Monday, December 10, 2018


Good Monday morning. 

You may've noticed I've tinkered with the blog. The reason for this is twofold. First, for a month or so now I've been getting this little message when I log in that says something like "such & such is no longer supported by Blogger." I think the gist of the message was that the layout I was using was no longer one supported by Blogger, & if I wanted to make changes to it (I usually tweak some things like fonts & colors) I would not be able to do this, & I was, perhaps, in danger of losing control over some of the visual aspects of the blog.

In addition to this potential loss of control, I wanted to revert to a standard Times New Roman font before I roll out the Dear Miss Moreau extras I've promised. It's several thousand words worth of reading, & as someone who reads a lot of words on screens I know fancy fonts that veer too far outside of trusty Times New Roman can quickly become irritating.

I cannot promise you new & lovely blogs these next few weeks. I will do what I can. We have a lot of upcoming stuff on the calendar. It's more interesting & involved than stuff suggests, but my point is that I'm going to be busy. What I can tell you is that next week & the week after that I will share what is basically an extended epilogue to Dear Miss Moreau. It begins with Edie back in Louisiana with her family. She is soon joined by Dr. Foster, & they spend Christmas together. Now you're excited.

While I'm discussing fiction, before I move on to tell you more about the real people in my life, I will share that I may have found a historical fiction novel to recommend to the book club ladies for next year's list. I told you last week that I've been tasked with prescreening a work of historical fiction. I'm supposed to have it read before we meet later this month; that's a lot of pressure to put on a mom in the month of December, but book club is not for the weak-kneed.

I am several chapters into a book a friend recommended titled The Paris Seamstress. Written by Natasha Lester, it is (so far) a fun mash-up of many books we've read & enjoyed in the past. More on this later (assuming I finish it & don't hate it). I really, really hope I don't hate it, because by the time I realize I hate it it'll be too late to read something else in time to recommend it at our year-end meeting. I'll be forced to go with my backup historical fiction book, Lord of the Flies. I mean, sure, that's sort of a joke, however a handful of book club members admitted recently they've never read Lord of the Flies . . . & it most certainly is an excellent work of historical fiction.

So, that concludes the fiction-update portion of the blog. In real life we are in the middle of the December birthday squeeze. Last Thursday Trey turned forty. We had a low-key celebration at the house with the kids Thursday night. What Trey didn't know Thursday night was that he would be the focus of a small surprise family gathering Friday night in his honor. I briefly considered throwing him a large-scale surprise birthday party for his fortieth, but Trey is not one to enjoy large-scale gatherings that require exhausting small talk. In his heart he always wants to be in his recliner.

I opted to surprise Trey just a little bit. I told him the kids & I were spending Friday night at my parents' house in order to participate in Nana's annual gifting of Christmas pajamas. This was actually not even a lie. The kids & I, along with my sister & her kids, did sleep at my parents' house Friday night, & the kids did receive their matching Christmas pajamas. I told Trey to come get me around six-thirty because my parents were going to watch the kids while we went & ate (alone) to celebrate his birthday. This was the clever ruse, you see. When he arrived he found my parents' house full of his parents, his sister & her family, & my sister & her family. We ate some of his favorite foods. We played a game of Trivial Pursuit. Then Trey went home to the quiet house while I blew up air mattresses & attempted to persuade four hyped-up kids to go to sleep.

Obviously I have some photos to share.

The opening of the pajamas:

Pajama bliss:

Trey's big surprise: 

The weekend's other fun surprise was Henry's flu diagnosis. This wasn't completely shocking given that the kids' school was cancelled Friday due to the overwhelming number of students & teachers out with the flu (many of them inhabitants of the Pre-K hall where Henry spends his days).

Henry seemed kind of puny Saturday, & he was indeed running fever. I whisked the children home from my parents' house & Operation Sickie commenced. Henry spent the day in my bed sleeping & whining about me forcing him to drink fluids. Sunday morning I really wanted to go to church because my dad's teaching the adult Bible class on Sunday morning, & I enjoy his class. An aside: He'll be teaching the class through the month of February. It meets at nine-thirty on Sunday mornings in the auditorium of Jackson Street church of Christ; come if you can! 

Anyway, Reagan & I headed to church while Trey headed to the pediatrician's office with Henry. Our pediatrician's office is open Saturday & Sunday mornings until eleven, which is obviously awesome. The doctor confirmed a flu diagnosis (Type A), & Trey & Henry & the heap of donuts they bought after they left the doctor's office headed home.

Reagan & I left church & ate lunch with my parents & my sister & her family, ran by the pharmacy & picked up Henry's meds, & rushed home. I checked on Henry, gave Trey a few instructions, & headed to Bastrop to load my car up with furniture that had to be moved out of my grandparents' house before its new occupants sign all the official papers. 

