Wednesday, March 29, 2006

near miss

Sometimes it's hard to choose the calm, kind way. Last night was one of those times. I was exhausted as a result of several nights of insomnia. I'd had some dental work done in the late afternoon. I'd had a skimpy lunch and arrived home ravenous. I couldn't eat for several hours because my tongue and cheek were still numb. I felt sluggish and cranky. My ear and jaw began to ache.

J had to go out on visits with the bishop and before he left (I found out later) he told the kids to be extra nice to mom and not to give any trouble. They were better-behaved than normal, but even the best of bedtime rountines with four children never runs smoothly. After I finally had everyone in bed I went down to the kitchen to grumpily load the dishwasher. Marcus came into the room and said with a big smile, "Mom! Look what I found!" It was the white envelope/sleeve thingie from a Netflix DVD. Two days prior I had given the kids a severe talking-to (o.k., I hollered) because this particular DVD sleeve was nowhere to be found and I'd had to return the movie without it. My first impulse was to grump, "Hmph! Doesn't matter now!" and I was about to say it when I looked into my son's smiling face. He looked absolutely joyous because he'd found that DVD sleeve his mom had been searching for so fruitlessly. I managed a little smile (on the side of my mouth that wasn't numb) and said, "Thank you, Marcus." He sighed happily and wishing me good night, turned to go upstairs. "I love you," I called. He stopped, looked at me and said, "I love you, Mom." Marcus very seldom says those words, and if he does he says it absently, his mind obviously on more important matters. This time I could tell he meant it.

I turned back to the dishes and my eyes filled with tears when I considered how very close I'd been to missing that moment completely by saying harsh words. I know that I can repent and that God and even my children forgive me easily when I lose patience. Thank heavens for a child's forgiving nature! But I was so glad I managed to choose the calm, kind way this time and I hope I will do it again and again.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

food jag

I think I am worse with food jags than my children. Since around Christmas time I have been craving Triscuits with extra-sharp cheddar cheese. It kind of came out of nowhere and now I'm hooked. I was eating this snack on a daily basis but I'm trying to cut back. It's hard.

Anyone else have food jags?

Monday, March 27, 2006

camp out

As I mentioned the other day, the children have been camping in the basement. They set up a tent and rolled out sleeping bags. They stayed down there Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. They took all of their clothes down so they could change. In the mornings they snuck up to the kitchen for cereal, milk, and paper cups. They took these things down to their campsite and ate cereal in paper cups for breakfast just like we do when we're camping. They've felt very pleased with themselves.

Friday morning we went down to check on them and found Georgie reading a book by lantern light to the other children! The glow behind her is the gas fireplace which served as their camp fire.

I don't know why we've spent good money on beds for these children. They'd always rather sleep on the floor.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Mainegirl sent me a link to this gorgeous Winterport home. Click on the featured tour. Isn't it lovely?

Ave mentioned concerns about heating a big old house in Maine. If the house is at all drafty, heating cost is for sure a concern! We live in a 3000 sq. ft. home and pay about 200 bucks per month for heating during the winter. We have central heating using natural gas.

Auntie in the Netherlands asks about taxes. Our mill rate here is about $12. (The mill rate is amount paid for every $1000 assessed value.) It looks like property taxes in Maine in some places could be significantly higher than that. I saw one site that had mill rates for mid coast cities, many between $15 and $25.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Country of the Pointed Firs

I've stopped being obsessed with Virginia. I'm back to my home. Right now I'm checking out the Country of the Pointed Firs--Bath, Topsham, and Brunswick area. Look at this beautiful house. I can't believe the price. I think smokers must live here or the house sits on a busy street.

Click on the virtual tour. It has some beautiful pictures of Bath.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

mitten strings

Now that I have a good chunk of my sermon done I should move on to Ernest Hemingway, but I find that my mind is in that dangerous spinning mode. Sparks of thoughts generated by my read, Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison, keep interrupting my best intentions of moving forward with Ernest and his manly stories.

