Sunday, November 30, 2008

The First Sunday of Advent

The manger is empty,

But my heart is full

Of sin and sorrow and all my own ways

that gather like dust on freshly wiped tables.

And although my view is low of what I can accomplish,

I'd like to smack a few pillows this Season -- you know, open the windows for fresh air.

I think I'll take out the trash in the evening and linger while the sun sets.

Oh, and I can't forget to bring in fresh hay.

I can't forget the hay.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Fable Called Fish

At the very bottom of the deep, dark Adriatic Sea lived a lonely fish who dreamt of warmer waters.

Fish was mad, sad and miserable and cold. Fish had no friends. Fish had no fun. Fish frowned and fretted and fiddled his fins all day long in the bleakly frozen, black and blue ocean.

So you could imagine Fish’s delight when during his afternoon swim, his fin caught the net of a steamer heading south. Fish held on tight and rode the long way to a Caribbean Bay where the sun shone above him. He found a ship at the bottom of the sea and made his home there.

Fish was warm. Fish was well. Fish finally had all he wanted.

This is why Fish gasped a big gulp of ocean when he caught his fretting frown in the reflection of a spoon.

Because Fish was warm. Fish was well. Fish finally had all he wanted.

Or did he?

Fish swam back to that spoon, stared long and hard and decided that warm was not what soothed him. Yes, tepid waters would be best. A bit cooler than these but not quite as icy -- like a birdbath or a puddle or a crick in the Carolinas.

So Fish caught a freighter north. But the northern sea was as the pea was to the princess in that tale named so accordingly. And rather than sit tight or, better put, swim tight, Fish moved on. And on and on from sea to sea till there were no more oceans left to try.

And Fish found himself back at the bottom of the deep, dark Adriatic Ocean, dreaming of warmer waters.

Happiness begins within and must not hinge on externals. Find contentment even in cold waters (or small, cold towns in coal country, PA).
Note: The above is an entry to this contest. What fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Conclusion of the Matter

I am just so funny because every time I use my potty or take one of my children to use the potty (I am there quite often as you can imagine), I laugh and laugh and laugh.

But you would laugh too if your last name was permanently inscribed on your potty with a black Sharpie.

If you're just tuning in, I'm horribly sorry. The potty competition is definitely the low point of my blogging life. That or the advertisement for Mormon companionship; you decide.

So here's the background:

1. I put up a post offering a million bucks for the best toilet seat design suggestion.

2. My brilliant nieces WON and I decorated accordingly.

3. Their artwork was ruined by a good round of comet with bleach.

Or rather, most of their artwork was ruined; all except the parts done with my trusty Sharpie.

So here's the funnier part. The other night when Pete and I were brushing our teeth he just started dying laughing over our stupid looking toilet. He was laughing in a way that made me think of my father-in-law. I started thinking about the way my father-in-law would laugh if he saw my toilet. It would be quite the same way Pete was laughing at just that moment.

And here's the idea: I label people's toilets with THEIR LAST NAMES!!! Starting with my father- in-law's. With a SHARPIE!!! How awesome is that!!! To go to someone's house. Use their potty. Write THEIR last name ON THEIR POTTY SEAT IN PERMANENT BLACK MARKER!!!!

Imagine the reaction!

and HIBBS!

You've been warned. The whole lot of you.

But I won't really do it, of course. But isn't the idea just great!? Maybe not me doing it at your house but how about at least at your mother-in-laws? Hilarious!

Oh well, Adios pottios!

P.S. Note that only the title for The Whole Duty of Children survived the scrubbing, which makes it look like going to the bathroom is what I consider The Whole Duty of Children.

Now, you know the background for my strange potty but if you didn't; if you were just some social worker stopping by to check on my socially maladjusted home schooled children, wouldn't you have me committed? I'm serious, you probably would. Oh well, like I said already, adios pottios!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When I am an Old Lady

When I am an old lady

I will live by the sea

in a condo

with a perfectly clean, white couch.

I'll have a bell man named Lars, and my drawers will be organized. My basement too.

All day, I'll sit on my white couch and read.

My walls will be white.

My windows, clean.

Martha Stewart will visit to drink tea with me out of small, China teacups.

But I won't let her talk.

We'll just stare out at the sea.

At the sailboats going by with my sons on board.


"Hi, Mom! We love you and we're perfect and handsome and saintly and successful."

I'll have Martha bring them sandwiches on a tray. But I won't let them in.

Cause this condo is mine.

The white couch is mine too.

