family life, just for fun, Uncategorized

More mom stuff.

Yesterday, a sweet friend of mine who is a mother of all boys shared this video with me:

We laughed, and she “envied” me, although I assured her that a house running over with estrogen is not without challenges. My man? He loves having all daughters. They go over, above and beyond to show their love and appreciation for him in ways that he and his brothers were never really inclined once they grew into manhood. His mother wanted a daughter, but never got one. We get what we get.

It’s all relative, so I’ve learned to count the blessings.

el's rabbit trails, family life, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

The Tough Get Going

We are approaching the two year anniversary of the day my dad went home to be with the Lord.  I dreamed of him last night and woke up reminded of these thoughts I wrote not long after we lost him.

From April 2016:

I am struck with how tough my father was, and he raised his kids to be the same. Daddy was all about working the problem rather than rehashing it and you could hardly work a problem if you were overly emotional about it.

About 12 years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now, older black men and prostate cancer is such a common occurrence that if you have any kind of knowledge about it, you know early detection equals a survival rate of over 90%. My father knew this, and the last thing he wanted was to create a panic. So he kept mum about it to everyone except his wife…and me (which includes my husband by default), until it was nearly over.

When he called me he said that he figured at least one of his kids needed to know what was up. I was the only one who could both handle it without panicking, and manage to obey him by not telling any of my other siblings until we were near the tail end of the thing. Daddy didn’t like being fussed over and he certainly didn’t want to be constantly surrounded by others’ fears or harangued for updates.

He also loathed the idea of being watched in a vigil-like manner. He was a strong man and he could handle whatever life threw at him, thankyouverymuch. His wife said it was male pride. He considered it an inherent requirement of real manhood. So we went quietly through what turned out to be a short lived ordeal from which he recovered fully before returning to his active and busy life.

My father spent one very uneventful week, medically speaking, in the hospital before he passed. It was in retrospect, also a very eventful week, one in which we experienced the full range of who he was and what he was all about, in concentrated form. As we looked back on individual conversations we had with him, it was as if he had some clue about what was ahead.

Anyway, one of those evenings a lot of us were in his hospital room. That was often the case that week, but on this day it wasn’t just family. His pastor, two deacons from his church, and a young family from his church (husband, wife and 2 kids) had joined us to keep him company. When the pastor broke up the conversations and suggested we all pray, Daddy spoke up:

“I always welcome prayer but.. I’m looking around here and I hope this ain’t some kind of vigil. I don’t like vigils, and I don’t need one. I feel fine, just need some rest and some things checked out.”

One of the men made it clear, “Nah, Deac. This ain’t no vigil. It’s a party“, to much laughter.

My dad never saw the point of crying over spilled milk or tough times (“it rains on the just and the unjust”), and he kept his emotional cards close to the vest except on very rare occasions. Those occasions were usually a very big deal. However, he understood that human beings feel, and that’s a part of life too. He knew how to offer comfort when it was needed.

The first time I vividly recall my father telling me he loved me, I was a teenager. My maternal grandfather had just died and he knew how hard we were taking it. Grandpa was the funniest, most generous, straight talking man you’d ever meet. Always, but especially on the weekends after he had a couple. His grandchildren thought the world of him, and it was a difficult loss.

It was one of those times when my father knew instinctively that his girls especially would benefit from the comfort of his arms and his words as well as his actions. It was a stretch because my father wholeheartedly believed that a person tells you how they feel about you by the way they treat you, and he took good care of his kids. We knew, all 9 of us, that he loved us.

That day though, he needed to do more so he did. In the aftermath it was business and usual; stiff upper lip and all that. It’s the way he bred us to be. I have had quite a journey on the road to being more vulnerable, with my husband’s help. It’s been a good lesson, one that has helped me be a better wife.

Nevertheless, one of the things I am ever so grateful to my father for is an understanding of how truly small most things are in the grand scheme. How rare we encounter things which are truly worth losing sleep over.

I hope that the tears I still shed for him after two years qualify as a very, very big thing.


family life, wife stuff

How to Stay Happily Married (most of the time)

This is the first of the best-ofs, from 2013.  I recently linked it somewhere, but it is no longer visible at the original link, so I’m putting it here. I left it unedited so all pertinent imperfections remain. If I left out something important, leave it the comments.

We have a young family friend who married very recently. She’s a lovely girl and I recognize many of her characteristics as I was similar at her age.  If I could give a young newlywed  bride advice this is what I’d say. In fact,  I’m already planning  to print this and give it to her.

