Yesterday, God sent my friend Kathy to me bearing Cheeseburger Chowder just when I needed it most.

I have been having a rough few nights recently. Nightmares. Horrible, frightening nightmares that wake me up full of fear. I don't know why this is happening, but I really, really don't like it. Tuesday night into Wednesday had been particularly frightening, and I couldn't seem to collect my thoughts or get my act together on Wednesday morning. I spent most of the morning trying to run errands and attempting to focus on my work, but my thoughts were worried and jumbled. My actions harried.

Around noon, Kathy breezed into the office and said, "Hi! I'm treating you to a bread-bowl of Cheeseburger Chowder at Smokey Row. Let's go!" I dutifully donned my coat, locked the office, put out the GONE TO LUNCH sign, and trudged wearily down the street with her.

An hour later, warmed by chowder, heart-to-heart discussions and laughter, Kathy and I embraced. As she passed through the doorway, I happily pondered the difference in my spirit.

I'm so thankful for friendship! :-)
Until yesterday, I had never heard of "She Speaks." I have a list of blogs that I read on a daily basis, and yesterday, Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee wrote about "She Speaks." After reading her post, I decided "She Speaks" was a Christian conference for women, and I thought no more about it other than a mild curiosity.

Today, Big Mama's post had a button linking to "She Speaks," so I checked it out just to satisfy my mild curiosity. Here is what I found.

Astonished, I realized that I know Lysa TerKeurst...well, maybe not know her, but I listen to her on the radio every day. She always has little tips for wives, moms, ladies about how to continue to walk closely with God. I love her little radio tips!

I read more about the conference and found out that they have a session for writers:

For Writers: You have had a passion for writing and have even had people
encourage you to write a book, but have never known how to get started on the
pathway to publication. You will have the chance to attend sessions taught by
some of the top Christian publishers and make appointments to pitch your book
proposal. Or maybe you are a blogger and just want to learn how to more
effectively connect with your readers and increase the impact of your blog. What
better way than to sit in sessions taught by three of the most widely read blog
authors: Boo Mama, Big Mama, and Rocks in My Dryer. Whatever the case may be,
after attending this conference you will:
>Discover your unique writing voice and the mechanics of effective writing
>Understand what publishers are looking for and how to write proposals that get their attention
>Better understand how to build your writing portfolio by getting published in magazines
>Know how to write a book that will impact your reader from start to finish

That gripped my heart, and I felt my lungs squeeze inward ever so slightly. I don't know why this is so hard for me to share, but I have been writing a book for years now, and I want it to be published. I know that God has called me to write. He has given me a burden to reach others through stories and a heart to minister through novels. In fact, I have ideas for a trilogy of books and many other stories in my head begging to be written.

There, I said it. I'm having a mild panic attack now.

Honestly, I don't know why letting others know about my dreams scares me silly, but it does. Maybe I am afraid of failure. Maybe my pride is afraid of public failure. Many people have encouraged my writing. In fact, many of my blog readers have commented that I should write a book. Every time I read those comments, I am encouraged and frightened, "Do they know? No, they can't possibly."

Well, Proverbs 31 ministries is hosting a contest giving away a free ticket to the conference, and in order to enter the contest, I need to post on my blog why I want to win. So here I am, posting on my blog. I want to win because I want to write freely, and I want to learn how to find a publisher or editor or someone to help me fulfill this calling.

So now it's out in the open. And maybe God just wanted me to be brave (read humble) enough to put it out in the open, whether I win the contest or not.
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American Gladiators used to be one of my very favorite TV shows when I was a kid, so the commercial I saw a few weeks ago stating AG's return started my little heart going pitter-patter in anticipation.

Back then, American Gladiators had several things going for it. For one, it's spot on Saturday mornings started late enough that I could sleep in and still be up in time for the show. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Air Wolf whose theme song always woke me up from the living room where my brothers and sisters were watching it, but it just could not entice me out of bed. Many mornings, I listened to the entire show before dragging myself out of bed and into the shower. I would then fix myself some breakfast/lunch and sit down to enjoy American Gladiators. Oh yeah, and to drool over Turbo, who I had a significant crush on.

My brothers and sisters and I would choose our player and then cheer them on throughout the show with shouts of "Duck!" "Go NOW!" "Hit him harder!" "Run!" At the end of the Eliminator Challenge, we would fall back onto the couch cushions just as exhausted as the contenders. And often, we would then use those couch cushions to immitate the pugilist Joust or to climb the Pyramid.