So clean and quiet like fresh, starched sheets. So clean and quiet like the breeze kicking up my curtains. So clean and quiet like my bright, white couch where I'll sit and read.

When I am an old lady.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


At long last, the votes have been tallied and the winner for the BEST TOILET SEAT DESIGN SUGGESTION competition has been confirmed unanimously as ... drum roll ... three sisters from upstate New York ... drum roll ... three sisters who also happen to be my most amazingly creative nieces ... drum roll ... three sisters who should start looking in their mailbox TODAY for the above brown paper bag, wrapped prize ... three sisters named:

MILLIE, ANNIKA and SUSANNA!!!! (Piper is also one of my most favorite nieces but she didn't have ideas to offer for the potty; perhaps you could share the prize with her anyway once it arrives)

Congratulations nieces and thank you so much for making my potty the very best seat in the house.

I couldn't decide upon just one of your suggestions so I used all three. Your mommy wrote:

Annika says, "I know! I know! She can write this poem on it [she recites poem-- see below] and draw a Pumpkin Elephant on it, too."The Whole Duty of Children by Robert Louis Stevenson

A child should always say what's true,

And speak when he is spoken to,

And behave mannerly at table,

At least as far as he is able.

Mildred says, "I think that she should paint a horse and a rider and paint grass that has a little frost on it and a blue sky. Tell her that she can make the rider a cowboy-- for Haven-- because of COURSE he wouldn't like a girl rider in the bathroom. She can also write "Johnson" on it so that people know its her toilet and they don't try to take it."

Me: Susannah, what should Aunt Sarah put on her potty?

Susannah: "Uh. Um. Uh. Um. Um. Um...Adios. Um.... Potty-os."

NO FOOLIN'! There's a Latin American woman at our church who loves little Susanita, so Susannah knows the word "adios." She came up with "potty-os" because she's a weirdo.

Thank you, Nieces! Look for your package. It just might arrive today.

PS: Abby, don't read the girls the following thought ... Do you know how weird it is going to be to puke into this toilet the next time I'm pregnant (Lord willing); not to be completely gross but I'm so already there. It's gonna be like this: I lean over to toss my cookies and either think: "What a stupid looking toilet; what was I thinking?" or "What a stupid looking toilet; har-dee-har-har" or "What a stupid looking toilet; what was I thinking and har-dee-har-har ..."

Let's hope it's at least the last option as the markers were permanent. Oh yeah, and thanks to everyone else who sent in suggestions; you're all welcome to use the prize-winning potty the next time you visit!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Long Loneliness

[note: below is a "I had a bad day" tirade that I only decided to publish so that if any other mother had the same kind of day I had today she wouldn't feel alone. They happen to the best of us. Also, the above quote from Dorothy Day is referring to the abuse of the worker in the factory -- not motherhood; I know it does not best illustrate my post but it is angst ridden and so am I tonight; I also just really like Dorothy Day and wanted an excuse to drop her name.]

So it's only the beginning of November and I already have the winter blues.

I typically try to be an optimistic person but even I get down on days like this. Rainy. Boring & Busy. Busy & Boring (only a mother will understand how it is possible to be both busy and bored at the same time). Out of ideas by 4 pm. Not a McDonald's Playland in sight.

So what is a lonely mother to do besides dream of warmer climates. Warmer climates where people live in huts on the beach and watch their kids play in the sand. Not like here where people stopped having kids in 1955.

I don't know. I love my kids but so much of modern motherhood really bites. I should just stop writing now before I send everyone outside for a cigarette but I guess I've just had one of those days.

I'd like to think motherhood wasn't always so lonely and isolating. I'd like to think that in the past streets like mine were bustling with toddlers rather than old men sitting on their couches collecting disability.

That's not the case today. So what do I do ...

Today it was hide and go seek and competitions for who's the highest jumper on my bed and singing Home on the Range in the cowboy room until the cows come home or at least until daddy comes home from his 12 hour work day.

I don't know. I've heard of buying karaoke machines and singing to pass the winter months. I just don't know.

I just don't know. Travelling has become so difficult with 3 small kids that I feel stuck. Last winter a jaunt to the Dollar Store was a good blah day outing but now such a feat can be disasterous -- or at least more trouble than it's worth.

So what do I do? I was thinking today about Dorothy Day's biography The Long Loneliness where she explained the title of her book. It was something about how her soul would be lonely until it was united with God in heaven. I asked her to pray for me.

I remember thinking that I should let the pain of these kind of days push me toward God rather than away from him. I think today it pushed me away. So I guess I'll try the better approach tomorrow. But hopefully it won't rain and we'll be able to go to the park.