And the winner is…**REVISED EDITION**

First of all, thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway! Y’all say the sweetest thangs…*blush, blush* has picked number 195 to be DA WINNAH this go-round, so congratulations to Jessica at Don’t Give Him Crackers! I hope you enjoy my craftyliciousness this winter season.


Sadly, it would appear that *I*, personally, have not won a stinkin’ thing this time at the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival. This is in spite of many dedicated hours of neglecting my family and personal hygiene as I clicked, glassy-eyed at the hundreds of links submitted. Ah, well. There’s always next time.


Did you win anything? Do tell!


**I lied! I DID win something! I won a pair of adorable shoes from the Smaller company for my sweet Cowboy X. I picked these.


Are they not the most squealerific shoes? I thought so. I won them from CanCan over at Mom Most Travelled. Thanks, CanCan!


Just the other day, I came home from the hospital with a newborn.


Then I turned around.






Over six months, friends. Over. Six. Months.


Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17


Kissing some soft, slobbery cheeks? Definitely in the Lord’s will for me today.

Love Story, Part Thassall Folks

Part one here

Part two

Part three

Part four


Instigator of this string of schmaltz found here (in other words, blame Mary)!




The phone rang the next day. It was BFBF.


“So, do you want to go out?” he queried.


“Uh. Sure! You mean, like…with Beth and everybody?”

A momentary hesitation.


“Um. Yeah, we could do that. Or, you know, just you and me.”


Silence on my part as I suffered a minor myocardial infarction, recovered, and responded:


“Oh! Well. That would be nice too.”

“Great! Let’s go to August Moon “


(ed note: this was a chinese restaurant. there are a lot of them in stavanger. also, my favorite italian restaurant in norway was run by some chinese people. interesting, huh? turns out america isn’t the only melting pot)


We went out to eat and I can’t remember a single thing we talked about. I do know that we wound up back at my house, sitting in the living room, still talking. My Dad came home and I hurridly warned BFBF that when my Dad shook his hand, he should be prepared. My father, in spite of his oilman career, was and is to this day, a farmer at heart, with the bone-crushing grip to prove it. Nothing would say girly-man quicker to my father than a fishy handshake.


They met in the middle of the floor. Their hands clasped. The air filled with the sounds of tendons straining and joints popping as their respective manhoods were proven.


BFBF passed the handshake test.


That night, I lay in bed and tried to make sense of my thoughts. Somehow, no matter how many times I assured myself that he was just a friend, just a good friend, my brain wasn’t buying it. As long as he was not present, I could stuff down the blazing hot fires of fervant, passionate ~~LUV!!~~, clap a lid on them and SIT on it, but as soon as he was within a 50 foot radius, I got blown across the room from the blast of heat my heart was generating. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing him by the lapels and blithering out a confession of my true feelings.


At the prom, I spent the whole meal gazing past TOES at the next table over, where BFBF was sitting, in all his tux-ey splendor. My, but he did look fine. His radiance made my eyes hurt. I’m sure TOES didn’t notice my lack of attention at all.

Later, at the prom party, we spent more time talking. I wanted to believe that he felt even a tiny bit of something more for me, but he wasn’t giving out any clear signals to that effect.


What would have been a clear signal? Hm. Something along the lines of enfolding me in his arms and saying passionately Emma Jenni, you want our friendship to remain the same as it has always been, but I can not desire that. I do not wish to call you my friend, because I hope to call you something infinitely more dear! Marry me, my wonderful, darling friend.

To which I would have replied Mr. Knightley My Beloved, if I do not speak it is only for fear of waking from this wonderful dream!


Alas, we were not living in a novel. And so I had to ad lib.


About a week later, I made plans to go out to dinner with Beth. It was the second of three days of finals, and all my most difficult classes would be out of the way; Typing 1 would be the only reason I needed to go to school the next day, so I figured it was safe enough to stay out late.


Before we left to eat, she got a phone call. It was Robert, the friend that BFBF was staying with, asking what we were up to tonight. My heart began to pound at the hope that they might join us, but when she hung up she told me that they had plans of their own for dinner. They might catch up with us later. I told myself that was cool, because, after all, HE WAS A FRIEND, JUST A FRIEND, THAT’S ALL, AND THUS IT DID NOT MATTER WHATSOEVER IF I SAW HIM THAT NIGHT.



After dinner, Beth and I sat and talked about this and that. Strangely, the conversation turned to unrequited love, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to disgorge the contents of my burgeoning heart into her sympathetic ear. The words hovered on the tip of my tongue, ready to plunge into the abyss, when who should come noisily into the restaurant but Robert and The Source of My Angst. They were done eating and had come to find us. My brain promptly turned into quivering flan.



