First Snow

The first "real" snow of the season.  Yuck. 

Murray loves it:




Christmas isn't Christmas without a red bow on our Rudy:

An Honest Look

I'm back.  It's been awhile.  Thank you for waiting.  

Depression has reared it's ugly head again. So many things piled up.  Imagine a grassy hill. In the summer it's green and lush, but in winter, it's covered with snow.  Depression for me (because it's different for everyone) is like when a snow plow keeps adding that snow to the hill until the pile is huge. Does that make sense?

Oh, poor me.  I should pick myself up, dust myself off, and get on with it.  Believe me, I'm trying, and hard. I have so many things to be grateful for.  I do, I really do.

But, depression doesn't work that way.  It's not that easy.  Depression is sneaky, and mean, and horrible. It's real. Trust me, it's real.

I'm a pretty good pretender, so I've been hiding under the covers (literally and figuratively) and living life as though I feel grand.  Today I was having a happy visit with a dear friend, and I'm not sure how it happened, but I had a complete melt down.  I cried about so many things. Said friend, being the beautiful person she is, talked me through it and calmed me down. I wish I had the words to explain how debilitating depression is.  But I don't, so I won't try.

I know the evil depression lies within me.  I have months when I'm feeling normal, and stints when I'm feeling terrible.  Knowing how to deal with depression is half the battle.  Exercise and eating well are on the top of my "depression war" list.  Prayer especially, helps.

My prayers are usually sent internally.  I don't voice them, but I do pray.  Today, on my daily walk with Rudy, I prayed aloud. I walked, and I prayed, and I cried. It felt so good to voice my prayers and blessings.

I know I'll be okay. I have lots of  family support, and God to see me through.  Other people have a hundred other problems.  I don't mean to pull the "woe is me card and my life is so terrible" card, because it's really not.  I have the BEST life.

My intention for writing this is to reach out to someone else who might be struggling with depression.
 It's time to get real and be honest.  Because it stinks.  It just plain stinks.

Christmas Cookies

I love to cook.  I hate can't bake.  Too much science and exact measurements are required for baking.  So when my SIL (sister-in-law, Randi) called last week, asking if we wanted to get together to help the boys decorate cookies, I cringed. It turned out that a quick run to the grocery store and some pre-packaged dough was what she had in mind.  We think alike.  Another reason why I love her.

So, we popped the pre-made cookies in the oven, and assembled our decorating materials.  Let the decorating commence!

While we were busy in the kitchen, the boys were squirting frosting (because fake frosting and fake cookies are how we roll) and dumping sprinkles.  When we went to check on them, this is what we found:



Notice that the cookies that aren't on the tray each have a bite in them.  Murray claimed that he was checking to make sure that they tasted okay.

Merry Christmas!

A Letter to Santa

I have recently received several verbal comments that my blog is too sad to read.  I have no idea why this bothers me, but I can't seem to brush it off. I admit, Murray's Momma is often peppered with topics that are serious, sad, or sometimes even depressing. I don't like to hide from the tough stuff, and frankly, I'm just not that funny.

But guess what? I will continue to write what I feel, and I sincerely hope that you'll stick with me.  I'm not ALWAYS that depressing, am I? 

Don't answer that. 

In an effort to lighten things up, the following is the letter to Santa that Murray composed last night.  He dictated, I wrote.  I did edit it just a tish, because he tends to ramble, and I didn't have the energy to hand write a novel.

Dear Santa,

I have been good but Owen has been bad so he goes on the bad list. You should call his mom and Linsay and tell them that Owen didn't help clean up so he is bad. I have been VERY good so can I have some cars, train tracks and a helicopter?


My mom would like a rockstot (a 12 qt. stock pot), a processer for food (food processor) and she wants new jammies.  So could you bring those for her?

Oh, and can you bring Legos so I can build whatever I want? I will leave you milk and cookies and some carrots for the deer, but I don't how you will feed them.
Love,
Murray (picture a 4-year old version of the letter "M")

Note:  Notice that DH wasn't included in the letter?  I'm assuming Santa won't be delivering presents with Craig's name on them. 

Merry Christmas!

Nala and Murray



Goodbye, sweet girl.  You were loved, and now you are missed. 

Sweet Nala


Update:  Nala passed away this morning.  Good bye, sweet girl.

I love dogs.  I love animals.  I always will.  Our golden retriever, Nala,  is the one with her head in my lap.  She's very old, and very sick.

Sadly, she's dying.  Slowly, but surely.  She can hardly walk; and if she does, she walks sideways (her right side doesn't sync with the left side), she suffers from bouts of confusion, where she'll stand in the middle of the room or yard and stare at nothing.  She's also incontinent.  She needs to be carried up and down a flight of four stairs and looks just plain miserable.  I LOVE her.  But, I can't stand to see her in this much pain.  It's breaking my heart.  Why haven't we put her down?  There are several reasons.

We realized that her health was declining when she no longer stood in the yard and barked, nor did she chase a ball, or even care about treats, her favorite motivator.

The day after Thanksgiving, she had her annual check-up. I was certain that Craig was going to call and tell me that Nala wasn't coming home.  Surprisingly, our vet declared her "very healthy for her age." Three days later, she deteriorated rapidly.  Now, she doesn't move, she doesn't drink water, and  she will only eat canned Iams. That's on a good day, when we can coax her to eat.  This, from a dog that once ate a 20 lb. bag of dog food by herself.

Craig has cared for Nala since she was six weeks old.  They've been through a lot. I can't tell him what to do, because if I were in the same situation with Rudy, I would appreciate the same respect. 

I don't want to sound cold-hearted, but I feel like it's inhumane to keep her with us.  She's obviously suffering.  No matter what we try to keep her comfortable, we fail. 

Some say, she's "just a dog", but to us, she's one of our best friends.

It's time; it won't be long now until she isn't with us anymore.  As hard as it will be, it's really time. I'm so sad.  She will be missed. 

Tomorrow morning, I will take her to her vet. Again. I just can't stand to see her in pain, and DH just doesn't have the heart to do it himself.  Good night, sweet Nala.  You've been a joy.

-MM


SLOW...DOWN

A wise woman once told me to slow down. It's taken me years to figure out what she meant. 

I think I get it now, though to stop being in a hurry is easier said than done when you have a personality like I do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not running around with my head cut off making sure our house is perfect (it's far from perfect), or sprinting back and forth checking laundry and fluffing pillows.

Although, I do have my moments.

For instance, give me a task and you'll never regret it.  When I'm in the mood or challenged, I won't disappoint.  If I feel like cooking, I'll go nuts in the kitchen.  If I feel like cleaning, everything from the baseboards to the tops of the windowsills will be scrubbed.  If I feel like doing laundry, I won't stop until every single article of clothing and linen is fresh, folded and in it's proper place.  The dog needs a walk?  We'll be back after five miles. Murray wants to do a project?  Never fear: I have an arsenal of art supplies and ideas.

But, this only happens when I'm in the mood.  I can be extremely organized, but I can also be extremely lazy. I find that the more organized I am, the more I'm allowed to be lazy.  Quite the catch-22, don't you think?

Let's get back to the wise woman who reminds me to slow down.  My Grandma. I've found that following her advice makes me enjoy whatever I happen to be working at, even if it's not a task that thrills me.  Because, when I slow down and take my time, I have pride in whatever it is I accomplish. And, if I take my time, well, you can imagine that things turn out quite a bit better than if I were in a hurry.  Slowing down takes a ton of practice (I even am trying to slow down my rate of speech), but each time I remind myself to take a deep breath and relax, I find so much more pleasure in accomplishing my goals. 

I love you, G.K. 

-MM

Let's Be Honest - Parenting Faux Pas

Have you ever had that parenting moment when you lost your cool?  I don't mean physically, of course.  I mean, that moment when you lost your patience and yelled at your child; words you wish you could take back?

