Saturday, December 25, 2010


Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night

North Pole

A very Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers...I hope you get everything you hoped for, plus one.

You are truly the prettiest ones out there.

Even you, Mark.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Goes to Eleven...

Derek in 4

He's off the charts, man. Eleven years old.

No more Kids Menus. Boooooo.

What can I say that hasn't been said before?

I can say that his kindness grows exponentially with his age. That his sweet attitude toward others is inspiring. I can say that he reminds me more and more of his father, which is an amazingly good thing.

I can say that over the past 11 years I've watched him grow from a chubby little baby that rarely cried into a tall and gorgeous young man who rarely complains.

I can say that he is a sweet and loving big brother who shares his things without a thought of selfishness.

Most of the time.

I can say that when I gave him his birthday hug this morning, his head hit my chin.

And I'm tall.

And I have to say that this morning, when he walked down the stairs and saw the balloons on the chairs, and the presents on the table, he walked into the kitchen with his eyes wide in wonder and said,

"Did you do this for me while I was sleeping?"

"Yes, I did," I said. "Happy Birthday!"

He walked around to the other side of the kitchen, where I was pouring a cup of coffee and grabbed me and hugged me so tightly I couldn't breathe for a moment. His curls brushed my cheek and his arms reached all the way around me. (I remember when his curls brushed my knees and his arms reached to my sides...)

"Thank you, Mom."

And then I died of happiness.

I'm writing this from heaven.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Exhaustion Comes in Small Packages


Say hello to Jasper. He's an 11-week old German Shepherd puppy.

I don't know why I never remember what it takes. It's like having a baby, except this one doesn't wear diapers and you have to follow him around all day and read his little puppy mind to find out if he's getting ready to pee on your floor.

And babies don't really move around much for the first few months, and when they wake up in the middle of the night, you don't have to take them outside and stand in the cold rain while waiting for them to just do their business already.

But, like babies, all that effort and exhaustion is worth it, really. Where else can you get a face like this that looks at you like you hung the moon and arranged the eclipse all at the same time. (Did anyone see it? It was cloudy here...)

Raikki and Chico are adjusting well - Raikki is fairly certain we got the puppy just for him canIplaywithhimNOWohmygoshheissocute,now,now,now,NOW!

That boy needs to learn to relax, people. Which is pretty much the definition of "boxer."

Chico likes to walk up to Jasper, sniff all the important bits, and then growl at him, as if Jasper had approached him.

Because Chico is criminally insane. Which is pretty much the definition of "chihuahua."

I think they'll all be just fine...

I entered the @shakeitphoto contest: Connections

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin

Good Morning, Stone Mountain

We spent the weekend at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, early birthday trip to celebrate Derek's upcoming 11th on Thursday. We often take little weekend getaways for the boys' birthdays, rather than having a big party, because we don't like other people, especially kids.

That's a joke. We like kids okay, just not enough to feed them cake.

Anyhow...we started the tradition when Derek was probably 5 or 6, and it's been a wonderful way to mark the passage of a new year, to spend some time together as a family, and to have a little getaway from the normal grind. We mainly started it to be sure that Derek's birthday didn't get swallowed up by Christmas, and so far it seems to have worked pretty well.

We've felt sorry for him all these years, but he told me the other day that he was the luckiest kid he knows, because he gets THREE WHOLE DAYS OF PRESENTS IN A ROW!

I love that kid.
Because it isn't enough to get ready for Christmas and a birthday, I'm also baking about a bazillion cookies, wrapping the rest of the presents, cleaning the bathrooms (I keep forgetting those) and picking up our new puppy today.


I did say that.

All I can tell you right now is that he's going to be ginormous, and his name is Jasper.

You'll have to wait until later to see photos.

He's very fuzzy, which makes it incredibly hard to focus my camera upon him.


Raikki needed a Christmas present, too...

Friday, December 17, 2010


How can you tell it is the last day of school before Christmas break?

Because things get downright silly, people.

Here's your assignment...track how many accent changes Joshua goes through before his speech is over.

And have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Christmas! Not yet! But kind of! Not really!


In the last week before Derek's birthday and Christmas hit us, Dr. SmartyPants and I have begun speaking in code and hiding lists in our pockets and closing the screen on the laptop just as the boys walk in the room and LYING - oh the lying.'s not the season of giving. It's the season of LYING.

Mercy. If Santa still had me on a list, it would be the naughty one. Because I'm a lying liar liar pants on fire.

"Mom! There's a package at the door! Oh, it has your name on it. What is it?"

