December 31, 2010

A Conversation About Sex

Does my title surprise you a bit?  Sorry to be blunt.  I have always thought that when approaching the topic of the birds and the bees that we shouldn't bring insects and flowers into the mix.  It's just confusing.  And I hate the symbolism of the bee flitting from flower to flower without commitment to any one flower, spreading pollen willy nilly without a care.  I know the flower needs the pollen to produce more flowers and it's part of the cycle of life but when comparing that to human interaction, it leaves me a bit miffed.  I believe in being up front and not giggling about it when you tell your kids.  Practice saying all the body parts without smirking so your kids will follow suit and take you seriously... It's a good thing.

Tonight I had a conversation not involving birds or bees with my daughter Big Girl.  I like to explain it to my kids before the playground version gets to them.  She will be 8 in a couple of months.  The others before her already knew the facts by this age. So, while I was wrapping presents for Little Girl's birthday party, I sprang the subject on her.  Of course I was gentle.  I told her about the sacred nature of intercourse.  I emphasized the commitment levels that should be involved first.  I told her that our bodies are amazing gifts that are sacred.  I told her sex was enjoyable and that it was a way to show love, but only within the right boundaries.

I am always a bit surprised by the various responses I have had over the years having this talk with my kids.  My first son was amazed by the biology aspect, my second son asked me a very important question "Are we done talking about this now?"  and my third son said "So you guys have had sex 5 times!?"  Big Girls reaction made me think that perhaps I had spoken to her about this sensitive subject a bit too soon.  Her big query was if Santa and Mrs Claus did this with each other.  I said I think most married couples do have sex, and we left it at that.  When I told T this he laughed and said that Mr and Mrs Claus definitely do have sex.  After all, they have all that mistletoe around the place.

So, what do you readers think?  If a kid is young enough to still believe in Santa that they are too young for "the talk"?

Maybe it is time for us to have another eye-opening chat about St Nick....  Just not this close to Christmas.

December 28, 2010

Today

I am currently enjoying a break with T home for the holidays.  He goes back tomorrow and then I will officially start my Christmas Mourn.  Today we decided to brave the wintery winds and go see a movie.  I cannot recommend Tron I am afraid.  I was warned too.  I heard one reviewer on the radio who claimed to have a brain tumor caused by watching that movie.  Seemed a bit severe I thought,  and then I saw it.  I now see his point.  I told our friends who recommended the movie choice that I sure liked the ending.  That was code for "I was sure glad when it was over!"  So do yourself a favor and skip that movie.

Before our Tron experience we tried out our the brand new Five Guys that opened up in our fair city a couple weeks ago.  We were standing there waiting to order and looked behind us to find two Mormon missionaries.  We can spot them you see, because we are also LDS. (Latter Day Saints).  I said hello to them.  They had been figuring us out too I think.  A family of 7 you don't see often around these parts, and if you do they are either Mormon or Catholic.  Looking back I wish we had bought their lunch for them.  I wasn't thinking.  I know they are on a budget while they serve their missions.

Tragedy hit when I made a discovery at the movies.  Just as we were getting out of the car I looked around and found that my purse was missing.  I had left it at the hamburger place.  I was just about to return to Five Guys when my cell phone rang.  It was a friend who was dropping off a gift at my home.  She and I see each other 2-3 times weekly but couldn't seem to ever remember to exchange our neighborly gift.  We'd meant to do it several times and it had begun to be a bit of a joke.  Now here she was at my door and what just happened to be right on the way home from my house to hers?  You guessed it, Five Guys!  So she graciously agreed to go and check on my purse.  I sat there at the movies looking out at the freezing geese on the pond hoping that humanity would be on my side and that some honest person out there would turn in my purse preventing a huge headache for me.  Luckily someone did the right thing (I think, I haven't looked in the purse yet) and they turned in my purse for me.  I am grateful!  And now this gives me a perfect reason for gift giving (two days after Christmas) to my purse rescuing friend.  I think I should throw in a little something extra.

December 24, 2010

Are You Ready?

Are you ready for Christmas?  I hope so.  I'm ready in that I have purchased all my gifts and I would even declare myself ahead since I have started wrapping.  However, today I am in a sticky spot.  My youngest is home and I would love to wrap more but there are only so many movies I dare let her watch.  Not wrapping when I would like to is like having an itch that needs to be scratched and I can't reach it.  I need to wrap but alas, I cannot.  I am beginning to understand why the Santa I had growing up didn't bother with the trimmings and trappings of wrapping things up.  We'd rush in to a feast for the eyes taking in each unwrapped present all at once.  I thought I liked the idea of taking our time and appreciating each present individually.  So I wrap my kid's presents.  Instead we now get a glimpse of parents scolding children for not waiting and taking turns and we also know how each present is received (good or bad I might add).  I don't like the idea of staying up into the wee hours wrapping, so  maybe our Santa needs a new approach.  But how do you change something like that mid-stream?

Yesterday I tried wrapping while Little Girl slept and it totally backfired on me.  She snuck downstairs and walked right in on me!  She saw a Christmas gift intended for one of her brothers and asked what it was.  I just didn't have time to hide it.  I was lucky to get the stuff intended for her put away fast enough.  Now I am in a quandary as to what to do with this gift.  Do I still give it as a gift from Santa?  Will she be smart enough to remember?  Do I count on the distraction of her gifts to mask my mistake?  Then, to make matters worse, this morning she was foraging for stickers in a drawer in my bedroom and instead found some candy intended for our stockings.  I had been separating packages of Ande's mints out for everyone's stockings and had an extra so I stashed it unsafely away.  Now what?  Does everyone have to sacrifice for my foolish mistake?  Do I just tell her that Santa has the same taste in after-dinner-mints as me?  Will she even notice?  I know she probably will.  I hate to spoil the magic of Christmas for my 3 yr old.  It's almost over for Big Girl.  She plays along pretending to believe in Santa, and she is a terrible actress.  I have been down this road before and I know what I will say when the truth comes to the table.  Believing in Santa is believing in the true spirit of Christmas because we give without the recognition of being the giver.  Santa was once a real person on the earth (wasn't he?) who inspired these charitable acts and we follow in that tradition choosing to give on Christmas because that is the day that we recognize the biggest gift ever given.  The gift of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Then I tell them that I am just one of Santa's helpers.  I will never forget the reaction of my oldest son when I broke down and told him to prevent him being teased at school over it (he was getting too old and still believed).  He looked up at me and said "so it was you all the time?!"  and I thought he was going to lose it.  Then he surprised me by saying "Thank you for all those gifts Mom."  Yeah, he was once a sweet sweet boy.  Now sometimes I am tempted to put coal in his stocking, but overall he's alright.