I have to admit, I'm guilty.

We were on night six of Murray either a) refusing to go to sleep or b) climbing into our bed in the middle of the night.  We were sleep deprived and our kidneys were aching from being kicked by a four year old all night.

So much for our "no sleeping in our bed" policy. At 3 a.m., we just don't have the patience to fight it out.

Anyway.

Early one morning (very early, think 2 a.m.), I had moved Murray's mattress twice, carried ancient Nala down the stairs to go outside, carried her back up the stairs, and put Rudy out and back in. At last, I thought I would finally have a few precious hours of sleep.  But, as I was finally drifting off, I heard: "Mama, I don't want to sleep here."

Oh, good grief.

I wanted to scream, "Go the blankity blank blank to sleep!" (oh, I love you Samuel L. Jackson), but I restrained myself.  Instead, I muttered, "If you don't go to bed RIGHT NOW, I will call Santa and ask him not to come here on Christmas!"

 Thankfully, Murray didn't hear me, but still, I really hated myself at that moment. I am the absolute meanest Mommy in the universe.

After that, I didn't sleep either.

A Few Things

If you haven't noticed, I've been experimenting with background, font, and layouts with my blog.  I'm getting ready for my big debut on my own domain.  It's more complicated than I thought it would be...but the IT experts assured me that it would be worth it.  You can still find me here until I figure all of this out.

On another note, thank you so very much to those of you who have donated items to St. Gianna's maternity home.  I know how much your gifts will be appreciated.  I will be accepting donations until December 15th, and will ship donations boxes on December 16.  Hopefully, we can touch a whole lot of kids and mommies who so desperately need help.  Still needed are bathrobes (for the expectant mothers), aluminum foil, baggies, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, stamps, and gift cards (for groceries, supplies, etc).  Please consider helping these local women and children.  You can read more about St. Gianna's here.

Murray and I had our monthly 'date day' today.  Our special time together always includes breakfast out, a bit of shopping, lots of game playing, movies, books, puzzles, hot chocolate, popcorn and tons of snuggles.  He exhausts me, but it's so worth it.  These days are my favorite...I will cherish them forever. I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that as much as I love these days, I still look forward to nap time.  Which I'm off to now.  Because after that, it's time to play in the snow.

Yawn.

Four Years Old

Note:  I purposely did not show the faces of Murray's party guests, so as not to exploit children who aren't my own.  :)

Also, following is the addendum to this post.  I apologize for the delay.

When you were three, you loved to snuggle up with me and whisper secrets in my ear.

Not that you're four, you think it's great fun to give wet willies instead of whispering how much you love me.

When you were three, you loved to take a bath.
Now that you're four, you think baths are for babies and you prefer showers.


When you were three, Curious George made you laugh.
Now that you're four, you think tooting and smelly feet are hysterical. When you pass gass, you say, "Excuse me, a duck flew by." At least you say excuse me.

When you were three, we could answer your questions (kind of).
Now that you're four, you have us scratching our heads, searching for an answer that will suit you.

When you were three, you learned to count.
Now that you're four, you can do simple math. Yesterday you did 4-2=2 all by yourself. You are just like your Dad; you certainly didn't get the mathematical/analytical gene from me.

When you were three, you slept in your own room.
Not that you're four, you insist on sleeping on the floor in our room. You are so not sleeping in our bed. Unless you're sick.

When you were three, you weren't quite as independent.
Now that you're four, you play on your own more than you play with your Dad and me.

When you were three, your manners were impeccable.
Now that you're four, your're bossy and need to be reminded of good manners.
But, now that you're four, your Dad and I still think you are awesome. We love you, and always will.

But since your're four now, could you please remember to flush the toilet?

Happy 4th Birthday, Murray!
 Pony rides - introducing Izzy and Sari (Izzy is the pony)
 Cake
 Battery Operated cars

Photo credit:  Troy (a.k.a. J.P. #2)

Special thanks to our friends and family who spent the afternoon with us.  Also, thanks to Dakota Carriage Company for bringing sweet Izzy to our home.  

St. Gianna's Maternity Home

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla was canonized in 1962 by Pope John Paul II.  She was a loving mother of four, who gave her life to save her youngest child. She was diagnosed with a painful tumor while pregnant.  Had she endured the surgery necessary to save her life, her baby would have died. 

From St: . Gianna, "I renew the offering of my life to the Lord. I am ready for anything as long as my baby is saved."

The ultimate sacrifice. 

Read more about St. Gianna here.  And here.

Stay with me please, I do have a purpose.

Years ago, my late Mom was transferred  (for work) to a small town in northern ND.  I visited her often, and my route from Moorhead, MN to Grafton, ND, led me through the tiny town of Warsaw, ND. While driving through Warsaw, I always admired the Catholic Church of Stainslaus.
File:Catholic Church in Warsaw, North Dakota.jpg

Each time I traveled through Warsaw, I couldn't help but notice a vacant brick building directly across the street from the church. 

Here it is:



Several years ago, Mom related to me that this building was being converted into a maternity home for pregnant women and teens in crisis.

St. Gianni's Maternity Home opened in 2003.  Since then, they have helped many pregnant women in crisis.  My Mom and I were both in awe at the generosity of the sisters and staff who opened this amazing place.

Recently, I felt the urge to do something to help the families that turn to St. Gianna's, so  I decided to start a fundraiser.  I realize that we're in a time of economic crisis, but really, even $2 would help. 

Some suggestions, according to the website:  Cleaning products, stamps (for postage), household items (i.e. toilet paper, plastic baggies (any size), paper towels, paper plates, etc..

That said, I would really like to be able to send these moms, babies, children, and staff a few gifts for Christmas.  It could be gift cards, a gently used toy, gently used clothing, pesonal items, or anything else you can think of.  Anything would be appreciated.

Please contact me with questions or comments.  I would love to hear from you. You can find me at marie.beckerleg@gmail.com or 218-329-2268.

A picture of a room for a babe and his/her Mom:


 

Real World Parenting

Note:  The following clip contains foul language.

I don't use swear words very often, except for the occasional "dammit".  If the chardonnay is flowing, well, that's a different story.  But sometimes, there are moments in life when saying a bad word just makes you feel better.

My girlfriend sent the following to me.  DH and I laughed uncontrollably.  In fact, we're still giggling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU5Mi0QQPMc&feature=share&fb_source=message

Do you ever feel like this?

If You Were Still Here








Dear Mom,

If you were still here, you'd have called me at 6:00 a.m. this morning, and told me to have a good day.  Later,  I would've called you in the middle of the afternoon, needing advice, and then, of course, I would've called you on my way home from work, just to hear your voice.

If you were still here, you would lock up more 'bad guys'. I watched "Cops" last night, and cried through the entire show because it reminded me of you.   For such a small woman, you sure did intimidate some hard asses.

If you were still here, you and I would be in the kitchen together cooking and tipping back a few Keystones.

If you were still here, Rudy would be outside playing with Bubba and we'd be giggling at his antics. I can still see us lying in our lawn chairs, soaking up the sun and talking about anything and everything.

If you were still here, your gentle manner and wisdom would calm me in a way that no other person can.

If you were still here, I would have enjoyed your garden vegetables. You sort of had your own farmer's market.

If you were still here, you'd be freezing in this weather.  You always loved the sunshine and warm weather.  Me too.

If you were still here, you would snuggle up with Murray and teach him all about the world. He saw me crying this morning and burst into "Twinkle Twinkle".  He also knows the words to "You Are My Sunshine" - you would've loved that.  I'll never forget when you sang to me. I loved it (even though you were never able to carry a tune in a bucket).

If you were still here, you would say, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Look around and find something, anything, to be happy about. 

And Mom?  One more thing:  If you were still here, I wouldn't miss you so damn much.

Be at peace, Mom.  You're with me in spirit.

