Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a year!

This time last year:

  • We knew a transfer for Colin would be coming, but not the timing.
  • Evan and Bethany had been dating for almost two months. He had spent Christmas at our house and she was in Wisconsin meeting his family. Colin and I drove up to Wisconsin to bring her back. We met Evan's parents over lunch at Buca di Beppo on New Year's Day.
  • We lived in the same house we'd been in for almost nine years and knew that we had a lot of work to do to get it ready to sell.
  • We had our eye on a house close to church that had been on and off the market for years.

  • Colin has been working in the 'burbs for seven months, staying in an apartment during the week, and coming home on the weekends.
  • Evan and Bethany have been married for 4 1/2 months. (That means we got an engagement, wedding planning, and an out-of-state move for her all into one year!)
  • We prepped our former house, vacated for tons of showings, and ended up living there for a couple of months longer than we had planned. This fall we turned it over to a relo company and heard yesterday that it is finally sold.
  • We bought our "less-expensive" house down the street from church and spent our summer finding out all of the problems it had and spending all of our money to fix them. It is on its way to being exactly the home we wanted and the location is great.
It was all rather frantic and stressful while we were living it. But, with the exception of Colin being gone four nights a week, it's all turning out well. And that has an end down the road, which makes it bearable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Five Cheese Egg Casserole

I've had several requests for this recipe. I first had this at a B&B I went to this fall for a scrapbooking retreat. I loved it and was glad to be able to purchase the recipe. I have made it twice this month, once for a ladies brunch at church and once for our family Christmas morning.

7 eggs
1 cup milk
4 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded*
4 ounces colby cheese, shredded *
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
16 ounces small curd cottage cheese  (Michigan brand is perfect, if you can get it.)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 t. salt
Fresh herbs to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk eggs and milk together. Stir in the cheeses and melted butter. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Immediately pour into a buttered 13x9 pan. Bake 45-50 minutes.

*When I made it the first time I gave up my colby to another cook and used double the monterey jack. I liked it a bit better that way, so my suggestion is to leave out the colby and use twice the mj. It seems to let the flavor of the cheddar really stand out.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Early New Year's Resolutions

    I've spent some time this evening lining up my reading challenges for 2012.

    It's made me start thinking about my plans for 2012 and I've got a few resolutions.

    In 2012 I will:

    --Swim in my pool.
    --Read more books.
    --Plant a garden and enjoy the harvest.
    --Go on a vacation.
    --Not tear out any walls.
    --Enjoy the occasional Saturday with the hubby.

    I also have no intention of moving or planning a wedding. I plan no drywalling or mold clean-up. When I have my friends over I hope to entertain them, not put them to work.

    Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    The best thing since. . .

    Well, I don't know what. But something for sure.

    Pinterest. Just the name makes me want to go paint something. Or buy something cute. Or at least find a picture of something cute.

    So if you're playing there, come find me.

    It worked with my kids

    Right now I'm really struggling to like some people that I love. And I'm disappointed with some people that I like. This isn't anything new. It happens with jarring regularity.

    I am so tired of grown adults behaving like children. Or even worse, like junior high students.

    I'm so tired of snide comments and pot-stirring. Of extreme comments begetting more extreme responses. Of plain-old, flat-out meanness.

    I'm sick of bickering.

    I'd like to grab several different sets of people by the scruff of their necks and stand them in the middle of my living room. I'd make them stand forehead to forehead with each other until there was laughter and forgiveness.

    As my children have taught me, some people are stupid-stubborn, and this can take a while, but I've never seen it fail.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    I want a cookie

    I've been doing really well avoiding sweets and refined carbs most of the time for the past year. I did it for my health, but it's had the happy side effect of a 20 pound weight loss. I'll take it!

    Most of the time I'm satisfied with the way I eat, but all it takes is one weekend in a bed and breakfast--with cookies and orange-almond french toast--to turn me into a cookie-craving, m&m devouring basket case.

    I've probably eaten 30 m&ms tonight. I feel like crud from the sugar. But I still really want a cookie.
    Tomorrow I need to be strong and do the lean protein and yummy veggies thing, and put the thoughts of cookies out of my head.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Costs of disorganization

    I keep finding myself paying the price, financial and otherwise, for being chaotically disorganized.
    I've had to pay late fees on bills frequently during the past six months.
    I just paid $26 extra dollars to sign my son up for the SAT.
    Yesterday it was $32 in library fines.
    I lose hours each week just searching for things.
    We aren't eating as well as we could be.

    The problem is that I need some time to get organized, but there is always something more urgent. The overwhelmingness of this move has taken me by surprise. I've made state-to-state moves with small children that didn't leave me in this kind of chaos. Maybe that was easier because moving was, in itself, a break. I didn't move and continue to work and do my regular activities. And I guess I didn't do all of that and plan a wedding and have to work on rehabbing a house at the same time, either. So, I guess I can see how I got here.

    But looking ahead, I don't see a break coming. I don't see a chance to catch up. There is Thanksgiving. There are cookies to be baked the week after (about 30 dozen.) There is Christmas shopping, house guests, and--oh yeah--this is one of the busy times at church/work.

    Somehow, I have to figure it out, because I can't continue in the disorganized state that I'm in.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    You just have to laugh

    I discovered something this weekend while I was scrapbooking. There is something very therapeutic about making a nice layout with beautiful paper for pictures of stressful events.

