Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Days, Fake Trees and Black Friday Madness . . . Lots of Firsts For Me On Thanksgiving Weekend!

Has it really been over a week since I've updated the blog? Definitely! Things have been crazy busy around here and lengthy stretches of time available for blogging are minimal at best. Right now I have a few different options of other things that I could be doing with my time, but blogging is more fun than all of them combined. Here goes a lengthy update on the holiday and weekend that followed . . .

Thanksgiving Day looked altogether different for our family this year. Normally we head south and meet up halfway with my Aunt Sass and her family. Due to you-know-who and his newly repaired knee that is not-quite-yet-fit for lengthy times in the car, we stayed home but sent our girls along with my parents to meet up with the relatives.

As soon as it appeared that there was no way Gregg could handle the trip, I became contemplative . . . quietly mulling over a huge decision . . . one that I had never given any thought to-until now. After much more thought, I knew it had to happen.

I was going to make a turkey. (gasp)

Make no mistake. This was a huge decision and I didn't come to it lightly. You have no idea how many people I talked to, how many websites I searched and the frantic call I placed to the Butterball hotline. (There really is such a thing, by the way. I'd have never believed it if I hadn't dialed the number myself and talked to the nicest woman about my turkey dilemma.) Even Gregg looked somewhat doubtful when I breathlessly came in from the grocery store one week ago and said "I DID IT!! I BOUGHT A TURKEY!!" His response was that it would have been fine with him to buy sliced turkey from the deli and to have sandwiches. I turned on my heel and lovingly put our turkey right into the refrigerator. Because I know you can't wait to hear the rest, I must tell you that I remain faithful to my fan/s. I live-blogged from my kitchen on Thanksgiving Day:

9 am: Decide to get started on dinner. First up: get dessert out of the way (not eating it, making it). Realize that I didn't do so hot at trying to recall the ingredients needed for creme brulee and decide that a trip to the grocery store is in order for just one more pint of cream. Off I go.

10:07 Minor setback. Turkey is still slightly frozen. Off to the sink it goes.

10:21: Creme Brulee is in the oven.

11:30: Operation turkey prep begins. Realize I don't have any sage for that nifty little recipe for a rub I found online at 11:30 pm last night. Oh well.

Noon: Express difference in opinion with my husband as to the method of cooking the turkey. He has been watching A LOT of television this past week and has struck up a friendship with Alton Brown on the Food Network. It would appear that Alton is getting his way AND is advising me from the laptop computer that my hubby has lovingly placed on our kitchen table to help guide the process.

1:23: Internal temperature of turkey is 176 degrees. Four more degrees and we're nearly home free. My potatoes are just about ready, innards of turkey are simmering for stuffing project ahead and I'm watching the bread rise slower than molasses. Thankfully I have back-up dinner rolls if the bread is a no-go. I should probably set the table.

Suffice to say, this was all that I managed to do in the attempt at live-blogging during the process. Holy cow-things go fast when you're trying to prepare a meal of that type AND blog while doing so. Not happening again.

I will say that the turkey was mighty tasty once it was finally done and THAT'S all I'll say about that. Onward and upward.

I accomplished another "first" on Thanksgiving Day and put up our new artificial Christmas tree. Normally we're a "real tree only" family but crutches and sharp objects don't really go well together. We unanimously decided to give Daddy a break this year and go artificial. After painstakingly undoing and "fluffing" all million-and-one branches, I came to the conclusion that I probably could have accomplished another first and chopped one down myself in a fraction of the time. After patting myself on the back for assembling and fluffing branches without calling an artificial tree hotline, I headed to bed. Friday morning awaited me and so did my 6 am start time at work. Black Friday madness was a mere few hours away.

Mind you, I love to shop with the best of them, but I am not a get-out-of-bed-early-to-be-a-part-of-the-madness kind of girl. Therefore, I have never been an early Black Friday morning shopper. I've heard stories, I've seen pictures and I've listened wide-eyed to people regale me with their tales, but I've never believed them.

Until now.

Because I'm slightly paranoid (wait a minute-I've got to go make sure I turned the oven off), I set my alarm for much earlier than necessary in order to make sure that in case traffic was a little heavy or in case it would be difficult to find a parking spot, I would have plenty of time to make the 5 minute commute to work from my house. Gregg and I joked about it the night beforehand. Surely it wouldn't be too bad.