I Wasn't Ready For This

Note:  I had to keep editing this post due to Murray's antics. 

I wasn't ready for the "TALK."

It finally happened.  The day I was dreading.

Thank goodness I remembered the "birds and bees" discussion that my Mom had with me when I was four.

I was excited to tell Murray that my Dad's Gordon Setter, Madelyn, had her puppies tonight. This news brought on a slew of questions from little guy.

"How do the puppies get in Maddie's tummy?"

"How do they get out of her tummy?"

"But, MOM, how did they get in there?"

"How did I get in you to be born?"

Oh good grief.  I thought I could explain that God works miracles, and that Murray would accept this as a perfect answer.

Not so much.

So I launched into an explanation about how there are seeds and eggs, and they meet each other, and then a baby grows.

Wouldn't you think that this explanation would be satisfying to an almost-four year old?  I thought that it would.

It wasn't.  Not at all.

Insert DH snorting here, trying not to laugh.  We're trying to be serious because body parts are normal.

Murray said, "But how do the seeds and the eggs meet?  Okay, now I'm trying to hide my own laughter. 

So DH says, "Well, it's like a puzzle."

Huh? Again, good grief.

"Well, I said, when a Mom and a Dad love each other and are husband and wife, they share the eggs and the seeds to make a baby, and it grows in the Mom's tummy."

"But how does it get out?"

HELP HERE!!!!!! (Now DH is really snorting and laughing hysterically and I'm completely baffled).

"Well, it comes out of the Mom's vagina and the doctor helps."

"But, MOM, that's NOT what I was talking about.  I mean, HOW DOES THE SEED GET TO THE EGGS?" (Insert Craig giggling again and me throwing my hands in the air). 

"Because God said so."

It's Craig's turn next.

Date Day with Murray

Murray and I had the best day today.  We had a "date day"; we spent the entire day together. In no particular order:

1.  We slept in.
2.  We watched Curious George and ate breakfast sandwiches.
3.  We had a photo session at the park with Jennifer. Lots of giggling.
4.  We stocked up on art supplies.
5.  We shared hot chocolate.
6.  We worked on many "masterpieces".
7.  We took a nap together.
8.  We played several games of Memory and Candy Land.
9.  We set up his castle and ate homemade macaroni and cheese while we giggled some more.
10. We spent time with Aunt Maggie.
11. We sang songs and danced and read books.

Whew!  I'm exhausted.  Today was one of those days that you just know you'll never forget.

Our house is covered in finger paint and glitter glue, the dishes didn't get washed, and the laundry was ignored.  But you know, I just don't care.  When Murray woke up from his nap, snuggled in tight with me and said, "Mama, thanks SO much for staying with me today, I love you.", I realized that a dirty house is a happy home.

One more thing to remember:  When you're drinking cranberry juice and letting your child paint at the same time, be sure to keep the water glass separate from your juice. If you don't, you might accidentally drink the paint water instead of your juice and throw up.  Not that this has ever happened to me; I was just thinking about how gross that would be.

-MM

The Wild West

We spent the weekend in western North Dakota with my Dad (a.k.a. Grandpa Doug). He's lived in the town of Flasher, ND for almost 15 years. I graduated high school there - Go Bulldogs - and have a million or so memories of this amazing little town west of the Missouri.


We always have a great time when we visit my Dad, and this trip was certainly no exception. We played with his horse, took drives through the beautiful country, caught a few fish and exchanged lots of tall tales.

I want to tell you about Antelope Hills Lodge, the 1910 hotel that my Dad lives adjacent to and is helping restore. But I'm beat, so I'll leave you with a teaser: click here for a glimpse of Antelope Hills Lodge. The hotel really deserves it's own post, it's that amazing, plus, I have a ton of pictures to share.  You don't find a place like this very often. Stay tuned.

Now that my tummy is filled with homemade knoephla soup, fresh pheasant, and the absolute best breakfast (literally, I'm still craving it) that I've ever eaten - check out My Place Bar and Grill off Highway 21 if you visit - I think I'll tuck in to watch the Vikings. I leave with a few pictures of our adventures:
 
 Rinsing the last crop of potatoes.




 Out cold after a busy day with Grandpa Doug.





 Murray did all the work on this one.  He cast and reeled in a four pound northern pike.  If you can't tell, we're literally in the middle of a horse pasture. We even had to climb through a barb wire fence to get to the water. Note his Spider Man fishing pole on the ground.



We almost caught our limit, rather, Murray almost caught our limit.


Flasher, we'll be back soon.  You can't stop us.

I'm a Foodie

Note:  My host site went a bit crazy, so I've done a bit of editing.
If you've been following me on facebook, you'll know that I've turned into a new-age Betty Crocker-type recently.  I have no idea what's come over me, but it is what it is.  I just can't stop cooking. 

It all started with canning tomatoes.  I had so much fun and was so impressed with the results, that I decided to buy a pressure canner and try my hand at soup.  Turned out beautifully - Autumn soup and cheeseburger soup (and more canning tomatoes).  Because, who doesn't love soup? 

Two weeks ago, I made strawberry frozen dessert (even with homemade whipped cream) and Craig used my homemade salsa in a cheese dip.  Oh, and I cooked the original party (Chex) mix.

Next up, I baked a cheese souffle that was out of this world.  Even though it wasn't something that Chef Ramsey would call perfection, it turned out way better than I thought it would.

Today I made a double batch of chili and a double batch of good old-fashioned tuna noodle casserole.  I plan to keep a serving of each and freeze the rest in individual containers.

Baking, now that's another story.  Even DH won't eat my rock hard brownies.  I give him the baking credit; it doesn't matter how hard I try, I fail miserably at baking.  Even if it comes from a box.  Craig also has several dishes (his mashed potatoes rival the Top Chef, and he has mad grilling skills - charcoal only for him) that he prepares perfectly.  Sometimes, we even argue over who's going to be in the kitchen.  Only, I clean up the kitchen better than he does. 

Even Murray has the cooking bug.  He LOVES to help.

On the bright side, I have our freezer and pantry stocked, and there will be more coming.  I'm thinking more Autumn soup, a wild rice casserole, and Swedish meatballs are next on the menu.  And maybe an apple pie.  We're all about putting on winter weight.

Tomorrow night, we're having pork ribs, asparagus and brown rice.
.
I love food.  You're welcome to join us. 

Attack of the Pony

Murray and Mariana
Don't they make a great couple?
We spent a lovely afternoon at a local pumpkin patch yesterday with our friend Kristine, and her daughter, Mariana. It was by far the best patch we've visited. The kids had a blast with the many activities that the farm had to offer.

As you know, I love, love, love animals, so when I learned that they had a small petting zoo, I was more excited than the three year olds.  The baby goats were great fun, the cow kind of boring, the big horned sheep precious.  Next up, I visited the miniature horse.

I was gently petting this seemingly sweet guy when he started to nibble on my arm.  He got a bit agressive, so I turned around and attempted to walk away.  The darn creature put his hooves on the top of the fence and attacked.  I swear he was trying to eat me.  He bit me so hard that my skin was punctured.

Despite the fact that I can't sleep on my right side and my back is a swollen rainbow of colors, I find the whole incident pretty hilarious. Really, who gets attacked by a petting zoo pony? Clearly, I do.

This is what I felt like doing after the bite:


Whinny.  Giddy up.  Let the horse jokes begin.

Photo credit:  Kristine

The Latest

Note:  Edited. Please excuse the puncuation.  I'm still "yearning".

It's that time again, when I post some of my favorite conversations and "Murrayisms" that our dear boy has blessed us with.

Someday, I hope he'll get a kick out of these posts.  Or maybe, this will completely humiliate him and that will lead him to never having friends, and never finding his one true love, and then he'll have a complex and it will be all my fault.

Anyway. That's not going to happen for another 30 years, at least.

