Saturday, December 24, 2011


These two are tireless. They're having such a jolly season.

 In the back seat of my car. They meant to scare me, but I just laughed and then took them to church with me. I hope they enjoyed it. 

In the office. I hope you guys are paying some bills while you're in there. Or at least doing some homework for me. 

And at last!

The elves have been caught!
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Please note that Santa is "going down the chimney." Yeah, we're funny.

We have an interesting tradition around here. It's not necessarily a Christmas tradition, but it has recently seeped its way into a sort of Christmas tradition. Let me explain.

Sometimes we pick an object and we hide it, usually in plain sight, but in some very strange places. You know like finding a brush in the frig or something. I don't even remember what our original hiding object was. I only remember the details around it.

Whatever this object was, I said, "I don't want it."

Danielle said, "I don't want it either."

"Okay, fine. You can have it." I pretended not to understand her response and left it in her room.

That object made its way back and forth and showed up in some of the strangest places. Then eventually someone must have hidden it really well because we can't for the lives of us figure out what the object was or who hid it last. Since then, we've had variations on the hide-the-object game from time to time. Some certain objects of the hide-the-object game are best left undescribed, but this new one's a winner.

At Christmas time, we always put out this cute reindeer that you see pictured above.  While Annabelle was here at Thanksgiving time, she was playing with the horse you see in the picture. (Imagine Annabelle's voice here in a high pitch as if she's talking to a baby: "It's just my size. Ohhhhh.") The horse belongs to Danielle. She actually uses it as a chair at the computer. I know. So normal. When Annabelle was so enamored with the horse, I brought out the reindeer. Annabelle was nearly beside herself with joy, and it became a playfest.

Well, lazy people don't always put things away, and the horse and the reindeer continued to hang out with us long after Annabelle left us to our quiet, boring home. One day I came home and this is what I found.

It seems that the reindeer and the horse had decided they were tired of being sat upon and they decided to sit upon. Anyway, I had a good laugh, left the room, and when I returned I found this.

Apparently their relationship had moved to the next level. "Making out not allowed!" I cried, but I giggled as I left the room. Upon returning again, I found this.

Apparently, all that making out had made them hungry, and they decided to go make a snack. During all this moving around, I never actually saw who moved them. For all I know, they moved on their own. Anyway, the game had begun; and since then, these two good friends have really gotten around. Here are a few of the places they've been in their travels.

Waiting at the bedroom door to scare the daylights out of the occupant when she emerged.

Waiting at the back garage door to scare the daylights out of whomever might come through the door next.

Waiting at the front door to scare the daylights out of whomever might dare to visit. They seem to have a thing for doors.

Taking an afternoon nap. Note that they are under separate blankets. We have chaste animals around here.

Waiting in the backseat of Danielle's car to scare the daylights out of the driver. And scare they did! (Sorry about that.)

In a closet looking through the shoe box. I guess it was time for a re-shoeing.

In another closet. It's really sad that you're not getting the full effect of this one so I must elaborate. I came home from playing in the Messiah concert. I walked in, put my instrument away, stood in the hall as I sent a text, and looked about for Miley. Hmmm. Rather odd. Where is that little runt? She always comes running when I come home. Ah. There she is. She came running out of the master bedroom. I greeted her and then remembered that I wanted to get my special snowflake that I hang from my rearview window and get it hanging before the season got away from me. I went into the master bedroom, opened the drawer to a chest of drawers, and retrieved my cute snowflake. By the way, said chest of drawers is right next to the closet, and said closet door was open. I walked away and put the snowflake in my car. When I came back in, I wandered back into the master bedroom, and Miley was running around in the closet like a little nit-wit. Then I saw the reindeer and the horse---with riders! Danielle and her boyfriend had been waiting for me to find them in the closet all that time.

On top of the tv. Look at me! No, look at me!

 In the shower waiting to scare the daylights out of me! And scare they did! Chaste, remember chaste.

In the tub. I guess they didn't appreciate being thrown out of the shower. They weren't cleaned up yet. And hey, wait a minute. It looks like they're making out again! Hey! CHASTE!

And now for my two personal favorites.