First, a thought on finishing my BYU degree through BYU Independent Study: it sucks. Several people now have told me they tried to do Independent Study but couldn't. You have an entire year to finish your class. If you don't finish, you can extend for I don't know how many months, 3 months at a time. So what do people like me do? We take an entire year to finish one course. Other schools with independent study programs wisely have deadlines for the homeworks, tests, and papers. You follow the semester like everyone else. If you are of the perfectionist, procrastinating variety, you have no real way to put it off for months as much as you'd like to. You must turn your papers in by the deadline. I need deadlines! I am not disciplined enough to follow my own schedule! I am two weeks behind in one class if I want to finish by June.

I have to say that if it were not for J's loving support, I would probably not be doing this. How many men would consistently take four lively (to put it nicely) children out on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons to give their wives quiet time to work on classes? He also gently reminds me why I'm doing this: to provide a good example for my children, among other things.

Now that I've had my little rant I will move on to better things, though not Ernest, not just yet. (Has anyone seen "The Importance of Being Earnest" with Colin Firth and Reece Witherspoon? So funny!)

This morning Georgie asked what we were doing today and if we could do anything "special." I told her I had teacher conferences in the morning and talk to write/homework to do in the afternoon. She resigned herself to a day at home with her siblings. I left her in charge here in the morning and when I came back they'd spent most of their time planning an "event," which I was told included original music and dance. While we were waiting for J to arrive for lunch, they started watching a Scooby Doo movie. I started to wonder what I could find for them to do while I did my afternoon things. I didn't want them in front of the "boob tube" as my mother always called it. I told them that if they would organize the toys in the basement, I would give them each 2 bucks. Georgie wondered if that was enough money for such an undertaking, but I explained her options thus: Organize the toys and get the money for it; Organize the toys (which are yours, after all) and don't get money for it; or Let me organize the toys (said with widened eyes and curled lips). The last option was the clincher as whenever I organize the toys there are considerably and mysteriously fewer when I'm done.

They went down to organize the toys and put some lively music on to keep themselves upbeat. They've been down there, more or less, for four hours. Lidia came up once and said Georgie was mistreating her, so I told her she could bake cookies. Marcus and Lidia got involved with the cookie dough and needed a quick bath. They all went back down. Georgie came up and informed me they had set up camp in the basement and would be living there for a few days.

Katrina Kenison says, "So much of the structure that we impose on our children's lives is really intended to make our own lives easier. We don't want to give up our freedom, and so we fail to grant our children theirs. As every mother know, it's easier to sign up for sports camp than to carve out a week of allow your children to follow their own lives, time to dream through an afternoon, time to play with the kids next door, time to wake up to their own pleasures. Above all, they need some time when we adults aren't calling the shots. ...If we plan all their days for them, how will they learn to navigate through the idle shallows of their own lives, much less seek out and bask in those calm waters?"

When I was a kid I lived on a dairy farm in central Maine. I would have liked to have had some nice neighborhood children to play with. Whenever I went in to town to visit friends, I loved the backyard baseball and kickball we played, the roving, the skating through town in the winter on a little frozen stream. However, the farm provided endless possibilities for my brothers, sister, and I to plan our own days and call our own shots. I think there were hours and hours of time that passed that my mother had no idea where we were. We were in a field somewhere. We were in the barn walking the strictly-prohibited catwalk. We were fishing at the stream. We had walked the railroad bed down to the pond to see if we could catch a glimpse of the otters. We were at the river spying on the beavers. We were searching for a new litter of barn kittens. We were catapaulting each other off our own creation: a rollicking, lethal see saw made of an over-turned oil drum and plank.

As a child I was fiercely independent. I think I was born that way. I thank Heavenly Father for sending me to a big place where my fiesty little soul could roam unhampered. I think I would have gone mad in a structured Suburban summer of the modern variety, being shuffled from activity to activity.

I wish my children had more wilds to roam. They love Maine, partly I think for its wild places.

Now it is almost 5 and I need to make dinner. After dinner Ernest, it's you and me Baby.

when I'm a mom with four children...

The girls are home from school today and tomorrow for teacher conferences. J joined us for lunch today and asked about my afternoon plans. I told him I needed to do homework, "as usual." Georgie immediately piped up and said, "I'm going to finish all of my school before I get married."

"I think that's an excellent idea," I replied.

"Yeah," she snorted. "When I'm a mom with four children I don't want to have homework to do!"

Amen, Georgie.

