100 Days

 

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Somehow in the mess of the world, I lost sight of the fact that IT’S OCTOBER.

And you know what that means??????

100 days of Holidays has officially begun!

We have red trees and orange trees and yellow trees and yes, that is SUPER early for us, but everyone is saying the 30 days of Smoke (which is quickly becoming another part of the Oregon social calendar) is to blame.

I’ll take it. The skies are blue and the clouds are fluffy and white and the smokey days of August seem so far away.

I am not coming at you with Halloween decor, or recipes for 10,000 things to do with an apple.

I’m going to start you off gently.

  1. It’s time to ask your kids what they want to be for Halloween. It is. I’m sorry.
  2. Go to this website and order the world’s greatest coffee: http://www.doorcountycoffee.com. I recommend Wisconsin Harvest and a BIG 5 LB BAG of Door County Christmas.

That’s it, friends. Two things. Ease into the crazy.

I’ll be back later with the stuff about the apples. In the meantime:

26 days til Halloween

48 days til Thanksgiving

81 days til Christmas.

 

Emmanuel is Coming!

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I know you still have your fat pants on.

But Advent is coming.

I’m not rushing you. I have glad tidings: This year we have a whole week to get ready. None of this Thanksgiving on Thursday, Advent starts on Sunday madness.

Seven days, sisters.

Find your advent calendars. Or if–like me–you aren’t allowed to disturb the carefully crafted storage box fort in the garage, ask your husband to find it. And the wreath, while he’s in there. Try to ask before he comes back in from finding the calendar.

Click here to order advent candles from Amazon, because Michael’s and Joann’s will not have them. Will not, I tell you, and not because there was a 4 am rush for all the purple candles on Black Friday like the sweet Michael’s girl tried to tell me.

Click here to get your Advent Family Prayer Service.  About this–and if I ever taught you how to write an essay, please look away: I put it together five years ago for my family, and like all good educators, I begged, borrowed and stole it from others. I’m hoping the fact that it’s prayer will outweigh the part where I did not correctly cite my sources.

Click here if you can’t remember how “O Come O Come Emmanuel” goes.

Click here for directions on using a Jesse Tree as your Advent countdown–borrowed from Tara at Feels Like Home blog.

Click here for Advent calendars that countdown to Jesus and not Santa.

Click here for Bishop Barron’s Word On FireDynamic Catholic’s Best Advent Ever,  or Richard Rohr’s daily emails for grown-up advent prayer and reflection.

Click here for everything you need to teach your kids or grandkids about St. Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6.  And here for everything you need for the Feast of St. Lucy on December 13, a day of lights and sweets.

Because Advent used to be observed like Lent, with fasting and sacrifice, here is a more sober cookie recipe: St Hildegard De Bingen’s Cookies of Joy. And by sober, I mean half the sugar and double the butter.

Last of all, remember to Get ‘er Done, so that your heart and spirit can be at peace in this sacred time of waiting.

Blessed and prayerful Advent to you and yours!

 

 

 

This Post Has the F Bomb, But It Will Make You Laugh

*This post has the F bomb. But you should read it anyway.

This is me and my friend Marcy. I picked this picture because it sums us up, like Lucy and Ethel. Our greatest accomplishment as friends to date is that we both joined the country club pool this summer and neither of us has been asked to leave, not even once.

We used to have “real” jobs–the kind that get paid in cold hard cash and not peanut butter kisses. I taught high school and she managed a restaurant in Balboa, CA. We both married late, had some babies and decided to let our husbands bear the financial burden for a while. Then we came back to the workforce in pseudo-jobs, me as a daycare provider for a friend and her as a cook in a preschool.

A few weeks ago, as I was stressing over passing my real estate exam, she told me she was polishing her resume for an area manager job. And we were both dragging our feet.

Finally, I said “Look, we are college educated women. We can do this.”

And she said “I know. But why? Why rock the boat?”

Then we didn’t say anything for a minute. Not because there aren’t a million reasons why. For starters, we each have a child gravitating towards theater, which is more expensive than any youth sport ever invented in the history of the world.

We know why.

But we were scared. Change is hard. Always. Always. Always.

So I said “I’ll be brave if you will.”

And she said “OK”.

Three weeks later, I am happy to announce that we both have new jobs. We were brave.

And now we’re humbled. We don’t know anything about anything. We’re beyond Jon Snow. He at least knew winter was coming.

So please, please appreciate this text conversation, and forgive us for the F bombs.

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Happy Wednesday!

To the Cougar at the Pool


Let me get this straight.