    Very few people knew how hard this summer was for me. There were all kinds of stresses, but chief among them were the constant negative surprises with our new house. Each new discovery added to the financial, time, and health-related strains. For a variety of reasons I felt the need to keep a calm facade and not to let on how close I was feeling to the edge of what I could handle.

    This past weekend I had planned to scrapbook wedding pictures, but various circumstances led to me scrapping other photos from this summer, and especially those of the house problems and the resulting demolition and work. I wasn't really looking forward to working with those pictures. First off, they are mostly of ugliness: mold, demolition, lathe, weeds, green board, and, did I mention, mold. And further, they depicted a really low point for me. But as I sorted through the stack and got ready to work with them I was cheered, partially by the fact that they were in the past, and partially by the reminder of all of the people who worked so hard on our house.

    Our sons ( 2, 3) were amazing. They worked hard for months. I have tons of pictures of Bethany, hair tied up, sweaty and dirty or covered with paint. I have pictures of Evan working in almost every room of the house, doing anything that needed to be done. We have pictures of the best neighbors in the world working both inside and outside of the house, and of other friends helping out, too.

    So I pulled out some of my favorites of the new paper I bought, and a few old favorites, too. And I made some of my favorite layouts in a long time with those pictures. At one point I was actually wiggling in my chair with glee over one of the layouts because it was such fun. And looking back through the pictures with the boys today I feel like I left a lot of that stress on those pages.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Sometimes stuff happens

    Things get lost.

    I didn't manage to blog Thursday night because I couldn't find the tote with most of my scrapbooking tools and I lost a couple of hours of my packing time looking for them. My 18-year-old son found them, but only after I had already searched frantically.

    There's no internet access.

    Friday and Saturday I was at the retreat. There was supposed to be internet access at the camp, but it was slower than dial-up and wouldn't even load my email, let alone allow me to do anything on the internet.

    People die.

    I spent last night not doing much more than feeling sad. One of my dad's sisters died on Friday, and although I'd been thinking about her all weekend, it didn't seem quite real. Talking to another of my aunts last night really got me thinking about the loss to her husband and young adult kids and how much all of us will miss her.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2011

    The countdown

    In less than 40 hours I'm leaving for my first of two fall scrapbooking retreats. I've been sorting through things and getting organized, but I still have a lot to do. My packing is complicated by the fact that I'm packing for two. All of Bethany's scrapping supplies are still here, and she will be going directly from Wisconsin to the camp. So I'm bringing tools, albums, paper, bedding, etc., for two.

    Oh, yeah. Snacks, too. Guess I need to squeeze in a Target run tomorrow.

    It's going to be a great weekend. I get to spend it with my daughter and a couple of my dearest friends. I get to get back to one of my favorite hobbies, which I have not indulged in since the retreat last fall. And I get to scrap again next weekend.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011

    Why Janie can't read

    I am, and have always been, a reader. But this year has been rough. I am way off pace. My concentration has been horrible. I have to really be in the perfect mood for a particular book to be able to read it. I keep trying to figure out why this is. It would seem that my favorite relaxing pastime would be just the ticket when things have been a bit crazy, but that doesn't seem to be the case right now.

    Very few books that I've read this year have really grabbed my attention. Those that have, have. If you want to see my reading lists, challenges, etc., I have a book blog.

    I'm hoping that life getting back to normal helps. We'll see.

    Monday, November 07, 2011

    This counts

    I'm begging off posting anything substantive tonight because I had a kitchen accident and a trip to the ER. I'll fill you in tomorrow after my eye is un-dilated.

    Sunday, November 06, 2011

    Okay, so I didn't make it back yesterday

    It's been a busy weekend. Sauerkraut, out-of-town guests, church, birthday party.

    Tonight I ordered another 600+ photos from Snapfish, so between this order and the last I have almost 1300 photos to scrapbook from the last year. Of course, almost half of those are wedding.

    I think it's a good thing that I have two scrapbooking retreats coming up. I can't wait. I hope my pictures make it in time for the first one!

    Saturday, November 05, 2011

    Can we call it even?

    I didn't blog last night, but I did blog twice two days ago. And I promise I'll blog again today.

    Last night was our sauerkraut supper at church. In spite of the fact that I thought we should do something different and I wasn't in charge of it--because I *did* say no, as I am so often encouraged to do--I still spent 12 hours at church yesterday working on it.  So when I got home at 9:00 last night I was complete mental and physical toast.

    Today's agenda: getting ready for a sixteenth birthday party for my baby and his friend tomorrow night.

    Groceries, baking, cooking, and some visiting with out of town guests. And--oh yeah--I have to work today.

    Better keep moving.

    Thursday, November 03, 2011

    Erasing posts

     I've blogged twice tonight.

    And promptly erased each entry.

    It wasn't the quality. The writing was good.

    It was the subject matter and tone. They were cranky. And I refuse to be a cranky person.

    And now I'm tired, and seemingly incapable of a complex sentence.

    I could sit in this chair and waste the rest of the night on Facebook or Pinterest, but I think I'll go organize scrapbooking stuff.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    I love

    . . .my youngest son's giggle when he sees something funny. Especially if it involves cats, squirrels, or bunnies.

    Stumped already

    I am starting my month stumped about what to write. If I had written earlier in the day, it probably would have gone smoothly, but I was busy with work and errands, so I put it off.

    When I sat down to blog I had a couple of ideas rolling around in my head, but I decided to check Facebook first, just to see what my friends are up to. Well, that was a bad idea, because--as is too often the case lately--someone is behaving badly. I want desperately to ignore it. (Actually, I want desperately to tell someone off.  But it wouldn't be nice and they wouldn't accept what I was saying anyway.) So I want to ignore it.

