Archive for November, 2007

giving thanks

Last Thursday morning started as if it was being led by a director and his crew of producers. Bright white snowflakes fell from the sky in perfect syncopation leaving a duvet of feathers on our lawn.

Ava clapped her hands with glee over the snow, “Christmas is coming. Christmas is coming,” and then squealed when the Macy Day parade started it’s march down 42nd Street.

We placed her table and chair in front of the monitor Nate calls a t.v., and she ate her porridge as Mary Poppins swept good cheer all over Rockefeller square. Two minutes later, she cried, “Daddy, oh no it’s gone. The parade’s gone!”

“No, Ava that’s just a commercial. It will come back.”

“What’s a commercial?”

Please don’t mock. It’s true and sad and good all rolled together. Ava is what we called television-delayed.

No worries, Grandma Penny is a Special Ed teacher and ready for this new challenge. I’m fairly certain that Ava’s stocking will be packed full of Looney Tunes, Mickey Moose, and Sesame Street this year.

Meanwhile, I tied on my apron strings and headed to the kitchen to make the pies that I was going to make on Monday, then Tuesday, then Wednesday, well you get the picture.

As Snoopy came bumbling through the sky, I tried to salvage the pie dough that I had made the night before. It had mysteriously morphed into a lump of clay, impenetrable and definitely unrollable–but apparently delectable to both Ava and her daddy. Every commercial break she would dart in the kitchen for a “sample.”

After I shed more tears than anyone should over pie dough, I pulled down my flour Bannister and started again. An hour later, I had a soft malleable pie dough.

“It’s like play dough,” Ava declared. Nate says she has a gift for stating the obvious. I’m not sure it’s gift, but it tends to be rather obvious.

Together, we rolled, cut, and crimped two pie crusts. As soon as they were filled pecan and pumpkin goodness, we waved goodbye to Santa and his sleigh and set off for Grandma’s house. We arrived promptly two hours late so as not to disappoint Grandpa Lyle.

Eating at Grandma Penny’s is always a treat. Besides the extra juicy turkey, we had her amazing dressing, mashed potatoes, the gravy made by committee, The Pioneers Woman’s sweet potatoes (they are so good, they will make you cry and then croak from the amount of butter), steamed green beans with toasted almonds, candied baby carrots, and Ava’s cranberry sauce (which everyone loved except Ava. She thought it was going to be more like jello).

Of course, I don’t have a single picture of any of the food or of us eating it. I was too busy sampling everything before it went on the table and then actually eating it when it did. And then I was too full to do anything stare up at the ceiling fan and wonder if I would ever be able to button my pants again.

You’ll be relieved to know that I did, but only because we left the left-overs at Grandma Penny’s. Yes, even the tasty dressing and delicious-but-deadly sweet potatoes.

We did manage to take a slew of really bad family pictures. And by bad, I mean blurry, shaky, black, and just generally terrible. This is was the only salvageable one.

Ava’s singing, her version of smiling, Nate’s laughing because that’s what he does, and apparently I think I modeling for a shampoo commercial. It’s a keeper.

Now the title of this post is “giving thanks” and that is where I’m headed believe it or not.

If you know me or at all familiar with this blog, you know that 2007 has been a hard year for us. It started while we were grieving the loss of a unborn baby, and then two more children slipped from our hands before we had a chance to get acquainted. It has been a year of longing and waiting and disappointment and more waiting and more longing.

I really thought our Christmas picture would be a little more filled out this year. And yet, I am compelled to trust that “No good gift does God withhold from those who love him.”

The other night, I was sitting in my living room, reliving our New Mexico adventures with my cousin Heather over the phone, and the new screensaver on our monitor-t.v. (personally, in my opinion if it has a screensaver and has a cord attaching it to a desktop then it’s a monitor) came on. It’s a slideshow that transitions randomly between all the pictures on our computer and is set to music from our computer.

As I watched the various pictures from the past four years fade in and out of our screen, I was overwhelmed with what a wonderful life I have been given. Pictures of happy friends, sweet baby Ava, parties, adventures, hot dates, and beloved family played out like memory roulette. It was mesmerizing.

And over the music, I heard, “See, I am with you. I love you. Here, see all these good gifts. They are good. They are very good.”

Indeed, they are very good.

