Futility Is In the Eye of the Beholder

I usually try and refrain from serious and/or depressing subjects when writing here, but in this case I felt that the importance of the subject warranted further examination. A couple days ago, a dear friend of ours attempted suicide by shooting herself in the head. We have yet to hear whether or not she has survived, and if she has, what sort of damage has resulted.

I know I just delivered this news in a rather detached and clinical way. Is this because I don’t care? Quite the opposite, in fact. The situation is so horrifying and heart-wrenching that I find myself quite unable to deal with it. This friend of ours is a total delight. Her energy and spirit always fill up any room she enters, and her empathy and sense of humor are remarkably uplifting. In short, she is adored. Not to trivialize her circumstances, but I feel as if I have undergone some sort of trauma myself, to have the memory of this lovely woman forcefully ripped from my mind and replaced with the intruding knowledge of what has befallen her.

In our country, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death, ahead of liver disease and Parkinson’s. It outnumbers homicides two to one. Worldwide, a full one million people die at their own hands every year. I can’t decide what I think of these statistics. Is life so seemingly futile for so many people that they feel they must end it? As one who has suffered from depression in the past, I can understand some of what it feels like, though I was never in the pit of despair that others sometimes experience. So, what does it feel like? I describe it as being inside with sunglasses on. Everything you see is dim, and even the bright spots in your life are considerably dulled. If you have ever accidentally worn your sunglasses inside, you know that it can be challenging to see things clearly.

I thought about this friend just the other day, only a few short days before it happened. I thought, “I need to call her, see what she’s up to.” If I had followed through on that thought, what would I have heard on the other end of the phone? Would I have heard her pain, or would I have continued on, unaware, wrapped in my own self-serving pursuits as I am most days? It’s hard to say.

Is there a lesson in all this? I hope so. I hope that somewhere in this seeming black hole, there is some small ray of light trying to escape. I don’t yet know what it might be, but I still hold out hope that it’s there. God would not let such a tragedy occur without at least some small gain for His glory.

Please pray for her and her family.


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Reading Between the Lines

I love listening to Jewel as she reads. No, she doesn’t really read. We’re still reviewing her letters and their sounds, just to make sure she knows them all before we start really reading. But Jewel really loves to read. When she’s not demanding that we read her books to her over and over, she will read them back to us. Often, when she can’t remember the words on the page, she’ll make up a story by looking at the pictures. And the funny thing is, they’re pretty close to the actual story.

Then there are the books she remembers. Who knew that she could recall whole paragraphs at a time about the doings of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Brother and Sister Bear. There’s just nothing else around that beats listening to her sweet little (loud) voice saying “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, by Stan and Jan Berenstain.” Priceless. I look forward to the day when she will actually read the words on the page, but until then, I’m pretty content with listening to her version. It’s usually more interesting anyway.

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Don’t Bother with Curiosity. I’ll Do it Myself.

You know, I’ve met a lot of cats in my life. I’m an animal person, and while I’m really a dog person at heart, I love cats too. We have two cats, Cleo and Itty Bitty (not her real name, but it might as well be). Our cats are stupid. I’m not saying it just to be mean, either. I’ve met other people’s cats, and they seem perfectly smart. Sometimes I’m even impressed with what they figure out, and then I go home and there are my two dimwit feline furballs staring up at me.

What do your cats do, you ask? Well, for starters, Cleo licks. She licks us, sure, but she also licks everything else. Upholstery, windows, carpet, random children’s toys, fireplace bricks. Yes, I said bricks. In addition to her licking, she also howls. Constantly. She howls when she’s happy. She howls when she’s hungry. She howls when she’s scared. She howls when she wants to play. She howls whenever any mood of any sort strikes her. And she doesn’t have one of those cute little “mew” sounds. Nope. She has a full-blown, hear-it-around-the-world RROWWW which resounds through the house and lodges itself in my spinal cord. Lovely creature.

Now, Itty Bitty is a little smarter. She’s got the cute factor going for her since she’s so little and has a rather dainty meow. However, her main foolishness is that she lets Jewel catch her. She knows Jewel will chase her and pick her up, and that it will be highly unpleasant for her. Yet, almost every time, she will allow it. I used to wonder how many times she would allow herself to be hanged from her middle and toted around like a poor, hapless stuffed animal, but I stopped asking myself when no change seemed forthcoming.

I love our cats; I really do. They’re soft and sweet, and they’re nice and warm during the winter. They also seem genuinely pleased to spend time with us, which seems to be a hit-or-miss quality in cats. And, of course, they are endlessly entertaining. I just figured our two fancy felines could stand to gain a few brain cells. I think I’ll go listen to their conversation and give them a little attention. They probably deserve it, since they have to live with such a grumpy gus as me.

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Fuddrucker Stew

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. Oh well! =)

Okay, most of you know now that I’m in the last month of pregnancy for kiddo number two, and I was thinking the other day about how much more annoying people are when you’re pregnant. Is most of it hormonal? Probably, but I still maintain that people find out you’re pregnant and lose their brains immediately. Oh, and if you have a newborn, you’ve also got a giant target painted on you.