    But I can't. Because it's bothering me. And I can't write when I'm bothered unless I'm addressing the source of the irritation.

    So tonight's post is pretty much of a waste. Maybe I'll come up with something else later.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2011

    Blogging for blogging's sake

    Something about the theme-less theme for NaBloPoMo this month really appealed to me.

    I need to write more. I think that I'm at a point in my life for the first time in many months that will allow for some daily blog time. It doesn't really matter if anyone reads what I'm writing, although it's more fun that way.

    My brain has felt really sluggish lately. Reading has been slow. I haven't been researching anything. I've just been trudging through, living in my too-full, too-demanding house, trying to keep up with everything everyone wants me to do. It's time to get the sludge out and start thinking again.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2011

    To help me remember

    I had planned to do better documenting the house transition, but it has happened in the midst of so  much busy-ness that it has fallen by the wayside. In addition, I don't currently have a decent camera. I have been trying to use Bethany's old one, but the battery life is so short as to render it useless.

    But I do want to make a couple of notes while I remember.

    While I was washing dishes at my lovely, shiny, white sink I thought about what an improvement it is over the old one. It is deeper, it looks better, the faucet is more functional and shiny. It feels good to wash dishes in it. Which is a good thing, because the dishwasher is a non-functioning, moldy, soon-to-be-garbage space filler. (I want to pull out the island where it is housed, but not until spring, and I don't want a gaping hole.) I also have a new, properly functioning disposal. It feels so luxurious!

    I am enjoying my new stove. And my new refrigerator. And the copious amounts of REALLY hot water put out by my new water heater. I can do laundry just off my kitchen, and not have to brave the basement, thanks to the new plumbing and electrical work that we had done. Okay, so we can no longer walk out the back door--probably a good thing since we pulled out the rotting, termite-infested steps--but we'll deal with that in the spring.

    In the not-glamorous, but comforting category, there's a new sump pump to replace the old one that didn't work. And in the made-my-life-so-much-better category is the new tub and shower in the main bath, even though the rest of the bathroom still needs to be ripped out--except for the toilet, which was also repaired after we moved in--so that I can breathe when I'm in there.

    We should have ripped out the rest of this bathroom while we were in destruction mode.

    We have two rooms on the main floor that are painted and happy. We have three bedrooms that are painted, and one that is primed. We still have some celings that need to come down and the aforementioned bathroom work to do, plus a shower to rip out and replace on the first floor. And the kitchen. And curtains. But at least now we're starting to get to the stuff that I had planned to do when we bought the house.

    Someday I might even get to think about making it homey.

    Living room bay window. Progress.

    Monday, October 03, 2011

    31 Reviewing

    There are SO many bloggers doing the 31 days. Hundreds. It makes it a bit overwhelming to try to find gold nuggets in the pile of rocks. However, I do have one strong recommendation. If you only read one extra blog this month make it Life in Grace.

    I'm sure many of you already do. I know many of us shed tears with Edie when she lost her beautiful home. This month she is doing 31 Days to Rebuilding Your House and Heart as they move into their new home. She's already had me crying, but she also has me thinking about what I want our house to be like when we get past make-it-a-place-we-can-live-and-not-get-sick and get on to making it home.

    I'll keep looking for some other nuggets, but this is a good place to start.

    Saturday, October 01, 2011

    31 What?

    There's a 31-day blog thing going on. And I am not joining in, unless it's for 31 days of blog reading, because some of these topics sound pretty interesting.

    Maybe I'll do 31 Days of telling you about the interesting things I find on these other blogs.

    Thursday, September 29, 2011


    I'm sure that none of you reading this need this reminder, but when you're invited to a function and an RSVP is asked for, do it.

    I know it's easy to set things aside and forget. Things get lost. We think we'll do it later. I do it all the time.

    Just do it.

    I just did the budget review of our daughter's wedding. Not having an accurate count, even a week before the wedding, cost us right at $900. I am not complaining. The party was worth every penny, and then some. But I think we tend to forget that there's a good reason hosts need to know if we are coming.

    RSVP. It's just good manners.And you never know when you might be the host.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011


    I'm a pretty decent cook. I enjoy cooking and I like to try new things. I keep a well-stocked pantry and have gotten pretty good at just pulling things together into a meal, based on my mood and what sounds good.

    My daughter is a newlywed who found herself in the position of needing to fix dinner a few nights ago without planning and using only the ingredients on hand. She didn't think she should need a recipe. She should just be able to pull it out of her head. She couldn't. So she had, in her own words, a minor meltdown.

    She had two things working against her. Well, maybe three:
    She is a perfectionist.
    She has an unrealistic view of how most people cook.
    Her husband is an excellent, intuitive cook.

    As a result, to comfort her, I find it necessary to blog about what dinners were like in the early years of our marriage. I was not a complete novice. I cooked dinner many weeknights my last couple of years in high school, but my mom did the planning. I only had to cook. And she had taught me many of the basics.

    When I got married I cooked the same things that I had eaten as a kid. I had a rotation of about seven meals. I think all but one involved a white sauce or Campbell's soup. We had tuna noodle casserole nearly weekly. Creamed tuna or creamed dried beef on toast was a frequent meal. Some version of hambuger browned and cooked with soup and noodles--and maybe cheese--was a frequent dish. Salmon cakes and spinach. Hamburger gravy. Spaghetti made with Ragu.

