31 August 2007

A Happy Day

Today was a very happy day! My niece Adrianne and her husband Michael became the parents of a healthy baby boy, Samuel. I am an aunt again - a GREAT Aunt to be exact. Samuel's older brother Ashton was born last June and only lived two days, and so it was an especially happy day for everyone. Congratulations Adrianne and Michael! We love you, Ashton and Samuel.

Angels Watching Over You

You know that you are a hard-core blogger when you wake up in the morning thinking about something to post on your blog. You also know that it is way beyond just a casual activity in your life when you realize that you don't want to post something new because of something in your last post that was so great that you want it to stay at the top for fear somebody that hasn't visited your blog in a few days will miss it. (PLEASE scroll down and see the post entitled "Everything--" - you won't be sorry!)
This morning I was thinking about my husband and how he seems to have nine lives or something. Going back to the day after I met him, he has had serious accident after freak accident after ridiculous incidents that were the fault of someone else. Here are some of those things:

· The day after I met Travis he was hit in the face on a “brick job” by a mortar mixer. The safety had been removed for the sake of time, and a rock jammed in it, causing it to kick back right as he happened to be near it – and a metal pipe slammed him in the jaw, cutting through his chin and gums, and throwing him several feet.

· Travis was working as a welder, and burned his eyes through a microscopic crack in his shield, so light was slowly seeping in all day and he didn’t know it. When he was taken to the hospital, the doctor prescribed codeine, which apparently he is allergic too, and went into anaphylactic shock.

· When I was pregnant with Kaitlyn, our 14 yo., Travis was working nights. I was wakened by the phone to a southern twanging voice saying “Miss Forsythe, your husband was ‘lectracuted this evenin’ and he was taken to the ‘mergency room.” Indeed he was – an ungrounded welder gave him a huge jolt, to the point that it messed up his heart rhythms and he was in Cardiac Intensive Care for two days.

· He decided after that electrocution to do something other than welding for a while, and was working with heavy machinery. His boss asked him to skip the safety measure of using a tool to press items under a heavy blade, and just use his hands to make it go more quickly. You guessed it – he cut the tip of one of his fingers off. It was stitched back on – but to me it looks more like a toe than a finger!

· One morning on his way to work, Travis stopped at a convenience store to get gas, and stepped inside for a Butterfinger candy bar. Evidently someone had put a can of kerosene on the counter, and it leaked down, saturating the candy in front of the register. Having just brushed his teeth, Travis was unable to detect the strange taste at the first bite, and excused it as being the “just brushed” taste. A couple of bites later – he knew he had eaten something bad – and ended up in the emergency room. They wanted to put a tube up his nose and down his stomach to administer charcoal. He said no way – he’d drink it – and did so, even though they said that has never been done before.

These are just some highlighted incidents of things this man has been through over the years. The man can touch fire, and has taken things out of the oven with his bare hands. He is a bit of a freak of nature - but let him get a fever or a stomach ache and that is a different story - you'd think he was a terminal cancer patient. He is a living illustration of the fact that only God determines the number of our days. This gives me a lot of peace now that he is working as an electrician. I know there is a whole team of angels assigned to that man, and those of us who love him!

30 August 2007

Everything - -

I don't post videos often, and since I already posted one this morning it may seem that I have spent my day browsing videos - but that isn't the case. I was reading blogs on my Google Reader - one linked to another that I have never been to before, and I saw this video there. I almost didn't watch it - having too much to do, but something continued to compel me to come back and watch it. (Was that you Father?) If you ever take 5 minutes to do anything online, I would ask you to take the time to watch this. Please, you won't regret it.

Better Than a Conference

I don't want to push - and I hate to sound like I am selling something, but listening to this CD is better than going to any "pump you up" Christian mega-conference that I have ever attended. The music is so relevent. Here is a little "sneak preview" with lots of song clips:

Some of the words from the first song, What This World Needs, make me want to get up and dance around. First an explanation of where the song comes from:
Galatians is the main basis for this song. False teachers were slipping in and adding tot he Gospel. Jesus + being good = The Believer's Life. Paul builds in a foundation for the Galatian people that it is by faith in Jesus that we are saved. Even today, we the church, are in danger of adding to the Gospel Jesus plus my denomination. Jesus plus our style of worship. Jesus plus good behavior. We must be careful not to strap ourselves to the Gospel.
The words to this song are amazing:
What this world needs is not another one hit wonder with an axe to grind - Another two bit politician peddling lies - Another three ring circus society - What this world needs is not another sign waving super saing that's better than you - Another ear pleasing candy man afraid of the truth - Another prophet in an Armani suit - What this word needs is a Savior who will rescue - A Spirit who will lead - A Father who will love them in their time of need - A Savior who will rescue - A Spirit who will lead - A Father who will love - That's what this world needs - What this world needs is for us to care more about the inside than the outside - Have we become so blind that we can't see - God's gotta change her heart before He changes her shirt - What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance - Blending in so well that people can't see the difference - And it's the difference that sets the world free - Jesus is our Savior, that's what this world needs - Father's arms around you, that's what this world needs - That's what this world needs
My absolute favorite part is a voice over section where the voices of teenagers say these things that I have heard echoed in youth group meetings for years - and it is so precious to me that they used teenagers to be the voice here:
People aren't confused about by the Gospel - they're confused by us
Jesus is the only way to God - but we aren't the only way to Jesus
The world doesn't need my tie, my hoodie, my denomination or my translation of the Bible
They just need Jesus
We can be passionate about what we believe - but we can't strap ourselves to the Gospel
Because we are slowing it down
Jesus is going to save the world, but maybe the best thing we can do is just get out of the way!!

The first time I heard this voice-over part it made me cry. If this speaks to you - this whole CD will amaze you, and inspire you to live in relationship instead of religion. I promise.

