Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do You Remember

It was a sultry evening last night. The air felt thick and heavy. I turned on the ceiling fan and lay down on the couch to watch a chick flick. When it ended, I savored the sweet romance lingering in the air. I poured a glass of wine and started to make a late dinner. The house was still and silent. In my head I could hear a whisper of a time forgotten, "Do you remember?" it asked. I paused at the stove. Whose voice did I hear? What memory long forgotten had found it's way to the front of my mind? "Do you remember?" I could hear the question, it's rhythmic cadence, the soft melody of it's intonation, but I couldn't place the time or the place. "Do you remember?"

Was it a game we had played so many years ago? Was it something he had said in an intimate whisper? When did I last hear these words? "Do you remember?" And what it is that followed? Right on the edge of my mind I could hear the next words... but what were they? What came next that has lingered for all this time?

I savored my glass of wine over dinner still trying to place the words in the history of my life. The voice was male, this much I knew, but who said them and in what context I just couldn't place.

It wasn't until nearly bedtime, when my mind had finally stopped struggling with the words, stopped rolling the phrase over my soul trying to squeeze another morsel out of the memory that I might see it in its entirety that the whole of it finally came to me.

"Hey R2. Do you remember....Luke Skywalker?"

Ahhhh, yes. Back to the reality of my life. No romantic whispered phrase, no intimate moment shared with a boy from years past, no, just a game that LM plays with his R2D2 robot.

Reality Bites.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Vote for Couple #3881

My sister called me at work just now.

"Hey EJ- are you bored?"

"You just called me at work, right? It's redundant to then ask if I'm bored."

"Go to this website: www.stuckatprom.com and vote for couple #3881"

"What?"

"It's a competition to design prom outfits out of duct tape. There's a couple from Michigan in the finals and I want them to win."

"You want me to look at prom outfits made from duct tape and then vote on a Michigan pair to win?"

"Yes! They are 200 votes behind!!"

"And this voting is critical to their lives - how?"

"It will change their life!!"

"Jules, it will change the life of whomever wins this, um, presitigious award. Do you know this couple from Michigan?"

"No."

"So we're voting simply on proximity alone."

"Yes."

"Well, if the reigning Duct Tape Prom Dress award makes Michigan a better place to live, they can have my vote."

"That's all I'm asking."

If you'd like to make my sister happy (which vicariously makes me happy, too) please go visit this site and vote for couple #3881. On the home page, click on "Top Ten" then scroll down. They are in silver and blue.

Oh, the things I do to entertain my sister.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Sweet It Is

to turn on the tele, settled into the couch and have the Bosox up 5-0 in the FIRST INNING!! Whoohooo!!! 10 games up on the Yanks, man, does it get any better than this?!

Coco's batting stance kinda creeps me out every time, but hey, if he's going to hit balls over the fence like he did last night, he can stand in any bizarre stance he wants to!!

Go Red Sox!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Whistling Season - Doig

Oh to have the capacity to write like Doig in The Whistling Season! If I were ever to wish for a skill (beyond having the vocal prowess of Martina McBride) I would wish for this. To hold in my hands such a novel as this and know those words, this story, these characters poured forth from my soul.

Elegant, captivating, lyrical, magical, witty, intelligent...this novel was delightful to read and will be savored in future readings again and again. With the arrival of Rose and Morrie into the home of Paul, his two younger brothers and widowed father, comes more than just new acquaintences, but a new education altogether. Sweetly, senuously entwining the past, present and years to come, Doig takes his characters through their simple Montana farm life and into our hearts. We can all relate to the way a teacher moved us, or the way a secret changed our lives. The moment we realized we were no longer a child, the way a parent sometimes needs protection provided by a child, or how lessons learned in our youth can help us understand how to best deal with the world as adults.

The story, the characters, the setting, the language is fresh, intelligent, and original. I loved the book from the first page and as I turned each one, I wondered who I would send my copy to first. By the end I wondered if I'd ever let it go from my favorites collection. Go buy your copy of The Whistling Season right now. Best $11 you'll spend on a book for a long while.

Ergonomics

I have owned my car for more than three years now (you'd not know that by the amount still due to the bank, but still...) In those three years I have struggled with a number of issues with the design of my Taurus.

1) My car came equipped with a single CD player and a radio. The console between the front seats, however, opens up to reveal storage slots applicably designed for tapes.