    That was pretty much it. Add a canned or frozen veggie and some canned fruit. I had recipes that I made sometimes. My grandma's beef stew. A couple of chicken casseroles. Once in a while I might make a roast with potatoes and carrots for a Sunday dinner. But I never veered far from the foods that I grew up with. And my husband started our marriage as a 19-year-old college student. He would eat anything.

    I'm not sure when I started to cook differently. I remember a chicken enchilada casserole that a friend made when Patrick was small that may have been a starting point. Being a Weight Watchers member and then leader changed my cooking somewhat, but made me more recipe dependent when I strayed from the baked chicken breast or piece of fish and broccoli.

     I like having a lot of ingredients available and having many choices. I have a generous grocery budget. I'm kind of spoiled. But it has taken me years and lots of experience to be able to cook this way. And sometimes it fails me. I stand and stare at my pantry and the ingredients don't seem to amount to anything. Those are the nights that my family usually gets spaghetti, tacos, or chicken breasts.

    My advice to the person who is newly responsible for cooking meals for a household is to have a couple of meals that you always have ingredients for and that you can cook easily, whether with or without a recipe. These should be things that will almost always sound good to the members of the household. (Around here spaghetti is the big fall back, although in recent years lentils have moved up the list.) It will save lots of stress, and avert meltdowns.

    Making risotto. With a recipe.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011


    Sometimes I have to remind myself to look at things from the proper angle.

    I had a cruddy morning. We realized just as I was leaving for work that the circuit that controls the poorly-wired disposal--the circuit that has been off since Saturday evening--also controls our deep freeze. I'm not even going to address the bizarreness of the wiring. Suffice to say it makes no sense.

    But I admit that I had a bit of a sobbing meltdown when I looked and saw pounds of thawed meat.

    I went ahead and went in and did what I needed to at work, and came home a couple of hours later to sort out what was still usable and what was destined for the garbage. I quickly found myself grateful that I had not had time to order meat from the farm this year. And that I hadn't spent hours picking blueberries in the hot sun, because the few that were in the freezer were ruined. I was grateful for the three bags of frozen sauerkraut; for some reason they stayed frozen and helped keep the meat around them cold.

    In the end we lost a lot of food. But we also were able to salvage a lot. Since I needed to go ahead and cook it I have the beginnings of several meals for next week and a big pot of chili for the weekend.

    I've been wanting to get my freezer and pantry organized and to simplify things a bit. I've wanted to get some meals or meal starters in the freezer. Done and done.

    I'm thankful that this happened after I have my new stove.
    I'm thankful that this happened on a cool day, when having the oven on all afternoon just makes the house smell good.
    I'm thankful that, although this is an annoyance and an inconvenience, losing this food in no way effects my ability to feed my family well.
    I'm thankful that, if the frozen wedding cake was going to thaw, it happened when the newlyweds are coming for the weekend.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011


    I'd been waiting for it. I kind of expected it before this. But the timing makes sense, when I think about it.

    For seven months my life has been completely focused on three things: selling our old house, getting our new house ready, and Bethany's wedding. We've been living in the new house for almost two months. Bethany has been married for a month. And Monday we turned over the keys of the old house to the relocation company.

    That was the last big deadline. After seven months of nearly constant time stress and nearly overwhelming financial decisions, we're done. Of course, we're not. The house is FAR from done.  But there are no drop-dead, gotta-happens looming.

    And Tuesday I could hardly pull myself out of bed. I have absolutely zero energy. I'm making myself do what needs to be done--kind of--but there's so much more that needs to happen. And I have no desire to see to any of it. Oh, I've grocery shopped, and run my stupid car to two different garages in search of someone who can fix it, and gone to work, and driven kids places, and washed a few dishes. But I am living in the midst of chaos. I have piles of boxes, some semi-unpacked. My bedroom looks like a bomb went off. The bathrooms need cleaning. I have bills to pay and a couple of emails deserving responses.

    And I don't care. Or I do, but not enough to do any of it. I want to eat chocolate, play Sims, and cut and paste pieces of pretty paper. Or curl up in a ball in the corner.

    I know this will pass.  The crash was almost inevitable. And I know what I *need* to do.  I ate too many carbs yesterday--which tasted good, but left me feeling sloggy--so I made myself have a huge salad and tea for lunch today. I walked to work in the sunshine, and should probably go back out in it again for a while. I may let myself curl up in a ball at some point. After I go pick up my car and take Jonathan to his voice and piano lessons and fix supper.Or maybe after the weekend, since Bethany and Evan are coming and I really want to so some more cleaning. Or maybe I'll just keep going.

    But if you are wanting something from me: a phone call, email, letter, recipe, package, anything church-related, food, event, etc., have patience. Jane is currently out-of-order.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011


    If you would like to see the wedding pictures on the photographer's website go here.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011


    "My oldest is married. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Her husband is working on his MBA at UW."

    It's funny how often this group of words has come out of my mouth during the past week. I've run into a couple of old acquaintances. My investment guy stopped by the new house to say hi. I've done an intro on a homeschooling list. I've met a new neighbor.

    Somehow, I think that repeating this litany over and over is helping to make it seem real to me; it's aiding in my adjustment.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    The message of clothes

    I had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about clothes today. I have lost some weight in the past year--to the point that my clothes are quite baggy--so I decided to go do some shopping, hoping to hit some clearance sales. Clothes were on my mind.