Another first for me . . . an eyewitness account of what craziness ensues on the morning of Black Friday. People actually get up BEFORE the sun does in order to shop! Are you kidding me?? At the sight of headlights for miles near where I work, I grabbed my phone and started texting Gregg at the stoplight. I wrote "This is INSANE! You wouldn't believe this!" Once I saw that a few parking spots were available near the store where I work, I headed a few stores away over to Kohls, pulled into a parking space and headed in. I had about an hour-and-a-half to kill and what better thing to do at 4:30 am than check out what Kohls looks like on Black Friday morning.

Ah . . . a few of you are with me. You know!!!! Yes my friends-at that hour, you walk into Kohls and see the lines straight ahead of you. Follow the line and you will discover that it winds all the way around the outer aisles of the store in order to end at the registers. Seriously.

I'm sure that my mouth was hanging open. I officially became a gawker. Unbelievable. I whipped my phone out again.

"In Kohls now-you wouldn't believe it. CRAZY!!" I knew that once Gregg awoke from his slumber he would appreciate the text.

I walked right out of Kohls and decided to get serious. I had to get to work before it was too late. As soon as I found a spot and parked, I started walking and also called the store. The assistant manager answered.

"Jen, it's me Kari! I'm heading to the door. Can you let me in?" I saw her appear from the back room and head to the front door. As I made my way past customers lined up to get in, I was greeted with "Are you opening up early?" "What time can we come in?" I laughed and said "You people are either really nuts or extremely dedicated!!" They laughed in reply and seemed content to continue hanging out watching through the glass once Jen let me in.

Thankfully, the day was crazy busy. It went by quickly, the sales were good, my manager was thrilled and I only encountered one crabby customer. I was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday as well and I have to say that other than the man who stood next to me hissing, growling and barking at me and then the 12-ish year-old girl who threw herself on the floor and threw the worst temper tantrum for her dad that I have EVER seen in my entire life, it was a good weekend for the retail gig. And yes. I am telling the honest truth. Hissing, growling, barking and temper tantrums were all part of it. Just ask my mom. I feared she would knock some of her ribs out of alignment because of laughing so hard as I was telling her about it.

So that, dear friends, is my weekend in a nutshell. A few nuts indeed!

The Christmas season has arrived! I pray that above all, I remember the reason for the celebration-in spite of the craziness and frantic nature that ensues. I need to remember that the focus needs to be on the baby in the manger. I need to remember to quiet my soul and let Him speak to my heart. I need to stop and take in the words to "Silent Night" even during the times that it doesn't seem so silent. I need to stop and breathe-not only for myself but also for my family.

I also need to remember one other minor detail . . .

Buy a pre-cooked ham. Not a frozen turkey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This week just seems appropriate to bring Curious George in to pay a visit to the blog. The illustration above shows the waiting room where George had to sit before he got that shot that was shown in my previous previous blog entry. Another page from one of my favorite books . . . I love Curious George!

Whew. What a week. And to think . . . it's only Thursday.

I am so blessed. In the past several days, I've been reminded of the love, support and friendship that the Lord has given me through incredible family and friends.

Gregg has been down for the count. Literally.

An old high school track injury has been creeping back to haunt him over a number of years now. He finally gave in and decided to have some repair work done, so I found myself playing the waiting game while he was in surgery earlier this week.

It was an interesting time-a little surreal . . . if that makes any sense. It reminded me of times I've sat in an airport terminal and wondered about the reunions and the partings between people in the midst of planes coming in and going out. What kind of stories could people share?

After kissing Gregg and sending him off into the hands of his surgeon, I entered a waiting area holding several others waiting for their loved ones. Off to my right was a mother and her adult son or son-in-law. It appeared that maybe they were waiting for her daughter or his wife to come out of surgery. To my left was an older couple-just before Gregg was taken to surgery, they were hugging an elderly woman who went into the operating room prior to Gregg. Across from me was a woman-maybe about my age. She was waiting for her husband. And so it went. Several other people were scattered in the room-all hunkered down-waiting for the white phone on the desk to ring, alerting each one to the news that their loved one had just been moved to recovery.