2) My turn signal will not stay on rounding curves in the opposite direction. Thus, making the right turn onto the street to my development while banking left on the road, requires you to hold the signal if you don't wish to upset those waiting to turn at the corner. Likewise, not 100 yards later, in an attempt to turn on my street as the main road veers left, you will, again, need both hands on to turn the wheel while holding the signal in place. An every day double annoyance.

3) The window controls on the driver's door are not in the right ergonomic location for the length of my arms. Despite the years of experience with this particular vehicular impairment, I still tend to put down the back windows when I mean to put down the front. A lesson learned the most severely when I got into my car this morning to find it soaking wet from the thunderstorm last night that blew in through perfectly open back windows. In my brainless driving, I had not even realized I had put the back windows down and therefore never thought to put them back up after putting the vehicle in park outside my door.

Soggy doesn't even begin to describe the backseat.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Answers to Prayer

My laptop is currently dead. It needs a $250 part to breathe life again. After having just shelled out more money that I care to admit for this machine, I'm not eager to do it again. That said, I'm not in the financial market to purchase a new one, either. Rock and hard place know me all too well.

I realized today that perhaps God is trying to show me in different ways that He is taking perfectly good care of me and my needs if only I would let him. First, there was Friday's event. That, in and of itself is a demonstration of God's hand in my life and His care for me and my needs.

Another issue was resolved today, one that has been of great concern to me. Upon leaving my current job (where they pay 90% of my family coverage) , I will have a 30 day waiting period before I'm eligible for health insurance at my new position (I tried to negotiate out of this, but to no avail.) I have heard the horror stories of COBRA (mainly the cost) and was fretting that necessity. I spoke with my office manager last week and she said they would keep me on the company policy for that extra month (my premium is paid through then anyway) . I was so relieved! While not a complete break, it would at least keep my costs down to the group rate and not COBRA rates.

Today, my office manager and I were talking and I asked if she could get me a ballpark figure for how much my health insurance costs the company each month (LM, too) so I could plan for that expenditure. She said I didn't understand. They company will PAY the health insurance cost. The 90% that they currently pay now. I don't have to pay anything other than what I usually pay. DESPITE NOT BEING ON THEIR PAYROLL.

This is a $700-800 savings for me, and a HUGE answer to prayer. I thanked her and thanked her (it's not something they are just doing for me, they've done this before, too).

I am just so grateful for God's working in my life right now. I need to sit tight and know that He will answer our computer needs, too (or remind me again how a computer at home is a luxury!).


God is so good!!

The Rock - Morgan

I don't have the book with me (and my home computer is dead) so you'll have to wait for me to remember the author (I can't even find the book on amazon. Not a good sign.)

The Rock is a Christian novel, but not strikingly so. The characters had questionable morals (something I actually enjoy in Christian fiction) and make some realistically bad choices. The novel is about a family, primarily two brothers, growing up during Prohibition. While the book isn't centered on alcohol, it certainly plays a part. In a bit too-typical of a fashion, one son is dedicated to his family, rising to the occasion after his father (and elder sister) die. The other brother is lazy, mean spirited and spiteful. The opening scene tells as much as you ever need to know to understand the relationship between the two when one spends days building a very rough church in the woods and the other sets fire to it.

The novel primarily traces the path of the good son. Following the convictions of his heart, the way he hears God in his life and his desire to be on his own and yet faithful to his family and his calling. Ultimately, he decides that his life's passion is to build a real church on top of the mountain.

I never felt as though this character was truly hearing God, as he declared, more than that he was just jumping from idea to idea without thinking it through. He seemed impulsive to me, quick to leave home or return with little effort given to see his dreams through. Even the eventual building of the church, while seeming to require immense effort, thought and calculation, proved to be lacking in a variety of ways, a fact he only realized when he received help.

Perhaps it is indicative of our own selfish desires, of our own blindness towards God's greater plan. Perhaps it was simply an example of a weak character (a category I can easily relate to). Whatever the purpose or intention of the author, I wasn't captivated by this novel. Even the conclusion seems to fall short of being a resounding declaration as the characters once again abandon the original plan and simply go on with their lives as if nothing ever changed.

Not a bad read, but I wouldn't pay much for the book. Luckily, I picked this one up on a clearance rack. Even so, I think I still paid too much for the experience.

Rainlight-McGhee

I read Was It Beautiful sometime last year and didn't really love it, but I thought I would give McGhee another chance. There was nothing remarkable, nothing extraordinarily new, nothing so striking to fall in love with Rainlight, and yet, all told, it was a good read. The extent McGhee went to to connect the characters seemed a bit contrived for my tastes, but I enjoyed the various perspectives of the major characters in each chapter. The young Mallie struck me as a girl in desperate need of therapy, or at least a relative who might pay closer attention to some signs of grief, but nontheless, the plot was somewhat engaging and the characters likeable enough.