  • As a Christian committed to Christian marriage, resolve to set aside your ambitions in favor of your husband’s. Yes, you’re smart, and yes, you could do great things, and yes, I know you had a plan for your life. However, you are a wife now. This means you are no longer leading the dance of your life; your husband is.
  • Part of submitting to your husband is not bad mouthing him to your family. The worst thing you can do when you’re angry with your husband is talk to your mother about it. Unless there is a very serious marital breach to address, your family should know nothing about your internal squabbles, as most of disagreements aren’t worth the drama of letting outside observers know about them.
  • His family is your family now. Be respectful, always. Learn and love his family as your own no matter how difficult it may sometimes be.
  • Keep your eyes on your own paper. One of the main reasons wives have so much to nag and complain to our husbands about is because we labor under the deep delusion that we are perfect. That everything we do is the right or best way. There are two problems with this way of thinking. The first is that we are not perfect. Imagine that! And the second is that even if we were, it doesn’t change the command from God that we respect and submit to the authority of our husbands.
  • Don’t be afraid of the word submission. A wise husband appreciates his wife’s intelligence, gifts and talents and wouldn’t consider refusal of such a valuable resource. A loving husband knows that his wife needs this from him as much as he needs her strengths and talents. It doesn’t diminish you in the least to trust God with control of your life and marriage. Submission is a signals to your husband that you trust him. The more you demonstrate faith in him, the more he will demonstrate faith in you.
  • Most of your girlfriends and female family members have no idea what a happy marriage looks like. At your age, most of your friends are still single. They can not offer you relevant marital advice. Be careful who you listen to.
  • Never use sex as a weapon against your husband. Not only is it sinful,  it’s unloving, disrespectful, and indicates that you care very little about the state of your marriage. Don’t do it. Ever. Contrary to popular modern opinion, it is good and right for you to do it even when you don’t feel like it at first. You’re married. You don’t set the terms of intimacy as you will.
  • Do not let yourself go. When you’re young and beautiful, this hardly registers on your radar screen. However, marriage is a long haul. Babies come, you get tired, you eat junk, and you get lazy. Develop healthy habits now. The bloom of youth keeps at bay what it will not a few years from now without some work on your part. Your husband will appreciate the effort.
  • For the unequally yoked: Your outward expressions of faith don’t make you any better than your husband.  I realized that mine actually made me look worse. The church girl who marries the heathen is hardly in a position to judge him, is she? Always have a measured and honest appreciation for who you really are, faults and all.
  • This is your husband until death parts you. Do not entertain divorce fantasies of your own, and don’t listen to anyone who tries to plant seeds of doubt. The grass is not greener on the other side. If your grass is brown, oh well. God expects you to tend to it, water it, and green it up. You’re not allowed to hop back over the fence. You will be utterly shocked at how much you’re willing to concede and overlook when you accept that this is your life. For better or worse were not just words you uttered. God expects you to keep them.
  • Laugh a lot. Be willing to laugh at yourself. Marriage is not the vocation for a woman overly obsessed with her dignity. Self-actualization? Forget that. It’s feminist speak for “put your husband and kids on the back burner and charge forward in search of your own happiness.” Selfishness will never make you happy.
  • The kids are his too. The fact that you were the incubator doesn’t make them anymore yours. Don’t ever forget that.
  • Laugh a lot. Yes, I know I already said that.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, I know I already said that too.
  • Sex… Yes, I am repeating myself again, but I should add that it’s fine, preferable even, to enjoy sex with your husband.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Have some fun, and be fun to be around.
  • You’re not done growing or changing. Enjoy knowing that this is not the end of your journey. Keep learning, keep your mind and heart and hands busy. Learn something new.
  • Enjoy being in love, and don’t be afraid to show how head-over-heels you are with your husband. There is nothing wrong with a woman who loves her man. Let him see it, let others see it. Praise him in front of others, show your respect for him in front of others. Have his back, and bless him with your loyalty.

If I’m forgetting any important pieces of advice, I trust someone here will remind me.

Common sense, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, Uncategorized

Monday!!! – or – the week, on purpose

This is a good reminder and strategy for moving forward after the holiday madness ends. So I’m reblogging it.

BAY boxwood

Happy Monday!  I hope you’re well and off to a great start this week!