A ride down the banister. Doesn't it look like they just said, "Race you to the bottom" and then slid away? Never mind that the reindeer got to slide farther. It was fun for both of them.

And today they're making beautiful music together.

It's anyone's guess where they'll show up next.

Monday, December 5, 2011

christmas elves

Putting up the Christmas tree. The very thought makes me shudder. I've had nightmare encounters with non-compliant Christmas trees. One such nightmare went like this:

I checked all the strings of lights, and they all worked perfectly, so I wrapped them around the tree. After putting all the ornaments on, I plugged in the tree, only to find an entire section of the tree unlit. I checked for connections. Everything was fine. If you remove a string of lights, you pretty much have to remove all the surrounding ornaments first, or else you're likely to knock them off and break them, so I removed the ornaments. Then, I removed the offending string of lights and replaced it with another string, which I tested first, of course. I plugged the lights in again, and what do you think? An entirely different string of lights was unlit. At this point, it was just too much, and I collapsed on the floor in a fit of tears. People magically disappeared to rooms unknown in the house and didn't resurface until I had managed to fix the tree and regain my dignity. Now, it would be one thing if said nightmare only happened once, but this nightmare has repeated itself in varying forms more than once or twice. Therefore---Christmas tree---shudder.

Well, this year, with school, a brand new granddaughter to love, and practicing for the Messiah concert, Christmas tree = shudder = forget it. Well, at least, if it doesn't equal forget it, it at least equals put it off. Yesterday when I was busy in the kitchen making Sunday dinner, my daughter returned from church, and said, "How do you like the Christmas tree?" Imagine a shudder here; I assure you there was one. My response was: "Christmas tree! What Christmas tree? I haven't had time to to put up {shudder} a Christmas tree." She opened the sliding door into the living room, and there to my wondering eyes did appear a sleigh full of toys . . . wait, wait . . . a Christmas tree! A fully decorated, absolutely beautiful, more beautiful than I've ever made it, Christmas tree. Wow!

Thank you Christmas elves. What a beautiful gift!

Monday, November 28, 2011



Annalise Lichelle Neve
born: November 21, 2011
weight: 7 lb 14 ou
perfect in every way
and look at all that hair!

Sweet little Annalise is one week old today. And as you can see, we've managed to keep our Girls Only Club intact.

Last Monday was quite the day. Marissa had been in labor forever. I'm pretty sure that's how she felt because that's how I felt just waiting and fretting at home. One good thing did come out of the wait, however. I went into a cleaning frenzy in a futile attempt to try to distract myself from my overdeveloped ability to worry. It didn't actually distract me, but I certainly accomplished a lot.

Finally, around 5:00 p.m., I received this text/picture message:

 annalise lichelle neve 7 14. 20 inches

I probably don't need to tell you this, but I burst into a flood of tears. My baby and my baby's baby were fine. I got to that hospital before they even had time to move them from the delivery room.

As I entered the room, a nurse was cleaning Lisie up. The nurse turned and looked at me as I walked through the door, "That's who she looks like!"

Welcome to the family, sweet Annalise. We're sure happy to have you.

*all pictures except the text/picture message by dcphotography

Saturday, August 13, 2011

move on

Today marks the one year anniversary of the date of my divorce. When I married thirty-one plus years ago, I never dreamed that my road would bring me here. It didn’t occur to me at that point in time that marriage and life could be anything but blissful, wonderful, and fairy-tale perfect. I’ve been down a long, rocky road. I’ve learned and grown a lot. I’ve survived some tough, painful experiences. Sometimes when I get down in the dumps about the waste of my youth, I’m sure that if I could just contact my young self, I’d issue a strong warning: “Run away fast! There’s nothing here but hurt!” But then I always come back to that happy place, that place in my heart where my girls live, and I know that if I was really confronted with the full knowledge of those thirty years and the possibility of warning myself, that no, I wouldn’t stop myself. I might raise my arm ready to shout at myself: “Go now! Before all the hurt begins!” But then I know I would quietly turn away from my young self and allow myself to move on through those thirty years because life without my babies wouldn’t be life at all. They're the best thing that ever happened to me. I’d live it all again and again just so I could have the privilege of loving, raising, and knowing my girls, my best friends, the joy of my life.

me and my girls--1993

Thursday, August 11, 2011

tiny diaper

This isn't even mine to blog about, but shucks, I just can't help it. When I went to visit Shauntel last time, I took her a little diaper pail---you know the kind---with a foot pedal. Annabelle was intrigued with it and asked me what it was. I told her it was a bucket. She commenced to figure out how to operate that foot pedal, and pretty soon she had it down pat. She made herself busy picking up toys, and whatever else was nearby and convenient, and threw them in the bucket. Then she'd giggle madly, dump it out, and start all over again with a whole new set of things to throw in "grandma's bucket."