Overheard at bed time:  "Dad, are you wearing underwear?" "Yes, Murray, I am. Why?" Craig replies.  "Because wearing underwear makes you healthy and strong and so we should always wear them."

"Mama, how did the frog get in your froat?"  I tend to forget that he takes everything literally.

"Mom, I'm yearning!"  Learning, yes, yearning, no. And we should probably work on those "L" sounds.


"Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit."  Whoops, that would be my fault. Could be worse, I guess.

While playing hide and seek: "Mama, I'm going to take my shoes off so that I can hide in your bed." Where, oh where, could he be?

"Mama, I have a good idea! Let's go to Target and get a disco ball, they show rainbows! Good idea, right, mama?" What the heck? When questioned, he claimed that he heard about the disco ball on Curious George.

While cooking:  "Mom, I'm taking five.""  Where did that come from?

"Hey Mom! Whet's go outside and pway.  We could walk around the bwock, right?" Sure we can.  Let's keep working on those "L's".

"How can you get mad at this face?"  Thanks, dear cousin Kevin, for that one.  He uses this phrase every time he gets in trouble and it's impossible not to laugh.

Scene: bedtime. Tucking Murray in. Murray: "Mama, I don't want you to be a teacher."  But why not?, I asked.  Murray: 'Cuz I want you to be my mommy."

Thanks for being you and "yearning" so much.  Know you are loved, sweetheart, "L's" or not.

-MM

I WON!

One of my favorite bloggers, Crazy Aunt Purl, recently held a contest, and I WON!  Check out CAP's blog at http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/.  You'll love her.

-MM

Help Me Help You

Murray is at that stage where he wants to help.  And I mean help with Every. Little. Thing.  Craig and I encourage experimentation and feel that we might as well take advantage of this phase. 

Yeah, right.  Dumb idea.

For instance, on Sunday, I went a little nuts and decided to spend the day in the kitchen preparing for winter hibernation (i.e. canning). Murray was ever so helpful; mixing, pouring, and getting in my way "washing"  the dishes.  What would have taken me a few hours turned into an all day event.

That's only the beginning.  It took Craig and Murray over 45 minutes to vacuum and mop the floors yesterday.  And he did such a great job with our paper mache volcano project that it took a week in the sun to dry out.  He helped water the plants (and the floor), brush the dogs (much to their chagrin), feed the dogs (they were happy, they got an enormous portion), release a spider (yuck) and helped DH hang a mirror (while sitting on Craig's shoulders), and is now assisting Craig with supper (which, at this point, means staring at the oven waiting for the biscuits).  

Don't get me wrong; I'm thrilled that we're raising a helpful boy.  I have visions of Murray feeding the homeless, raising money for charity, and planting trees in the Amazon.

I just don't understand why this helping phase doesn't include picking up his toys.

-MM
P.S. Laugh track for the day:  While playing Hide and Seek tonight, I was the "counter" and Murray said, "Mama, I'm going to take off my shoes so I can hide in your bed."  Where could he be?

Dear Darla

Have you seen the 1990's version of "The Little Rascals"?  If you haven't, it's pretty cute.  Murray's watched it so many times, he can recite several lines.  Our favorite is:
"Dear Darla,"
"I hate your stinkin' guts."
"You make me vomit."
"You are the scum between my toes."

Only Murray's version is this:
"Dear Darla"
"I hate your stinkin' guts."
"You make me bomit."
"You are the skunk between my toes."

I realize this probably isn't the healthiest thing to teach your child, but the way he recites it is so funny that I make him do it several times daily.  Laughter guaranteed. 

On a completely unrelated note, you may have noticed that I haven't posted pictures and video clips in a long time.  This is because I had an old laptop that didn't support our cameras (they're ancient, too).  Anyway, last week, my computer finally crashed.  It crashed so hard that even Craig couldn't fix it.

I swear I didn't dump my glass of water on it intentionally. 

I was secretly thrilled and off I went to purchase a brand, spankin' new laptop.  But, my evil plan was thwarted.  DH, the computer genius that he is, decided that he could rebuild this old honkin' 1988 version of a computer, so we would only have to buy a new monitor.  I get it - we saved several hundred dollars.  Great plan.  Now, if I could just find the USB port on the damn video camera (new to us, but slightly used), I'd be able to add visual content again.  Finally.

After he finishes my math tutorial tonight, we'll have a new/used computer tutorial.  My homework is never done.  Sigh.
-MM

What Were You Doing?

Note: edited version.

September 11, 2001

I was a student at NDSU and living in a teeny apartment close to campus.  Recently single, I was nursing a heartbreak and several mugs of beer after my bartending shifts.

What I didn't know then was that society was about to change, and my broken heart was minuscule compared to the rest of the world.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up to The Today Show.  At 8:02 a.m. (central time)  I learned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought it was an accident, but just minutes later, I heard that second tower of the WTC had been annihilated, the Pentagon had been attacked, and Flight 93 had crashed. 

I will never, ever, EVER forget the angst of that day and the months following. I don't need to elaborate; we all have the horrible images etched in our memories.   

I made it to school the next day, but the silent and mournful faces on the sidewalks and in the classroom were eerie.  I remember sitting in my Child Development class while a jet flew over our building.  We all looked at each other with a terrified expression and literally ducked for cover.

We're all still hurting.  I don't think the pain will go away.  Several days after September 11th, 2001, I was visiting with a friend who said, "We're going to be scared for the rest of our lives, and our children's lives, and their children's lives."  Too right.  America will never be the same.

I can't imagine how the families and friends of the victims have suffered.  The thought makes me cringe.

I don't have the words or thoughts to express my sadness.  I can't even write about this anymore.  I'm sorry.  My heart aches.  Sending prayers.

-MM

Little Boys and Bugs

Our family moved to a new town when I was a sophomore in high school.  It was the middle of August, and our home hadn't been lived in for several months.  The house was quite clean, but we did have one problem; crickets.  They were everywhere.  It was so bad that I slept on the kitchen counter that first night.

I'm not a fan of spiders and bugs, but I can usually handle the removal of them.  If I see a cricket, though, I run for cover and stand on the nearest chair

I know my fear of crickets is silly. They don't bite and they can't hurt you.  Even so, they drive me crazy.  Crickets are awful; they make horrible noises, invade your home, and well, I won't elaborate on what happens when you step on them.  I'd ride on an angry bull before I would welcome a cricket into our home.  That's saying something for a woman who's scared to drive on the interstate.

So, today, when I picked Murray up from daycare, he and his pals were very excited about the grasshoppers that they had caught - I can do grasshoppers (I know, no rationality here) so I went to have a look.

Grasshoppers would have been acceptable, only they weren't grasshoppers, they were crickets. 

Yes, they were CRICKETS.  Our nephew was squeezing them, and Murray had one hopping all over his hand.  It took a lot of courage to be brave and say, "Wow, those are really neat!" especially without swearing like a sailor.

I have the willies just thinking about it.
-MM

How to Save Your Tomatoes and Sanity

I had a new experience on Sunday.  I was invited to can tomatoes.  I LOVE tomatoes, so I was thrilled to be included.  Although I've never been a part of the process, I was surprised to find that it was really fun and quite rewarding.

I won't get this perfect (so don't follow my recipe), but here is a sampling of the process:

Start with 4 cups of coffee.

Dress - in your worst clothes - they really don't need to be clean, but even so, you may want to smell nice so as not to offend your canning friends.
Buy -  tomatoes and ingredients (or if you're lucky, your canning friends will do it).

Pour more coffee.

Separate -  your lids from the jar, then sterilize all.
Chop veggies -  a ton of them (we did peppers, onions, and garlic).
Boil -  water in a large pot; douse tomatoes for 30 seconds, then, plop them into a sink of cold water (blanching).

Drink more coffee.

