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post-holiday report

30 Dec

I have so much to say, and good sense would dictate that I not publish it all.  I think that I will try to be vague, even though I hate not being able to say what I want to. 

I have a friend who was seemingly healthy one month ago and now she is in the painful grips of pancreatic cancer.  This is bad.

Another close friend is also sick and in the hospital.  He can’t afford an infection as he does not have a strong immune system.  I am very worried about him.  He deserves his own page in my blog under the category of gentlemen I have known.  He is absolutely exquisite and accomplished and he means the world to me.  He has given me some of the best dating advice I have received so far, specifically: “don’t.”  I will draw him out about that when he is released from the hospital.  Or maybe he’d like an inquisitive, soul-searching visitor, asking all the hard questions to distract him from his illness?

The children are home!!   (I am sorry, but this does call for 2 exclamation points)

I have the nicest children ever.  No disrespect is intended for any of you who also have children – I am sure that I love yours, too, and sometimes, late at night when they are finally asleep as mine are, you think they are the best kids ever.  That’s all this is.  Appreciation from across the house while they sleep and don’t talk back.  Wade received roller blades from Santa Claus and has been wearing them non-stop around the house.  Janet Jackson played Tootie on the 80’s TV show, The Facts of Life (which we only watched when my parents were away).  Tootie was always on roller skates, and Wade reminds me of her.  This evening, we walked Hattori, Jack and Curry.  Wade was on skates and Henry and I were just in regular shoes.  In just a week away from me, though, Henry has grown up.  He is so vocal and bossy and busy and no-nonsense.  He fussed at Wade and me the whole way.  But the dogs like him.

Then I took them all out to supper and made them share entrees, as I often do.  Nobody complained.  I love them when they don’t complain.  Then we toured the Christmas lights one last time before they take them down, while listening to 1990’s country music – my personal comfort food.  I built them a playhouse-garage (from Pottery Barn, but it had to be assembled) so that Wade can have his own space, but I don’t think Henry will allow it.  He said “Yade, you’re my best friend, aren’t you?” and Wade said “of course I am, Hen.”

Anna has been dancing every step of every part in the Nutcracker.  Even the big girl dances, like Kissy doll.  I never knew how much that wild thing was absorbing – I always assumed she was too distracted, but she has really got this ballet thing down.  I don’t know whether I will be able to avoid Nutcracker 2011.  As much as I want to.

We are about to enter January, the month preceding Annie Get your Gun!  It is going to be wild, but the Civic Theatre is just down the street and not in the hinterlands of North San Angelo, so I think we will be all right. 

Anna brought up her one line, and said, “mom, I am afraid this is setting a bad example, but my only line is ‘yeah.’”  I told her that theatre is art, and we make allowances for art.  As long as she knows to say “yes ma’am” in real life, she can say “yeah!” from the stage and I won’t hold it against her.

I’ve had some disappointments that I won’t discuss here no matter how much you beg me to.  You’ll just have to call me if you want the personal stuff.  I hate being disappointed.  Especially about something important to me.  But I have been so low before that the only thing holding me together was gratitude for how much I really do have – materially and in my friends.  And while it feels pitiful and painful, it’s not a terrible state.  It can give birth to a unique way of approaching the world and a determination not to let the small things pass you by unnoticed.  I now try to notice everything and see whether there is anything good about it.  Or at least whether it means anything.  Or maybe it’s funny?  The absurd can be redeeming, too.  It is such a rich life.


People say I’m thought-provoking

9 Dec

Anna Banana was in rare form yesterday.  She was positively brimming with queries.  She addresses Henry as “sweetie” or “sweets” and I can see her treating him with the same affection and kindness with which her beloved second grade teacher, Mrs. Stevenson, approaches her.  I think “sweets” is Mrs. Stevenson’s special form of endearment.  She is dancing at least 4 days a week preparing for Nutcracker next weekend.  It is a BIG production, starring close to 100 children, but somehow, 8 years old and barely out of pre-ballet, Anna is dancing three different parts.  She is cast as a Christmas angel, a mouse, and a gingerbread girl.  She is positively exhausted every night and puts herself to bed with a book of poems and a CD of Julie Andrews reading them.  Seriously, every night.  I didn’t expect this from her, but how do you know what to expect from a child, who at four, looks right into her grandmother’s eyes and announces:

“People say I’m beautiful.” 

I worried then that she was a Norma Desmond in the making, but now with the flair for poetry and dancing and drawing, well, look out world,  here she comes.

Yesterday I picked her and Wade up from school and she asked me this zinger:

“Mom, when you run into somebody you sent to jail, what do you and he talk about?”

I think I managed to say something like “oh, that never happens” or some other platitude.  I should have told her that I discuss how I kennel police dogs and pit bulls at my house; or how my husband is a green beret; or that I have recently taken an advanced handgun-marksmanship class.  None of which are true, by the way.  I have run into former defendants – usually at the grocery store.  It’s the great equalizer.  Everybody runs out of bread, milk, and garbage bags, even criminals.  They always say “hello, Mrs. Noelke,” and are generally very polite, but I don’t exactly stand around and make idle conversation with them. 

Later on, she told me of her plans to open a facility called “Anna’s Orphanage.”  She explained that it’s really not fair that some children are orphans and don’t have parents.  She wants to give them each a Christmas present to make up for their not having a mom and dad.  And here was the best part – the logistics:

“Mom, where do you get orphans?”

