31 October 2007

The Best Part of Homeschooling

There are a lot of things I like about keeping my kids at home - but I would have to say that the absolute best part is relationships. I got out of the shower this morning and came down the hallway to find the above scene....three siblings all snuggled up in one bed, talking and laughing, and squealing because somebody allegedly put a cold foot on somebody else. The moments like this when I know we gave our kids the best opportunity to build family are the times when you know every pinched penny, late night, odd jobs, etc. were all worth it. They've always done this, as you'll note from the picture at the bottom of this post - but I never thought they'd still be doing it at 16, 14, and 10. I am so happy that they still love to snuggle with each other!

30 October 2007

Sushi Makin' Day

Yesterday at co-op, the 6th & 7th grade literature class that I am helping with made sushi rolls. The teacher likes to do an activity with each book we read, and we just finished reading The Master Puppeteer which is set in Japan. It was a lot of work but so much fun. You have to start with sushi rice, which is very very sticky. You spread it on a piece of nori - which is dried seaweed - the greenish-black stuff in the pictures.
We made urumaki rolls which are the kind with the rice on the outside. The rolls that have the seaweed on the outside are maki rolls.
The teacher provided all kinds of stuff - avocado, cream cheese, crab meat, shrimp, carrots, cucumber, sesame seeds - so they could fill it with whatever they wanted. It was interesting to see how much more interested and eager the girls were to try the new things than the boys.
I enjoyed the day so much, and I love working with this teacher. I can't help but think how lucky these kids are to get so much hands on learning, and opportunities to try new things. Even the ones who didn't like it will never forget it.
I got to curb the sushi craving beast within me! That was the best part of all.

29 October 2007

I Quit!

This afternoon, I wanted to get in the car and drive a few hours away, check into a hotel and stay until the people I live with realize how they take me for granted. I feel like I am struggling to make ends meet, struggling to communicate with my husband, and struggling to get my kids to treat me with a bit of respect. I called Travis on my way home from co-op and said, "I quit." I am sure that all I need is a good night's sleep to put things back into perspective, and get a grip on my life again, but a few hours ago I just wanted to say forget it.
Then, my neighbor called to see if I wanted to go walking with her. Afterwards we had hot cups of mint tea with mint-chocolate creamer and some good conversation. Her day was worse than mine, as her 31 year old son that had been put in rehab on Friday had turned up in town again today. They had to tell him he could not come home. That already help my perspective. Things can always be worse, but sometimes in a moment they sure don't feel that way.

Random Things About Me

I was tagged for this meme by Stephanie, however, since I have done something like this before, I thought I would reference an archived post.
There are a few other things.......
  • I have a bit of OCD about my bed being made - and being tightly tucked in when I am in bed and have been known to pull all the covers off and remake the bed around my sleeping husband
  • I love to go barefoot and never wear shoes in the house, but I cannot stand dirt on my feet or wet socks - ugh
I am sure that those who love me can think of many more - so if you know me and know something weird about me - feel free to comment and add it here.

28 October 2007

Pumpkin Butter

This evening, I made a triple batch of pumpkin butter. A blogger friend, Connie made it on her blog and it looked so good, I just had to try it for myself. The one main difference is that I don't cook in the microwave - sometimes I used it to reheat things, but I am concerned about it destroying the nutritional value of food. You can read more info in this article. So I searched around and found this stove-top recipe online - and boy did it turn out good!
My family had to sample it on hot buttered toast, and it met with unanimous approval. Not only did it taste good, it made the house smell heavenly.