This November, I bow my head and thank the Lord for all of this:

For my dear friends, who color my life in so many shades of love and laughter;

For adventures near and far that fill my memories with a wallpaper of postcards;

For a family who holds me tight and with whom I’m intrinsically and forever knit to;

For my darling girl who has grown so much and fills so much of my heart with joy;

For my sweet love who remembers to make me feel special and beautiful;

For digital pictures and pretend t.v.’s that help me remember what I tend to forget;

And for the one, true director-producer who writes the story of my life. And it is good.

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helps the pancake go down
in the most delightful way!

Hurray! Thanks to Trader Joe’s I finally found a the perfect wholegrain pancake. It’s fluffy and light with a sweet nutty flavor.Ava loves her pancakes, and I have been trying to get more whole grains in her diet. So we have been trying different whole grain pancakes, and let me tell you they are whole range of awful–dense, grainy, bland bricks. Yuck!

So when I saw the Trader Joe’s mix, I was skeptical. This morning Ava and I whipped them up with fresh eggs and milk; and they were wonderful. Heavenly, really.

And Ava found her perfect pancake topping: pink sprinkles. Try it–it’s supercalifragilistic!

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music & lyrics

♫♪♫ ♫♪ Recipe the name of the Lord, recipe the name of the Lord, recipe the name of the Lord, most high.


Jesus loves me this I know, for my bottom tells me so.

Owe i a b abc’s, next time won’t u s with me.

B I N G O and Bingo was his Nemo.

I may never march in the intherey, shoot the jewelry…

Children of the Heavenly Father, safely in Spu-sem gathers

Cut off the red-nose reindeer had a very shiny nose. ♫♪♫

…at least she can carry a tune.

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cosmic playdate

Yesterday morning as we were driving to the health club, Ava spotted the moon in the morning sky.

“Mama, look the moon is out. Look there’s the moon. Do you think God said, ‘Moon and Sun, you need to play with each other’? Maybe the Sun wants to play with somebody so God told the Moon to play with the Sun. Do you think so, Mama?”

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My apologies for not making it quite clear that the desert animals were proudly mounted in the room where Ava and I slept for five nights. They were like 3D headboards. The havalina standing guard over Ava’s face, and the elk affectionately dubbed, Mr. Reindeer, held post over my feet.

While Ava did not require a sheet to be placed over them to sleep, I did. You can be certain that I shrouded the taxidermy creatures the moment Ava began to snore.

And you can also be confident that Ava pulled off their covers each morning while rebuking me for my ridiculous behavior.

Now this is Ava, the same Ava who is terrified of badgers and giants. The same Ava who wouldn’t go in her grandparents basement for nearly a year because “boots,” their life-size, singing Santa lived down there. The Ava who would cry at the sight of a nutcracker doll and want to be carried if she spotted Ronald McDonald. The Ava who insisted that Mrs. Hatch put away all of Henri’s battery operated trucks and trains. This would be the Ava who was deathly afraid of clocks, yes, clocks–wall clocks, ticking clocks, digital clocks, cuckoo clocks. Also the Ava who freaks out every year seeing the animated puppets at the Macy’s Christmas display.

Oh, and this year the Macy’s display is The Nutcracker Suite–that should go over real well.

Puppets, clocks, toys, and imaginary forest creatures are terrifying, but this

this she is fine with.

She is also fine with this

but that is another post.

When she saw the picture today of her beloved scary black pig, she said, “That’s the pig from Poppa and Ama’s house. He’s a nice pig! He’s not a real pig. Poppa killed him. Poppa kills things. He kills lots of things. He likes to kill things, doesn’t he Mama?”

Apparently she is not quite Fern either.

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Between multiple posts about our New Mexico excursion and a forty degree drop in temperature outside, I am starting to get a bit homesick. The thermometer on my car said 17 today. And I’m not even going to check weather.com, because I’m fairly certain it was the reverse down in Dona Ana.

So while I’m huddled up here on my couch next to fireplace and under one too many afghans listening to the north winds hurl their furry on our frosted windows, I thought would send you a hot cup of New Mexico.


Sip slowly, I wouldn’t want you to get burned.

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I was going to stick these two specimens of desert wildlife in the New Mexico post, but I thought Ava and my roommates deserved a post of their own. Don’t you?

When I suggested that we cover them up with sheets before sleeping directly underneath them, Ava rejected the idea.