I hope all you friends out there in bloggy land have a wonderful holiday!  And don't get caught with Andie's mints in your drawers two days before Christmas now you hear?

December 13, 2010

Spoiler Alert! If you are on our Christmas card list don't read....Unless you are the type who peeks into closets finding out what you get for Christmas early each year. Then you can go ahead : )





Here is our 2010 Christmas card letter.  It may have lost something in translation due to the formate and name changes I have made for use on the blog.  It may be a bit too long for those who don't really know my family.  It may be great writing or it may be a lame attempt.  But what you should know is that we usually take the writing of the Christmas letter pretty seriously around here.  This year we have a newspaper theme and it's the first repeat idea we've recycled in about 10 years of writing this stupid thing.  Do I sound bitter?  Well that is because it hasn't been mailed yet and I am in the throws of finding addresses, folding paper, getting stamps, wondering why we have 89 people on our list, etc...  I will be much better in a couple days.  Happy Holidays!


(Our Last Name) Times
December 2010

Little Girls’s Beat
Little Girl is on the case, with reporting skills like no other 3 yr old we know.  Her powers of observation know no limits.  Some may call it ‘tattling’ but that is just their bitterness talking.  Freedom of the press reigns supreme in this household.  In other Little Girl news, she reports that she is enjoying being “home schooled” by her Mother and is at the head of her preschool class.  Maybe next year Kelly will be able to cut the apron strings and send her last chick off to school.  Even though she is the youngest in the nest she rules the roost! 
Ask Big Girl
Big Girl is so thoughtful and she loves giving advice.  Just ask! She will solve any problem you readers have.  She is also our talented staff artist and now has a claim to fame with a fist full of ribbons, and $16.00 in prize money from our local fair this year.  Who cares if the dusty, un-mastered two-wheeled bike still taunts her from the garage.  She’s a friend to one and all.  Her other activities include piano, girl scouts,  and pretending she is a teacher to her many stuffed animals. We adore our Big Girl.
Little Boy About Town
SMMSS (single male middle school student) has recently discovered girls and is not ashamed.  He likes hot chocolate with whip cream, digging holes on the beach at sunset, and trying out new dance moves.  Anyone interested may find him in the middle school cafeteria each day at noon with a white carnation in his teeth and a peanut butter sandwich he’s willing to split with you in his sack lunch (peanut-allergic females need not reply).  In his spare time, he can be found practicing violin or running cross-country.  His parents are not trying to get rid of him any time soon.
Middle Boy For Hire
Whatever you need, Middle Boy’s your man.  He’s more than just your average handyman.  His handy texting skills are unmatched!!  He works hard at almost everything he does.  He also finds great pleasure in relaxing. Middle Boy’s baking is impressive and he is officially in charge of making our staff’s Sunday afternoon treats.  Middle Boy plays piano and lacrosse.  He does a good Justin Bieber impression for your next BGP (boy-girl party).  However, you’d have to pay him a million dollars first.  Hire him now, he needs the money for a new cell phone.
Big Boy News
Big Boy is growing by leaps and bounds and the only thing going faster around here is the food from the fridge.  His parents can’t understand where that cute little frog-loving boy went.  He has turned into a handsome prince who runs cross-country and plays violin beautifully.  He has been known to shave, drive and even date (usually in that order).  He will be leaving the nest in a few short years and we will all be crying into our pillows every night when that happens.
T and Kelly
These two have successfully completed another year of parenting together.  T ran a marathon in Baltimore.  Kelly watched him run a marathon in Baltimore.  Both felt very satisfied, but only one still has all her toenails in tact.  They are happy to still be together running in the marathon of life, and trying to pace themselves for the long haul! 

We hope this letter finds you well and happy.  Thank you for your friendship and love.  Please feel free to check in with us if you are ever in the DC area.  We love visitors!  Please visit our family website: www.familyylogg.blogspot.com
*All facts were accurate at the time this edition went to print. To renew your subscription to the Times please keep in touch!




December 11, 2010

Naughty...or Nice?

So of coarse I do what every mother does this time of year.  When a child misbehaves I tell them that "Santa is watching."  I even told my teenaged son that Santa was watching him just the other day.  He knew just what I meant too.  Santa can see into the rear view mirror in the van and see just what he is up to.  In years past I have even gone so far as to make a pretend telephone call to St Nick in front of the naughty child.  Why wouldn't any self-respecting mother resort to this tactic?  I say milk Santa for all he's worth while you still have kids believing and influenced by his magic mirror ball. This year I have had an interesting reaction from Little Girl.  No one has ever taken this message so internally before.  Each day when we go through the process of getting dressed there is stress.  Girls are so finicky about clothes.  What gives?  And it always seems that when time is short there will be some sort of clothing dilemma followed by short tempered mothers and crying girls.  Sometimes we make it through unscathed.

Anyways the usual conversation this Christmas season, after we have finally put clothing on her back, goes as follows: She looks up at me with her big blue eyes asking for an honest behavior evaluation.  She says sincerely "am I still on the good list?" I always assure her that she is still good in my book.  She refers to Santa's list of course.  Ever since I told her about it she seems obsessed with being on the right list.  In fact when things are not going well, I need only to mention the list and I get quite the reaction from her.  It is good in some ways but it has me wondering what windows to her personality I am getting a glance at here.  Since I have older kids too I know that some things they displayed as young toddlers are still with them later in life.  Does this mean she will be overly concerned with what people are thinking (or writing) about her.  Seeking too much for approval from others could be bad right?  Or good... Naughty or nice.  Only time will tell I guess.  I wish I had a magic mirror ball to see into the future for her.

December 09, 2010

What She Said

I found this essay on Facebook this morning.  Written by my lovely and newly engaged friend Stacey G.  Enjoy.....


Dear John Edwards,

We’ve never met.  I’m a 33 year old single mother of two.  I’ve been studying for the LSAT all day and getting less than desirable scores on my practice tests, so I’ll admit from the outset that I may be blunt, even coarse.  I’m too tired now to be anything else. 

I realize that it is bad karma for me to judge you at all.  Not just bad  karma, but a bad idea altogether.  I’ve made a myriad of mistakes in my life.  I don’t have the answers to the universe.  Actually, I don’t have any answers at all.  I especially don’t know the private battles that you’ve waged. I haven’t been inside your head or walked in your shoes.  I have no idea what sorts or scopes of emotions you have experienced.  It isn’t really that I want to judge you, however.  I don’t want to judge you.  I want to question as a means to understanding.  It is my own questions I want to answer, not yours.

I suppose by existing as a public figure, you are susceptible to this imposing of my personal questions upon your personal struggles.  I admired you. Some time ago I endorsed your candidacy, wrote blog entries on your qualifications.  But in actuality, you could be anyone.  You could be Tiger Woods.  Tony Parker.  Bill Clinton. Prince Charles.  The list. The list goes on.   