I Married Mr. Improvise

My husband has always been the best at improvising. Sometimes this means that things are held together with JB weld or duct tape, but no matter what our circumstances, he generally always finds a way to make do with what we have. There have been very few times that he has tackled a problem and given up without a solution. Even at work, he is known for his superior troubleshooting abilities.
Yesterday, when we were visiting his mom, he went to get some tools out of my van, and with his Bam-Bam like strength, he broke the handle on the rear door. This is a major issue, because that is access to all our cargo space. It makes co-op days, grocery shopping, and all kinds of things much more difficult. This morning, he set to work on it and an hour or so later, he called me out to show me what he came up with - - - the handle is broken - and cannot be fixed, but he improvised and put this little washer attached to a cord that dangles under the license plate to release the latch, so I can open it from the outside. Yep, it looks weird, and is a little unorthodox, but it completely does the job.
I wish that I had been writing down all the things through the years he's done like this. He always amazes me. I'll post a picture here later if blogger lets me - it is not letting me right now.

26 October 2007

"Elements" of Surprise

I made homemade pizza for dinner tonight. Thankfully it was already done, and we were sitting at the table eating when we heard a 'zzzzzzt' noise. My son and I who were sitting on the side of the table facing the oven both saw a flash. Hubby went outside to turn the breaker off (yep our house is so old the breaker box is outside) and checked it out and determined that we need a new element. So here I sit $67.75 poorer for the love of cooking. Not having an oven element when you bake all your own bread is bad news. It is also heading very rapidly towards the holidays, so we had to bite the bullet. Thankfully it happened after dinner. Now to the dishes.

This made me remember the last time we had an element burn up - Travis was laid off and our dear friends James and Kate bought us a new one. You really never do forget the kindnesses that people show you.


I just overheard my younger daughter say this with much irritation in her voice:

"Ugh. Everybody is so annoying today!"

I'm guessing she thinks she is a delightful ray of sunshine. Did you ever have a day like that?

Ladies Night

Last night a bunch of homeschool moms went out for dinner at Chili's in a neighboring town. It was a great time. There were eleven of us - and two husbands even showed up and ate dinner on the other side of the restaurant. We laughed and talked and got to know each other better. The only thing I hate in a larger group like that is that you are typically seated at a long table and can't talk to everyone. If you sit at one end - you miss conversation with people at the other end. If you sit in the middle, you never know WHO to talk to - although that doesn't stop me!
I had a great time. Our next get-together is going to be a homeschool support group meeting at my house, which seems to be right smack in the middle of everyone. I honestly can't wait. This is a group of intelligent, funny, interesting women that I happen to have a lot in common with. On another interesting note, many of these women have just moved to the area, as if we were all being put here for one another. I am so thrilled.

25 October 2007

The Youth Have Left the Building

I was a youth leader for a number of years in WV before we changed churches and then moved. I had participated in many different ministries, helping here and there wherever the Lord moved my heart, but I never found my niche until I worked with youth. It was like my heartstrings started to make music. In the past two years, we have encountered some pretty big life shifts, having moved and being not only in a new state but a different culture. One thing I always come back to is that I enjoy being a part of the lives of teenagers. My daughters and I have talked about this before, but in light of some recent happenings, we are praying about starting a youth group outside any church at our homes a couple of times a month. We were talking about all kinds of "themes" and we came up with The Youth Have Left the Building - it's part of the whole "God Journey" theme of being outside the walls. We don't want to go TO the church anymore, we want to BE the church. Could y'all pray for us on this adventure? I am ready to take the leap.

24 October 2007

Fake and Phony

The girls went to youth group with Michael tonight. Every time they go they come home with the same complaints, that certain people are phony. People don't talk to them, or they act differently. Michael said the same. He has friends he has known for a long time there that in the last year or two have just started to act so differently toward him. I am crazy about Michael - almost like I am about my own kids. All the kids who have known me over the years know that when I love somebody - I don't do it with half a heart - I do it hook, line and sinker. The fact that people have misconceptions about him makes me want to poke them in the eye. (I know, very Christlike of me.) Has he made some mistakes, heck yeah - haven't we all? The thing that really bugs me is that in Christian community there is no room for anything short of perfection, or at least the appearance of perfection. What the kids are finding that makes me so sad, is that there is no room for mistakes. Once you screw up or do something others find unbecoming, you will never be given a chance to redeem yourself. I have news for them - Christ redeemed us all and they don't get to say whether you, or me, or Michael, or Kendra, or anyone else is in right standing. It is not their assessment of your heart that counts. I am glad that Michael doesn't allow "them" to change who he is because they don't approve of him. The rest - the icky stuff, the growing up, the sin to be overcome - all of that is the Lord's territory. The problem is that all too often God can't clean up the mess, cause other people are trying to do His job for Him. God loves you, Christ died for you, and in the end, what they think doesn't really matter. Find a way to love Christ in spite of what some would-be Christians try to say He is. They have Him all wrong.