29 August 2007

Some Stuff About Today

I had to run an errand this morning, and it just so happened that our local Walmart, which is THE world's smallest Super Walmart, did have the new Casting Crowns CD, The Altar and the Door!!!! I haven't stopped listening to it since we got it. The first song kicks - it is so awesome. What I love about Casting Crowns the most is that their songs are so thoughtful. The things they sing about are carbon copy to thoughts I have all the time. They speak to me, heart and soul. I am also jazzed about the fact that they are coming to our area in concert this fall. Tickets go on sale in a matter of days! Yippie. I'm there.
I also went to my neighbor's house and welcomed in her two new toy poodle puppies. People pay hundreds of dollars for these things - and even though they're cute, I don't understand why people pay so much for dogs, when we got a perfectly lovely black lab they almost paid us to take away from a farm two years ago. Yeah, he chases cars, and barks at a strong breeze (he was HOWLING at the eclipse the other night!) , and may have some gender confusion - other than that - perfectly acceptable in the canine department.
Shortly after coming home from my visit with the new poodle babies, the sky turned pitch black, and much the way it always does here, thunder and lightening and then a deluge. We sat on the front porch swing and enjoyed the storm.

Dinnertime Discussion

Every night after dinner we use a book called ONE YEAR of Family Devotions to share God's word with our kids. Some nights the devotions are awesome and the stories really drive the point home, while other times they are a bit cheesy. Last night's devotion brought on an unexpected discussion. The verses used were from I Cor.3 about not being wise according to the world's standards. The story was about a boy named Rob and his dad, sitting on their deck, lit by the glow of a bug zapper. Rob confesses to his dad that he has been smoking. He says he realized looking at the bug zapper that in the same way the bugs while attracted to the light were being drawn toward their demise, that he was attracted to things that were harmful to him. Neat little story - until we started to discuss it.
It just so happened that as we were starting this discussion, still sitting at the table full of dirty dishes, that our dining room was filling up with teenagers from our neighborhood. Two of them just happened to stop by as we were starting our devotion. Maybe a God thing?
For the sake of conversation, I threw out the question whether or not "smoking" itself was a sin. I had no answers, I wanted to know what everybody, including my husband was thinking. Some thoughts were that it was a personal conviction. We talked about how your body was the temple for the Holy Spirit - but then how would smoking cigarettes, something that is harmful with no benefit to your body be any different than say, eating margarine which is supposedly one molecule away from plastic, and also harmful with no benefit.
I am an ex-smoker. I used to have times when I first quit smoking that I was repulsed and craved a cigarette at the same time. Now I'm pretty much repulsed by the smell. When I stopped smoking, it was a personal conviction - I felt that God was asking me to lay them down - because they were my crutch. I shared this - a distinct reason that cigarettes becoming an idol, as I made smoking the place I turned when I was stressed or lonely or bored, was a sin for me. Or how disobeying your parents, if they have told you not to smoke is the sin of disobedience. But is smoking in and of itself a sin? This was what we tossed around for about half an hour.
I explained to the kids that on a non-spiritual level - just as a health issue, staying away from cigarettes was a very wise decision from a healthy living standpoint. I have to admit, it makes me a little uncomfortable as a mother not to give my teenagers pat answers for things like this. It seems easier and safer just to tell them that everything is a "sin" that I am personally convicted about and settle the issue, but I find that I am not teaching them to live in relationship with the Lord, listening to His voice and learning to heed the direction of the Holy Spirit in their own lives.
I don't have an answer as to whether or not smoking is a sin. For me it would be because I would be disobeying a specific conviction. As far as respecting our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit, what about poor posture, bad sleep habits, unhealthy diets, etc. etc. etc. Would we call these things sin as well?
What are your thoughts?

28 August 2007

When It Comes to School, There's No Place Like Home

Well, it is that time of the year again - back to school. The roar of the big yellow buses that pass my house en route from the junior high on the next block was the mantra of the morning for two days in a row now. In my heart the anticipation of fall is building. This morning as I stepped out on the front porch, it felt cooler - but maybe it was all in my mind.
With the hub-bub of the new school year buzzing all around us, even though we are so outside of all of that, we seem to get swept up in the energy of it all. This year the kids are very involved with activities surrounding the co-op we have joined, but on any given year, they tend to get energized to pursue their passions when the world seems to revolve around the onset of the school year.
Yesterday morning, my daughters wanted to sit on the front porch, and wave to their friends who were passing by on the school buses, and I let them. It wasn't done in an unkind way, but they were in their own teenage "rebellion-against-the-man" kind of way, they were celebrating who they are - homeschoolers. I was reading this post at Crunchy Christian Mom's blog, about celebrating who we are and it really got me thinking. For years, we have answered the rude and often pointed questions about our lifestyle. "How long are you going to homeschool?" "What do you DO all day?" "What about socialization?" My daughters have been asked this a few times this past year, "Why would you want to stay home all day? I would be bored out of my mind." Also, whether we like it or not, everytime you turn on the television, radio, have a conversation with a neighbor, go to Walmart, the grocery store or the mall, you have the whole "back to school" celebration thrust before you. Why shouldn't homeschoolers be able to celebrate that they are not going? I think we should.
Now before I step on some toes of some real life friends and some of the most awesome friends the cyber-community has ever given me - I want to be clear that as parents we make decisions for our children and our families that no one else can qualify. Period. That being said, I also must insert that I believe the best place for a child is with their parents. I have terrific friends who are excellent school teachers, and while I would trust them implicitly with my children, and I also know they love my children, they can never love them with the heart of a mother that God has given specifically to me.
I have friends who after years of homeschooling have put their children back into public and private schools, sometimes permanently and sometimes for a season. I know the intimate details of their situations, and fully support what they do in the best interest of their families. I still and always will believe that the best place for any child is with a parent that loves them, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other things that are good or that work.
As a homeschooler, I would not walk up to the parent that sends their child to school and ask them pointed, invasive questions about "why they send their children to school" or "how long they plan to send their children to school". I have also learned that celebrating who we are is possible without criticizing others, as was so easy to do in the early years of homeschooling when I felt we were being constantly examined for the approval of others. I don't care anymore.
Wave your freak flag homeschoolers! Celebrate who you are!

27 August 2007

Oh Yum Yum Yummy - Pumpkin Dip

I found this incredible, delicious recipe the other day, and whipped some up to take as a snack for co-op today. We shared it with anyone who seemed brave enough to try it, and everybody loved it. If you like pumpkin - you will LOVE this stuff. Served with ginger snaps - it is my totally new favorite snack. As my daughter Kendra says, it is very fall-ish.
Creamy Pumpkin Dip
16 oz (2 pkgs) softened cream cheese
15 oz can packed pumpkin
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups of powdered sugar
Mis first 4 ingredients together with a mixer on low, and slowly add powdered sugar until creamy. Refrigerate until firm. Serve with ginger snaps.

