I have so many things to tell you, but my life's activity level has suddenly increased. I will be back soon; I promise!
I have just witnessed the all-time most anticipated, small town show-down in history! And it completely lived up to it's potential.

There are two people who live in this town, I will call them Fred and Ginger. I had no idea that they knew each other until they both came into our office today. (Although, I am learning not to be surprised; most of the folks in town know each other fairly intimately.) Ginger was on her way out when Fred walked in.

You will need some background:

Fred, rambling, meandering, a little over six feet tall, is the ultimate small-town busy-body. He gathers personal information from townsfolk at shops and on sidewalks all over town and regurgitates that information wherever he happens to land next, along with a fair dose of his own insight on the matter. He never seems to have anything better to do, or any other place where he needs to be. I look forward to his visits because impossible things pop out of his mouth. He is capable of insulting every single person in town, but he does not do this out of malice. He just says what he thinks. He has a very strong opinion on every action and every personality, and he is not afraid to share his opinion loudly with whomever he happens to be near. He does not expect agreement; he doesn't seem to need approval. He's just talking. He frequently stops breathing so that he can tell his stories without self-interruption, and it is virtually impossible for anyone else to interrupt. From time to time, a word or question or phrase can be interjected quickly into his conversation if timed precisely, and he will steamroll over that opinion, or address it in an aside and move right back to his subject. Leaving during his conversation cannot be done; he follows. Politely telling him that you have other work to do means nothing; he will brush your work aside and tell you that you are working too hard anyway. He is unstoppable, unpredictable, uncouth, and completely lovable in a twisted sort of way.

I must be twisted.

Ginger, petite, feisty, no-nonsense, gets her business done quickly and efficiently. And heaven help the person who does not handle their end of her affairs just as efficiently. Ginger also has strong opinions and does not hesitate to share them if it pertains to a particular subject, but she rarely takes time to dawdle. Her opinions are limited to the subject at hand. She is blunt and precise and will quickly put you in your place if she feels that you are not in your proper place, but I have also learned that she is nice. Her exterior protects an interior that is mushier than expected. I have grown to like her, and I suspect that many others in town have also.

Fred walked into our financial office as Ginger was walking out. They greeted each other warmly. Fred started his conversation as he always does, personally: "Are you here getting your taxes done?"

Ginger did not hesitate at all or seem taken aback, "I don't think that's any of your business, Fred," she stated frankly.

"Well, I'm just asking," he sighed but did not seem offended. "So are you getting your taxes done?"

"No, I am not."

"Well, have you gotten them done yet? You know April 15th is coming up very shortly. It creeps up, you know. First thing you know, it's January and the snow is falling and you think, 'Oh, I've got plenty of time,' and then you wake up one day and it's the middle of April. Snow is still falling because we've just had such an awful winter this year, but even with the snow, it is the middle of April, and what are you going to do? You'd better hope you have all of your receipts and such with you and in order." He paused, "You do have all of your tax papers in order, don't you, Ginger?"

She just looked at him with her lips pressed closely together. I tried to analyze her expression, was she upset, angry, bored? I don't think so. She seemed to be waiting him out.

He only waited three seconds for her to answer. When she did not offer any information, he tried a different tact. "So, how is your wonderful son these days?"

I watched her facial features soften, and her voice was proud as she answered, "You've got it right, he's a wonderful son." She adeptly did not volunteer any more information.

"I saw him this past December at the barbershop. He must have been in town for the Christmas holidays. It must have been wonderful to have him home again. Where is he living now?" Fred waited two seconds, and after receiving no answer pressed on. "The last I heard he was living in ________ City. Is that right? That's what he told me anyway."

Ginger responded shortly, "He ought to know where he lives. He's the one living there." She edged toward the front door and put her hand on the doorknob. "I'm on my lunch break, so I need to get back."

"Wait, I want to know more about what's going on with you," Fred spoke up quickly. "Will your son be coming home for Tulip Time in May? I wonder if he will bring a girl home with him someday. Why are you trying to leave? I just want some information."