I saw this on Annie's blog and decided it was interesting enough to post about while I wait for a YouTube video I have been trying to load since last night to be complete. (It is not YouTube's fault - it is totally my wireless signal that is behaving like a schizophrenic child!) You are supposed to post where you were 10-20-and 30 years ago.
  • 10 years ago: I was living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia with my husband, 2 daughters and one month old son. We were actually in and out of the hospital and doctor's offices a lot because Kullen had newborn apnea - and they were looking into any possible medical explanation for it.
  • 20 years ago: I was in my senior year of high school. I wish I could say I was having fun - but I was pretty much surviving. I was living with my aunt and uncle in West Virginia - and working, trying to decide what I was going to do with my life, and hoping I actually got one eventually that was mine, and not an extension of someone else's.
  • 30 years ago: I was in 2nd grade in Mrs. Longobardi's class at Sunshine Elementary in South Florida.

A Funny Foto

My friend Tina started to call me "Lucy" a couple of years ago, and I in turn called her "Ethel". We just go together. We have been struggling over the last year and a half to find our niche - a way to maintain our friendship from a distance. She is not a phone talker, I am. We have written some lovely letters - but by the time the dang snail mail gets there, it's all old news - plus you have to rely on me to remember to mail something, and you have to know that it will take her literally hours of getting in and out of PO lines to decide which special envelope her special letter should be in, also find with OCD precision, the matching mailing label, only to get home and tear it as she attempts to apply the perfect label to the perfect envelope. Yes, we can even be dysfunctional together from a distance. Anyhoo I was so excited when she got DSL. We've tried using instant messengers before to stay in touch, but never seem to have the stars align properly to have us both online at the same time - even though there is only a hour difference in our times. So, we have started to email regularly and it has been a great joy! Yesterday she said she was missing me so bad, so I sent her a picture to show her she wasn't missing much. In turn she sent ME a picture. We always talk about meeting in Dollywood, because it is about halfway between us - just the two of us - no kids allowed - to have a fun girlfriends getaway. I just had to make this picture of the two of us - I hope you laugh as hard as we did at it:
Boy, they'd see us coming a mile away!

23 October 2007

Fall Has Arrived in East Texas

When summer is over, and all sorts of fall activities start, I start craving a change of weather. I want leaves to burst forth in brilliant color and cool crisp winds to blow my way. I want to listen to the Little Women soundtrack, drink apple cider and visit the pumpkin patch. Fall in Texas leaves something to be desired. Thus far the temperatures had not cooled. Occasionally you can see a brown leaf drift slowly and anti-climatically to the ground. But yesterday something wonderful happened..... when we left for co-op in the morning it was downright muggy. Around noon I started to notice trees blowing in the wind outside, followed by a little rain, and there was a major drop in temperatures. Today I would classify as chilly! Woo hoo. A sign of fall at last. The leaves are still brown, but there is a breeze in the air and I'm loving it.
The weather change put me in the mood to do something fall-ish. I stopped by the HEB and picked up some pumpkins, and brought them home for my kids and Michael to carve. We put on a scary sounds CD and carved us up some pumpkins. Kendra and Michael carved Jack and Sally from a Nightmare Before Christmas, and Kullen did Jack as well. Kaitlyn did a creative jack-o-lantern face. They were all pretty cool. I didn't get a picture of Michael's before he took it home, but he promised to send it to me. He lies - I'll never see it!

I never got a picture of Kullen with his pumpkin. He wasn't having a good night. The pumpkin he carved is to the far right in the top picture.

