Feeling compelled to give.

I read this story a few days ago in the Washington Post online edition. (And the link here isn't to the original site, but it's the same story.) I don't remember how I came across it--just wasting time online, as usual, I suppose. But after reading about Adwai Mulual and her situation, I couldn't not do something. I mailed out a check that will go a little ways towards diapers, wipes, or whatever else the babies need.

Please, if you are able, consider helping her too. Here's a website with the address to send donations. I'm sure that every little bit will be appreciated.

This is really something I never do, but her story touched me. My first few weeks of being a parent were so incredibly difficult that my heart goes out to this woman who is not only adjusting to first-time parenthood, but doing so in a foreign country, without her husband, with very limited financial resources...and she's got not one, but FIVE newborns to take care of.

I can't even begin to imagine what she must be going through.

I think what most compelled me to try to help were the nasty comments after the article in the original posting. There was a long section dedicated to comments, and I skimmed down through them, thinking that people would be saying, "How can I help?" and "Where can I send donations?" But I saw none of that. Instead, commenters were making cruel remarks about how their precious tax money shouldn't be going to this woman because she isn't a citizen of the U.S., and she probably took fertility drugs to get this many babies in the first place, and what the hell is she doing coming over here to leech off us... It went on and on. Many of the comments were racist, and all were heartless.

I'm not naive enough to think that I can save the world, or that the U.S. should try as a matter of policy to save the world. But I think it is important to show compassion for our fellow human beings, and to give to those who need our help when we find ourselves able. I don't care if Adwai Mulual is Sudanese. I don't care if she took fertility drugs. I don't care if she intentionally came to the U.S. seeking our medical care or "a handout." She is a human being. Her babies are human beings. I am a human being. And that is all I need to know.

Please send a donation if you can. Even $20 can buy a package of diapers. That's cheaper than a night at the movies. So stay home one night instead, and reach out your hand to a stranger in need.

That is all.


My cat's an asshole. No, really. My cat's an asshole.

I stupidly left a (confession: already mostly eaten) opened pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream out on the counter while I went and did something with Mog. I don't remember what--got him a refill on his juice? answered his question about what's dat on tv? (me: it's a whale; eliot: oh, a pish! me: sorta, only bigger).

And when I came back for it, not five minutes later, Mumford was up on the counter, bent over my ice cream, my precious Ben & Jerry's Cake Batter ice cream, licking it out of the carton. He looked up at me like, "Yeah, I'm eatin' your ice cream. So what, fucker?! Whatchya gonna do about it?"

I snarled and tried to grab him but he was too fast for me. I looked down at the thoroughly licked ice cream. I won't lie, I totally thought about eating it anyway. (Wouldn't be the first time I've eaten after a cat, right, Libby, you rotten brat??!!) But instead, I dumped it in the trashcan and started mentally plotting feline murder. And I'm not talking euthanasia here. I'm not talking take the dear thing to the vet and have him gently put down. I'm talking straight up cat murder. Brutal, vengeful cat murder. And that dignified Viking funeral I had planned for him is out, too. He'll be lucky if I don't just throw his sorry carcass to the coyotes.

Hairball puker. Claw scratcher. Ben & Jerry's licker. Dastardly Ben & Jerry's licker. That cat obviously has no soul.

It's out!

The February/March issue of Scrapbooks, Etc.

Go grab one. Or two! My layout is on page ten. :)

Today, I...

am eating a Snickers Creme Heart.

am pouring wistfully through a seed catalog, dreaming of a garden with peas, okra, eggplant, and other lovelies.

am teaching Maya Angelou's "My Arkansas."

am listening to the Weepies.

am yearning for spring.



Where were you when...???

When my children and grandchildren ask if I remember where I was on the historic day that saw the swearing in of the first black president of the United States of America, I will be able to say, "Yes!"

