Saturday, December 29, 2007

"It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have."

"My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son's move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party's parliamentary election campaign.

I didn't choose this life. It chose me." Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007) (Written on September 1, 2007, and published on The Huffington Post)

She was born the month before Randy.

Her son entered his freshman year in college at the same time James did.

Say what you will - and I don't pretend to understand all the underlying political implications - but she was one hell of a woman to make the choice to return to Pakistan, knowing that in all likelihood she would not survive.

Friday, December 21, 2007

And With Thy Heart As Offering

Seems to me that all too often we make things more complicated than they need to be. Maybe we could try to realize that even if someone sees things in a different way than we do...we're still looking at the same thing.

This is Tennessee Ernie Ford, singing "Some Children See Him." This was a live broadcast of The Ford Show, on December 25, 1958. The little boy in his lap is Jon Provost, who played Timmy in the old Lassie series. Look for Lassie herself sleeping among the other children. Click here if the video doesn't load.

How wonderful this is! Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Meet the newest addition to the Reed family! She is Samantha Gorgeous Reed, and we found her at the Animal Shelter yesterday. Her Samantha name came from Will Smith's dog in "I Am Legend," which James saw on Saturday, and Gorgeous is what Amanda has called her from the beginning. We call her Sam, or Sammie. She was an owner surrender, meaning that she was brought in by her previous owners, who told the shelter that the husband has heart trouble, and they couldn't take care of her any longer.

She's about two years old, and has obviously been cared for. She is housebroken (although I'm still a little jumpy about that), and she understands "NO". This is SUCH a good thing.

She apparently is accustomed to sleeping on the bed. When Randy and I went to bed last night, after making a nice little pallet for her on the floor - where she immediately laid down, causing us to prematurely think we were home free - we turned out the light, she waited about a two-count, then hopped right up on to the bed, laid down...and stayed there until about 6:30 this morning.

She is just so mellow. Seems really happy to be here, becomes very concerned when someone leaves the room, already is attached to Randy, but is quite fond of the rest of us, too. Hangs out with James in his room, watching movies. Tries to climb up on Amanda to get closer to her face for kisses. She has slept quite a bit, and while I attribute some of that to being exhausted from her whole adoption ordeal, it appears that she'd just as soon hang out in the house with us as sniff around the back yard.

She is not Cinnamon, and while we really didn't want her to be, it looks like she's a really good fit for us. It was just one of those meant to be kind of things - the kids are home, Randy will be here for a couple of weeks, and we were all really missing having a dog around. She arrived at the shelter on Friday, and we found her on Monday.

Sammie will be a really great dog for all of us. She has landed in a really good place, and we are just happy as clams to have her here!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Neither bare, nor naked, nor even ladies

Okay, so it's a bootlegged video of a live performance, and not a particularly good one at that...but a really FABULOUS rendition of a couple of my favorite Christmas songs. It's Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah MacLachlan.

A MUCH better studio version is available on iTunes (without the video) from the album "Barenaked for the Holidays."

UPDATE: If the video doesn't work, try copying and pasting this:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cause and Effect

Our tenants have moved out of Brandyn, and the guy tells Randy "you probably want to have the air conditioner checked. It runs all the time, and our power bills have been real high." We thought that to be odd, as we had replaced the whole unit, inside and out, about 9 months ago.

So in our normal cleaning up process, we changed the filters. Here's a picture of the ones we took out. Hm-m-m...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Acronym of the Day


Waste of money, brains, and time. As in: The trip to Denver was not a total WOMBAT, because the new commercials are pretty cool, but Erik Weihenmayer and Buzzword Bingo were really the only other highlights to be found."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Two Things

I will miss this Christmas:

Hiding a squeaky toy in the top branches of the Christmas tree.

Uncle Bill's Godiva Chocolates.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Delicious Irony

Reckon there's a recipe for Forbidden Fruit Jam in the cookbook?!?