I'm not sure if I've confided this to anyone outside my immediate family circle, but I have a violin and I play it. We're using a very loose definition of "play" here. I practice the violin. I got it about a month ago. Since Lidia has not been able to play her violin with the broken arm, I took her lesson Monday. I loved every minute of it. I couldn't believe it when my 1/2 hr was up. I've practiced several times each day since. I don't think I sound too terrible. The girls have even given me some light praise. "I can tell you're improving," said Georgie with a little enigmatic smile yesterday. While I'm practicing Lidia wraps her head in blanket and sticks it under the rocking chair. But she stays in the same room, so I count that as a compliment.

J said the other night after I played a shaky rendition of I am a Child of God, "that's not too bad!" I told him how much I was enjoying it and he said, "Well, go for it! You should take lessons!" There was a pause and I thought to myself that maybe I would. "After you finish college, of course," he then added. Sigh.

He's right. I need to finish these classes I'm taking now and then two more in the fall. Then I'll be done, praise heavens.

I have not started my homework yet this afternoon. I've been working on a sermon. In our church we don't pay people to get up and preach on Sundays so we get to do it ourselves. Some people practically go mad with anxiety when it's their turn, but I don't. I love to talk about the gospel, I love to read aloud what other people much smarter than me have said, and I love to read aloud from the scriptures. I love to tell a story as all Conners do. So really it's not a big deal. As long as I don't think too much about the fact that I am going to stand up in front of several hundred people Sunday morning I feel just fine.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Right now our car audiobook is The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. Oh, how delightful this book is! We can't wait to listen to it every day--even Marcus! It's about two brothers and a sister who must stay at school during the holidays with only a French governess to oversee them. They discover a castle near by and make friends with the housekeeper's niece who lives there. She has a magic ring and they have all sorts of adventures with it.

I don't want to give too much away, but there are some "people" in the book who are accidentally brought to life by the ring. They are the ugly-wuglies. They remind me of these creations Lidia and Bernie make on Saturday nights. They lay out their dresses for Sunday and then add arms, faces, etc. I snuck in and took these pictures when the girls were asleep.

There are several things I love about this book. It is full of wonderfully dry humor. Some children's authors must think children don't understand subtle humor. Everything has to be so obvious or over-the-top. But that is not the case. My children do appreciate it. E. Nesbit obviously understood the child psyche. She never condescends. She seems like someone who must have enjoyed children tremendously. She's created characters that one can't help but love. Both of my girls think Gerald is the greatest thing ever.

The author has also generously imbued this book with beauty. The magical world of the castle garden is almost painfully beautiful, but so are the children's tender feelings for one another. While they are your average siblings with their fair share of spats, every now and then you get a glimpse of gratitude, or self-sacrifice, or genuine affection.

I think this is the sort of book that having once read it, you can never look at children quite the same way again.

Monday, March 20, 2006

To My Child

You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.

~Anne Campbell

Saturday, March 18, 2006

more ultimate career

Marjorie Pay Hinckley was the wife of the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She died April 6, 2004. Check out this gorgeous photo of Sister Hinckley. Isn't that the sweetest looking lady you've ever seen? One memory that her daughter had of Sister Hinckley is that she always had some project, usually Church related, cluttering up the dining room table. Homes are for living in. They shouldn't be too neat, right?

Carla made the following comment on the "ultimate career" post and I just wanted to make sure you guys got a chance to see it:

OK,now you're all my heroes, even though I don't know any of you except
Calandria! But I've been to her house and I can attest to the fact that you can
tell so much about family and values from a visit. So when you come to visit me,
I hope you'll see that the clutter and mess is an outgrowth of time spent with
my kids instead of lazy housekeeping! I'm finding I've needed this set of posts
as I've sent my kids all to school and I'm away from all my friends and family
and wondering what to do with myself at this point. All of your comments have
really helped to give me focus about recreating our family here in Tanzania.

Carla, I had to smile when reading this because I remembered one time I went to your house for co op and you hadn't vacuumed the family room. For some reason that made me feel really happy and really comfortable! Ah, home sweet home. :-) I felt a sense of relief that other people sometimes don't get around to the vacuuming because there are simply more important things to do.

Friday, March 17, 2006


When I said "rather appropro" about my mother's clan's slogan (We need all the help God can give us) I was refering to all of us in the family. I wasn't singling the Irish Rose out as needing more help than the rest of us! Hee hee.