We went to Robert’s house to hang out and celebrate the end of the school year. We played some silly games. It got late, and I really needed to be getting home. After all, I had a terribly strenous typing exam the next day. BFBF and I sat on the couch, alone in the room. Here was my chance to confess. Should I risk it? 


There was a lull in our conversation. BFBF gazed out the window at the night sky.


There’s a star. I pointed out inanely. Make a wish?

He dutifully complied.


What did you wish for? I asked.


He smiled and turned beet red.


Well, friends, I was a bloodhound on the scent then, let me tell you. I was not going to leave that house without finding out what was in that man’s head, no way, no how.

I wheedled. I whined. I pleaded. I begged. But he wouldn’t tell me. Finally, I told him I wouldn’t be his friend anymore if he didn’t tell me. After all, I was probably going to lose his friendship anyway when he found out I was head over heels for him, so what the heck. I was risking it all that night, burning my bridges one way or the other.


Aww. He protested. That’s not fair.


I folded my arms and raised my eyebrows.


I wished… He looked down at the floor like he’d just run over my dog. I wished…thatIcouldkissyou.

Explosions of incredulity! Paroxyms of joy! Ebullient relief! This was the part of the story where the music swells and we spin around the ballroom in glorious, synchronised elation, but he wouldn’t raise his eyes to meet mine.


Hey…I prodded him, trying to keep my extremities from flying into space. Isn’t it strange that my wish would be the same thing?

His head came up and he stared at me.






And so we granted one another’s wish. And decided right then and there to make it a habit.



PS. It seems fitting to end this maudlin journey through my memory banks with OUR SONG, heard a few days later at a friend’s house before anyone (save Robert and Beth) knew THE TRUTH about Us. My Beloved and I sat across from each other at the kitchen table, trying not to give ourselves away, but when the lyrics began to play, I felt his foot put gentle pressure on mine. We smiled at each other and everyone else just…disappeared.


Now, of course, I can’t help but giggle at Kevin Cronin’s hair.


Sayonara, Summer

The other day was so beautiful. So, so beautiful. Now is not. Now is cold and rainy and cold and overcast and cold and windy and did I mention cold? What’s even worse, I have to go out in it. Oh, the injustice of it all. Winter, that lecherous old man who loves to stick his icy cold hand up the back of my shirt, approaches stealthily. How I hate him.


Happily, however, I took planny-good pictures of that shining day at the duck pond. I soaked in the sun and tried to shovel its warmth into my solar panels for future use.


Unfortunately, I don’t actually possess solar panels.


But these pictures will be almost as good, saved for a cold, rainy day, to gaze upon and sigh over and hope for the promise of future warmth, many months from now.

Still-life with apple, cheese, and cracker.

Still-life with banana muffin.


Gratuitous foliage shots…



It is a pretty place, I must admit…


Where you can sketch…


Or converse with a goose…


wear an acorn hat on your thumb…


Or do a back flip.

Bye-bye, warmth.

See you next year.

Hooray! Hooray! A Giveaway!

It’s that time again, friends! Time for The Bloggy Giveaway Carnival!


I won’t lie. I LOVE the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival.If you are coming here for the first time from the Bloggy Giveaways link, warmest of welcomes to you, with a heapin’ topping of appreciation-sauce! I hope you come back to visit OFTEN. If you are a faithful and true reader, then welcome to you also, but YOU…you get sprinkles on your appreciation-topping.


Don’t you just love sprinkles? They are the symbol of all things festive and fun. Because nothin’ says “celebrate!” like cornstarch and wax.


Without further ado, let me tell you what I’m here to give away today. Some of you may remember these babies when I made them last year. Well, I’m giving them away this year. I still think they’re the cutest things around, but I have decided, after much soul-grappling, that I can live without them, in the interest of making someone else’s world brighter.


Plus, I did not get my sh*t together in time to make anything new.

Witness: four wooden letters, spelling out “snow” and decoupaged to within an inch of their lives with scrapbook paper and glitter. They are A-stinkin-dorable.




All I require of you is a comment with a valid email address or blog link. And you can tell me I’m brilliant, if you really feel like it and you have suck-up tendencies. But it won’t help you win. Sorry. I’ll leave the contest open until Friday and announce a winner on Saturday, the 1st of November.


Pardon me while I panic that I just said “the 1st of November”. **breathes into paper sack**


That’s it! Thanks again for stopping by, and most especially for reading regularly, if indeed you do. Y’all make the blogosphere simply the nicest place.