"You are nosey, Fred."

"Well, is that any way to talk to a fellow citizen? I'm just small-town gossip in action," he defended himself in a surprised tone of voice. "You can't tell me that you don't gather information where you work. You know that everyone goes up there, and they just have to chat and share. I've got it a lot harder than you do, because I have to go to the information instead of having the information come to me." He truly sounded sorry for himself.

Ginger and I laughed loudly at his confession, and Ginger offered a small tidbit. Maybe she felt sorry for Fred. "My son said that he was bringing a girl home." She opened the front door slightly and a sliver of sunlight sliced its way up her body starting at her shoe. Fully poised to walk out, she was halted with Fred's next onslaught.

"I hope you know what you are going to cook when they arrive. Boys now-a-days have it so easy. They just depend on others to do their cooking for them. It's too bad you never taught your boy how to cook for himself, Ginger. Whatever poor girl he ends up with is going to have to slave over a hot stove for him night and day, and she won't thank you for that, I warrant. If you..."

Ginger loudly interrupted, "And who cooked for you all these years, Fred?"

"Well, you've got me there, okay," Fred agreed good-naturedly. "For the earliest part of my life, my mother did all my cooking, but the tables turned rather rapidly, and I've cooked six years for my nieces, 10 years for my father, 10 years for my mother, that's 26 years, right there. You know, life doesn't always turn out the way you think it will, and you just have to roll with the punches. You have to hunker down and live it out in the trenches. You just have to play with the cards life deals you, and you can't complain, okay."

Ginger nodded, emphatically agreeing with Fred's assessment of life.

"I just think it's too bad that you cooked for the boy all those years. You've spoiled him, you know. How is he ever going to survive on his own if you keep on cooking for him."

I personally am not sure how this argument applied to Ginger's son, because he has been living on his own in a completely different town for many years now, but that did not stop Fred from criticizing Ginger's child-rearing skills and her son's survival skills.

Ginger took it all in stride, which is what most people do with Fred's rambling criticism. She kept leaning towards the doorway, about to take a step out when Fred would bring up another subject with renewed vigor. Finally, she looked him in the eye and shouted over his soliloquy.

"Fred, I'm leaving now. Good-bye!"

She walked out of the office while he finished his sentence.

Then he turned to me...
Okay, I am obviously a little slow, because it has taken me from Judges to I Kings to finally catch on to something that God has been repeatedly trying to show me, but I've finally got it!

Right now, my devotions are in I Kings, particularly about Jereboam, the revolutionist who stole the kingdom from Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and I read something that I had never noticed before. I knew that God had "raised an adversary" in Jereboam, and I knew that it was completely God's plan for Jereboam to take over most of the kingdom, but the fact that God made a promise to Jereboam to give him and his descendants the kingdom perpetually just like He had promised David earlier, surprised me.

God did not just promise David that privilege immediately. David had been king for a while before God said, "Hey, I like you. You've done a good job, and you've maintained a relationship with Me. I'm going to make this promise to you." But with Jereboam, God did things differently.

Who was Jereboam? He was one of King Solomon's officials. He was a young man who supported his widowed mother by working for Solomon. He apparently was a wise man and a hard worker, because Solomon was impressed with him and promoted him to being over the entire labor force. One day, while Jereboam was traveling to another job site, a man came up to him and told him that God wanted to give most of the kingdom to him. That is when God made the dynasty promise. "If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you." I Kings 11:38.

This surprised me. I stopped and thought about it. This means that Jerry had a relationship with God prior to being chosen as the next king, and that relationship was arguably a strong one.

So if he had such a strong relationship with God before he became king, and he had such a great promise for the future if he maintained that relationship, why would he decide to set up golden calves for Israel to worship instead of God?

Easy. Once he became king, he began relying on himself to protect his kingdom. He decided that God wasn't strong enough to do it. Logically, those calves were a great strategy on his part because it kept the Israelites from traveling to his rival's kingdom to worship God. But, also logically, God gave Jerry the kingdom, and God promised Jerry a dynasty. Doesn't that imply loss prevention on God's part?