Peel - the tomato skins get soft, so it's easy to remove the skin after the blanching process.
Measure - important to have the correct amount of vegetables and tomatoes per batch - do this while chopping).
Canning - use a large mouth funnel.
Sample - very important to test your work, but make a bloody cesar.  This will help so that you can finish 2.2 more bushels.

Seal - I'm still confused about this process - I was too busy with the ceasars.
Label the jars.
Wash dishes.
Sample more salsa.
Drink more vodka.
Wash more dishes.
Seal more jars.
Label more jars.
Drink one more bloody ceasar.
Revel in the fact that you canned 4.5 bushels of stewed tomatoes and salsa.
Go home, exhausted but quite full of tomatoes and vodka.

I still smell like garlic.  Completely worth it.

-MM



Child Care Providers are Angels

Daycare is closed this week.  After all, child care providers deserve a vacation.  Actually, especially child care providers deserve a vacation.  After the morning I've had, I don't know how ours does it. 

Our three year old nephew, Owen, and Murray both go to the same daycare.  Their birthdays are five days apart and they're best friends (most of the time).  Since I don't have class on Thursdays, it only made sense that I watch both boys.  Two are easier than one - they entertain each other.  Or so I thought.

So far today, we've eaten eggs and pancakes, gone on a long bike ride, painted masterpieces, played with colored bubbles (I don't recommend this), spent time in the sandbox, set up the castle complete with balls, had a snack, sung the clean up song five times, and each boy has had a bout of tears - oh wait, Murray just started up again (Owen was trying to get out of the castle and accidentally kicked him in the face).  I've told them to share at least 52 times and constructed train tracks that rival Burlington Northern.

It's only 10:30, and already both boys are already battered.  Owen has a bruise on his cheek because Murray whacked him with a hockey stick.  Murray has a goose egg on his head because he tripped in the bathroom and somehow bonked his head on the step stool.  I've called our pediatrician twice and I'm living in fear that I'll have to call again - or worse, call the ambulance. 

At least they haven't peed in public like they did on Monday when my father-in-law had them.

Is it too early to put them down for a nap and pour a glass of chardonnay?

Hats off to child care providers everywhere.  You are angels waiting for wings.

-MM

2 Kool 4 Skool

Note:  I've edited this about thirty times, so please, keep in mind that if you find any grammatical or spelling mistakes, well, it is what it is -nothing new.  I should put this disclaimer on every post.  :)

You're probably tired of reading about my back-to-school ventures, but since today was the first day of class, I couldn't resist just one more post on the subject (at least for a while).

I have been so excited for this new chapter in my life. 

Until yesterday.

I was quietly reading the Sunday paper, when out of the blue, cold fear washed over me.  I ended up in a doozie of a panic, moaning,  "What am I thinking?"  Since my Mom isn't around for me to whine at, I did the next best thing; I called my Grandma. 

As soon as I heard her voice, I promptly burst into tears.  I gave her my best "oh-poor me-I'll never get this-how will I manage-my family will suffer-I will be the biggest, oldest dork in class-and I'll fail miserably" speech.  She gently but firmly reminded me that I'm already a step ahead of the college game and pointed out the advantages that I have over so many others.  "One day at a time", she advised.  "When you've kayaked too far and think you can't make it back home, just remember, one paddle at a time.  You'll get there." "Savor each day and when you have bad days (and you will), focus on the end result and what you want out of this".  Such sound advice - I wish I could bottle it. 

After my talk with Grandma, I felt much better.  But then, those ominous hours of dark rolled around, and I found myself sleepless; so much so that I was awake most of the night imagining worst-case scenarios while I attempted to persuade my brain to take a break and rest.

I wrestled with sleep all night.  Craig didn't have to wake me up this morning because I was already on the couch, scaring myself silly.  When he came out of the bedroom, bleary-eyed, at 6:30 a.m. and said, "It's time to get ready for school.", I wanted to reply, " No s***, Sherlock,  I've been been up all night scared out of my mind." But that wouldn't have been nice, so I bit my tongue and wearily headed for the shower.

By the time we were ready to leave the house, I thought I was going to throw up. I was shaking and my legs felt like rubber.  I was early for my 8:30 a.m. class, so I sat in Craig's office trembling, attempting to drink coffee without spilling it.  I reminded myself how ridiculous it was to be so scared, but sometimes anxiety isn't a reasonable force to reckon with.  Craig must have noticed the fear on my face, because he offered to walk me to class (I know, how sweet is that?).  On the way over, he reassured me that I would be just fine and that he would help me in as many ways that he could.  The guy has big shoulders (I have an amazing support system).  Good thing he has a degree in math and is brilliant (although, him tutoring me has the potential to cause serious marriage trouble).  As I write this, he's reading my math book with more enthusiasm than a raccoon raiding a cooler.   

I arrived at my first class and waited in the hallway because there were already students in the classroom. A lady at the front of the room was talking to students that were seated, so I assumed that the class prior to mine wasn't finished.  I soon discovered that she, too, was an O.T.A. (older than average) and just as scared as I.  I think I'll make her my new best friend.

The rest of the day went fairly smoothly, despite that I had a math (sigh) quiz on the first day.  It should have gone something like this:
a:  Marie is not the oldest person in her math class.
b:  Marie is definitely the oldest person in her other three classes.
c:  Who cares?
d:  Marie needs to buy stock in erasers.
d:  None of the above.
e:  All of the above.

Answer:  E
Write this down - there will be a test. 
-MM
P.S.  Murray has been saying things like, "when I get 31, can I come to your college?"  And, "Mom, I'm off to school to do my homework!" (while running around with my backpack)  I hope this is an encouraging sign for the future.

Sick Day

Murray is sick.  I hate it when he's sick.

He developed a fever late yesterday afternoon, and complained of a sore throat and a headache.  As soon as I heard, I rushed to the local pharmacy and purchased every little thing I could think of to make him feel better.  Acetaminophen, orange juice, chicken noodle soup, a new thermometer, etc. 

After he spit out half of the dose of medicine I gave him, I put a cold washcloth on his head and put him on DH's lap.  I had him sip soup from a mug, encouraged fluids, and gave him a tepid bath.  Just call us the Spock's. 

At 7:30 p.m. or so, he suddenly perked up and decided it was time to run around the house.  Craig and I attempted to settle him down, but soon gave up when he showed no signs of feeling ill - it had to be the acetaminophen.

Murray slept with me, so Craig got the boot to the couch (he insisted he would sleep better, I didn't make him, I swear).  Other mommies know that when your child is ill, even if he/she is sleeping soundly, you wake up every fifteen minutes or so to check foreheads for fever and signs of respiratory complications.  I am one of them.  I'm exhausted.

This morning when Murman woke up, he demanded breakfast and PBS Kids, just like any other morning.  I felt some relief, thinking that I was a genius mom/nurse.  Not so much.

He's not complaining of aches and pains anymore, but he's been extremely lethargic and doesn't have have an appetite (he only ate 2 french toasts sticks at breakfast instead of the normal four).  This, from a kid who acts like the Energizer Bunny, eats 8 meals a day, and asks for a snack five minutes after he's put his dinner plate in the sink. 

So, Murman and I spent the day taking it easy.  I've watched 'Toy Story 3' twice, 'How to Train Your Dragon' once, and more PBS Kids then I can handle.  I missed my trashy daytime t.v. and ignored the laundry.  We snuggled on the couch and ate chicken noodle soup and drank copious amounts of ice water and orange juice.

Sick days aren't so bad after all.

-MM

Older Than Average

Note:  Edited version.

I hate to say it, but autumn is upon us, which inevitably brings a new school year. One more week until classes begin for fall semester. It looks to be a long three years, but I think I'm finally ready to do the college thing - and do it well. (am I finally growing up?)


The start of school has always made me feel that I have a chance to begin again; a fresh start. It's a wonderful feeling, but it's also a bit intimidating.

