Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On the Second Day of Christmas...

Over the years, I have tried to persuade Hubs of the wisdom of celebrating Christmas over 12 days. According to my calendar, I still have time to send out Christmas cards and those last few gifts that just didn't seem to get mailed in time.

He's still not buying it.

The gifts for his parents and his siblings were mailed overnight. They are short some of the stationery I was making because I just plain ran out of time. (DD#1 had a brilliant suggestion: I should make one "batch" every month. Then I'd be done by October!)

DD#1 and DD#2 helped me find Christmas gifts and birthday gifts for my mother. Her birthday is December 26, but we celebrate it Christmas night. And we found some great gifts for Hubs, who really only ever wants one gift and that my mother gives him (it's a fishing license for next year).

Several recipients of the stationery have told me they think this year's set is the best one yet. I'll have to take their word for it. I've looked at them so long, all I see is the flaws!

We missed all the San Francisco traffic on Christmas Eve because DS#1 was smart enough to check traffic conditions before we left and find an alternate route.

Hubs grumbled that 10:30 a.m. Mass on Christmas Day would put a crimp in our morning present opening. It didn't. I had to wake everyone up. I was a lector and got to read Isaiah: "How beautiful upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings glad tidings!" DD#2 was an altar server. The "senior" altar server, as it turned out--the other three were 4th Graders who have just begun serving. Hubs and DS#2 were tapped to help with the collection basket. DS#1 made it to Mass, but ended up sitting in the back of the church.

DD#2 got a great Cal sweatshirt. Fortunately, I don't have to steal hers because I got one, too! We found a great pictoral history of the Marine Corps that came with Marine Corps toys! The helicopter is not the one Hubs worked on, but he was able to find a picture of one in the book.

DD#1 got a sewing machine that works. DD#2 got a bike. There is some debate whether it's a men's bike or a women's, but she likes it anyway. Unfortunately, it poured yesterday, so she hasn't been able to ride it.

The boys were rather puzzled by their gifts: bed pillows. My excuse: "But it was on your list!" DS#1 has become rather fond of tea lately, so we found a cup with a tea infuser that he liked. He also got a "Game Card," that buys time for his favorite online video game.

DS#2 got clothes, a tiki torch (?), and tiki oil. Apparently he had requested them. At least, according to his siblings he did. He also got an erector set because he needed a toy.

I got luggage--with wheels!--so I can run away from home more easily.

Okay, it's for my trip this summer to Japan with the Girl Scouts. DD#2 has the same one. We try to buy matching luggage as a group to make it easier to identify.

I also received the complete works of Lewis Carroll. While I have read both Alice books (obviously), I've never read his other stories and poems. I'm looking forward to reading The Hunting of the Snark and Sylvie and Bruno.

Still, the best part was getting together with my extended family and having my immediate family home for two days. And I got to hold the newest baby as much as I wanted, under the guise of "giving his mother a break." Since my kids also held him--and walked him and bounced him--quite a bit, I'm hoping this will serve as a "Reality Check" about parenthood. Just a teensy bit.

I hope your Christmas was as successful as mine. What neat presents did you receive?

Bowl Game Theory

Tonight the University of California Los Angeles Bruins are playing the Florida State University Seminoles at AT&T Park (aka Pac Bell Park or the House that Barry Built). Tomorrow night, the University of California, Berkeley, Bears are playing the Texas A&M Aggies in San Diego.

Had the Bears played at AT&T Park and the Bruins played in San Diego, more alumni from those schools would have attended. In fact, it would have been like a home game for those two teams. Instead it's a 10-hour drive to San Diego from the Bay Area and an 8-hour drive to the Bay Area from the Los Angeles area.

I wonder if either game is sold out? If not, they could have been.

Of course, if Cal had gone to Pasadena, I wouldn't be wondering about this at all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And a "Happy Holidays to You, Too!"

Sometimes I think we Christians protest too much. Like all this fuss over "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas."

Frankly, either one is so much better than "Yo, B----! Get outta the way!" Or "Eat s--- and die!"


What Kind of Christmas Tree Am I?