I waited anxiously all morning, watching streaming video from CNN.comLive. I saw the crowds on the mall, heard the announcement of the children, the first ladies, the president and vice president as they entered. I heard the semi-botched oath and Aretha Franklin. I watched it all in a suspended state of joy and hope, with tears in my eyes...

And then I went and got a pap smear.


How the Culligan man saved my life.

One of the things that most excited me about moving into this house is that it has a bit larger kitchen than our old house--just large enough to have a dishwasher. It's been ten years since I've had a dishwasher, and that's a lot of hand washing...for Eli. But no, seriously, I've done a lot of dish washing over the years and it is NOT a task I enjoy.

We moved out here only to quickly find that the dishwasher was really more of a conversation piece, apparently, because due to the incredibly hard, iron-filled well water, we were unable to use it. When I ran dishes through it, they would emerge with crusted and dusty mineral streaks dried all over everything. We learned that the only way to avoid the streaking was to wash dishes by hand and then dry them immediately. Needless to say, there has been many a time I have walked through the kitchen trying to ignore the sinkful of dirty dishes glaring at me, telling myself, "Tomorrow, tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll wash the dishes..."

But yesterday, all of that changed. Yesterday, the Culligan man came. And made all my wishes come true. After the installation of a thirty billion trillion dollar water softener and filtration system, we now have unstinky, drinkable, useable water.

I was afraid to test out the dishwasher, knowing that if for some reason, it didn't work out, I would be totally crushed. As I loaded the dishwasher this morning, I told myself it was just an experiment. I said, "Self, you know this isn't going to work. The fates don't want you to have magically clean dishes. After all, the universe just really isn't that into you." But load the dishwasher I did. It was jam-packed with plates, glasses, sippy cups, Tupperware, the whole nine yards.

And I put it out of my mind, sort of forgetting I had even run the thing, until after Mog woke up from his nap. I walked into the kitchen, saw that the "clean" light was shining its little light like a beacon of hope...and I ever-so ***s-l-o-w-l-y*** pulled open the door.

Steam billowed out around my face, and a chorus of a million angels sang, "HALLELUJAH!!!"
The dishes were clean. Clean! Spotless! Streakless! Absolutely, 100% sparkling clean!

And I fell to my knees and cried.

And then I got to work putting away the Tupperware.


Gotta love the wildlife.

Of course the deer are plentiful around our house, and a week or so ago I saw four wild turkeys run across the field. We've got squirrels, opossums, crows, etc.

But tonight there's a new presence outside my window. An owl, hooting.
Pretty cool, really. Eli's asleep on the couch, gearing up to go into work later. Eliot is in bed.
I'm the only one up. Listening to the hooting. I can't see Mr. Owl; it's too dark. But I can sure hear him. He's got a lot to say.

And I'm thinking that after another 15 minutes or so, all that hooting isn't going to be nearly as cool as it was to begin with.

I'm just saying.


For Eli.

Eli claims that every time I fart I have to take a picture of it and post it somewhere.
This is for you, baby.

Enjoy. ;)

All kinds of yumminess.

I've been uberproductive today. And that "uber" should have an umlaut over the u, but alas, I can't figure out how to do that. Anyhow, I finished up my spring semester syllabi this morning and moved right along to baking peppermint cookies, using the recipe posted back in December by this awesome gal here.

You might ask, why in the world are you baking holiday cookies NOW, Rachel? Why didn't you bake those in December? And the answer is, because I'm cheap. If you wait until after Christmas, you can totally buy candy canes for a pittance. Mere cents on the dollar, people! Wal-mart practically pays you to take them. No, actually I bought the candy canes back before Christmas and then got annoyed when I didn't get around to making the cookies and saw candy canes priced way down later. Oh well. Such is life.

The real answer is because I suck, okay. There. I said it. I am a crappy person who doesn't get around to making holiday cookies until January. And even now, I'm only making them because a) I like to eat cookies, b) I like wearing an apron, and c) I like making lists using letters as bulleted points.