We saw this in Dumas, Texas, this week.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Delilah, here's to you...

This summer, one of the songs the kids listened to frequently was "Hey There Delilah," by a group called Plain White T's. It's just a lovely little acoustic love song that to me is one of those timeless kind of songs - if you didn't already know, you might think it was from the sixties or seventies, and I came to love it as much as the kids did.

When Randy and I were in Rome, we left our tour and walked to the Hard Rock Cafe on the Via Veneto in search of Amanda's souvenir bear. If you've ever been to a Hard Rock, you know that what you usually hear on the sound system is mostly LOUD classic rock, and after a while it just becomes the same-old, same-old noise that just kind of fades into the background. So I found the bear and picked out some t-shirts, and while I was standing in line to pay, the noise went silent...and then, the opening guitar line, and Tom Higginson's quiet voice: Hey there, Delilah, what's it like in New York City? and I nearly lost it.

We were on the next to the last day of a long, incredibly wonderful trip, and I was rather tired and mildly homesick, but when I heard the song that the kids and I had enjoyed together all summer, I thought: "This is such a perfect moment. Here I am, and way over there they are, and even here there is something that connects us."

I told them about it when we got home, and they thought that was sort of cool also, in a gee, isn't our Mom odd? kind of way.

Tonight, they went on a road trip. They've been looking forward to this for months now. Fall Out Boy is in concert at the Wharf in Orange Beach, and being the FOB fans that they are, they bought tickets and went. They're staying at Grand Beach for the weekend. They had said that Plain White T's were going to open for FOB, and they promised they'd take a picture for me.

But then something even better happened: Amanda called about 8:15, and when I answered, what did I hear? Tom Higginson again: Hey there Delilah...what's it like in New York City? She kept the phone on for the whole song, and cool thing at the end - instead of "Hey there Delilah, here's to you," he sang, "Hey Alabama, here's to you," and I could hear the crowd just go nuts.

At the end of the song, she hung up, and then seconds later came a text message: LYB! which is our shorthand for love you bunches

And my tears just flowed. It was one of those sweet reminders that even when I am here and they are way over there, these two kids - no, these young adults, whom I so adore - and I still have things that connect us.

A thousand miles seems pretty far,
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Baby Steps, With Help

Very often, something nice happens when you start making an effort to change. People you know start trying to help you out!

After my last post, Denise commented that they take newspapers from the high school to Christians in Action for recycling, so I called them to get more details. Turns out, they take more than just newsprint - also cardboard, plastics, and aluminum! So recycling CAN be done locally - what a great thing this is! Already got a basket for newspapers in the den, and I'll figure out a way to keep the other stuff corralled for what I hope will be weekly trips to CIA.

Then, last week I was in my favorite coffee place...$$... and I was telling Roger, their crackerjack manager, that I've started working on not throwing away so much stuff, and he said "wait here for just a second!" He went into the back and came out with this neat, washable container that holds my Iced Venti Latte just perfectly. So now I pull up, place my order and say "I've got my cup!" and they wait till I get to the window, then make my drink right in the cup for me. Extremely awesome.

Who knew being "conservative" could be so much fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Baby Steps

When I was a kid, and when my kids were kids, we used to sing this song in Vacation Bible School:

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

Lately, I've been thinking about the words of this song in terms of what our responsibilities are to the earth we live on. It seems to me that environmentalism has become, to many on the religious and/or political right, something that's considered silly or trivial or even somehow evil, but at most, unnecessary. As if we oughtn't concern ourselves with caring for the environment because, you know, what's going to happen is going to happen.

I dunno.

Because, if we take the lyrics of the hymn to heart? This IS our Father's world. If we accept that, then aren't we compelled to act? To be good stewards of the "rocks and trees...skies and seas" that were wrought by His hand? Isn't that the Christian thing to do?