So it was with great anticipation that I tuned in last Monday to the new American Gladiators show. And married and grownup though I am, I still checked to see if Turbo was there. He was not.

It took about five minutes for me to wonder what else was on. This realization saddened me, and I determined to watch until the end without switching channels. By the end of the show, I was relieved, and I analyzed in my mind why this was the case.

There were no significant differences between this episode and any of the old episodes. The challenges were the same as I remembered, and I was glad that they had not been changed. I had to pick Kimmie up from cheerleading in the beginning of the show, so I only got to see the last thirty minutes. Maybe that was the problem.

But in my heart, I know the difference. It's just not the same without Nate, Hannah, Charity, Joe, Zach, Faith and Pete all yelling at the screen with me.
I live in a town that proudly waves their Dutch heritage high overhead. Phrases like, "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much," and "Proud to be a tightwad Dutchman," regularly flutter in the breeze. The word "Dutch" seems to be used synonymously with frugality and thriftiness around here. But last night, I witnessed the epitome of Dutchness.

I attended a play at Kimmie's new high school building.

We entered a room with "Chapel" posted on the double doors and were shown to our seats in an an auditorium that rivaled most elegant theaters. Gazing at the beautiful surroundings distracted me from obtaining a program, but half-way through the first act, I leaned over and whispered to Kimmie, "Did you get a program?"

"No," she whispered back.

At intermission, I left the auditorium to use the restroom. On my way out, I noticed several people returning programs to a large stack sitting off to the side. Along with many other people, I scooped one up then returned to my seat. Kimmie and I read it together throughout the rest of the intermission, and I continued to watch as person after person finished reading their program, and returned it to the stack, while others would come by and pick one up. The stack never visibly shrunk or grew. There were obviously enough programs for everyone in attendance to have their own, yet these people could not suppress who they are.

They are Dutch.


They would take turns reading.

When the play finished, I purposefully watched to see what would happen with the programs. The pile grew and grew as audience members deposited their reading material. I had to smile to myself, and for some reason, it gave me a comfortable feeling to see this Dutch quality acted out.

Now, I know thriftiness is a stereotype of the Dutch, and I know that not all Dutch are frugal. But it just feels good to know that the majority of the people in this town choose to care not only about pinching their own pennies, but also pinching pennies for their school and for their neighbors. I've seen this quality acted out in other instances too, throughout town, not just at our school. It gave me a feeling of family: sharing, caring, taking turns, waiting.

I fully believe that if a person in town were to read this post, they would be puzzled. Because these actions are not thought out, they are part of the fabric of who the people in this community are. I'm not putting them on a pedestal, or romanticizing; I'm just saying I'm thankful to be part of them.
I can't think.

I can't write.

I can't function.

Where is my brain?

I am sitting at the computer, desperately attempting to blog, but nothing comes to me. My mind is a wasteland of emptiness.

Yesterday, I wanted so badly to blog, but when I tried, nothing came out of my fingertips. So far this morning, I have been an extremely productive employee. I sit at my desk, thinking, "I should do something. I really should do something." But there is no energy.

Then I glance at my list of things to do today, and I think, "Hey, I could do that one." So I complete one item on my list, and then think, "I should do something. I really should do something."

Why can't I move?

Oh, and who is the genius who decided that pregnant women should not take cold medicine, I ask you? It was probably a man who never had been and never would be pregnant. He thought, "What's one more inconvenience to a body that is already putting up with backaches and headaches and nausea and sleeplessness. If she can put up with that, surely she can suffer through a little cold that only inflicts stabbing sinus pressure against the back of her face, and allows mucus to drain down the back of her throat at all hours of the day and night, thereby ensuring more nausea."

She is woman! She can do anything!

I'm done complaining now. Because really, I'm thankful to have this baby inside...even though he or she is eating all of my brain cells.
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I decided a little while ago to read straight through my Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I did not put myself on a schedule like I have in the past, but instead chose to read leisurely through. Some days I read only a verse or two, and some days I read several chapters. It just depends on the day.

I am currently at the end of Deuteronomy, and last night I read the part where God told Moses he would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.
"This is broke faith with me in the presence of the
Israelites...and because you did not uphold my holiness among the
Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will
not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel."

Moses is probably my most favorite person in the Bible. I'm not sure why exactly, but I identify with him quite a bit in his struggles and in his victories. I feel like he and I would be good friends if we lived in the same time and place with each other. Anyway, I felt very disappointed for him last night. More than disappointed, I guess. I was very, very sad for him.

