only seeing glimpses of our kids during the day, but they wouldn't be able to relate to the sense of isolation that the SAHM feels when all her kids are in school. My friends still with little ones at home wouldn't want to listen to me whine about being lonely when they were knee deep in potty training and temper tantrums. Had I complained, they all would have had every right to say "get a life!".

And so, that's what I did. I got a life. I now work part time outside of the home. Yes, it is not a very good paying gig, but you reach that point in your life where you recognize it isn't just $ that makes a job a good one. Other little things factor in, and thus my part time job as a TA has all those extras even if the pay rate is far lower than what I could make in my trained profession (RN/NP).

So, with most rites of pasage, there is a mixture of stuff that happens. Some good, some bad. But as you move through it all, you can actually learn a thing or two about what makes you tick and what makes you happy. I'm still learning but feeling good about the lessons I've learned and the actions I've taken since passing into this next stage of mommyhood.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Puppy Love

Thing Two tells me on the way home from school yesterday that "You and Dad are in Puppy Love". I said "Hmm, where did you learn about that?".

His usual response is "the internet" (which although sometimes is true, more often it is a stall or delay tactic which ties into his quirks). Anyways, this time I was happily surprised when he told me "the ILC". For those not familiar with our local terms of special ed, that's the self contained classroom that he goes to occasionally for pull out support.

Oh really I said and paused for him to fill in the rest of the story...because with the Things there is ALWAYS a rest of the story. He continued with:

"Yep, Mom, when two young people are in love, you call it puppy love".

Younger brother, Thing Two chimes in with "so, what do you call it when old people are in love?"

Without even a pause, or moment of hesitation, Thing One proudly decided "well, I guess that is called Dog love becaue they aren't young anymore!"

Oh my, that just made my day. Popsicles all around guys,! You put a smile on Mom's face when she really needed it most!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Morning Observations...

Yesterday, Hubby and I marked our 11th wedding anniversary. We'd decided awhile back that we'd skip any big time celebration in favor of saving for our upcoming California Adventure. So, when the snow flakes started to fall and I battled a minor head cold, I was glad that we had planned for a stay at home kind of day.

Late yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call from a friend. She and her husband share the same anniversary date as Hubby and I. She had some unsettling news to share with me.

And while I'm beside myself with sadness for her and her boys, I am again reminded what a wonderful man I am married to. For it isn't the wine, roses and fancy dinners that makes a marriage strong. It is the little things: from him telling me to have fun when I head off to go crafting with the ladies, to my fixing him his favorite meal even when I'd rather not be cooking. It is his suprising me by folding the clothes in the clean laundry basket. It is my giving him the green light to purchase a motorcycle even if I'm not a fan of them myself.

Hubby, thank you for being an honorable, loving family man who cares deeply for us! Luv ya bunches and bunches...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembering our Veterans

We say Thank you! For your dedication to our nation, your willingness to serve and the countless sacrifices that you and your families make each day to ensure our nation remains the land of the Free and the Brave.

For our nation will remain the land of the Free as long as it is the home of the Brave

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My favorite part of the day...

Ah since the time change last week, Thing Two and I have been the first ones up. I'm loving it. We're both waking up before Hubby's alarm clock rings and heading downstairs before the other two start to stir.

Yeah, go ahead and hate me, but I am a morning person. I"ve got my first cup of coffee, the boy is happy after a good night's rest, and I'm munching on the last cookie from when I baked cookies the other evening.

Life is good: at least for the next 15 minutes or so before I realize the bliss must end if we're going to get where we need to be in time.

But for right now, I"m savoring my morning...for soon enough it all comes to that screeching halt. Oh, add to it, I'm heading into to work for the 4th day in a row (I'm so not ready for full time work outside of the home) AND report cards come home this afternoon.