I am as guilty as anyone of being wasteful. Of throwing something away when I could do something else with it instead of consigning it to the dump. Of turning down the air conditioner instead of turning up the ceiling fan. Of driving to places I could walk to. Of tossing ink cartridges in the trash instead of taking them to Office Max to be recycled.

So I'm taking baby steps. Gotta start somewhere.

Paris doesn't offer any kind of a recycling program that I know of, so we're sending a LOT of paper, glass and plastic to the landfill that I wish we weren't. Maybe that will come. We live about a quarter mile (as the crow flies) from Walmart. It's a good bit longer walking, I'll grant you that...but I'll bet if I walked there instead of driving, I'd make a list, and then shorten it, if I knew I had to walk home carrying what I bought! I have purchased some reusable string bags to help eliminate the Walmart bags that have threatened at times to take over the kitchen. I'm trying to use more Tupperware and less plastic wrap and ziploc bags. Fewer paper towels and more cloth towels. We've replaced almost all of our incandescent bulbs with CFLs. I'm trying to think ahead before I get in the car, so that I combine errands instead of going one place on one trip. I'm trying to talk Randy into buying one of the little Smartfortwo cars and giving up a larger car, but I'm not having luck on that front. So far. We've almost (but not totally) eliminated the need for electric heat with our propane logs and some really wonderful down comforters! I'm reading Hints from Heloise - go ahead and laugh, but she was a woman ahead of her time, and so is her daughter - for tips on using regular, more earth-friendly household items like vinegar and baking soda to do things we've been buying too many cleaning chemicals to do.

Baby steps.

Right after we got back from Europe, Randy and I read an article in The Dallas Morning News that really resonated with us. One of the points the author made was that "conservative" means something different to most Europeans than to most Americans. He speaks of a conversation with his German father-in-law like this: "In a revealing moment, my father-in-law pointed to the solar panels and the wood piles and the gardens and the compost heaps and told me that they were conservative – meaning that they represented the effort to conserve the goods of life, to preserve a community that can sustain itself and to pass on a cultural inheritance that has been bestowed upon them."

I freely admit that I am a child of technology. I love what technology has brought to our lives. We have so many things we don't NEED, but which make our lives so much more pleasant. I adore our DVR. Do I need it? Do I need a dishwasher? A clothes dryer? Well, not in the strictest sense, but PLEASE let's don't get ridiculous here.

What I want to do - and what I am coming to believe is my responsibility as a citizen, as a Mom, and as a follower of Christ - is to recognize what I can do to be a conservator of my Father's world. I'd like for Jackson and Ethan, for my great-nieces and great-nephews, and for my FAR IN THE FUTURE be able to sing "This is My Father's World" and for them to be able to see for themselves what wonders His Hand has wrought.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Scenes from a Happy Life

October 1994:

Mom: "We'd like a girl puppy. A sweet one that will love the kids."

Nice Lady in Lake Creek who raised Golden Retrievers: "I only have two girls right now. This one is big and feisty and will be a fun dog for the kids. That one over there is the runt of the litter. She's so small, I almost hate to let her go. I don't think she'll make it."

Mom: "We'll take THAT one. She needs us. We need her. She's

Ten Minutes Later:

Nice Lady: "This dog is a retriever. So when your Daddy shoots a duck, this dog will be able to swim out into the pond and fetch it and bring it back."

Kindergarten James (in a horrified tone): "My Daddy would NEVER shoot a duck!"

Summer, 1998:

6th grade Amanda: "Mom!! Cinnamon got out of the yard!! The boys are chasing her down the street!"

Mom (on seeing James, Philip, Zac, Reece, Elizabeth, Sarah and Jeffrey running after a delighted dog): "Guys! Don't run after her! She thinks you're racing! Turn around and run this way!"

She still beat them all home.

Christmas, 2001:

Gulf Shores State Park Ranger: "Ma'am, you may not know this, but there's a state law outlawing dogs on the beach. It's a $500 fine."

