31 January 2008

LOST in a Whirlwind

My husband called and woke me up this morning on his way to work and informed me that there was a severe thunderstorm anticipated - where two storms were converging one from the north (the cooler air) and one from the south (the warmer air). He also added - before my first cup of coffee - that this was tornado weather. He's real thoughtful that way.
All I know about tornadoes is that supposedly the atmosphere gets a greenish tinge right before a tornado strikes. Everytime I look out the window, all I can see is......you guessed it - GREEN! You'd think I was in Ireland! So I'm trying not to worry about it - ha!
In other news - not the whirlwind that is the tornado, but the whirlwind that is my life, I saw an ad in the newspaper yesterday for a graphic designer for the local paper - and I emailed them that I wasn't interested in full-time work - which is what they were advertising - but if they needed someone who was proficient in Adobe Photoshop CS3 and the Microsoft Office programs, I would be interested in talking to them about some freelance work. They want to interview me right away. Aaaahhhck! It is a good thing - I called my mother-in-law to be sure and she said yes, this was good. We'll see. I expected immediate rejection since I stated clearly that I was unavailable for full-time work. Who knows what will come of this. I would be totally excited to work for a newspaper - although still not writing - which is my true love. But a foot in the door is a foot in the door.
Also, I may be missing the season premiere of LOST - as my gorgeous daughter has invited me to be her guest at the "mock opening" of the restaurant where she will be working. The day shift is serving the night shift at 6:30 and the night shift is serving the day shift at 7:30. They can each bring one guest and she has asked her mommy! How could LOST be more important than being an honored guest of my most fabulous girl. (Y'all fill me in later!)

30 January 2008

Quirky Quote Contest 2008 - Get Ready

In the next couple of weeks, I am going to announce the 2008 Quirky Quote Contest. Get ready to share your favorite quotes, words of wisdom, poems, or whatever creative words strike your fancy. I am especially excited that I made my own button for this contest, and am working on a banner for those of you so inclined to put one on your blog.
I have always loved quotes, and keep a little notebook of them written down. A few years ago, I came up with a deep thought of my own that said, "Be yourself, I'm already taken" and low and behold, the other day I read an almost exact quote from Oscar Wilde that says "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Who knew that me and Oscar Wilde were kindred spirits!
Anyway, get your quotes ready, and look for the big announcement when I start taking submissions.
I am trying to come up with a great prize - I was thinking a Starbucks or Amazon gift card. Any ideas?

Pray for Ruth

I have a friend and his mom who are in need of your prayers right now. His mom is diabetic and has had some serious health issues. Recently she has taken a couple of nasty falls, and also has a toe injury that is not healing. Mrs. Douglas is a precious lady. I used to clean their house years ago when my kids were smaller, and the best part of that was always visiting with her. She is a card. She is a spunky little lady. You never knew what she would say, and if you knew her son, you would know that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Dwayne is married now, and he and his bride, Shasta have watched his mom's health go from bad to worse. The most recent report is that she is having some congestive heart failure, her kidneys are not functioning properly, and that she is likely going to have her toe and possibly more amputated. She is being moved from the small town hospital to a larger one that can better care for her. Please pray for Mrs. Ruth, for healing and for the hearts of those who love her that may be facing saying goodbye in the not so distant future.
On a personal note, it is excruciating to be so far away and not be able to hold my friend's hands through this time. My heart aches to be near them right now.

Eccentric Mama #2

This morning I was about to take my 16 yo daughter to her 2nd day of training at her new job - which she is way excited about. Yesterday she woke up late, detailed here in her "Superwaitress" post. This morning she had that alarm set, turned up loud and was in the shower before I had finished my first cup'a joe. She was looking all spiffy, and ran past my bedroom saying, "Mom, are you ready? We gotta go!" I was ready except I was still in my PJ pants which I contemplated wearing for the quick ride in the car. In mid change - after PJ pants removal, and before putting on the jeans, I decided to help my daughter not take herself too seriously. I threw my shoes on with my sweatshirt and underpants, and grabbed my purse and keys and headed down the hall toward the front door. The problem with this ingenious plan of mine is that I started laughing hysterically. I can never play stuff like this cool - as I usually find it funnier than anyone else.
We are going to pick her up at noon and run some errands. They actually start "working" tomorrow so I thought after we shopped for fabric for the dresses (what have I gotten myself into?) I thought to celebrate her last day of freedom, we might try to catch a matinee. The girls want to see 27 Dresses and Kullen of course wants to see Rambo. Maybe we'll have to see two - I refer you here to the Eccentric Mama post #1.

29 January 2008


I got some good news today. We are planning - Lord willing and the creek don't rise - to make a trip to WV after co-op ends here in May. It was looking a little disappointing because if we leave after all the stuff that we're involved with here in the Lone Star state - the Country Roads won't be able to take us home where we belong for some very important events, such as the graduation of some of my most favorite people in the world, the formal, and "The Night", a youth gathering. It looks like we'll be able to get there for the graduation and "The Night", but we probably won't make it there for the formal since it is early in May. We are bummed about the formal, but two out of three ain't bad. Not bad at all.
We can't wait to see you guys!!!!!!!! Can you believe it will have been a WHOLE YEAR? Somebody has to come home with me! Any takers?