I only made half a batch and it made a huge amount. Enjoy!

26 August 2007

Me and the Man

Tomorrow is the 19th year anniversary of the day I met my husband, and the 16th year anniversary of the day we got married. Last night he took me out on a date to a really awesome mexican restaurant. We have been having a rough time over the last year and a half since we moved, and at times it seems to be a make it or break it situation. I am so thankful that the Lord has been doing a lot of work between us, and happy to report that I think against all odds we may just make it! Last night was the best date ever. Nothing extraordinary - just great food, uninterrupted conversation, an opportunity to pay attention to each other sitting in a quiet little half circle booth in a nice, quiet atmosphere with somebody else bringing hot food and refilling our drinks.
The girls thought we looked so cute together that they wanted to snap a picture of us before we left. I am so glad they did, because this is by far THE best picture we've ever had taken together. I was going to make a scrapbook page with this picture before its unveiling - but I just couldn't wait to share it with you.
I know that all odds were stacked against us when we met - with him being an island unto himself, and my desire to tuck tail and run everytime things get hard. I am happy to report that I think marriage is worth the trouble. I love this guy - and I think I just might marry him again.
Happy Anniversary Travis! I love you.

Rambly Brambly Post

Yesterday morning my husband and I watched an Inconvenient Truth. I am never afraid to watch things that may be controversial, and I feel that I came away from it with some food for thought, and compelled to action. I didn't agree with the evolution-friendly dates given to support some of the theories expressed, however, I do believe that we have a serious problem and it is time for all of us who inhabit this planet to pay attention. This isn't a political issue, nor an enviromental one, but one that will impact the lives of every living thing. As a Christian I used to think that none of these kinds of things matter - and that the days of the earth were numbered and that there was nothing we can do to change that, but now I feel certain that as caretakers, we are ask to take care of what we have been entrusted. I am going to watch it again with my kids. I know there will be some super good discussions as a result.
After the leisurely morning, I decided that my azalea bushes needed a haircut. They have gotten SO tall that if I stood on one side of them and you on the other, we would not be able to see each other. This amazes me, being that in WV, azaleas were seldom more than a couple feet tall. Here they are so large, they can dwarf my mini-van. When they are in bloom, they are a sight to behold. Needless to say, after trimming hedges for a couple of hours, my forearms are very sore. I also have about half a dozen huge welps around my ankles from an ant pile I encountered, causing me to do somewhat of an Indian rain dance across my front yard.
Last night my hubby and I went on a date for our anniversary, which I will post more about later, however, we had some pretty good discussions. One of which was about manners and kids. We have noticed since we got here that most kids say "yes ma'am" or "no ma'am" (or sir respectively) when they are speaking to adults. I was telling Travis that I felt compelled to encourage the kids to do the same - and yet what I want is for them to be truly polite, not just "appear" to be polite. We agreed that it is better to just be who we are - and let people think what they want if our kids don't say ma'am and sir. Being truly polite and respectful is the goal, to adults and other kids alike.

25 August 2007

Real or Obligation

I read this awesome post about guilt this morning and it got my thoughts going. Having been manipulated by a heavy dose of the g-word since childhood, and most especially since my parent's divorce, I have only in recent years been learning to distinguish the difference between real guilt because of wrong-doing and perceived guilt because I did not meet or exceed the expectations of someone else.
Perceived guilt comes in a variety of places. I grew up feeling personally responsible for my mother's mental health, and since it was a pretty consistent downward spiral, you can imagine the tsunami of guilt that I tried to stand against. As a young mother, I struggled with making the right choices for my babies - breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, and on and on and on, and as my children have grown these choices have become more complex. When bad things happen to or involving your children, in floods the guilt. In church and homeschool groups, you find yourself signing up to participate in good things because you think that they should happen, even while you don't feel necessarily compelled to do them, because if you don't you'll feel guilty that they didn't ever take off or weren't as good as they could've been because you did not do your part. This guilt can be handed down from the pulpit or from the group in general, and I too have participated in guilting others. (What do you mean you're not making the gingerbread houses this year? Sorry Helen!)
I have come to realize that anything motivated by guilt or obligation is not the real thing at all. It is why the Salvation Army bell ringers standing outside the stores on the holidays are successful, because we are motivated by the pressure to perform when we see a need. I am not saying the cause is not worthy, but that often we give out of the peer pressure of public performance versus out of the abundance of a generous heart.
Recently, I was talking to a friend and brought to tears when I realized that my mother never really let me love her. Everything you did for her was expected, and great mountains of guilt were heaped when you did not perform according to her specifications or expectations. This chokes a relationship and clogs off the natural flow of love.
If you think about the Garden, and the seeming risk Father took when He gave each of us freewill to choose to live in love with Him, it paints the perfect picture. Motivated by obligation and guilt, our "relationship" would mean nothing. Free to live above guilt is the path to perfect love.

23 August 2007


I love musicals. I can remember the very first one that ever stole my heart was Oliver! I was living in South Carolina with my dad at the time, and the place where I slept was the family room. I remember sitting in front of the console television crying as I watched Oliver ask for "more", giggle as he learned to pick-a-pocket-or-two to a catchy little tune, sobbed when he cried for his mother as he sang "Where is Love?" and felt my spirits soar with "Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning". I could pretty much sing every word to every song even now. Thanks to the miracle of DVD I can watch it whenever I want.
There's Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, Scrooge, Rent, Chicago, Moulin Rouge, The Phantom of the Opera, High School Musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- some of which I like more than others. Tonight we are watching Oklahoma - and it's pretty good.
What are some older movies that you like? I could use some recommendations. I want to rent some through Netflix - but I hate getting them home only to realize they are duds. Recommendations please??? Not just musicals - any older movies would be muchly appreciated.