Mom: "Oh, I apologize, sir. We didn't know. We'll drag her out of the water and take her on home."

7th grade James: "That's a stupid law."

Thanksgiving, 2002:

Dad: "Let's take Cinnamon out to the beach."

10th grade Amanda: "Dad! Remember the $500 fine!!"

Dad: "I'll pay the damn fine if I have to. She loves walking on the beach."

8th grade James: "It's a stupid law anyway."

September, 2005:

Amanda has just left for college. Cinnamon walks into her room, walks around, sniffs, comes into the office and glares at Mom as if to say: "Hello-o-o? Am I the only one who realizes that someone is missing??"

July, 2007:

College Freshman James: "I wish I could freeze some of Cinnamon's blood, so that when I have kids, I could clone her so they could have a dog like mine."

August 25, 2007:

Randy (in an email to our friends): "As a friend of the family, I wanted to let you know that Cinnamon Sugar Reed passed away this morning just six days shy of her 13th birthday. Cinnamon stayed with us long enough to get both of her kids out of the house, and safely to college. I believe that Cinnamon lived a life that many dogs would have loved, and yet still gave much more than she got."

Flashback to 1994:

Nice Lady: "Now, if this puppy doesn't make it, you be sure and come back out here and I'll let you pick out another pup. I want you folks to get your money's worth."

Oh, my. Did we ever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Come with me to the Emerald City

Amanda and I just got back from our whirlwind tour of the Windy City! WE SAW WICKED!!!! It was stunning. Just absolutely stunning.

I'll finish this later. Just wanted to get the picture up before we leave - TOMORROW - for Tuscaloosa.

Mercy me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter and the Lousy, Stinking Spoilers

When James was, I think, eight years old, we were browsing the book aisle at Sam's one day, and he said "Hey! This is the book that Connor is reading. Can I get it?" Seeing as how James was never hugely into reading the way Amanda was, I bought the book since he was so excited about it, without a clue as to the path we were all going to be heading down.

The book was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and it changed our lives.

Perhaps that's a tad melodramatic.

But the Harry Potter series HAS been a source of great pleasure to us all, even Randy, who dutifully goes to the movies with us, and has listened to the audio books on some of his long drives. The kids and I have enjoyed midnights together at Walmart, waiting for them to move the pallet of books to the front and open it to the delight of the waiting crowds. We always buy three books. We each read one, the kids keep theirs, and I send mine on to the Aikin library. We have laughed and cried together, we've shared theories and hopes about upcoming plot points. We have emailed each other articles about J.K. Rowling and the books and the movies.

James always gets both the US version and the UK version, thanks to This has really been his deal, although Amanda and I really enjoy Harry too. James was about the age of Harry when he started reading the books, and he's sort of grown along with the characters. And now, he's graduating and going off at the same time Harry is growing up and going out on his own. It's pretty much a perfect circle for kids - boys, especially, of James' age.

We have been in a state of great anticipation since the announcement of the release date for the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and we've made plans for our last trip to Walmart together tonight, then home, where James plans to read all night. Amanda wants to stay up, but poor thing has to work tomorrow, so won't be able to finish it until tomorrow night. I'll stay up as long as I can, but Randy and I need to go to Hot Springs tomorrow for a meeting. I've told Randy he will have to drive, and I will fight my tendency to carsickness the whole way, so that I can read as well. He understands, and even promises to bring dinner in to the condo so that I don't have to stop reading. He's very good about that.

I've been so disappointed in the last few days to see all the spoilers popping up everywhere on the internet, and in the press. What's the point?!? Why can't people leave well-enough alone? Harry Potter is not the Pentagon Papers, nor the Starr Report nor even Dick Cheney's written confession that W. is a robot he's been operating for years. For crying out loud - it's a popular book, and the author and the publishers have asked that shippers and booksellers and reviewers wait until everyone can have access at the same time. I've been afraid to click on anything on the internet, for fear that I'd hit a spoiler...and I want to read the book first!!!! It's just sad when people think that just because they can, also means they should.