We had an active weekend – I use “active” on purpose, because we weren’t merely busy, we were doing fun things, running kids to different activities, hanging out at the house, discussing Thanksgiving plans, cooking a slow Sunday supper.  It was good – loosely planned,  edited as necessary.  Way better than busy – in fact, I detest being busy.  I enjoy active, though.

I don’t do particularly well with a rigid list of to-do’s, particularly since I’m a recovering over-scheduler (read: busy work maker) and even after 20+ years in Houston, I do not have a grasp on the reality of the relentless traffic.  Every hour is rush hour, here, and somewhere between errands 3 and 4 things go off the rails, timing wise.  Still, an outline is necessary, because I have goals, and people who…

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el's rabbit trails, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, real living in a virtual world, things that make me go hmm...., Uncategorized

Parting Shots…

I’m going to take a holiday centered break from here beginning November 1st until after the Thanksgiving break. I fervently hope to be able to enter the Advent season with a relaxed mind and a focus on commemorating Christ’s advent into the earth. That means a lot of planning and shopping need to get done now so that I have the freedom to do that.

This is similar to a Frivolous Friday post, but in a more stream of consciousness vein.

~ Growing up:  This past Saturday SAM and I attended the homegoing celebration for the widow of a man from his childhood neighborhood. This man, an electrician, noticed when he was a little boy that SAM had a unique sense of how things worked, and a mechanically inclined mind. He would take him with him to electrical jobs and show him the ropes. Incidentally, we have lived in this house for a long time, have never called an electrician, and not because we’ve never had an electrical problem. The man’s door was always open to SAM and his brothers, and they came and went in his house, and this woman’s refrigerator just as if they were her kids. Her children had the same freedom at SAM’s parents’ house.

The interesting thing about occasions like that one is how strange it is to see people you haven’t laid eyes on in 20 or more years. Many of them I knew from the days pulling my beat up powder blue ’89 Ford Escort up to SAM’s parents’ house at the beginning of our relationship. It’s funny how people you think you’ll be connected to forever sort gradually fade from view as you build a family and grow into a separate person than the one you were when they knew you when. It has a surreal quality to it even as you are so happy to know that they are all alive and well. I can remember when I used to wonder how I lost touch with so and so. Now I know it’s just the way life is.

~ More surreality: I am not a person who hears from God directly as some do, but I had an eery experience recetnly.

I have tiered friendships. There are the couple of women I speak to on an ongoing basis. The ones I immediately pick up the phone to call or shoot a quick text to ask for prayer. There are others I see weekly (and have for years) as a result of our kid connections.

Then there are the friends I connect with maybe a few times a year: holidays, birthdays, etc. I can literally go months without speaking to them and out of the blue one of us will call or text the other and say, “Just thinking of you, friend. Love ya.” I woke up Saturday after having a dream about such a friend and her family. I hadn’t connected with her with since March. I didn’t call her right away, but I did pray for her. I was pretty busy so I shot her a text Sunday, to which she replied, “Oh my gosh…this was right on time!”, and preceded to tell me what challenging blow her family was dealt just last week.

It was definitely one of those things that made me sit up and take notice.

~ Brazen: I shared a story with Hearth (and another friend) the other day which sent us off on a very funny text conversation about a subject that isn’t particularly funny. Namely, the realtively shameless way many women comport themselves for the attentions of married men.

It’s not particularly shocking to me, since I don’t live under a rock, but it certainly puts to death this notion of the so-called sisterhood that feminists and masculinists try to put forth as a real thing. What sisterhood there are between women are not about being of the same sex. If it was, certain things wouldn’t be a thing at all.

I have a much greater respect for the woman who said to my husband a couple of weeks ago: “I know you’re off the market, but if you have a brother -or even a friend- who is available, set something up for me. I know your circle must some good men in it.” His circle does have some good men in it. Most of those old enough for her are already taken, though.

~Another day, another diet: So I’ve been flirting with the idea of the keto diet off and on for months. I haven’t been able to bring myself to bite the bullet on it, though, mainly because it’s the kind of thing for which there are no margins. I like margins. There is such a thing as too wide margins, and I know something about those as well. But NO margins? That’s daunting.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a go. I, as usual, could certainly stand to lose a few pounds. I’m always wrestling with the same 25. Up and down, up and down. But one of my overwhelming reasons for considering this is the pain I have been battling since I injured myself in late summer trying to impress the man with the heavy duty work I could get accomplished. He was impressed, but unhappy with my lack of priortizing my health.