22 August 2007

No Ado About Nothin'

We have been so, so busy - and yet there is nothing much blogworthy. I thought this morning about the list of chores I had to tackle, but there is nothing that stresses me out and bores me more than to read blogs of "to do" lists, as if I don't have enough of my own things, I now have to feel inferior and stressed because of all the things someone else has to do, that I didn't even think of! No thanks. I tend to skip right over those. I don't mean to be mean, or selfish, but I would prefer to spend my time reading some of these fascinating posts about the tomato death camp, a rough day for a mom like me, cheese, and even about true savagery anyday over those mundane chore lists. Aren't you glad I spared you?

21 August 2007

Election 2008 – Some Personal Non-Partisan Thoughts

This past weekend, my husband and I watched most of the Democratic Debate. There are a lot of candidates, and I have to say that I had not done my homework on who they were or where they stood on most issues. I have come to think differently about politics in the last couple of years, and it started with an understanding that I got in reading the book Are you Liberal, Conservative or Confused? I was confused. Primarily I have gained perspective that Conservatives typically want more government to regulate issues of morality and less governmental controls on our spending – while Liberals are often the opposite. I realize this is a very simplistic perspective but it helped me understand a lot. There are so many issues that it would be very difficult to align myself at the moment with a particular political party or candidate just yet.

Another thing that has changed in me is my perspective on the church’s role in politics. Donald Miller helped hammer it out in Blue Like Jazz that all to often as Christians we think that we have to be conservatives – because moral issues are far more important than money to a believer. Personally, I have come to realize that you cannot legislate morality. I am not saying that the answer is to sit back with our hands in our pockets and do nothing to stand against evil, but making laws is doing little to affect the hearts of people to make a real change. What more often than not seems to happen is Christians are setting themselves up against a hurting world – pointing the finger of condemnation instead embracing them with the love of Christ, in their sin, and saying at the same time, as our Lord would say, “Go and sin no more.” No, we will not say that wrong is right and right is wrong. God’s standard still stands, but I believe with all my heart that love is the only vehicle to get people there.

Since the debate a couple of days ago, I have come to realize an issue that is of particular importance to me is National Healthcare. My thoughts on the issue are just starting to gel, however, I have a personal story to share – I’ll make it brief.

My son was born in September of 1997. When he was a couple of weeks old, I was returning home from a visit with a friend. As I was putting my key into my front door, I looked down at my newborn baby in his carseat to find that his lips and face were turning blue. I practically slammed the carseat on the ground there on the front porch, and jerked the belt off to get the baby out, and in all the violent jostling, he took a big gasp for air and started to cry. I was crying with him, holding him in my arms and terrified.

When I was pregnant with him, I had consulted with my pediatrician about this baby. His older sister had been on an apnea monitor until she was a year old because she too had stopped breathing at a 2 week pediatrician’s visit when the nurse was drawing her blood, and a subsequent sleep study showed that she was only breathing normally about 40% of the time. In spite of this, the pediatrician assured me that it would not necessarily be the case with her siblings.

I took my son immediately to the pediatrician’s office after the incident on the front porch. The doctor held him in her arms, and looked him over. She listened to his chest, and his stomach, and looked in his ears, nose and throat. After the exam was done, she sat down and very calmly said to me, “Well, he looks fine to me.” I started to cry realizing that she was not remotely concerned about the child that had stopped breathing on me until he turned BLUE that morning, and started to plead with her to do the sleep study that our previous pediatrician had done on my daughter. She looked at me calmly, without a bit of concern and said, “The bottom line is that there is no way your insurance company is going to pay for that study unless you had a child who died of SIDS.” I pleaded with her, telling her that WE would pay for the test, if it took the rest of our lives, and begged her to please not send me home with a baby I knew there was something wrong with. She suggested that I was suffering with post-partum depression, and had a counselor from my OB/GYN’s office contact me later that day!

Long story short, I found another doctor. I went home, got out the phone book and determined with one eye on the phone book and one eye on my son to call until I through to someone who was willing to take care of my baby. We got an immediate appointment with another doctor, who sent me directly from his office to the hospital. My son was admitted and within 36 hours we knew that his sleep study showed he was only breathing normally about 20% of the time – far more irregularly than his sister.

What bothers me the most is that there are poor people who with poor diets and the struggle to survive need healthcare, and they are the least likely to get what they need. The doctor in my story knew it would indeed take us the rest of our lives to pay for that sleep study ourselves, and she made money more important than a human life. That is why National Healthcare will be such a major issue for me in the coming election. Wealthy people shouldn’t be the only ones able to afford medical treatment. We treat something that is a necessity as if it is a luxury.

I won’t post a lot about the coming elections, but I will be chiming in from time to time with my thoughts. I’m not sure I’ll ever be endorsing a candidate. I would, however, like this to become a discussion. What issues are most important to you in the upcoming election? Which candidate are you favoring and why? I would even like to hear from some of my international friends about what you think Americans are doing wrong.

As my friend Leslie would say, these are my thoughts.

19 August 2007

Guilty Pleasure

This post was spurred by a conversation thread going on at the most terrific Radical-Christian-Unschooling Yahoo group. The particular thread was about television and movies and how you handle letting your kids make choices and/or regulating it for your family and in your home. It really got me thinking. I was posting my thoughts, and without warning, I admitted, publicly that I like Will Ferrell. My brother talked my husband and I into watching Old School, which quite frankly was over the top for me, but then when Elf came out I fell completely in love with his humor and antics. Since then I really liked him in Kicking & Screaming and Stranger than Fiction. I really wanted to see Talladega Nights, but when I read the review I had some concerns that it would be over the top as well, and haven't seen it yet. Will Ferrell movies are my guilty pleasure. What's yours? Post about it on your blog - shout it out - let the whole world know! Don't forget to leave me a comment with the link to your "guilty pleasure" post!

18 August 2007

Wine if You Want To

I was sort of thinking about this title sung to the tune of the B-52s song "Roam" - remember "Roam if you want to, all around the world" but insert the word "wine" and picture my chubby little self dancing! In light of the potential landfall of Hurricane Dean, I got together with my cajun neighbor to have coffee and discuss what we do if we do indeed hear that is coming this way. At first I thought she was going to be no help, telling me to get in my car and get the heck out of Dodge and all. Then she suggested we make a run to the county line liquor store and get some good wine, and I changed my opinion on the matter. I like wine, but I tend to prefer sweet ones like Blackberry Merlot and Strawberry Zinfadel. She was telling me about Cabernet Sauvignon - saying how good it was, dry but great with Italian food. So we were off. Then we had a glass of wine which perfectly balanced the effects of the strong cup of coffee we had previous to our outing. It was a lovely glass of wine, not sweet at all, but also not bitter. It was so nice to sit in the kitchen of my new friend and relax with a nice glass of wine, and know that whatever happens with the impending storm, if I'm tossed up in the air like Dorothy from Kansas, I will still land on my feet, and God will still give me friends to share in the journey.