Sweet Spring

Now before those of you who are my friends shivering in far away places think I am rubbing this in, please remember this - summer in southeast Texas is the hottest, suckiest state of being known among the living - at least in these United States - alright at least in my experience. It is hot and it is buggy - and the worst part is that it lasts most of the dang year! Ugh.
But the feeling outside today, a steady breeze blowing enough to open the windows and doors and have the fresh air blowing in at the most perfect temperature - not hot or cool - almost, again I say almost makes up for it. The sunshine is out. I threw the kitchen door open and our kitty cats who have been outdoors mostly since birth have been wandering in and out. The sound of the breeze blowing through the trees and brush makes a scrubbing sound and you can hear rustling leaves, cause we don't rake 'em.
Ahh! Yep, it's only January - but it's spring in Texas.
See y'all later - I'm going to sit on the front porch and eat hamburgers with my kids for dinner.
(Pray for Travis - it's feast or famine for him - he started working 7 - 12s today! Poor guy!)

Eccentric Mama

Last night my kids decided we needed to watch Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. They get in moods to watch old videos from time to time and this was last night's choice. The girls were reminding me of when we first bought this particular "family classic". I had gone to town for a small group called "Can of Worms" where we read and discussed some great Christian books such as Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Once I was out for the evening without kidlets, I would often "do Walmart" and get my shopping done for the week. Evidently, this particular night, I made this most excellent movie purchase, and was so excited about it, I woke the kids up when I got home, popped popcorn and we watched the movie.
I have been known to take the kids out late at night when a movie we were really excited about was going on sale at midnight and wait so we could buy it and hosted a pancake breakfast/movie viewing with some of our friends. We have gone to the movies for an afternoon and when we couldn't decide which movie we wanted to see, we saw both, back to back (at the cheap theater of course). We have gone out late at night for a premiere of Harry Potter, Spiderman 3, and others.
This may seem that much of my eccentricities center on movie-going or movie-watching, however, there is much more than this I assure you. My friend Keet has taught me to embrace who I am. (Check out this post!) I have asked my kids if they would rather have a normal mom - and they always say emphatically NO!!! I guess eccentricity doesn't skip a generation!

28 January 2008

A Little Visit Home

Last night, while preparing to introduce the book Johnny Tremain to the 6th and 7th grade literature class, I was very excited to find a personal link. I was reading from several resources about the author, Esther Forbes. She was from New England - a daughter of a judge and a historian. I learned that she helped with the labor shortage during World War I by working on a farm in Harpers Ferry, WV. My hometown. I was excited to show the class where I was from on a map - as I shared what I had learned about this author. I also found a fascinating aerial picture in a book in the co-op library taken of the area where the Shenandoah River flows into the Potomac - Harpers Ferry resting between the two to show them.
The other teacher in the class told me that she felt sorry for me that I had to come from such a beautiful place to here! This place is not without its charms. Today it was in the 70s and sunshiny! I didn't mind that one little bit!

Will Sew for Pride and Prejudice

The high school play is rapidly approaching. The girls have been working hard at memorizing lines for their parts. Kendra is Jane, the oldest Bennett sister and Kaitlyn is Charlotte, the one who actually marries Mr. Collins after he is rejected by Elizabeth. After talking to the drama teachers and a couple of other moms, I have decided to plunge head first into assisting the girls at sewing themselves a costume for the play. We looked at two lovely patterns, and decided on this one. I am excited at the prospect of them learning and taking pride in making their costumes themselves - with a little help from their mom.

LOST - Season Premiere This Week!!

We are some serious lost fans! Here is a little recap to get you all up to speed.

27 January 2008

Political Ramblings

I have been hesitant to post these thoughts, as they are not from the flow of popular opinion in what I am certain is the majority of my blog audience. Homeschoolers tend to be predominately heavy on the evangelical right of the political spectrum. I have always tended to lean in that direction myself.
I believe in the sanctity of life and marriage. I have just started to wonder if we can make laws that govern morality, and what great moral ground we gain by making laws that then drive people into back alleys and dark closets.
I know....all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Are we really doing something when we go to the polls with our vision narrowed to these two items as our primary focus? Is it possible that the thing we are to do as good men is to impact the lives of those whose paths we cross in our daily comings and goings? Can laws really touch the heart and change the climate for good, or are we duplicating the outward cleanliness of the Pharisees, and having the depth of who we are as a culture unaffected?
When our family moved a year and a half ago to southeast Texas, I was introduced to the legalistic strivings of the Christian community to ban the sale of alcohol, and it caused me to dig deeper and think harder about such things, and of what importance they are to God. I have come to understand that God cares about the individual, and that legislation can never replace relationship which was His ultimate plan for impacting the world. (The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.) I may obey the letter of the law, but it cannot make me love an unwanted child growing in my womb, or restrain myself with sexual integrity.
Sometimes my head starts to spin, when I think of those who awaited Jesus to take His throne as an earthly King and their disappointment when they realized this was never His intention. I often feel like we are caught in that same chasm.
I have no political agenda, or easy answers, nor am I asking for any. I am just putting these thoughts out there into cyberspace. I am eagerly anticipating your (respectful) thoughts.

26 January 2008

Sick & Twisted Unschoolers

It is almost midnight on a Saturday night.
I just went through the house where everyone has scattered into their own spaces, doing their own things.
Guess what I found my 16 year old doing?
She was studying Biology II: Human Anatomy.
The 14 year old is sprawled out on her bed with her sketchbook and pencils designing formal gowns - amazing formal gowns I might add.
What's wrong with them?
When you don't force kids to learn through compulsory education, inside a teeny tiny little box, all kinds of weird like this happen.

25 January 2008

Shockingly UnChristian

This week’s issue of WORLD magazine arrived today. I was drawn in by an article called “Going Negative” by Tony Woodlief. Here is what the beginning of the article said:

The Barna Group, a respected Christian survey organization, recently asked young people to identify which perceptions they most strongly associate with Christianity. The three most commonly agreed upon were anti-homosexual, judgmental and hypocritical. Barna president David Kinnaman and co-author Gabe Lyons conclude in UnChristian that Christians “have become famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for.”

