". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Week

Trevor is home! Phillip will be home tomorrow night. Both of them have to leave again Saturday, so with fewer people around to eat leftovers, Thanksgiving dinner will be scaled back this year. I bought a spiral-spliced ham, the smallest I could find, and a French silk pie at the Jewel bakery. I will make our customary deviled eggs along with several other side dishes. That's it. Thanksgiving morning we are going to worship with our Trinity-Tinley Park family and in the evening we are invited to the home of some dear friends. It should be a nice day.

The house sale is proceeding, although we still haven't nailed down a closing date. We do know that it will be in January. We would like something earlier; the buyers would like later. I'm sure we'll find a date we can all live with. God willing, we'll be in Oklahoma by the first of February. Six months apart is six months too long.

Several days ago I received terrible news about one of my oldest friends. As I understand it, on Monday of last week she fell off a six-foot ladder and lacerated her head. She was treated and sent home but within days was back in the ER, where she was ultimately diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis. In the last four days she has had four surgeries (called "debridements") to remove necrotized (dead) tissue from her head, neck, shoulders, and chest. More debridements may be necessary. Right now her friends and family are praying for her survival, as 25-40% percent of people who contract this rare condition die from it, even with treatment. Those who survive face a long, painful recovery along with skin grafts and plastic surgery in the affected areas. My heart breaks for my friend and her family.

Here is a picture of me and Shelley from high school.

Here's a picture from about three years ago:

And here's an article about necrotizing fasciitis. If you are not familiar with this killer, please read and become informed now. It is rare, but no one is safe from it, and the best chance for surviving and avoiding the extensive surgical removal of diseased flesh or even limbs is to diagnose and treat it early and aggressively. The primary warning sign is pain that seems out of proportion for the injury. After her initial treatment my friend returned to the doctor with pain and swelling and was given pain medication and steroids and sent home. Her condition worsened and by the time she went back to the ER she was in septic shock with respiratory distress. I can't help wondering how much better her condition might be today if she had been properly diagnosed on her first return visit.

Trevor, Caitlin and I are going to see Catching Fire tomorrow. I also want to see The Book Thief. I am curious how that book is going to make the transition to screen, since I have a hard time envisioning Hollywood's managing to preserve Death as the narrator.

Caitlin is working on her college applications. As we did with Trevor, we are starting to get a "feeling" about one of the schools on her list. That school seems to have the same feeling about her, as the correspondence from their admissions office has kicked into high gear. It is so exciting to see my daughter dreaming about the next stage of her life. I am refusing to think about a day in August of 2014 when we will drop her in a dorm room and return to a house that will then be emptier by two. . . .

Then there's Evan. A little while ago he asked, "Mom, can you get me some socks?" I told him, "Evan, I think you can get your own socks." He replied, "OH, YEAH. I keep forgetting I'm ten years old!" And here I thought I was the one who was an expert at selective amnesia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Word Fun

So, if you're on Facebook you may have bumped into the latest viral rage. It's called "What Would I Say"  and is a Facebook app that generates automated posts by searching your Facebook account and randomly putting your words and phrases together in new combinations. The results are hilarious. Here are some of the statuses my "CherylBot" came up with yesterday. If you're not on Facebook, this will give you an idea of what I tend to share there, albeit a twisted one.

You know those onesided conversations can sell the house.

I was walking down time before the piano students come.

Packed morning and afternoon with a 9-year-old who has Obama totally unresponsive. I called the doctor.

It has become politically correct, including the hymn festival at our hotel this morning.

Caitlin, who usually takes the magazine rack at Walmart at the conclusion of the scars they left behind me. 

God always behaves like us if we go to see him with accumulated AA credit card.

I have pretty hair tips.

I have subscribed to the vanity front. But never around Washington, D.C.

Carole, I am being reunited. That's a pain!

Pamela, that is Biblically inaccurate.

Wonder why Jesus doesn't seem to have been terrorized.

Survived junior high. Evan is not eating Halloween for years.

I understand the concept of those who would see fewer names than washing them. Just so everyone knows, though, I'd like to live in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him in the oven before preheating it to the pool!

