Thursday, December 13, 2007

Visiting Aunt Ginny

After Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad and Jillsie and I travelled to Virginia to visit Aunt Ginny, who is my godmother and one of my mother's best friends (they were pals in college). This was a wonderful visit, especially since I had not seen Aunt Ginny since Wedding #2, she had not yet met her grand-god-daughter, and I had not yet met her husband, Wendell. I feel so lucky to have such a good relationship with my godmother. She is an incredible, caring, intelligent, strong woman, and I love her, and, even more special to me, we just seem to "get" each other.

During our visit, we were all spoiled (and Jillson especially so) by delicious food and gorgeous table settings. Imagine doing that for guests a few days after Thanksgiving! That is the time when most of us use disposable plates and order take out because we are so sick of entertaining. Not Ginny. We got the full treatment, and it was spectacular! Jillson proved to be a very adventuresome eater, devouring grapefruit, tomato aspic, canneloni (which I am sure I am spelling incorrectly), and all sorts of cheese and crackers from the reception table after Bill's concert.

Oh! Bill's concert. So, in addition to getting to go to church together (witnessing two baptisms!), we also got to attend Bill's choir's Christmas concert and meet his friend Robin. Ginny's son, Bill, sings with an excellent choir, and their concert was a beautiful mix of pieces familiar and new-to-me. As the only toddler in attendance, Jillson was, of course, the belle of the reception afterwards. All sorts of grandmotherly figures were trying to scoop her up and cart her away, but you should've seen Aunt Ginny. There has never been a prouder grand-godmother! She introduced us to everyone. It was adorable. I'd also like to say for the record that Wendell surprised us all by taking a successful turn as Jillson's babysitter during the concert (along with Mom and Dad), so that the Gutsy Mom was able to watch the entire concert uninterrupted with Aunt Ginny. What a treat.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some pics:

Jillson and Wendell.

Armed with her own, tiny silver spoon, Jillson devours her grapefruit and is QUITE proud of herself.

Jillson and Aunt Ginny. This one is worth its weight in gold. What a couple of classy gals!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

We had such a fantastic Thanksgiving, it seems almost ludicrous for me to post these pictures without the stories behind them, but here they are:
Jillsie licking her lips after some pumpkin cheesecake.

Friday, November 23, 2007

September's Music of the Month, Long Overdue

I have been meaning to write about music every month, and I just keep forgetting, and now that I have no fewer than nine reasons to get with the program, I figure I better start typing.

As I've mentioned six thousand times before, I really don't think I could get by in a world without music. So often I rely on it to get me through, by either allowing myself to wallow in it and feel "it's not just me" or by getting myself jumpstarted by it after my batteries die out. Have you ever heard a song for the first time that was so PERFECT for the moment in which you hear it that you wonder how you survived your whole life without it and, simultaneously, how the song happened to come along at the precise moment you needed it? In the last few months I have received so many gifts of music--at just the right time and often by pure chance--that I feel there must be a music god looking out for me.

Back in August, right after the Gutsy Dad left on his RLBT, I was sad to realize a neighbor friend was moving away. Not to the ends of the earth, but far enough away that we don't bump into each other any more the way the rest of us Gutsy Neighbors always do. What made this more sad for me was that she was a new friend and one I just loved chatting away the day with. Talks with her are always satisfying in a "if we can talk and agree about things, or at least understand each other about things, then the world is bound to be okay someday" kind of way. Don't you love a friend like that? Anyway, because she was a new friend, I was surprised, when, as I headed out for a run that day shortly before she moved, she stopped me to give me a gift. A CD mix! (My love of mixes in general will have to be a topic for another day.) This new friend had given me a mix, and so my heart was touched before I even heard the first track.

I wish I had a picture of the CD cover she made to show you right now, but because I am traveling I cannot snap a picture of it. Instead, I'll tell you the story of the first track on this CD. The run I went on that morning was a good, therapeutic run. I was out there with my running buddies and, because their husbands are on the same RLBT, and this was still such a fresh change for us, we all needed the run very badly. It was a gorgeous Bavarian morning, and being physical felt good, and the sun felt good, and the sweat felt good, and the babies were happy in their strollers, the dogs were happy bounding through the fields. Coming home, alone, on a bit of a runner's high, I felt wonderful and awful all at once. This occurs whenever good things happen with the Gutsy Dad away. I feel wonderful and then, five seconds later, I feel awful because I so miss sharing the wonderful moments with him. And then I remembered the mix from my new friend.