I think God is prodding me to depend more on Him in my daily decisions and actions. There isn't one looming thing that I have not handed over to Him, but my constant little actions, my constant little words, my constant little decisions need to be given to Him. He is trust-worthy. He is capable. He is the only One Who knows the future and is able to manipulate it.

I say that I am slow to pick up on this lesson because all the way through Judges and Ruth and first and second Samuel, I've been noticing how God did incredibly miraculous things through people who thought, "This is crazy. The odds are completely against me." Gideon, Ruth, Jonathan and his armor bearer, David, David's Mighty Men (read II Samuel 23:8-23).

God is still the same God. He has not changed. Here are some promises that He has made to me.

Matthew 19:26 - Jesus looked at them and said, "With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Romans 8:31 - If God is for us, who can be against us?

This subject was touched on in my Sunday School class last week when we discussed the idea that Christians in general are not actively involved in politics and governmental decisions. Abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity and other sins are being accepted and legalized, and most of us sit back and sigh over it. Why aren't we doing something? Why aren't we contacting our local government officials and letting them know that we do not support these decisions?

When we discussed it in class, we reached the conclusion that most of us thought it wouldn't make a difference anyway, so what would be the use? Well, if Jonathan and his armor bearer thought that and decided not to attack the Philistine fort with just the two of them, they would have never seen such a decisive victory. Instead, their logic centered around "Is this what God wants us to do? Will God be with us? If He will, then the odds mean nothing! LET'S GO!"

That's how I want to live, and that is how I'm going to live. You know why? Because "I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength!"
She sat in the sunlit, warm office, staring into space, wishing she could be with her family. Good Friday. A holiday for many others including her husband and oldest daughter. She thought about the importance of Good Friday, and the dramatic gift that Jesus had given on the very first Good Friday. She wished that she felt more into the spirit of the day. She thought of Liberty, remembering her baby’s struggle to cling to her shoulder this morning at the babysitter’s house and smiling with bittersweet feelings at the cat-like actions in her memory. Thankfulness flooded her heart when her mind rested on the knowledge that the babysitter was a Godly lady who loved Liberty and would only do what was best for her, along with a pang of sadness that accompanied her wish to be with her baby.

She unbuttoned her too-tight jeans and sighed with relief as her pregnant belly escaped its denim prison.

She thought of the lunch that she had chosen not to pack at home and wondered where she should go for lunch. The idea of McDonald’s repulsed her overly sensitive taste buds, as did Taco Johns, Subway, Smokey Row. Arby’s sparked a slight interest, but a mental review of the menu gave pause. What would she even want?

Tomorrow is Kimmie’s two-year anniversary with us! She remembered for the twelfth time that week, once again pondering what special things could be done to honor the day. She already knew what Kimmie would say if asked. “Pizza and a movie.” But those items seemed too low-key to mark such an incredible occasion. She thought of a cake and ice cream, but those, too, did not seem important enough. We need to do something SPECIAL.

But what?

Having encountered the same dead-end thoughts several times that week, she chose to focus on something else. What am I going to have for lunch? Her stomach began to make its hunger known, and she mentally reviewed Arby’s menu again, then Smokey Row’s, avoiding--even mentally--the BLT at Smokey Row. She pulled up the Smokey Row menu online and was surprised to discover several new items had been added.

As she perused the newly added food descriptions, a bell jingled above the front office entrance. She quickly jumped from her chair and buttoned her jeans, calling cheerfully, “Hello!” to whomever had just arrived. She stepped from her office and joyfully recognized the faces of her husband and oldest daughter!

“Have you had lunch yet?” her husband inquired after scooping her into a giant bear-hug. Her growling stomach answered for her. “Surprise!” he pulled a wrinkled paper bag from behind his back.

She knew without a question that it held a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from Hardee’s, and smiled to herself at all of the memories she and her husband associated with that. “Aaahh! Thank you!” she squealed and hugged him again, thankful inwardly too, to realize that the thought of Hardee’s did not turn her stomach.