Let us have our fun.

Let us celebrate the end of a series that has changed the way young people read.

Let my kids and me have our one last night at Walmart, waiting to read and share with each other the end of the spectacular tale of the Boy Who Lived.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Like ants out of the are my thoughts...

I've had all these random thoughts lately that individually aren't enough to constitute a post, but as a list....probably don't constitute a post, either, but whatever.

My thoughts on:

Lindsey Lohan: Lord, but she was cute in The Parent Trap. What the heck happened? AND WHERE IN GOD'S NAME IS HER MOTHER??? Oh, right...partying hearty right along beside her. Little Lindsey has not been well-served by the people who are supposed to love her the most.

Melinda Doolittle: My favorite American Idol. She wuz robbed!! Get this girl into a recording studio YESTERDAY.

Star Wars: My favorite movie. 30 years. Mercy me.

Mike and Mike in the Morning: My new favorite morning show.

Gene Simmons' Family Jewels: My new favorite DVR show. Move over, Dog. Good boy.

Comic Life: My new favorite time-waster. Thanks a BUNCH, Dee. Really.

Amanda: My new favorite Wal-mart cashier!

The Excellent Adventure:

What a strange and wonderful trip this will be!! The fun starts Saturday...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance

They let him graduate!! And I only teared up once.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

They (heart) N.Y.

The band kids and grownups just got back from their whirlwind tour of New York City. GREAT fun was had by all.

James called on Sunday morning: "Hey, I'm just walking around Central Park."

That's great! How cool is that! Are y'all having a good time? Everybody being where they're supposed to be?

"Yeah, we're on our way to Strawberry Fields. Thought you'd appreciate that. Did I mention, I'M WALKING AROUND CENTRAL PARK?!?"

You did actually mention that. You can shut up now.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wishes and Prayers

When Amanda was two months old, we came back to Texas to show her off. See?!? We finally did something good!! We stayed for a few days at Neil and Donna's, where they were getting Barry ready to go on a church skiing trip.

"How can you do that?" I asked Donna. "Put him on a bus to go away to God knows where (actually? Breckenridge) all by himself?"

"You just kiss 'em good-bye, and pray a lot," she answered. Good Lord, I thought, what a heartless, uncaring mother my sister-in-law has turned out to be.

Well...NO. Of course she wasn't. I've thought about that a LOT in these recent springtime days, beginning with the Enterprise tornado, through here in Lamar County , and now this week in Blacksburg. How CAN we do that, we parents? Just put our babies on a figurative or literal bus, to go away to God knows where, all by themselves?

How hard was it for me to say to James as I sent him off to dear old P-High, amid swirling rumors that hundreds of protesters waited to block entry to the parking lot, "Be aware. If you see trouble, you be the one to walk the other way, and take all your friends with you." When, what I really wanted to do? Was to say, "this is not your fight. Stay home. Watch Smallville all day. School will be there tomorrow. Or if not tomorrow, then another day."

How much, can you even begin to imagine, do the parents of the eight kids in Enterprise desperately wish for another day, another lifetime to say I love you. Have fun. Be careful. Do your best. See you this afternoon.

Or the parents of the thirty-two in Blacksburg.

THIRTY-TWO. Lord Jesus.

What do they wish for? My mind reels to think of it: A different school choice. A class at a different time of the day. Another weekend at home. One more argument. PLEASE. Just let me see him roll his eyes at me one more time. One more hug. One more chance to say, I am so proud of you. You take my breath away.

Randy is amused that I follow Amanda's car out to the street as she pulls away to go back to Tuscaloosa, and that I will watch until she turns the corner and the little crimson car disappears from view. He DOES understand, albeit in a good-natured, must be a mom thing kind of way, that I just need to see her for those last few seconds. One more glimpse. One more heartbeat.