Okay, I admit it. I'm copping out of writing serious entries because, well, it's the week before Christmas and I am nowhere close to being ready for it. My customers must feel the same way because I'm receiving a lot of phone calls that have a tone of urgency about them...

You Are a Traditional Christmas Tree

For a good Christmas, you don't have to re-invent the wheel.
You already have traditions, foods, and special things you bring out every year.

(H/T: Julie D. over at Happy Catholic, a sister Traditional Tree!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What Kind of Sports Car Am I?

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!

You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Which is very reassuring, especially as I'm stuck in full-blown, pre-Christmas Mom mode.

(H/T: The Anchoress and Julie D. at Happy Catholic)

Monday, December 18, 2006

What Kind of Christmas Ornament Am I?

You Are a Snowman

Friendly and fun, you enjoy bringing holiday cheer to everyone you know!

Well, it's been cold enough around here for snow. I'm glad I bring fun to everyone I know. I've been feeling kind of Scrooge-ish right now!

(h/t: Julie D., Happy Catholic)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Arguing with Platitudes on Posters

While running around during lunch, I saw a poster that said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Is it?

I'm not so sure. Straight knowledge, with no imagination, is rather dull. But imagination with no knowledge is really useless. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak imagined a world where everyone had access to a personal computer--but without the knowledge of electronics (and physics and math and computer science), they would not have been able to build one and write the programming necessary.

There's probably some ideal combination of knowledge and imagination required to do great things. But to say one is more important than the other seems, on the face of it, rather absurd. And, yet, how many people will see that poster, read the platitude and say, "Oh, of course!" Then add it to their repertoire of Cliches for Suitable Occasions.

Remembering Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle was one of those character actors that turned up on TV or in movies pretty regularly and Hubs and I would say, "It's Frankenstein!" Okay, so really he was Frankenstein's monster, but we knew the difference.

So when he appeared in X-Files in the episode titled "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" I was interested in what his character would be.

I didn't expect to be moved to tears.

Mr. Boyle won an Emmy for his portrayal of Clyde Bruckman and deservedly so. His Clyde, a man with a gift that he definitely did not want, was quiet, understated, and powerful. I cared about Clyde and felt immensely sorry for his burden. The conclusion of the story was inevitable. I knew it. And I cried.

I've long had a pet theory (one of several, but I digress) that comics are often better actors than those who specialize in drama because being believable in comedy is so much harder. The talents of many comedians are often underrated, so they don't often get meaty roles. (I also think it's harder to write good comedy as well. So the two may be related. And I'm not referring to comic sketches, by the way.) Mr. Boyle showed what he was capable of in the role of Clyde Bruckman and for that I thank him. I also thank Chris Carter, the executive producer, and whomever else was responsible for hiring Peter Boyle for this episode.

Several of the tributes to Mr. Boyle have mentioned that he was a monk before becoming an actor. I didn't know that, but I'm not surprised. There's a kind of stillness in him, a quiet center, a steadiness that's evident in his character of Clyde Bruckman, but can also be seen in his portrayal of the monster in Young Frankenstein and as the dad in While You Were Sleeping. He seemed comfortable with himself even when--maybe because--he was playing just an ordinary, blue-collar guy. He wasn't, really. I mean, how many people had John Lennon as the Best Man at their wedding?

I'm going to miss seeing him pop up in movies and on TV when I least expected it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Madness

I am not ready for Christmas this year. I would have to take all next week off and I still wouldn't be ready.

Hubs bought the tree last weekend. The lights were found--they were in the only box that was actually put away last year (the other boxes were scattered throughout the garage).

The Advent Calendar is up but the Advent Wreath is not.

The boxes with ornaments and the table decorations are in the family room with the tree. I managed to watch three of my favorite movies last Sunday: A Christmas Carol, with Alistair Sim, Miracle on 34th Street, with Natalie Wood, and A Muppet Christmas Carol, with Michael Caine, Kermit, et al. I was working on the 25 sets of stationery that I will hand out to my cousins, sisters, SILs, and close friends on Christmas Eve. This is what I do instead of baking. Doesn't smell as nice, unfortunately, and it takes over all available flat surfaces. But I made a deal with my family--as long as they use it, I'll keep making it. (I hate to see the cards not shared!) The quickest turnaround was the year that Sis#2 used a card I had given her on Christmas Eve for our mom's birthday card--which we celebrate on Christmas evening. (Her birthday is actually the 26th.)

