Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Post of 2011

Thanks to all my readers for plugging along with me this year! We spent the evening with friends while the older boys are off dancing til midnight. Above all else I feel gratitude tonight, for all the blessings and hardships that have come our way this past year. Both have taught us that life is good. Stay safe and have a fun night.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011


I saw this video today and it really made me smile. I love people who are just clever. How this guy ever got thousands of people, from all over the world, to dance with him is UH-MAZE-ING! He looks like he is having a blast. I guess I like this because most of us will not do 'great things' in the eyes of the world, but sometimes its not the great things, but just the ordinary things we do that make people smile the most- and somehow- that really is what's great! (My personal favorites in order:Korea, Tango, India)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Meddlesome Priest

Aside from having a really cool name, Thomas a Becket whose feast is celebrated today, really had it going on. I always love saints who show incredible courage and this man is near the top of most lists. The post title is actually a reference to the quote purported to have been what killed him. King Henry II , who had once been a great friend of Thomas and hoped to secure his power within the church found Thomas the only man with enough bravery to oppose him. When Thomas would not stand down on his position the king said something to the effect of "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" and 4 of his knights overhearing the angry words made haste to murder him with axes as he made his way to evening vespers.His story is really worth reading, especially in our day and age when there are so many problems within our holy church. Boy could we use a few a Beckets! Or even one!  So rather than tell you a whole lot about Thomas a Becket , I will redirect those interested here  and finish with a simple prayer:

Dear Saint Thomas,
Thank you for giving your life for the truth. Please inspire our bishops. Many of them have lost their way and no longer shepherd or care for the flocks given them. Do not let your death be in vain, but rather ask Our Lord to renew His church and give courage to these men.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend

So, I learned something new today. Actually it was yesterday but it has really stuck with me. It was a new saying, or really a very old saying that was brand new to me. It is from the book of proverbs chapter 27 and it goes like this:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

You may have heard it before, but I had not. It struck me deeply even as the words were being heard, but its meaning was a puzzle to me. I could feel my heart trying to wrap itself around the words, like it has seized upon something valuable and wanted to taste its flavor for the first time. It sounded impossible to me at first, faithful are the wounds of a friend? How could that be? Faithful wounds? And then the meaning came,slowly and steadily, the truth of its meaning, it came. 

Sometimes in this life we must tell our friends a truth they might not want to hear because they are about to hurt themselves or others. And in speaking the truth out loud , we wound them. But it is our love and fidelity that causes the wound in order to keep them from a far greater calamity, and so the wound is necessary and is actually a sign of our friendship. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

I have been thinking on this since I heard it last night, and on and off all day today. These are good words. They are true. For 99% of  most of our friendships we can hopefully, build one another up and enjoy the gifts we see in one another that strikes a common chord. Friendship is really a beautiful pleasure of life. But, sometimes it is necessary to say what we ought  because we see a more tragic outcome if we fail to speak. Boy are those words hard to spit out! I have had to do so on occasion and the only solace I have had at those times is the hope that one day long into the future the honesty will be appreciated. It is a  very small consolation. The cost of honesty is quite high. Most people simply shoot the messenger and never look back.Even if they do eventually realize their error, they don't generally 'appreciate' the person who pointed it out to them. If they lack humility they might respond like a pit viper and strike at you mercilessly. Others tend to carry around a bitterness as if the person who spoke is really the one guilty for exposing their fault and shame. I am not sure why it works this way, but I know it does. 

I have also been on the receiving end of a few choice words over the years. Lets face it,with my personality, when I get myself into a pickle, boy is it ever  a pickle! It is those times I really NEED to hear the words of truth that will redirect my footsteps after stumbling. Those words of truth saved me from the very edge of the precipice. Of course looking back it  is true that my real friends were brutally honest with me. And while it was very painful, I  needed to hear the truth and am incredibly grateful they were willing to risk our friendship in order to save it. Truly their actions proved their love.