"It's just books, darling. You know how Mama likes her books!"

"What's the name of the book? Can I see it?"

"No, my sweet precious angel. The book is called "Nunya," and you can't see it. It's only for grown ups. I'm so sorry my dearest love."

"You sure get a lot of books, Mom."

"I know, little man. Mama does like to read. Everything I know, I learned from a book. Never stop learning, sweetness. You can be anything you want to be!"

"Mom? Why are you doing that weird thing with your hands and flitting about the room like a fairy?"

"It's Christmas spirit, dear."

"Is that a beer, Mom?"

"It's Christmas spirit, dear."


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Tuesday! Let's Celebrate!


Ah. Tuesday.

What can one say about Tuesday? It's neither the beginning of the week, the middle, nor the end.

It doesn't have the angst of Monday, nor the joy of Friday.

It lacks the lazy, worshipful quality of Saturdays and Sundays.

It, along with Thursday, are the days least likely to produce a "yippee!" reaction, don't you think?

I kind of feel sorry for Tuesday. It's like the middle child of weeks. I'm a middle child.

I know exactly how it feels.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Snowy Morning

It's a snow day! Dr. SmartyPants work was closed, so we decided to close the school system here, too, even though our commute is from bedroom to kitchen table. The boys have headed outside to sled down a nearby hill, and the Smarty and I are getting busy with the honey-do list.

Snow day...FTW!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday! O Happy Day!


I think Friday is a good day to list good things, don't you? I'm pretty sure I stole that from Char, but I'm hoping she won't mind...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Readers are the Prettiest

Deck the Halls

Thank you all for your sweet words about my friend, Maynelle. She was a treasure. Her funeral was sweet and poignant and touching and I was so honored to be included in it.

Today, though - life moves on at a frightening pace. My sweet little baby boy will be 11 in just a couple of weeks. How does that happen? My other sweet little baby boy is up to my shoulder and doesn't cuddle in my lap anymore...mainly because he wouldn't fit. (He's still known to snuggle up really good first thing in the morning. Especially if I have a blanket.)

My Christmas decorations are up outside, including my new sweet Christmas hippo, Hector. (See him? Right there in the front? Isn't he ADORABLE?)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

In the Pink


I got word, yesterday, that a sweet, dear friend of mine passed away. (This is not going to be a sad post, by the way...keep reading.) Maynelle was in her 80s, and over the last year or so had begun the journey to meet her Savior. I believe she was ready and eagerly anticipating that meeting. My only regret in her passing is that I was unable to see her after I got back to Knoxville, before she left this life.

Maynelle was one of those women that makes you want to be a better woman. She's who I want to be, if ever I decide to grow up. Retired and widowed by the time I met her, she was the very picture of a confident, independent woman. She spoke her mind, although never cruelly. She stuck to her principles, even when it cost her plenty to do so. She was a fiercely loyal friend.

She was raised in a different world than the one she left, but I never saw her shrink from the changes that modern culture wrought. Where others might have judged someone based on external appearance, she seemed to see right through to the heart. I watched her embrace pastors and prostitutes with the same arms, never treating one any differently from the other.

There are so many lessons to be learned from those who have so many more years of experience than we have. I've noticed it, not just in Maynelle, but in my own grandparents who are in their 90s, and have seen so much more joy and pain and heartache and new life and death and change than my feeble 42 year old brain can even imagine. The ones who tend to live happiest are those that learn to roll with the punches without losing their integrity and without becoming bitter and hardened by the experiences. They are the ones that are able to see that there is so much more to this life than the petty annoyances that surround our daily activities.

So, thank you, Maynelle. Thank you for showing me, and everyone you met, what it means to be a woman after God's own heart. Thank you for demonstrating what it means to be a woman of character and integrity and grace and peace.

Thank you for being my friend.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Life is too Precious for all the Drama, People.

Now all we need are presents

Okay. I'm sick of the Comcast story. I feel the need to conclude it quickly...

They came. They didn't show up when they promised. They blamed me. The problem was resolved. I can quit my whining now, at least until my bill comes.

Honestly. Such problems. Poor me - my HD signal is not beautiful. How awful.

Sometimes I stop and listen to myself and I think I'm going to throw up. I mean really. There are people starving in the world, dealing with life-threatening illnesses and war and homelessness, and I spend an entire week bitching about how my cable service provider just doesn't treat me right? Let me tell you something...