I put it in, and beautiful music filled my home immediately. I looked out over the fields through my back french doors and saw dark rain clouds. Within a matter of seconds the skies turned gray, and a downpour began. I felt immediate satisfaction that we had finished our run just in time. On top of that, I felt the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from listening to beautiful music. All this happened in a few seconds: the turning on of the CD, the weather changing, the rush of emotions--both the wonderful and the awful. All during the opening bars of the first track of this CD. And then the lyrics started, and I kid you not, this is what I heard:

When the rain comes it seems that everyone has gone away.
When the night falls you wonder if you shouldn't find some place
To run and hide, escape the pain.
But hiding's such a lonely thing to do.

I can't stop the rain from falling down on you again.
I can't stop the rain, but I will hold you 'til it goes away.

When the rain comes you blame it on the things that you have done.
When the storm fades you know that rain must fall on everyone.
So rest awhile, it'll be alright.
No one loves you like I do.

I can't stop the rain from falling down on you again.
I can't stop the rain, but I will hold you 'til it goes away.

When the rain comes, I will hold you.

I was floored. I sat right down and had one of the best cries of my life. I felt everything going on in the song. I even felt I was being the Gutsy Dad from afar, by my friend, by God, by the song itself. It's really a brilliant song because it is so simple, yet it works on myriad levels. In fact, come to think of it, I now I sing this song to Jillsie as a lullaby sometimes. (If you want to listen to the song, search for "When the Rain Comes" by Third Day.)

So, officially, the September Music of the Month was and is RV's Cheesy Mix. The entire CD is filled with gems of songs; many of which I hadn't heard before. I love RV for sharing all of this with me, and for being my friend during a time in which I am, admittedly, not always myself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dog Paradise

As most of you know, my mother and I recently ventured across the Atlantic with Jillson and the dogs, in order that I might spend a few months basking in the comfort of family in the States. The trip is a story for another day. But I just thought I'd show you where we ended up. All of the Gutsy Girls are thrilled! Here we are on a beach walk with my dad.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Something Else to Try If You Are Really, Really Bored

This happened a few weeks ago, at home, and I accidentally left it in draft form and forgot to publish it. So here you go. Imagine our surprise when, after hearing a small cry for help, my mom and I came round the corner and saw this. Of course, once she had an audience, Jillsie was quite thrilled with herself.

Three Months Down

I can't tell you what a relief it is that the RLBT is down to regular length. According to the Donut of Hope, we are 21% done. Hooray! Things have been quite busy around here, so a pictorial update will have to do.

Here is Jillson, after the Halloween party, with her little friend Marion and Marion's mom, Jess, another gutsy mom.

Here is Jillson at Mommy & Me. She REALLY likes balls, of any shape and size.

Here is Jillsie's BFF, Denali, enjoying a ride courtesy of Tilly.

Here we are in Munich with my high school friend, Blair, and her two kids.

Here we are at our Three Months Down Margarita Night. You can also see my new dining room curtains and our newly painted wall. Yay. Mmmm, doeners....
It's been a busy week!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wait 'Til Next Year!

All dressed up and no game to watch.

I am so incredibly psyched that the Sox won the Series again, but I sooooo miss having games to watch. I am going into Sox withdrawal, and I only got to see 11 of the games over here. This is a far, far cry from the power duo of my MLB Extra Innings package, which aired every single game, and my DVR, which guaranteed I could see them whenever I wanted.