More giveaways at the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival!

Three Cheers for Three

Three names for the new three-year-old:


The Tobinator


Three adjectives for the new three-year-old:


mindblowingly adorable (okay, so that’s four)


Three things he can do that are different from a year ago:


poop on the potty
speak coherently
karate-chop his brother


Three favorite activities:


taking over mommy’s computer (locating and ALL BY HIMSELF…this terrifies me)


Three things I wish I could guarantee him:




Three things I can guarantee him:


He is loved
He is loved

He is loved


Three pictures that perfectly sum up three:





You comin’ or what?


I’m right behind you, baby.


And I always will be.

Love Story, part 4

Part one here

Part two here

Part three here

Responsible party here (and links to more love stories!)


My junior year was a tumultuous one for my heart, evil little selfish cowardly thing that it was. Within the first few weeks of school starting, I decided that I was not cut out for having been cut loose. Although BF was writing me with an engineer's diligence and precision, I began to resent the fact that the whole rest of my life was already planned out, even if I had been the one to help plan it. BF was so blasted respectable. So solid. So steady. So rational. So super.

I couldn't help but wonder what someone from the other end of the spectrum would be like. Coincidentally, that wasn't too hard to find. I actually had several classes with him. The Other End of the Spectrum (henceforth to be known as TOES), in case you wonder, had red hair. And a skull earring. He was a skateboarder. And he was from California.


The one good thing I got out of the relationship with TOES was the ability to spin my pen around my thumb and then catch it again. This pen-twiddling has garnered me quite a bit of admiration throughout my life thus far.

So that's some comfort. 

As far as boyfriends go, however, he was pretty lacking. He liked me all right, especially on a Friday night when there wasn't much else going on, but other than that, his affection for me was just a little on the cool side. He made it clear that he was keeping his options open in case something better came along.

Which does a lot for one's self-esteem, as you might imagine.

All this time, (ex)BF was patiently waiting for me to come to my sense. I'd say senseS, but frankly, I don't think I had more than one at the time. He returned from college at Christmastime and since TOES was currently exploring his other options, I patched it up with BF and we were an item again.

Then he went back to college.

And TOES called me up to go to a movie.

Apparently I determined in some twisted sort of logic that a deficient, present boyfriend was better than a devoted, absent one. Not to mention, I was ever-hopeful that I would be able to change TOES into the ideal man if given enough time.

I am an extremely original thinker.

Over the next several months we continued to date but I still felt lost. I knew TOES didn't care about me that much, but I didn't have the guts to tell him to hit the road for good. At the same time, I wasn't sure I wanted to tell (ex)BF that I'd love him to my dying day because I knew my own heart well enough at this point to know it was not to be trusted. I was miserable with confusion.

As spring drew to a close, I heard that Beth (BFBF's sister) was going to make the trip back to Norway so she could graduate from high school with all her friends there, rather than the relative strangers she had spent her senior year with in Connecticut. BFBF was coming with her as a travelling buddy, and for the chance to spend some time with his own friends still in Norway.

I wrote to Beth and told her I would be at the airport when they arrived, and that I hoped we could get together and have some fun once they were there. I was weary of trying to figure out my heart, and was looking forward to simply enjoying time with friends, blissfully free from any emotional wrangling. Surely Beth and BFBF could provide that for me. After all, we had had such good times the summer before.

And so I stood in the Sandnes Airport one sunny spring day, eyes fixed on the swinging double doors that all travellers exited through after navigating customs. Beth made it past the gauntlet first, beaming her megawatt smile as she came, and I had a chance to hug her before she was quickly engulfed by other friends anxious to catch up on all they had missed over the school year.

I went back to watching the swinging doors for BFBF, trading banter with the mutual friend who would be playing host to him during his visit and wondering, as always, what I was going to do about the raw gnawing sadness in my chest. And then BFBF appeared.

He was smiling. He was bathed in a halo of light. Angels were singing. A giant sign hovered in the air next to him, blinking THIS ONE, YOU MORON! THIS ONE! THIS IS THE ONE!

And I stood as one paralyzed. This couldn't be. This just couldn't be. My friend? My ex-boyfriend's best friend? THE one? The ONE? What? Wait. When did this happen? I hadn't even heard from him in several months…what th? WHAT IN TARNATION WAS GOING ON HERE??

Seriously, I didn't know what was happening. My brain was reeling and my heart was frantically playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. None of it made any sense. It was the last thing I had expected, but there he was, standing in front of me, smiling that ridiculously beautiful smile, and I was trying to act like my entire universe was not imploding inside my head.