Wow. This moves me almost to the point of tears.
I think of Jesus. He didn’t have to have an anti-abortion or a boy + girl = marriage bumper sticker on the back end of his donkey to let others know He valued life and marriage. He lived those values, while loving the people who hadn’t gotten there yet.
The bumper stickers, public condemnation, division, and judgment is the stuff of Pharisees.
Who are you going to follow?

Thrifty Recipe Swap - Pizza!

Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge is having a thrifty recipe swap. I love this kind of stuff and couldn't wait to participate - but my internet connection has been going bonkers the last few days! (Go ahead - fess up - you missed me didn'tcha?)

I think homemade pizza is one of THE best things you can feed your family, one of the least expensive, and something everybody likes. You can use whatever toppings that you like - the majority of my family likes pepperoni and sausage. I am a veggie lover all the way - and saute mushrooms, peppers, onions, or whatever, slice some tomatoes and transport myself to pizza heaven.

Here is my favorite pizza dough recipe - although I don't use anywhere near that amount of oil, and I use about 1/3 whole wheat flour. It is still way yummy - and much better for you. If you must use the oil, please choose olive oil. I don't make individual pizzas all the time - I typically use the dough and roll it out on my larger pizza pans.

Tonight we had BBQ Chicken Pizza - I used BBQ sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, and chicken. It was delicious. I have estimated the cost for 3 large pizzas at $5-7. (We'll lean to the $7 cause we like our pizzas cheesy in these parts!)

I am really excited about this because I love to save money - but I also love to feed my family good stuff. When I was young, I realized I could feed my family for $2-4 a night if we ate hamburger helper every night - but we'd also be eating cardboard dinner. No.can.do.

23 January 2008

What's Up with Amazon?

Has anybody else noticed lately that Amazon.com does not have any pictures of their books? I haven't checked out other things - but sometimes I choose a book by the cover (shallow though that may be) and I am wondering where their graphics went! It is not just books either - it is everything! What's up with that? There are a few of the little "no image available" icons - but only a few - most listings are just blank. Any ideas?

*gasp* - Guess what? When I use IE I can see them fine but with Mozilla Firefox - blank. I notice their site looks different as well. Whatddya know - maybe it's no longer compatible with Mozilla.

PSP Mini-Me

Kullen has heard me make so many phone calls in the last several months about our refrigerator, our dishwasher, my laptop, etc. but it never really hit home how much he was learning from me until today. He asked me to help him dial a phone number he had looked up online for Sony because he has been having some difficulties with his PSP. I helped him with the dialing and gave the phone to him. He was navigating the automated system with a little difficulty and kept reappearing in the room to ask me what to do. When he finally got the customer service representative on the phone he explained that he was having difficulty getting his PSP to log on to Myspace. They must've explained that it was something to do with the Myspace site that happens occasionally. He was satisfied with their explanation.
At any rate - he got the answer that he wanted. He knew how to pursue the assistance that he needed, based solely on his observations of how I handle similar problems, and he took matters into his own hands.
I am imagining the customer service representative's reaction to his ten year old voice asking a complicated question. I am in awe of the skills that he demonstrated here. I am so amazed, but really I shouldn't be. Life brings many opportunities for learning into his world, and he is soaking them up.

22 January 2008

A WV Night

Between every mom and her boy there is a little romance going on. Kullen will sing songs - his current favorite "Hey There Delilah" - and put my name in it. He likes to leave me love notes, and stops to kiss me for no reason at all. Earlier today we were watching a movie and he had to sit on my lap. Let's just suffice to say, he has my heart, hook, line and sinker.
I have worried about him a little bit because there aren't boys his age in our neighborhood anymore. Lately he has been having so much fun at co-op on Mondays that he says, "Mom, I wish we had co-op every two days, so we had enough time to do our homework and go back!"
Last night we went out to eat with a group from the co-op to Jason's Deli (definitely in the top 3 of our favorite places to eat!). When we got there I quickly realized that there weren't any of the boys Kullen's age there. He went to where the teenagers were sitting and hung out there contentedly all evening. He said he likes the teenage boys there because they "don't treat me like a little kid". When we were walking to the car to head home at almost 9 0'clock, he said, "Tonight felt like a WV night, mom." I knew just what he meant.
That did this mama's heart a lot of good!

20 January 2008

Don't Read the Cliffnotes

I was reading this post at iamjoshbrown and it segued with something that has been on my mind lately and resonated so strongly that I thought I should just post my thoughts here instead of in a long rambling comment. Josh's issue was with the word unbeliever and its inability to communicate a truth about a person. My take on this issue is that the body of Christ does this far too often, because we want a quick way to sum another person up.
The church I attended for 10 years functioned for the most part in a far more healthy way that many churches I have observed since. However, we had a man that came to our church, originally to attend his wife's baptism who was admittedly an atheist. He loved the atmosphere of "family" even though he couldn't go with us all the way to the cross. I think he continues to attend, but I honestly don't know how he does it. He wears the "scarlet A" (athiest) and a large majority of the congregation had made it their personal mission to "close the deal". He would ask us to pray when a loved one was in crisis, and while most of the congregation responded respectfully, there were a few that chose this moment to jeer him about the contradiction in what he said he believed and such a request. The point is that the label - whether he wore it or we put it on him didn't ever allow for change, growth, development. The label is static - it is not living, moving and breathing, and can never be a sufficient replacement for a relationship with another human being. Sadly, this is where we have gotten. We've exchanged intimacy in relating to one another for a set of cliffnotes.
Travis and I were talking yesterday about how we are constantly asked about our denomination. Lately I have tended to react to that as if I were being asked my bra size. I don't think "denominations" are bad per se, and would personally have issue with what they have all become, collectively as "the church". What I react to is the superficial attempts at getting to know who I am or what I believe.
There are some labels I wear proudly - but others won't stick. As a wise kindergarten sage once said, I'm rubber and you're glue....