This year we have family pictures and Christmas cards with the kids' picture on them. They may get out by Epiphany--which is the 12th day of Christmas, right?

Hubs, who comes from a family that has all their Christmas shopping done and cards out no later than Dec. 1st, just shakes his head. He has learned over the years not to say anything. Besides, we have obligations closer to home, including the annual school Christmas pageant.

Hard to believe that this will be our last one, after 16 years. DD#2 is a narrator, as the faculty has learned over the years not to ask the 8th Graders to sing. However, the 8th Grade does a grand job with speaking parts and handling the technical parts (lights and sound). Let them dress in black and fade into the background. No one "oohs" and "aahs" over gawky teens--not like they do over the Kindergarteners and First Graders. (Which reminds me, DD#2 wants to wear tights. And she probably needs black shoes, since her feet are too big to wear mine and too small to wear DD#1's. And she'll probably want heels. I am so not ready for this!)

And everyone wants to party. How can we not get together with friends, with co-workers, with family? How can we not let DS#2 go to his Winter Ball or DD#2 go to her "Holly-Day" dance?

One of these years, I told a friend, I'm just going to do all the neat holiday activities and forgo the Christmas shopping and decorating. I'm going to do the "Sing-Along Messiah" and all the public tree lightings and drive around and marvel over everyone else's house lights. I'm going to see as many versions of The Nutcracker Ballet and A Christmas Carol as I can. I'm going to drink hot chocolate and watch all the Christmas specials that I can find on TV. I may hang a wreath on the door. Then again, I may not.

I probably won't be able to get away with this plan until I'm about 80, though, and my kids are so busy establishing traditions with their kids that they won't miss the ones I'm not doing!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Book Review: The Glass Castle

That Jeannette Walls grew up to become an accomplished, competent adult is amazing. That she loves her parents is extraordinary.

Ms. Walls is a contributor to MSNBC and writes regularly about the lives and secrets of celebrities. She is beautiful, articulate, and eloquent. The Glass Castle is a memoir of her life from her earliest memory to shortly after the death of her father.

The book opens with Jeannette living on Park Avenue with her husband. She is on her way to a party and is worried that she is overdressed. Stuck in traffic, she looks out of the window of her taxi and sees her mother rooting in the dumpsters nearby. Worried that her mother might see her and call out her name, Jeannette returns home. Later, she contacts her mother and they meet for lunch at a restaurant. Jeannette confesses that she saw her mother picking through the trash.

"'Well, people in this country are too wasteful. It's my way of recycling.' She took a bite of her Seafood Delight. 'Why didn't you say hello?'

"'I was too ashamed, Mom. I hid.'

"Mom pointed her chopsticks at me. 'You see?' she said. 'Right there. That's exactly what I'm saying. You're way too easily embarrassed. Your father and I are who we are. Accept it.'

"'And what am I supposed to tell people about my parents?'

"'Just tell the truth,' Mom said. 'That's simple enough.'"

And so Jeannette does. Her first memory is her dress catching on fire while she's cooking hot dogs. She is three years old. When the nurses ask why she was cooking, Jeannette explains that she was hungry. Besides, "Mom says I'm mature for my age."

Rex Walls is a brilliant man. He reads books on mathematics for fun. He loves to invent things. He can fix just about anything. He can talk himself into being hired for just about any job. Keeping those jobs, though, is a bit of a problem. As is alcohol.

Rose Mary Walls is a "creative" person. She draws, paints, sculpts, writes. She doesn't drink anything stronger than tea. Her particular addictions are chocolate and excitement. And she's not above creating some when life gets too predictable.

Rex is building "The Prospector," a device that sounds an awful lot like the sluiceboxes the 49'ers used in California. Once perfected, the Walls family will be rolling in gold nuggets and Rex is going to build "The Glass Castle": a mansion made completely out of glass, in the desert that they love.

Rose Mary believes that people worry too much about their children, so she ignores them when they cry. They have to be tough and independent. Rose Mary also makes statements like "It's time I did something for myself... It's time I started living my life for me." She makes those statements in California, in Phoenix, and in West Viriginia.