What I really want to know: Was she worth it?  Or if I was going to ask Tiger: were they worth it?  Even as I ask the question, I’m not sure if I’m asking about people or orgasms or flattering words pressed against ears or texts jumping off cell phone screens.  But in any of these cases, I would love to know:  Were they worth it?

What was the motivation? I’m dying to know. Was it a need for power?  An ego thing—an intense need for approval, flattery, attention?  Was it part of an addiction?  Was it for no discernable reason at all?  Does it even matter?

You see, I guess I am old-fashioned in that I still believe that people who love each other should be true to each other.   It’s hard for me to understand what proves difficult about this.  Isn’t it possible?  I don’t want to hear about the evolutionary baggage that you carry as a man, the instinctual and continual urge you may have to reproduce and guarantee the continuance of the human race (that was millions of years ago, surely you can rise above it) or the pressure involved in being a public figure.  I’m sure it presents its challenges, but we all choose our paths and we all have to deal with the effects of those decisions.  Some people have to bust concrete all day and can barely feed their families and they find ways to deal with their stress which doesn’t involve hurting and humiliating their significant other.

I guess I am also old-fashioned in that I believe that if you aren’t happy in a particular situation you find yourself in, then you should definitely change something or many things, but change them in the correct order.  If you don’t want to be with someone, tell them that and get out.  Then move forward and begin again.  Sometimes I feel like the world I live in finds these ideas horrifically antiquated.  And that makes me sad.  I’m not a traditionally religious woman.  I don’t think that God will smite me if I hurt others.  I don’t believe in any real concept of hell.  I do believe that a basic humanity exists in love, kindness and compassion.  I do believe that we should have a basic reverence in our interactions with other people.  Whenever our actions significantly affect another life we should tread cautiously, thoughtfully, purposefully.

Was it worth it?  I have no idea.  I’m asking.  Maybe Elizabeth yelled at you daily over breakfast and hit you over the head with a frying pan each time you walked in the door and you felt so claustrophobic in your marriage that you had trouble sleeping.  How should I know?  All I could see was a beautiful, intelligent woman who stood by your side in so many ways.  Beautiful children.  Something that maybe you would want to see in a tribute video projected on a backyard screen for your 85th birthday party someday.  Something worth fighting for.   Maybe?  I hear stories like yours and I wonder how a moment or even a string of moments could be worth risking something you have been laboring for your whole life.

Why do I care about your life?  Why am I spending whatever free time I have at the end of this long day pounding out an imaginary letter to you on my laptop keyboard?  Maybe because the media doesn’t let me ignore the list.  And  maybe because these questions float above me like a trailing cloud.  Just as I haven’t lived inside your head, you haven’t lived inside mine.  You don’t know the personal sorrows I’ve experienced or the battle wounds that have resulted in my own personal scars.  I see Elizabeth and I see that she was one woman.  And at the same time, she was every woman.  She worked hard for her family, she suffered personal sorrows.  She supported her significant other.   For every individual, the details vary, but a basic desire remains the same.  All of us, male or female, want to know that the person who we labor beside is truly in our corner.  On our side of the river.  We have to trust.  We have to believe in that.  We hope, with all of our hearts, that it is possible. 

I wish you all the best John Edwards—politician, father, estranged husband.  I hope you can find happiness in your life and live out the rest of your days in peace.   May Elizabeth rest in peace.  Her work will not be forgotten.  I hope many find it in their hearts to donate to the Wade Edwards foundation.  I also hope many find it in their hearts to treat others as they would like to be treated.  A basic humanity that encompasses honesty, trust and compassionate love.  I don’t care if it is antiquated.  I’m standing by the definitions of what I hope to be able to live and experience.

December 04, 2010

My Christmas Rx

This holiday season I am trying to keep a level head.  I love the Christmas season but I do not enjoy the stress of Christmas preparations.  I also feel the over indulgence of this season to be a bit of a downer.  I look at the toys tossed aside and broken from last year's Christmas holiday (or even this past October's birthday) and I get a bit sick inside.  Why are we training our children to be selfish and to look for their happiness in the next new thing?  Why is it that on one of the most thankful days of the year (Thanksgiving) I find myself wondering what things I can shop for the next day on black Friday?  What kind of example am I setting here?

I found myself in a cranky pre-season mood the other day and I diagnosed myself with the stress-of-the-Christmas-season blues.  I think I may have just concocted a cure.  Quiet time, and service to others.  Recommended dose? One time daily.

The other day on the radio I heard that as a society we spend over 80 percent more time taking in information in one form or another (TV, computer, cell phones, emails, etc) than we did just 40 yrs ago.  All this uptake of information isn't necessarily good.  We need to make time for silence.  One caller pointed out that Einstein used to take long quiet walks to reflect on the deep things he was thinking about.  I thought to myself, now that seems like a good idea!  It's just that as a mother of 5 I find quiet time a bit hard to come by.  I am always thinking of what stuff needs to be done and I can't really sit still for long without feeling guilt.  But like I said, I had this cranky day and I needed to think about how to make the next one better.  I am a repentant person generally, and if I can make things better I will try.  So after a long day of decorating the house for Christmas I decided to just sit back and admire my handiwork for a spell.  I  sat there for over 15 minutes just taking in the pretty mantel in my banana rocking chair on the floor.  Someone called me and I ignored.  I thought of something I needed to do, but brushed it aside.  Middle Boy came down and we had a nice chat.  I just stared into the twinkle lights on the mini-trees.  Then in my stillness came the idea to do something nice for my grumpy oldest teenager.  Melt his cold winter heart a bit.  So I enlisted the help of my two youngest girls who are always up for some niceness.  We decorated a one foot white plastic tree that we had sitting in a box and we placed it secretly on the desk in his room.  We propped up with orthodontic wax under one side since it's missing one of it's legs.  Then we excitedly waited for him to be surprised.  It was fun.  He really did like it I think.  Although, with teens it's hard to tell sometimes.  All I know is that he has been more charming to me ever since.

And since that day I have managed to find (at least one time a day) time to reflect and do nothing.  And in that time I usually think about what I can do that day (however small) to serve another person.  I find this is helping my perspective on the season to be much more in focus.  And just so you won't think me a bragging patron saint of service I will divulge that today my act of service was to not lose it with my 3 year old when she had a mega tantrum about her hairdo minutes before we had to be out the door this morning.  I just walked away and let her scream her "I hate Moms" at me from afar.  As it turned out, she managed to turn her frown upside down much sooner than usual.  And we weren't even late for school : )

Fa la la la la la la la la!