She bit into the room-temperature biscuit and told God, “Thank You for such a wonderful family!” Amazing what a difference in outlook had just transpired. She felt ready to dwell on thankful Good Friday thoughts now.
I read a post over at Big Mama's today that reminded me of this little adventure in my past:

My first hostess event in my new apartment.

I had invited five people over, and I served chili, cheese and crackers. It was very informal. A week or so later, I began smelling something whenever I walked into my apartment. Of course, I searched for the source, but never could find it. Over time, the smell became so bad that I couldn't stand the thought of going home.

About a month later, after many unsuccessful searches for the source of the odor, I called the apartment manager and told them that I thought an animal must have died in the walls of my home. They told me they would send a maintenance man to my apartment. In preparation for his arrival, I decided to move all of my furniture away from the walls, because I figured he would need to (what? knock on them? I'm not sure why I thought he would need to have access to my walls.)

When I moved my couch, I found a bowl of unidentifiable, rotting mess.

It reeked.

I came very close to adding some of my own unidentifiable ingredients to the bowl before I closed the back of my throat with my tongue.

I rushed the bowl over to my garbage disposal. (Bad idea.) With a spoon, I scraped the conglomeration from the bowl into the garbage disposal and in the process recognized a few not-yet-decomposed chili beans.

Chili beans? I thought to myself. I haven't had chili since... I searched my memory in vain as I ran water into the sink and flipped the disposal switch. The chili disappeared down my drain, and that is when I realized I had made a very bad decision.

The smell did not disappear down my drain.

At that moment, the maintenance man knocked on my door. I had forgotten that he was coming over. As I neared the door and thought of what I had to tell him, I imagined being evicted for creating a roach-friendly environment that I am sure none of the other residents would have appreciated. When I opened the door, he actually staggered backwards, away from the waves of odor emanating from my residence.

"Whew!" He said, "You really do have a dead animal in here!"

I thought of the ground beef that had been in the chili and silently agreed, Yeah, a cow! Then I sweetly told him that I had found the source of the smell, and that I didn't need him to check my walls anymore.

His face was still twisted into an interesting format while he tried not to gag. Or smell. Or breathe. He looked worried. "What was it?"

I had hoped that he wouldn't ask.

The smell lingered in my sink drain for days until a friend suggested that I cram a few oranges into my disposal and let it chop them up. Thankfully, that solved my problem.

That happened in December of 2003, and chili has not been made in my house again until November of 2006 when my mom made it the week after Liberty was born.

So far, we have not found any bowls under our couch.
I am now 15 pounds lighter than I was yesterday at this time due to the multiple exercises performed while on my sugar high, and we know the sex of our baby!

Here she is:

Don't let her innocent resting pose fool you, she did not sit still for long!

She quickly chose to perform some gymnastics for us, and the ultrasound technician took this shot of her somersaulting. She's using her feet to push off the bottom (left), and her back and head are above (right). Her head is very hard to see at this angle.

See her little fist? We've already got a rebel on our hands!

She kindly pointed towards my bladder, giving me about a 5 second advanced warning that she was about to head-butt it.

She waved at us.

Waving again.

The one picture that I wish we had been able to get happened while the technician was focusing on the heart and kidneys. The screen showed only a close up of the baby's heart, and I suddenly felt a very strange feeling that I'm not sure I can describe to you. It is a feeling that I have felt several times in the last two weeks, and I've always wondered what that child could possibly be doing to create that sensation. It felt like the inside of me had suddenly gone hard everywhere, and I needed to grunt. "Wait!" I said quickly to Nancy, our technician. "Zoom out! I want to see what she is doing right now."

Nancy didn't even question, but immediately changed the camera angle so that we could see the baby's body. She was curled innocently into the fetal position, and the feeling had passed, but as we watched, she suddenly stretched both of her arms and both of her legs out to their longest capacity. Her arms lifted straight over her head, her legs pointed straight out as though she were standing, and that not-painful-but-definitely-not-pleasant feeling returned.

"What in the world?" I questioned. She looked like an Olympic high-diver poised to leap from the diving board.

