Wednesday, January 28, 2009

significant weather event has arrived

Snow yesterday.

Ice, freezing rain through the night.

And it snowed hard and steady from daybreak until early afternoon.

Have you ever wondered why weather people on TV say, "we have some weather coming"? Don't we have weather 24/7?

What's the weather like where you live?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

... significant weather event through wednesday...

This was under the "more information" heading for tonight's forecast here in central Ohio. Check it out.

Event? I chuckled. Be assured, a "significant weather event" is not to be confused with other significant events. Shopping events. Sporting events. TV show premiere events. Or the release of a new Harry Potter book.

No, no. The impending event will require:
1. snow boots
2. warm coat
3. gloves & hat
4. snow shovel or, if you're fortunate, a snow blower
5. salt
6. and you'd better have some ingredients for a pot of soup

I asked Bill the other day, "does anyone ever install heating elements in their driveway?" Seriously -- they have them at Miami University on the walkways. Our north-facing driveway never sees the sun, so we know what a "significant weather event" means. It means we'll be out shoveling, salting, slipping and sliding.

I love winter.

Monday, January 26, 2009

happy birthday, Dan-the-Man!

Twenty four years ago tonight, I brought my second son Dan into the world. (And like all moms, I've since told him I could take him OUT of it.) Bill will give you his version on how "hard" his job was that night, propping my shoulders while I pushed for an hour, but sorry, honey. Unless you've experienced an 8-pound baby leaving your body, you cannot make any claims of the "pain" of childbirth.

I give credit to my daughter-in-love Jenny for the idea of an acrostic on this special occasion, Dan's birthday!

D - Dan is a daring young man and always was. From babyhood on, he was a running, leaping, sprawling, sprinting jumble of boy. I don't know how he never broke a bone.

A - Amiable. Dan is such a friendly guy. He & Jenny built a network of great friends very quickly when they moved to Charlotte as newlyweds.

N - Dan is noble. My son desires to honor others and God with his life. He knows what is right and does it.

I - Intelligent and inquisitive. Dan was always a voracious reader. He became a teacher and I know he's striving to pass on his love of learning to his students. He loves books on world wars and has a growing collection of them.

E - Dan is amazingly expressive. He takes time to write down his thoughts to those he loves. I could see this tender quality in him even as a little boy, even though he tried to hide it.

L - Loving and loyal. What could be better than a loyal man? And Dan is just that. His loyalty to God, his wife, and family is exhibited in his life. Love and loyalty are character traits that require a large measure of selflessness.

Dan, I know you'll enjoy a fabulous birthday dinner tonight because Jenny's cooking! Have a great birthday and know that I love you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

the past, the future

Here's something interesting I came across on another blog. She started out:

Do it.
Be cool like me.
Then post it to your blog and link your blog in the comments section.
'Cause it'll be fun.
And I don't have anything remarkably exciting to do today.

So I'm giving it a try and filling in my own past and future.

Where were you ...

5 years ago - Letting go. Kids were 20, 19, 16, 14. There was a period of 7 months in 2003 that all FOUR were teenagers. Life was a perpetual lesson in learning how to trust, communicate, laugh abundantly, love effectively and let go appropriately.

10 years ago - TEENAGERS! Ages 15, 14, 11 and 9. I was just figuring out how to parent teens and getting a little worried about what lay ahead.

15 years ago - Kids, kids, kids. My own, ages 10, 9, 6 and 4 plus neighbor kids running in and out and around our yard. Constant ballgames, meetings and carpools. If I wasn't in the van, I was in the kitchen or at the grocery store.

20 years ago - Mothering 3 little boys, ages 5, 4 and almost 1. About to lose my mind. A few months later, I was pregnant.

Where are you going?

5 years from now - ALL our kids will be through college! From 2001 to 2012 ... with five of those years having TWO kids in college at once. We'll be depleted...I mean elated.

10 years from now - David - 35. Dan - 34. Mark - 31. Katie - 29. Bill and I will be 10 years older and perhaps cuddling grandbabies. And still traveling.

15 years from now - Now I'm thinking several - maybe lots - of grandchildren. I plan to hold "Cousin Camp" where all grandchildren age 6 and up are invited for a week at the lake: no parents allowed! There will be: marshmallows and hot dogs, campfires, boating & swimming, reading together, rock-painting, biking, and NO TV! It's amazing to wonder about who my grandchildren will be and all their little personalities.

20 years from now - I hope I can still walk!

Life moves very, very fast. Grab it. Hold it. Cherish it. Thank God for it. "Ten years from now" will be here soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

no, I didn't

In case you caught this story and wondered, the answer is no. I was not one of the hundreds who contacted Mr. Song's Millinery in Detroit.

But now I know where to go for a mighty fine hat.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

open house??

I watched most of the pomp and pageantry of the Presidential inauguration yesterday. Politics aside, I admit the day was hugely impressive and inspiring. Over one million people converged on the Mall in Washington, in sub-freezing temperatures, to witness history in the making.

And last night it was revealed that the Obama girls would not have to go to school today because ... there's an OPEN HOUSE at the White House and Michelle wants the girls to experience that. I'm pretty sure she said it's open TO THE PUBLIC.