Take, for instance, a kindergarten kid walking into class for the first time, or teenagers joining the ranks of junior high or high school. I remember it well -it's kinda scary to be the new kid.

At the age of 30-something, I'm going to be the new "kid" again. I'm diving back into the collegiate life as an older than average student. Now I'm the one who will have the awkward moments and feel unsure of myself. I will be out of fashion and I'll be the nerd who sits in the front row and writes down every word the professor says. I'll roll my eyes at what I think about my 19-year-old classmates ("like, did you go to the kegger at Alpha Omega Delta last night? Like, it was SO lame and can you believe, like, she wore that? Gross.) when really, I'm just a tiny bit envious.

Likely I'll be forced to do a group project with said young adults and they'll teach me some important life lessons. After all, I could use some education.

Wish me luck.

-MM

Daddy's Hands

I love it when my Dad visits, which he did last weekend.  He's a big kid at heart but also an awesome father to my sister and I and grandfather to Murray.

Murray thinks the world of him - we all do, but in Murray's eyes he is nothing short of a hero.  The feeling is mutual.  Grandpa Doug took part in water fights (the rest of us watched), pretended to be a jungle gym, took Murray on long walks, played endless games of hide and seek, and woke up every morning to cuddle and watch PBS. The two of them read books and sang songs and played Memory.  He set up a tent and told the ghost story of the "Blue Bear" and practiced casting with a new fishing pole.
 
The special relationship that the two of them share brings a flood of my own memories.  My Dad and my sister and I have always enjoyed a special bond, (although we were equally close to our Mom.  We have great parents.)  Dad held my hand when I was in pain, counseled me through fights with my friends, scolded me when I was late for curfew, cried when I went to prom, took me hunting and fishing, and put together my bunk beds when I moved into the dorm.  He was there when my Mom was sick and died, helped me through countless heartbreaks, walked me down the aisle, and welcomed Craig to our family.  When Murray was born, he was so excited he could hardly speak.

The best thing?  He still does all of those things for his adult children.  When I'm sad, he lets me cry.  When I'm mad, he lets me rage.  He believes in me and gives me (too much) credit.  He gently lets me know if I'm wrong.  He adores my sister and I, and wants to help us when we're in need.  He has the hands of a worker and the heart of a child; never questioning, always loving.

No family is perfect and ours certainly isn't. We all have our ups and downs and battles to face.  But at least we have each other.  Thanks, Dad.

-MM

For Posterity: Conversations With Murray

Since my camera refuses to sync with my computer and I'm feeling the need to record some things again, I'm posting more Murrayisms.  Here we go:

Murray:  Where did we get that? (referring to a dresser)
Me:         From Grandma Kathy (clearly I meant our storage unit that houses her things)
Murray:  Did she drop it?




Murray:  Mama, you're SO BEAUTIFUL (I'm not making this up and I may have already blogged about this but it's my favorite)




Murray:  Mom, could I have my own? (while sharing popcorn)
Me:        Yes, I'll get you a bowl.
Murray:  No, I mean stop eating it, please.  (so much for sharing)



Murray:  Please show me what time it is. (while looking at a clock)
Me:         Well, this is the big hand and that means hours, and this is the little hand and that means minutes, and each number stand for five minutes, and then you count by fives so the number one means it's five after the hour and the number two means it's ten after the hour... (insert Charlie Brown's teacher)
Murray:   Great, Mom, but what time are we going to Grandma Mary's house?


Craig:     Murray, have a good day.
Murray:  Dad, have fun at work and have a GREAT DAY. (agreed)

Murray:  Dad, when are we going out west? (to see Grandpa Doug)
Craig:     Not sure, but probably in a few weeks.
Murray:  How many sleeps is that? 


Murray:  Mom, they won't let you work anymore because they can't give you money?  (right on, son)


Murray:  I love my Rudy and Nala and Grandma Mary and Grandpa Dennis and Grandpa Doug and Grandma Kathy in heaven and Maggie and Grandma Kate and Grandpa Jack and...well, I forgot who else.
Me:        Well, all of those people love you too.
Murray:  Do they?

Of course we do, dear boy.  You are a gem. 
P.S.  Grandpa Doug is on his way.

-MM

All Talk and No Action: Abortion vs. Adoption

Note:  This post may be offensive to some. I will not judge you, but  I will not apologize for my thoughts.

I admit that I can be all talk and no action. 

Several weeks ago I discussed joining my friend and fellow blogger and Mom friend, Roxane, on the sidewalk at the Red River Women's Clinic.  I wanted to pray and reach out for the people that feel that pregnancy is an impossible situation.  So many people would welcome a child into their loving arms, if only the men and women considering abortion would see that there is an alternative.  My husband and I are blessed with adopted children in our lives.  A friend of mine said recently, "Biology doesn't make you a parent". (Thanks, Kristine.)  How very true.
At the last minute, I admitted to Roxane  that I was terrified to accompany her on the sidewalk. So, I didn't go with her.  I'm ashamed that I was too scared to join her plight, but when we discussed it (via writing) she was incredibly supportive.  She understood that I wasn't ready, and encouraged my prayer and thoughts without a hint of judgement.  What an awesome person God has blessed my life with.  I'm grateful for her friendship.

I will always believe that abortion is wrong; the very thought of it makes me cringe.  But right now, I'm praying that soon I'll be able to join Roxane on the sidewalk and have the courage to stand up for my convictions.
-MM

Grocery Store Helpful Hints

Recently I've taken on the chore of grocery shopping.  What was always Craig's task has now become mine - by choice - after all, why should he put in a long day and then come home only to run to Hornbacher's?  It certainly isn't my favorite household job, but I have a new appreciation for marketing.  Especially now that I'm addicted to cooking shows. 

Some things I've learned:
  1.  The best time of day to shop is late morning.  The shelves are stocked, the produce is fresh and there isn't a large crowd.  This is useful knowledge since I tend to get shopping cart rage.

  2.  People at this time of day (say around 10 or 11 a.m.) are more inclined to commiserate. There's something endearing about discussing how to ripen fruit or the quality of meat at the butcher.  No one is in a rush, we're all just taking our time perusing the aisles.  So refreshing compared to the hustle and bustle of a five o'clock trip to the store.

  3.  The cashiers tend to be a bit more relaxed and chatty.  I equate this to not having to deal with "happy hour" at the grocery store.  I should note that I've never, not once, had a rude clerk at Hornbacher's (which is why we shop there).

  4.  The employees who bag your items and put them in your car really do appreciate a tip.  Now if I could just get them to come over and put my groceries away.

  5.    It's best to make grocery shopping your one errand for the day.  Otherwise, you could lose a whole chicken and a liter of Coke in your truck (but this has never happened to me).

I still dislike buying groceries, but in a month or so I'll wish I had the time to make the trip.  Good thing Hornbacher's delivers.

-MM

It's Official

I'm officially a student again.  I have never been more excited than I am now.  Even for my math class.

It's so gratifying to know that this time, without a doubt, I will finally walk across that stage and accept my diploma.

I digress.  I'm getting ahead of myself.  It's going to be a long few years.  My family will suffer, my home will suffer, but I'll make up for it, I swear I will.

There are four people who have motivated me to get the job done:

  1.   My Mom.  While co-parenting with our Dad, and a separated family, she graduated from college at the age of 33 and had a successful career in law enforcement.  She also managed to be the best mom.

  2.  My Dad, who, with two small girls, finished college, married my Mom. After that, he finished his Master's degree. My Dad is pretty neat.

  3.  My sister finished her degree even though we were in the midst of our Mom being sick and then dying. She also just received a promotion (again) and is thriving being a paralegal.

  4.  My high school friend, Amanda, graduated from college a while back.  I was so impressed while following her journey.  I think it's awesome that she had to courage and tenacity to finish her degree.