I remember when he "broke faith" with God. At the time, it seemed like a very simple variation. God had told him to SPEAK to a rock and water would come out of it for the thirsty people in the desert. Instead, Moses was angry at the people for their lack of faith in such a wonderful God, and he HIT the rock. Water came out of it, and the problem was solved. Life moved on.

Years went by, more than forty years to be precise, and here he is finally at the threshold of the Promised Land. He is going strong for God; he is communicating and leading the people very well. And God pulls him aside, and says, "I'm sorry, but because of your disobedience to me 40 years ago, I cannot let you go into the land. Everyone else here will be allowed to go, but you cannot. Here's another leader for the people. The end."

That reminded me of an incident that Kimmie and I had about a month ago. Kimmie enjoys writing letters to people, and she is great at mailing them. (Unlike myself, who writes letters quite a lot, but NEVER mails them.) I knew that she was coming to the end of her book of stamps, and I had decided just as a nice surprise, to buy a new book of stamps for her when that one ran out instead of requiring her to use her own money for the stamps. She did not know of my intentions. The day that she ran out of stamps, I drove to the store and bought a new booklet. I hid it in my purse and excitedly waited for the afternoon when I would give them to her. That afternoon, she was disobedient and rude, and as a result, I decided not to reward that type of behavior with a gift. I quietly kept the stamps in my purse, and Kimmie never knew what good things she could have had.

A few days later, she asked me if she could borrow a stamp from me, since she had not had a chance to go to the post office. Then I told her the story of the surprise stamps that she had missed out on. I explained to her that God also works this way. He has so many good things that He wants to give us, but we have the power to prevent His good gifts. At the time, I applied that principal only to Kimmie.

But last night, I thought about what Moses had done in his anger. He had "broken faith" with God. Somehow, that phrase really stings. It feels like a hurt relationship. God had relied on Moses to show the people God's character; He had trusted Moses to be an example of God to the people, and Moses had broken God's faith in him.

God is trusting me to be an example of God to my family. I wonder how many times I have "broken faith" with God. Maybe even in something that seems very small. How sad that is. I don't want to miss out on good things that God has in store for me, and I don't want to "break faith" with God.

So I'm thankful that God showed me that truth now, while I'm still 28. I may have broken faith quite a lot in my first 28 years, but with this new awareness, and with God's help, I hope that I will break faith a lot less for the rest of my years or days or minutes that I have left.
About six inches of snow has fallen lightly over our yard, and it reminded me of a story that I wanted to post after our last snowfall.

My three youngest brothers and sister had called me to discuss some mysterious footprints in the snow near the door of their house. They described the prints to me, and asked if I knew what they could be. I guessed a coyote, but I really had no idea. They analyzed the prints, took pictures, and finally looked them up in a book from the library on animal tracks. It turns out, there must be a loose pig in the neighborhood who had come calling at their house. And yes, pig tracks and coyote tracks are vastly different in their appearance. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

All of the excitement caused me to wonder what kind of creatures were roaming outside our house. So I bundled up the girls and we headed outside. We found rabbit tracks and bird tracks and deer tracks and dog tracks. Nothing out of the ordinary.

But then I noticed a pathway worn in the snow leading from our front door to our neighbor's house on the right and another pathway leading from our front door to our neighbor's house on the left. Joyfulness bubbled up in my heart when I realized that we had FRIEND TRACKS in our snow!
All names have been changed to protect the innocent. Well, really to protect me!

Jeremy (name not changed) is sick. Dreadfully, death-bed sick. This morning, we discovered that we had run out of medicine, so I heroically drove down the road to the gas station to pick up some more for him before I left for work.

We live in a town of about 1,400 people. For the longest time, we only had one gas station, but now there are two, the "Old Casey's" and the "New Casey's." I rarely stop for gas in the mornings, so the amount of people standing around drinking coffee and eating donuts in the station really surprised me. Judging from the conversation and postures, I guessed that most of these people are regular morning "stationers."

I weaved between "stationers," looking for the medicine aisle, and absorbed the conversation around me. One topic dominated:

Why had the ambulance come to Norma Jean's house, and why had it driven away in the direction of THE BIG CITY instead of towards the hospital in the next town 20 minutes away?

I read medicine labels while citizen after citizen gave testimony to what they had seen that morning. One man had run to his front window after hearing the sirens, and noticed that it came from the direction of South Street. He mentally "run down a list" of who lived on South Street, and checked off possible victims and possible ailments. (He also generously listed them all for his listeners in the gas station.) Then his phone had rung, and it was Jesse's brother William who told him that the ambulance had stopped at Norma Jean's.