As time always does, it got away from me, and I reluctantly left and came on home to this quiet little abode with no little giggles, no pitter pat of tiny feet, and no newborn cries. Just a couple of days ago, I got an email from my daughter explaining to me Annabelle's continued use of the "bucket." Shauntel had just changed Lydia's diaper. Annabelle picked it up, ran off to her room, and came back empty handed. She stood in front of her mom and gleefully reported: "I put the tiny, stinky diaper in grandma's pocket."

Beautiful photo of Annabelle and Lydia from Shauntel's blog.

Monday, August 8, 2011

same legs, different baby

Now that Shauntel has had two babies, I think that we can pretty much verify that she creates beautiful babies. (You know, with a little help from Jess, of course.)

When Annabelle was born, I was just stunned at how much she resembled her mommy. It was like holding and loving and gazing on my sweet little baby Shauntel all over again. Annabelle has grown a lot in these past two years, and she certainly has her own wonderful personality and looks now. But wow, as a baby she was just Shauntel all over again.

Cue Lydia. It's hard to believe it, but once again, Shauntel has produced another carbon copy of herself. Once again, looking on Lydia is like looking at my baby Shauntel. Lydia is beautiful and lovely and perfect in every way, and I can hardly wait to see how she grows into her own little self, who she'll become, the lovely person that I know she'll be.

I miss those days, being a mommy. My babies were and are the joy of my life. How nice it is that the joy is now extending into grandchildren.

This is my baby Shauntel, roughly 29.5 years ago. Check out the skinny legs.

This is my baby's baby, Lydia. Same legs, different baby.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

more stats

Only crazy people take classes during summer semester. I am a crazy person. I took nine credits, which is kind of like taking eighteen credits during a regular semester. I had American Literature, Early British Literature, and one writing class. Now, I love to read, and I love to write, but. . .well, like I said only a crazy person would knowingly submit themselves to this much work: I read 31 short stories, 37 poems, 1 selection from an autobiography, 2 plays, and 17 pieces of non-fiction/essays. I wrote 1 annotated bibliography, 3 critical analyses, a recommendation report, and 6 essay/short papers.

That's a total of:

886 pages read + 35 pages written in 8 weeks = 1 crazy person who was really happy to leave and go see this:

Monday, August 1, 2011


So I don't know if you know this, but there are 6,951,732,593 people in the world, you know, give or take one or two. And of those almost seven billion people in the world, these two are the most beautiful children in the world:

Objectively speaking, of course.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

go, go girl power!!!!!

the sweet newness
the newborn cry
the newborn yawn
the tiny hands
the soft and so kissable head
the mouse/dinosaur sounds
the grateful sucking sounds as a tiny belly fills
the beauty of newborn innocence
the miracle of birth

i've seen it personally six times now
and it never gets old
and i'm always so happy to see each one as it makes its debut
and it's always such a miracle
and i love each baby as much as the last

welcome to the family, my sweet new granddaughter

Lydia Lou Cheney
July 20, 2011
8:59 p.m.
8 pounds12 ounces
21 inches
perfect in every way

Thursday, June 2, 2011

tender mercies

One year ago today, I filed for divorce. Yeah, I know I've been tiptoeing around this subject, but there it is, out in the blogosphere. One year ago, I decided that thirty years was quite enough. In the year that has passed since then, I often think of the tender mercies that I was blessed with during those very tough months leading up to the final bang--the I am done; I'm not taking any more of this--and in the year since as I have adjusted to a new life.

For months, no really years, I knew that this was coming. But how does one prepare for such a thing? How does one strengthen one's heart to deal with heartache of this magnitude? Well, one doesn't. But instead, tender mercies arrived on the scene, just when I needed them.