Yet another reason why Missy should not drink sugar!
I just finished drinking that nasty sugar drink for my pregnancy glucose test, and I'm very hyper. My fingers are typing 5,280 words per minute (which also happens to be the number of feet in a mile, in case you were wondering why that number sounded familiar). Although, if that number did sound familiar to you, that would mean that you were extremely geeky during grade school. Either that, or you had a photographic memory and couldn't stop yourself from learning. Whew, and the above paragraph, boys and girls, is why Missy should never drink sugar.

Our first ultrasound is this afternoon at 1:45. We find out if the baby is a boy or girl, and I'm very excited. Jeremy is supposed to meet me in fifteen minutes and we'll drive a few blocks away to the doctor together, but I just called him at home, and it's raining. Sometimes his truck won't start when it rains. I really, really hope his truck starts today. I want him to be there for this!

Excuse me while I do some jumping jacks and run laps around the office.
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Today, my mom is my best friend; however, I am ashamed to admit that when I was 14 or 15, I hated her very existence.

You know why?

She was MEAN. She made me do dishes ALL THE TIME. She made me babysit and help out around the house. She NEVER let me have ANY FUN.

So I made a solomn vow to myself that when I became a mom, I would NEVER be so hard on my teenagers. I would be their friend. Yes, they would have chores, but I would help them out from time to time; I would let them play first if the situation warranted. I would not make them do ALL THE WORK.

I have kept that promise very well, because I still remember my intense resentment over all things chore related. And this week, I discovered something:

My mom was not mean. She did not make me do dishes all the time. I did babysit and help out around the house, but that was only a half of a percent compared to all of the babysitting and helping out around the house that Mom did. She did let me have fun. She was not against my having a life!

On Tuesday, Kimmie hurled accusations and "I hate you"s in much the same way that I remember hurling words at my mom, and I went to bed that night, devastated. I even called my mom for some encouragement, but she sighed and said, "You've got several more years of it left, and just wait until Liberty and the baby are that age." The gift of exhortation belongs to my mother, yes it does.

I tossed and turned, evaluating all of my actions over the past two years, wondering if I had indeed turned into my mother with all of her bothersome chores and unsympathetic heart. When Jeremy arrived home at 2:30 in the morning, we discussed the entire situation, and he told me very plainly that I had done the right things all this time. Then he pulled the door trick, which made me smile and helped me sleep.

Over the past few days, I have been pondering still, turning over Kimmie's words versus my actions.

> Kimmie had said, "You make me do dishes ALL THE TIME!" The dishes are her one assigned chore in the house. (She is also required to keep her room and bathroom clean, but that is not considered a family chore; that is just part of life.) Ironically, I had done the dishes for her on three different days that week because I knew that she had other things going on.

>Kimmie had said, "You make me babysit Liberty." Well, yes, she does babysit Liberty from time to time. She babysat three weeks ago when Jeremy and I had some major errands to run in Des Moines that we knew would take several hours. We gave Kimmie the option of going with us, which meant that Liberty would also go with us, and Kimmie made a face to inform us that she would be bored beyond tears if we dragged her along. She chose to stay home with Liberty, and she was excited about it at the time. She also babysat this past Saturday when the van was being worked on, and I had to sit at the dealership for two and a half hours reading a newspaper and watching customers. Boy, she missed out on some fun, there, let me tell you! I had a yawningly good time!

>Kimmie had said, "You never let me have any fun." That point was illustrated again last night. Kimmie had spent the evening out. She returned home around 8:00 PM. At 9:00, she asked if she could call Stephanie, and I said yes. Then she started telling me about her day and about all of the homework that she had and about the two quizzes tomorrow that she had not yet studied for. As I listened, it dawned on me that she planned to spend her evening on the phone instead of studying for the quizzes. When I questioned her, she informed me that the quizzes didn't really matter. It was much more important for her to have her phone conversation. When asked if the conversation had a certain purpose to it, the answer was, "No, but if I don't call Stephanie tonight, then I won't be able to talk with her for an entire week!" I pointed out that she would have plenty of time to talk all day Sunday (especially since we have free weekend minutes), but that unsympathetic answer earned me the silent treatment for the rest of the night.