I'm Loving This CD

I'm loving this Michael Buble CD, Call Me Irresponsible. I got it for Kendra for Christmas - and we fight over it constantly. Kaitlyn even loves it. This is the video for my personal favorite song called "Lost". It is so awesome. I dare you to listen to it and see if you don't love it too! Be sure to turn the Fine Tunes player at the top of the left sidebar off first!


Thinking - Out of the Mouths of Babes

My son is 10. Yesterday morning he wrote this down:
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone isn't thinking.


19 January 2008

A Purse of Definition

I have never quite had a style. I grew up being told how to wear my hair - having haircuts, and perms forced on me even in my teen years, including a huge blowup with my mother about how I wore my hair to the prom. I ran away from home and went to live with an aunt and uncle when I was 16 (for a short while), and left the house with only the clothes on my back. When my aunt took me clothes shopping, I nearly had a breakdown in the store because I didn't know what kind of clothes I even liked. That was a pretty profound moment in my life - the realization that I never fully developed as an individual in many ways. Even now when I hear people describe me - knowing it is me that they're talking about, I often don't recognize myself. I was taught not to think for myself, need anything, disagree, etc.
Okay - before you think this is about to end in intense self-psychoanalysis, it really is about a purse. I just had to give you my back story, summed up to say - I don't know what my "style" is. I do know some simple things: I love to be barefoot and loathe shoes. I prefer natural fibers. I prefer earth-tones, or at least colors found in nature. I abhor bright, floraly prints. I love things from India strangely.
I have been in the market for a purse for a couple of months, since I broke the zipper on the purse I've been using for over a year. I didn't want just a regular purse - I wanted one with a "messenger bag" style that would allow me to throw in a book, notebook, planner, and maybe even my laptop on occasion. I hadn't had much luck when I looked around - even online. Yesterday I went into World Market (I love that place!), and was immediately drawn to this bag that was everything that I wanted. I was a bit concerned about the gold threaded design on the outer fabric, but it has grown on me. It holds everything I could want it to and then some. I just love it. One of the best things was that it was HALF OFF!
I think it would be considered Bohemian - I'm not sure if I would consider that my style - but I love it!

18 January 2008

Pick me! Pick me!

Okay you can enter too! They'll actually more likely pick you - cause I've never been one of those "winning" kind of gals. But 5 Minutes for Mom along with Best Buy are hosting a contest - and the prize is an Insignia Bluetooth MP3 Player!! I admit my husband and I have attempted to get my phone and computer to communicate via Bluetooth and are total nerds about it. But I'd love a chance to learn more.
Anyhoo, check it out and may the best blogger win!

17 January 2008

More Flies with Honey

Why do I have to be a bulldog when it doesn't suit me? In the last year and a half I have had to go head to head with everybody from the HP computer people, to Vonage, to the Wildblue satellite internet people, to the phone company and so on. What happens is when you are setting up services, you can be as informed and intelligent as you want, but when your bill comes it seems that all bets are off.
Right now, with my husband having been off work so much, I am not about to play with these people. Thankfully for them, I have worked in customer service enough to know that it is never the person who has to talk with the angry customer who is to blame, nor should they have to take the brunt of your frustration.
I also believe that I have a testimony to share in how I deal with others, but that is another story for another blog.
Long story short - last month, after my husband had gone back to work from our first layoff we decided on our way to his mom's house for the family Christmas shin-dig, to call Sprint, and pay the extra $5 to up Kendra's text message limit. She has some new friends at co-op and text messaging seems the way they all want to communicate. Our current plan was not providing much in the way of this medium. I repeatedly asked the woman, knowing that we were in the middle of our billing cycle, if the change would take place immediately and allow her more text messages for the current month that we were in. Yes. I asked again further into the conversation, and the answer was again affirmative. I got the bill today and almost croaked. It turns out that she had gone over her allotted amount of text messages by 477 - at 20 cents each - you do the math and it is $95.40.
I was courteous. I reminded myself to be kind to the person I was speaking with. I reminded myself to breathe in and out when I told them calmly that I was NOT paying it. She informed me that those changes never take place in the current billing cycle - that you have to wait for the next one to come around. Sweet Marie - she was patient with me as well as I explained to her that we were misinformed, and since I had been so diligent to ask more than once if the changes would be effective immediately, I was not going to be paying this. She put me on hold and came back offering me a $40 credit. No thanks Marie. I asked to speak to a supervisor. She asked if she could work on it and call me back. Do you know what? They dropped all the charges.
You do get more flies with honey - it's true. Ask Marie.

A Favorite Dinner

Sometimes on Thursdays I post crock pot recipes, but instead today I decided to post about what I'm making for dinner TONIGHT. It is one of our family's favorites. Meatloaf, homemade mashed potatoes and veggies.
I know - what's so special about that? Nothing - but it's good. It's your basic ground beef, bread crumb, egg and seasonings meatloaf. When I was younger I didn't like gravy, so I found a recipe for a meatloaf glaze that was 2 parts ketchup and one part brown sugar - and we love that stuff. We also like our mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream. Gravy is not necessary.
I like veggies anyway they come - as long as they aren't from a can. Fresh or frozen please.
What's on your plate tonight?