Also fun about baking these cookies was that they call for ten crushed candy canes, so I put them in a sandwich bag and then beat the hell out of them with a coffee mug. It was loud. Really loud. Great way for us passive-aggressive folk to take out pent-up anger. Or frustration over one's husband, who might be, say, sleeping in the bedroom down the hall and hitting the snooze button on his alarm. Repeatedly. For over an hour. You know, just for instance. Hypothetically speaking.

The fun pictures are over at i made my day, if you're dying to see a blurry picture of me in an apron. I know I would be.

After the cookies were made and iced, Eli and I took a plate of them over to our nearest neighbors. They are the sweetest elderly couple. But we did discover not to go over there unless we want to talk for at least a half an hour. We'll have to go back with Mog in tow to entertain them.

In other news, I've embarked on yet another scrappy/journally project that I probably will not finish. Hey, what else is new? You can check out details if you like, over at em falconbridge's blog, another one of my favorite artsy crafty scrappy chicks. For this project I'm decorating used envelopes and then doing my journaling on index cards that I'll tuck inside. Here's the first:

I got this made last night after I put Mog to bed. It was fun, fun. I love messing around with paint.

If and when I finish at the end of the year (or maybe sometime along the way), I'll probably punch holes through the corners of the envelopes and join them all on a jump ring. That's what I'm thinking right now, anyway.


Cold weather, you're no match for me!

I took a walk today, in 28 degree weather, to explore up the dead end road that leads to our house. After our home, the gravel road splits off, with a branch continuing on straight south and a branch that curves to the west. To the west are two other families, spread out. I knew we didn't have any other neighbors, so I had assumed that to the south the road just eventually stopped. And it does, but not before making its meandering way over a small concrete bridge spanning a creek.

(how much does this look like Frost's "Road Less Traveled"?)

I should explain a bit why I was out walking in the first place, facing head-on two things I normally despise: exercise and cold.

Reason #1: Gravel trucks have been driving to and fro past our house all day long; the owners of the property south of us are apparently building a pole barn and plan to build a house in the near future. Eli is devastated about this. They'll be far enough away that we can't even see their pole barn (nor their house when it gets built, I'm sure) from our house, so I'm thinking we'll still feel as secluded as ever. But until the house is finished, we will have the unfortunate luck of having traffic on our road.

Naturally, I had to check this situation out.

Reason #2: I have embarked on an ambitious plan to lose weight, including foregoing in-between meal snacks. So every time I get hungry and would usually start grazing I instead try to either drink water or distract myself from my stomach entirely. It's been exactly three days. And I still have two untouched pints of Ben & Jerry's in my freezer. Now THAT, my friends, is an incredible display of will power.

I actually enjoyed myself today. Whereas I would normally have sat around shoving Twinkies and the like into my gaping maw, I took the time to get off my butt and do something. The walk did me good. I found myself noticing and appreciating little details that I would have otherwise missed. Normally this time of year I spend as little time outside as possible. I mean, seriously, I detest the cold. But if I hadn't ventured out, I wouldn't have seen this:

a frozen puddle with bubbles trapped beneath in the dead grass. The top layer of the ice was thin and floated on the ground like a sheet of delicate glass.

Or this:

the coolest dead tree with the smoothest weathered bark.

I definitely wouldn't have noticed how calm and serene the reflection of the tree branches is in the creek. Hell, I wouldn't have known there WAS a creek!

So that was cool. But now it's getting late, Eliot is asleep, and I'm having a pretty hard time trying NOT to bake brownies and eat the whole pan. *sigh* I'd better grab my embroidery to keep my hands busy...

The amazing growing boy.