You really thought you were going to bring your perfectly make-up’d, perfectly coiffed, cougar self to the club on a holiday to lounge in the pool, flirt with the lifeguards and keep your hair dry?

Lady, you had one too many organic agave margaritas. There is a reason the rest of us are wearing ball caps. We all have salon hair. We all have dreams of keeping it safe.

It’s a pool full of water and kids though. The hats are really only a gesture, so that we can tell our stylists without sinning that yes we did take steps to protect the weave.

When you waded in with your drink in your hand, what did you think was going to happen? This isn’t Vegas. There were four babies in swim diapers. Water in your hair was the least of your concerns.

But no. You huffed and puffed in annoyance. You dropped an f-bomb or two. Most of the ball-capped mamas rolled their eyes at your expecting to stay dry in a pool and shooed their kids away from you.

It says something about you–and it’s not nice–that you are willing to be rude to kids, counting on the fact that their moms won’t confront you.

It must have surprised you to learn that sometimes, a ball-capped mama with her third vodka-poolwater-tonic in hand will witness you giving her kid and his friend the business along the lines of “You need to stop splashing. I already told you to stop. I’m not going to tell you again.”

She will get up from her seat at the table and grab a water cannon. It’s not hers but that doesn’t matter because she is going to war for all the mamas. You’ll see her coming and harden your face for a “chat”. She’s not coming for words. She’ll walk down the stairs into the pool next to you and load that cannon. Then she will hold it in the air like the freaking Terminator and say “What are you going to do, Gino?”

You won’t know–how could you–that this is a time honored challenge in her family. You’ll look confused as you wonder who she’s talking to. It’s hard to tell through her sunglasses under her hat brim.  Maybe Gino is that big guy across the pool laughing out loud. She waits for an answer. You’ll decide that your hair is not worth the mystery. You’ll get out of the pool.

Good call. Gather your things and leave with all the dignity you can muster. And next time remember: family-friendly pools come with a 99% chance of wet hair.

So bring a cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Story

Dana and I are running in twelve different directions this week. So here’s a spooky post from two years ago…and last year…but who doesn’t love a ghost story?

Happy Halloween!

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Growing up, we had a ghost in the house. I’ll put that on my mom. And if my mom was writing this, she’d tell you the same.

We’d lived in the house probably ten years before we put it all together. We sat down as a family and told each other all the weird things that had happened that we thought were just weird coincidence or the creakings and squeakings of a 40 year old house. That night, I named her Dorothy.

Dorothy was the source of the knocking on my bedroom wall, the reason that the dog sat up and begged from no one. She whispered in everyone’s ear, waking us up in the dark of night. Up to that point, none of it was scary. Just weird.

But that dinner was like her coming out party. Once we acknowledged her presence, she got busy.

One night Teresa was playing with my mom’s music box, a masquerade clown that played “Music of the Night” from Phantom. As if that in itself was not creepy enough, two hours after she left, I was watching TV by myself when I heard the box play about six slow notes in the dining room. It did that sometimes, like it hadn’t quite wound all the way down.

Thirty seconds later though, that thing started playing loud and fast like someone had wound it all the way up.

I screamed for my brother, who yelled back “I’m not coming out there!” My mom came running up the hallway and grabbed the box, which had indeed been wound all the way up.

Dorothy.

My dad hired a painter to paint the family room. After six hours they wanted out. The paint fell over, the brushes moved from where they had been left, the TV switched on and off. “You got a ghost, boss” the painter told my dad.

Dorothy.

At Christmas, the stockings my mom made when we were all babies, that hung on the mantle every year, and were packed away in the same place, were gone. My mom turned the house upside down. Nothing.

When we dragged the decorations out for the next Christmas, there they were, right on top.

Dorothy.

I lost a pair of jean shorts, my favorites. I looked for them everywhere, even in my brothers’ drawers. Then I forgot about them. One day in the middle of winter, I pulled a load of whites out of the dryer and mixed up among them—my blue jean shorts.

Dorothy.

My brother used to surf early in the morning. The kid never remembered his house key. He’d tap on my bedroom window so I could get up and let him in the back door. One Saturday morning, he  called my name and tapped, and I got up and opened the back door. Which set off the house alarm. Which brought everyone running, including my brother who’d been asleep in his bed.

Dorothy.

It got to be a thing. My mom, standing over the tv, turning it off only to have it turn right back on. “Dorothy, cut it out!” she yelled finally, and that time the tv stayed off.

One night I was doing the dishes. It was just my brother and me in the house. He came into the kitchen to get a drink, but then he bolted for the back door and locked it. “I just saw someone outside!” he said.