A lady with large curls in her white hair interrupted, "Yes, Betty called me and said she had seen Larry and Pete wheeling Norma Jean out on a stretcher. I sure hope they covered her good and tight. The cold gets into your bones nowadays, and that's not much help if you're already sick." She tisked her tongue, and I watched her curls bounce in a lively fashion from side to side with her head.

A small man with dark leathery skin and multitudes of wrinkles piped up in a voice that sounded like sandpaper scraping sandpaper. "But why did they drive in the direction of THE BIG CITY? Joella saw for herself that they headed West on the highway. Not East. Why would she need to go to THE BIG CITY?"

A grave question indeed. The gas station was silent for a moment, and then the Lady With The Large Curls bobbed her head again. "Well, you know who has a police radio." She looked significantly at Beth behind the counter. Beth looked startled to be looked at so significantly, and she hesitated. "Oh?"

"That's right," Large Curls went on. "As long as she's home to listen to it, she can tell us all about it later today."

Beth suddenly understood who you know who was, and she nodded in agreement.

Several of the people standing around also seemed to know who was being referred to, and they took obvious comfort in the knowledge that they would soon know why Norma Jean had been taken to THE BIG CITY.

I must have had a huge grin on my face when I arrived at the checkout counter, because Beth grinned back at me and said, "Small towns. Everyone needs to know, you know." She winked as I left the store.
This morning, I totally thrashed my babysitter's son and his friend in a knock-down, drag-out, no holds barred snowball fight with the help of my new van -- with whom I have finally bonded.

Liberty and I pulled into Chris's driveway early this morning. Since there was a two-hour delay for school, her eleven year old son Blake and his friend were in the driveway pretending to shovel. I innocently turned the engine off as usual and pushed the button that opens Liberty's sliding side door, the one facing the boys so that she could enjoy the ensuing hilarity. Then I climbed out of the driver's side of the van, conveniently placing the van between me and the boys. Without catching their attention, I quietly collected several snowballs on the ground on my side of the van, then with an Indian war whoop, I began pelting them with the missiles.

Blake and his friend looked up in surprise but quickly retaliated. One boy made snowballs while the other searched for me. After a few seconds, Blake asked, "Where is she?"

"Hiding!" I taunted from my spot behind the van. I used the rear tire to cover my feet and the tinted windows to disguise my shoulders and head. Then I tossed a larger chunk of snow over the roof of the van. It hit squarely on target, covering both of the boys in powdery white. They yelped, and I heard Liberty laugh from inside the van. What a wonderful sound!

I felt fairly safe, until they charged me! They both came running around the back end of the van. I screamed and took off running around the front. I took a hit, and in my retreat, quickly searched the ground for a pre-made ball of fluff. I found two and scooped them up on the run, tossing them quickly over my shoulder at the boys. One found it's mark, but the other fell short. While the boys stopped to find more missiles, I found a snowbank and took advantage of it's possibilities. More balls and better coverage. Those kids didn't stand a chance.

From my new vantage point, I could see Liberty's face. She thoroughly enjoyed our fight, and I know she wished she were part of it. Every time a ball hit, she would squeal with delight. After a few minutes, I knew I needed to quit so I could be at work on time. I leaped from my spot, pelting the enemy with as many balls as I could carry. I rushed to Liberty's side, and unbuckled her, taking MANY hits in the back from those cowards! Liberty laughed the entire time. We raced to the front porch together, Liberty bouncing in my arms, and entered the safety of the front door.

Chris and I calmly chatted while de-coating Liberty and petting the dog. But all the while I was plotting my escape route. I knew the boys would be waiting for me outside, so I deliberately took longer than usual. When I finally guessed that they would have lost interest, I quietly slipped out the front door, and tiptoed to the driver's door on my van. They were standing at the end of the driveway, their backs to me, discussing something tactical, I'm sure. From my fort behind the van, I made several more snowballs, trying to judge my time wisely. As I bent down to make one last snowball, I heard Blake's voice, "THERE SHE IS!!!!" He hissed the words "quietly" to his partner. I heard quick scraping sounds as they drew closer, and knew they were planning an ambush. I had to beat them to it. So far, they did not know how long I had been out there, and they did not know that I had been occupying myself creating ammo.