I don't necessarily do things "perfectly" or follow society "rules", but I do have the best family and friends.  Thanks to you who have set an example. 

-MM

Spoiled with A Chance of Changes

Note:  Edited for error.

I have it pretty good these days.  I admit, I'm spoiled.

Since the unfortunate firing elimination of my position at work, I've had the time to be keep the house (fairly) clean and have dinner on the table when Craig gets home.  I'm on top of laundry and my organization skills are really coming along, as well they should, since I don't have an 8-5 job.

I love this time in my life.  It will be short-lived because - drum roll here - I will be a full-time student in a few short weeks (yeah, I know, again).  I love having extra time with Murray without rushing around in the morning and scrambling to get out the door (now I just scramble eggs).  I love that I have the time and energy to cook again.  I love having the time to read and write.  I love that every closet and drawer in our home is at least semi-organized.  I love spending more time with the hounds and keeping them brushed and looking good.  I love watching the Cosby Show in the morning and Oprah re-runs from in the afternoon while I fold laundry. 

The month of August will again bring changes and add a new dimension to our lives.  I wonder if I can be a good Mom, wife, and homemaker and a good student at the same time?  I'll let you know in a month or two.  Right now, I have clothes to put away and dinner to prepare.

-MM

A Rubber Tub

I'm in a sentimental mood.  Here's why:

Lately I've been focusing on getting closets/drawers/bedrooms organized.  I want to have our house in order before school starts in August.  I've discovered some wonderful items (even Craig's Scheel's gift card that was lost long ago) and have been puttering around, willing myself to find a place for things.

Yesterday I started the long dreaded task of cleaning Murray's closet.  The majority of the contents include our Mom's files and memories that we tossed into a Rubber Maid tub when we cleaned out her house, to be dealt with when we felt a bit better.  I didn't know that three years later, I would still feel the same raw grief that I felt when she got sick, the morning she died, and the months after. 

Despite my sadness, I've had a lot of smiles and laughter.  Our Mom saved things that only a mother knows would be important someday.  My journals from high school (oh the shame), Maggie's ridiculous drawings, other items that Mom must have know that we would appreciate.  I'm catching a glimpse of the  quiet, gentle and committed woman that she was.  I found two of her four badges (my sister has the others) and I had to sit still and cry for a while.  That's the catch 22 of memories:  the good ones never fade, but the bad ones don't either.

So, while reminiscing in my shared childhood and adulthood with my sister, my Mom's motherhood, and life in general, I can say that it's been a good experience.  Healthy, cathartic.  It's not easy, but I'm determined to finish the project  - Mom always said, "Do things well and completely" - and so I will. 
 
But maybe tomorrow.  And with my sister. 
MM

A Taboo Topic (But Not Anymore!)

I'm pro-life. 

I have always believed so.  I didn't know how much I've believed until recently.

Have you ever had the experience that you are on the outside looking in?  Or have you ever just realized something different from what you thought after it happened to you?  How has it affected you?  What did you do (or would have done) differently?

The reason for my questions is what my good friend, Roxane has inspired me to ask.  Peace Garden Mama (a.k.a Roxane) puts abortion into a perspective that I am incapable of writing.  I thank you, Roxane, for allowing me to re-post your writing.  The words that follow are not my own, but they are poignant and true.
I see hope; the tenacity of a fragile stem ignoring what should be possible, pushing toward light despite the hostile environment it is bound to enter. 

This photograph speaks to me in a particularly vivid way right now, especially concerning a recent calling of the heart. Despite my intentions, I've been finding myself lately on the sidewalk in front of North Dakota's only abortion facility. Yes, moi, the gal who always thought her pro-life convictions would be best shared in a "safe" place. Through the written word, for example, or a radio interview, but certainly not as an active sidewalk-counselor-in-training.

About a month ago, I interviewed on our local Catholic radio station the woman -- Elizabeth McClung -- who helped effect the conversion of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson to the side of life. When I listened to the podcast of that interview a few weeks later, I was jarred to hear myself telling Elizabeth that praying for life publicly "isn't for everyone." I was speaking about myself.

But then Abby came to Fargo and I had a chance to hear her story in person, both from her mouth and through her bestselling book, Unplanned. When I realized Elizabeth's prayers and the flowers and card she had offered Abby two years before her conversion had made a difference, despite many days, weeks and months of it all seeming futile, things changed inside of me. When Abby challenged us to not forget about what she'd shared, and insisted the women seeking abortions needed to hear our voices, I could no longer ignore the still, small voice within me.


Then again I might have, if not for my 13-year-old daughter, who'd also met Abby.


"Mom, can we stand out on the sidewalk again this Wednesday?" she asked a few days before "abortion day," the week following our meeting with Abby. It nearly took my breath away to hear her request, but I recognized the opportunity at once and knew I could not diminish it.


"Sure, let's do that," I said, not quite believing what was happening. Her young voice was rising above the din of my doubts, giving me courage to shoo away my timidity.


"No offense, Mom," she added, "but maybe, because I'm younger and all, I might make more of an impact."


"You know, you could be right about that," I said, not able to deny wisdom as it stared me in the face.


Indeed, her presence could well make a difference. It already had. The week before, as we stood there with the others praying in the rain, a car full of hecklers driving past yelled obscenities at us from our sidewalk perch.


"What was that?" she asked, turning to me. Then, in an impeccably timed moment, she added, "Oh, they must just be jealous of my good hair day."


It's exactly what I needed to decrease the tension and sadness I felt watching one woman after another walk into the facility, knowing she would come out a changed person, and not for the better. As one bumper sticker I read recently says: "Abortion: one life lost, another wounded."


This week I returned without my daughter, who was out of town, and though I'm still a sidewalk newbie, I'm starting to get the hang of it. I know where I can and can't stand ("Don't touch the green carpet!"). I've gotten to know some of the names of the abortion facility escorts; some of whom are very aggressive toward those who've come to pray, others who are quieter, perhaps new like me, just trying to figure things out.

And I've discovered that I'm not content to only pray, though prayer is certainly one of the most valuable things I can do. I've reached out to several of the escorts in an attempt to get to know them. One of them was very receptive this week. I know that everyone, no matter what side of the sidewalk they're on, truly believes they are helping women. But I also know that it can't be the case that taking life is ever a positive, and that I have entered the front lines of a war zone. Lives of the mothers, the babies, and all those who love them are at stake.

I can't completely explain what has compelled me to take up a post on this sidewalk of all the sidewalks in North Dakota, but I definitely feel it as a strong stirring, an urgent call to action, though certainly not one I would have willingly chosen.


Perhaps God has had this in mind for me for a long time, but I've only recently become ready. I'm beginning to think that might be the case. Regardless, I'm becoming bolder. I want to meet the workers of the facility and somehow, in whatever way I can, give them the same sense of hope I've experienced while looking upon a weed that refuses to give up on light
 
Thank you, Roxane, for touching on a sensitive topic. So many people are unable or unwilling to discuss abortion.  I can't preach that I'm an expert.  I know I haven't done enough to stop this.  But now I can be pro-active.  I'm joining my courageous and diligent friend, Roxane on Wednesday on the sidewalk.

Prayers to unborn babies and to the women and men who are confused.  There are always options.

If you'd like to see the original post, go to http://www.peacegardenmama.com/



New Blog

Check out this hiliarous post from one of my new favorite blogs "The Mouthy Housewives".  Thanks, Mama Kat, for introducing me!

-Murray's Momma

Dear Nook People

Dear Barnes and Noble People From Whatever Country I Just Called,

Thank you for keeping me on hold for twenty minutes.  I was able to get a lot of work done while I waited for you to answer.

I also appreciate the politeness of the customer service representative that I spoke with although I think I could have understood sign language over the phone better than I could understand what you were trying to say to me (but you probably feel the same way, so it's not really your fault).