    Since my shopping buddy got married and moved away last weekend, I was shopping alone, so I had lots of time to think. My first thought on the message of clothes came when I was wandering through Banana Republic, ungreeted and completely unbothered by the people working in the store--none of whom were familiar faces--while they assiduously greeted everyone else who came in and told them about the sale. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and completely understood why I was ignored. I looked schlumpy. My two-year-old, too-big shirt and too-big cropped pants made me look more like I belonged on the "People of Walmart" site than at BR.  I wandered around the store for about five minutes, unaccosted,  and then left without seeing anything that even tempted me to try it on.

    Next stop was the Land's End store at Sears. Again, ungreeted. Same was true at every store that I went into except J.C. Penney, where every employee you pass must greet you on pain of death. At Aldo I thought I was truly invisible. I even held a shoe for about a minute while the two people working conversed with each other a couple of feet away, until I left, at which point one said, "Thanks for coming in!" Whaat?!

    So all of this was fresh in my mind when I saw, first, the woman in the skintight translucent white jeggings, low-cut shirt & platform shoes dragging the toddler through the mall. (Her outfit didn't say "MOM.") Then I saw the two women in scrubs complaining about the styles at Macys being boring and having no-style. (Unlike their scrubs? Sorry, when you wear scrubs in public I think you're either lazy or germy.) Then, as I was driving to my next stop I saw the kids leaving one of our local high schools on the first day of school, and remembered how carefully my friends and I chose our clothes for the first day. You knew that you were making that first impression for the school year. I was somewhat depressed by the array of long, baggy athletic shorts with sports sandals and flip-flops on guys, tight low-cut tops and the infernal jeggings on girls, and a general air of unkempt, I-don't-give-a-rip emanating from the students. Most of what they were wearing wouldn't have been allowed by the dress code at my public school--which didn't allow the much-in-vogue preppy, knee-length, corduroy walking shorts with matching tights when I was in high school--but, aside from that, it was lounge and recreation wear, not clothing for any activity of importance.

    My last stop was my favorite clothing store. I haven't been there often in the last eight months because my life has been crazy. But I knew that I  would find something there to complete my thus-far-frustrated retail therapy. I used to know everyone who worked there, but last fall the entire staff turned over and there were no familiar faces today. So, schlumpy me walked in in one of my few non-Chico's outfits. I was soundly ignored. Completely. It wasn't until I walked up to one of the women with my arms full of clothes to try on that anyone paid the slightest bit of attention to me. And she turned me over to the other person who was working. Oh, honey, your numbers for the day wish that you hadn't done that.

    It really was interesting. Usually I dress for shopping. Today I didn't. I wore my comfy, too-big clothes and my Birkenstocks. (Which any observant salesperson would have noticed were new. And adorable. Seriously.) I know clothes send a message. But I really wonder, when I'm out and about, how many people understand or even think about what their clothes are saying. My clothes today said that I either didn't care to, didn't know how to, or couldn't afford to dress in a flattering manner. I recognized that. I kind of knew it when I left home, but it was also part of the reason I needed to shop.

    So what's the conclusion? I don't know. I just had to write it all down.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Harry Potter, homeschooling, and the end of an era

    This summer feels like a turning point in my life for so many reasons. It's amazing how a three-month span of time can encapsulate so much change.

    In June my husband began working in another state, where he taken has an apartment. Monday-Thursday we live apart. After 25 years of marriage, that's a big change. As part of that process we are selling the house that we have lived in for nine years--almost twice as long as I have lived in a house, ever--and are moving to a supposedly less-expensive house. The move is one I've wanted to make for years. We will be closer to friends and church. But it has also been problematic, adding a layer of "What the heck were we thinking?" to the change.

    In 30 days our only daughter is getting married. It's all good. He's awesome. They're moving away, but not horribly far. They'll be close enough that visiting can be the matter of a weekend. Like  I said, it's good. But it's also an ending. For almost 25 years I've been the mother of four, at home, living under my roof, and soon I won't be.

    My homeschooling days feel like they are almost done. After almost 16 years this is also a big change. My 18 year old needs only a burnishing of math skills, and will be in a college class or two this year. My 15 year old is ready to spread his wings. He wants to go to a residential charter school--at a university out of town--for his junior and senior years. It's a good plan. It would be a challenge for me to provide a challenge for him if he stayed. I have one more year with him, but I really don't do anything for him anymore except buy books and shuttle him places.

    My almost 21-year-old, who was the catalyst for our homeschooling, and therefore so much of what has been wonderful about the past 15-plus years, has gone from being that kind of weird, unhappy five-year-old who didn't GET letters and hated school to a college honor student and suit-salesman extraordinaire. And Harry Potter was a part of that. Back when I was trying hard not to despair of him ever learning to read, he went from zero to Harry Potter in three days. Yep. Although he had never read a book before, he read The Sorcerer's Stone in three days. It was a major turning point.

    And over the past eleven years Harry Potter has been a part of our lives. Almost every summer has been marked by a new book or movie release. We've been to book release parties and midnight movies. We've  bought multiple copies and still had two people lying on the floor with a book open at two different spots, reading. We've debated the good or evil of Snape and of the books themselves. We've drawn all kinds of comparisons between the books and movies and other books and movies. We've gone to HP sectionals at Higher Things and listened to HP discussions on Issues, Etc.

    And tomorrow night the last movie comes out. My three oldest are going to the midnight movie with my youngest and oldest sons' best friends. (My youngest is away for the week and can't believe he planned so badly!) I made it to all of the midnight showings until the last, but I fear age and responsibility have caught up with me.