Last Friday, I had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. I'd hardly slept all week, what with the tornadoes and dog diarrhea and the traveling to Alabama and back. I dropped everything I picked up. I almost blew up my Mustang. I shattered an ornament in the middle of the Target. Comcast didn't show up when they said they did. I stubbed my toe, I cut myself shaving, I was out of moisturizer, whatever. Everything seemed to be going absolutely wrong. I was tired and cranky and just miserable and fairly certain I was having a neurological crisis.

And I wallowed in it. I rejoiced in it, probably. My martyr syndrome switched into overdrive and I milked it for all it was worth. Do you ever have days like that? I was a wet blanket, man. We were supposed to go to the Christmas parade, but there was no way in hell I was leaving my house, and I coerced Dr. SmartyPants to pick me up some teriyaki chicken on the way home cause I sure wasn't going to cook, either - I figured I'd start a kitchen fire.

Saturday was a little better, but I was already planning all the tweets I could tweet and the posts I could post about my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, when I saw Melinda's status update on Facebook...

asking for prayer for my Grandson, Brian. He's been diagnosed with Kawasaki's disease, about to start treatment in the hospital. I've no doubt he'll be fine, prognosis is positive, but please pray.

Suddenly, my Friday seemed pretty darned insignificant to what my sweet little 3 year old great-nephew was going through...what his parents and grandparents and great grandparents and the rest of his family were going through.

And I got a huge dose of perspective.

Who cares if my HD channels aren't beautiful?

My kids are.

Who cares if my Mustang never works again?

My husband has a job.

Who cares if I shattered an ornament into a million pieces in Target?

My family is whole and healthy.

Sometimes I find myself addicted to the little dramas that play out over the course of a normal, average week - those things that set my heart pumping a little harder and raise my temper a little. They keep things interesting and keep life from being too monotonous and boring, but I'd much rather have a boring and monotonous life than to be sitting in a hospital, waiting to hear the prognosis of one of my kids, wouldn't you?

I've seen other bloggers devote particular months to thankfulness (November is great for that, I guess) and grace, and it strikes me that this is the very reason to do that. We (I) tend to focus so much on the negative things that go on around us, those First World problems that keep us so vexed...

  • the line at Starbucks was ridiculous! I can't believe I had to go to Panera for my coffee.
  • that man completely ruined that scene in Harry Potter by whispering to his wife what was about to happen!
  • I've been waiting 3 hours for the repairman, and he still hasn't showed!

When we need to focus on the things that really matter...

  • my boy climbed in the bed with me this morning, snuggled up beside me like a baby and went back to sleep.
  • my husband fixed the damage I did to my car, without one word of scorn (and I totally deserved scorn.)
  • i have food in my pantry, and the mad skilz to cook it.

So. I'm going to end the year right. I'm going to force myself to focus on grace and mercy and thankfulness. And you'll all just have to come along with me, okay?

By the way - Brian is responding very well to his treatment, and is expected to go home within a day or two. Please join us in prayer (if you pray) or in sending good, strong, healing thoughts his way. I know a whole bunch of people in Louisiana who would be thankful for it...

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Saga Continues...(or how social media gets results...) Part III

Sunset (aka Ouch! My Eyes!)

I apologize for disappearing on you in the middle of the saga. I was down in Alabama and between the tornados and the exploding dog diarrhea, I suffered a great lack of sleep and brain function.

But that's a different story.

For this story, we need to remember that everything seemed to be in order. Twitter had sent us a Comcast knight in shining bucket truck and we had headed out to see Harry Potter, glad to be finally done with the drama.

By the way - the Harry Potter movie experience is yet another story I have to tell. Melinda is convinced that I'm a rude person magnet. I'm just sayin'.

So, last Saturday, we went to bed, secure in the knowledge that our cable and internet woes were taken care of. We got up Sunday morning, picked up the boys and drove up to Townsend for our long run of the week (5 miles!  Woot!). Afterward, we headed up to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and enjoyed the gorgeous day.

When we returned home, we turned on our shiny new cable and tuned it to an HD channel and noticed that it seemed to have a problem with its vertical hold. Anyone remember the vertical hold dial on the old TVs?



Then the diagnosis begins. My engineer husband starts switching out boxes and cables and RCA cables and moving things around to try and determine if the problem is with the boxes or the cables or the TV or whatever. Nothing changes. As a matter of fact, the TV in the bedroom (which had been functioning properly) now also developed a vertical hold problem.


Do we really need television?

Dr. SmartyPants finally calls the Comcast helpline, they check our line and say they need to come out and make some adjustments to the outside connection. We, of course, were all leaving town in different directions the next day, so we scheduled an appointment for Friday, which is today.

Just so you know, I fully expect the first bill to be completely wrong.