Neither Rex nor Rose Mary seem to realize they are responsible for the welfare of four children. Electricity is a sometime thing, as is indoor plumbing. Food is erratic--sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. When the bills pile up too high or Rex has gotten into one too many arguments with the locals, they "skedaddle," leaving most of their belongings behind.

And, yet, they love their children. They read Shakespeare and study the stars. They encourage their children to dream, that the material doesn't matter. Rose Mary is Catholic and the children go to Mass every Sunday, but she also tells them that everyone must come to religion in their own way.

That I didn't see Rex and Rose Mary as monsters is due entirely to the way Jeannette tells her story. We see her parents as she saw them then; only as she grows older does she realize that something is very wrong with her family's way of living. And she is determined to leave.

After I read The Glass Castle, I googled Jeannette Walls to find out more--what her mother and siblings think about the book, what the reaction has been, any other thoughts or insights she's had about her parents' behavior. I recommend that readers do the same after they've read the book.

This book was a fascinating and frustrating read. I wonder if Jeannette and her siblings would have been better off had they been removed from the family. I don't see Rex or Rose Mary as changing their behavior, although Rex might have attempted to kidnap his children back. Because their parents were pretty ineffective parents in the traditional sense, the children learned to rely on themselves and on each other from a very early age. Had they been put into foster care, they would have missed out on that. But what a price they had to pay!

On the March Hare Scale: 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Feast Day, Another Holy Day of Obligation

One of the "problems" with checking out the Many Catholic blogs out there is they never let you forget when there is a Holy Day of Obligation. Kind of like the Good Sisters who nagged us in grammar school--we used to get Holy Days off until they realized that many families were skipping out on the Mass part. If we were at school, we had to go to Mass.

Free will? Not if the Good Sisters had anything to say about it! :)

So last night DD#2 asked me, "Do you ever get a song stuck in your head?"

"All the time," I answered.

"Religious songs?"

"Which one?"

She hummed a few bars. I recognized it almost immediately: "Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above." The 8th Grade was practicing for today's Mass during school.

I put a reminder on my Outlook calendar at work so I wouldn't forget to go at lunch time. St. Patrick's is an old parish--my grandmother was baptised there in 1898--and the church dates from the early 1910's. It was originally an Irish parish, so the stained glass windows list the counties of Ireland with their patron saints (so that's who St. Finbar is--the patron saint of Cork!). The altar is carved marble, filled with statues and symbols. There are five stained glass windows over the sanctuary: the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with St. Patrick in the middle. (Give the Irish some credit for a particular fondness for their favorite saint!).

Over the years, the parish culture has changed. Now Filipino star lanterns, called parols, hang from the lights. (More about Filipino Christmas traditions, including Simbang gabi and misa de gallo here.) A second collection was taken for the victims of the typhoon that recently hit the Luzon province in the Philippine Islands, with a special Mass for them tonight--many of the parishioners have family and friends back in the Islands.

Those of us who gathered to celebrate the noon Mass and to honor Mary and her Immaculate Conception are a mixed bag. We are blue collar, white collar, professional, and homeless. We are clergy, religious, and laity. We represent all the continents of the Catholic Church. We share the Mass in English, but it might not be our first--or even second--language. We are the Church.

No one would know if I didn't make it to Mass today. No one but God would care, frankly. I go to Mass now because it's important to me to do my best to follow the rules of the Church I claim to belong to. And, frankly, because those Good Sisters did manage to instill a sense of responsibility into me all those many years ago and I hate feeling guilty!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

When I was growing up, St. Nicholas Day was when my mother began decorating the house for Christmas. The tree would come about ten days later--my grandfather kept the German tradition that Santa Claus brought the tree on Christmas Eve, but my mother wasn't crazy enough to do that.

I've always thought there's kind a nice symmetry with having the Christmas season start with St. Nicholas Day and end with the Epiphany on Jan. 6. For the last couple of years I've tried to remember to have the kids leave their shoes either on the hearth or outside their bedroom door and stuff little trinkets in them, mostly as a reminder of their Germanic tradition. (The Advent Calendar is another one. And the tree, of course!)