As I was putting some polishing touches on our Christmas tree, she admired its glitter and flair and asked me again if I had any of the family jewels.  She is just dying to get her hands on them. 

the very last question she asked was a good one – a complex, tricky issue: “What about a tattoo that says ‘I love God?’ ”  I said “Well, Anna, I don’t think God likes tattoos (apologies to any and all tattooed readers.  I am merely trying to keep her un-inked until she graduates from high school.  After that, I will give up my attempts to control her style.)

“I know, Mom,” she said, “but this is a tattoo that says something good about GOD.”  as though I didn’t get the dilemma.  I settled for “God would prefer you announce your love for Him in ways besides permanent ink on your skin.”  Like a tee-shirt.  Or good deeds.

She wasn’t quite as entertaining today, or maybe I just didn’t see her as much as she had evening visitation with her dad, but yesterday, she was classic Anna.  Always edgy, always generous, always glittering.  Hopefully not yet tattooed.

the reason for the season

30 Nov

In an effort to instill some values in my progeny, I started talking to them tonight about Advent.  I wanted them to know that long lay the world in sin and error pining til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.  But all that sin and error is a little bit heavy for a three year-old and an eight year-old, who were all I had with me tonight.  Wade was at Boy Scouts picking up enough popcorn to ensure that he is busy delivering from now until Christmas Day.

I started with Christmas.

“What is Christmas really all about?” I asked the crew in the back seat.

“PRESENTS!” Anna shouted gleefully.  My worst nightmare.  A spoiled, ungrateful, materialistic child.

I decided to try another approach.  “Whose birthday do we celebrate on Christmas?”

“MINE!” Henry exclaimed. “It’s MY birthday!”

You would think they had never set foot in a Sunday school class.  And yet, they have starred in 5 Epiphany pageants, playing angels and lambs and shepherds.  They are all baptized Episcopalians.  We have read all the Christmas books and attended church on Christmas Eve as well as all through Advent.  We have nativity scenes set up in our house this time of year.  Did I mention that Ambleside is all about teaching an enduring love for Our Savior, Jesus Christ?  And Henry attends St. Luke Methodist Church Christian Child Development Center.  He goes to school at a church.

I think I am going to ask for a refund on all that tuition.

Anna wrote me a letter

20 Nov

Dear Mom

you are the

Best.  I ♥ U

thank you

for the dogs

and the cats

and this


you are

the Best

mom in the


Baby steps

18 Nov

I am still working on my Gentlemen I have Known series.  It is going well, but I can’t get around to posting any of it because of intervening events: my mother’s birthday, my daughter was sick yesterday, and because one my of soul sisters is having a hard time, and I have needed to spend every free minute comforting her.  Actually there have been two crises, but one worked itself out during a walk at a brisk clip around the Gun Club Road, aka the koa.  It is amazing what walking so fast that you’re out of breath and sometimes running up the hills can do for a bad mood.

You all know about my amazing mother and her birthday from yesterday’s corner-brightening post.  But you don’t all know about my friend’s hard time.  I’m not going to go into the details here on the internet, but if you want to call me, I will fill you in.  Suffice it to say that someone in my immediate circle who doesn’t know how to utter the word “no” and who has never met someone she doesn’t want to help in whatever capacity they need her to has been met with a personal crisis.

I have tried to be there for her every step of the way offering my gift for tough love that I inherited from my mother.  I don’t know if my friend’s tears were from her personal crisis or from my lectures (strictly from a place of great love, I assure you), but there have been some tears.  And some tough love and some interventions.  Not just from me!  Lots of admonitions that “you are just perfect and anyone who can’t see that is crazy.” and “since when do we allow other people to define who we are?”

But I don’t know that I am getting through to her.  So two days ago I did what any good friend would do – I left my “just who’s in charge here?” boots outside her front door.  She didn’t wear them.  And thus, spent much of the day not convinced that it was she who was really in charge.

So yesterday, Anna started the day (in my bed, of course) coughing like a barking seal, and I kept her home from school.  By 8:30 a.m., she was asking what we were going to do for fun today, and I did have some errands to run, so I thought that she could rest just as easily in the car as she could in bed, and off we went.  We ended up at Mr. Boots, and I called my dear friend to implore her to meet us there.  I wanted her to try on some tough, pretty boots so that she could imagine what it’s like to take your power back.

I swear it wasn’t my intent to cause her to spend lots of money (Houston!), and she didn’t.  But she did start warming up to the idea of a pair of cowboygirl boots to round out her shoe wardrobe.  There is just something powerful about a pair of pretty boots.  For one thing, you are immediately two inches taller, which is always helpful.  And your feet feel heavy.  You are grounded and one with the earth, also known as the center of the universe.  In fact, you might just be the center of the universe when you’re wearing the right boots.

I have found that the right pair of boots just transforms one’s whole sense of self and  your knowledge of who is going to define you and who will be allowed to push you around.  It all changes when you have on the right pair of boots, and suddenly there can be no question of just who is in charge here.

My dear friend didn’t buy any boots yesterday, but she did try some on and walk around in them.  She looked at the different styls and colors, she compared prices, she thought about what she might wear them with (a short skirt, naturally – talk about taking your power back!), and she started to see herself as less of a victim and more of a winner in this scenario.  Boots can’t solve all your problems (um, especially the financial ones once you become hooked like I am), but they are definitely two steps in the right direction.