Weather - Ugh

There is much talk in the area about Hurricane Dean. I just read the local television stations website with up to date information about the storm and read this disheartening phrase: forecasters saying it could turn into a monster Category 5 storm within 72 hours. Not what somebody new to hurricane weather wants to read. I also checked this out on an almanac site, and even if the hurricane doesn't make a direct path toward us, we are going to have a wet and dreary week! Ugh. Please pray for us.

17 August 2007

More Than His Ten Percent

As our family has taken a step away from the church building, and sought to live more in the body of Christ, one thing that I have pondered was how we were going to give from what we have been given to the Lord. I have wondered how much of what is given in the rotation of the shiny gold or silver plates with the felt bottoms that go by with pomp and ceremony is done out of a sense of obligation with very little heart of worship. I know personally that I gave (when I did) hoping that God would bless me - and I think most of the time I was missing the point. A lot has changed in my heart. I have asked God to show me opportunities to participate in what He is doing, and l have been astounded in the last 24 hours at the ways they have seemingly fallen from the sky.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I was heading out to get an alignment on my van. On the way I stopped at the closest gas station to my house to tank up, but for some reason that is even unknown to me, I decided not to get my gas there but go to the next station up the road. When I pulled in, Kullen helped get the gas pump started and the lady in the next lane said, "'Scuse me ma'am, but I'm trying to get to (a town an hour away) and I don't have any money for gas. If you could help me with five dollars of gas (which by the way would never have gotten her there), you could follow me there and I'll get my check, and pay you back." Let me also explain that it was about 2000 degrees in the shade and she was driving a car without air conditioning. I am always suspicious of such situations, and assessed it as quickly as I could, and I told her to wait and I would go inside and pay for some gas. Kullen and I also bought her a large coke with ice and sent her on the way, certain that God had put her in our path so that we could help her. She kept saying, "God bless you. God bless you."
  • Tonight, a neighbor's adult son was here. He has been having marriage trouble, and financial trouble, and just generally an all around difficult life. He has recently given his life to the Lord, however his problems did not instantly vanish. He has gotten a job in Kansas, but does not have the gas money to get there.
Two opportunities to give and serve and love with the hands and feet and wallet of Christ. Isn't He the coolest?

Real Learning

The co-op we joined this past week is such a delight. The people were so welcoming and friendly. Kendra blogged about it here. We were all so happy, deep inside like when you know something is right, something "clicked". The girls chose to nix Economics and high school Geography, but they both opted to take English, 20th Century Literature, Biology, Art and Drama. I was surpised that Kaitlyn was choosing to take Biology, having always liked science, but always shying away from a challenge, but choose she did. This week as she has worked on Module 1, she has had all sorts of questions, and been challenged in many new ways. Yesterday she was struggling with a question, and asked for my help. We stretched out across my bed and read the section together, and talked about it - and I couldn't give her the answer. Not I wouldn't - I couldn't. But here was the best part - in all our the ways our philosophy of education and how people learn has changed over the past couple of years, I had to tell her that it was okay to say "I don't know" for both of us. She has an opportunity if she chooses, to learn, really learn. We talked about how important it is to learn for the sake of learning - and not to let anyone else pressure her to feel compelled to focus on getting the "right answers" but to press on for the joy of studying something of interest. I told her that it might be helpful for the other kids in the class if she is willing to say she doesn't know or understand and to ask the question that everybody else wants to know but is too afraid to ask. Life just keeps presenting opportunities to learn. My job is to facilitate them with whatever they choose to learn. It is so awesome and liberating not to have to have all the answers, but to be a fellow student with them in the school of life.

Happy 94th Birthday Grandma Gifford

Travis' maternal grandmother turned 94 last week. We went to his cousin, Renee's house to celebrate her birthday. Renee has a beautiful two month old baby, and you can see there the circle of life. Travis' mom and her sister Julia were there with their daughters. It was so neat to see how even though they are a real family and have their ups and downs, they really love each other. It made me miss my mom something fierce, but I think I miss what I wish we had more than what we really ever did. I can only pray that God allows my children and I to always be close. This actually turned out to be a semi-nice picture of our family with Grandma Gifford. I think she had a happy birthday, and I know she was glad we were there.
And for those of you who know us, do you see how much taller Kaitlyn is than Kendra, AND me???

16 August 2007


That Goofy Girl went and did it again. I like the new look of my blog. In fact, the pink was starting to scare me as it is so not me. I love red-ish. I am also satisfied with the new name "Open Book" because that's pretty much what this blog is - my life laid bare for all to see. The one itsy bitsy thing I am not sure about is having the main column to the left of the other two columns. I might get used to them - I'll just try them out for a while, kind of like breaking in a new pair of jeans.

Seventy Three

A few months ago I saw the movie "The Number 23" with Jim Carey. I wish I hadn't. It was dark and it had little redemptive value. It was the unraveling of one man's mind as he finds the number 23 in patterns throughout his life. However, today made me think of this movie as it was full of 73s. $73 for the alignment on my van, which took approximately 73 minutes. Kullen was the only one who went with me and he asked me 73 times (at which I lost count) if they were almost done with my car. At Walmart, we bought $146 worth of groceries - two 73s. However, it was nowhere near 73 degrees today, nor did we travel 73 miles to the store. Ironic coincidences? I think so - because the number 73 was absent in may more ways than it was present today, but they were just the things that stood out.