    So bear with me if I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. This is yet another chapter closing in a bittersweet summer.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Difficulty conforming

    I am having a problem. My nonconformist tendencies, which have gotten ever stronger over the past few years, are having a lot of trouble with having my house at the peak of on-the-market readiness.

    The house is spotlessly clean. There is no clutter. (If you know me you recognize this as a miracle.) It is freshly painted. Much of the woodwork is freshly stained. The carpets are cleaned. We have filled a 15x20 storage unit with furniture, books, pictures, etc. My scrapbooking stuff is hiding in a Sunday School room at church.


    We have too many books. I've cleared out dozens of boxes, and we still have "too many." My master bedroom is too plain and undecorated. We have too many cars. (I suppose it would be okay if they all were shiny, expensive late-models, but there it is.)

    Our TV is too large. We should have a flat screen.

    Of course, I know--as a former Realtor--that there cannot be any sign that six people actually live in this house.

    Why? Why do people need to pretend that they don't live in their homes when they are for sale? I never had a single buyer who was so stupid that they didn't realize that the house would be different when THEY moved in. I totally get sparkling clean and decluttered, but my house feels sterile to me at this point. It isn't model home decorated, but without the batiks, books, family pictures, etc., it has no soul. And I'm not going out to buy generic dreck to reanimate my house.

    Thank goodness my Genie and my pottery are home-sale friendly.

    I long to be past this and back into books all over, color, life, cooking, and fun. If my house doesn't sell quickly I may go crazy.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    What we've been up to

    We've been busy with preparations to move into our new house and with wedding preparations, but most of all right now we've been getting our current house ready to sell. Why do we always finally do the things we've wanted to do to the house just in time to sell?

    Jonathan and Andrew stripping the border in the master bath...
    and Bethany painting it.

    Bethany and Evan working on the hall bathroom.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    The big news

    So, last time I blogged about why I've been too busy to blog. Well, I'm going to be busier.

    Bethany is engaged to be married in August. We are in a frenzy of celebration and planning. It's going to be a big wedding, in part because they both have good-sized families, and in part because we have such a wonderful church family and as-close-as-blood friends among the Lutheran homeschool crowd.

    So, a few major details need to be nailed down, and then back to house preparation and getting ready to move.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011

    The disappearning blogger

    I really had planned to blog every day in January. I even had a couple of people who said they were glad I was blogging again. But, as has happened so often over the past few years, life got in the way.

    This time it was life in the form of an envelope from my husband's company outlining the details of a relocation offer. His job is moving to the Chicago suburbs, and he will be going with it. The envelope contained all of the terms under which that will happen, including provision for selling our house.

    Under these terms, we really need to get the house on the market soon to get the best benefit. The house needs a LOT of work, so suddenly we are in a frenzy of packing and preparing.

    This would be enough to have kept me from blogging, but throw in symposium at the seminary and the attendant socializing, and big anniversary celebration for Pastor Petersen, and a few other, smaller events  and, there you go. Disappearing blogger.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Furry friend


    Sunday, January 09, 2011

    Life-long friends

    I was fortunate to grow up reading. Our house didn't have the books-in-every-room decor that my husband suffers, but we owned books and my mother read to me. She introduced me to the library when I was a small child and it and the book mobile became two of my favorite places. I wasn't a particularly popular child, so I spent a lot of time alone, most of it with my face buried in a book. I was reading early enough that there was a run-in with my first grade teacher when she insisted--in front of the class--that I could not possibly have read Charlotte's Web the previous summer.  But I had. And quite a few more, too.

    I devoured the Little House books for the first time that year, among others. Over the next few years I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, the already-yellowing volumes of  The Bobbsey Twins series that had been my mother's, and my grandmother's contribution, Jean Stratton Porter's Limberlost. I met Katie John, Luvvy and the Girls,Trixie,Pollyanna, Rebecca, the Peppers, and the Melendys. I worked my way through the Nancy Drew mysteries that had belonged to my mom and her sisters, and then moved on to Agatha Christie. After I exhausted Dame Agatha I discovered Dorothy Sayers. About this same time--when I was about 12--I found Taylor Caldwell, Anya Seton, and Victoria Holt. I quickly ran through their writings.

    In the school library I found less salutary companions. Judy Blume, Paul Zindel, Go Ask Alice and more gems were the contributions of the library of my Illinois middle school, where I spent a great deal of time during my two study halls every day. Fortunately, they didn't keep me from finding better literature at the public library and, occasionally at the bookstore. And, to encourage the moms whose daughters are currently devouring garbage, they didn't do permanent damage.

    I still go back to my childhood favorites from time to time. I just re-read the Little House books for at least the 25th time. A Little Princess is revisited every couple of years. It hasn't been all that long since I spent time with Luvvy and the Melendys. Anya Seton's Katharine is an almost annual read, as is the big hit of my senior year, ...And Ladies of the Club. I introduced all of these friends to my daughter, and we share a satisfying love of many of them. In return, she gave me Anne of Green Gables and all things Austen.

    Fine companions, indeed.

    Friday, January 07, 2011

    No more new friends

    Okay. Maybe no more is an overstatement. But I realized today that I approach email lists differently now than I used to.

    Once upon a time, I joined email lists looking for connections and support. I found both. Years ago. And have long-since made the transition to face-to-face friendships with many fellow list members. In fact, most of the dearest friends I have were former email acquaintances.

    Now I stay on the lists mainly with an eye to the infinitesimally small number of times that I can add something of value to help or support others.  Those times seem to grow fewer. I've become impatient with discussions that I've been through each winter for ten or more years. I frequently think about quitting all of my lists, even the one that I started and manage. I don't enjoy them any more.