There are a few people who come clearly to mind as truth tellers in my life as I sit here writing this and I am so grateful to have you in my life.  Barney, and Josh, and Karen, Tammy, and Christine, and Elizabeth  ( and I am sure a few other unnamed until you jump into my prayers of gratitude tonight)THANK YOU for loving me enough to prevent me from stumbling in the dark endlessly, and for being willing at times to hurt me in order to help me wake up and continue on the journey. I am so very grateful for your strength and courage, and unworthy of your faithful friendship, but so very, very grateful. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More Debt News

I wish I could take credit for this one- sigh- but I can't. Sometimes the best we can do is share another persons work. I thought this was a very clever video on our national debt problem.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Good But Not Great

I'll have you all know that I could absolutely succeed in beating you at a game of operation presently. My skills were rusty, but that's a thing of the past now. Just ask Peter.

I could also do some serious damage at double shut the box

And I haven't even begun brushing up on my backgammon skills yet, so watch out:

And if I don't see any food until next week, that'd be OK with me too. I am just a little overstuffed. 

BUT I am still enjoying all that lovely Christmas music. Here is a great little diddy in honor of Saint Stephen whose feast we celebrate today ( first martyr of the church and it also happens to be my nephew Stephens birthday- oops that means it's time for a shout out-HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVIE!!!

Saint Stephen is mentioned in the song, but it is still mostly about King Wenceslaus.Which reminds me that he fits into a peculiar category of Catholic saints. He makes the 'good but not great' list which I have never understood and frankly I also don't really support. When referring to King Wenceslaus we specifically call him 'good' not terrific, not spectacular, or astonishing (and yes we do have a Saint called Saint Christina the Astonishing- don't believe me-you check her out here) certainly Wencelaus is not GREAT ( that is reserved for the likes of Gregory and Gertrude

This good not great category  kind of sounds to me like he barely made the cut, doesn't it? 

"Eh- he's all right- but he could've been better!"

  What is even curiouser is that he is not alone in that category. He is also joined by St. Anne- she apparently was only good too. Perhaps they were comparing her to her daughter (?) and if that was the case-sorry St Anne but its sorta true. Hmmm, I wonder who they are comparing King Wenceslaus to- could it be St Stephen? I guess that could be true? One gave his life- the other just helped some poor schlep who was freezing cold and hungry?Boy that's a tough one to call. Sorry, I am not weighing in on this one. Glad it's not my job! Anyhow- here's the song:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Knock X2

Knock, knock!

Whose there?


Mary who?

Mary Christmas from all of us here at Me and My House!

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Been Saturday All Week

Fred, my wonderful-talented- hard-working-crossword -puzzle-solving-husband has been home this week. I literally had to schedule a few days off for him before Christmas so that he didn't keep on, keeping on. The  first couple of days were difficult as we both need to readjust to be around each other for more than 2 days in a row. The kids also need to adjust to Daddy being ever present. So it started out a little bumpy and grumpy, but eventually smoothed out ( I am curious, do you all find that too when you are together more than normal?). 

Now, I have found that every day has become Saturday for me. I wake up late with little kids climbing all over Fred and I and realize "Oh Gee I have nothing much to do today that isn't some variation of fun!" And we leisurely sip coffee and check email and read and play games until about noon, when we go do fun chores like Christmas shopping or grocery shopping for a new recipe.
strawberries dipped in milk chocolate with cheese cake filling!

Joe made peanut clusters with German chocolate and almond bark

Peter's Russian tea cakes- awesome

Baklava for my Freddy

cold fudge sundae- no -you cannot have the recipe

Late in the day we work out- this week with all the kids in tow, causing quite the stir at the ARCC gym facility. I ran on the indoor track while the little ones played basketball and soccer and exchanged one ball for another a gazillion times. That has been most helpful as the kids need fresh air and exercise with all the pent up Pre-Christmas energy. (The best score so far this week- while running on the indoor track I saw a for sale sign on a tread mill 100.00. I asked what was wrong- it needed a new magnet - pennies to replace- and so Fred and I now happily own a very nice commercial tread mill that the ARCC was getting rid of- YES!)
already working in our basement thanks to Fred!

Evenings are quick dinners and stories, mixed in with looking for signs of elves outside the house. How do you know if an elf has visited you ask? Well lots of times we find jingle bells by the windows outside out house, which obviously have fallen off an elf shoe or hat. Check out your own yard for signs if you don't believe me. We have half a jar full of jingle bells we've discovered this year alone.