I'm not a patient person. In fact, prior to the surgery itself, I teased Gregg-assuring him that I would be so good at caring for him-reminding him of how patient I am. No photo could accurately portray the rolling of the eyes from my husband in response to my comment. I made sure, in my prayer time on the morning of his surgery, to NOT ask the Lord for patience. We all know that NO good can come of that! You want patience? Don't ask for it because He'll give you situations which require it tenfold!

So, it was a bit ironic that the Lord saw fit to dose me with some extra amounts-seeing as how I consciously tried to avoid the topic altogether with Him throughout that morning. One by one, I watched people get up and leave that waiting room after the white phone beckoned them onto other areas of the hospital. The mother of the couple to my left was in and out in the blink of an eye. The mother and adult male with her waited a little longer. At one point I happened to be within earshot of their conversation between each other. She had mentioned something to him about having told some people at her church about their loved one. He nearly spat back at her, angrily admonishing her with "you tell everyone at that church EVERYTHING!! They don't need to know EVERYTHING!!" I know it was a private moment. I couldn't help it though. I looked into her eyes-trying to convey sympathy. She'd reached out to her church family-just as I had done with a few members of mine. It's what we do.

Minutes ticked by. I visited the coffee machine. I visited another room because of too many trips to the coffee machine. As I moved from one place to another, I saw eager family members heading toward Labor & Delivery-where new lives were beginning. In the opposite direction was the ICU waiting area, where I saw family members huddled together-faces stained with tears. We were those people three years ago-when we lost Gregg's dad. I wanted to go into that room-hug complete strangers and tell them that no matter what happens, the Lord remains faithful through it all.

As the minutes ticked by, the waiting area emptied out. Everyone was gone.

Except for me.

I found myself smiling at times, shaking my head in disbelief. I didn't ask for the wait-after all, I'd made sure to not pray for patience. It was all good . . . minor surgery in the grand scheme of things. I really didn't need any of that patience stuff.

But still . . .

Just short of the two hour mark, a man sat down next to me. As I turned to him, I saw it was his surgeon.

"Guess what?" he smiled. "It's all done!" I felt myself exhale. Minor surgery. No big deal. Gregg was fine. So was I.

My patience, however, might need just a bit of tweaking.

Monday, November 16, 2009

George Has Nothin' On This Kid

I love this book.

For anyone not familiar with it, "Curious George Goes to the Hospital" is AWESOME! I am told that during the first couple years of my life, I spent more time in the hospital and doctors offices than out of them. Somewhere along the way, Nanny and Poppop gifted me with this book.

Today it sits in my curio cabinet, worn and well loved. I dusted it off when Cassidy was a second grader and I got to be the mystery reader one day in her class. I dusted it off again this past weekend to remember just how bad it was for George to get a shot. I'll spare you the play-by-play, but suffice to say, George's reaction prior to the injection was entirely more dramatic than after the needle stick itself. Still . . .

George has nothin' on my kid.

The kid in question would be Mackenzie.

Before anyone sends me hate mail ('cause I know this whole vaccination thing is controversial), let's agree to disagree and leave it at that. Mackenzie's immune system is in the basement these days and when her doctor looked at me in Urgent Care last Sunday night and said "get this fever down for 24 hours and get in my office ASAP for the H1N1 vaccine" my mind was entirely made up. Now, on with the story . . .

Friday was the day. I kept the plans to myself, fully knowing that a head's up would mean nothing but trouble for whoever had to deal with the likes of Thing 2 that day-namely her darling preschool teachers. The hour approached and finally we arrived at the doctor's office with her older sister in tow. As we pulled into the parking lot, Mackenzie piped up. "What're we doing here, Mama?" she asked. I breezily answered that we needed to stop in for a few minutes for something. A few minutes later, we were ushered into an exam room.

Our favorite nurse (whom shall forever be known to me as "the needle artist" because her needle sticks are pain-free) popped her head in and gave Thing 2 a quick glance. "Does she know yet?" she whispered. I cheerfully smiled and shook my head side and side. She glanced back at her small patient. "Are you going to tell her?" she asked me. I sighed. Here goes nothing.