How disappointing. Since I've always wanted to visit the White House, today would have been my golden opportunity. But I just wasn't on the ball.

I wonder if Aretha Franklin will attend. If guests are invited based on their choice of outlandish hats, I think Aretha wins hands-down.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It's been a crazy-snowy few days here in central Ohio. Makes me pause to wonder about this global-warming thing...

I've been prone to grumble about the snow, but I give in. The five or so inches, then the flurries, then the inch overnight, then some hard blowing snow today won me over. It's purely beautiful: a wonder to see. God came up with an amazing element in snow. Snow muffles everything into a huge hush. Like crawling under a quilt.

My kids aren't too big to sled, though they learned today that it's not a good idea for two guys, both over 6 feet tall, to ride down a hill together on a kid's sled. Our sled is severely damaged. We all had fun, though: Dan & Jenny, Mark & Jill, Ellie and me.

This venue isn't as scary as it sounds, but it's pretty darned steep. And it was crazy-windy and cold atop the dam!

Dan got a faceful of ice and snow.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It's cold. Really cold. A peek out our front door this morning confirmed it.

Yesterday we made a run to Columbus and came back on Ohio route 315, probably the most beautiful drive in all of Delaware county. The road hugs the Olentangy River and there is no place to safely pull over for photos, so this is the best I could do: tourist-from-the-window shots.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

my birthday boy

The man in my life is celebrating his birthday today!

Here's what's cool, admirable and amazing about my husband Bill:
1. He's kept his promise to love and honor me for 30 years now.
2. He's fiercely devoted to his family and has never complained about this commitment, which isn't always a fun or exciting road. Come on, four kids? That's some serious pressure.
3. He's unwavering in his support of me. We decided, together, 25-some years ago, that one of us would stay home raising the children. It turned out to be me. He's always valued my job as an at-home mom. He's never asked, "what did you do all day?" Nor does he complain about a messy house. He values well-raised children over a beautiful home.
4. He keeps a positive outlook on life.
5. He's probably the most attentive son I've ever seen. I hope HIS sons notice this.
6. He knows that often, kids need more than anything to be loved and accepted.
7. He hugs like a teddy bear.
8. He listens to my hopes and dreams and encourages me to go for them.
9. He's more a giver than a taker.
10. He'll eat with gusto nearly anything I cook. I can't remember many - if any - meals that he hasn't liked.
11. If he needs a new career, he could be a cartographer or a meterologist because he has an inordinate interest in both. He's the most incredible map-whiz you'll find. He can get you from here to there and back again, utilizing his map and internet-search skills. Just ask our kids.
12. He picks up his socks better than I do mine.
13. I'm ending on #13 because that's Bill's favorite number. Today I'll bake his favorite, my homemade carrot cake. The man's been requesting this cake since 1980 so I guess he's not tired of it.

I could get into other superlatives, like Bill seeing his first color television in an appliance store window in Defiance, Ohio in the 1950's. But I said I'd stop at 13.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

happy birthday, Pat!

(This post is part of an essay that ran in the Columbus Dispatch in May, 2007.)

Only the most precious of mothers adopts the children of an absent mother.

I know such a woman. And she has made it her business to know me. Her name is Pat. She lived across the street from us in Connecticut and befriended my mother, who was born and raised in the Deep South.

No matter to this Boston-bred Irish Catholic: Pat might not have fully understood the “foreigner” who arrived in small-town New England, but she embraced her.

In those days, our families lived on shoestrings, and Mom carpooled with Pat and her preschoolers to the grocery store each week. They were riotous outings lasting several hours, with fidgety toddlers wedged between grocery sacks in the back of our station wagon.

The two spoke on the phone daily as they washed breakfast dishes or folded a load of towels. They cackled hysterically over who-knows-what.

Sharing first days of kindergarten, child psychology and recipes, Mom and Pat forged a sisterly friendship - one that lasted 15 years, well past our family's move in 1971 to Tennessee.

But when my mother died eight years later, she couldn't have imagined the extent to which Pat would honor their friendship. She slid unobtrusively into the roles of mother, mentor and grandmother for my three siblings and me and the 11 grandchildren my mother would never know.

Pat wasted no time demonstrating her devotion: The morning of Mom’s death, she dropped what she was doing to make arrangements for her two high schoolers, tend unfinished household details and book a flight to Memphis. Once there, she comforted us in small but memorable ways. Like helping my sister and me clean out mom's closet.

Through the years, postcards from “Gramma Pat” arrived in our mailbox as she lovingly related a travel adventure to my children. Boston Globe articles were carefully clipped and mailed as only a mother does -- articles often about the Red Sox because Pat and her husband John share a love of baseball with our son David.

Birthdays, Christmases, graduations and even the occasion of a new driver’s license –Pat remembers them all.

I treasure the phone calls and notes in which Pat still encourages and guides me by sharing wisdom from her seasons of motherhood. Even with a sizable family of her own, she has taken on another. Pat has doubled her love-output for nearly 30 years.

For that, and for her, I am grateful. A very happy birthday, Pat Power!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

it's winter

Bill, Ellie and I just took to the woods near our house for a short walk.