16 January 2008

About Those Kids

I saw this Look-alike Meter thing on Renae, my fellow Texan but nowhere near being my neighbor's blog! I did get different results depending on the different pictures I used of my kids - which goes to show that they are a unique blend of their mother and father and it comes out at different times - but all in all is the perfect combination!
It was pretty fun. I think I enjoyed this even more than the celebrities - since we hear so many people say this one looks exactly like their dad - or that one looks exactly like their mom used to when she was young. (Nobody actually says that - nobody actually remembers what I look like when I was young.)
Anyway - enjoy - and do let me know if you post your results.
Oh yes - and word to the wise - be sure when you get to the "post it on your blog" section you are careful to remove your last name if you don't want to publicize this info. I had to go through mine twice to get this removed.

Kendra's Look-alike Meter

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities - Collage - Morph

Kaitlyn's Look-alike Meter

MyHeritage: Celebrity Collage - Family tree software

Kullen's Look-alike Meter

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities - Collage - Morph

15 January 2008

Delightful Children

Okay, just in case that last post was a bit too poetic for you - with all the hullabaloo about my kids pursuing their dreams and destiny - I will have to admit that most of that currently centers around computers (Myspace, Project Playlist, YouTube, etc.) or the Sony PSP complete with the Darth Vader icon that one little boy got for Christmas. This afternoon we watched the movie Romeo and Juliet together which was pretty cool, and the two youngest have been obsessively watching King Kong. (That is one LOOOONNNGGG movie!) We went out this afternoon and they cheered me on as I attempted to balance my two butt cheeks, of which I am convinced one is fatter than the other and continually threw me off center. They were so proud of me for persevering. (I rode ten minutes and how is it that the dang bike seat hurts when I've got so much padding?)
But the previous post was inspired by this....
Yesterday afternoon, my heart stopped. I was at a meeting with high school moms pre-planning for next year's co-op - precious, gorgeous women. I sat there with my white shirt that sported evidence of the blackberry yogurt I had eaten for a snack, and shrunk down sort of like Edith Ann in the great big chair when one mom asked me what my daughter who will be a senior needed next year. These questions are so foreign to me. The question wasn't out of line - it was just that we come from two different worlds. I know a lot of homeschool parents are on this track - planning out classes for their children and often their futures. I don't think like that. If my children choose to go to college, then I will assist them in any way that they request in pursuing that route. Whatever they choose to pursue, barring prostitute or drug dealer, they will have my full support. I want my kids to live joyful lives of their choosing. If college is in or out of the picture, great either way. If getting married and having children is part of what they choose to paint into their lives, I hope they choose wisely and love deeply. If they want to join the circus and ride an elephant everyday in a sequined body suit, and marry a 3 ft. tall guy named Rollo - they have my blessing (well the girls do anyway) and I'll buy a ticket for a front row seat of every show.
What could be better than that?

Focus Girl!

I am, as my mom always defined me, squirrelly.
I flit from this to that always looking for something but often not finding it. I am always full of restless anticipation, not quite contented with the thing in front of me. I always seem to want the next thing.
I am like a child inside. The one who runs up to their mom as soon as they get to your house and immediately wants to know when they are going to leave.
I have SO many things I want to do -
I want to write the next great American novel - or a screenplay.
I want to read great fiction - or some of the life-changing books recommended by my friends.
I want to focus on my digital photography - scrapbooking - or possibly work with my imaging programs and learn to design some digital elements of my very own.
I want to watch a great movie.
I want to be INSPIRE my writing class to a love of writing.
I want to write unit studies, teach my youngest daughter to make meatballs, play cards with my kids, share a cup of coffee and superficial conversation with my neighbor, ride a bike around the block with my son, talk politics with someone who is open-minded like my oldest daughter, blog, cook my husband a fantastic dinner, and so on and so on and so on.
I think this is one of the reasons I needed to hibernate this weekend.
I feel like I am spinning. I can't invest myself fully in any of these things if I am dabbling in all of them, and I can't choose. They all pull me.
I am pretty good at sliding things off my plate that I am not interested in, after years of being driven by guilt and obligation, even within the church. What I want now is to figure out how to focus.
I don't want to be a jane-of-all-trades. It seems an epidemic. We received an education that makes us all so "well-rounded" that we are masters of nothing. My aim is to focus and stop the merry-go-round. I am going to figure out what it is that I really, really want to do, and do it with all my heart and soul.
This is my desire for my children is to help them pursue the greatness they were created for - the bend that the Lord has sculpted them with. My bend went all haywire with the confinement to a 12 year institution called the public school system, as well as parents who told me from the time I was young that I wouldn't be anything unless I "'went to college", although neither of them went. Perhaps they wanted better for me than they had, as do I for my children. I am seeking that better outcome by allowing them to pursue the path of delight, dreams and destiny that the Lord Himself has paved for them, and try to get back on my path along the way!

14 January 2008

Africa, Walden, an Orange Jumpsuit, and Max Lucado

What do these three things have in common? My husband.
Today he donned a bright orange jumpsuit to head out to his new job at a refinery. He was hilariously frustrated - animatedly talking about how you can't sneak around cause you're, in his words, "all orange".
Amid the comedy routine he said sincerely, "I'm better than this." I knew just what he meant. Not that he's too good to wear the orange jumper, or too good to work menial labor, but that he was created for better things. He had talents and gifts and yet for some reason he had no idea what to do with them.
Then today I was reading from "Cure for the Common Life" by Max Lucado. I don't usually like these "churchy" books - but I read an unschoolish quote that drew me in. This book is talking about exactly the point of struggle my husband is having. If God imprinted in each of us a destiny for greatness - a specific design - how do we tap into it? I am only on chapter 3 - so I'll let you know how that comes out.
Last night I was listening to Walden on Librivox and heard this quote that sums this up:
The finest qualities of our nature like the bloom on fruits can be preserved only by the most delicate handling; yet we do not treat ourselves or one another thus tenderly.
Somewhere along the way, life has beaten the spark for excellence out of this talented, creative, funny, intelligent man. Instead of pushing him deeper into the orange jumpsuit, I am going to be praying more that God would help him find a way to harness who he was made to be.
Oh yeah, and Africa. He got a call tonight about a possible job there. It might last 4-6 months. He is seriously considering it. I hope he won't have to wear the orange jumpsuit. Orange is definitely not his color!