You just kiss 'em good-bye, and pray a lot.

Keep 'em safe, Lord. And bring them - ALL OF THEM - safely home...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Want...

...Elizabeth Edwards to be our First Lady. And if she goes ahead and brings John along, so much the better. There is much to admire there.

Please, Lord, take care of them both.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Who Says.... can't teach an old dog a new trick!

Here is Cinnamon and her new Carpeted Telescoping Ramp.

The coolest dogs always have all the latest equipment!

At her yearly checkup, we discovered that Cinnamon is suffering from severe hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. I had noticed that her back legs were giving her problems, especially on stairs, and also just after waking up - trying to get up and move around is tough on her. Dr. White showed me her x-rays, and it was quite obvious even to me that her hips are badly deteriorated. We've started her on Rimadyl and glucosamine, and I think I've seen some improvement in her mobility, although I'm afraid I'm just trying to convince myself that she's getting better.

Cinnamon will be 13 this year. A ripe old age for any dog, but really quite old for a larger breed like she is. We are going to be dealing with quality of life/end of life issues with her soon, and my heart breaks to think of it. I'll notice Randy looking at her, and then he'll look at me, and I'll say, "Stop. Just don't even..." as if not saying it will keep it from happening. I tell Dr. White that she will live forever, and he always smiles gently and says "Cinnamon is such a good girl."

That she is.

And if a silly Carpeted Telescoping Ramp for the van will help us take her along for one more Spring Break trip to the beach, then she will go.

For as many more trips as our Good Girl has left in her.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Lump in My Throat the Size of a Good Dog

So I'm eating my lunch today in the kitchen, watching Animal Planet, and this commercial comes on. The bite of salad on the fork in my hand never did get eaten, because I dropped it in my search for a Kleenex. I still can't watch this without getting choked up.

Buy Pedigree dog food.

Visit your local animal shelter. Today.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Busy As A Bee

It's good to have time to waste...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ready or Not...

It's really starting to sink in that we're hurtling faster and faster into the empty nest. James got his acceptance letter to The University of Alabama, and Amanda got her transfer acceptance to The University of North Texas over the holidays, so it's happening.

Whether I'm ready for it or not.

Denise gave me a book for Christmas - Letting Them Go by Dave Veerman. I started reading it this morning, and I find myself saying "Yep - I know what he's talking about" when he talks about the feeling of grief when you realize just how your family structure will change. I was pretty melancholy over the holiday when I'd stop to think about everything that will happen before next Christmas rolls around again. It was bad enough when Amanda left, but now James, too?? I just can't imagine this house without a kid in it. Poor Cinnamon. She'll be the only one left for me to focus all my Mom-energy on.

I sent an email to my brothers:
"While I don’t doubt that life with young adults instead of kids will be just as good – and, in many ways, probably better, it’s still going to be…different. It’s the New Normal, and we’ll get used to it soon enough and enjoy it, but right now I’m sad to see this part of our lives drawing to a close."

But, in many ways, I am ready for it. My kids are happy and healthy. They're turning into delightful people, and I do look forward to relating to them on more of a peer-ish level. While still being their MOTHER, of course. Like they'd ever get out of that. Please.

And then there's the reason the kids are here in the first place. Randy and I had a weekend together - just the two of us! - in Dallas just before Christmas that was so great, and I know that's going to continue. Shoot, I married him because he was fun to be around, and he's just gotten to be even more fun as time has gone by. Who in the world knows what the future will bring for the two of us? Driving Route 66? An RV?? A Mediterranean cruise??? More weekends at The Home Depot?!?

More to my brothers: "I have enjoyed the heck out of these years and these children. From the time they were born, at every age they have been, I have looked at them and said “this time of their lives is perfect. This is the BEST age.” And then time passes, and I think “No, THIS is the best age.” And I know that I will always think, no matter the time or the age or the place or the circumstance, that EACH age is the perfect one."

Even the grown-up age.