ó dhia gach aon cabhair

roughly translated from the Irish Gaelic means "We need all the help God can give us!" This is my mother's clan's slogan. Rather appropro. The motto is nec timeo nec sperno, "I neither fear nor spern."

To check out some Irish family mottos go here.


Here is Lidia performing a jig for her class this morning. It would have been a much better take from the side--her foot is pointed straight out in front of her and you can see the bottom of her dance shoe.

Lidia's teacher asked if she would also perform for the class next door. When she started her dance she looked very tender with her broken arm and little braids sticking out. She was a bit nervous. It was a little strange, but when she started dancing both teachers started crying! I'll have to ask Lidia's teacher at conference next week what the story was there. As I said, Lidia looked sweet and a little vulnerable. Maybe that was it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Nana sent us these great t-shirts to wear for St. Pat's! Marcus has lost his. Lidia was a great sport about wearing her Irish step shirt and letting him wear hers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ultimate career comments

It's interesting about the word "homemaker"--you don't hear it much anymore. The last time I heard this word, in fact, was from the lips of a woman I visit teach (in the LDS church we are assigned several other Relief Society members to visit on a monthly basis). She is disabled and I asked her if she needed help with dishes or cleaning. She said, "Nope. I've got myself a little homemaker." At first I didn't know what she meant, and then I realized she meant a housekeeper.

I remember when I was a child that my mother used to fill in forms that asked for her occupation with the word "homemaker." I tried that a little while back. The person I turned the form in to looked over my answers and pointed at the word "homemaker." She asked, "Does this mean Stay-At-Home Mom?" Stay-At-Home Mom, or the more modern SAHM is what we're supposed to say now.

Thank you all for your insightful "ultimate career" comments! I was interested to know what others thought.

I find that I am thinking a lot more lately about how our homes are reflective of our values, as Mainegirl was saying. I also have started seeing the overwhelming necessity in our family of there being someone in charge of "creating and maintaining a place, an atmosphere, a family," as Bookworm says. I'm seeing, for example, that if I want a clean and orderly home then everyone needs to help. Chores need to be assigned and followed through with. There are lots of physical form and function details to be worked out, such as where the furniture is placed, what color the walls are painted, and how the garbage disposal is fixed.

But then there is something far more important that we miss. Or, that I miss. I don't remember who it was, perhaps it was the President of the LDS church, who said that he was so glad his mother wasn't obsessed with rearranging the furniture when he was growing up. Does anyone remember having heard words to that effect? He said that his mother's priority was the atmosphere of her home, not the decor.

I've been wondering lately how comfortable my children and husband feel in their home, and what, if anything, I can do to make them feel that home is a safe haven.


I tried to post this yesterday but I had problems with blogger. This is what we did Monday night for Family Home Evening. We had planned to do something different. However, once I'd peeled a little piece of paint off the kitchen table, that was the end of it! Everyone had to join in. Evidently I didn't paint the table correctly back in January. Little bubbles appeared after the paint had dried. It was very easy to peel off, and fun!

Does anyone have suggestions on how to paint the top of a table? I think Mom suggested many thin coats.

Monday, March 13, 2006

ultimate career

I was reading this Meridian article today and found the following quote attributed to C.S. Lewis: "The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only-and that is to support this ultimate career."

What do you think of this?

snow day

No one's heart was broken when "no school" was announced this morning.

Lidia and I did have to make a trip to the doctor's office. The snow was deep. Thank heaven for 4-wheel drive! Lidia slipped in the bathroom last night and hurt her arm when she fell. She took ibuprofen and slept o.k., but couldn't use her arm when she woke up. It's broken.

Lidia's comment: "Finally something exciting has happened to me."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

more Relief Society

Bookworm mentioned some Relief Society history, and how strongly we can identify with women who lived 150 years ago as well as our fellow Relief Society sisters of today.

Relief Society began with 20 women at the first meeting on March 17, 1842 in Nauvoo, IL. Our sisterhood now consists of 4.8 million women of faith in 165 countries! That gives me shivers. More than half of our members live outside the United States. Today when I sat in Relief Society meeting, it gave me a thrill to think of millions of other women around the globe attending the same meeting in their own countries, even discussing the same lesson! I have attended Relief Society in different states and different countries. Where ever I have gone, whether or not I speak the language, when I walk in to Relief Society I feel like I've come home.