The story surrounds the death of a young father, as he tries to save a handicapped child from being hit by a truck. The history of the man, this child, and the people that surround both of them tell a complicated history, and the grief they carry forward demonstrates their personalities more than anything.

An easy, light read, nothing that will keep you up at night, or too engrossed in turning the pages not to put down and enjoy the sunshine on a summer afternoon.

Blessings

I've written before about how amazing God is, and how He works in our lives in such small (and big!) ways. Friday, I was reminded again.

Friday evening was the last of the whirlwind to get LM ready to go to Pittsburgh. He needed to get his bike tires pumped, but otherwise, he was nearly ready to go when his dad arrived at 6:30. He pumped up his tires, carefully reading the pressure amounts, complaining all the while about what hard work it was on his arms. I reminded him of all the times I have pumped his tires for him and he was far more appreciative now for all that work.

Five minutes after he finished, before he even got the pump put away, a loud bang sounded and I thought I had been shot in the head. Turns out, the back tire blew. (It wasn't his fault, I think the gauge on our pump is wrong somehow, but I didn't know that then.) Luckily, a long time ago when his front tire had issues, I had bought a new inner tube but then had to take it to be fixed at a bike shop. I had saved the inner tube however, and sent LM out to the car to retrieve it from the trunk (it was only still in the trunk because I have been far too lazy to bring it into the house all this time).

LM came running back into the house out of breath and all worked up. "MOM!! Your (breathe) back (breathe) tire is going (breathe) flat!!! I can hear (breathe) it hissing and I can see (breathe) a rock stuck!!" I ran out to look and sure enough, my back passenger tire was going flat at an alarming speed. I ran inside, grabbed my pocketbook, keys and shoes and we jumped in the car. (I know, most people would stop, pull out the jack and put on the spare. Me? I've never changed a tire before, so I thought if I could make it to the tire shop, that was the best solution!)

We were headed to PepBoys, but realized at the first stop sign that we didn't have that much tims. We remembered that our Walmart has a tire center, so we drove there, not 2 miles from our house. I realized during the drive that my two back tires are the poor-er quality tires that probably need to be replaced, but I really didn't want to have to replace them that day.

Walmart initially said it would be an hour and a half before they could get to it, but when I pleaded, he said he would see what he could do. 40 minutes later we had a patched tire. Total cost? $10. The what if? If Jacob hadn't blown his bike tire and had to go out to my car when he did, I probably wouldn't have even known I had a flat until Sunday morning, and not until I was driving on it (since it was on the back passenger side).

Praise God that things happened the way they did, and that it was a $10 fix!

P.S. I did get his bike tire mostly fixed. The tube wasn't quite the right size, but it's rideable, and for now, that's what matters!

Friday, June 15, 2007

And There Was A Shout From Heaven

...as the angels sang, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"




Tonight LM will be picked up by his dad so they can head to Pittsburgh tomorrow. Am I excited? Actually, yes. (I know, the MOTY award will now go to Newly or Katrina or someone more worthy). I'm ready to have the chaos settle and to regain control of my house. We spent three hours last night packing (I cannot spend three hours doing much of anything, and this about pushed me over the edge, but I made LM do most of the work, I just helped by telling him to pack 12 shirts, 8 shorts, etc.) Tonight I will slip into his bag the surprise books and gifts that I have for him.


Whew. I feel better.

Back to the angels singing....

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Whirlwind

The fact that my sister called me this morning and I talked to her for a half hour from my office should tell you several things about my week. a) that I haven't spoken with my sister nearly as much as usual (read that: not every day) b) that my current job is still slow c) that my evenings are currently crazy, which is remarkably unusal in my life.

Monday evening, LM and I talked through preparations for his departure. With five days until he leaves, we didn't panic, only talked about what he still needed and what he planned on taking with him. I asked him to take his duffle to his dad's on Tuesday and RETURN HOME with all the clothes that have made their way to that house and never made their way back. (Note: Dad says all he has at his house are "sweatshirts")

Tuesday, LM was at his dad packing said duffle (which I later discover has all kinds of clothes, including a lifetime supply of underwear and socks that we have been slowing missing from our house.) I was running errands, as I always do on Tuesdays, including a stop at the bank and a stop to get a 'end of the year' sort of gift for the girls.