I closed my bedroom door last night, smiling to myself. I finally realized what my mom had probably been pointing out to me throughout most of my teenaged years. She loved me. She only wanted what was best for me. She enjoyed giving me good things, fun things, but she also knew that I needed to learn to be responsible and hard-working. She did not try to kill my fun, just like I do not try to kill Kimmie's fun. She did not make me constantly work, just like I do not make Kimmie constantly work.

I also realized something else. No matter what I do, Kimmie is probably not going to change her opinion of me (at least not until she has a smart-alecky daughter of her own). But her heart is not dependent on my actions; my actions do not determine her attitude. I have been beating myself up, trying to figure out what I am doing wrong to create such a horrid response in my daughter, and I finally know that I am not creating that response. I do answer to God for my own attitudes and actions, but I do not have to blame myself for Kimmie's attitudes and actions!

Maybe you are not feeling it, but this knowledge is freedom to me. Writing this post has helped me to sort out all of the feelings and thoughts that have been floating around my head for the past few days, and now I'm ready to take a deep breath and face the world again.

I love my daughter. I have not done wrong. Bring it on!

PS> Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sorry for years 12 - 18. I love you! :-)
This morning, I drove happily into town enjoying the pleasant morning sunshine and be-bopping to the songs on the radio. Liberty pulled her right tennis shoe off once again and proceeded to alternately suck on her toes and grin at me in the rear view mirror. Kimmie stared sulkily out the window, thinking brooding teenage thoughts.

The weather report came on, and I nodded in joyful agreement as the 55 degree prediction sounded for today.

Then the sky darkened, and the earth began to quake. WHAT WAS THAT I HEARD???? SNOW PREDICTED FOR THE WEEKEND?!

I don't believe it.

I won't believe it.


There is sunshine in my soul today
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my Light.

O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul.

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus, listening, can hear
The songs I cannot sing.

Oh there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul.
There is springtime in my soul today,
For, when the Lord is near,
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flowers of grace appear.

Oh there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul!

There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope and praise and love,
For blessings which He gives me now,
For joys “laid up” above.

Oh there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul!

And you KNOW how much I love sunshine! It's supposed to get up to 56 degrees today!!! Yay for us!!!!
When Jeremy arrived home at 2:30 last night, I was still awake in our bed, and we were able to discuss several issues that I had encountered yesterday that were keeping me awake. I explained to him that I was second-guessing my actions and the stand that I had taken that day, and he listened to the whole story. After a bit of discussion between us and some encouragement from Jeremy, he went to the kitchen to fix himself a small snack, and I settled into my pillow to get some long awaited sleep.

After a few minutes, I heard our bedroom door creak open just slightly. I opened one eye and saw Jeremy's nose and lips protruding through the small crack.

I waited, wondering what would come next.

Melissa, this is God. Jeremy's voice rumbled from the other side of the door. You are doing the right thing. Keep it up. Keep going.

The door slowly opened further, and Jeremy's entire head appeared around the edge. I grinned at him in the darkness and thanked God for giving me such a wonderful man to encourage me.

Sometimes, even when things seem hopeless, I just have to keep on keeping on. God is in control. My actions can be used by Him, but my actions do not have power on their own to change others. Only the Holy Spirit changes hearts. Mine included.
All posting has been postponed due to the intense drug-induced fog befuddling my brain which is preventing normal thoughts and accurate spelling.

On a happier note, drugs have a fun affect on the dreaming portion of my brain.

My husband reported that over the weekend I talked quite a bit in my sleep. I have been teasing him for quite some time about the fact that one night he yelled out, "Washo! Save me!" after watching a marathon of Walker Texas Ranger. (Washo is Walker's Indian nickname.)