21 October 2007

The Fun House

Growing up with a mother who was sanity-challenged (is that the politically correct way to say she was nuts?) my life as a teenager was very small, and dark, and difficult and revolved around her moods, whether manic or depressed, who she hated or loved, and sometimes something as simple as what side of the bed she woke up on, whether or not her coffee was the right temperature, or if her ashtray was clean (an OCD issue). I lived in a house where we hid when someone knocked on the door. I seldom had friends over, and when I did, my mom would use the opportunity to cause me more shame and anger than it was worth. Living like this is quite miserable. I would see other people that got together on weekends, or had parties and events at their house and it seemed I always lived on the outside edges of those moments that make all the rest of life more bearable - the laughter, enjoyment and company of friends. I promised myself when I grew up and had my own kids and my own home, I would have an open door policy. I wanted my house to be a place where the kids in the neighborhood wanted to hang out. I wanted our home to be the place where people would gather. I wanted people to just love being there - no matter what. When my neighbor comes by for a cup of coffee, I set aside the chore I was in the middle of and invest 30 minutes into her life. When my kids' friends want to come by - I almost never say no. Tonight a neighborhood boy came by while Kaitlyn and Kullen and I sat on the porch playing Clue in the cool night air. A little while later, Michael stopped by even though he knew Kendra was at work, and joined in. I popped a huge bowl of popcorn and we drank iced tea and watched A Nightmare Before Christmas (poor Kendra - we missed her!). There was no pre-planning - people showed up and we made room in our lives for them and it was a super evening. It makes my heart so happy that people like to be here. I am also so thankful for a husband that never minds how many people are sitting at the dinner table or lounging in the living room. No more hiding. No more shame. I am living in the fun house!!!! (and often the nut house!) Come on over!

Weekend in Words

Friday night we went to the Casting Crowns concert and it was great. I love their music and the messages behind the music. We did sit pretty high up and I was disappointed that the humongous Toyota Center in Houston did not have screens up high, so we (at least me and my diminishing eyesight - even with contacts) had a hard time seeing anything. They did have a huge screen in behind the band, but it did not enhance much. I don't mean to complain, I was very thankful to go. The kids were a lot of fun, the music was good so I will be positive and remember those two things. We also heard Leeland who was one of the openers, but we missed John Waller due to "stinkin' Houston traffic".
Yesterday we went to Michael's birthday party in the afternoon. In the evening I drove a carload to the Haunted Hotel in Nederland. Kendra was scared to death. It took us an hour to find the place and only took them 15 minutes to get through the place. At $10 a ticket, for a 15 minute tour, they were bringing in some kind of money.
Last night we slept with the windows open and it was lovely. The temperatures were cool but not cold and with ceiling fans going in the bedrooms it was heavenly. Today the temperatures have been mild all day long, with breezes blowing in through the open windows and I am loving it. I love it here when the weather gets mild - cool but not cold. Nice.

18 October 2007

Homeschool Hysterical

A conversation my daughter relayed when coming home from work tonight had me in stitches. She was her new job where she works as a waitress, and met another girl that is evidently newer than her. The girl heard that Kendra was homeschooled, and this is the conversation that ensued:
New Girl: So, you're homeschooled? Doesn't that suck?
Kendra: Actually, no.
New Girl: Well, you don't get to talk to people or anything.
Kendra: Actually, I'm talking to you right now.

We were in hysterics - I told her she should've said, "I'm homeschooled; that's how I know what talking is!"

Sovereignly Ordained

One can of Wintergreen Long Cut Skoal = $5.50
Six tickets to see Casting Crowns in concert = $129.00
Gas for round-trip between home and Houston = $50
Dinner out for six = $60 - $75

Knowing you'll be out having fun with some of your favorite people the day after your husband decided to give up his chewing tobacco habit for good = PRICELESS

17 October 2007

$96.72 for What???