Apparently something about keto affects the body in a way that relieves pain. I’ll let you know next month how I do with it. My bullet proof coffee this morning was delicious.

~App-oholic update:  So the man got me a new phone, because he just figured I needed one. The old one wasn’t broken. It just had a crappy camera and was always notifying me that I was about to run out of space.

The space problem was more about music, un-deleted text streams, and the myriad pictures and random kid videos that I never bother to transfer, but compared to his phone with years of information and 5 times as much music, mine was a relic. So he replaced it.

About a year ago, I went on right here about my increasing dependence on apps for things I would have found ridiculous a couple of years ago. Ahem. Since I got this phone, my app usage has gone up, not down.  Not only do I have the apps I mentioned before, but I’ve added even more: a HIIT trainer, parallel Bible app, and a put my WordPress app back on there. Oh yes, my Target Cartwheel app. I get a perverse pleasure out of that little cha-ching sound they text me when I combine a cartwheel discount with my red card savings. My husband added Spotify and Letgo because I need a classified app on my phone, I guess?

In other words, I’m wading in apps again. I figured I should confess it since I feel a little wormy about it. And I don’t even have Facebook!

So…this is the view from the rock bottom of app-oholic mountain.

I’ll be around a bit because wordpress app, but I don’t anticipate posting anymore before December. If you’re already well underway with your holiday preparations, do share!




cultural absurdity, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, wife stuff

What is the point of our work?

Has God indeed said that we are to “work hard”?

I read this and it pierced me, because I can be so possessed with efficiency and fulfilling lists that I regularly find myself out of steam.

I set ambitious goals for all the *stuff* I want to accomplish, frustrating myself when I inevitably fail to get it all done. This striving continues for several days, and then crash and revert to doing the bare minimum. Usually on Mondays. I just need to try harder, I tell myself. Be more organized. Eat better and get more sleep so I will have more energy. Pray for more focus and concentration so I can get more done. The Protestant work ethic gone sour. Joshua Gibbs questions these notions for homeschoolers, but his ideas are easily transferable to the life of the home in general:

The idea of finishing a certain task in “a more timely fashion” was meaningless, for Adam and Eve had no expectation they would ever run out of time. Efficiency places value on time as a limited commodity, but for deathless beings, time is endless. Adam replies to his wife that man was made delight, for the love of God and the service of God’s friends, and that work exists that man might love God in his work. Work has no value in and of itself.

Granted, we do not live in such a world anymore. We do not have unlimited resources of time at our disposal, and it is possible for a man to run out of time without accomplishing all he needs to do. However, the imposition of time on our lives does not change the fact we were made for delight in God, not for work. Work is not the point of work. When a man obscures the love of God with his commitment to work, he becomes a slave. A slave lives in fear, as St. Paul suggests in Romans, for the slave is commanded from above with coercive threats. If a man neglects the knowledge of God in his work, he has been reduced to a chattel, for he regards himself as purely physical object.

My husband, ironically, is always encouraging me that I am doing fine, that I don’t need to be stressing this stuff all the time even as I insist that I am just trying to be a good wife to him. He says I am already a good wife; excellent even.

This begs the question: If God doesn’t want me to work purely for the sake of working, and my husband is happy and more concerned with his family’s overall quality of life than a perfectly executed checklist, where does this pressure I put on myself come from?


Common sense, el's rabbit trails, family life


Things that I say or have said to my kids at some point, and which I hope they take to heart and remember.

~ Life is full of little inconveniences and unpleasantries that have to be done anyway.

~ God sees even if no one else does.

~ Respect people’s right to be different from you.

~ Skirts and dresses cover a multitude of flaws that pants can’t help but accentuate.

~ Family will tell you to your face what other people will only say about you behind your back. Don’t be so sensitive.

~ Leisure is earned. We get work done before we play.

~ Take care of yourself while you’re young so it’s already a habit when you’re older.

~ You can change friends but you can’t change your family.

~ Women have more rights than men do now.

~ Don’t buy into the lie that not screwing, drinking, and partying means you don’t have a life.

~If drunkenness impairs the woman’s judgement, then it can also impair the man’s judgement.

~ Not everything we want to do is a right.

Some of these can lead off onto tangents that make my kids laugh at me, because they know what’s coming next is a cultural rant lecture.


el's rabbit trails, family life, Homemaking stuff, Kitchen tips, Life hacks

Friday Frivolities 14: Getting it done.