Jeremy is now paying me back by teasing me about the petty cash that I am apparently guarding to keep my brother from using it for drug money. (I read a book just before succumbing to this cold.)
As I walked across the street today in the biting wind and blowing snow flurries to pick up my lunch at Smokey Row (a BLT on wheat, cottage cheese and a cockle-warming Spiced Chai Tea), I made two discoveries: 1) I am officially style-less. 2) I love Smokey Row.

Let's address Discovery 1 first, shall we?

I coughed all night long. At some point in the middle of the night, I decided to get up and take a steamy shower, hoping the steam would aid my breathing efforts. Instead of aiding my breathing efforts, the shower only succeeded in causing me to have bag-lady hair when I got out of bed this morning. One side of my bangs have adhered themselves flatly to my head and refuse to detach. The other side has chosen to defy gravity and stand at military attention, doing their best to point others towards Heaven. It is quite lovely.

My brand new maternity jeans must have shrunk in the wash, because I swear they finished BELOW my ankles and not three inches above my ankles when I tried them on in the store this weekend. Either that, or Target has some incredible lengthening mirrors in their dressing rooms.

All of my black, blue and otherwise non-attention grabbing socks were in the laundry this morning, so in a fit of desperation I pulled on some bright, white, HELLO-THERE socks which gleefully pull attention to my three-inch-too-short-jeans.

None of these factors would normally affect me, because usually after I dress I have to leave my bedroom and walk past the approving or disapproving eyes of my teenage daughter who never hesitates to ask incredulously, "Are you seriously wearing that today?" Usually, I mentally recap what I am wearing, and after deciding there is NOTHING WRONG with my outfit, I state very plainly, "Yes," and continue with my day. However, I PRAY that if she had said that to me this morning, I would have stopped what I was doing and changed my clothes.

Today, however, none of that occurred. Today, Kimmie had no school. Today, my wonderful husband who works night shift and came home at 3:00 in the morning, who saw me downstairs hacking up a lung at 4:45 this morning, who realized I did not fall asleep until 6:00 this morning, very thoughtfully assumed that I would not be going to work today, and he TURNED OFF MY ALARM CLOCK which was set for 7:00 AM.

At 8:15, Liberty's baby monitor woke me up.

We normally leave the house at 8:00.

After calling Chris and Craig to let them know that Liberty and I would be late, I grabbed the nearest outfit, frowned at my hair, skipped the makeup, and ran out the door with Liberty bouncing along. No teen-aged voice of reason (did I really say that?) halted my mad rush out the door in short jeans, white socks, and gravity-defying hair. The only part of my ensemble of which I am not ashamed is my beautiful green shirt.

And you are not going to believe this...or maybe you will, but while I one-handedly typed that last sentence, a juicy tomato fell out of my BLT, leaving a triple-bounced trail of stains down the middle of the fabric covering my pregnant belly. There goes my lovely green shirt. Should I be reading up on "Pride goeth before a fall?"

What can I say: I'm style-less.

My second discovery was much more pleasant. I discovered another reason to love Smokey Row. When I entered their casually eclectic establishment to pick up my shirt staining BLT, I noticed signs posted that read, "Smokey Row is hosting a WINTER PROTEST," and the workers were all sporting brightly colored shirts and Hawaiian leis.

Now that's my kind of protest!

And seriously, all I really need is a lei to cover my stains and draw attention away from my hair and socks.
As I mentioned in the Town Plague post, Fifth Disease is going around, and it could have serious, even fatal side-effects for an unborn baby. You'd think the below zero temps would freeze those germs out, but no, they are alive and well. Instead, we are the only ones being frozen to death.

Craig and Kathy's daughter, Sammi, has Fifths; Liberty has had something resembling a bad cold for a week and a half and can't seem to shake it, and now I have the scratchy throat, congestion, achy body and sore joints that could indicate the beginning of Fifth Disease.

I've been wondering if I should call my doctor to see if there is some kind of preventative measure that I could take for my baby, so I googled, "What is the difference between a cold and Fifth Disease?"

It gave me this link which made me laugh and nod vigorously in agreement.