That is not to say that we are perfect. It would be a huge untruth for me to say that I've always got along marvelously well with every Relief Society sister. But an abundance of blessings have come to me through Relief Society.

Today, for example, I heard something vital to my happiness in our class. The topic was seeking the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The teacher said that the Spirit can help us interpret life experiences in a way that is beneficial to our spirits rather than detrimental. I won't go into it in this post, but I really needed to hear that. The entire class was good.

Relief Society has given me opportunities to serve. When sisters have needed child care, rides to work, Spanish/English translation, meals after having a baby, I've been able to help. I mean, not just me of course. We all help each other. Whatever I have done has been very little, but it has given me a chance to get outside of myself and my own problems for a minute.

A friend of mine, not a member of our faith, cleans homes. Several of her clients are members of my ward. Not long ago she looked me in the eye and said, "I don't know what it is. The women in your church are different than everybody else. What is it? What makes you this way? Your homes are special." I told her she would have to come to church with me and see why. In Relief Society I've had the opportunity to be mentored by women who are much wiser than I am. These are women who have suffered terrible tragedies and have gone through gracefully because they are women who call upon the Lord. Rather than being caught up in trivial or selfish pursuits they reach out to others in distress. They uplift, strengthen, inspire. I feel honored to "lock arms" with them to "help build the kingdom," as Marjorie Pay Hinckley put it.

Heavenly Father answers prayers through humble mortals, angels with bodies of flesh and blood. Once I was in a terrible place in the middle of the night. I was eight and a half months pregnant with my fourth child and I was sitting in the ICU with my husband who appeared to be having a series of heart attacks. It turned out to be myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. I wish I could say that all of my concern was for J, and truly much of it was, but I was also very concerned about myself! J took pain medication and fell asleep. I was having painful contractions that kept me from sleeping. The nurses pointed me toward Labor and Delivery, just down the hall, but I knew it was just false labor. They took me to a stuffy, dark little room with a pull out couch and put me to bed there. I prayed that something good would happen (yes, I think it was that vague) and fell into a fitful sleep.

I awoke a few hours later. It was a long, long morning while J was transferred to a room and we waited to be seen by a cardiologist. My father-in-law was visiting and was home with the children, thank heavens. J thought we should have him drive to the hospital and pick me up, but I worried he wouldn't be able to find the hospital. J told me to call a friend to pick me up but I was too embarrassed! I hadn't had a shower or changed my clothes for over 18 hrs and I stunk! I could hardly stand my body odor. The contractions continued mercilessly and I was getting a little hysterical.

Suddenly, into the room walked my Relief Society president. After politely inquiring after J's condition, she told me she was there to take me home. I sheepishly followed her out to the parking lot, and was relieved to see that it was a warm, beautiful Spring day. We got into her car and I begged her, for her sake and mine, to keep those windows down! She then explained to me how she came to know that we were in the hospital.

The previous day she said she couldn't stop thinking about me. She suddenly felt that she absolutely had to know where I was and what I was doing. She tried to call my home in the evening but couldn't reach us at first and then couldn't communicate with my Spanish-speaking father-in-law. She found a Spanish speaker to call so she could find out what was going on.

When she told me this I felt peace and wonder. I felt Heavenly Father's love. I felt so much gratitude toward this sister who, in spite of working outside the home and raising five children, had kept a life line open to the Spirit. For the rest of our ride home she assured me that I had nothing to worry about, that dozens of sisters in our Relief Society were eager to help our family in whatever way they could.

There seem to be countless other ways I am blessed by my Relief Society membership, but I think this is enough for one post.

Happy Birthday, Relief Society, and I wish you many more!

stake women's conference

We had our stake's women's day yesterday. A "stake" for Mormons is a group of congregations presided over by a local presidency. There are three stakes in the Twin Cities metro. Women who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are also members of the Relief Society, the largest women's organization in the world.

We speak many different languages, we are different races, we live all over the world, we come from all walks of life, and we are sisters. I have tremendous pride in my membership in this organization. Yesterday I looked around at the several hundred sisters at our celebration. There were very young women of eighteen or nineteen with fresh faces and hopeful eyes. There were single women with successful careers. There were mothers of many, some single and some married. There were older women who will not be long on this earth, and yet their timeless souls shine out radiantly through intelligent eyes. I don't know how it is that someone could look into eyes such as these and think that there is no life after death. There were millionares and cleaning ladies. There were PhDs and elementary-school graduates. And everything in between.