What I don't understand is that you continually put me on hold (yes, three times, check the records) to ask the "expert of consumer management" while I patiently wait for my problem to be solved.  I also don't understand that when I asked for a tracking number after the first two times of being on hold, you told me that the "expert of consumer management" declared that a confirmation number wasn't necessary, and that if my product wasn't delivered in 2-3 more days that I should call you back; again.

There are worse problems in the world than my accesorries being shipped on time.  So I hope that all of you in Minot and the surrounding communities are safe, and know that you are in my prayers.  God bless you.    

Before I sign off for today, I have to give DH credit; after working on the yard (the only 2 times he's been home this week), he's had to cancel twice in the middle of a project to make sure that the baby birds are okay.  He's had mama birds dive him twice and been yelled at a lot.  Bird mamas are just like human mamas.  I would do the same.  The baby birds are safe, and it's number 1,543,600 of the reasons that I love this man. 

Happy Husband's Day!

Yesterday I took Murray shopping, explaining to him that Father's Day is on Sunday and that we were going to buy Daddy a gift and a card.  It was to be a surprise, and he was sworn to secrecy.

What was I thinking?

Shopping mission accomplished, Craig returned from meetings and Murray excitedly said, "Dad, we got you a present for Husband's Day!" We both cracked up and finally, a wounded Murray looked at us and sadly asked, "What's so funny?  Stop laughing!".  When we could breathe again, I asked Murray who his Daddy was to me.  "He's Craig, Mama", he replied. 

Oh dear. 

A ten minute conversation ensued while Craig and I attempted to discuss the dynamics that are a family, which led to a lot of "why's" and ended with "only mamas and daddies can kiss on the lips, you know."

I think we'll leave the rest of the birds and the bees talk for a much later date.  We can only hope we satisfied his curiosity, at least, until he's 25.

Happy Husband's Day!

A Mid-Summer's Update

It's hard to believe it's the middle of June.  It's been a very busy summer!  Here's the latest in the "Murray's Momma" household.

Sadly, we decided to find a new home for Kirby, our 5-year-old cat.  My allergies were worse than ever this spring, and unfortunately, Kirby's dander was a contributing factor.  A wonderful graduate student adopted him, and she takes extremely good care of him.  She even takes him on walks. I know he's getting the attention and love he deserves.

We still have both dogs, who thankfully, don't irritate my allergies.  Let's hope it stays that way. 

As much as we love relax at the lake on weekends, we haven't had as many lake days as we'd like this year.  A lot of this is due to the imminent state government shut down.  Craig has been busy with emergency meetings and phone calls.  Yesterday, we found out that Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) will allow the colleges to use money that's in reserve in order to stay open.  This is of great relief not only for our family, but thousands of MNSCU employees across the state.  For the sake of the state, we are praying that Governor Dayton and the legislature will put politics aside and come to an agreement that is best for all.

Murray is growing and growing and talking and talking, and TALKING!  He's such a chatterbox that the only quiet time around our house is when he's asleep (and sometimes even in deep REM he's still yapping).  His latest favorite phrases include:  "Oh Yeah, oh yeah!", the words "and also" and "why?"  Sometimes, our conversations go like this:

Murray:     Mama, I LOVE you.
Me:            I love you too, Murray.
Murray:     Do you?  Oh, of course you do.
(this always cracks me up)

Or, there's this:

Me:           Murray, please brush your teeth, we're almost ready to go.
Murray:     Mama, the dentist said I have to brush my teeth 2 times, you know?

(I love it when he adds the "you know" at the end, although I'm sure someday, I'll regret it)

So while this sounds like a Christmas letter, I guess it's more of a mid-year update.  I will post again soon; next time, with pictures and hopefully, a stimulating conversation starter.  Stay safe and dry this weekend.  Until next time...TTFN.

Marriage = Teamwork

We all have things that we excel at and then, there are those other things that we could do a bit better.  For instance, when it comes to our household, DH is the picker-upper-organizer-put-things-in-their-place guy.  Myself, I'm the sanitizer-scrubber-make-sure-the-ants-stay-away guy.  Craig is also the do-the-laundry guy, but I'm the clean-clothes-putter-away-guy.  Our personalities work beautifully when we sync.  And when we do, we're an amazing team.  
There are times though, when we aren't on the same page.  Last week, I decided to clean the entry way.  Doing so, I shoved everything from it into the front porch and put back what we needed...and left the rest...in the porch.  Craig was sweet not to say anything and he still isn't pushing me about finishing the job I started.  I suppose it has to do something with the fact that he cleaned the truck and put the junk in tubs (that I had purchased to organize the porch stuff) and placed them on one of the couches.  At least his mess is contained and we can approach it when we have some time.  Besides, most of it is the boxes from my old office which I'm still struggling with the fact that I have to put away.  Sometimes, when I know that DH has a particularly busy travel schedule, I will even help with the mowing (this doesn't sound like a big deal, but our mower is self propelled and only has one speed - FAST - which means I'm literally running behind it and wheezing and sneezing the entire way).  Doing chores that will ease his load makes me feel as though I'm a contributor.

But when we go to Craig's parent's home, or the lake, we manage to stick together.  I may help with cooking or cleaning, but Craig is mowing, updating the computer, picking up dog remnants, washing the boat or dishes, and what have you.  My point is simple: even when we don't agree, it usually works out in the end.

This is one of the very many beautiful things about marriage; pray together, stay together.  Work together, stay together.  It just doesn't get any better. 

God bless our late, injured and active troops. 

One more thing:  Does anyone know how to transfer pictures from my phone to my blog?  I've tried, but it's not working.  Thanks in advance!

The Ant Saga: Part II (or is it three or four) and Other Stuff

I have scrubbed, and when I say that, I mean bleached, scrubbed, and rinsed every single surface in this house.  Door frames, walls, ceiling fans, cupboards, the refrigerator, window sills, and base boards.  I've cleaned the basement, pulled out every piece of furniture and appliance and scrubbed underneath and behind.  After all of that, I sprayed Raid Indoor (twice) and sprinkled the outside with ant killer.  So when I spotted the darned ant again, I was livid.  But, I "re-Raided everything I could think of (besides Murman), and then, it happened.  If ants could fly, then that's what they did.  A trail of them (and a large one) streamed from behind the fridge (said area was raided, then scrubbed, and then raided again with me yanking the damn thing out myself a week prior from today) and then I lost my marbles.  My rage could be a combination of losing my job, struggling and juggling homework and the house and the fact that there are only four more episodes of Oprah, but I did it - I flipped.   I don't think it has anything to do with anything other than my war against the S&*^$ ants.   Please allow me to remind you that this house has been as clean as a hospital since the "unfortunate incident".  I just can't get rid of the ants, and I've tried EVERYTHING!  Suggestions?  Please? Anyone?  HELP!

Good news to share; I've scored very well on my first few assignments.  Summer courses, especially online are incredibly demanding and I'm thrilled that I've been able to not only keep up, but make the grades!  Go me!

I went back to the doctor yesterday because my allergies have been getting worse.  I love Dr. J.,  but I should have just called the Great G.K., an expert on most things, one of them allergies.  She reminded me that not only is the cat a problem (sadly) but so are feather pillows and any sort of dander.  When I used her words of wisdom to analyze the symptoms I've been having, so many things made sense.  In fact, please excuse the poor paraphrase: G.K. said, "Allergies are cumulative.  The more triggers you add, the worse the symptoms become."  What I thought was strange is that for most of my life, I haven't had seasonal allergies.  I learned that they can develop over time, and best of all, I'm not a hypochondriac.  At least, I think not.  So for now, I'm closing the windows, the cat has a new home, and tomorrow, I'm going pillow shopping.  The good news?  My oven is clean. 

Happy weekend.  My your life be allergen free and your floors never be dirty.  Good luck with that.  :)