The older kids watch shows with us in the evening and we bake and watch silly stuff on you tube. It's hard to believe we only have to go to sleep wake-up, go to sleep wake-up a few more times until Christmas! The build up to it has been really wonderful already so its hard to believe it will somehow be better. But then again maybe that is simply because Freddy kinda  is Christmas for me -just about every day of the year. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Robin

OK- Why hasn't anyone on the planet told me about the best burger joint in the world so far? Today after Christmas shopping Fred suggested we stop and grab a bite to eat. We weren't sure where to go. Fred loves burgers and I didn't really care. While we were driving we saw a sign for  The Red Robin and since we love Psyche and have watched all the episodes, we happen to know it is Shawn Spencers favorite burger joint. Actually he likes the strawberry shakes best if my  psychic memory serves correctly.

So being in a good mood and also in a lane that made easy entry to the restaurant possible, we pulled in. As soon as I walked through the door I fell  in love. There was highlights of red all around and it lifted my mood immediately. The waitress walked to our table and asked what we would like to drink. We answered "2 strawberry shakes" eager to test out the 'best shake in the world theory'.

Ummmm-yeah- it was!

I ordered the most amazing burger I ever had in my life,( the prime chophouse) with lightly fried onion rings, provolone cheese, and mushrooms slathered across the top. It needed not one drop of ketchup. I ate the whole burger. The bun never got soggy. I am unsure if the first or last bite was better, and I am not a big burger fan.

I am blown away no one has mentioned this place to me before. It is clearly a conspiracy. I think I will be dreaming of it for days. If you're driving by one sometime soon- you should definitely stop and try it out.
Awesomeness awaits inside.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Grown Up Dinner Party

Tonight, Fred and I were invited to a grown up dinner party. It was really lovely. Our neighbors Mark and Nia asked us to join them along with Nia's parents and our next door neighbors Mark and Molly.  Having been to dinner with them a few times before, I knew it was going to be a really wonderful night. I have to tell you that  Fred and I really like talking with Mark and Nia. They are just incredibly interesting people. They laugh a lot and make easy conversation and are about the most hospitable folks on the planet.  

Tonight was extra special because Nia and her Mom were creating a Georgian Christmas feast . Her family is from Georgia - no silly NOT Georgia USA - We're talking about Georgia former soviet sattelite . 

The food experience itself was really spectacular. I love trying new foods and every dish was so wonderful and neat and different. It is a good thing we haven't given up on my running because Fred and I certainly have some exercise cut out for us tomorrow! It was also really nice to sit with our neighbors and just spend some time getting to know them a little better. We actually got to hear about Mark's music and Molly's re-entry to working after having her girls.We got to listen to Nia's parents talk about missing  Georgia while they are still growing roots here in the USA. Life can be so busy and hectic that if we don't take the opportunities to slow down and get to know one another we never realize we are missing out on some wonderful folks right around us. Mostly we see each other up and down the driveway amidst frantic waves and yard work; but tonight we shared a meal and a conversation and ourselves, and all of us seemed to leave one another a little brighter. 
Churchkhela and walnut brittle made with honey

It was a perfect start to Christmas time celebrations. I felt so happy heading home knowing who was around me. We are really blessed. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sean White Stride

OK, it is official. Fred confirmed while we were out Christmas shopping yesterday that he too believed that Sean White Stride gum actually had flavor that lasted just a little too long. My boys totally disagree. They think chewing gum can't have too much flavor. The whole point they say, is for it to last and last. 

But seriously who wants to chew on gum that never loses its flavor? You never know when to stop. Your goal is never accomplished. A dear friend told me recently that "I chew gum like a New Yorker". (Before I say anything else any of you NEW YORKERS out there are free to hurl insults here.) By that she really meant that I chew gum 'vigorously'. Which is true. And if I chew gum vigorously and cannot get it to lose its flavor, that is really some kinda  gum. 

I guess I just don't want to be bored when I chew gum, and any gum that doesn't ever lose its flavor is sure to bore me after a while. Maybe they could find a way to morph the flavor after a time to keep things interesting?

You better know what this is a picture of or I don't want you commenting on my blog!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elf Alert

I don't know if any of you are keeping an eye or ear on this developing situation, but Fred and I can hardly pull ourselves away from the  news and TV to attend to our regular duties around here. We have been listening to the broadcasts from F.E.M.A. aka Federal Elf Monitoring Agency. The situation is growing mighty serious.