God is no respecter of persons.

We all strengthen and uplift each other no matter what our background is. We all serve, we all give.

I had the privilege of escorting a friend of our Stake Relief Society president. This friend is not a member of our church. As we attended classes together and listened to the speakers, I saw her look around at the smiling, laughing women. She listened to the inspiring comments of faith-filled sisters and she nodded and smiled. I wanted to burst out, "Yes! It's true! We are every bit as good as we seem!"

We are good and trying to be better.

Friday, March 10, 2006

the needy mother

Bernie will soon turn my favorite child age: four! I can't get enough of four-year olds. They are old enough so they are more or less out of the monster mischief stage. They are so verbal and they hold nothing back. Everything is fun. Everything is a discovery. I've rarely met a four-year old who didn't charm me completely.

The other day Bernie and I had the following conversation while I was preparing dinner:

"Bernie, I love you so much. You bring me joy. I think I'd like you to stay how you are right now forever and ever and ever."

"Ha-ha! Funny Mommy!"

"Yes, I've decided. You are going to stay little forever. You are not going to get big anymore."

"No, Silly! I want to get big."

"Nope. You're staying little and that's that."

(Pause. Bernie furrows her brow and approaches me as I chop vegetables. She pulls at my sleeve and looks up at me with sad, brown eyes.)

"Please, Mommy, please let me get big. I want to get big like you."

"But Bernie! Who will be with me here at home and go to the grocery store with me when you are all big and going to school?"

(Thinks a minute. Her eyes suddenly light up.)


"No, not Frodo. He's not allowed in the grocery store."

"Well, how about a baby?"

"Hmm. No, I don't think so."

"Yes, Mommy. A baby!"

(She runs upstairs and comes back down with one of her baby dolls.)

"Look, Mommy! Here is a baby for you!"

Ever since we had that conversation, several times per day Bernie brings this doll to me and tells me my baby needs me. "I think she wants you to kiss her, Mommy," or "she's crying for you, Mommy."

She must be thinking, "If I don't get this lady attached to something she's never going to let me grow up!"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

All Summer in a Day

is a short story by Ray Bradbury mentioned by Auntie. I haven't read the story but I saw the tv movie when I was kid and it really affected me. I still remember it sometimes with a little shiver.

compound sweet compound

O.k., I feel like we're getting a pretty good consensus on Virginia. Everyone in? I'm starting to switch away from Roanoke toward Charlottesville. Charlottesville is where Jefferson's Monticello is located. The photo above is the view from Monticello. This is not the actual Blue Ridge, but the "foothills of the Blue Ridge." The University of Virginia is in Charlottesville. Looks like a nice place. Charlottesville is about a 2 hr drive from Dulles airport. That should work, right J? It's not like you'd be driving it every day. Suck it up!

Bookworm, I think we might even lure you down here. Look what it says here about Charlottesville: "The City has earned a reputation as a writers’ and readers’ paradise, with more newspaper readers per capita than anywhere else in the nation and an annual Virginia Festival of the Book that attracts thousands."

I'm thinking we could purchase a huge tract of land and develop our own neighborhood.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Winter Dreams

is the title of a short story by Minnesotan F. Scott Fitzgerald. My winter dream, and it is still winter here and will be for a good long while, is Roanoke, Virginia.

For any of you who know me well, you know that occasionally I develop little obsessions. I'm not talking about my thing with Oscar-winner George Clooney, who is of ever-abiding interest to me, but rather brief, all-consuming interests I have that come out of no where, last a few days, and then pass on by. This is what made it difficult for me to choose a major in college. Oh, and a husband too. (Kidding, J!)

My new interest is Roanoke, Virginia. Have I been there? No. I have, however, decided that it will be my new home. This new baby of mine didn't really come out of no where. It was born of re-reading the wonderful book Christy by Catharine Marshall, and believing that I probably have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Christy takes place in Appalachia, and Seasonal Affective Disorder may keep me from moving to my beloved Maine. (I love you, Maine, but Spring comes to you dang late.) I don't really want to stay in the Twin Cities area, though there is so much I like about it. I would like to live in a smaller city.