Holding the hem of my coat with one hand, I used the other hand to dump all my ammo into the concave loading zone. Then with my good throwing arm, I lofted ball after ball into the air over the roof of the van. Through the windows, I could see many of them hitting their targets. Blake and his friend rushed toward a huge hill of snowballs that they must have been making while I was inside, but they were too late. I finished off my final rounds, and hurriedly hopped into my van. Gleefully chuckling at their inability to reach me, I started the engine, and put her into reverse. By this time, the boys realized their impending loss, and began hurtling balls into the side of the van. Thankfully, the balls exploded softly into harmless white powder on contact, so Abbie was not hurt. I backed out of the driveway and rolled my window down once I was in the street. Grinning triumphantly, I stuck my green-gloved hand out of Abbie's window and lazily waved at the boys as I drove down the street.

I'm going to have to drive a tank back to Chris's house this afternoon when I pick up Liberty. They'll be waiting for me.
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"God With Us" by Mercy Me:

Who are we that You would be mindful of us?

What do You see that's worth looking our way?

We are free in ways that we never should be. Sweet release from the grip of these chains. Like hinges straining from the weight, my heart no longer can keep from singing!

All that is within me cries for You alone to be glorified, Emmanuel God with us. My heart sings a brand new song. The debt is paid! These chains are gone, Emmanuel God with us.

Lord, You know our hearts don't deserve Your glory. Still, You show a love we cannot afford. Like hinges straining from the weight, my heart no longer can keep from singing.

All that is within me cries for You alone to be glorified, Emmanuel, God with us. My heart sings a brand new song. The debt is paid! These chains are gone, Emmanuel, God with us.

Such a tiny offering, compared to Calvary. Nevertheless I lay it at your feet.

All that is within me cries for You alone to be glorified, Emmanuel, God with us! My heart sings a brand new song. The debt is paid! These chains are gone, Emmanuel, God with us! :-)

Deuteronomy 31:4 "Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back."
I had my first baby-doctor appointment on Friday. A few snags along the way made it interesting, such as I thought the appointment would last about 30 minutes, and I told Craig I'd be right back in the office. The appointment actually took two and a half hours, and I couldn't get any cell phone coverage while in the building. Then, when I FINALLY left the building, my cell battery had died, making it still impossible to call work and inform them of my whereabouts.

Also, Jeremy was supposed to meet me 15 minutes prior to my appointment so that we could arrive together, but instead, he overslept. Thankfully, my lovely nurse offered to let me use her cell phone to call Jeremy and give him directions to my invasion room.

I mean my interrogation room.

No, that's not right either. Hmm, what are those little rooms called?

Ironically, they drew four vials of blood THEN gave me a flu shot. Just logically speaking, don't you think a person would need all of their blood to help fight off a flu infection? I'm not a doctor, so I'm just wondering.

Over the weekend, I became DREADFULLY, DEATHLY ILL with the flu. Go figure. Thankfully, Jeremy and Kimmie did a great job taking care of me. Oh, and of Liberty.

I have a very nice family. :-)
We had the best time last night, trying to caucus.

Two weeks ago, I looked up the caucus location on the Internet. The Internet told me that for my district, I needed to go to the local high school. I read that information, relieved that I wouldn't have to drive so far. The high school is only a mile or two from our house. Then a friend of mine told me that the caucus would be held at the middle school instead. I knew that I would need to drive 15 - 20 minutes away to a town that I had previously never been to, so I mapquested directions to the middle school.

I rushed home after work and quickly threw a casserole together for supper. Liberty and I then rushed out of the house to pick up Kimmie from cheerleading practice in another town 15 minutes in the opposite direction, making my total trip to the caucus about a 40 - 45 minute drive. We were late leaving her school, so I sped down the highway, knowing that the caucus doors were supposed to close at exactly 7:00 PM. In my mind, I imagined being stopped by a police officer for speeding and begging him to escort me in my hurry to the caucus, but that situation never presented itself.

My printed directions informed me that I needed to make a right off of the dark rural highway at some point, onto a small dirt road. I braked at every turn-off, and at one point even backed up on the highway to revisit a missed road, straining to read the tiny street names printed on the small green road signs. Eventually, we found the right road, and we followed the rest of the directions to...the school's bus garage.

Yes, that's right. I had mapquested directions to the middle school bus garage. Because I'm brilliant like that.

So I parked the car on the side of the road and rang the doorbell of a nearby house. A man answered the door and amidst the raucous barking of his dogs, gave me directions to the actual middle school.

Once at the school, we found parked cars filling the lot and wrapping around the perimeter of the nearest two blocks. I pulled into the lot and found a narrow spot in a line of parallel(ly?) parked vehicles. I nosed the new van in and decided to leave it like that. The only non-parallel(ly?) parked vehicle on the lot. Call me a rebel.