Yep, better grab my happiness while there is stil some to be had.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Challenged By Tracey

So, my usual source for blog challenges hasn't posted a challenge for this week. So, instead, TZ stepped up to the plate and posed this question for us local bloggers. I think it is a pretty good one, hence I'm giving it a try. Here's what TZ asked:

  • As I sat here thinking, "I have no
    time to do this or anything else" because I have to clean, get some
    invitations out for a party I'm giving later and yes, start my holiday
    baking, I wondered if, given the chance, and could only choose one type of
    domestic help, would it be a housecleaner, cook, errand boy, what would I
    pick? What would you pick and why? (errand boy could be pretty buff and a
    masseuse, but that may be another blog topic)

Shortly after hubby and I were married, I TRIED to hire a housekeeper. I was working every other weekend and on my off weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was clean the townhouse (I think back now and go, what a whiner: a townhouse with a pair of DINKS. What mess was I complaining about?)

So, we agreed to hire out that service. I think she came twice before I fired her. No, it wasn't the expense that turned me off. It was the reality that you still have to "pick up" before she gets there, and once that's done, well, oh heck, just go ahead and finish up the job and voila! the place is clean. When I recognized I was still having to do the part I hated the most AND paying for someone to do the part I really didn't mind doing, well, I fired her. And for the next few months, I"d be smiling, thinking of all the money we were saving!

With that as my history, I doubt I'd choose housekeeper. Not that I'd even be allowed such a choice. I"m thinking it is right up there with "Hi Honey, I joined a gym!" And although we could afford a housekeeper and or a gym membership, my past experiences of not using either one in the manner in which they are designed, I doubt such a request would be approved by upper management (aka hubby).

Next up is errand boy. Errands haven't ever bothered me. Maybe it is that us list-making people love a good "to do" list where a bunch of stuff gets checked off in rapid succession. That's what I love about errand day (yeah, I'm some what of a fly lady wannabee: I try to do all the errands on the same day). Lots of checking off happens! Oh, just thinking about a completed to do list makes me all giggly and happy. (hey, give me a break, I"m a Martha for crying out loud!)

Which leaves me with the cooking stuff. Yep, I could so get into hiring out a cook. And on my dream team, I"d have Rachael Ray come in 2 days, Paula Dean for 4 days (cuz she uses butter and I like butter), Sandra Lee/Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis would job share that 7th day (cuz their egos are a bit much and need to be taken in smaller doses. I mean come on: Giada speaks total valley girl until she gets to some Italian word and it is this way over the top Italian accent. Too many visits with Sandra Lee and her coordinating cocktails and well, I'd never get my lists made. And Ina, well, she's just a little too uptown for this suburban housewife). I'd let the kitchen boys make guest appearances: a little bit of Emeril and some Bobbie Flay. Yeah, we'd be eating good in the neighborhood!

But, until I win the lottery, I guess I will keep on plugging along in the kitchen. And, like tonight, dinner will remain a two choice option: take it or leave it!

Thanks TZ for the I"m hungry. I guess I"ll go drool over Colleen's homemade chicken pot pie that she posted pictures of...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The downside of a busy craft week...

Is the clean up and restoration phase. My least favorite part.
So, I thought that just maybe if I post my before pictures this morning, I"ll find the motivation to clean it up and get ready for the next project.

We'll see if this theory works. Because quite honestly, all I feel like doing is pouring myself a 2nd cup of coffee (ok, from the second POT I've brewed this morning) and curling up with my People magazine. But, if I do that, I"ll have crafters guilt. It is right up there with all the other guilts that plague us "do right" types.

So, check back later and see if I"ve got any after shots to share with you...

Update: Apparently, it worked. Now, I'm off to find the couch and my magazine!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Operation MCB revealed

Today one of my nearest and dearest friends joined me and several other wildly wonderful women when she became a member of "The Club!". Yep, THAT club: over 40, where we are pink with just a hint of gray tossed in (and if my salon lady does a good job, that gray is barely noticed).

It is a rather fun place to be. You find yourself a little more willing to say what's on your mind, cut your losses and move on when things aren't working out and you also start to appreciate that laughter really is good for the soul!