For example, when Jewel came along and was about a month old, my dearest husband and I headed down with our brand new bundle of joy to visit our folks. We (my husband, myself, my child, and my parents) headed out to dinner as proud new parents and grandparents. We assumed we would have a normal, lovely family dinner. We all forgot about that giant NEW MOM target painted on my shirt. No sooner had we sat down with our food than a Fuddrucker’s employee came up to chat.

She cooed and oohed over Jewel adequately, and we swelled with pride. Then our food came. Did she leave? No. Instead, she began to tell us a story about how her child was crying inconsolably the first day home from the hospital and how she realized that all the baby wanted was some of the beef stew that had just been cooked. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, she fed her child beef stew at three days old.

So, between the stupid parenting stories, the unabashed belly touching (Hello, people, personal space!), and the repeated ridiculous comments like, “Wow, somebody pointed their finger at you, and now you’re pregnant,” (Really? What am I, five?) I could just do without this whole stage of pregnancy. Personally, I’m praying this kid comes just a little bit early. I know this whole irritation is probably my hormones having a field day, but hey… I’m entitled to my grumpiness at this uncomfortable stage.

Take this as a lesson. When you encounter an enormously pregnant woman, whatever foolishness pops into your head, please keep it there. Harsh? Maybe, but there’s another lesson here. Really pregnant women are grumpy.

Well, now that I’ve vented, I feel better. I think I’ll have some low fat ice cream. =)

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It’s a Nerd! It’s a Brain! It’s… My Husband!

So, guess where my dearest husband is at this very moment. If you guessed that he’s at a midnight showing of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, then you’re absolutely right! Okay, so you didn’t guess it, but that’s okay. Why would he be there, you may ask? Because he’s a nerd. He’s always been a nerd. He’ll always be a nerd. Yes, I knew he was a nerd long before I married him, and that’s okay with me. I’m quite fond of my Lego-loving, Star-Wars-quoting, History-teaching, Super Trekkie, in fact.

I’ve been married to my delightfully nerdy husband for almost seven years now (our anniversary is in a couple weeks), and I’ve been attached to him for about thirteen. That’s quite a chunk of my life considering I haven’t yet reached my thirtieth birthday. So, what have I learned about my heavenly hubby so far? To start, he is classically white. And I do mean white. I like to joke that his glowing white legs guided my way to him when the power went out one stormy evening, but it’s really not a joke. It’s a true story.

After his overwhelming whiteness, there’s his corny jokes. Upon seeing a passing hearse (empty, I hope), his comment was, “If the hearse has done this before, doesn’t that make it a re-hearse?” Feel free to groan and roll your eyes. I do. Frequently. Then there are the Star Wars quotes. So many Star Wars quotes! And who knew that lines from Star Wars could apply to so many situations? Apparently, I didn’t.

Even though my nearest and dearest revels in his extreme nerdy-ness, and he has more Legos than 10 or 15 entire families should have combined, I wouldn’t be without him. My nerd is the best husband, life partner, and father to our daughter (soon to be daughters) I could ask for. I am so blessed to have him in my life, and I think I’ll start telling him so more often.

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Sale Me Away

This weekend was our big garage sale. *gasp* On a holiday weekend? Of course! That’s the best time, since nobody else is foolish enough to have their garage sale on a holiday weekend. That, and it’s right after the first of the month, so people still have money. Of course, every time we have a garage sale, I always say how horrible it is and how I will never ever ever do it again and how I’ll just be heading to Goodwill or Mission Arlington next time I need to get rid of junk. And then what do I do? I convince myself, in the end, to go through the trouble all over again. The results from that decision this time? Some were good, some bad.

On the good front, we sold out of almost everything on Friday, so we didn’t have to open at all on Saturday. The extra sleep on Saturday was really nice. Plus, the weather wasn’t too bad on Friday. It was cool and cloudy, and a little bit sticky, but much better than the usual garage sale forecast of baking sun and shrivelingly hot temperatures. There’s nothing quite like being held hostage by your junk at a small table in the abject heat all day, idly dripping sweat down unmentionable places.

On the bad front, we got mauled on Friday. We had people showing up at least half an hour early, and it was crazy for a good two hours. There were people everywhere, and nobody put stuff back where it was supposed to go, and everybody wanted to buy stuff in the garage that wasn’t for sale. Oh, and then there was the fact that everybody wanted to ask questions at the same time, test out things with plugs at the same time, and pay for their junk—I mean treasures, at the same time. The only other bad thing was the weather. While it was nice and cloudy and cool, it also rained on us at the end and forced us to close early.

So, how do I feel after this, unusually good, garage sale? I am never ever ever doing this again. Next time I’ll just head straight to Mission Arlington.

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I’m psyching myself up. Why? Well, I’m going to make another blender full of green smoothie. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve made any, and up until a couple weeks ago, I was making them almost daily. They really do make me feel really good and full of energy. What happened the last time that made me reticent to try again? My blender exploded. Everywhere.

