Can't Complain

Apparently Wednesday morning at around 3:30am, while waiting for Jen to arrive home from Chicago, an 18-wheeler drove over my _ _ _. And although I have felt like a half dead deer with it's headlights on for about 48 hours I simply cannot complain. My only activity has been sitting on the couch watching TV and therefore I am completely saddened and now heartsick as well as stomach sick from watching hour after hour of the horrendous accounts of the Asian tsunami's. (Said in my best Lucy to Ricky voice.....) "Somebody's got some splainin' to do."

See ya next year.


The Glory Of The Lord

Oh holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth
The thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh, night when Christ was born

Merry Christmas and I don't mean happy holidays. This ancient story is not just a feel good reason to give gifts, reminisce about a year gone by and contemplate resolutions for the year to come. It is the whole reason we have a calendar in the first place and technically it is quite a bit older than the 2004 years we have celebrated. The book of Isaiah in the Old Testament was written somewhere between 700-650 B.C. Hundreds of years before the actual birth took place and the prophet got it right to the minute details, including the no vacancy sign and the three kings whom actually worshipped and brought gifts to a toddler because of travel time. My hope and prayer for myself and all of you is that we find the peace and contentment that only this baby who was born to die can bring. It's not a religion, it's a relationship and it goes both ways. Take the risk, make the leap of faith, BELIEVE. Merry Christmas, and by all means may the rest of your 2005 holidays be happy.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on his shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6


The Boys Are Back

Melissa finally had a date on December 16. After 2 and 1/2 years the shackles were removed and let me just say to all my kids...keep smiling, through good times and bad times, I'll be on your side forevermore. So yeah, that's over and hopefully I will not have to listen to how she would have implemented her own orthodontic journey as compared to the dentist. Quick....leave home now, Melissa, while you're still a teenager and know everything. According to my week so far, there are two ways I don't appreciate getting yanked from my restful dreamworld. A.) Between gales of childish/ college age laughter wafting in from the living room oh....let's say....in intervals of... just fall asleep, laughter, fall back asleep....I finally awaken early Sunday morning to leisurely enjoy my coffee and the living room is filled with those same kids that couldn’t stop laughing in the wee hours.  And now they’re snoring.

And secondly, on my day-off Monday morning, Mark quietly sneaks out of the bedroom to see if Melissa's car needs brushing off, etc. Once again, in a just-fell-back-asleep interval, he barges back into bedroom with the dreaded, "We have a major water gushing sound in the basement that will probably involve both of us."
FOR SALE: Lovely six bedroom (if you count the living room and porch) one bathroom (if you don't count behind the garage...and you can't really anymore since the neighbors' kitchen window overlooks the former 2nd bathroom) quaint piece of _ _ _ _. Price reduced. Memories not included. If it wasn't for the fact that the plumber can get here between 10 and noon, I would....oh wait....I think I hear his hooves on the rooftop now.


A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Santa, baby, hurry down the chimney tonight.

1. Santa Claus. I could never bring myself to let Santa have his way with the impressionable minds of my young children. Their dad worked to hard and long during Christmas to give any credit to an old fat guy in fake fur. When they would come home with their stories from over indulging teachers and gullible friends....and ask the age old question, Mama, is there such a thing as Santa Claus? "Hell, yeah! And he just happens to be your dad!!!" I'd simply say. "And call me crazy, but his sleigh is a crappy shade of brown. And contrary to popular belief, most all of his stops are conducted (hopefully) before midnight on Christmas Eve, not after. Oh, and one more thing....it's not your birthday, anyway!"

2. Chia Pets. Where do they go the rest of the year? Receiving one could instantly disenchant any santa-believers and only add fodder to the scrooges' arsenal. And what possible response could you conjure up, so as to not hurt the feelings of the gift giver. "It's what I've always wanted."(for my next garage sale) "How'd you know?" (I didn't already have one). "Thank-you" (for giving me faith in the advertising industry again).

3. Christmas decorations. I didn't want to ever speak of this again, but if you're going to have rules you must enforce them. So for those of you who misplaced the memo, here they are again.

OK, I guess were going to have to talk about Christmas decorations. I didn't want to, not this year anyway. I didn't want to come across petty and trite. There are so many more important and urgent things to write about. But somebody has to point these things out and I guess if the press isn't going to do it then I feel it my duty as a citizen, to advise, declare, announce and proclaim from my humble web podium: America, learn how to decorate for Christmas!!!
Disclaimer: I don't decorate outside! My philosophy is that of Thumper's: if you can't do something right, don't do anything at all.
Most common mistakes:

1. Blowup Santas, dogs, snowmen, toy soldiers or anything. C'mon this is just plain cheating...what's next? A blowup nativity scene.

2. Mixing big and small lights together on the same tree. It simply looks tacky.

3. Net lights...these are just too flat out symmetrical. If you have to use nets, make sure they go all the way underneath the bush and go ahead and pull a few of the bulbs out so it doesn't look like you spent six minutes on a warm Sat in November throwing a net over your bush.

4. Not enough lights...let's face it folks, if you have an evergreen as tall as your house...one strand is NOT going to cut it.