When people ask what I miss about America, or what they can send me, it is very hard to come up with stuff. But I do miss having unfettered access to my boys. And yes, I know, I can watch the games online, or get livestream audio coverage online, blah blah blah. I can't see and hear my computer screen from anywhere in my downstairs... just from one spot. It does not fill my home with Red Sox-ness, and, being who I am right now, I simply can't sit captive in front of a computer to watch the games. It is just not the same.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jillsie's Future Father-in-Law

So, originally, I was thinking Jillsie could marry Jacoby Ellsbury, but since he was born in 1983, that makes him roughly 23 years her senior, which is a little much considering the Gutsy Dad has declared that Jillsie cannot date until she is 35. (We'll discuss how this policy just might lead to me never having grandchildren another day.) In any case, when Jillsie is "of age," my intended husband for her would be 58, and that is just not okay. So, since Jacoby is currently 24, we'll give him 2 more years to goof around, and assume he can settle down and have his first baby boy, Jillson's future husband, by the time he is 28 in 2011. That way, Jillson will only be 5 years older than her future husband. They'll begin dating when Jacoby, Jr. turns 30 and has gotten all of his silliness out of his system.The Gutsy Dad adds the caveat that Jacoby, Jr. must also bring to the marriage 20 prime-real-estate season tickets as his dowry for marrying our daughter.

Fenway, here we come!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cheese Papa

I was trying to get her to say "cheese pizza." She can say "cheese" and "p'sah," but she can't put the two words together. She can, however, put "cheese" and "papa" together. She also seems to be developing quite a good memory, as she asked for "cheese papa" for dinner again tonight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Naughtiness, Thy Name Is "Dotty"

Here they are, the naughty "dotties," as Jillson calls them. Most of you know about their latest shenanigans. This past week, I got a call from a neighbor letting me know the dogs were running through the fields behind my house. As I was not at home, the kindly neighbor rounded the dogs up and put them back in the house. I figured I must've left the back door open. Later the same day, making sure that the back door was firmly closed, I went to run some more errands. Upon my return, I found one naughty dotty, soaking wet and covered in cow-poopy-mud waiting for me at the front door, outside. The other naughty dotty came running up to the OPENED back door when I called her. They couldn't possibly have figured out how to open the back door, could they have???

Three additional escapes later (twice recovered by me, once by yet another kindly neighbor) this was the only conclusion I could come to. When I started to lock them out of the room with the backdoor in it when I was away from home, lo and behold they did not escape. They did, however, mysteriously remove one of my curtains. Tore it clean off its track:Anyway, Vicki bought this beautiful new lock for me, which I installed immediately. Isn't it pretty?Wouldn't you know that the first time I left the dotties home alone, with the new lock in place, I came home to find this:So, yeah, they can open the door, the naughty little geniuses, but they can't get out anymore! (And yes, I have been counting my blessings that they did not get hurt and that they did come home.)

Go Light the World

This quotation arrived in my inbox today, and it made me realize again how grateful I am to have the friends and family that I have.

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

- Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
theologian, philosopher, physician

It reminds me of Sara Hickman's song, "We Are Each Other's Angels," which has been a favorite since the first time I heard it, performed live in Austin, TX. (I cried like a baby for missing my grandmother, who had recently died.) Every person on the planet should own Sara's CD called "Spiritual Appliances." (I realize the title of the song and the CD sound all religious-y. This is not the case with the CD as a whole.) For those of you who occasionally ride around in the Cheerio Mobile with me, you'll know Sara by her kinder-fare: "Newborn," "Toddler," and "Big Kid" are three CDs that are in heavy rotation in my car CD changer.

Anyway, here is part of the lyric from the song. Come to think of it, I may have posted this here before. Oh, well. Can't hurt to read it again! I can't write out the first or last verses because they will make me cry. You're just going to have to go buy the song from itunes. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU, RV!) Here's the middle verse:

Sometimes you'll stumble. Sometimes you'll just lie down.
Sometimes you will get lonely with all these people around.
You might shiver when the wind blows or you might get blown away.
You might lose a little colors. You might lose a little faith.

But we are each other's angels and we meet when it is time.
We keep each going and we show each other signs.
Yes, we are each other's angels. (I've forgotten how to fly.)
Yes, we are each other's angels. (Won't you show me how to fly?)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Harvest Time

Strong Medicine

I recently sent an email to some of you regarding the memorial ceremonies I've been attending. The poor guy left in charge here has to think of something new to say every time. I mentioned that he quoted Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. To answer your question, here are the quotations.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
John Stuart Mill, English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
"The Crisis," December 23, 1776
Thomas Paine, American revolutionary (1737-1809)

I scoured the internet and couldn't find the Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. quotation used at the memorial, but perhaps I will find it another time... Here are some other snippits of his instead:

"Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body."

"Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall."

"Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind, and somtimes against it -- but sail we must, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., American Supreme Court justice (1841-1935)

Go To Town, Freudians!

Have you ever woken up a little sad because you realized that your awesome dream was just a dream? Have you then tried really hard to fall back asleep while trying to stay in "dream mode," in a desperate attempt to keep the dream going?

Well, I woke up this morning a little depressed for two reasons: (1) I remembered that the Sox lost the game I was watching in the middle of the night and (2) I realized that I have never in fact been drinking cocktails with Jason Varitek at a bar...

But it was a super dream. There I was drinking some pale orange drink out of a margarita glass, just shooting the breeze with Tek. He was very flirty with me, and somehow I wasn't acting like a complete spaz. Also, for the record, in my dream neither one of us was married, so there was no conflict-of-interest or dream infidelity going on. Also present at the bar: a young guy who is a DJ and reports news for my husband's employer (I admit I am a little obsessed with him because he looks like he is twelve and reminds me of my brothers), my husband's boss's wife (at one point in the dream she ordered a cottage cheese cocktail--which was apparently delicious), and my husband's co-worker's wife who was the bartender and knew how to make every drink, including the cottage cheese cocktail, without consulting a manual. (For those who are in the know about such things, the co-worker is the one who took over the area my husband used to be in charge of. His wife is known for really having her sh!t together.)

If anyone would care to interpret this dream for me, feel free. In the meantime, Jason, I will see you and the boys later today, or perhaps early tomorrow morning, and with any luck, in my dreams.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I was surprised to discover all sorts of cool women's clothing in the Cabela's catalog. Who knew? It's not all camo and rubber boots. I started getting the Cabela's catalogs because I ordered the padded traveling case for my margarita machine from them. So now I get a new catalog from them every other day. Usually they go right into the recycling cause I'm all stocked up on running clothes and hunting gear, but their women's clothing catalog caught my eye and was full of nice, affordable things. I see a few new sweaters and maybe some pajamas in my future, to get me through the cold, bitter winter.

I was also surprised to see a movie on AFN called something like "Within These Walls" which starred Ellen Burstyn and was about the Prison Pet Partnership Program! As most of you know, we were huge fans of this program back in Gig Harbor. My two furry daughters often stayed at the prison instead of a regular kennel, and they LOVED it. The movie was a real tear-jerker, and believe me my tears were totally jerked. I mean, please, when Ellen Burstyn the murderess learned to become a better person by training the rescued-from-death-row adorable lab/retriever mix named Gypsy and then had to GIVE HER AWAY to a disabled person (after we saw a montage of really neato dog training feats), who WOULDN'T cry?

Lastly, I was FULLY surprised, and not in a good way, when my door bell rang at 4:44am this morning. It doesn't matter that I know darn well that notifications are not made before 6:00am. When you are in my situation, it is very hard to calmly think of other reasons why someone might be ringing your bell at such an hour. Turns out it was an airport shuttle looking for its charge. The dude only had a street name, no number. So, he was just ringing bells. Seriously, that should be outlawed during RLBTs. I had half a mind to tell him that, for the 60 to 90 seconds it took me to come to my wits and answer the door, I was fearing the worst, but I just told him I had no idea who needed a shuttle. He asked if I was sure I didn't order it. Are you kidding me? I'm in my gutchies, still half-asleep, and you think maybe I forgot I was supposed to be traveling to the airport this morning? I asked him if he knew the name of his passenger, and he said no. I shut the door and stumbled into the kitchen to turn on the espresso maker, since I was up but not awake, and the doorbell rang again. At this point, I'm thinking he's not just some dumb shuttle driver, but rather he is probably a scary stalker dude, and should I really go back to the door? So I just walked up to the closed door and yelled through it "Yes???" He said he remembered the name, and I was able to instruct him where to go. Dude, maybe next time, you don't start ringing doorbells at 4:44am without at least the name of the person you are picking up...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