15 August 2007

Who Says We're Free

Understanding that civilized society has boundaries that individuals must operate within in order for it to remain civilized is one thing, but I think that we have gone a little nutso with rules in our culture. I still believe that those rules could be summed up in the philosophy of the juris naturalis by saying that there are only two standards by which we must life:
1. Do all that you say you will do
2. Do not infringe on another person or their property
These two things would be so simple if it weren't for the sin nature. Ah - what to do about that?
What set me off about the rules thing was opening the newspaper this afternoon to find a three page spread of the local school districts "dress code". Some things make sense - if clothing has offensive language, graphics, illegal activity, etc. it should not be allowed. Body parts being exposed would also be a no-no. I know that all these things can be subjective - but there seems to be a basic understanding of what is okay and what is not. However, where it got to me was when they started listing that clothing could not be frayed, no holes, etc. What about economically-challenged kids who finally found a popular style that they can afford and not feel ashamed? Now the style has been forbidden, and they'll get it from both the teachers and the other kids. There is also a hair length and no covering the ears requirement for boys, as well as a hem-length for girls. What about self-expression? What about individuality? They did more than moderate inappropriate clothing, they are trying to create a homogenous society, where everybody is the same.
I have been offended when someone donning a graphic t-shirt sits across a table from me at a party and there is nowhere else to look. It is disgusting and frightening the things that some people come up with and feel comfortable thrusting upon others. Yet, what scares me more is taking away the individual's right to get up and decide for themselves what to wear that day. I don't know the answer. Think about it like this - what if you think one specific issue - maybe what kids wear to school and how they cut their hair is no big deal, next thing may be much more dear to you. Maybe they'll decide that government institutions are better places to raise children than families? What if the government outlaws reading, and we must form all our ideas from media? Read Farenheit 451. We could easily go there, and it could all start with a hemline and a ban on frayed clothing.

Dog Days of Summer Over? I Think NOT!

Perhaps the lazy days of summer are over, as I feel the electricity of activity cranking up all around me - both in the real world with co-op and sports and the 8,924,375 symptoms that we are just around the corner from most kids going "back-to-school", and in the cyber world as homeschooling friends are blogging about their activities, curriuculum, lesson plans, etc. (None of which btw will you find here other than maybe the mention of a good book.......) However, my friend Joanne posted on her blog this morning that she heard on the news that the "dog days" of summer were over. I can tell you that summer weather is still in full swing in SE Texas. We have had 108+ heat index over the last week, which is causing tropical storms and potential hurricanes to swirl off our coast. It is hot outside like parking your car in 100 degree temps with the windows up out in the full sunlight hot. When you step outside you are immediately damp and it takes your breath away. We are thankful for AC on a whole new level, both in the car and the house. Hot, hot, hot!

14 August 2007

I Wish I Could Turn My Brain Off

Sometimes I think that being a thinking person is a curse. I don't mean that I am a total brainiac that is always thinking about Einstein's theory of relativity or anything like that - but that unlike some women who are thinking about their nails or where they want their husbands to take them for dinner, I am always thinking about the complexities of life, faith, parenting, relationships, etc. Today has been a major thinking day. I have been terribly upset about the miners that are trapped in Utah. I am struggling with my faith and understanding how it is that just because a person lives in a certain area, or grows up with specific socio-economic challenges - they are in a job that has now endangered their lives. I also wonder that because a person was born in a certain culture, or ethnicity they may be entrenched in a religion that would separate them from God. I think about how panic stricken I would be if I were trapped in a mine. I think of how horrible it would be to know someone you loved was in a mine for 9 days, and have no clue as to whether or not they were dead or alive. I think I know God's character - but these things cause me to grapple with His goodness when things seem so terrible or unfair. The shortcoming is my inability to fully know Him, and not His in any way. Can anyone relate?

13 August 2007

A Good Kind of Tired

Today was the girls first day of co-op. Only the high schoolers started today - and next week the whole group will be in full swing. I had lunch with the girls and they were so happy. They had such a tight group of special friends in WV - and have counted moving away from them a catastrophic loss. I know that they have wondered if they will ever have those significant friendships again. I could see that the kids at the co-op today were very special as well - and know that it won't take long before there are friendships, inside jokes, silly nicknames, myspacing, IMing, activities, parties and sleepovers in full swing again. It will be different. In some ways it is so sad to move on, but move on we must.
Last night when we were going to bed - trying to go to sleep - I had to yell for the girls who were giggling excitedly and nowhere near sleep to quiet down because they were keeping me awake. They are anticipating the new life they can make here. I was so happy when they both told me that co-op today was better than they ever could have dreamed. Some of the kids we met were so polite - even one boy came up to them in the lunchroom just to say hi and welcome them to the co-op.
I helped another mom put name cards on lockers, and decorate a classroom. It was a busy day, climbing up and down on a chair, assembling decorations on bulletin boards, and all sorts of things. It was busy. I am so tired from lack of sleep and the busy day - so tired -but it is such a good kind of tired.

10 August 2007

I'm Just Gonna Do It

I am blogging fairly early this morning. I have a ton of errands to do - from getting new tires put on my van, to getting it inspected to going grocery shopping and finding a gift for my husband's grandmother's 94th birthday! I hate going grocery shopping without organizing and wiping down my refrigerator. It is one of those things that I just can't make myself do. Coming home with a ton of things to put away to a dirty fridge is just gross. I am also like that about the dishes - I can't leave for the day with dishes in the sink or an unmade bed. My mom kept our house like a museum - and seldom wanted it to look like people actually lived there - and it is a battle that I fight every day. I don't really know how to live in my house. I am trying. I thought I would start with going grocery shopping without tidying my fridge......
.......well maybe just one little shelf.......or the door........ooh maybe I'll just organize the drawers

I'm hopeless.

09 August 2007

Slow Cookin' Thursday: Chicken Curry

I combined a couple of different recipes together to make this dish and just loved it. This makes a large dish - and will feed my family for a couple of dinners and maybe a lunch or two.

Chicken Curry

1 bag of boneless chicken breast - each breast cut in thirds
1 large can of cream of chicken soup
2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
olive oil
1 cup milk
1 bag frozen peas
3-4 cups cooked rice (I pre-cook whole grain rice - it's healthier)

Saute onions and celery in 2 Tbsp of olive oil (I do this because my hubby doesn't like them crunchy.) Place chicken breast pieces in the bottom of a large (5 qt) crock pot. Cover with sauteed onions and celery. Sprinkle with curry powder.
In a large bowl whisk together 1 cup of milk and the contents of 1 large can of cream of chicken soup. Pour over chicken, top with frozen peas. Cook on high for 1 hour then stir.
Cook for 2 more hours on high until chicken is done, then add pre-cooked rice and stir again.
Cook until rice is heated through.
Serve and enjoy!