I was telling my husband earlier today how much groceries cost. Actually I was telling him how the prices have soared in the last year or so. It is crazy. I am spending close to $150-200 a week depending on what we eat. This particular week, I thought I'd save us some money and empty out the pantry - using up all the canned goods, etc. that we have in there and finding recipes to utilize these ingredients. The picture to the right shows what I bought. If you'll notice - I did not buy any meats except lunch meat. I buy organic milk and some name brand items, but for the most part, I buy store brands. I also bought some Tootsie Pops to have on Friday to and from the concert for a treat (instead of stopping at convenience stores for junk!) and some card stock that is actually for co-op tomorrow. The total came to $96.72. I almost fainted.
Here is a list of what I bought:
2 - 1/2 gal. organic milk $3.68 each -Clorox bleach $1.88/gal - men's deodorant $2.07 - women's deodorant $2.74 (explain to me why mine is higher than hubby's???) - Toothpaste $3.47 -gallon sized freezer storage bags $1.12 - Card stock $3.88 - Apple Jacks $2.74 (a treat) - 1 pint sour cream $1.34 - 1 can navy beans $.64 (these were advertised on the shelf for 50 cents - so I was overcharged) - Saltines - $.87 - Coffee $4.96 - Butter $2.28 - 2 pkgs lunch meat $2.98 each - Tootsie pops $4.88 - Wisk $9.48 (have to buy HE detergent for the front loading washer that is supposed to be saving me money in electricity) - Downy $4.97 - Macaroni noodles $.50 - Chicken broth $1.00 - 1 can diced tomatoes $.54 - 1 pkg pop tarts $2.42 - Lipton tea bags $2.12 - Flour $1.58 - 2 pkgs oysters at $1.17 - Pepper jack cheese $2.12 - Shampoo and conditioner (good stuff - we have bad hair) $5.84 ea - Roma tomatoes - $.56 - Grapes $2.57

These things without what is already in my pantry would NOT feed us for the week - these are just the odds and ends.
Oh and on a bit of a homeschooler rant - while we were at Wally World - there was a local elementary school class there on a "field trip"!!!! Do NOT get me started here - but why on earth do elementary school students in rural America need to go on a field trip to Walmart?? Most of them practically live there. Their families spend their whole paychecks there. It defines their culture. They are all wearing the same clothes because everybody shops at Walmart. And they were not being instructed in any way whatsoever, they were descending on the store like a plague of grasshoppers, running everywhere, knocking over merchandise and blocking aisles. Oh brother.

More than Money

I had a nice, long, overdue conversation with my friend Carol today. I miss her so much. She has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders in life. Today I was feeling a little discouraged that finances are so tight right now. It is frustrating when we have to wait on little things like the purchase of a pair of shoes because of all the things I am juggling. Carol pointed out all the things in our lives that are so much more valuable than money - the relationships my children have with one another and me, the opportunities they have been given, the love that they have. It is so good to have a friend like that when you are missing the forest for the trees. True friends are priceless, and life is way more than money.

16 October 2007

Craving Sushi

I had never tried Sushi until a couple of years ago - in fact, I blogged about it, although I cannot find that post in my archives anywhere. However, since that moment in time, I get to the point where I absolutely crave sushi - in the if-I-don't-get-sushi-now-somebody's-gonna-get-hurt OR the touch-my-sushi-and-pull-back-a-bloody-stump kind of way. I haven't craved anything this bad since I was pregnant. Here's the dilemma ..... I live in southeast Texas. It is not necessarily sushi country. I do live near enough to a city where there is some sushi to be found but I haven't found much, and what I have found leaves something to be desired. Then today I saw this video on how to make a California roll. I actually watched about 20 but this one was the best - and you can alter it by putting anything you want inside. Yummy! Now I am going to have sushi all the time, sushi all the time, sushi all the tie-yime!(insert instrumental from 80s song "Party All the Time" here)

I am also a helper in a 6th-7th grade literature class that is reading "The Master Puppeteer" - a story set in Japan, and we are going to "make sushi" for an activity. Woo hoo! I can't wait. I hope I am able to control myself and let the kids have some.