November 27, 2010

A Tangled Day

Well I just got back from our family's traditional black Friday movie.  The parents and the girls were going to see Tangled and the boys had their sights set on the new Harry Potter movie.  It didn't turn out to be so traditional this year since we were late, and the movie we wanted to take the girls to was sold out.  We were worried during the drive over that Harry Potter would be the movie we'd have to do the ticket pre-order thing for, but Disney's Tangled was the most popular I guess.  Or maybe it was just that I  took too long at the self-ticket-purchase computer, deciding how to get it to work.  I get super muddled and sloppy when it comes to doing technical stuff in front of a hurried audience.  I could just feel the irritation behind me.  Although the lady over my shoulder was very nice actually and she pointed out my silly problem of not swiping my card in the right direction.  Why for the love of all that is holy can they not just make those things universal?!  Some face up some face down.  Some want the strip West, some like it to the East.  They should just get together have a meeting and get universal-swiping worked out already.  I mean they can put a man on the moon but they can't make credit card swiping the same everywhere...   Sheesh!  (I think I might have me some PMS).

Anyways we had to go to a later showing of Tangled and T took over the roll of driver for both groups of people.  That's what T gets for making us late with his running.  I did offer to drive and let him see the movie with the girls but he wouldn't hear of it.  We accidentally paid for the 3D version and I thought I would regret that since my 3 year old doesn't usually like the glasses so it's a waste of the extra money.  Not this time!  It was so dang beautiful she couldn't stop talking to me about it during the film.  Her funniest thing said was at the beginning of the movie when we first put on the glasses.  She said "let's cheer our glasses together" (like a toast).  We often clink things together when we have two of the same thing.  Don't ask me why.  We also make a sound effect that sounds like "sha-shingah."  Yes, we are bizarre. You gotta problem?  So we clinked our faces together and said the words.  We had a bit of a moment there, and I was so grateful for her.  Then the movie started and I proceeded to have my socks blown off by Disney and their magical story telling skills.  The animation was amazing, the music was wonderful.  They are some seriously talented people at Disney, and the movie made me cry... twice.  Maybe something is up with me (see PMS comment above), but I was so moved by the tale of an kidnapped, abused, abandoned girl who doubts herself but still moves forward hesitantly pursuing her dreams.

I think we all have self doubt sometimes.  I know I do.  I have also felt the load of family members with hurt feelings venting them on me all last week.  I hate being in the middle of family disputes.  Why can't we all just hold hands and sing?  I tried calling the other party and telling them my feelings on the matter and of course it went in one ear and out the other.  I need to get to a happier place.  Not in the middle... A place where there are more leftovers in the fridge and the door handle is not sticky.  Where my kids leave me more than just a sliver of the french chocolate silk pie.  Maybe next Thanksgiving?  Maybe I need more perspective.  Maybe I just got up too early to shop today and by 9:02pm, I am cranky.  Maybe I will go and snuggle with T now.  Hope your black Friday was happy and gay.

For me, "tomorrow is another day"
                                     -Scarlett O.

November 23, 2010

DC Trip

It's been a while.  I know.  I have had an out of town guest and that has taken priority over blogging.  I missed it though.  Every time something funny or interesting would happen I would have an impulse to go and write it down for the blog.  But even that didn't get done.  And now as I sit down to write I have that feeling that I am blocked, with no idea what to say.  That's what happens when I don't flex my writing muscles for a while I guess.  It's either that or the pressure of Thanksgiving that I haven't done anything to prepare for looming in the back of my mind.  I've only bought drinks- HELP!

My sister came from Utah for a week and we did lots of sight seeing.  It was wonderful, but exhausting.  Then at the end of her visit she offered (as a birthday gift to me) to stay overnight with my kids so that T and I could get away and be alone for a  day and a night.  That was super awesome!  We stayed at the Grand Hyatt with about 400 teenagers in their Sunday best probably attending a FBLA meeting or debate tournament or some such thing.  They were annoying and I kept thinking "I came here to get away from my teenager and here they are at every turn!"  Oh well...  At least the chocolate cake was delicious.

This will mark the 3rd time we have been alone away from our kids in almost 19 years of marriage.  So it was a very rare treat indeed.  We are already trying to figure out a way we can get away again.  Maybe for our 20th anniversary.  Any takers for the babysitting job?  DC is beautiful in the spring!  I hear it's especially nice when you take 5 kids with you everywhere you go... Anyone?  Anyone?  ... (crickets chirping....)  Anyways, after much thought, here is what T and I decided to do with our day off: We decided to hit the Newseum.  It's a new museum down town that was absolutely amazing.  It's focus is the media.  It's one of the few museums that actually charges an entrance fee.  The ticket is good for two days though and well worth it.  I didn't think I would be so moved but I think I cried as much in this museum as I did in the holocaust museum.  So much bad news, so much of cruelty and pain.  Poverty, injustice, hunger, etc.  I loved it because I am weird that way.  It was a bit weird to see the videos of the photographers talking about how they felt when they took the photos.  Like the guy who took the famous picture of some Vietnamese children running naked down the streets crying after being bombed with napalm.  He says that he knew he had taken some really good pictures that day.  Something inside me boiled and I turned to my husband and said "something much more important that picture being took was happening that day!"  Then it dawned on me a bit more.  If no one were there to take those photos we could just go on pretending it didn't happen.  Photographers risk their lives all the time to record the facts for the public so that we can stand up, be informed, and say "NO!"

Still I had to say that the reporters who kept sneaking into dangerous situations on the day of 911 to get those perfect shots were in need of a good slap.  I didn't see the heroism there, just stupidity.  Call me callous.  Anyways here are some of the shots we took with our Nikon D90 that day.  The only risk we put ourselves in was the risk of putting off our lunch for the day.  It was greuling let me tell ya!

Just outside the museum.
West Berlin side of the Berlin wall.
The King's eagle jumpsuit... quite newsworthy.
A diagram planning the first internet connection.  T used to work and SRI (the top circle) and we are from Utah (the circle on the far right).  So like Al Gore, I think T pretty much invented the internet.
A bullet proof truck used to go where no man should have to go and take photos.  

One of the radio towers from the world trade center.

A creative drummer entertained us on our walk back to the metro station.

Me with chips.... or is it my chips and I?


November 15, 2010

Behold: The Gypsy Song

It's actually called Czardas by some guy named Monti, but I prefer Gypsy Song.  
Big Boy is the red head in red.  Look at him go!