Jingle bells have been spotted throughout our town, both large and small, and silver and gold. A Large troop of red hatted elves has been seen travelling east of E-burg and heading in a southwesterly direction. Children everywhere are scrambling to behave or at least appear that way. Chatter has been detected from the North Pole region communications. Long range scanners have picked up enough intercepted correspondence to move to a yellow alert condition -meaning-high probability of north pole visitation within the next week. A small but distinctly red light was scene leading an unidentified airborne  craft, flying much lower than normal air traffic.

Ladies and Gentlemen if I'm not mistaken we are about to move our nation   to Elfcon 1. Hope you are all prepared.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Week To Go

Only one more week of Advent! Really love this time of year. It has been pretty stress free this year too. That is super nice considering we have so many kids. We did a lot of fun traditions to keep the kids engaged and thinking about something besides the load of presents on Christmas morning. Our wise men have been travelling from room to room as Christmas comes and have now safely arrived  upstairs and in our new classroom. They will soon be at the manger. The kids each carry one of the wise men and we sing We Three Kings or O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

  They are also loading the manger scene with fresh hay from their good works. They can put in one piece for each kind act they perform to make a nice bed for baby Jesus.

The advent wreath is exciting as it is fully lit now too! And while we do love watching the kids open oodles of gifts on Christmas morning, we find more often than not that Christmas comes to our house in smiles and warmth long before the day arrives. That is the beautiful part of Christian family life, He is always asking if there is room for him. Is there room in our hearts for Him, and our neighbor, and our friends, and our enemies. I guess once you're already loaded up with 12 - there is always room for one more.

 Come Lord Jesus! ( but you have to sit next to Sophie and help her if she makes a mess!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Love is...

The following are three different versions of a passage from 1 Corinthians. I have been meditating on this passage not simply because it is really beautiful, but because it seems to reveal different thing to me depending on how I read it. The first read is simply taking it at face value. Its the passage most people know from weddings and is pretty and uplifting. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

The second reading is a bit different. I don't know about you all, but sometimes God seems really big and powerful to me. I read about some of the situations in the world and think "only God could sort this one out" and than I get frightened at a being that actually could do so. The problem with that is God shouldn't be so big that he frightens us, and yet- at least for me- at times He does. I find fear paralyzing and not at all conducive to living a Christian life. I also know that another name for God is love ( Deus Caritas Est). So, when I fear God I try to use this passage to meditate by replacing the word Love with the word God in this passage. It is incredibly comforting; listen:

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud.  God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs.  God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

The last version is different still. I use it as an alternative examination of conscience. This time instead of replacing Love with God, I replace it with my own name. As I start to list out "Ellen is this or that" I am able to discern almost immediately what I need to work on next. It also helps me find progress in myself and encouragement that I can and do grow. You can try it yourself by replacing your name below:

(your name here) is patient, (______) is kind. (______) does not envy, (________) does not boast,
( ______) is not proud.  (________) does not dishonor others, ( _________) is not self-seeking, ( _______) is not easily angered, ( _________) keeps no record of wrongs.  ( ________) does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  (_________) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

  • I had a bunch of random thoughts that I need to get out of my head  since they are driving me crazy now. I have decided to hoist them all on you dear reader, so here goes:

  • Sean White Stride is a surprisingly long lasting chewing gum, in fact maybe a little too long.

  • The Mexican pizza from taco bell is much smaller than I remember it from about ten years ago.

  • If Charlie Brown was my son I would want to give him medication and therapy to help his mood. He is clearly being neglected by his parents.

  • I really like sporks and wish they were more in vogue.

  • When I ask for cole slaw I actually say 'cold' slaw ( and BTW Kentucky Fried Chicken has some that is surprisingly consistent and good).
Did you mean: coleslaw ? It is usually cold.

  • Some of my kids are terrific and some are awful, but I haven't decided who is which yet.

  • There are an awful lot of depressing Christmas songs that probably don't do a whole lot of good for folks to listen to, even if they are popular.

  • The carbonite computer back-up hold music, sounds a lot like the theme music from Twin Peaks.