“Mama likes pink, soft pigs, but I like black scary pigs. Ava likes the scary black pigs! He’s a nice, black scary pig.”

That’s my baby’s hand in the jowls of a javalina. An image every mama wants to wake up to.

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So in posting the White Sands pictures, it occurred to me that I never posted any pictures from our cross-country caravan.

In June, my cousin Heather and I packed up our four Croc-clad daughters, their four sleeping bags, seven lovies (four belonged to Ava), four backpacks crammed with activity books and crayons,

Uncle Moose (look how helpful he is),

and ourselves into her van.

Over the next two days we drove 1,151 miles through 5 states and about 15 states of mind to get to our hometown in Southern New Mexico. Her baby brother was marrying his childhood sweetheart, and we had four flower girls and one groomsman to deliver.

Oh, and some presents that needed a little extra reinforcing.

Food and potty breaks became recess.

Uncle Moose led the girls in calisthenics, helping them run off the energy stored

from 19 hours of this:

Uncle Moose, however, was completely mystified by the amount of time it took for six girls to use the bathroom. “What is going on in there. Come On. Just stick them in pampers. Let’s go!”

We started in lush, green farmland, crossing over Rockie Mountain switchbacks to come to the wild and beautiful desert.
“Cate, if we were on top of that mountain, we could touch the sky!”
“Well, we would need a stool.”
“Cate, if we had a stool on top of that mountain, we could touch the sky!”
“Well, we would need to hold our mama’s hand.”

In the valley of these mountains sits the home of my aunt and uncle, an oasis of green fenced in with mulberry trees, pecan trees, and my favorite willow tree.

No buckles, no straps, no windows, no doors, no recycled air–we’re free!

Push us higher Uncle Mark!

After two weeks of baby meeting,

tree climbing,
cowgirl dreaming,

petal dropping,

picture taking (bonus points if you can find Uncle Mark, the groom, and his beautiful bride, Joanna),

all-night dancing,
birthday celebrating (Happy Birthday Audrey!),

Mexican band hearing

(Ava: Mama, why are they talking funny?
Mr. Mexican Band: We’re speaking Spanish
Mrs. Mexican Band: We’re Mexican. You need to teach your daughter about Mexicans!),

and water drinking (hey it’s hot here and dry!),

it was time to get back in the boosters again. It’s a mystery to us why Uncle Moose chose an alternative riding arrangement home.

Sleep tight little ones. We are almost home.
Only ten more hours to go!

Oh, and thanks for making the first trek with us Uncle Moose! We couldn’t have done it without you or the “hip-hip-hip-po-pah-tu-mus!”

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While I would love to say that I’ve been snowed in and been too busy sledding with my daughter to post any updates in a WEEK, it would not be true.

You all are too smart and observant to confuse sledding in the desert with sledding on the snow–I think the bare feet gave it away.

As for my week absence, I think a tummy full of Grandma Penny’s dressing and pecan pie; a camera full of sweetness; and bags full of Black Friday deals would sum it up fairly nicely. But for those of you kind of enough to read this blog I will illuminate further in a bit.

First, where there heck where we?

Read for yourself:
Growing up in the desert of the Southwest, a trip to White Sands National Monument was the closest that my family came to experiencing a snow day. Granted our school closed anytime frozen precipitation fell from the sky even if it melted before it hit the ground.

This is a sore subject with my husband who had to trudge through four feet of snow in subzero temperatures, and never once had a “snow day.” Of course our snow days never involved sledding, snow angels, snow ball fights, or the mythical ice forts we saw in movies.

The day after my cousin’s June wedding, we rounded up the remaining relatives and rode out to the endless dunes.

Yes, that is me at the top of the dunes. I was the first one to the top! No, I’m not at all competitive.

Now is it snow for sliding?

Or sand for burying?

Either way, it’s breathtaking!

Oh, and I’m not the only competitive one in my family. Check out Uncle Peter–Foul!

And look at Nate, he’s clearly got a leg up on the pile.

As for this post being prophetic….There was no snow on the ground when I published “snow day,” but we had a fresh blanket of white in the morning….

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snow day

What do you do when all the storehouses of snow are dropped onto your neighborhood? You take a day off work and go sledding of course!

The snow literally covered our block. Where’s our house?

More pictures to come, right now it’s back to the slopes!

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