And I found this terrific video at videojug (the UKs version of YouTube) about how to eat sushi!
Check it out:

VideoJug: How To Eat Sushi

I Can't Wait!

Life is full of both of these - excitements and disappointments. Right now the biggest excitement on my plate is an afternoon with four teenagers and my Kully-boy (who thought he was a teenager at birth) at the Galleria Mall and then top the evening off with a top-notch Casting Crowns concert! I am sure somewhere along the way there will be good food. I find much "Christian music" to be cheesy, repetitive and bland - almost as if attempting to work people into an emotional worship experience. In contrast I find Casting Crowns so full of messages, eloquently worded that echo thoughts I have had about the church, Christian life, etc. Take this segment from the first song on the new CD "The Altar and the Door":
People aren't confused by the gospel,
They're confused by us.
Jesus is the only way to God,
But we are not the only way to Jesus.
This 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're 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.
I love it. I can't wait. It's going to be great!

14 October 2007

I Don't Know How to Say Goodbye to You

I made this video from random snippets of our trip to WV almost a year ago now at Thanksgiving time. It may not be of much interest to anyone who wasn't a part of these memories - but it means everything to us. I miss our friends so badly - and it is hard to imagine not going to see them this Thanksgiving! I hope this will be a little piece of love to help them remember us - for now! We'll see them soon.

13 October 2007

Tightening the Belt

There are two ways that the title of this post applies to my life right now. The first and never-ending thing is that I have GOT to do something about my weight. I can't even stand to look at myself. There are various avenues of attack - all of which I have tried before and failed. The crux of the issue is that it is a spiritual problem - and yet I struggle with praying and drawing closer to God with the manipulative goal of losing weight. I know that others do not feel this way - but for me - this is how it feels. I wish I could get my head on straight about it - because it is what continues to pave the road of failure.

Secondly, I am making some changes to tighten my belt in the area of grocery expenses. (I know this will thrill Leslie to no end!) I continually go to the grocery store and overspend what I have budgeted. Part of the reason is the consistently rising food prices. One way I am attempting to tackle this is to go to the store without my debit card, and only take the amount of cash that I intend to spend. This doesn't allow for me to make concessions, or impulse buy. I am also going to attempt to use less meat in our meals. This is always difficult for my husband - who is a total carnivore, but it is one way to stretch things out so that we can get the most for our money. It is so hard to eat healthy and plenty of fresh food - and so much easier to buy cheap processed, junk food that passes as meals but leaves us malnourished. I am determined to find ways to stretch our money to feed our family without compromising on a healthy diet.

How are you tightening your belt?

My Jesus Would Never be Accepted in my Church

There is this song by Todd Agnew called My Jesus. In fact I posted the video here not long ago. (If you click on it, you'll have to scroll down.) It is one of those songs that just sticks with you. I can hear this song as if it were streaming through my head, day and night. Lately it has gotten stronger, louder, clearer - compelling me to think about what it means to live like Jesus. There is just one place where I get stuck - two little lines that irk me -
Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
The question rings in my thoughts - why - why would you go to a church where Jesus, if he walked in the back door, would not be welcome? What is a church that values the carpet or the environment or programs or cleanliness or policies more than Christ? It is nothing but a country club with a religious focus. I don't need a "club" to belong to, I'd rather belong to the body of Christ. I don't need a denomination, I'd rather be a lover and follower of Jesus. My Jesus.