To honor this special friend on her special day, I planned two surprises. And although I really am not into surprise parties at all (and seriously, I mean that. I want to know when I need to put on the under eye concealer and pick out a new shade of lipstick. If you are going to celebrate me, give me the opportunity to have my best face possible in attendance. I just don't do surprise parties). But, that doesn't mean I'm not into surprises in general. It is the whole party part I don't like.

The first suprise was something I'd done before. But, I must say, this is the first time I"ve encountered as much enthusiasm from the participants as I did with this party. Just shows you how much Carol is appreciated by those that know her (or, she just knows a lot of people and the numbers were in our favor. But, I"m inclined to believe it is the former). It's called a Shower of Cards.

One afternoon, I borrowed Carol's address book (while she was at work, her husband loaned it to me). I then copied the addresses of pretty much everyone in it. Sent them a letter, asking that they mail a birthday greeting to my accomplice, Caroline. Our goal was to collect at least 40 cards. We easily reached and passed that goal. We put them all in one big box and she opened it thinking it was just some birthday present.

Oh my gosh: the look on her face when she realized some of the people I'd contacted and asked to join in this surprise fun, well....No longer was it make Carol bawl, it was "pass this tissues to old Martha". She really was touched by it all: as she glanced through the cards, and would call out "Ms. G sent me a card?" (her son's kindie teacher)

Truly we could have stopped right there and the operation would have been deemed a success.

But nope, now on to phase two of Operation Make Carol Bawl (MCB): my gift. For those readers in the scrapbooking world, you probably know about Z Becky Brown purses.

When I first saw one, I immediately thought of Carol. It seemed to be just her "thing" and I was thrilled to figure out MONTHS in advance what I would be getting her. Oh don't worry, I still waited until the last minute to put it all together.
And, I must say I'm thrilled with the way it turned out. With help from Ms. Shirley (Carol's mum), I was able to include an assortment of photos from various chapters in her life.

Yet, in the process, I discovered I had not a SINGLE picture of her and I together. Oh no, I'm not talking single good picture. I"m talking single picture at all. Don't worry, I fixed that error today and now I have not only a picture of us together, but a good picture too!

And yes, the purse was a hit. Crafty Me strikes again.
But, gee, I gotta stop. It is time to dial down the surprises and get back to the routine of life.
Nah, you know I can't do would just be so un-Martha like.

A bad week for bloggers?

So, I've been checking all my various blogs and nobody has updated their blogs. Then, I check my own blog, and UH OH, I too am part of that collective Nobody. Seems like the only one who's done much blogging this week has been my hubby. And, that's been show 'n tell with gadgets for his babe, Maria. (in motorcycle speak, that means she's got new farkle). Oh well, farkle for Maria is sort of like giving Martha a pre-approved kitchen pass. So, I don't complain about farkle. Nope, keep on shopping honey, it eases my own hobby guilt!

Where did the week go? Well, I worked 3 days, worked on Operation MCB (which I'll share later, suffice to say the craft room was a humming again this week as I got ready for Carol's 40th bday which is today. Photos to follow probably tomorrow or this evening), I then tried to tackle a few household chores and errands.

We also had Halloween tucked in there and the usual routine of school. Busy Busy Busy, I tell ya. But, it is good to be busy because my mind hasn't gotten stuck on some of the details that it sometimes gets stuck mulling over. Too much time to ponder my thoughts isn't necessarily a good thing for us Martha's.

But you didn't come here for the chatter, you came for some pictures. I'll shut up and go find some pictures For those of you who live in the 'hood, this is the pirate house I was raving about.

For those of you who don't live nearby, these are the resident Griswalds, who went ALL out. On Halloween night, they had a man walking on the top deck, calling out to the kids while his Dock wenches (I believe it was the multigenerational women folk in the family) passed out Hot Chocolate in period appropriate costumes (in other words, they were dressed like lady pirates but not in the glam/trampy stuff you saw all the stores selling costumes for this year). It was way cool and yes, really did make this one of the best Halloweens ever!

And I'm off...I shall try to do a better job of blogging this week. Assuming life doesn't get in the way...