Okay, so it didn’t explode. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but still, it did vomit profusely all over the counter and the cabinets (and me). Now, green smoothies are delicious and super healthy, but somehow, when you’re scrubbing pre-masticated spinach, greens, and fruit off of every surface imaginable in your kitchen (and sweetened with honey… nice and sticky), that fantastic smoothie seems just a little less satisfying. Oh, and I really loved hearing, “Mommy, you made a big mess!”

Ever since the spewage incident, I’ve been finding little dried splatters of vaguely greenish brown material in strikingly strange places (and it’s REALLY hard to get it off when it’s dry), so here’s a tip for those of you who are considering starting this wonderfully healthy habit: if your fancy high-speed blender is struggling to blend together so much frozen fruit, don’t open up that little cap in the top to add more liquid. Take the time to stop the blender, add liquid, stir it up a little bit, and then try again. It’s a surefire way to keep your blender happy and nausea-free.

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We Made Her Bed, Now She Has to Lie In It

It’s my favorite time of day… Jewel’s bedtime. It’s been a long hard day of playing, reading, running, dancing, dressing up, un-dressing up, changing, pretending, and eating. I don’t really know if she’s worn out yet. Is she ever? One thing’s for sure, though. I am exhausted. I don’t think I’ve played this much since I was little. I used to bemoan the fact that I was already tired from work when we picked her up from school, but no more. It’s far more draining to play with the girl all day than it is to go to work and play with her for the few hours before bedtime.

So, then, what should I do with my free time this evening? Should I do schoolwork? Almost definitely. Should I continue the cleaning and organization streak we’ve been on today? Perhaps. I know my nearest and dearest would certainly enjoy that. Maybe I’ll empty the dishwasher. He really likes it when I empty the dishwasher. Or maybe I’ll just sit here on the couch and watch TV. Really, though, I should probably get some exerciszszzszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………

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Just Call Me Switzerland: I’m in Neutral

As you might know from my last post (if you actually bother to read this stuff), my family and I went down to visit all of our folks this weekend. While we were happy to visit, and we haven’t been down in a while, the real purpose behind the trip was to acquire another vehicle. We’ve been a one car family for several months now, and it’s been alright, but a little inconvenient at times. So, what kind of vehicle did we bring back? We brought back an old, standard transmission, Ford Ranger.

This is a car with personality. Does it have air conditioning? Yes. Does the air conditioning work? No. It has some other quirks as well that come with a long and happy automotive life. No biggie. The real issue is the standard transmission. I have never driven anything but automatic, and neither has my hubby, although he had an unfortunate (and very brief) experience with a U-Haul truck a couple of years ago. May I just say that I would have paid good money to see him lurch his way home in that gigantic truck, going 25 on the freeway the whole way, but I digress.

Part of the deal of us taking the Ranger (from my in-laws) is that my father-in-law teach us both how to drive it. I feel for him, really. Of course, he regularly puts his life in God’s hands as a driver’s ed teacher anyway, so I guess we were in good company. And despite the lurching, dying, grinding, jerking, and peeling out (and the panic… can’t forget the panic), we did okay. My father-in-law has the true heart of a teacher, and for that I am truly grateful.

So, my dearest husband drove our new acquisition the six hours back home, and while every time we stopped for gas/food/potty break, he either killed it or peeled it out, he did a pretty good job for a beginner. Did I laugh heartily? Of course! Will he laugh at me when it’s my turn? Of course! If only he hadn’t locked the keys in it the minute we got back. *sigh* I guess it’s time to check out the subversive lock-picking skills of our neighbors.

The bottom line is this: we’re just happy to have another car that works, even if we have to kill it a few times on our way.

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Out of It

Well, it only took me six entries to get to this point, but I’m officially out of things to say. I know I’ll come up with other topics, but I’m at a complete loss at the moment. So… what should I write about if I have no topic? I’ll give it a try and see what I get.

For starters, I have food stuck in the permanent retainer behind my bottom teeth. I hate that thing. And my bottom teeth are a little crooked. So… why is it in my mouth? It’s obviously useless. But let’s move on from this topic. Too weird, and a bit TMI, I think. Not to mention completely pointless.

What else have I got? Well, there’s the six hour drive we made today. I have to say, I was surprised at how little I had to stop and pee (speaking of TMI). Pregnancy is brutal when it comes to traveling and peeing. The last time, when Jewel was on the way, I made my poor hubby stop about six or seven times in that six hour stretch. The six hour drive quickly (or not so quickly) turned into a seven-and-a-half hour drive instead. I still haven’t heard the end of that one. Even worse, I made my other half stop in a really seedy part of Houston. This stop was at the kind of gas station you only see in horror movies. It had reflective windows, and it was a little too dark in the building. There was a man muttering to himself outside the car, and he muttered to me too, but I couldn’t tell you what he said. I tried not to make eye contact.

And what did my dearest, defender-of-my-honor, husband do when we stopped there? He let his very pregnant, exceptionally rotund wife waddle past the delusional muttering man while he holed himself up in the car and locked the doors. Coward.

The point? I would say I’d try and hold it next time, but you ladies know how that goes in late pregnancy. I guess I should just brush up on my self-defense. Or maybe buy stock in Depends? I think next time I’ll just stay home.

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