Wednesday, rush home from work, change my clothes, water the plants on the deck (we've had rain and cool temps every day and STILL my plants are dry) - get plant stuff all over my shirt, change clothes again, go to Pastor's house for dinner and deep conversation. All went very well, but emotionally wrung me out. Get home at 10:30, throw LM into bed and fall into my own. Don't get to sleep until much later due to said thinking, but nevertheless, feel good about all that our pastor shared with us and the status of LM's own thoughts at the moment.

Tonight: my last night with LM before he leaves. Which means we must:
1. stop by the eye doc to get his glasses re-fitted so they don't slide down his nose any longer.
2. mail a package to George in care of my dad, since George is headed to TN for a few days all by himself!
3. buzz his head, which then requires a follow-up shower.
4. do laundry. I did it all on Monday, but now have to do what he wore this week (all his favorites) and make sure that the stuff that came from Dad's is actually clean.
5. pack. clothes, books, games, toys, animals, bike, swim gear, the kitchen sink....
6. get the boy to bed with lots of hugs and kisses to last him through the next five weeks.
7. go wrap and pack all the secret items I've been purchasing and stashing away (books, games, trumpet music, etc.) for him to discover once he's at Nana's.
8. collapse.

oh, and eat dinner somewhere in there, too.

I will see LM briefly after school on Friday, for the last hurrah before his dad picks him up but then he's off.

And by mid-afternoon on Saturday, I'll be missing my boy something terrible.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Into The Wild - Krakauer

The cover reads, "In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter..."

Into The Wild retraces what is known of McCandless' journey, of his thoughts as we might suppose through journal entries and contacts with various people along the way. Krakauer interjects into McCandless' story some of his own insights, from having been a boy in his 20's, pushing against everything by running away to the wild.

I found this novel to be hauntingly moving. It caught me and drew me in. I am too social a creature to truly relate to the desires of McCandless to abandon all relationships and remain alone, although I am skeptical that his desire to was to be alone for very long. Following in the footsteps and leadership of Tolstoy, Thoreau, Muir, and more (at least their writing, if not their lifestyles) McCandless sought to shed weath, possessions and the desire to be owned or to own. He sought to re-establish himself, even changing his name, to recreate who he was in his own eyes.

The book was captivating, the motivations, while only suppositions, were compelling. The outcome, the pain invoked on family and friends, tragic.

The quote that got me the most, perhaps because I am a parent of an adventurous boy, was one from Donald Barthelme's The Dead Father, "...Have you noticed the slight curl at the end of Same II's mouth when he looks at you? ...The father is taken aback. ...it instantly reminds Same II of what he is mad about. He is mad about being small when you were big, but no, that's not it, he is mad about being helpless when you were powerful, but no, not that either, he is mad about being contingent when you were necessary, not quite it, he is insane because when he loved you, you didn't notice."

How painful it must be to be this boy's family, to know that he sought meaning and truth and for him, the only place to find it was away from everyone who loved him, away from everything this world counts as significant. And, left alone, before he might have found grace, before redemption could be fulfilled (for there is evidence he was on his way back, having realized the significance of personal relationships) he tragically died.

What is it we all search for? Where do we go to find it? Who do we turn to for answers? Do we turn within ourselves, or outside of our being? For those who know only to depend on self, who know only what they themselves can tangibly experience, they seem to me to be the loneliest of all, but in their personal, unintentional self-sacrifice, they leave behind a mourning crowd who loved on despite apparent apathy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Don't Look Back

I was out for dinner with LM this past weekend and wanted to take a photo (I'll post about this later) but didn't have my digital camera on me. I pulled out my cell phone and snapped a shot and realized there were 57 photos on my camera but I had no idea what they were of.

I took a few minutes today to sort through them, 45 of them were just blank shots taken by my pocketbook as I walked to and from the car or whatnot (it does this quite often, I hear the beeping). But there were a few I was unprepared to see.




On our trip to Indiana last summer.

One very tearful boy, one remarkably sad mastiff.

Sleeping with his head as far in between our two car seats as he could muster, his body wrapped around the backseat (as he always did, trying to fit comfortably), his front paws straddling the console in the back, having no idea what was in store for him that day, just knowing that something didn't feel right (he wouldn't get out of the car when we stopped for gas or a dog walk.)

Our last goodbye.

They are cell phone pics, so they are miserable and grainy, but truth be told, they reflect our miserable and grainy emotions of that day. I miss him so.


