30 June 2008

First Day and McDs

I was just telling a friend the other day that I hate McDonalds. I haven't darkened the door of the closest one to our house in the almost 2 years that we've lived here - and yet here I sit today using the Wi-Fi because like her sister, Kaitlyn has launched out into the working world. To be honest, the cost of the gas was more than the cost of my time. It just so happened that we recently saw a sign out in front of McDs that they have Wi-Fi so I thought I could get some work done. Thankfully the restaurant is not busy because between the Kully-boy hopping around making music with condiment packets, his feet, his straw, and the blaring country music - I might find it hard to concentrate.
I took the picture of Kaitlyn as I dropped her off at work before she got out of the car. I had to beg. She didn't let me kiss her either. She is so different from Kendra. I hate to let her go. She looked like she aged about 10 years in the walk from the car to the front door.
A little while ago while we were sitting here, the manager walked by and he asked me how I knew they had Wi-Fi. I was telling him I saw it on the sign. He was pretty pleased as he has been trying to convince his manager that the sign brings in business. After he walked away, Kullen said, "Mom that guy likes you!" Loudly. I almost died. I asked him why he thought that. He said, "Cause he was flirting with you, old people style!"
You can feel pretty dang good about yourself some days until one of your kids opens their mouth! Thankfully it is about time to leave. 11 minutes and counting!

Almost Heaven

In my last post, my friend Dwayne reminded me that West Virginia was known as almost heaven... but not quite. It made me think of a funny sermon line our pastor used to say... "it ain't heaven till it's heaven". How true. It is a great perspective to have, that no matter where you are there are problems. The difference is, with my family of friends I learned all of the lessons that I should have learned in the safety and security of family. I learned that you can disagree with someone, or even have a falling out on something, but that if you love one another there is nothing that you aren't willing to get through and come out on the other side with an intact relationship. This is a process. With my parents, if you say something they don't like, live in a way that does not meet with their approval they may not speak to you for years. I have had some friends that I have had some serious rifts with over different things, and something beautiful happens along the way as love brought us back together. It is always love - and for the first time in my life I had that in my relationships. It wasn't always heaven, but love always prevailed. There is a palpable emptiness in my life where they used to be, and I feel like I am withering here without them.
It is hard for my husband. This is where his extended family is and he is in a place of having to choose what is best for the rest of us, or being here in case he is needed. I care a lot about my husband's family. They are a terrific bunch of people, but what I have with them mostly is a telephone relationship - which I could have from anywhere. It breaks my heart for him to have to make such a decision. We had a long talk about it - and the kids were articulating the best way they could how unhappy they have been here overall. Please be praying for our family as we move through this difficult process.

BTW - I woke up yesterday morning with the top right quarter of my back in serious pain that didn't go away through the day. It gets worse at night - so sitting, standing, laying - nothing seems to be comfortable. I kept heat on it quite a bit. I am not sure what is going on but I think it is likely stress related. My muscles were so tight the other day that I could barely turn my head. This is not good.