Two NEW Addictions

I haven't been blogging much - but I have noticed that neither have most of my bloggy friends. Part of my blog deficit is due to that dang "N" key problem. Grrr.
The first addiction is to Green Tea. I have had this before and even concocted a recipe to make it myself that tasted just like the bottled Lipton recipe but I heard a little blurb on the radio the other day listing the benefits of Green Tea and started really drinking it again. It is found to be an antioxidant, reduce cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, is beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, and can even boost your immune system. I notice that when I am drinking it on a regular basis that my skin is clearer. Pretty cool. There are all kinds of varieties - the most recent one that I have tried is a Snapple Mango Green Tea. Yum. The only advantage seems to be insomnia if you drink too much of it because it is caffeinated!
The second thing which I think is an addiction that could grow to epic proportions is a new feature for Netflix subscribers. First of all - it is the coolest thing in the world to get DVDs that you want to watch delivered to your mailbox, but now they offer the ability to watch instantly. (BTW it took me a few tries to realize that I have to use Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla Firefox to view the movies.) It is so unbelievable. Instant gratification. There are so many movies to choose from and I want to watch them all RIGHT NOW! Fortuately for me, there is so little time - and I am a prioritizing person who can't possibly watch a movie and enjoy it unless my responsibilities are completed. Ugh - it's a blessing and a curse.

08 August 2007

A Very Good Year

Kendra told me the other day that she felt like such a dork because she was so excited about co-op. Let me tell you, I understand. Last night I went to a meeting at the place where we will be having co-op, the same kinds that I used to dread before we moved - being so involved with things in our church, and the homeschooling community that each week seemed to bring a new genre of laborious meetings. Last night was different - I was pretty excited - and nervous. I don't know what exactly it is that makes Christian women intimidate me so - I was trying to explain it to my friend Melody and concluded during our discussion that when someone always has their act together (or at least seems to) and anytime you open your mouth they are giving you advice, judging you or trying to "fix" you or your life, marriage, parenting - look at you with mouth open as if something like the child jumping off the back of the couch would never happen in their super structured, over-controlled house - it has a tendency to make you feel an inch tall. I was so relieved to find that this group was nothing like that - at all. This was the warmest group of women I have been around in a long time. They were friendly, welcoming. One sweet lady that sat next to me leaned over at one point when I was likely glossing over from all the information and said, "It isn't always like this. This is the worst meeting of the year and even though it is a bit confusing, it will make perfect sense when we get going." I think I love her. There were a lot of different types of women, all mingling with each other. One mom came in wearing a Bon Jovi t-shirt - and even though I never talked to her, I already like her. She just felt comfortable in her own skin - I really envy people like that. At the end of the night, there were teenagers piled all over an old couch and standing around in the lobby being loud and teenager-ish. I can picture my girls right in the middle of that! Another lady was telling me that the boys who have trouble sitting still don't have that problem in this co-op as it is very hands on, and that made me very happy for Kullen. I told Travis when I got home that I think this is going to be a very good year.

07 August 2007

Some Matters of Business

First of all I think I owe it to those of you who visit me here regularly at "So Much to Say, So Little Time" that my blog name and look will be changing soon, thanks to the one and only Goofy Girl. I think I have decided on the name "An Open Book". It pretty much describes how I share here at my wee ol' blog. I wanted it to be less pink-ish for fall. (Yep, it's right around the corner and if it isn't, don't tell me cause I LOVE fall!)
Secodly I feel it is importat to otify you that you may otice there is oe letter that is ofte missig from my posts. You may otice oce i a while that the letter that comes after M and before O is missig. My N key is working i a schitzophrenic manner. This paragraph demonstrates how it shows up whe it wants to and unless I am meticulous at checking it - many of the places where a letter N should appear are missing! I am calling HP again today - because they fixed it in some ways - but the letter N is missig - and it spontaeously turns off. How lovely for a computer less tha a year old!
Okay - I'm back to checking for the missing Ns! Sorry - hope you were able to weed through that mess!
Lastly, I believe that Scrap Happy Mondays are officially over. I enjoyed it quite a bit - but since there is so little participation, I think that I am going to let myself off the hook, and not worry about getting it up each week to have only maybe one or two, and sometimes nobody else link to a page. If you are fellow scrapbooker, please comment here and let me know when you put a new page up - because I'd still love to see them. I will still share mine.
Ba deep ba deep - that's all folks!

A Surprise and Something New

This afternoon, the kids and I went to check out a well established co-op. I was a bit apprehensive about what kind of environment we were entering. It turned out that the ladies we met were very nice. The co-op is based on The Well Trained Mind. The ladies asked us some questions, wanting to ascertain our level of interest - not just mine but the kids as well. How cool is that? They wanted to know about the kids - from them! When we left, I asked the kids if they had to answer "yes" or "no" right then, what they would say - and all three kids said YES! The girls are opting out of a few classes - but Kullen is going to go for all of the 4th grade level classes except Latin. We have been talking about it all evening. Everybody is looking forward to it. Tomorrow night I am going to a Mom's Meeting to get some more specifics. It sadly means that we won't be able to participate in the smaller, more local co-op - because I just can't do both - but being that the girls are both in high school this year, there is a lot they want in this co-op. I let them all help me make the choice and it was unanimous.
I also got a surprise when I got home. My friend Joanne, knowing my affinity for blank notebooks, writing and good pens, sent me a beautiful new notebook. It was so nice to know that she thought of me. So I called to tell her thanks - and we had a nice long conversation. I miss her! It is good to have friends. Now what to write..........

05 August 2007

Long Laid Back Weekend

We have had a weekend of doing pretty much absolutely nothing. It has been actually very nice. We did go out to a carnival to kick off a local VBS and stopped on our way home to get milkshakes at Sonic. Other than that we haven't done much of anything except watch Gilmore Girls - hours and hours and hours of Gilmore Girls. I think we have a problem - but it's a fun one. Yesterday we ate at the carnival and then leftovers - and today I made breakfast this morning and then fried some potatoes tonight - just some quick things in between episodes! It has been great. I hope you have had a super weekend. The ones with nothing to do can be the nicest ones sometimes.