Monday, June 11, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Hosseini

If you have not read Kite Runner yet, I implore you to make it summer reading. While you're at amazon.com, go ahead and buy A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Hosseini's debut novel, Kite Runner, took the world by storm. An historical novel that grabbed the hearts of all of us, allowing us more than just a glimpse, an experience within a culture so unfamiliar and yet events that we can all relate to.

A Thousand Splendid Suns equally grabs a hold and does not let go. Again, set in war torn years of political unrest in Afghanistan, the novel follows the lives of two women, caged by marriage and the cultural dictates on women, redeemed by love and grace. For all the ways my life is remarkably dissimilar to this story, I still found my heart aching for the characters, my frustration growing with every obstacle they faced and my tears streaming with the price of freedom and safety. The plot was unpredictable to me, I was caught off guard at each turn, at each new challenge the characters faced. It was unimaginable to me that we live in the same world where such atrocities exist, and yet, Hosseini presents a clear truth, a simple and straight forward rendering of a fictional tale within an historically accurate environment.

This book is a tremendous novel in and of itself and is a phenomenal second novel for Hosseini. I highly recommend both with unconditional praise.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Carry Me Home - Kling

Simple. True. Honest. Healing. Carry Me Home tells the story of two brothers, the one who went off to fight a war and came home a different man and the other left behind, learning all about life from the experience of it all.

The characters are simple, honest and true. The story is not unfamiliar, the ravishes of war on the heart and the home are not undisclosed topics any longer. But the way she reveals the truths about war, about life through the heart of a simple brother feel as honest and true as can be. We are not left with the sense of damage, but a faith in healing. Images of homes destroyed by the war are replaced by those who survived it, by those who overcame. The battle of returning to normalcy when nothing is normal is confronted and we're left with the sense of hope for the future. Love and life both last. Despite it all.

It's a good book, uncomplicated in its context, but one that touches the heart nontheless.

In all, I have to say that what struck me the most was the father's relationship with his mentally challenged son. Earl (Earwig) isn't severely disabled, but he's slower than most and in moments when his parents, especially a father in the 1940's might take a heavy hand or a harsh word with him, his dad just leads him gently and graciously through life. Allowing him to be exactly who he is and this, in turn, allows them all to allow their older son be exactly who and what he needs to be to sort out his war experience. It's a story about brothers, to be certain, but somewhere deeper yet is a great story about fathers, too.

The Job

It makes me laugh that so many of you have seemed to politely notice the incongruency with me working at a health club!! It's a community center and health club, I'm sure you have one not far from where you live. I will be managing the front desk (hiring, firing, training all 25 or so desk staff), providing reports and analysis on membership, etc. The management position is social, analytical, creative, multi-faceted and best of all, BUSY!! Yes, I get a membership with the position which basically means I'm going to have to get off my duff and get on the treadmill!! LM is pretty excited that if I need to go in on the weekends, he could go swimming while I'm there!

It feels like a good fit. The interview process was really awesome and relaxed. More conversational that interrogational. They have a policy to call family members as part of your references and my dad gave such a glowing reference that my employer said he "closed the deal'. Thanks, Dad!! (It's not bribery if you send him a thank-you plant afterwards, is it?)

Thanks for all the well wishes. I'm looking forward to the change. I'm not sure how the dog will adapt since LM is gone for a month or so and won't be home early to let him out. We'll just have to work through it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

There Will Come A Day...

...when I am no longer allowed to buy clothes for LM without his approval, but it has not happened just yet.

I recognize myself as fortunate in this area. I don't usually schlep my child around for an entire day of running errands (I can do that when he is at his dad's) so while out and about I shopped some sales racks and picked up some much needed shorts and shirts for summer for the growing boy.

Amongst the ordinary sweat shorts and summer shirts were two shirts and a pair of shorts that I thought was perfect for LM. I was delighted when they were met with a resounded approval from the boy. A pair of beige camo shorts and two shirts, one army green, one black that are button up but have military sorts of patches on them (sortof) were a HUGE hit with my son.

While I had his attention regarding clothes, I reminded him that over the summer, in an effort to not reduce Nana's life to little more than laundry 24/7, he could feasibly wear his shorts TWICE before they were washed if he wasn't too filthy. He asked about shirts. I said no, shirts should really be washed each time.

He asked if he could wear the new shorts and shirt on Monday, before I even had a chance to wash them. Sensing his rare fashion enthusiasm, I reluctantly agreed, wishing to at least have them de-germed, but it's not the worst thing my child could do, so I let him go out the door to school in the camo shorts and green shirt.