“Blond hair?” I asked him.

“Yes!”

“I’ve seen that. I think it’s Dorothy” I told him.

And then this night. I was doing the dishes. It was dark. The rest of the family was watching tv in the other room. I looked up from the sink, into the window, which was like a giant mirror, reflecting the room behind me. And I saw a woman with blond hair, in a long black dress, walk into the room towards me. I froze, and watched as she turned and walked out.

When I ran out into the family room to tell my parents, my brother said “I thought I saw someone walk into the dining room just a second ago”.

Dorothy.

The mystery was solved one afternoon at my grandparent’s home. I was telling Dorothy stories and my grandmother, a few Canadian Clubs into the afternoon, said “We had a ghost here too. Bessie.” She then launched into a list of Bessie stories that sounded a lot like Dorothy. My grandmother thought she haunted a painting they used to have.

“Is she gone?” my dad asked.

“Oh sure, since we got rid of the painting” my grandmother said.

“Where did it go?” he asked.

“We gave it to you years ago! The one in the living room.”

And I knew exactly the painting she was talking about. A delicate, Romantic style portrait of a young girl, her face glowing against the background, even in the dark.

The girl in the painting was not a blond. And she was not dressed the way that Dorothy was dressed the night I saw her. But since the day my dad took that painting off the wall and sent it to Goodwill, there has never been another Dorothy incident in the house.

I know. Spooooooky.

Happy Halloween!

Mogul-ish.

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Hold on to your hats and glasses:

 

We’re selling our house. And buying another!

We lived in our home in CA for the 10 worst years of the housing market since the Depression. We knew that everything we did to make that house nicer was throwing money to the wind, since at one point our home was worth half what we paid for it.

Then we moved to Oregon, where our CA dollars walked bigly. We bought the house we thought we always wanted, 3000 square feet, terrific view, enormous master bath, wood floors, and molding on every door, floorboard and window casing. It has all the trendy tics: main floor master, great room configuration, walk-out basement, on almost 1/3 of an acre in the best school district in town.

Whoop, whoop!

Don’t you believe it. The great room is the worst design idea since wood paneling; when the master bath is that big, people hang out there all the time; wood molding gets awfully dusty and wood floors show every single dog hair; and it may be 3000 square feet but the usable space is half that thanks to Harry Potter-sized closets.

About six months after we moved in, I looked at Shea and said “You know this is not my house.” He collapsed on the floor. I stood over him and said “When this thing hits a certain dollar amount, we have to sell it.”

This Fall, it hit that dollar amount. We buried a St. Joe in the front yard, hung a sign and sold it in the two weeks including Christmas and New Year’s and during the 100 year snow storm. Boom. Shea looked at the sale price and said “Hey, it’s like you’ve had a job the last two years!”

God knows, I don’t want to get a job, but with Annie heading off to kinder next year I was feeling guilty about all that stay at home (by myself) mom time. But if I can turn this house thing into the equivalent of a first year teacher’s salary? Brilliant!

I called my financial advisor (aka my brother) and asked him his thoughts on a repeat of 2008. He assures me it was a once in a lifetime event. I trust him.

Then I went looking for a fixer upper.  I LOVE looking at houses! Love it! So much that our realtor says I should become a realtor myself and make money from my obsession. I tell her to shush, so that she can make money from my obsession. We all have kids to feed!

I don’t believe in the jinx but I’m still not going to count my chickens before they hatch. Just know that oh my gosh there could be fixer upper posts in our future!!!

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

 

 

You guys, I have shown you my very cool Advent calendar: A magnetic nativity scene where each day the kids open the door and place another character into the picture.

Do you know that in the middle of my prayerful and restful Advent, my oldest and youngest child were doing their best to block the baby Jesus spot so that the middle child would have nowhere to put him?

They are 10, 8 and 4. They know what the manger scene is supposed to look like. And they know what they are about. And yes, I did have to settle an argument between them about whether the sheep will have to make way for the baby in the hay.

And by “settle”, I mean threaten to take the calendar down and cancel Christmas.

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Do you see how they played a twisted kind of Nativity Risk?

You know me, though. And how much I like my metaphors. So here’s one for you to hold on to these last 48 hours.

What makes my Nativity scene holy is not that the main players are perfectly placed–but that they are there in that place, floating Wise Man and Fallen Star alike, celebrating the birth of the Lord (who, in our version, may float in his trough above the manger).

Same thing with the next 48 hours. Whatever you are trying to pull off, success is not what will make it holy.

Presence will make it holy.

Good luck my friends, and have yourselves a Merry Christmas.