This year I actually did well, except that I couldn't tell their shoes apart. I found seven shoes outside their door: two from DD#2 and five from DS#2. He didn't mean to leave his shoes out--it just sort of happened. But they were able to figure out whose trinkets were meant for whom anyway.

The Saint Nicholas Center has more information and some great pictures, old and new.

Fausta and The Anchoress have some special memories as well...

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Saint Who Chose Me

Here's my Saint for the year, thanks to Moneybags at A Catholic Life:

James the Lesser

[painting of Saint James]
Also known as
Jacobus Minor; James the Younger; James the Just
3 May
Apostle. Cousin of Jesus. Brother of Saint Jude Thaddeus. One of the first to have visions of the risen Christ. First Bishop of Jerusalem.

Having been beaten to death, a club almost immediately became his symbol. This led to his patronage of fullers and pharmacists, both of whom use clubs in their professions.

Like all men of renown, large stories grew up around James. He is reported to have spent so much time in prayer that his knees thickened, and looked like a camel's. Soon after the Crucifixion, James said he would fast until Christ returned; the resurrected Jesus appeared to him, and fixed a meal Himself.
martyred c.62 at Jerusalem by being thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, then stoned and beaten with clubs, including fuller's mallets, while praying for his attackers
apothecaries; druggists; dying people; fullers; hatmakers; hatters; milliners; pharmacists; Uruguay
Prayer to...
fuller's club; man holding a book
Gallery of images of Saint James [5 images, 103 kb]
Additional Information
Google Directory
Lives of Illustrious Men, by Saint Jerome
Goffine's Devout Instructions
canonical Letter of James
So a lesser-known apostle has chosen me. I can't think of why at the moment. I'm not from Uruguay. I'm not a druggist/pharmacist/apothecary. I don't think I'm dying--at least, not imminently. He is holding a book and he did write an Epistle. Could that be the connection?

Guess I'll have to wait and see!

A Great Weekend for College Football

It was a great weekend. Cal beat Stanford but not without a fight. Too bad there weren't more Stanford fans out there to watch it and to cheer the great effort their team made!

The Stanford Band, who has moved from merely obnoxious to truly beyond the pale, was banned from performing at halftime. Meanwhile, the Cal student section took advantage of the fact with some truly clever card stunts. Kind of an old-fashioned way of teasing your opponents in this day of text-messaging, but it still looks really cool.

And then UCLA beat U$C in another tight defensive battle, the kind my dad taught me to love.

It's a good thing I don't have any training sessions scheduled for today--I'm hoarse.

So we're off to the Bowl Games. I know it's not as much money, but I kind of wish that Cal was playing in the Emerald Bowl and not UCLA. I could work half a day and then walk to the stadium.

Instead, Cal is playing in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. On a Thursday night.

Cal is playing Texas A&M. (The oldest daughter of Julie D. from Happy Catholic is a freshman there.) Which means, much as I like Julie and despite the fact we often think alike, I'm going with Blue & Gold for this matchup!

Pregame is at 4:30 p.m., kickoff is at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Guess I'll be leaving work early!

Update (sort of): DS#2 had to come up with another debate topic for Public Speaking. Of course, he asked me about it this morning as we were getting ready to leave. I suggested he research the controversy around the BCS ranking system and if college football really needs a playoff. (For the record, I'm ag'in it. The players--at least at Cal--are student athletes. They already take a lighter load during the fall semester and then they have practice during the spring and late summer. A playoff system would mean they spent even less time in class than they do now--and playoffs would be held during finals. And, too, what would we argue about during Christmas dinner? Politics? Religion? Yikes!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Treat for the Ears

My local classical radio station has a special online Christmas station:

It's classical and traditional carols, quite suitable for work or as background music. Never mind, I'm now listening to "White Christmas"--played on violins. Okay, so maybe it's not quite so traditional!

Their sister station has more contemporary Christmas music:

It's a little more secular but KOIT is actually broadcasting their Christmas music over the air as well as playing it online.

Both stations are actually advertising this music as Christmas music--not "seasonal" or "holiday" stuff. Give 'em a listen!

Give 'Em the Axe, the Axe, the Axe!