Actually I would like to live on the outskirts of a small city. I would be content with a fairly small house. It doesn't have to be as big as the one we live in now. I don't care much about the size and shape of the house, what is important to me is the view. I want a mountain view. They can be little mountains, that's fine. I would like a few acres of property with the house. I would really like a little stable with a couple of ponies for the kids to ride. I had horses and rode as a kid and I would love for my kids to have that. J says if we can barely take care of our 6-lb. dog, how can we care for ponies, but I ignore him. Anyway, the ponies are a little extra that would be nice but are not completely essential.

Though I seem to be winter-intolerant, I still want four seasons. I can't imagine living in a place that didn't have at least a little bit of snow. And what about Autumn? When I think about trying to live without autumn leaves I start to feel bad, very bad. That's why J's first choice of relocation, Mexico, does not appeal to me. To visit, yes, to live, no. (I accept that we will probably live there some day but I don't have to like it!) I know that there are some mountains places with a temperate climate somewhere out there in the west, right? But the western U.S. does not appeal to me. Too dry. Or too wet. And so far from my Maine family. I would like to go east, but not northeast. I want to go south, but not too far south. That's how I end up in Virginia.

How did I zero in on Roanoke? Actually, my Saipan aunt had something to do with it. Yes, you ml! I remembered her saying, when she took her daughter to school at Southern Virginia University, that she thought it was very beautiful in that part of Virginia. I looked on the internet at pictures of that area and it is exactly the kind of natural beauty I like best: lots of green rolling hills and trees. SVU is in Buena Vista, which is kinda in the middle of nowhere. I don't want to live in the middle of nowhere. I want a small city nearby. Roanoke is the closest mountain city to Buena Vista. It has an opera house (stop laughing, I love opera!) and a symphony orchestra. It is the perfect size, about 100,000 people. According to my internet browsings, the views are impressive. The schools actually don't look too bad. They have several interesting magnet schools, including a Montessori and an International Baccalaureate program.

J's problem with Roanoke is that the airport doesn't have direct flights to Minneapolis, where his office is located. We've discussed the possibility of J working from a home office if we moved, but the qualifier was always that we would live near a large airport with cheap flights to Minneapolis and elsewhere. The Portland, Maine area, for example, is fairly close to the Boston airport. The closest large airport to Roanoke is Washington Dulles, which is four hours away. Again, I am ignoring J for now. It's fun to indulge in winter dreams.

Here is my question, Readers: Has anyone been to Roanoke, VA? If so, what is it like?

Here is a Roanoke house I found that looks highly acceptable. Click on the virtual tour to see the views.

Friday, March 03, 2006

someone loves me

I am undeserving of this man. Spring won't come to Minnesota for another month (or two, or three...) but I have these from my sweetie.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

last night

Georgie requested "a cross between clam chowder and corn chowder" for dinner last night. I made clam chowder and threw in some corn at the end. It was "perfect" according to Georgie. We had pastel de tres leches and made a fire in the fireplace. We turned off all the lights and pretended there was a power outage. This is our most requested family activity, of all things! Georgie got some money from mom and dad and some great art supplies from Nana and Grampie. She declared it "one of the best days of her life." May she always be so content with such simplicity.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sweet Georgia Brown Eyes!

Starting from left: The Gnome at 3 weeks, A Lovely 2 yr. old Lady, 3 yrs. old at camp in Maine, 4 yr old. BYU cheerleader (loved to watch Courgar football w/ Dad), the 3 yr old car washer, 2nd grade.

The car washing picture reminds me how Georgie was always happiest when working. When we lived in Venezuela she was 18 mo to 2 yrs. and her favorite thing to do was clean furniture with a rag. Once when she was 3 1/2, she and J were planting some shrubs on an evening in October. It was getting dark and J said he thought they'd better call it quits. Georgie, shaking her head and furrowing her little brow said, "Oh no, Daddy! We started it and we're gonna finish it!"
I'm obviously still having issues with JASC paint. Arrgh! From left: baptism day, camping with Guelitos, 3 yrs. old with AVE and the two uncles, dressed as Bunnicula in second grade for a "dress as your favorite book character" day.