Default. Failure to go to bed, oversize shower, sitting by 7:00 a.m.!

Behold, his crate last night was our first night without crying!

Phillip will bow down toward your holy temple in its totality. Isn't an option.

I have rolled back in, the chili is bubbling in his crate for his plane tickets last night and he will both lie down and Animal Farm will wait a few days of his typically petulant, petty, rude and interrupting a piano competition playing the problem that is in my absence. Everything looks on the tower, and out of time to be at feet. Late service. Ahhhhhh.

Sleep well, Homeland Security! Goodnight, NSA, FBI, EPA and that is nuts, Paul.

And now you know me better.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Readaloud Dilemma

We finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer today. Yes, it took us a while. We savor our books. :-)

Here are a couple of pictures I took of Evan and Willard while I was reading. (Notice who is on the blanket. Willard loves readaloud time.) The second picture captures the moment they turned to look at me after I took the first one.

Back to our readaloud. Today Tom and Huck found the robbers' hideout, along with their supplies, and--let us not forget!--the treasure. This discovery led to a discussion of robbers and their practices, as Tom and Huck made plans to inaugurate their own prepubescent gang of criminals. (For those who have never "met" Tom Sawyer, it is probably good to interject here that Tom's boyish imagination knows no bounds.) The conversation covered the important points of killing all the men but being gracious toward the women--so that they will fall in love with you, of course--and then wrapped up thus:

"Now less fetch the guns and things," said Huck.

"No, Huck--leave them there. They're just the tricks to have when we go to robbing. We'll keep them there all the time, and we'll hold our orgies there, too. It's an awful snug place for orgies."

At this point Evan broke out into loud, sustained laughter punctuated by repetitions of the sentences "We'll hold our orgies there!" and "It's an awful snug place for orgies!" Finally the guffaws subsided and he turned to me and asked, "What's an orgy?" I continued reading.

"What's orgies?" [said Huck].

"I dono. But robbers always have orgies, and of course we've got to have them, too. Come along, Huck, we've been in here a long time. It's getting late, I reckon. I'm hungry, too. We'll eat and smoke when we get to the skiff."

Such is the adventure of reading aloud. Sometimes you stumble on things you're not quite expecting (even if you've read the book before)! I told Evan that an orgy was kind of like a party--but a party where people get carried away and eat and drink too much, so not a very nice party. The problem with this definition (which is not incorrect) is that it excludes the more common modern usage of the term, the one everyone thinks of when he hears the word. But I don't want to tell my child that meaning yet! Which, of course, opens up the possibility that he'll decide to show off his new word at a less-than-opportune time. Oh, Tom, dear Tom--you just love complicating things, don't you?

Cooking with Evan

My posts of late have mostly been of the "daily life" variety. I'm not sure if that is due to my dwindling ability to write more complex, thoughtful pieces or to the fact that our family continues to live in three separate states and my priority right now is to document what is going on in Illinois for those who are not here. It is probably both. At any rate, here is yet another "what we've been doing" post. A few days ago Evan decided he wanted to do some cooking. I provided him with a few recipe books and he chose for his project "Company Beef Casserole." We had fun whipping this up last night!

Layering in the ingredients.

The best part of cooking is tasting!

Ready for the oven.

Milk for Evan, wine for Mom. :-)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Learning from the Master

"Where do you want to go for supper tonight, Evan?"

"Wherever you want, sweetie!"

Summer of 2012

If Only

"Mom, did you have amnesia again last night?"

"No, honey, but maybe if I had I would have gotten a little sleep!"

(Note: This exchange occurred yesterday. I slept better last night, thanks be to God!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Science Fail

Evan and I had chemistry class today. Chemistry class right now consists of his Magic School Bus Chemistry Kit.