Give 'em the Axe, the Axe, the Axe
Give 'em the Axe, the Axe, the Axe
Give 'em the Axe
Give 'em the Axe
Give 'em the Axe

Right in the neck, the neck, the neck,
Right in the neck, the neck, the neck,
Right in the neck
Right in the neck
Right in the neck


Every time one of my children has had to write about Family Traditions, they've included our family tradition of Big Game. It started quite simply: my senior year at Cal I bought my mom and my football-afficiando father tickets to the Big Game between Cal and Stanford. After the game, we went out to dinner.

From that humble beginning grew a family tradition that involves my uncle, my cousins, in-laws, friends of the family, and assorted children. We start with a breakfast--which includes California Orange Juice fortified with Vitamin "Ch" (champagne) at the house closest to the stadium, then walk to the game, then back to the house for dinner. Depending on the results, we either celebrate with beer or cry in it. People come for breakfast or join us for dinner. It's potluck and, since my cousins, siblings, and I were all cursed by the same grandmother, there is always enough food.

The Band is always Great, even if the game isn't.

The team with the best record doesn't always win.

The last four seconds are often critical.

Usually the game is played for "bragging rights" in the Bay Area. There are many "mixed" marriages and families. In fact, there are many people who have divided loyalties, as it's not unusual to have an undergraduate degree from one school and a graduate degree from the other. In fact, the faculty often migrates from one school to the other over the course of their careers.

Here's a link to the History of the Axe.

A piece of Big Game lore: Herbert Hoover, then manager of the Stanford football team, forgot to bring the game ball. (At the time, the game was played on neutral ground in San Francisco.) The game was delayed until a football could be located.

This Saturday's game will be played at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, one of the most scenic stadiums in the country. Behind the stadium is "Tightwad Hill" (they even have their own banner) where people sit on the steep hillside, in the dirt, and watch the game for free.

The stadium was built to commemorate those "Sons of California" who were killed in World War I. It is built over the Hayward fault, using state-of-the-art-at-the-time engineering: built in sections designed to move independently during an earthquake. Must have done a fairly decent job--it's still standing.

Okay. I'll stop now.

Go Bears!

What Kind of Reader Am I?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Literate Good Citizen

Book Snob

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

No surprise here. Although the table doesn't show the results for each subcategory, I scored very highly in the Obssessive-Compulsive Bookworm category and fairly well in the Literate Good Citizen.

(h/t: The Anchoress)

I'm not a Book Snob--I'll read anything that's printed!

Some Days I Feel Like Job

Today is one of them.

Christmas is right around the corner. Not only does that mean that we have the extra expenses typical of this time of year, we also have a lot of social committments: parties, activities, school dances, finals and midterms. Our money and our schedules are carefully choreographed, practically down to the minute.

On her way to college today, DD#1 was cut off by another car. She slammed on her brakes, lost control, and hit the median guard rail. Thank God, she's okay, although she may be sore and bruised tomorrow, but the car is totaled. Because we bought the car used and because it was a '95, we didn't get comprehensive insurance. Because she was cut off, the other car disappeared and there's no way to track down who it was to try to recover any money.

$4000.00 gone.

But at least she's okay.

I'm not sure what we're going to do. Winter break starts soon and both DD#1 and DS#1 will be on vacation. DD#1 is going to have to learn to drive a stickshift (something we've been putting off) and DS#1 may have to learn to share and take on some of the responsibilities for shuttling his siblings around. And DD#1 is going to have to get up earlier in order to get to class.

Meanwhile, thank God Hubs and I are both employed in decent-paying jobs that we're good in and enjoy. Thank God our children are healthy. That they are intelligent. That they are, for the most part, generous, kind-hearted, and family-centered. We have food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs. We are close to our families and friends. We have animals who give us unconditional love (well, maybe not the cats all the time).

We have a sense of humor. Some day we will laugh about this. Maybe when DD#1 has a daughter and gets a car.

Plus I have my faith.

When I was a child, I wondered if I would Suffer for God, like the martyrs and saints did. I expected some Grand Challenge.

Instead, I'm finding my challenge is more like dying from a thousand paper cuts. My challenge is in living every day, giving up control, trusting Him. And, you know, I hate giving up control.