And I feel better about it all, now! :-)

(Besides, Kathy just brought me some Spiced Chai Tea from Smokey Row, and it has warmed the "cockles of my heart;" a phrase which Kathy and I just googled and giggled about.)

From Mike Huckabee's concession speech:

I've said many times here in Texas that I was inspired by the incredible story of that small group of less than 200 volunteers at the Alamo in San Antonio who took refuge in that church mission. And they saw the incredible armies of Santa Ana start massing against them.

On February the 23rd of 1836, 172 years ago this past week, those armies began a 24-hour onslaught and bombardment. On the 24th day of February, Colonel William Barret Travis wrote the letter from the Alamo that should reign and live in all of our hearts and memories, not just for Texas, but for all the world, all who love liberty.

As he said on the incredible occasion, he said, "The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion. Otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword if the fort is taken." He said, "I've answered the demand with a cannon shot and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat."

"I call upon you in the name of liberty, of patriotism, and everything dear to the American character to come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving enforcements daily and will no doubt increase to 3,000 or 4,000 in four or five days."

"If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country: victory or death."
These were people who understood that their battle was not about them. It was about the principles of liberty that they deemed even more important than their own lives.

Tonight, I hope that our battle was never about us. It was about our country and its liberty. And now we join with Senator McCain and the rest in our party to continue that battle, to continue that fight, not for who gets elected, but for what we do in maintaining liberty and freedom when we get elected and when our country's flag still waves proudly on the wall.
Yesterday, MR. SUN came out. Yes, MR. SUN gets capitals because I operate under the theory that if I make him feel very special, he will come visit more often. Neighbors on our cul-de-saq exploded from their snowbound homes, drinking in the SUNSHINE. Children splashed in melting snow. Liberty ate mud and rocks while running up and down the street and periodically dropping her doll in the dirt.

My across the street neighbor and my next door neighbor are both having babies in July with me. Kelly is due July 11th, Angie is due July 21st, and I am due July 30th. The three pregnant women and our husbands met at Kelly's mailbox to compare tummies and discuss nursery decor. Jeremy and I are waiting for the citywide SPRING (yes, also capitals) garage sale to find another crib, dresser and clothes.

Kelly and Angie are both having boys. Jeremy is jealous...although, we are making progress; last night he told me that he really doesn't mind if the baby turns out to be a girl. Can you believe that?

Me either. That's why I have recorded his words for posterity just now.

Angie & Brandon's youngest daughter Maddie brought out a toy highchair and a small baby to sit in it. Liberty eyed the highchair, tactically planning her ascent. First she attempted to remove the baby. When that plan was foiled by Jeremy and I, she pretended indifference. Then she quickly tried to rip the baby from the chair by approaching from underneath. She couldn't stand the thought that something to climb stood right before her eyes, and she wasn't allowed to climb it. If that plastic baby thought it was going to keep her from her mountain, that baby had another thought coming. Six adults watched in careful amusement as she planned her next attack. The hunger for height shone plainly in her sky blue eyes. Thankfully, Maddie decided the baby and highchair needed to go back inside, and Liberty trotted off in search of another mountain.

Kimmie had been predicting snow all day, but with the temps nearing 60 we all wallowed in denial. Denny and Kelly decided to take their boat to the lake, and Jeremy and I decided to take our daughter to the bathtub.

Jeremy carried Liberty carefully at arm's length towards the house. At the front door, Kimmie and I removed her mudcaked shoes while Jeremy lamented the state of her footwear. Once inside, I peeled her wet pants off and discovered that her skin had miraculously changed color. She no longer represented a caucasian child. Her coffee skin tones were more reminiscent of an Indian nation.

We took her straight to the bathtub where her bathwater had to be changed twice before it remained clear enough to bathe in.

The rain arrived late in the afternoon, and it quickly changed to ice, then snow as evening drew on. This morning "Travel Not Advised" warnings bellowed from radio and tv stations. All roads in our area were snow and ice covered. Schools proclaimed a two-hour delay. My normally 12 minute commute took 43 minutes. It is 19 degrees.

And it was worth it all...to stand in the SUN yesterday.