He shoved some papers into my hand, gave me a hug and said "let's go out sometime". I don't remember saying anything (I have a strange suspicion that I was gulping like a goldfish the whole time) and then he was gone, whisked away to recover from jet lag. My mother, standing next to me, said helpfully:

"Wow! Jim looks really good! Has he been working out?"

I got in our car feeling numb. I don't know what mom thought. Being rendered speechless was highly unusual for me. I made a pretense of reading the papers that had been pressed into my hand; they were filled with his apologies for being such a poor correspondant, explanations as to why he had not written for so long, and resolutions to be better if I would give him the chance.

"Let's go out sometime" he had said. What did he mean? Like, as in a date? Or just as friends?

Mentally, I slapped myself upside the head. Hard. Of course he just meant as friends. Actually, he probably meant as a group, as we usually did, with Beth and all the gang. I was obviously suffering from some sort of hysteria, brought on by prom stress and studying for finals. He was my FRIEND. And there was no flippin' way on earth I was going to jeopardize that friendship by trying to make it something else.

No. Flippin. Way.

Some People Are Really Too Kind

I've been really ambivalent about the whole bloggy awards thang since I started blogging…I accepted some, then I let some slide by me when I lacked time to pass them on…and then I felt really guilty…and then I said who needs that stress? and decided to never accept them again…but then I got another…and another…and I have to admit that I get so tickled when somebody tags me for one that I would be a big fat hypocrite to say I didn't care.

Is there a Big Fat Hypocrite award? Cuz I'm totally perfect for that one.

At any rate, I hereby swear that from this point forth, I will always (except when I can't) accept awards that people want to give me, and I will never (except when I do) forget to pass them on.

Because I'm just that decisive.

I was tagged for this award like, a million, billion years ago, and the person who nominated me should have moved on to greener, more appreciative pastures and declared my name anathema for all time by now, but she hasn't. Thanks, Prairie Chick. It's called the "Arte de Pico" award, and I think it means "little piece of art". Or maybe it means "ham sandwich". Either way, it's cool.


When I think of art I automatically think of Jody and Melissa, whose crafty talents are just so stinking cute I will never cease to covet them and therefore be reminded of the grace of Jesus that forgives me for that coveting (which is always a nice thing to remember and therefore makes me like them even more). So girls, please accept it with my compliments, although you probably already received it back when it made the rounds.

This award was given to me by two different people, Janera and PennyRaine, and I was quite flummoxed to get it. It may very well have been the first and last time anything associated with me was called brilliant. Or Brilliante, for that matter. At any rate, I appreciated the compliment!

Unfortunately, one of the most brilliant bloggers I know closed up shop fairly recently, so I can't give it to her (KATE). However, I can say that Candy Rant's brilliant(E) writing frequently blows me away and makes me wish I could give her an award. Oh wait, I can! Candy, this one's for you.

And then I received this award. But I don't remember when. Or who gave it to me. I'm such a loser!!! Who was it? Please, speak up and put me out of my loserific misery so I can give credit!


This really is such a cute award. It made me smile and blush when I received it. I hope it makes Amy and Minnesota Mom feel the same way, cuz I'm passing it to them.

Then, most recently, there has been this. It made my little scrapbookin' heart go a little flippity-floppity.

Ain't it just purdy? It was given to me by Tyler at Titus2:3-5, and I am so bowled over to receive it. I thought being called Brilliante was great, but Kreativ is awesome!

I'm sharing the kreativ love with Prairie Chick and Sarah, because they have such an eye for seeing God's creativity in the daily ebb and flow of life.

And I'm hoping that talent will rub off on me someday.

If I gave you an award, feel free to pass it on. I am absolving you of any lengthy set of rules, even though that means I will almost certainly receive at any moment the Black Spot of Death by the Award Pirates who moderate these things.

If there aren't any Award Pirates, there probably should be.


Tales From The ‘Hood

Exterior scene: A crisp Autumn day, beneath a curbside copse of dying honeysuckle. A half-dozen squirrels gather in a huddle, smoking tiny, paw-rolled cigarettes and sporting piercings from the local tattoo parlor known as Rodent Body Candy. Two smaller squirrels fidget nervously, eyes darting from one elder to the other. The ringleader, Verm, smooths a paw over his tattooed ear with calculated deliberation, and speaks.


VERM: So’s you think you can cut it, eh, runts? You wanna be a part of The Rabids?


RUNT 1, quaking: y-y-yessir


RUNT 2 (tongue grotesquely swollen around a recently-added barbell): yeththir!


VERM (sneering): I never saw such a pathetic pair of pups. How’d ya even get this far? Who invited you?