Knowing that the doors were supposed to be closed at 7:00, and it was already 7:15, Kimmie, Liberty and I ran into the school building where we found the entrance manned by five four year olds and one eight year old. The eight year old manfully questioned, "Which party are you with?" Now, I'm registered Independent, but I have decided to vote for Mike Huckabee, Republican, so I told him, "Republican."

"Just down the hall through those double doors into the cafeteria," he pointed. Then he continued his game of tag with the younger children. I smiled, enjoying the innocence and small town typical-ness of this scenario before I headed towards the crowd of people standing in the large room at the end of the hall.

Once there, I quickly found out that my district was meeting at the high school, not the middle school! The high school, if you remember, is located IN MY TOWN, NEAR MY HOUSE, AND I KNOW WHERE IT IS. Kimmie and I looked at each other and sighed. Then we raced back to the van with Liberty gleefully giggling all the way there. She loves for me to run while I'm carrying her. I slid on a large patch of ice just before reaching the van, and she thought that was the greatest way to end our run.

Kimmie and I laughed and joked about our adventure all the way to the high school, 15 minutes BACK to our town. We pulled into the high school parking lot and swirled the van around on some more ice. Knowing that there would be no parking spots left, I pulled onto the sidewalk directly at the front door. I planned on being the last one in, and the first one out. But my plan was not to be.

I had not even turned off my engine or headlights when people began pouring out of the building. Kimmie snorted, "Look! It's over! We're too late!" and then dissolved into helpless laughter. I joined her merriment, thinking of the ridiculousness of our frantic last hour of travel and how useless it had been.

Really, you should have been there. We were so frantic while trying to get there on time, and backtracking on dark roads, and sliding on ice, and ringing strange doorbells, all in our quest for patriotic freedom.

Some people go to Iraq; some people try to caucus!
Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Osky about 20 minutes away to return some faulty PS2 games that Kimmie had purchased with her Christmas money. The benevolently smiling sun and perfectly blue skies attempted to hide the fact that it was only FOUR DEGREES outside my new van.

(I'm struggling to name the van because I haven't bonded with it yet. Jenny, Carrie and Cindy Lou told me their names when I first met them, but this van is giving me the silent treatment. I'm not sure if it's shy or aloof.)

Snowy fields reflected the sunshine. Rolling hills hid large farmhouses from view until the last second. I began playing a one-sided game of hide and seek with the houses, and ended up analyzing their personalities as I passed them. Some rambled in various directions, haphazard homes with a laid back, welcoming air about them. Others stood ramrod straight, windows marching in orderly lines across the front. Some sagged dejectedly with stubborn shutters clinging precariously. I wondered what stories they could tell of happier, family-full times.

On the way home, I assigned myself a reconnaissance mission. We have been invited to a party on Friday, to a home that we have never visited before, and I needed to scope out the lay of the land so that we could find the house with minimal losses on the day of the party. I found the road leading off the main road into the country, so I believe we can make it safely there. However, the directions I have been given show many twists and turns after the road that I found, so we may have a great adventure yet.

Speaking of adventures, tonight is CAUCUS night! I've never caucused before, and I am excited about it. The meeting place is in a small town fifteen minutes away, and I have never been there before. I mapquested it this morning. It looks easy to get to, but I'm a little iffy on the first turn. I hope we get there in time!
We just spent a weekend at my parent's house with all but one of my brothers and sisters and their spouses and dogs and children and toys and clothes and STUFF. And, oh my, it was FUN!!!!!

And way too short.

We arrived at home around midnight last night, tossed everything from the new van into the house and crashed in bed. I am *really* looking forward to going home after work today and cleaning it all up. (She typed sarcastically.)

On the way home last night, Jeremy and I kept each other awake and entertained by mentally designing our basement. We're planning to rent an excavator and dig out a spot for our new French doors in our new walk-out basement. When we finished the basement we decided to build a sun porch, complete with hot tub and play area for the kids...since money is no object, you know.

Our imaginary construction company reminded me of all the times when my mom and I would play "Dream House" together while I was growing up. She and I would hang out in the living room, Mom sipping a steamy cup of coffee and me dangling an open book in one hand. We dreamed aloud, she and I, and together designed and decorated beautiful mansions and cozy cottages, beach houses and farm houses. Dreaming together with Jeremy last night took me back to those days of laziness and laughter, safety and warmth. And of course, the smell of strong, black coffee.