One of my "problems" right now is that we simply have too much furniture. A handful of unrelated furniture events have created the perfect furniture storm in my life. The short version of this story is this: my mom's getting new living room furniture, & I am taking her current couch when her new furniture arrives. As mentioned, I just inherited some bedroom furniture from my grandparents. The third piece of the abundance-of-furniture puzzle is that my Christmas gift from Trey this year is a lovely leather chair. 

I saw the chair online on Black Friday. It is Hooker. It was marked way, way down. I told Trey I was going to order it, & that it would be my Christmas present this year. I'd been looking for a leather chair for the living room to replace some of our upholstered furniture since our children do unfathomably gross things to upholstered furniture. 

You may recall last year Trey hit a home run with my Christmas gift(s). He surprised me in a variety of ways, but the best surprise was a first edition copy of The Sun Also Rises. The book sits on a shelf in our bedroom, & I admittedly run my hands over it at least once a day. I told Trey there is really no way he can top himself this year, & so he ought to just agree to the chair, & then he could mark my name off his Christmas list & we'd both be exceedingly happy. 

Reader, I am happy to report we are both exceedingly happy. 

I took this one Thursday night right after it arrived. 

I took this one below this morning. I was excited about the week ahead. I envisioned spending some quiet alone time in my new chair while the kids were at school. I envisioned running errands & getting some Christmas shopping done. Life always has fun surprises in store, & so with Henry's flu diagnosis my plans for the week changed a little bit. He'll likely be fine to return to school by Wednesday, but I've decided what with the germs at school & the fact that they don't harp on attendance in Pre-K, Henry is not returning to school until January. At present he is snuggled beside me on the couch, vying with Sophie the dog for my attention & my lap. 

While I won't spend much time alone with my new chair this week, it is still lovely. 

I haven't done much decorating that's blog-worthy this year, but I did order this new table runner from Target. It was on sale for $14.99.

I also finally did something I've intended to do every Christmas for many years now. I strung lights on two tiny trees & placed them in my bedroom. They are so perfect & lovely, & I love to sit in bed at night & read while they twinkle. Alternatively, I love to snuggle in bed with Henry & watch Up in the glow of my tiny Christmas trees as we did Saturday night. 

This past week has been full, & the week ahead promises more birthdays, more merriment, more busyness. Henry & I are hanging out at the house today until we head to retrieve Reagan from school & usher her to her piano lesson. Tomorrow my mom is going to help me with Henry while I am on mom-duty for Reagan's field trip. Thursday Reagan will be eight years old. Eight. My dad will also celebrate his birthday Thursday. We have a dinner reservation for nearly twenty people Thursday night, & then Reagan's specific birthday request involving the American Girl store in Dallas will be granted shortly thereafter. 

I remember my Aunt Lisa bringing my grandmother to see Reagan in the hospital when she was born. Yesterday I pulled this off the wall of my grandmother's house to bring home with me:

It was hanging in her kitchen. It is an Irish blessing you've likely read many times:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rain fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

If you want a physical reminder that this world is not our home, that the possessions over which we obsess at times are often distracting us from spiritual matters & interfering in our relationships,  help clean out & clear out a deceased loved one's home. It is not easy to haul away furniture that was seemingly a fixed part of a home you visited hundreds of times over many years. It is like taking your childhood apart, & it is hard. It is a test of faith, a test of how earnestly you believe the things you intellectually believe. It is a clash of faith, reason, & emotion, & as is the case so often in life, it comes suddenly, randomly, on a cold Sunday you'd normally spend in bed with your ailing child.

I am tempted to be incredibly stressed about, well, everything: the rest of us getting the flu when we have so many things on the calendar, the overflow of furniture in my house, the Christmas presents I haven't bought, etc. Right now that little picture I took from my grandmother's house is in my sightline in my bathroom. It'll stay there throughout the remainder of this month, perhaps longer, as a daily reminder of what the end looks like: a slowly emptied house that is hopefully full of bustling, busy children & grandchildren you spent a lifetime loving. Stuff is stressful; much of my daily stress is caused by our excess of stuff. The kids have too much stuff, I have too much stuff (Trey, a hoarder, has too much stuff), & at Christmas I stress over what new stuff to buy people. Our home looks like a furniture warehouse at present. 

Whether you have too little or too much of it, the stuff doesn't matter. It is a distraction from what truly matters. It's hard to remember that at times, especially this time of year when the consumerism that dominates our world is at a fever pitch. After several months of culling my grandparents' things on various occasions, let me tell you what is most precious: the memories I have & the cards & letters they left, cards & letters they wrote me & others, & cards & letters others sent them that they saved.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay tuned for updates as our December unfolds (hopefully sans any additional illness). Stay tuned for my upcoming Facebook posts in which I beg people to take all the furniture in our house.


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