November 10, 2010

#17

So my tooth (#17) is bothering me.  I know you dental types out there are wondering why I still even have that wisdom tooth in my head at the age of 41 (still 41 for 24 more hours).  It's because back in... let me do the math... I hate math so this may take a second.... back in 1982 I believe it was, my crazy progressive orthodontist thought it would be wise to have my Father extract my second molars *don't worry my Dad was a dentist* and let the wisdom teeth come in to take their place.  I know, crazy right? For years I would see people with my same mouth, missing those molars, rolling the dice with the wisdom teeth and losing that bet.  All I would have to say to them after cleaning their teeth *don't worry I am a dental hygienist* was "good luck, sorry you had my same orthodontist."

You see, wisdom teeth, despite their name are not wise.  They are crazy unpredictable teeth not to be relied upon.  Mine caused me to have to repeat a year of braces and they still tip. Witch, we all know, can lead to food traps and recession.  In my case interproximal decay.... repeated, and a nagging tooth ache that lingers for over a couple of months.  I am a dental hygienist... so having a tooth ache is somewhat embarrassing.  Also the repeated decay.  I was hanging my head pretty low after that diagnosis let me tell you.  Then I had some chocolate and I was okay again.

When my tooth starts to really act up I can't really talk without pain.  I have to stop yelling at the kids which is all I really feel like doing in my current state of crank, but I can't.  So it's a win/lose situation.  The kids win and I lose.  I go into my bedroom and moan for a while until the pain lessens.  My husband is getting tired of seeing me like this.  Poor him.

I've seen my local dentist several times and he repeatedly concludes that my bite is off and he adjusts it.  But somehow my tooth shifts and finds it's way back into occlusion and I'm in trouble again.  I am ready to try something more drastic and I have another appointment.  But until then I called a couple of dentists I happen to have in the family.  First my Dad.  Dad told me that because the tooth is reacting to my hot meal that it's gone south and I will definitely need a root canal.  He also suggests (as always) that I should start some antibiotics right away.  He was surprised to hear that we don't keep a stash of penicillin in the cupboard at home for these types of emergencies.  He always did.   My husband, the doctor, should really be taking better care of us.   Oh, btw, thanks for all those childhood rashes and yeast infections Dad.... ah the memories!  Then I called my more currently trained dentist brother who said that it has been proven that antibiotics don't actually help with abscessed teeth.  He also said that based on my symptoms I could possibly avoid endodontics (a root canal).  Nice to have a second opinion.

Then my brother invited me to Utah for Thanksgiving and I of coarse responded by inviting him to Maryland as well.  It's a funny tradition we have since my Dad and his wife used to make it a habit of calling everyone in the family and inviting them, even at the last minute, even if you lived in Asia at the time, and inviting you to their feast.  It was just to let you know that they were wishing you could be there with them.  Either that or to be able to come back years later to say "I invited you 10 years in a row and you never came!  What kind of kid are you?!"

So I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  You are all invited to my house.  I hope to have my tooth under control by then for sure.  Because I love my pie ala mode!

November 04, 2010

Button Pushing

The other day I called my Dad in Utah.  He is recently widowed so I like to call every few days and check on him.  Now, I love my father, but there are a few things he does to push my buttons.  One of them is talk about politics.  He is so far right he's tipped over.  Also, he's never wrong about anything which adds to the problem.  So I should have known better then to call him on the day before elections.  I let him go on a bit about the falseness of global warming, and Al Gore's plan to take over people's minds, because I think he likes to get those things off his chest.  It makes him feel good, and I am a giver (of sorts).  However, when he told me that Utahns are too smart to recycle I had to ask where do they think all those empty water bottles are going when they put them in the trash can?  His reply was so funny I had to post it here.  "Were making our own new mountains.... mountains of trash!"  Now that's an intelligent response!  Do you think I should email that one to AG?

Next, he pushed that other button about how I am spending too much money on things like music lessons when I could be making more babies instead.  This time he suggested two more.  Have you seen my sidebar?  I have 5 kids!  FIVE!  He seems to think we should all have kids until we're 45 yrs old and the Santa in the mall thinks you are the grandpa instead of the parent.  I don't get it.  I told him that my decisions were my own and that money had nothing to do with it.  I know what I can and cannot handle.  Great job to anyone who wants more, my plate is full.  Then I asked him if he could name all the names of his many grandkids. That was just me, pushing his buttons.  I just wanted to make the point that if you are going to do a job well, you shouldn't overload yourself.  Then, just like when I was a teenager, he told me my mouth was getting me in trouble.  We said our usual "I love you anyway" good-byes and I hung up and thought the same thing about his troublesome mouth.  It gets him into trouble too.

So this has me thinking about my relationships with others and more specifically my own children.  I have a son who likes to push my buttons.  I think I do my fair share of pushing back.  I think I may have learned this behavior from my button-pushing father and I think it's time to make that change.  Starting with the woman in the mirror.  (Thanks Michael).

Here's an example:  The other morning we were on our way to early morning seminary and my eldest son was the last one into the garage.  In his haste to get to the car, he left the door to the garage open.  It's a repeated problem. Since our dog could run out and get hit by the car when you are trying to park, it's a big problem.  I noticed his mistake from the car where I'd been waiting.  I had my mouth full and my window up and needed to get his attention and tell him to close it, so I did a flashy thing with the lights and motioned to the door.  He was highly offended emotionally (and visually) and fussed about it with me in the car.

"How can you be so rude?!"
"How can you be so forgetful about the door?"
"That hurt my eyes!"
"Sorry, remember the door next time"
"You just want the last word always!"
"No I don't, you do"
"Yes you do!"
"Uh UH"
"Uh HUH"

And so on and so forth until I was taking my hand off the steering wheel to zip my mouth shut.  Then when he got out of the car he said his goodbye but I still wasn't talking because the mouth was zipped. I just shrugged and pointed to my mouth.  He rolled his eyes and walked in front of the car to the building.  Then I couldn't help myself... I flashed the lights good-bye at him.

Yes.... I think I have a problem.

October 29, 2010

Elivs is in the Building!

My Little Boy has very few inhibitions.  I am not used to this in a middle school student.  It's like he has no self conscious side.  This characteristic is admired by his mother and makes his older brothers uncomfortable for him.  But it sure is entertaining!

This morning he is proving this once again with his whole hearted-desire to go to his new middle school dressed up as the King.


The King is not as full of himself as you might think.  Here he was spotted loading the dishes.

The King made his own bed and ate a humble meal of Rice Krispies for breakfast.

The King obediently wore his rubber bands on his braces this morning claiming that "Elvis is nothing without his band(s)!"

Oh thank the heavens for this child!  He cracks me up!  And he has promised to tell everyone who bedazzled his thrift-store pleather jacket with this awesome star....
"His Mama!"
"Thank you very much!"