Today we did card #29, a demonstration of the bonding behavior of water molecules. In this lab activity, the young scientist counts the number of drops of water he can place on top of a penny before the water spills over the side. He then repeats the process, but first he puts a drop of liquid dish soap on the penny. I sat beside Evan as he followed the instructions, and I saw nothing amiss in the execution. On the first penny he counted 13 drops of water. On the second penny (the one with the liquid soap) he counted 21. Why the difference? We turned over the instruction card and read this explanation:

A penny can hold many drops of water because the water molecules like each other and form special bonds between each other. On the surface of the water, the molecules are held together by this surface tension. When too many drops are added, the surface tension is broken and the water spills over. Fewer drops can be put on the penny with the soap because soap decreases the surface tension and the water spills much sooner. [emphasis added]

Yeah . . . right . . . .

I really don't know how we manage to do this. But over and over again, our science experiments turn out with something far afield of the expected result. Just one of our many family talents, I guess.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Capital Idea

Tonight at supper it was noted that the dog has been getting lots more treats these days. Since my mom got home from rehab, she has been freely dispensing dog biscuits to our mutt Willard. This is new for her, as are many behaviors since she got home. (That is a blog post in itself, a wonderful one, I might add. I will have to write it sometime.)

Anyway, regarding the problem of Willard's overindulgence, I opined, "We might just have to hide the dog treats from Grandma."

Evan's reply? "Or we could just reason with her."

That child is going to go far in life.

The well-fed subject of this post.

God's Own Child

Monday night I went to sleep planning out this blog post. But Tuesday, life intervened, so this is a day late. Eighteen years ago yesterday my baby girl was brought into the priesthood of all believers. Love came down and claimed Caitlin as His own as she was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I give thanks that He continues to sustain and nurture her in the faith, a faith which is apparent in the things she says and does. I look at her and see a young woman who confesses the name of her Saviour with no hesitation and who does not shrink from speaking the truth but who manages, better than many more "mature" Christians, to always speak it in love. I so admire that about her.

November 12, 1995, was a cold, cold day in Peoria. It wasn't like today in Chicago, where it is cold but clear and sunny. Instead it was overcast and icy. I remember being worried about my mother and my in-laws as they made their way down the sidewalk to church. Once we were inside the building, though, all thoughts of the cold disappeared as we welcomed Caitlin Marie into the Lord's family. 

When he saw this picture Evan said, "Mom, you look young!" To which I said, "Evan, I was young!"

Trevor, Phillip, baby Caitlin and I along with our dear, sainted Pastor Freudenburg and his wife Jo.


I am really sorry I forgot to do this blog post yesterday. Earlier in the month I acknowledged Trevor's baptism on Facebook, and then last week I did a special post for Evan. When it hit me a little while ago that I had let Caitlin's day go by, I was disgusted with myself. Sometimes it stinks to be the middle child! Trevor is the firstborn, the oldest, the one away at college. Evan is the baby. Sometimes it seems as though Caitlin can get lost in the expanse between her brothers. But about yesterday's oversight my unassuming daughter was predictably understanding. That is another thing I admire about her. She expects so very little, accepting whatever comes with sincere appreciation.

By the way, that bit of life that intervened yesterday? It was called "selling the house." For those who may not know, our previous contract fell through. It looks, however, as though we now have another one. Having been burned once, I am not going to celebrate quite so boisterously this time around, but if all goes well we will be closing sometime after Christmas.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Male and Female He Created Them

Scene: In the kitchen, before bed. A mother is dispensing a Benadryl capsule to her allergy-ridden 10-year-old son. Son speaks first.

"When I'm 12, I'll take it without water. Or maybe when I'm 15."

"But honey, you don't have to take it without water. I don't take pills without water."

"But Dad does. He can swallow a whole handful of pills without water."

"Well, I don't do that."

"I guess there are just some things men do better than women."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No Wonder They Gave Him a Music Scholarship

I love how these pieces demonstrate the full range of Trevor's musicianship. From the subtlety and lyricism of the first set of pieces to the technical and tonal demands of Beethoven to the sheer physicality and rhythmic brilliance of Ginastera, these performances showcase a young musician who is going places. I'm so glad I get to follow along as his number one adoring fan. Keep up the wonderful work, Trevor. You have come so far the last few years; how exciting to think of all the places you have yet to go!

Trevor Magness, Junior Recital, Part 1 from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Trevor Magness, Junior Recital, Part 2 from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Trevor Magness, Junior Recital, Part 3 from Cheryl on Vimeo.