A trusted couple. When I began this journey toward what I knew was going to culminate in divorce, I knew I needed help. This was certainly uncharted territory for me, and I needed someone to back me up, point me in the right direction, help me think straight. I went to some friends, a happily married couple that I knew I could trust to keep in confidence what I would tell them. I knew I could trust them to help me find my way. I knew they cared about me, and having them in my life at that time was comforting. A trusted couple, my tender mercy. 

Miley. Miley is a tender mercy. Miley came into my life almost three years ago. One of my daughters was experiencing heartache herself at the time, and I, along with her older sister, decided that she needed a dog in her life. Enter Miley. I fully intended to give her this sweet little dog, but within a month of having her in my home while waiting for the right opportunity to give her to my daughter, she became mine. She chose me as her mommy. If you could see this little pup look at me, sometimes you would swear that you were seeing adoration in her eyes. During those horrible months while I knew so much, said so little, and acted so well, I had Miley for comfort. When no one was around, sometimes I would collapse on my bedroom floor in a ball, where I would sob uncontrollably. Miley always came and found me in those troubled moments. She curled up beside me, concern in her eyes. "I'm sorry, Mommy. I don't know what's wrong, but I love you." I'm sure that's what she was thinking. Miley, my tender mercy.

A sweet friend. One day at church, a friend of mine looked at me, and before she could even think about what she was saying, she said, "You don't look so good. Something's happening. Are you okay?" Well, my acting was pretty flawless to everyone else, but not to this very good friend. She could read it in my face despite the fake smile, the fake happy facade that I had so well crafted. I poured it out to her, and for the next several months, I ran to her open arms in sobs many times. She was always there for me. Many times she stayed up late listening to me and probably went to work dog tired the next day, but she was a real friend. She listened. She comforted. She counseled. She loved. My sweet friend, my tender mercy.

A caring teacher. After I informed my children of the situation, my youngest and only daughter still living at home went running to a very special teacher. I somehow knew that she was going to do this, and I alerted this sweet teacher ahead of time that trouble was likely headed to her understanding and caring arms. This teacher and friend listened to my daughter, comforted her and cared for her. She loved my baby when my baby needed her most. A caring teacher, my tender mercy.

A couple of good school friends. There are a couple of girls at school who have become good friends to me. They listen to me whine and complain, and they give me wise counsel. They may be about half my age, but they seem to be twice as wise.  A couple of good school friends, my tender mercy.

A kind neighbor. Neighbors are a dime a dozen, right? Well, I have a neighbor whose price cannot be named. He has made it his business to be in my business. Now that might sound annoying, but I assure you it is nothing of the kind. He cares about my daughter and me, our safety and happiness. No one has assigned him to take care of us, and no one is paying him to watch over us. He quite simply is a genuine good human being who cares. He notes our comings and goings. He reprimands the neighbor boys when they trespass into my yard and heckle my dogs. He comes over and fertilizes my lawn. He services my lawnmower. He taught me how to take care of the yard. I don't have an edger, so periodically, he just shows up, edger in hand, and makes the ugly ragged edges nice and neat. Upon changing the timing of the clock that waters the lawn, he found it to be nearly broken, so he did some searching and found me a new one at a good price. If that wasn't already enough, he installed the clock. He spent many hours in my garage and my yard properly installing it, and then he apologized! He apologized for being in my way and being so slow! He comes over, unrolls the hose, and waters the dry spots. Periodically, he comes back and moves it around. Then he apologizes to me for letting it get that way! One day, he saw me out walking Miley at night. A couple of days later, he showed up at my door with pepper spray. "You put that in your pocket when you walk." A kind neighbor, my tender mercy.

My babies. They will always be my babies. It doesn't matter how old, how educated, how wise, or how dignified they become. They are from the start, and always will be, my babies. And they are my tenderest and most cherished tender mercy. Now that they are all grown, our roles frequently switch. They have all become my mothers. I'm really lucky to have four such devoted and wonderful mothers. They watch out for me, they advise me, they teach me, they support me, they protect me, and they love me. They are all there for me. They are my best friends of all in the whole world. I believe that we all come down here with personalized "packages," our own packages of talents, strengths, weaknesses, faults, and trials. I also can't help but believe that God took a look at my package before sending me down to this proving ground, and he said, "Enough is enough. Line up the angels, and send her the best four we've got." They are the angels of my life, the joy of my life, the most amazing and wonderful people in the world. My babies, my tender mercy.