Shhh! I Have a Secret

When I'm at co-op, sometimes people think I'm hard at work.
In reality
I'm reading your blogs.

I can't help myself.
I need a 12 step plan or something.

13 January 2008

The Best Laid Plans

You've heard that pride goes before a fall..... well today I planned out our dinner menu for the next week, complete with detailed grocery list. All the blanks were filled out in that little section of my planner. I was feeling pretty dang good about myself, thinking myself an organizational genius. The shopping trip which I dread went off without a hitch and all items for the coming week's meals were procured. Life was good.
Then we got home.
At our house when mom pulls up with groceries, everybody comes to help carry them in. Travis got the bag with the eggs - a large pack of 2 1/2 dozen. He took them inside and set them on the edge of the island. As he walked away I heard a splat.
Sixteen eggs were broken.
I had other "plans" for tonight's dinner, but not wanting those cracked eggs to go to waste, we improvised and had breakfast for dinner.
I think I'll learn to keep my plans written in pencil.

Some Linky Love

I have stumbled on some awesome websites lately - and thought I would share them with you!
With election energy rising, and conversations about candidates around every corner, it is important to decide which issues are most important to you. If you are like me, no one candidate is an exact match, but with Glassbooth you can get pretty close. What I liked most about this "candidate match" site is that it allowed you to assign weight to certain issues. I was surprised to see which candidate that I matched with, and yet, while I wouldn't let this influence my vote, I find that it was the direction I was already leaning. Very cool.
On a homeschool group, someone recently shared the Librivox site. It is amazing. It is an audio book library. The files are from the public domain. The readers are not professional actors as you find usually, but everyday people. Kendra and Kaitlyn are reading Metamorphosis by Frank Kapfka and we found it on this site. I started listening to Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I do not live in a "quiet" house - so I am hoping I will find a chance to listen to it in parts - here and there.
On the pages of World magazine, I saw this neat new site called Worldmap.org. My husband and kids all love Google Earth so I am excited to check this out with them later. This is a map tool used to show you the red and yellow, black and white of God's world. If you have a heart for missions, this is a website that encompasses all the current information that I used to find in Operation World.
I hope that you'll enjoy some of these sites.

12 January 2008

Hibernation Day

Life has been so crazy lately. There is always somewhere to run or something to do. The phone is always ringing or somebody's at the door. We have to shuttle people here and there, or have them coming over here. I love the frenzy of activity and the flurry of fun that people bring into your life, but sometimes you need to just stop. My husband challenged me this morning to just "be still", and so we decided, inspired by the Jars of Clay song "Hibernation Day" to declare today just that! I put bedsheets on the doors that do not have curtain and posted signs. We have warm monkey bread that just came out of the oven and we're about to watch a movie! Woo hoo! I think I have just exhibited my first ever anti-social behavior. I think I like it!

10 January 2008

Baby Photo Contest!

Emily, that crazy woman decided to have a contest. This one looks like a lot of fun! So here is a picture of yours truly for the contest. My dad scanned this picture and sent it to me a few months ago, and titled it "has not always needed depends". How's that for respect?
I am not going to put n*ked as one of the "labels". Who knows what lunatic might come here after searching THAT!

One More Picture - Living Room

I am not sure why I forgot to post this picture with the rest - but this is the view from my living room into the dining room. The "front door" that walks out onto the porch is to the right - and to the left through the french doors where you see the snowflakes on the windows is the dining room. On the wall above it hangs my "Texas" star given to me by my precious friends at our going away party. They have signed it with love and beautiful sentiments. It is truly a treasure.

09 January 2008

Spring Fever - Almost!

The weather has been so warm the last week or so, but I have been too preoccupied to enjoy it. I have had so many irons in the fire that I hadn't even taken the Christmas tree down yet. We weren't lighting it up anymore - and it was bugging me. How is it that something that gives you so much joy and be SO beautiful only a month ago is now a nuisance and an eyesore??!? Go figure. I had the kids start taking the ornaments off the tree yesterday, and gather things from all over the house that were "Christmas-y". Four HUGE boxes later, we were packed up. This morning I had to double check what they did and dismantle the actual tree. What started as sweeping a corner ended up as a complete clean sweep and rearranging of the living room, which also bled over into the dining room. (I did the kitchen yesterday!) My friends who know me know how much I LOVE to rearrange my furniture - and what a fresh feeling it gives me. I thought I'd share some pictures.
This is my desk - a/k/a the "blogging nook" - hee hee
This isn't much of a BIG change - the television used to be to the R of the fireplace.
We moved Travis' antique radio to the other side of the room - and hopefully he'll put the knobs back on it and make it play again. The french doors behind the couch go into my dining room - the couch is out from the wall about 3 feet.
Since we moved here, the long couch has been in front of this big window. I really like it that there isn't anything blocking the light and air that come in from these windows with the new arrangement. I put the big footstool there - it'll make a nice reading spot, or a place for the cat to lounge, and can easily be moved to be used as a footstool.
This has always been my biggest challenge when it comes to rearranging the living room is this piano! It fits pretty nicely in this corner - isn't in a walkway - and doesn't block anything! Wow.
I took a picture of this to show you - it is an old sewing box that my parents got in Williamsburg, and was in every home that I lived in as a child. My mother got custody of it when my parents divorced - and gave it to me when I got older. When we moved the top got broken somehow and is in need of repair. I decided that a stack of beautiful books might make a nice table top for now. What do you think? Travis got me the little oil lamp that is sitting on top quite a few years ago - in fact we used it for a prop when we did "Scrooge" at the community theater a few years ago.