October 27, 2010

Adapting

The other morning as we were sitting down to our usual breakfast of chaos, a battle ensued over who got to do the maze on the back of the KIX cereal box.  Of course no one could share and just do it mentally in their heads.  Little Girl, (age 3) really set the example for us all when she announced that she would just be "reading the bag" to keep herself entertained.  We did, after all, have one neglected bag of cereal outside of it's bulk-sized box on the table.  The 2nd half of a Sam's-club-sized box of LIFE kept her happily enthralled.  I almost thought to ask her what she might be reading in the folds of plastic.  I might have gotten an interesting answer.

The point is she was adapting to her environment and taking what comes.  Happily being content.  I can learn something from her there I think.

As we have been making serious decisions about the future of our family I have been stressed out to the point of not being capable of driving.  After the 3rd distracted wrong turn I turned the wheel over to my husband the other day.  What I think I need to remember is after all the moves and changes we have been through in the past 18 years of marriage we have always been taken care of.   We've always adapted. Even if we didn't speak the language or like the kimchi.  We need to not take counsel from our fears and trust that we can adapt to anything.  With God's help.

On the flip side I am trying to be sensitive to my teenagers who have settled in nicely where we are and should not have to keep moving during this trying time in their lives.  My second son in particular has a tendency to be in a funk.  This boy, who as a 6 yr old was awarded "best behaved boy" in his after-school chess club, isn't really that same upbeat unruffled kid today.  Just ask him to practice his music and his dark side comes out to stay for a while.  In fact I think I am guilty of tip toeing around his possible mood-swings at times.  I do things to keep him happy that I probably wouldn't do for the others.  I am probably doing him a disservice in the end.  I am not a perfect parent.  I recognize it at least.  However I challenge any parent of multiple children to make an honest claim that they treat one and all exactly the same.  No two kids are the same, making it impossible.

So you adapt.

October 21, 2010

I Cried While Making Chili

This afternoon, while Little Girl napped, I made a huge amount of chili.  Four batches to be exact.  That's a lot of onions!  They were fresh onions and very strong.  I diced them in the food processor but the fumes still got to me.  Why did I make that much chili?  Because it's freezer meal swap day on Friday and I chose to make chili this month.  I will offer up my 7 frozen bags of neatly stackable chili with a side of cornbread mix (they will have to come up with their own egg), and I will come home with six different frozen meals made by the friends in my freezer-meal group.

I always feel a bit awkward at the checkout line when I am buying enough beans to feed a small army. (And to provide gas for a small army)  Sometimes I explain.  Sometimes I let people wonder.  This time I explained my situation to the woman behind me and I asked the check out clerk if she wouldn't mind coming home and helping me open all those cans.  She laughed and easy Jamaican laugh and said she'd be glad to.  I told her not to worry, that my husband could help and she went into an impromptu freak performance of a woman yelling at her good-for-nothing spouse to get up off the couch and "cum an help out 'er far once!" It was very entertaining and I had to smile at how much I am entertained by the people here.

So I was making the chili, tearing up, and wiping my eyes with tissue, listening to This American Life with Ira Glass, wondering what he actually looks like.  I can't get enough of This American Life and listen to it often when it's quiet in my kitchen (it's not usually quiet enough to permit this).  The other night I enjoyed listening to funny tales of sleep walking by Mike Birbiglia.

The most recent episode is called Iraq After Us, and soon my tears were no longer due to the onions.  Interview after interview with local Iraqi people painting a picture of despair over their current circumstances.  I lost it when during one interview the snake oil shop owner notices that someone has left the store without her bag and he must quickly go and check it for explosives.  It was just a forgotten bag, but still.  I can't even imagine living like that.  Of course I was reminded of when my husband was there for just a mere 6 months.  Six long months.  Also heavy on my mind was the decision we are trying to make in faith.  Whether to get out of the military or stay in.  Both provide security and risk in one way or the other.  And then there were more tears.

So please forgive me freezer meal gals if the chili is a bit on the salty side this month.



 


October 18, 2010

Our Marathon Weekend

I should let you know right off the bat here that I am not speaking metaphorically when I say it was a marathon weekend.  Yes it was busy, and we were tired, and sweaty.  We ate bananas and drank lots of fluid.  But T also ran a marathon.  A real one.  It was his life altering first marathon.  I am sure this will not be his last.  I am resigned to being a marathon widow proudly cheering from the sidelines with my muffin top.

Speaking of my muffin top, yesterday in church my 11 yr old son was side punching me (not hard) just above my waistline where my pantyhose end and, you know, the muffin begins.  I asked him if he was trying to flatten that part of me down by punching.  Because I had tried that before and it won't stay.  He smiled and said "Mom, you've had five babies.  You still look pretty good for all your body has done for you."  What pearls of wisdom from Little Boy.  I know I spend too much time worrying over this matter.  I should just relax and be glad for the body I have.  Not relax so much that I let my body get more out of shape mind you.  But not try to be the same size I was at 20 either.  Work out to feel good and be healthy.  Remind myself about the babies and the reason I look like this.  The babies, and the ice-cream.  I would totally eat it all over again.  The ice cream, not the babies.

On to our marathon day now.  It was the Baltimore marathon and there were something like 23,000 people running that day.  Either in relays or half marathons or full marathons.  We got there later than I wanted to due to a series of unfortunate events.  I clearly stated at breakfast that I wanted us to be out the door at 9:30.  Giving us 30 minutes to get dressed.  In 30 minutes 6 independent people should manage to put on a shirt and pants right?  At 10 minutes until we needed to be out the door I yelled to the masses "Leaving in ten!"  Go figure that my oldest was still up in the playroom on the computer messing with his ipod, still in his PJs.  Don't think I didn't have a few words with him.  Especially because when he had asked before if we could search for an application online I had told him "no, not this morning."  We managed to get out the door close to my goal and then I looked at my gas tank.  It was almost on empty!  I was going to have to stop for gas.  Big Girl was the one who announced in the car that I had passed the gas station.  More time lost turning around.  I was filling up the tank and in my haste to get going I pulled out the hose upon hearing the click without looking at the screen to see if it had really stopped.  It must have been my neighbor's click because I was now spilling gasoline out all over the ground, on the side of the van, my shoes and pants.  I was so mad at myself for doing this!  I reeked of gas.  I had to go back home and change.  There was no way I was going to stand in the crowds smelling like that.  Of course, looking back, maybe it would have cleared us some room to get to the front.