This week was a productive one, which I needed. Getting onto a regular schedule where things get done -at least the way I am used to getting them done- has been a challenge since the we enrolled in a program to supplement our home school curriculum. The interruption from Hurricane Irma was also a derailing factor.

The school workload, particularly for our 11-year-old, is much heavier this year,  requiring more one on one time with her. It’s been a great experience so far, and we are getting acquainted with some phenomenal families, but it’s still an adjustment. In particular, being out of the house twice a week requires better time usage at home.

As I was contemplating these things I ran across a book in -where else?- our local library. The book is The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the age of Information Overload.

I wasn’t 100 pages in when I was inspired to reorganize spaces in our house which were long overdue for an overhaul. The less time I spend looking for things that should be easy to find, the easier it is to stay on task. I got the master bath done this week, overhauled the schedules to accommodate our new commitments, and reorganized the pantry.

Ignore the microwave popcorn…

With two spaces down, and at least 5 to go before month’s end, I’ve only scratched the surface, but it’s under way. Next up are the baking cabinets, storage container cabinet, and linen closet. This, even though I just did the linen closet a few weeks ago. Funny, that.

We’re still on our Whole 30 reset, which went uninterrupted because we miraculously never lost power during Hurricane Irma. For some reason, this past week I got a real hankering for some mozzarella, which is of course off limits on Whole 30. So I made a vegan, fake substitute from this recipe I found at The Minimalist Baler. The food crowd in our house is a tough crowd, and everyone gave the “cheese” a thumbs up for mouth feel and close enough flavor. I am very proud. I didn’t think to take pictures.

The general idea here is to get a lot of things under way in time to switch to holiday shopping at the beginning of October. We’ll see how it goes, but evry small hurdle instills confidence for the next one, so I think things are well in hand.

I certainly hope so, since I am considering adding yet another iron to the fire, a freelance gig that, should it work out, will be another ball to juggle but it’ll be an enjoyable one.

And I may be able to pick up my reading pace as an added bonus.

Have a great weekend!



el's rabbit trails, family life, Homemaking stuff, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 13: Random moments from the sahm scene.

File this one under “things that made me go hmmm”.

The last ironer in America?

Last week the kids and I were running late getting to “school” so I picked out a no-iron skirt, tank top, and fitted cardigan. Specifically because I didn’t have time to iron. Every where I turned, someone would compliment me, “You look pretty today.” I suspect it’s because the skirt was red. Kinda hard not to notice.

As a few of us were in the kitchen getting coffee (the school building is so quite cold), a few more mothers complimented me, so I said, “And I just grabbed the first thing I could find that I didn’t need to iron.” From there we were off to the races:

“You iron? I can’t remember the last time I ironed!” “I didn’t know anyone ironed anymore!” Several other women shared with me their tips for doing laundry in a way that keeps them from ever having to iron.

Thing is, I iron almost every day, because my husband’s shirts need to look more professional than they can from dryer heat. But my girls all iron their colthes every day -or every other day- also. It left me wondering: “Are we the last ironers in America?” Please, say it ain’t so.

Even with 4 “chefs” in the house, I still cook.

At church one night this week (it was a night the ministry we volunteer in meets to do our work), a woman asked me a question: “I heard your girls can cook. Since they are still at home, that means you hardly ever have to cook, right?’

“Well”, I told her, “not exactly. I actually still cook quite a bit. I get a couple of nights a week off, but I still cook 4-5 days a week. My husband will eat their cooking (he even likes it most of the time), but he prefers mine, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to get out of practice.”

She actually concurred with that line of thought, unlike many other women would. But then, she was older. Which brings me to my last unimportant but tangentially related point.

Culinary discretion

Yesterday morning when SAM was leaving for work, he opened his bag, tossed a container with a piece of cake in it on the counter and said to me:

“Toss that out, will you? I keep telling them I don’t eat just anybody’s cooking and they still insist on bringing stuff in for me to taste. I didn’t have time to go through the spiel yesterday, so I just took the cake from her. I guess they figure if they keep trying, I’ll eventually eat something.”

My husband is pickier than most about his food, but he’s not the only person I’ve encountered who is wary of taking food from just anybody. I know a woman who decided from a person’s cleanliness habits at work that she would likely never eat anything she brings in.

I’m wondering what others’ thoughts are on that.

Have a great weekend.