I am struck, at 2:30 in the morning, by how far Eliot's legs dangle down off my lap as we sit and silently rock. He grows by inches and feet during the night, like a spear of asparagus stealthily pushing its way out of the ground. One day he was not there at all, and the next he was standing tall beside me. Tomorrow night I fear I'll find myself rocking a forty-year-old grown man, whose legs touch the ground, as in the weirdly captivating children's picture book Love You Forever. Will he be clutching his plush blue moose, I wonder?

I rock him longer than I need, or longer than HE needs, to tell the truth. I listen to his soft breathing, thankfully clear of any wheeze. I breathe in the night scent of him, no longer baby sweet, more toddler grubby and urine soaked diaper. My hands appreciate his fleecy warm pajamas as I gently pat his back.

Much later, it feels, I lay him down carefully in his crib, pulling the blanket up to his chin. I stumble back to my own bed, for tomorrow will come too quickly.


For shits and giggles.

We drove over to Terre Haute today with Brian, just to visit Gander Mountain (for the boys) and Jo-Ann's (for me). Eliot thought the mounted deer heads and buffalo head in Gander Mountain were hilarious. And he got out of the cart and walked around the store with Eli and Brian without taking off or being obnoxious. He mostly followed right along with them and didn't wander.

Too much excitement for one of us.

En route.

Me trying to capture myself blowing a bubble in the rearview mirror.

Eli with his girlfriend Tiff the hunter chick.

We did Olive Garden for lunch and Eliot continued his good behavior right on through the meal, which was fabulous. I ventured away from my usual and ordered the brazed beef and tortelloni--mouthwatering! It's absolutely my new favorite. Super tender beef and delicious portabella mushrooms. Best meal ever.

After lunch we drove back home. Eli and I took turns with Mog. He and Brian went into town to peruse the record store while I stayed at home and played, and then I got a turn having time to myself. I went into town to get a Starbucks fix and sat there reading a book and sipping some White Chocolate Mocha Espresso. Sadly, the Peppermint Mocha Twist was a seasonal drink, so I had to say bon voyage to it and am currently searching for a new favorite.

When I got home, Mog and I got into a massive pillow fight, bonking each other in the head repeatedly. Cause that's the way we do it around here.

A good day was had by all. :)



Eli and I went shopping yesterday. (My Christmas giftcards were burning a hole in my pocket.)
I found a pair of Levi's that actually fits--529 "Curvy Boot Cut"--and the first season of Get Smart on DVD. Score!

Would you believe I'm hoping to finish up my December Daily scrapbook later this evening?
I'll probably miss it by this much.


I still use Country Crock.

Ah, New Year, you're still so fresh and gorgeous. All these calendar pages stretching out before me with endless possibility.

Eli hung pictures/decor in our office for me just a few days ago, agreeing to PUT HOLES IN THE WALL. Amazing! And one of the elements of the room that I love the most is my 2009 calendar. (The link goes to the small version, and I have the large, but you get the idea.)

It's so lovely and blank, with its 365 days all at a glance, just waiting to be filled with appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, and other everydayness.

It pleases my soul, just like a fresh tub of butter with its undisturbed swirl. You know, the "bellybutton" of the butter. Yum. You can't beat that.


Hello, 2009. Nice to meet you.

I have a long list of resolutions this year. In 2009, I am hereby making a promise to myself that I will...
  • laugh
  • dance
  • kiss
  • eat chocolate
  • build block towers
  • take walks
  • take photographs
  • listen to music
  • read good books
  • snuggle
  • drink orange juice
  • hang pictures on the walls
  • change diapers
  • watch the Backyardigans
  • post to my blogs
  • spend too much time online
  • shop in thrift stores
  • get a tattoo
  • teach
  • bury my toes in the sand
  • catch a snowflake on my tongue
  • swim
  • visit the library
  • wear slippers
  • wear boots
  • wash dishes
  • go out on the boat with Eli
  • send birthday cards
  • use chapstick
  • use sunblock
  • welcome a new niece into the world
  • be merry
  • be sad
  • just be
How about you? What are you asking of 2009, and of yourself?