5. Mickey and Minnie should not be portrayed as Mary and Joseph. Enough said.

6. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT have all the lights on your tree go on and off at the same time. If you can't find strands that have a twinkle effect just leave 'em on. And by twinkle I mean: one or two lights going on and off very slowly and placed strategically through out the tree. Let me know if you ever come across strands like this cuz I want to buy stock in the company.

7. The only color light that looks good by itself is white.

8. If your plastic soldiers, choir members, candy canes or wise men are faded, its time to rethink the whole yard thing. This goes for characters that can't or won't stay standing for the whole season. It doesn't look good when one of the three wise men is eating a grass sandwich or a choir member is face down in a snow bank. It looks like their gift wasn't good enough or they're really bumming about the auditions.

9. Indoors the RULE is at least 100 lights for every foot of tree. Once again, one strand is not going to cut it, unless, of course, your tree is only 12 inches tall. This should somehow be incorporated into the bylaws of the constitution.

10. Absolutely, unequivocally, and under no conditions whatsoever (indeed, this is a law) are you ever, hereto and forever more, to purchase, decorate with, or view chasing lights. Look away.



Look out.

Mark and I joined the culture club last night. I could only imagine, as we ambled past the horse drawn carriage and under the retro marquis, that Muskegon could come into it's own at any given moment.

The Historical Frauenthal Theatre is reminiscent of times gone by and I believe it rivals the few Chicago venues that I have frequented. I wish a knew of a land developer that would just give me free reign with the bordering properties. Put me in, I can throw strikes!

The West Shore Symphony was a good time especially since Melissa was singing with them.
The Friday night girls happy hour now has a life of it's own. More good times. I hope the other husbands don't bag anything between now and Mark's Christmas rush. I agree with Kate, it's cheaper than therapy.

Still, all in all, the highlights of my week include my own. A quick dinner with Melissa at Brann's. We couldn't resist the trivial pursuit cards at the table. Stick to playing cards, sweetie. A phone conversation in which I heard happy in Jennifer's voice. Ben moves into a "real" house in Evart, and Happy Birthday to Annie. Come over any time!

Other national and international happenings that caught my attention this week:
Mia Hamm said good bye to soccer, and hopefully the phrase, "you play like a girl."
And just because I like to say it, and because Jesus must have celebrated all the Jewish traditions, Happy Hanukkah.


I'll Be Home For Christmas

"Do not go where the path my lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Looking into taking my have-to-do-this-before-I-die train trip to deliver Melissa to So. California next fall. Therefore, by default, Mark will get to see the Grand Canyon before he dies! We will travel west through 7-8 states and 2-3 National Parks, get Melissa settled, see a few sights with her, say goodbye, head up the coast to leisurely travel back along the Canadian border. Contemplating constantly, I'm sure, how and if we will deal with the empty nest once we get home.


Another four letter word that packs a punch, if you stop and think about it. Take me home. Home is where the heart is. Keep the home fires burning. Homesick. Home sweet home. Home away from home. Down home. Make yourself at home. Home stretch. Hurry home. Homemade. Straight home. Homeward bound.

Webster describes it this way:
1. Residence, the physical structure where one lives. 2. The native habitat of a plant or animal. 3. An environment offering security and happiness. 4. The place where something is discovered, founded, developed, or promoted.

I choose to describe it on my own terms.

Home is:
* Most farmhouses, but one in particular
* Current
* Wherever I feel comfortable in flipping my shoes off.
* 820 N. LaSalle, 1130 & 1212 S. Michigan Ave., 537 S. Dearborn #C, Chicago street addresses forever in my mind's memory bank
* Just driving onto the grounds of any camp called Springhill
* Sitting down for a hot cup of coffee and a warm chat.
* A garden level flat in Paris France and 10 cents per minute overseas calling plan
* 40 hours on an Amtrak Pullman car traveling out west
* A little glimpse of heaven here on earth. (Has to be.)

I have always felt somewhat of a wanderlust, nomadic, so to speak. A beckoning to move on, change, take the road less traveled. Maybe the fact that I've only lived in 2 houses for the majority of my life explains my ambivalent feelings of home that overwhelm and ground me. I'm always anxious to get home to my familiar, secure, stable, and comfortable place. The words to this Michael W. Smith song seem to capture my mood. Thankfully I haven't experienced near what one would call a "desperate" life, my human brain has yet to come to terms with anything but more of the same when I contemplate a heavenly home.

Wandering the road of desperate life
Aimlessly beneath the barren sky
Leave it to me
I'll lead you home
So afraid the you will not be found
It won't be long before the sun goes down
Just leave it to me
I'll lead you home
A troubled mind and doubter's heart
You wonder how you ever got this far
Vultures of darkness ate the crumbs you left
And you've no way to retrace your steps
Let it go and turn it over to
The one who chose to give his life for you
Hear me calling
Hear me calling
You're lost and alone
Leave it to me
I'll lead you home.

What I really want is to take the long way home.


It's Over

At the risk of losing my younger readers....this entry will be the last of the sappiness for a awhile.

The CD/DVD order form is filled out. 
The tears have been dried. 
The film has been dropped at 1-hour photo. 
A small piece of tinsel and the tickets lay waiting to be entered into a future scrapbook. 
The final rose is adorning the dining room table. 
The children are nestled all snug in their wee little beds (still). 
And the singing Christmas tree, as we know it, has come to an end for this family. 
Let the memories live on!

....there IS a love that never dies.