Winter's not my favorite season, but it makes me appreciate the other seasons all the more. snow.
biting wind.
many days of steel-gray skies.
staying inside more. A lot more.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

Thursday, January 8, 2009

starting over

A little band of silver rolled into my life 38 years ago. I suppose you could say my button bracelet was the Vera Bradley of my peers in the early 70's: most girls I knew wore them.

It was a short drive from where I lived to Richard Parker's shop in Avon, Connecticut, where he hand-hammered his creations. Amazingly, Richard and his son continue crafting jewelry, creating the same sterling silver button bracelets that started it all in 1961.

Coming off three days of World Series mayhem and little sleep, I lost track of my bracelet back in October. Mr. Airport Security ordered me to remove my obviously suspicious bracelet, I obeyed and tossed it in my bag. I thought. As best I can guess, it's now somewhere in the Tampa airport or perhaps on the arm of a lucky young girl.

That bracelet was much more than one I'd choose to wear occasionally. I wore it ALL the time. So my button bracelet traveled overseas, showered, gardened, cleaned house, swam and camped, and yes, went to the delivery room four times. The years of dishes, mopping, mothering and living had worn it down to a smoother and thinner version of the original.

With all we'd been through, my bracelet and me, did the loss matter? A little sentimentality, yes. But in the wide screen of life, no. Not a bit. Still, even two months after the loss, my right arm felt naked.

So on Christmas morning when I opened one of those fun, endless nests of boxes from my son David, what do you think was in the final little square box? A new button bracelet. Shiny-silver and ready to take its place on my right wrist.

It's a good reminder of the need to start over in this new year. To not cry over what's lost to the past, but to appreciate the now.

Happy, hopeful new year.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

outta here...again

On Sunday we moved Katie to college. Funny, when she spent her first semester in Ireland, it didn't feel like sending her off to college. This does.

Moving in a college freshman is usually associated with a scorching August day, making a Wal-mart run for a fan all while wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. Not this time around.

Since Katie spent her first semester in Ireland with just 2 suitcases, her big move took place on January 4. Cold. Biting wind. Drizzle.

Also different was the "reunion atmosphere." Instead of not knowing a soul on campus, Katie has two dozen friends from her months in Ireland.

Is it easier to send off the last one? Yeah, but this mom's heart is still a little sad. My head says "be happy for what's to come" but my heart says, "where'd the years go?"

Really, though. The "empty nest" isn't quite yet. I think that happens when they all finally finish college and/or get married and move out on their own. For now, we're in the "yo-yo years." We get into a nice little routine of cleaner kitchen counters and bathrooms ... and suddenly they're back for Christmas or - really drastic - summer break. And leave again.

I'll say one thing. Being a mom is never stagnant. Kids blow from one life stage to the next and either you run like mad to keep up or get left behind, wondering where they went.

But at some point, we must let them run while we find contentment in a job well-done. I'm just learning how to do it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

the night I was born

Just past midnight on January 3, 1955, my mother had settled into bed after a long day of laundry and chores. She and my dad were in the middle of a move, and she was staying at her parents house. She prayed, "Lord, let me sleep before this baby comes." I was two weeks overdue already.

Wump! First labor pains began. Since my dad was settling things into the new house, my grandpa, Poppy, drove mom to the hospital. Literally, that's ALL he did. Mom remembered that a nervous Poppy pulled up to the hospital entrance and told my in-labor mother to "go on in while I park the car."

So in she walked, doubled-over, to bring me into the world. I think everyone's birth story is a special memory. Make sure you share your child's story with him or her!

Friday, January 2, 2009

where have all the snowmen gone?

You snowmen aficionados may now stop defending the snowman as a "winter symbol." They are not and I have extremely reliable research data as proof.

Tonight as I drove across town to pick up a pizza, I deliberately took several twists and turns, looking for snowmen: inflatable or otherwise.

If the snowman is truly a winter symbol, why have they all disappeared from front yards just 8 days after Christmas?

Further, where are the snowmen sweaters? Mugs, towels, plates and candle holders? I hazard a guess that most of the snowman bric-a-brac in stores is now reduced by at least 50%, with an additional senior citizen 15% discount on Wednesdays at Kohl's. Winter's only 11 days old, so why the hasty exit of the snowman if he's a rootin'-tootin' authentic winter symbol?

OK, my neighbor Dove probably still has a snowman flag on her porch, but that doesn't count. We've gone around concerning snowmen for years and she is leaving it out just to spite me.

Let's be honest. Snowmen are the brilliance of retailers to boost their Christmas profits, nothing more. Worse, snowmen have absolutely nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas. In fact, I maintain that snowmen represent the ultimate, disgusting secularization of Christmas.

The only good snowman is a real one, built after an 8-inch snowfall by kids who have no business staying in the house with their mothers. The bigger the snowman, the better.

While we're at it, let's put the song "Jingle Bells" in its rightful place: also a winter symbol. Go ahead, sing that song. Is Christmas even mentioned?

God sent his son to a dusty desert in the Middle East. We'd do better to hang donkeys, camels and olives on our Christmas trees.

Happy new year!