SCUZZY (a burly squirrel with a tattered tail): Dem’s wit me, Verm. Dey’z Sal’s little brudduhs.


VERM (studying the pair and puffing thoughtfully before replying): Well. Seein’ as how you’s related to Scuzzy’s gal, I guess we could get on with the test. Might as well see yeh splattered now so’s I kin get back to the Wilson’s birdfeeder. Damn bluejays keep stealin’ all th’ best seeds.


RUNT 2: t-t-tetht?


VERM (laughing harshly): Yeh didn’t think you could jest scamper in here ‘n be a Rabid cuz yer brave enough to get yer tongue pierced, didja?


RUNT 1 (glancing at the road and clearing his throat): I…I know what it is. I have to…to…run, right? Run…across the street?


VERM (thunderously, eyes flashing): Run across the street, he says! Whaddaya think this is, boy, the Pup Scouts? Skitch! C’mere!


SKITCH (a twitchy, thin sqirrel with slightly bulging eyes): Yeh Verm?


VERM: Skitch, kindly demonstrate to our guests THE TETHT.


SKITCH (giggling): Sure, Verm. Watch and learn, runts!





A car approaches, a blue pickup with a teen at the wheel. The squirrels nudge one another and whisper New driver, 1236 Ridgemont! He’s gonna be slow on the brakes; tough nut for Skitch…



Skitch stands at the curb, still giggling maniacally. The pickup, its driver fixated on the road, rumbles closer as the runts look at one another with eyes wide in terror. The truck is practially passing them when suddenly Skitch, with a high shriek of laughter, hurtles from the copse and straight into the pickup’s path. There is the smell of burning rubber, a muffled epiteth from the cab, and Skitch doubles back once, then twice, before tearing across the road as the vehicle swerves wildly.


The runts peek from behind their paws to see, through the acrid smoke, Skitch perched on the opposite curb, tail flicking wildly, laughter drifting back towards them. Verm turns slowly and narrows his eyes.


VERM: So now you know, pups. Ain’t no “cross the street” with The Rabids. We wanna see you get as close to the car as you can. And you gotta double back at least once, you hear me? At least once. You. (nodding at Runt 2) You first.


RUNT 2 (breaking into a sob and backing away): I…I…I won’t do it! I won’t! You can’t m-m-make me! I’m gettin’ out of here!


He disappears into a stand of pines in a nearby split-level’s backyard.


VERM (loudly cackling): That’s right, boy! You run! Run back to your acorns, runt! And don’t ever let me see your face again! (Turning back to Runt 1): Well? You gonna run too?


Runt 1 stands higher on his haunches and shakes his head slowly.


VERM (nodding): Get on that curb, then. When we say go, you go. And remember…double back at least once or you ain’t no Rabid.


The group waits silently, tense with anticipation. Verm grinds out his cigarette on the ground and breaths the last cloud of smoke into the air. Runt 1 grips the curb with his claws, breathing heavily. Suddenly a vehicle appears around the corner, a great white behemoth of a 15 passenger van with a slightly-frazzled woman visible behind the wheel. The squirrels chatter beneath their breaths, excitement reaching a feverish pitch. Not 1612 Running Stream Court…He’s a goner…Distracted driver…Lots of kids…He’ll never make it!


Runt 1 hears the commotion but does not flinch. The van lumbers closer…closer…til the driver is clearly seen, apparently attempting to moderate a dispute in the nether regions of the vehicle. Runt 1 screws his courage to the sticking point.


VERM: Now! Go!


Runt 1 flies off the curb, straight into the path of the lumbering monster. He swerves around one massive tire as the van swerves wildly and the shrieks of children are heard. He doubles back, touching the curb with all four paws before springing once more into the fray. The tires squeal and lurch before coming to a complete stop. The very air itself seems to hold its breath.


Small anxious faces appear in the windows of the van, noses pressed against glass, eyes searching.


There he is, Mommy! I see him! He’s okay! You didn’t run over him! the small piping voices are clearly heard, joyous with the news. The driver closes her eyes, hand pressed to her heart, mouth muttering execrations against crazy rodents in spite of her obvious relief. Slowly the van heaves itself forward once more and makes its way down the street.


Runt 1, clinging to a tree trunk on the opposite side of the street, hears one last small voice drifting through the air.


They’re so cuuuute, Mommy! Poor little things, they just don’t know cars can hurt them, do they?


VERM (appearing mysteriously at the base of the tree, he lights up a cigarette and takes a long, contemplative drag): Consider yourself a Rabid, kid. Ya got some kinda guts.