I was so stressed out during the whole 45 minute drive from there.  I kept telling the kids not to speak to me.  I get that way when I am stressed- irritable.  We somehow managed to get a great parking spot due to intense praying and we were at the sidelines waiting for him to cross about 30 minutes before his goal time.  But the spot we were in was actually after the finish line and I wasn't pleased with how far away we were.  So even though it was no small feat I managed to move all of us (with a stroller) to a better spot and we played the waiting game.  We waited for the people in front of us to see their person go by and we used our pushy skills we picked up in the crowed city streets of Seoul to mush our way to the front.  I had Baby Girl on my shoulders and she was frankly being a pill.  She required so much of my attention that I handed the camera over to Big Boy and gave him a quick camera lesson on our new Nikkon D90.  I still worried about this move and told him to take lots of practice shots.  In retrospect I should have given the camera to Middle Boy who is my most observant kid.  He should be a detective one day because he can spot a hair out of place when he enters a room.  And indeed just as predicted, Big Boy got plenty photos of this guy....
Shirtless Cowboy whooping it up for the crowd

And this is the kind of photo we got of T a few seconds after Middle Boy mentioned that his Dad just ran by.  Nice~  


He is way up there in all black just between the white tank girl and the maroon shirted older guy.

I am just so proud of him that words cannot tell.  And as he limped his way back to the car I couldn't help but think that there will definitely be a next time.




October 15, 2010

Too Many Secrets

Ever see the movie Sneakers?  The clue to unravelling the case were the words "Too Many Secrets"  Well, too many secrets is what we had down in our neck of the woods this month.  We were planning a surprise party for my soon to be 14 year old son.  I just thought that a surprise party would be fun for a teenager.  I mean, we are pretty much beyond theme parties at this stage.  So a surprise seemed to be in order.  I had thought everyone was on board with the big surprise.  Apparently I spent a bit too much time priming the younger siblings on ways to keep things hush hush and not enough time with the friends and brothers.

We managed to keep him in the dark until the day before the party when he came home from school with a serious look on his face asking T and I "are you guys planning a surprise party for me?"  We played dumb and asked him why he would think such a thing.  I guess word got out at the school that there was a party on Saturday night, and some girl came up in the hall and asked him why she wasn't invited.  Whoops!  We were sufficiently confused to where I think he believed it to be an unfounded rumor.  Later we went and popped in a netflix video that evening.  Just Middle Boy, Little Boy, and myself.  It was one of the movies that we had planned on possibly using at the party.  Oh, btw, we were planning an outdoor movie shown with a projector on the side of the garage.  The weather was cooperating beautifully.  Maybe you read my dilemma about what movie to choose in my previous post.  We ended up going for Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein.  It's pretty much a classic.  Not sure if all the teens appreciated it as much as they should have though.  The Village would have been pretty sweet outside but I didn't want to be responsible for anyone's nightmares.  Anyway- I digress.  So in the DVD player goes the movie Dial M for Murder and out of my 11 yr olds mouth come the words "aren't we going to watch this at the outdoor party on Saturday?"  I could have killed him!  I gave him a look and he just repeated the question in front of Middle Boy a second time.  I think louder.  I walked out of the room and nodded my head for him to join me.  Like I thought this would keep it secret or something.  Middle Boy has always been my most observant child.  Why did I think I could pull this off anyways?  So after our little pantomime in the hallway we come back in the room and Middle Boy says "I see I'm having a surprise party after all eh?"  I tried not to be too hard on Little Boy.  He claimed not to even be aware that it was a secret.  He, being my least observant child can't really be blamed.  So we made a pact, the tree of us, that this would be our new secret.  The fact that he knew.  I of course told T.  But I felt that my little girls were too invested in the surprise part to not try and keep up appearances for them.

Next in the tangled web I wove was what to tell the family who had agreed to take Middle Boy for the day while we set up.  They were taking him home with them after a piano recital that both Middle Boy and their boy were in.  The plan was to keep him until 6:00 so we could set up.  Being the honest person that I am, I mentioned to the parents on the phone that he may have a pretty good idea of what was up due to a slip of someone's mouth at school.  I also told his friend outright that Middle Boy knew.  I suggested to him that he not let on that he knew about Middle Boy knowing.  To test Middle Boy, I asked his friend to report to me later on what he said or didn't say.  Tricky eh?  Like I said, too many secrets.

The last layer involved my husband. While T was setting up helium balloon clusters in front of the house he seemed confused when I told him that wouldn't work.  "Why, he already knows" was T's reply right in front of Big Girl who was suddenly devastated.  Thanks T.  I guess he didn't know she didn't know. Sigh!  Why can't my family just read my mind?  Sheesh, do I have to tell you everything?!  This was really getting silly.  I mean how many secrets can be broken in one day?  We calmed Big Girl down by telling her all the stuff he didn't know about yet.  The snacks, the outdoor movie, the decorations, what guests were coming.  Soon she was alright about the situation.  Whew! (Some of those were not really secrets any more btw.  Don't tell her Internets-more secrecy!)

So we pulled of a fake surprise and had a good time.  He never revealed his awareness to anyone at the party or to his friend and his family during the day.  Here are some photos to document all of our doings.  

Happy Birthday Middle Boy

Setting up in the back yard

Middle Boy's fake surprise face... Pretty convincing!



Blowing out his candles




Have you ever known a teen who loved a Snuggie?  We know one

What's in here?


A pillow with arms!


With a pillow with arms and a blanket with sleeves... He should be set!


October 08, 2010

Busy Ramble/Help!

So I have been blog lazy lately.  It happens.  I've decided that my cold is not really going anywhere but at least I am still functioning.  It's a sneeze your brains out in the morning, high functioning throughout the day cold.  Yesterday was the busiest day I have had in a while.  I signed up for hosting a morning scripture study group at my house for the month of October.  I had cleaned my house up for that the day before.  Should I have felt bad that I paid more attention to my house than to the scriptures?  I still managed to get the reading done just minutes before they arrived at the door.  I told myself that I just wanted the material to be all fresh in my mind, but then when our discussion led to our priorities in life, I felt bad.  Maybe I'm too hard on myself.  Next week I will let them see the messy side of my house.  It will just make them feel better about themselves right?  I'm so charitable : )

So my busy day continued when Big Boy called from school and told me that he indeed qualified for the National Honor Society (which I was shocked to find out btw).  So now this meant a day full of driving around getting signatures.  I went to 5 places yesterday hunting down John Hancock after John Hancock.  It was like a scavenger hunt with the end prize being a possible academic future for my teenager. T got the last two signatures this morning and just turned in the application 5 short hours before the deadline.  I found it funny when T related to me a conversation he had with BBoy on the drive to seminary this morning.  He asked our son "did you tell your mother thanks for all her hard work yesterday on your behalf?" and his answer was "yes I did" (which is true). But then he went on with "you know Dad I am the one who did most of the work on that not mom"  HA!  I'm going to have to beat him with a wet noodle when he gets home.
Study hard and you too can qualify for the NHS
The rest of the day was filled with brownie scouts after school where I was in charge of a 'feelings charades' game.  I used a lot of my finely honed acting skills to show the girls how they could act out words like "insecure" or "frustrated" it was a blast!  Then at dusk, we lost one kid while he went jogging with a friend.  Three years in  the same neighborhood and you would think he'd know the layout by now.  Of course his friend has lived here all his life and he got lost too, so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on him.  At least they had a cell phone between them.  What did we ever do before cell phones?