Thanks for visiting with me in my living room. I am feeling a lot less overwhelmed today and a huge sense of accomplishment is a lot better feeling than spinning your wheels in mud and digging a deeper hole!
What did you do today?

08 January 2008

Not One Word

I don't make "resolutions" per se. I do like a fresh start at something though, and the new year seems a perfect opportunity to invest yourself in something new. I have a serious writing project that I was going to plunge myself into after the new year, and I haven't written at all.
Stress really takes all creative energy out of you.

Running Away - Wanna Join Me?

I want to pack my car and just drive away.
I don't want to figure things out. I don't want to make phone calls. I don't want to try and figure out the unemployment system. I don't want to assist my husband in finding a job. I don't want to talk to the water, electric, phone companies and work out arrangements again. I don't want to be the only one it seems that cares if we eat next week.
I really don't want to be a wife or mother right now either - and that is rare for me since it is all I really ever wanted out of life. I just don't want to take care of one other living thing and be responsible to solve everybody's problems.
I don't want to juggle a budget, plan a menu, clean a toilet, wash laundry, remind people do to their chores or make phone calls, take down a Christmas tree, or sweep a room. I just want to quit everything.
In 20 minutes this feeling will probably go away. In fact just writing it out makes me feel a little wee bit better.
This is real people. Blogs don't get any more raw than this.

Update: Shortly after writing this, I directed all my frustration into completely cleaning out my kitchen. Therapeutic housekeeping! Thanks for all the love.

07 January 2008

Take It Easy

I had the misfortune today of finding something humorous that a child did -
The mother of the child who did it did not agree, and she let me know in no uncertain terms that her child struggled with "pride"........
Poor guy.
It was just a joke.
He was only teasing.
It was actually quite witty. It was clever.
It wasn't disrespectful or hurtful or disobedient in any way.
He was punished.

I have been scratching my head. I have never understood this kind of parent. This mother spoke of her son in his presence with her teeth gritted while I giggled at what he had done.
I wondered if her son's behavior had embarrassed her. Perhaps he is not the one struggling with pride after all.

06 January 2008

Should I?

I really enjoy the God Journey podcasts. I have been a fairly regular listener for about six months now. I noticed they have a couple of new slogans such as "Sacred Cow Tipping Team", "Free Range Believer" and "Don't Should on Yourself".
That last one has had me thinking of all of the shoulds that I have lived under at different times in my life: I should ..... eat well, pray more, exercise, go to church every time the doors are open, fast, sleep 8 hours a night, memorize scripture, lose a few pounds, spend more time outside, vote with a certain party affiliation, etc. etc. etc.
I love the freedom that I have as a believer to live in relationship with the Lord without outside constraints. For so many years, I lived under the expectations of others, or the confines of what I was told a Christian looked like. That life was not joy and liberty, it was a burden.
I am so thankful that I was able to come out from under that burden and meet Jesus.
No more shoulds for me.
What about you - are there any "shoulds" that you need to address in your life?

Now I really should get off of here and fold some laundry. *wink*

05 January 2008


My dinner out with Melody last night was terrific. I love the conversation. We come from two totally different places and have found ourselves companions in that we are both strangers here. She is an intelligent and insightful person. You just love being with someone who has your thoughts stirred, and your faith challenged.
At one point in the evening our conversation turned to politics. Sometimes I scare myself. I get so engrossed in a topic, that I forget to shut up, chew with my mouth closed, and take a breath. I have to remind myself to stop and listen. I get so passionate about things, or even about the exploration of things, that I am like a train bumping along faster and faster on uneven ground, sure to derail.
While talking with her I realized that two things of importance, politically speaking are diametrically opposed to one another. I want less government on one hand, and yet I want them to foot the bill so that poor or indigent people can have the health care that the middle and upper classes enjoy. (Thank you to my friend Amy who pointed out *duh* that this means more Big Brother! Sometimes I require an iron skillet in the head!) What to do.
I have also stumbled onto some terrific blogs lately that have taken my poor brain to the point of almost melting. I am loving it - and yet, if I spend all day reading blogs, people around here would be eating Fruity Pebbles and running naked in the streets. (I am sure we can stir up some deep thoughts about that!) I thought I'd use that as a lighthearted segue to sharing some linky love:
Josh Brown on Immigration (I loved this post!)
He is also an excellent photographer -
and as he put it in his most recent post he.... . . never misses a chance to be political and antagonistic

Quirky Grace
Quirky Grace a/k/a Jamila Kwon on Lust
and a Poem by a Zen Chic Who is a Christian

Give them a read, and maybe a shout out - and tell 'em Jewlsntexas sent ya!

Sandals and Wool Socks

The weather here is so very strange, and after a year and a half of my reporting it, I continue to be dumbfounded. It was in the 3os and 40s a few days ago and today it is in the 70s. It got a bit humid, not too bad. I worked up a sweat while tidying up the house. It was nice to open a couple of windows a little bit and let some of the fresh air in. I even turned on a couple of ceiling fans. One day I'm wearing sandals, and the next wool socks. I am so not used to this - but honestly, I am learning to love it.