    And I think that today I figured out part of the reason why: I don't particularly care to make any new friends. I don't want to learn the new folks kids' names, what their husbands do, how they homeschool, or anything else. I feel no compulsion to be fake-nice and not stir up trouble. I just want them not to be annoying.

    I think I'm getting old.

    Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    Friends at Christmas

    I really like this picture. It's not that it's great photography, it's the people and the place. This is in our church basement on the afternoon of Christmas Day. It's a combination of  family, old friends, and newer friends. It really feels to me like it captured a moment. Something important.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Christmas/Epiphany letter

    A blessed Epiphany to you!
    (Since I’m writing this on the 11th Day of Christmas, I am assuming that most of you will see it after Epiphany.)

    This has been another year for us to count our many blessings and to enjoy the wonderful life we have here in Fort Wayne. It seems to have gone very quickly, but on the other hand, last February seems like a long time ago. As a family we enjoyed our church, our garden, our fire pit, and going to a few TinCaps games.

    Colin’s year was shaped by the changes going on at work. Many of you know that the company has decided to move its Fort Wayne operations to Chicagoland. As part of that process, and because of his promotion this summer to Chief Engineer, Hybrid Powertrain, he has been spending increasing amounts of time in the Chicago area. Between that and his other travels, we’ve spent a fair amount of time missing him. He has continued to serve as the Chairman of our congregation and to sing in the church choir. He also sang with the Bach Collegium through the fall, but has had to give that up for now because of his traveling. Don’t ask us how this Chicago-based job thing is going to work. We don’t know. We just know that after almost nine years Fort Wayne is home and we aren’t leaving. He likes his job. The most likely solution is a long commute every weekend for a few years.

    Bethany has had a somewhat eventful year, joining the ranks of the uncounted unemployed in August. Her paralegal job had its interesting and challenging-in-a-good-way moments, but she also had a challenging-in-a-bad-way boss, who was causing her so much stress that her health was in danger. We told her to quit or we were kicking her out of the house.
    (Not really.)
    (Well, almost.)
    Now she’s babysitting on a regular basis for the one and three year-old sons of some friends. (I, personally, would choose a psycho-tyrant boss over small children, but Bethany is of a gentler disposition than I am.)  Increasingly frequent visits from our friend Evan Meyer have turned into the two of them being “In a Relationship” on Facebook, Evan visiting for Christmas and her going to Wisconsin to visit his family the week after. She is still singing with the Bach Collegium and the church choir, and reluctantly teaching Sunday School. She continues to be the same adorable Bethany, but if I say anything too good about her, she won’t let me send this, so I’ll stop with that.

    Some of you may be old enough to remember the commercials: “BankAmericard has become VISA.”
    Patrick Casey has become BOW TIE GUY.  In August he added a much-needed job at JC Penney to his schedule. He works in the men's clothing department, and between his sartorial individuality and his charming personality, he has become a bit famous. His sister, attending a movie with him, was accosted by a group of girls who approached her when he made a concessions run, wanting to know how she was lucky enough to know BOW TIE GUY and to be in his presence. When he isn’t hanging out at the mall, he is a sophomore at IPFW majoring in German, minoring in History & Political Science, and making his parents very happy with his stellar grades. He still acolytes when needed, and enjoys helping to train (read intimidate) the new members of the corps.

    Jonathan found a new love this year and in the process we threw our normal life out the window. In January he auditioned for two musicals. His plan was to be in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre if he got a part. But since he didn’t really expect a part on his first attempt, he also auditioned for a part in the New Haven High School production of The Sound of Music. He didn’t get the Joseph part, so he took the role of Rolf in TSOM. A week a later the Civic called. They had lost their Benjamin and wanted Jonathan for the part. Performances and rehearsals didn’t overlap. It could be done. It would mean much craziness. Rehearsals from 3-5:30 in New Haven and from 6-10 downtown. Twenty performances in four weeks in March. Since New Haven High School is between 18 & 25 miles, and 30 & 45 minutes from our house, depending on the route, this was not a small time commitment for me. I spent most afternoons in January, February, & March sitting in my car reading, or hanging out at the New Haven library and my evenings running around town. But just seeing him on stage in Joseph--singing and dancing--made it all worth it. He had a blast.

    He followed up the spring shows with Sweeney Todd in a summer theater production at North Side High School, and then was back at the Civic for White Christmas this fall. More shows on tap for this spring and summer. He continues to sing with the Bach Collegium and the church choir, and still loves to acolyte. He also sang the national anthem at a TinCaps game again this year. His siblings want me to tell you that he routinely sleeps 12-14 hours a day. As far as homeschooling, he is somewhere in his junior year. The heavy musical schedule pushed academics to the back burner for a while, and he will graduate either next December or the spring afterward.

    Andrew never leaves the house without his overloaded backpack. Never. It is packed with Greek, Latin, Biology, Algebra, and some sort of music, plus whatever book he is currently reading. Academically he’s a sophomore, but if he ends up deciding to go to Indiana Academy his junior year, we’re calling this his freshman year to give me more time to adjust to the idea of him leaving. He has also taken to carrying Jonathan’s guitar around with him.

    When he isn’t carrying his backpack and guitar around, he likes to play on the xbox, pick out songs on the piano, and chat with his friends on gmail. He got glasses this year and enjoyed the attention that brought. He has continued to love acolyting and loved helping to train some new acolytes. (Of course, we know that’s mostly because he got to talk and they had to listen.) His siblings think that he is the coolest member of the family.