All I can say is that I am glad I planned ahead and made dinner in the crock pot.  We've had friends (without kids) who poo poo the crock pot saying it's not real food if it comes from a crock pot.  But it has saved me on more than one occasion.  I pity the poor fool who never opens themselves up the the possibilities of a crock pot.


The dilemma of the day today is choosing a scary, but not too scary movie for the surprise party I am throwing for middle boy this weekend.  He is turning 14.  He is too old for Ichabod and too young for lots of stuff out there.  We are a family who likes to be scared.  We especially like older scary Alfred Hitchcock movies.  We want to show them The Village but it might be too much for some of the guests. Our other choices we rented are Dial M for Murder and Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein.  What would your vote be?  Help me out and leave an opinion... Or give me a suggestion.  I just found out that some younger kids will be there too so I am leaning towards Abbot and Costello.  But we are planning an outdoor movie on a projector so we can always put the sensitive kiddos inside.  Is that poor party etiquette?

October 06, 2010

The Power of Suggestion

Recently I prided myself in my ability to get over a cold quickly.  Three short days and I was almost as right as the rain outside.  Then when I told a friend (the one who passed it to us through her toddler) she suggested that I might not be out of the woods just yet.  She expressed her sorrow in passing the bug on to our family and warned against not getting enough rest because this cold had a way of coming back upon you.  I got to bed early to ward anything off.  Even though I tried my best, I woke up this morning watery eyed and sneezing up a storm again.  Poor me.  I wish she'd never said anything to me.  I'm not superstitious mind you, but I know that the mind has untapped powers that can influence the body.

Now we are also in the season of multiple toy catalogs coming in the mail, suggesting every child's dream toy.  My oldest daughter has a habit of picking out her favorites by folding down the pages where she sees something of interest.  When she's finished window shopping she sweetly places the bent up magazine in my lap, bats her eyelashes and says that since I'm Santa's helper I might be interested in looking at them too.  She's growing up too fast for me.  Good thing she still wants things like Zu Zu Pets and pretend medical kits.

I have been trying to use the power of suggestion on my husband over the years with little success.  Case in point, our corner cupboard in the kitchen.  It remains broken completely off the hinges for (if memory serves) almost 2 years.  It seems there isn't a solution in sight with that poor sad cupboard.  It makes the kitchen scream for a completely new set of cupboards right?  Maybe that is the suggestion he is trying to make to me!  I will try and refrain from holding my breath.

And now to suggest to my body that it needs to get better asap (we have a big weekend planned) I am going to take a nap.

October 04, 2010

Irresistable!

Look at that beautiful long hair!

October 02, 2010

General Conference

Please join me in watching this this weekend.  I look forward to it twice a year.  
You won't be disappointed.

September 27, 2010

Goodbye Gedaliah

From 2001 to 2004 we lived in Silver Spring Maryland. During that stint we lived in a neighborhood highly populated with Orthodox Jews.  I remember my confusion on the first Saturday there watching the exodus of walkers on their way to the Jewish Synagogue about a block away from my new home.  I made the mistake of asking a pre-teen girl if they were 7th day Adventists or something. (Hey, we'd just moved from Iowa)  She looked at me like I was crazy.  I soon learned what they were.  They were some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.  But, like us Mormons... very peculiar.

The first time I ran into the Rabbi who lived next door I went to shake his hand and felt his hesitation.  Even though he stood over six feet in his big black hat, his hand shake was hardly noteworthy.  Like a dead fish.  Later I would find out that it was taboo for him to shake the hand of a female other than his wife.  I had a lot to learn.  

Something I learned from a friend was that on their Sabbath they adhere to a strict set of rules.  One thing they cannot do is use electricity.  All the lights are set to go on and off with timers based on need.  Switching on the AC when it's hot isn't allowed on the Sabbath.  So during a hot Saturday in late October (that hadn't been forecast btw), I went over to ask if I could do anything (hint hint) with their thermostat for them.  See, it was okay for me to do it for them but I also knew through my savvy friend that they couldn't ask me for help.  I had to offer.  Strangely enough Rabbi A had just been discussing what to do and how they could persuade me without asking to come over and help them out.  It was one time I am glad I listened to a prompting, because it was the first move on the way to a most interesting relationship.

One day I made a bold decision way outside my comfort zone.  When the time had come for me to walk five minutes around the corner to the school and pick up my grade school children, my baby was still asleep.  I hoped to find Mrs A at home next door and planned ask her to take the baby monitor to listen for her for a brief time while I snuck over to get the kids.  Instead the Rabbi answered.  Trying not to act shaken, I shyly informed him of my request.  His question was classic.  He asked if the need should arise for him to enter my home and get Big Girl out of her crib (she was about 7 months old at the time) would the look of him scare her?  I had to suppress a grin and be honest with him.  "probably she would be afraid of you sir"  Here is what he looked like by the way...
I assured him that the chances of her wakening were slim to none and that even if she cried for a minute or two that I would be back very shortly.  So without shaking hands this time, we had an agreement.  They continued to help me in this way on occasions when I needed them.  It was Mrs A who nick named Big Girl 'Bubulah' (Hebrew for little doll).  

I also recall another deal that was of a much bigger nature.  During Passover one year, I volunteered to be a purchaser of chametz for not only his congregation but two others in the area.  For the duration of Passover that season I was the 'owner' of several people's summer house kitchens, left side desk drawers at the office, boxes in the garage, etc.  In some cases, it was easier for them to sell me an unused kitchen in Ocean City for 10 days than to go clean and set aside everything with leavening agent in it.  So they'd sell me the kitchen.  It was the least I could do for them.  We shook hands with a hanky between us to seal the deal.  "Enjoy all your new posessions" the youngest Rabbi said to me on the way out.  He was totally serious about it.  Even though I never saw my new purchases I had a thick stack of contracts written out in Hebrew to prove my ownership and responsibility for each member's chametz.  Or their kitchens with chametz inside... if you will.  "Your beer is safe with me" was my Mormon reply.  They laughed.  (You know there is barley in beer right?)  After my probationary ownership was up they came back and asked me if I wanted to make a payment on my property.  My twenty dollar down payment was a steal really.  I said the appropriate answer of "no" sold them back the items, got my $20.00 back, and it was a done deal.  A deal I will never forget and one that makes for a great story with friends at dinner.  

Tonight I found out that Rabbi Anemer passed away due to a stroke.  My thoughts are with his wife and their congregation.