Tuesday he wore the black shirt and a pair of sweat shorts (no, they didn't really go together in "style" but there was black in the shorts, so I let that battle go.)

Tuesday is a Dad Night, so I didn't see him until I got home from work yesterday. There he stood in his camo shorts and green shirt. I said, "didn't you just wear that?" He said, "yes, but you washed it in between."

I couldn't really argue with that, even if the kids at school were going to think the child had no other clothing options.

It wasn't until later, while we were playing Yahtzee that it all hit me.

"LM? How did you wear that outfit today? How did it get to Dad's last night for you to even have it to put on this morning?"

LM looked at me sheepishly. He thought he had gotten away with it.

"I took it in a grocery bag in my backpack."

LM protested that he didn't wear it two days IN A ROW!

I guess I definitely still have the ability to pick out clothes he likes, huh? Question is, how do I get them off him?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Sister Said...

...I should just chuck this calla and start over. But LM gave it to me for Christmas (he ordered it from Smith and Hawken, the delivery was a nightmare (I had to meet the FedEx guy in the next town up late one night because it had to be signed for and couldn't be left at the door...) and it was in BAD shape when we finally got it home (although I wasn't allowed to actually SEE it, I had to wait until Christmas morning). I have done my best to keep it alive (put it in special soil, ensured it had good drainage, gave it lots of sunlight) but all the leaves except one recently died off. I moved it out to the deck to get all the sunshine it can and still be protected from the wind and rain.

The one last leaf looked to be alive so I tried to be optimistic.

Then last week I noticed one little green shoot coming up.



Then a couple days ago, I noticed another one.


And last night I noticed a fourth.
I wouldn't want to proclaim it resurrected just yet, but suffice it to say, LM is much happier with me now than he was before.

Perhaps this is why my sister has absolutely NO plants in her house and I have, well, I have a lot.

Grow Calla Grow!!

The Last KICK'N

Last night was the last night for Kid In Charge of the Kitchen Night (KICK'N). Jacob is supposed to cook dinner once a week, but it probably only happens once or twice a month (often times I just let him off the hook so he can go play, sometimes homework just runs too late). I'll give him the summer off since he'll be off to grandparent's homes and summer camp and whatnot.

Last night's menu:

Hamburger Casserole
Corn on the Cob
Fruit Salad

Recipe for Hamburger Casserole:

1-2 pounds cooked lean ground beef
2/3 can stewed Italian style tomatoes, drained
mushrooms
green pepper
2 cups 2% mozzerella cheese
sprinkle parmesean cheese


Layer ground beef, tomatoes and vegetables in bottom of glass baking dish (a pie plate also works well). Cover with cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is slightly golden. Serves 4 (or two with leftovers for lunches!)


Yes, we ate at the coffee table. We were in the middle of a heated Yahtzee! tournament and wanted to eat and play.

Suffice it to say, the meal was DELISH!, the cook was praised, the tourny was a success and another fun Monday night was had at the EJ household! Boy, am I going to miss this kid this summer!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mother Nature Says So

This is really for Newly:

I was enjoying my deck this morning (read that: emptying all the saucers full of rain water from the storms last night, trying not to douse my downstairs neighbor) and I noticed a pair of robins who came to visit me. It's rare that robins come to the deck (they are ground feeders - not so many worms up on the second floor) but here they were all full of cheer and song.

As I watched, the Mrs. would have a few words with the Mister and off he would fly. Pretty soon he would return and stuff a little morsel of something down her throat and IMMEDIATELY she would start chattering at him. He would fly up to perch on one of my hanging rods, wipe his beak and fly off again. Repeat.


It didn't take me long to translate the conversation and I wanted to make sure you (and all other pregnant women out there) realize what she was saying.

"Worms?! The best you can do is WORMS?! I'm not in the mood for worms! They make me nauseous. Did you forget abou that nearly puking thing I did when we flew to the birch tree yesterday? You know I need crickets! And what is this tiny little bite thing? I'm eating for five for crying out loud! It's not like I can just fly all around in my condition and find myself some crickets! The least you can do is bring me a little something to eat. After all, it is your fault that I'm even IN this condition to begin with!"

So, Newly, the next time you crave something (like Thousand Island dressing?!) do not feel guilty for sending the Mister out to fetch it for you.

Mother Nature says it's okay.

Update: It took my dear friend Stacy to tell me this isn't a Mrs. Robin but a fledgling (apparently the spots should have given it away). Shows how much I know about birds, huh? So really Dad (or Mom) was getting chewed out by the kid. Yeah, that sounds about right, too.