04 August 2007

Lonestar Girls Night

I have a neighbor that I have been getting to know better more recently. She is a nice lady, a bit older than me, but she has a daughter between my girls ages. She has come over for coffee a few times, and I have gone to her house. Her daughter invited my girls to go to a youth rally at her church tonight, and she and I decided to drop them off and go out for a bit. She had to buy a wedding gift, so we went to the World Market store - and I loved it! (It did make me miss my friend Tina, but at the same time made me happy to be doing something that made me feel connected to her!) I got some dark chocolate covered espresso beans! Woo hoo! I also got some breakfast blend coffee beans and added about 100 new items on my wish list. After that we went out and ate mediocre chinese food. It wasn't horrible - but not great either; thankfully the company was good! When we picked the girls up - we went to see if Becoming Jane was playing at the two local theaters yet. It wasn't playing at the first one so we headed out across town. As we were leaving the mall parking lot where the first theater was, we were followed by two motorcycles that revved the engines, causing the three teenage girls hopped up on chocolate covered esperesso beans (bad idea!) to turn around and wave. The first chance they got, they passed us up - and did wheelies and other stunts to show off! We were laughing so hard. Our movie wasn't playing at the second theater either, so we decided to see No Reservations with Catherine Zeta-Jones. It was pretty good. Another food movie like Ratatouille - but without the rats! It was just an all around fun night. I needed it so much - and I had such a nice time. I hope we get to do it again soon. The girls had a great time too!

03 August 2007

Freebie for New Scrapbookers

I have had several people ask me about digital scrapbooking - both here and on some of the yahoo groups that I frequent. I get emails from a site, Scrap Girls, that sells digi-scrap stuff, and offers tutorials etc. and they have this kit that you can try for FREE! No kidding. Just follow that link and download it - and you are ready to use it in your scrapbooking/imaging program. Sorry for the little commercial, but I just had to share.

02 August 2007

Crawling out of a Hole

For the better part of the last week - I have been in such a funk that it was like my friend Joanne describes as being swallowed into a black hole. I watched my mom hardly be able to change her clothes for weeks growing up - and when I feel like this it scares the you-know-what out of me. Rest assured that there was clean underwear and daily showers, even though there were a couple of the kind of days where I couldn't even wear my contacts for crying. The slightest disappointment or sad thought started the waterworks. (I know what you're thinking but it is not PMS week - unless that means Post-Menstrual Syndrome) Anyway - it seems that today I crawled up out of the dark a bit - and feel more myself again. Words of affirmation from my husband that were extremely valuable - finding a potential place to plug in for a life - going swimming with a new friend and a phone call from an old one - these things come together and become a step-stool that have boosted me up out of the pit. This time was pretty weird - I even experienced a lot of difficulty getting the right words out - I found myself mixing up expressions with quite ridiculous results a few times. Anyway - I am back. I am not posting about this so I can get cheerful words from anyone - but in the hopes that someone else might know they are not alone.
For now, I'm back!

Bridge Collapse

I don't post a LOT of current events on my blog - but this story in particular was pretty spectacular to me. Having never been a big fan of bridges myself, stories like this one of the Minnesota Bridge Collapse into the Mississippi River always come to mind, just about the time I hit the middle of the bridge. How terrifying! I read that the recent death toll is 7 - but there were 60 injured and 20 still unaccounted for. I will never forget the fear I had after 9/11 when coming home from a trip to the beach (which is where I was with a friend at the time) and how bridges were identified as possible targets of terrorism - and how I practically held my breath over every single one, and tried to reassure my kids that we were safe.
Stories like this can make me want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers up over my head. Crossing a bridge takes faith - faith that the engineers that designed the bridge knew what they were doing, and that the builders followed the plans accordingly, that no natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes that have happened over the years have caused any damage that may cause the structures to be unstable. Every moment of every day is a leap of faith, in the unseen and the unknown. (For example, I have faith that the chair I am sitting in right now will hold me up.) I know things like this can tend to shake people's faith in God - wondering why a good God lets these bad things happen - but yet they'll continue to get on the interstate and cross bridges. I think God gets a bad rap.

01 August 2007

Color Quiz Results

Kendra took this color test, and it prompted me to take it. We have taken it before and found it a bit eerie that it is so accurate to our present circumstances at any given time. Creepy!
Here's my current results - right on target:

ColorQuiz.comJulie took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

"Longs for a tender and sympathetic bond and for a ..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Belated Blog-iversary to Me!

Yesterday marked my TWO YEAR blog-iversary! I cannot believe it has been two years since I started blogging. There have been bumps and starts along the way - but blogging has enriched my life so much. Here is a link to my first ever post - which originally appeared on my Homeschoolblogger blog. I originally started blogging to put down some of my feelings about the long distance move our family was about to make - and it grew to so much more. Thanks to all of you who stop by here - whether you comment or not, and share a little bit of my life with me.
Maybe you'd like to leave a quick comment here - even if you never have - just to commemorate the occasion! It'd give me a huge thrill to see those comment numbers rise. Thanks for sharing whatever part of these two years with me!
With love,

Schmooze Award - Me????

My Canadian blogger buddy, Kathleen a/k/a Coffee Mom nominated little ol' me for the Schmooze award. Here is what it is all about:

“As it goes, schmoozing is the natural ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”

I have made some super friends in the blogosphere. It is one of the things I most enjoy - and has kept me from being overwhelmingly lonely since we moved. I think I will pass it on to:

Karen who is not only my online friend, but a real life friend as well. She and I have been blogging buddies since the beginning, and I treasure her posts, emails, and the rare opportunities we have to get together.
Leslie who has been a longtime blogging buddy - who was instant messaging me when we were in Texas when my father-in-law was ill, and has emailed me through some crises in my life, and has waded her way through editing some of my mediocre writings.
And last but not least is Marsha, who left four comments on various posts on my blog last night. I always look forward to her sunny disposition, and friendly comments. Her posts about snot and potty habits in her life with three boys is side-splitting. She is a fellow Texan, and one of the sweetest, friendliest people I've met online.

In our little online community, schmoozing is an important characteristic! Happy Schmoozin'!