12 October 2007

Being Tired is a Good Thing

Yesterday we had Kendra's friend-that-is-a-boy's mom and step-dad over for dinner. I got up and did some much overdo housework, and then ran to the grocery store. I made two huge pans of lasagna, homemade garlic bread and a huge salad full of all kinds of stuff! Dinner was nice, but it was very late as they had commitments until 7:30.
Today I had a bunch of work to catch up with after a busy week. I finally reached the end of my inbox and then I had to run and make a deposit at the bank. I am also working on a yearbook project for our local co-op and had a bunch to do on that.
This evening the teenagers gathered together at our house again. We all live so spread out that most of the moms stay. I like that. We have a good time together too! I enjoy it so much. I realized tonight that most of us in our little group of friends are new to the area. I like to think that God designed it that way. We need each other.
When he got off of work, Michael came over and he sat with Kendra for a long time on the porch swing. I just listened to the creak as it went back and forth, and their quiet conversation through the window. I could hear the kittens romping around as they played at their feet. I am wearily tired from the busy-ness of the week - but it is a good kind of tired. The exhaustion is a reminder that I have a full life, for which I am exceedingly thankful.

11 October 2007

Beautiful Fall Day

Yesterday we went on an amazing field trip to Washington on the Brazos. If my understanding is correct, as there is SO very much to learn of Texas history - it is the site near the Brazos river where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed, and Texas seceded from Mexico and joined the United States.
Texas history is very interesting. Most of it involves weapons and battles. I have so much to learn. My friend told me the other day that the area we live in was a neutral ground that nobody wanted because it was so overgrown. You have to see the dense ground covering in the Big Thicket to understand this statement.
The weather was lovely. We started the day by seeing Barrington Living History Farm that showed the home of an affluent doctor, Anson Jones and his family in the early 1800s. It had something called a "dog run" - which is a style of house that had an hallway running right through the center. It is considered early-Texas air conditioning. You can see it here from the back - the steps walk up to a hallway that goes all the way through to the porch that is on the front of the house. The dining room and bedrooms open to this "dog run". I have seen a lot of older houses here with this style and wondered why the house seemed to be divided in half. I wish I had taken a picture with a better angle on this house. It is said that this is where the family did most of their living.
The kids got to pick cotton, saw an ox demonstration, made some toys from that time period, and got to do all sorts of things. We had a picnic lunch at an absolutely beautiful park near the river with a nice playground. The weather was perfect. We had such a good time. It was a fun day getting to know our new friends and our new state better.

On a sad note today - I went outside this morning to take something to the trash, and saw that our cat, one of the kittens from our cat's first litter was laying in our yard - dead. We have all been pretty sad about it all day. Even Travis - he had really taken a liking to this big, fat tomcat baby.

09 October 2007

Why I Haven't Blogged

There are lots of reasons I haven't blogged - laundry, dinner, dishes, schlepping daughter up and down the road, etc. But one fun reason was this video that I took the night before last and my daughter Kaitlyn and I put together for her sister of Kendra and her b-friend (still can't say it!) Michael. We had so much fun. If you are really sensitive - there are some parts you may think rude - so you may want to opt out of viewing - it was all done in fun! Michael comes with a PG-13 rating, and thinks himself a young Will Ferrell. And major kudos to Kaitlyn who taught me all about how to edit a video! Awesome blossom!

05 October 2007

Life is Taking Over

Yep - a real life has formed and this stands alone as my only explanation of the lack of new blog entries. I still love blogging and if I didn't have this outlet in which to write and share with other people - I would wither up and die -and yet in and of itself this blog cannot be my life.
We are involved with two co-ops right now - a larger one in the city that meets weekly and a smaller one that is more local and meets twice a month. I am co-teaching a literature class for 6th and 7th grades at the larger one, working on a weekly newsletter and helping in the library. Yesterday I was asked to help teach the creative writing class for the older kids at the smaller co-op and I have to admit I am WAY excited about that. I mean excited in the I couldn't go to sleep for all the ideas I had kind of way. We are also working with those kids at assembling a newsletter and eventually establishing a yearbook staff. It ought to be great fun.
I think I am having some hormonal issues and am looking for an OB/GYN in the area. Fun. I am getting close enough to 40 that I have anxiety about being sent for a mammogram. Being rather well-endowed in this area, I am picturing something the size of an MRI machine and great amounts of suction. Okay, so I have a vivid imagination, but there is always the fear of the unknown.
Today I am taking Kullen to the doctor. He had gotten in my bed last night and somewhere around 4 am he was breathing so violently that his whole body was pulsing as he tried to suck in air. He wasn't making any noise, but convulsively shaking my bed. Scary. I got the nebulizer hooked up and in a short while he was doing much better and this morning seems fine. I am still taking him to the doctor.
My husband told me last night that the sales person had been let go of the company he has been working with - and evidently took all the clients with him. It would be too bad if he had to go back to the union hall and start over with another company and it would mean a drastic change in his income since he still doesn't have his TX license.
Tomorrow is the annual family reunion - so we are making the trek an hour north to meet up with the kinfolk. It is a great family - but sadly mostly the older family members. Those in our age group and the ages of our kids don't seem to think it is very important.
So many things going on - just thought I might catch you up in case you missed me!