My life hasn't turned out exactly the way I planned it, the way I carefully designed it. But life is good. I count my tender mercies, and I smile. Yes, life is indeed good.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Eighteen and a half years ago I gave birth to a healthy 7 lb 12 ounce baby girl. Well, that sweet baby graduated from high school this week. I know it sounds cliche, but really, where has the time gone? And who gave her permission to grow up?

But she has grown up so nicely. She's beautiful and talented, and wow she's a good kid. She deserves the best the world has to offer, and I hope that it comes her way.

When I brought my precious little infant home, my other three children looked so big and she looked so very tiny. I started calling her Inchling, a name that has stuck even eighteen and a half years later. Congratulations on graduating, Inchling. I love you to the depths of my soul and back again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

turn off

So school's finally out and I can turn off my brain. All my hard work paid off with an electronic report card of five pretty A's. And now I get a short three-week break before I return for summer semester. So what do you suppose I did to start off my break? Here, I'll give you a hint:

Yup. I got in my car and went for a long weekend visit to see my grandbaby. We had so much fun, but we kept getting into trouble. One night Grandma was helping this Little Miss take a bath. She was so excited to have a new bath supervisor that she went into party mode. Tub toys were flying everywhere, and the floor got a bit wet. She thought that was so funny that she started a new game called "Grandma, see if you can catch the soaking wet wash cloth when I madly throw it around." Pretty soon the floor was in possession of about a third of her bath water. But she was laughing so hard! How could I resist that belly laugh? Pretty soon Mommy came in to investigate, and Grandma got in trouble. "Grandma, you're banned from bath duty!"

Then one morning, Grandma was being just plain lazy and didn't get up the minute the Little Miss did. She knelt down next to me and said something like, "Grandma's makeup bag." This is what resulted:

Then her mommy came to check on her. "Grandma! What's this?"

"Uh . . . waterproof mascara?"

Well, all great fun has to come to an end, and pretty soon it was time for me to go home. My daughter always sings a song to the Little Miss at bedtime, and the last night when it was time for bed, she had a special request. "Grandma sing song?" I was honored to be chosen as a guest soloist in her bedtime ritual. She lay down in her bed with her blanky, white, sheepie, and bear and looked up at me as I sang.

About two-thirds through my solo, she said, "Turn off." 

I paused. "Turn off what, Sweetie?"

"Turn off song. Mommy sing song."

(sigh) I guess I'll stick to English as my major.

 P.S. This sweet Little Miss will soon be big sister to a new baby in July and cousin to a new baby in November. Yay!

Friday, March 18, 2011

i love books

I love books. I love to smell books. Whenever I pick up a book or a magazine, I have to smell it. In fact, I have one textbook that is good for only one thing: smelling. I love to hold books. I love everything about books. Books! Books! Books! And as you might guess, I love to read. Reading opens up the world. There is so much to read, so much to learn.

I taught all of my children to read before or during preschool. One of my girls was reading by the time she was three. She thought life was really unfair that her two older sisters could cuddle up with a nice little book and read, and she couldn't, so she insisted that I teach her to read. When my youngest daughter was learning to read, I routinely babysat a friend of hers. This little girl thought she was really getting gypped because she could only sit and listen while my daughter read. So, of course, I taught her to read too. Her mother now blames me for her daughter's love affair with books and learning--a burden of blame I will gladly shoulder.

And so you see, naturally I think everyone should learn and love to read. Miley turns three next month. Do you think I've carried this a little too far?

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy valentine's day!!

Have you ever had a bus pull up to your house? No. I mean have you ever had a bus pull up to your house and unload kids into your living room? Bet you haven't. Well, that's exactly what happened this morning. A busload of good lookin' kids unloaded into my living room and sang to me.

Best Valentine's day ever. Ever.

Thanks, DHS Madrigals!

P.S. I don't think I have a career in videography waiting for me.