What a difference a day makes! The post below this one (with Jillsie in a dress) features snippits of walking from September 30th. I think Mom counted six steps in a row. Here is a snippit from October 1st, with more than six steps and some advanced moves. Enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Snippits of Walking

Walking Snippit 1

Walking Snippit 2

Walking Snippit 3

Walking Snippit 4

Walking Snippit 5

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Something to Try if You're Really, Really Bored

While Mommy is in the kitchen, cleaning out the tank from the steam cleaner, start by pulling out several boxes of scrapbooking embellishments and spraying them around on the (newly steam-cleaned and therefore damp) floor.Then, crawl over to the back of the empty steam cleaner machine and climb on.Finally, when Mommy comes around the corner to see what you are doing, stand up and grasp the "handle bar" and try to ride the cleaner. Rock the machine a little, as though you are rattling the bars of a cage. Exclaim "aya, ayay, ah!" as if you are saying "giddy up."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Two Steps!

I cannot believe, even given my pensive mood yesterday, that I forgot to post this immediately.



So here's how it happened. After her afternoon nap, I was getting Jillson and the dogs ready for a walk. Jillsie was standing in the foyer holding onto the BOB with one hand. Then, I looked down, and she was just standing there not holding onto anything. (She's been doing this about every other day now.) This time, she looked happy and confident and as though she was going to stand there for a long time, so I put my hands out to her and said "Come here, Sweetie...", and she did. First the left foot took a step forward, then the right foot. Then she was at my legs and she stopped and held onto them.

Two steps, little girl, good job!

Of course there were no witnesses (the dogs were already leashed up and therefore were staring obsessively at the front door), and there was no camera ready because it all happened so quickly.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, her first steps at 14+ months, which means I do not have to get an EDIS appointment (developmental screening for babies who do not walk by 15 months). PHEW!

WAY TO GO, JILLSIE! Mommy is proud of you.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In Memoriam

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Eric Blair (George Orwell)

On Tuesday, a co-worker of my husband's was killed. He was not in the same group as my husband. In fact, I do not think my husband ever met him, but he was on the same business trip.

Today, I attended his memorial service. As always, it was tough and terrible and necessary. I will tell you that there was not a woman there who wasn't imagining what it would be like to sit through the service for her own husband, and not a one of us who didn't think "there, but for the grace of God..."

His eulogists quoted George Orwell (above) and Psalm 144 (you can look it up).

This is what I learned about him. He was young--twenty-three--and had only been married a year. His wife is in nursing school, so she stayed back in the States. They last saw each other in July, when he went home on vacation, and they celebrated their one-year anniversary. They never lived together.

He had a tattoo on his back that said "Real Men Love Jesus." He sometimes got the giggles so badly during times when he was supposed to be serious that he would fall over laughing. Literally fall over. His parents are both pastors.

I wish I could remember more.

I do remember this. (I always remember this.) At the end of the service, they called his name out loud three times the way they always do. And three times no one answered.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recent Projects

For a section of my survival guide dedicated to things I love (duh). After taking this picture, I actually redid the title. I removed the pinked letters, mounted them on light green cardstock, cut them out again, and reglued them on the page. They stand out much better; I was just too lazy to take another picture. Getting my hands on a decent latte has been a priority for years; leaving the land of espresso (the pacific northwest) has meant making that decent espresso at home. We acquired this lovely machine during the previous RLBT.
Anyone who has visited has seen me devour one of these. I've written several verses about the dressing alone. This is the opening spread for a section of the survival guide called "The Gift." I will have to explain this separately; it is a long and wonderful story.
While I have been working on paper crafts, Jillsie has had other things on her mind.

Happy Anniversary

Recently we celebrated our 6th anniversary of Wedding #1, and my smart husband sent me these gorgeous flowers. He also "gruessed" me with a new handbag. What a guy. I suppose he deserves that new laptop! I'll get on that, honey.

When we walked down the aisle six years ago, so many things in our country and our world felt uncertain. What an incredible blessing it was (and is!) to have felt so certain about something at a time like that. To the Gutsy Dad, thank you for these six sensational years. I love you.

Sense of Humor

This is the picture my husband sent me when asking for a new laptop. It is his office. To his credit, one of these screens is solely for the purpose of viewing videos of Jillson.