03 October 2007

Sunday School Shocker

I was reading Stephanie's blog about a cute thing her 5 year old son, Jared asked, about if there was a guy named God. It made me remember my friend Joanne's son Ricky around that same age, when coming to grips with some spiritual matters, asked this question: How many miles is it from Massachusetts to hell? And what if you were in a hurry? It is a shame that we don't remember all of the cute things that they say - but some like this do stick with you. I was thinking of my own three children, who each at this same age were coming to understand some pretty big spiritual matters. All three of them had a moment, always around Easter where they were tearful, and said things like, "I don't want Jesus to die on the cross." Their little hearts were so precious - but this was something they could not understand, that this terrible thing was the best thing ever.
Recently, as I have begun to question traditional Christianity and how we "do things", I have wondered at this. We teach our children to love Jesus. We tell them that He loves them. We sing happy happy songs about God and Jesus and other Bible characters, complete with rainbows and sunshine, furry animals and flowers. Then we hit them with the gruesome facts of the crucifixion. I mean we have to tell them that this is why we can be happy - but I wonder if they comprehend, or think it all a giant paradox. I think we often make the Bible a happy and beautiful storybook - everything clean and orderly - but the real stories in the Bible are nothing like that. And the same stories that are happening all around us every day - the neighbor who shoots his dog, teen pregnancy, the marriage on the rocks, the prodigal, the man spewing obscenities - these are stories of people waiting for redemption all around us. If we think they don't fit with our image of the Bible, then often we reject them - but sometimes I think they fit better than we do.
Just some thoughts. They don't tie up in a nice neat package - I hope you can handle that!

02 October 2007

Not One Little Bit

Kendra started her first job today. I dropped her off and then headed out of town for a "mom's meeting" at co-op. I had it all planned out. I was going to pick her up and get ice cream on the way home - just the two of us so she could tell me all about her night. Then Michael's mom had his car and he would be needing a ride -and I totally did not mind that - he is so much fun. Then, the meeting went on overtime - which is totally fine because people had some serious prayer requests, etc. but at some point I had to get up to leave because there was no way I was going to be late for the pick-up after the BIG first day. I slunk out about the time someone was giving the most serious prayer request - and felt like a jerk. But motherly love compelled me to do this terribly insensitive thing. I got in the car and turned the ringer back on to my cell phone, and I saw that I had missed a call from her - so I called back. No answer. A few minutes later she calls me. She says the words I never wanted to hear - "We got off a little early and dad is here to pick us up!" NOOOOOOOOOOOOO all my hopes dashed. All the excited first utterances about the new job were going to be his. Any witty anecdotes wasted on a man who, although he loves her - will not treasure every microscopic detail. Ice cream plans vanished. She assured me that we can do whatever I had planned tomorrow. That's it folks - day 2, 2nd place, the backseat as an observer to her life. I don't like it - I don't like it not one little bit.

01 October 2007

Eighties Greaties

I was listening to an "oldies" station this morning that was playing eighties music when a strange feeling came over me. I wanted to chew Hubba Bubba, put on a pair of skin tight two-toned jeans, get my hair cut in a mullet, slick my lips with strawberry lip gloss and go roller skating. Somewhere inside me is the youth resistant to getting old. 80s music releases her from deep down inside!