In my brightest, cheeriest voice possible, I broke the news to Mackenzie. Tears immediately arrived on the scene (not mine) and she slid off my lap, looking to make a break for it. Another nurse popped her head in the room. "Do you need help?" she asked. Judy, a.k.a. Needle Artist, nodded. At once, two other women entered the room.

Adults: 4. Crying Children: 1.

Judy looked at me. "I think it would be best to put this in the side of her thigh because her arm is so thin. Can you get her pants down for me?" I nodded as I watched my own flesh and blood dive under the end of the exam table, nearly taking out a floor lamp in the process. I got on my hands and knees, crawling into the corner where my young offspring sat shuddering. I wrapped one arm around her torso and the other under her knees. Just when I thought I had her securely in my arms, she arched her body, wiggled out of my grasp and crawled in the opposite direction. I doubled back from the opposite direction as she frantically looked for a means of escape. I heard one of the nurses quietly murmur "oh my." Cassidy stood near the wall with her hand over her mouth giggling softly.

Once captured, I wedged her between my knees and fumbled for the snap on her jeans. I pulled the zipper down and then moved onto pulling the jeans down. The jeans wouldn't budge. I pulled up her shirt, only to discover that she had managed to curl every single finger around her belt loops and hang on for dear life. I pulled and tugged. So did she. Finally, it seemed that I was winning the battle when the child went limp and collapsed to the floor. I stood her up again, made another inch of progress with the jeans and she collapsed again. And again. And again. It reminded me a little of what it would be like to eat not-quite-yet-set Jello with a fork . . . frustrating, impossible and infuriating all at the same time.

Meanwhile, the 3-woman needle brigade looked on in astonishment. I looked at them and in my kindest voice possible said, "Can I get a little help here?"

Somehow, some way, we managed to get the jeans down and her body positioned as best as possible. With everyone positioned as they were, it was impossible for Mackenzie to see what was going on. At the touch of the alcohol pad to her leg, she let out a scream. Cassidy continued to giggle. I shot a look in Cassidy's direction and told Mackenzie it would be over before she knew it. I think at that point, she let out a low growl. Or maybe that was my own voice I heard . . .

The needle artist stood upright again. "All done!" she said happily. The other women looked at me; color had drained from their faces. I nodded sympathetically. Mackenzie immediately stopped crying.

"It's done?" she asked. Judy nodded. I shot a look at Mackenzie. "You were crying and carrying on so much, you couldn't even feel it, could you?" She shook her head sheepishly. The needle brigade quickly left the room. Cassidy stood off to the side, still holding her hand over her mouth.

We finally exited from the exam room. I looked at the nurses and thanked them.

"I promise," I said as I held my right hand in the air, "that I will try at ALL costs to NEVER put you ladies through this again." They smiled and reassured me that it was ok. As we left the building however, I had visions of them adding Mackenzie's name to a wall-of-horrors with a Sharpie marker. Surely at their annual office Christmas party, Mackenzie will make the 2009 Top Ten list of most memorable patients to walk in their doors.

As we drove away, I dreamed about the possibility of a nap. I glanced in the rearview mirror at Thing 2.

"That didn't hurt a bit," she smiled.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Living Proof . . .

I had an incredible opportunity to visit Springfield, Illinois this past weekend and worship with nearly 9,000 other women (and a few brave men) at a Living Proof Ministries event featuring Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell. I've participated in many of Beth Moore's Bible Studies at our church and was looking forward to hearing and seeing her live. In the photo below, I assure you that she was indeed "THIS close" to me!

Our women's ministry coordinator began planning this trip last winter. The wait to get to this weekend seemed like a long one, but it was well worth it!

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." John 4:23

Did I mention that the convention center holds 8,800? Beth told us that this was the first sell-out for a Living Proof event AND that the convention center hadn't seen the likes of a crowd our size since Elton John came to town in the 90's. (Even then, he himself didn't have a sell-out!)

"Let the assembled peoples gather around you.
Rule over them from on high" Psalm 7:7

The worship time was amazing. The Lord showed up in a powerful way and I can honestly say that His presence was literally overwhelming!

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:2

It was a joyful time, indeed!