    Andrew asks, “What about BenCat & Callie?” To steal a line from my Pastor, “They’re cats.”

    My year was good. I got to garden, cook, scrapbook, read, and hang out with my kids. I continue in my seemingly endless, pointless quest to save time and money by moving out of this house and closer to church.

    Once again we were blessed with an abundance of visitors and lots of time with good friends, although it never seems like enough! I made it to Higher Things in Nashville and got to see some old friends, and to put faces and smiles with some names. The next month I had the pleasure of seeing many of our friends who came to Redeemer for our second annual family retreat. We also had a great day at the lake with my aunts and uncles and cousins, who I rarely get to see. (We are blessed to see most of our family often enough that it is not an event, although the fall visit of Sean & Anne from Australia definitely qualifies!)

    I have what is arguably the best job in the world, being secretary at Redeemer Lutheran Church. My hours are flexible. I get to spend lots of time putting together bulletins, looking at hymns, etc. I am getting to know the members our congregation better. I can decide that I am just not counting an hour that I spent at my desk because I decided to check Facebook “real quick.”  My sons can go with me and either do something productive or just hang out. My boss is not a psycho-tyrant and I don’t have to play with three year-olds, fold the same sweater for the 34th time, or drive to Chicago. Every once in a while I get ambitious and think about revving my Melaleuca business up again,and am quickly slapped down by the realities of my schedule, but the desire is still there.

     This has been a challenging year for some of the people we love. There have been some hard losses due to deaths or economic realities, and sometimes both. You are in our prayers as we go into the New Year.

    We enter 2011 thanking God for all of you.

    Love, The Caseys

    O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
    You shine with God's own truth and light,
         Aglow with grace and mercy!
    Of Jacob's race, King David's son,
    Our Lord and master, You have won
         Our hearts to serve You only!
              Lowly, holy!
         Great and glorious,
         All victorious,
              Rich in blessing!
    Rule and might o'er all possessing!

    Come, heav'nly bridegroom, light divine,
    And deep within our hearts now shine;
         There light a flame undying!
    In Your one body let us be
    As living branches of a tree,
         Your life our lives supplying.
              Now, though daily
         Earth's deep sadness
         May perplex us
              And distress us,
    Yet with heav'nly joy You bless us.

    Lord, when You look on us in love,
    At once there falls from God above
         A ray of purest pleasure.
    Your Word and Spirit, flesh and blood
    Refresh our souls with heav'nly food.
         You are our dearest treasure!
              Let Your mercy
         Warm and cheer us!
         O draw near us!
              For You teach us
    God's own love through You has reached us.

    Almighty Father, in Your Son
    You loved us when not yet begun
         Was this old earth's foundation!
    Your Son has ransomed us in love
    To live in Him here and above:
         This is Your great salvation.
         Christ the living,
         To us giving
              Life forever,
    Keeps us Yours and fails us never!

    O let the harps break forth in sound!
    Our joy be all with music crowned,
         Our voices gladly blending!
    For Christ goes with us all the way--
    Today, tomorrow, ev'ry day!
         His love is never ending!
              Sing out!  Ring out!
              Tell the story!
    Great is He, the King of glory!

    What joy to know, when life is past,
    The Lord we love is first and last,
         The end and the beginning!
    He will one day, oh, glorious grace,
    Transport us to that happy place
         Beyond all tears and sinning!
              Amen!  Amen!
         Come, Lord Jesus!
         Crown of gladness!
              We are yearning
    For the day of Your returning!

    (Lutheran Service Book, 395  by Philipp Nicolai)

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    It's that time again

    No, not New Year's Resolution time. Not time to get organized. Or diet. Or exercise.

    It's time for me to give myself the lecture about protecting my time and being able to say no. This doesn't mean that I don't want to see or hear from my friends. Or do things with or for them. What it does mean is that suddenly I find my plate full of tasks that people are expecting me to do, in a certain time frame, but I am waiting on information, etc., from others to be able to do them. So I am getting behind and stressed. These are the kind of things I should say no to. I do not enjoy having responsibility for things that I am not in charge of.

    So friends, if you notice I'm seeming rushed and stressed, it isn't you. And I'm not too busy; I'm just the wrong kind of busy.

    Sunday, January 02, 2011


    The hubby and I took a little road trip to Wisconsin this weekend. We spent the afternoon and evening of New Year's Day with our good friends, our former pastor and his wife. What a treat!

    We then spent Sunday morning--yes, you read that right, Sunday morning--driving around the Milwaukee area. We drove along the Lake and up through the campus of UW--Milwaukee, a trip I made daily when we lived there. I loved that drive, and it is every bit as relaxing and beautiful as I remembered.

    After our drive, we met up with Bethany and Evan and his parents for lunch at Buca di Beppo. Bethany went to  Wisconsin with Evan on Christmas evening, and spent the week with his family, and part of the reason for our trip was to bring her home. We had a good lunch, and enjoyed meeting Evan's parents.

    I didn't realize how badly I needed a break until I got away for a couple of days.

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    January blogging

    I decided that I'm going to try to blog every day in January. The NaBloPoMo topic for January is "Friends" and I'm going to try to use that as inspiration.

    I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about what I want to read this year, and I wanted to start the new year with a strong choice. I picked a book that Carol, a friend from college who I've reconnected with via Facebook, recommended. Carol is fun, smart, and interesting, so I was sure it would be a good place to start. To see what I think when I finish, you can check my book blog.