Book Review: The Hiding Place

This is one of my all-time favorite books, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (with John and Elizabeth Sherrill). I have read it a couple of times already, but when my girls told me they had to read it for their literature class, I was so excited that I would finally get to share this book with them. To my delight, one evening, early into the book, they were both tired and asked if I would read it aloud with them - and so began another tear-filled journey with my hero, Corrie ten Boom.
Corrie was the daughter of a Dutch watchmaker, and became an unlikely kingpin of the Resistance when Hitler's army moved into her country, managing an underground network of her countrymen offering sanctuary to many displaced Jews. When Corrie and her sister Betsie are taken to the concentration camps for their clandestine work, the real work has only just begun.
Corrie's sister Betsie tells Corrie that they must tell those who are hurting that there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still. Corrie spent the rest of her life telling others just this thing. She tramped the world (another book Tramp for the Lord tells of these days) telling others of the love and forgiveness of God, sharing the hope that she found in the bleakest of circumstances.
I was so overjoyed that my girls loved this book like I did. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and although I was so familiar with the story found that it touched me again, deeply. I remember when I read it for the first time, ten years ago. It is as profound to me now as it is then. It reminds me to look for God in the simplest things, and in the worst of times, with the faith and love of a child. After Jesus, the very first person I want to meet in heaven would be my dear friend, Corrie ten Boom.

04 January 2008

Oh Boy Oh Boy

I was going to post this with pictures - and maybe I'll come back and do it later - but I cannot believe how much Kullen has grown lately. If he lays down beside me, his feet go all the way to mine. His shoulders are getting thicker. He is just bursting at the seams. He keeps telling me he doesn't have any pants to wear - and I know he has 20. I went to his room today and he tried things on and nothing fits him - I mean nothing. Even his shirts are all very short and tight - stuff that just fit him in the fall. He is only 10 and I bought him 2 pairs of size 12 husky pants at Walmart today - husky because he doesn't believe that he actually has a waist. The pants have to ride around the hips. I thought a 12 would be waaaaayyy too long - but it isn't! Where did my baby boy go?!! He is HUGE. His shoes are bigger than mine already. What next? He is really bulking up - so I think we're about to hit a major growth spurt. I made him stand by the bookshelf yesterday so I could chart his height. (I figured if I did it on the bookshelf it can go with is if we ever move. shhh!)
He has a ravenous appetite as well - do you think I can get anywhere if I stop feeding him???!?

I'm off to drop the girls off at a birthday party / sleepover and then meet my friend Melody at Chilis! WOO HOO! I have a backlog of blogging topics and never any time or energy to blog about them. I'll be back to some more meaty topics very soon.

03 January 2008

If I Should Die Before I Wake

Before you think me melodramatic, let me say that I have been thinking about death.
It is for something I am writing.
It made me wonder.....so I thought I would ask you -
If you found out today that you would die for sure in six months, and money were no option, what would be the three most important things for you to do with that time? Where would you go? Who would you see? What places would you visit?

Three things - will you share your thoughts with me for my project??

Slow Cookin' - Chicken Rice Stew Gone WILD

My husband was laid off again today - so I shall do the Dory (Finding Nemo) chant *just keep smiling* just keep smiling* just keep smiling*. This is relevant to the recipe I am about to post because my friend Melody brought this to my family the last time that he was laid off way back in NOVEMBER. Everybody in my house was sick except for me and Kaitlyn - and this soup just hit the spot. I love love love mushrooms - but even the rest of my group who are not fond of them enjoyed this soup - without picking the shrooms out.

Chicken Rice Stew Gone Wild
3 cups (or 8 oz) mushrooms, quartered
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium leeks, (only chop white & lt green part) 2/3 cup
1 pkg Uncle Ben's WILD Rice Mix
1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed or sliced as desired
5 1/2 cup chicken broth, or a little less

Layer mushrooms, carrots, leeks, then rice. Place chicken on rice and sprinkle seasonings over chicken. Pour broth over all of this. Cook on low 7-8 hours - high 3 1/2 - 4 hours.
Makes 8 servings.

02 January 2008

An Ordinary Day

I hate to say it, but I was glad to see the holidays finally come to an end. I loved the celebrations and the fun things we got to do, but man I am tired from all of the merry-making.
2008 rang itself in with a very fun party for us with some of our new friends, good food, fireworks, and fun. I learned how to play Hand and Foot (Canasta) - and in fact did so with some awesome women until almost 2 am!! It was great, but exhausting.
Today, I woke up to a day of absolutely regular stuff. Cooking, cleaning, a hubby that had gone to work (I miss him when he's gone but 2 back-to-back 4 day weekends made me want him to go to work so I could miss him some more!). I read some blogs - and found this terrific recipe for Breakfast Oatmeal Casserole and made some to have with a piping hot cup of coffee. I made a batch of bread. I wiped down kitchen cabinets and cleaned out the silverware drawer. (riveting blog material) I watched a movie this evening and made hubby's lunch. I'm ready to head to bed and snuggle up with a good book.
Ah, it's so good to be back to normal.

01 January 2008

The Truth - Vertigo

Turn off the player to the left - and be sure to watch to the end.

Nothing New Under the Son

I say this without despair - but with a realization that all the things that the Lord has been trying to teach man from the beginning of time, He, the Perfect Teacher is continuing to communicate to humanity. History repeats itself. Relationships struggle from the fall. Individuals learn to love God and live with one another in some way that isn't broken.
For me, there was no magical thing that happened at the stroke of midnight. In fact, at 11 pm here - my heart had already found 2008 when the magical thing called time crossed into the eastern time zone, and over the Blue Ridge Mountains that will forever be my home.
I welcome 2008 - with its love, laughter, hurts, lessons, trials, joy, heartache, and the stories it will write on the pages of time.
Happy New Year - for whatever its worth. May the love of the Lord dwell in your hearts and your homes for its duration.