29 June 2008

Homesick Manifesto

I have had a lot of difficulties adjusting since we moved to Texas in May 2006. Most of them were well anticipated - as I was leaving the first long-term "home" I had ever had, and the friends the Lord surrounded me with to give me the family of his making, not biological but the ones with ties that wrap all the way around your heart, and are not easily undone.
There is a lot that could be said about all the places that I have lived. I counted them out once and there are more than 20 different towns in states up and down most of the east coast. My parents' divorce was the cause for a lot of it. My personal insecurities caused me to continue a lot of this pattern into my adult life. However, in 1995 after a three month separation, Travis and I settled in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia - and there we stayed for almost 11 years. I made the best friends I had ever had in my life. These were the people who gathered around when my babies were born, the ones who filled our home with their presence and prayer support when we were in need, rejoiced with us when something good happened, and cried with us when we struggled and suffered. They are the people who would leave toilet paper and laundry detergent on the front seat of our car when they knew Travis was out of work, and point at one another and shrug their shoulders unknowingly when asked about it to preserve our dignity. They are the ones who filled your life with great excitement and surprise in the everyday of it all, side by side. We would hang out in the wee hours of the morning together, play games, talk, laugh, debate. I finally had the family that I had always wanted. I knew moving away would be hard, but felt that we owed it to Travis to get to know his family and try to make a life where he wanted to be.
The thing is, being here has been hell. It isn't the place or the people, but it is truly that my heart is elsewhere. We haven't succeeded in building the family relationships that we had hoped to, and find that we are quite alone. Financially we are in the same boat. With the rising economy, I have realized that in a short amount of time, we will quickly be stuck wherever it is that we live with little life outside, unable to even afford a yearly trip home to the people we love and who love us. I feel that we have made every effort to transplant our hearts here and find that the soil is not conducive to establishing good, healthy roots. I feel that if we don't get back to the soil where we thrive, we will wither and die. The kids have made it clear to me that they feel the same way, which gives me leave to express it fully knowing that I am not the only one who knows that this is not where we belong.
No whining, just a statement. This is my manifesto - my proclamation to the world - I don't know how, and I don't now when, but I am going home.

27 June 2008

Restored Faith in the World

I don't think that we often realize the power of patience, a kind word, a smile. We often underestimate how powerful treating every person as if they are just like you, without any assessment of rank or status can be. We had a moment of restored humanity today at the local bank. Yep, our itty bitty town has an itty bitty bank, the size of a small trailer. We had to have some papers signed for our mortgage company in front of a notary. It was a very nice office, but a bit awkward, as the only place to sit when we first got there was a few feet away from the desk where another couple was opening a checking account.
The lady that helped us was amazing. We only went for a notary signature, but she looked at our paperwork, advised us, answered questions, and went far above and beyond what would be expected. The most awesome part is that she treated us like human beings, understanding that anyone can have hard times. The cost for all of this - zero. I can't believe we got the best customer service ever in our little bitty town. I think that I am going to bake her some cookies one day next week, just to say thank you.

You Are Welcome

My post about lurkers coming out, and considering putting my blog on private status generated a lot of feedback, both via this blog and email. I am not going underground, and it did make me feel a bit better to see some of you come out of the woodwork! I just wanted to say how much joy it gives me that so many of you would share my life - the highs and lows, the joys and woes, the stops and starts, the fun and........ no more rhyming cause you probably have a good idea of what might rhyme with starts - and I know I have one friend who would never visit me here again! (Stephanie!)
To answer some questions, no scary comments or anything of that nature, just an overwhelming feeling of being the focus of some intense voyeurism . While it is a very public website, but it is often very personal. The blogosphere is a pretty scary thing sometimes. It is just nice to know that I am among friends. I am rolling out the red carpet. Please don't ever leave!

25 June 2008

Happy 18th Birthday to Our Tayva!

FYI: drunk = silly - they were very young at the time of said lemon juice and flashing incident!

Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are

I am getting a lot of blog traffic lately. I am starting to feel uneasy about the number of repetitive visits I am seeing each day from several repeat IP addresses, and am considering putting my blog on private, invitation only for a while. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, would you please make yourself known - especially if you visit more than once a day.


Kendra and her friend Katelyn had a joint party last night for their birthdays which were both over two months ago. The end of the school year, plays and rehearsal schedules, etc. all kept them from having it until now. They wanted to plan it themselves and paid for most everything. The party was hosted at Katelyn's house. She turned 18 on her last birthday and leaves for college in August. Kendra turned 17 in April. She is leaving for Italy in 2010 - except she's taking me with her!
They had gourmet pizzas, virgin pina coladas, and a lovely salad among other tasty things. One of the things that was most surprising about this party was that it was all girls. I don't remember ever hearing of girls this age not wanting boys at their party. They had great food, everybody dressed up in new sundresses, did their hair and make-up - for each other. How cool is that? I hope they always enjoy the company of girlfriends like this!
In this group picture, the birthday girls are in the front wearing tiaras!

24 June 2008

The Prodigal Son and the Father's Love

Try explaining to a very analytical 10 year old the story of the prodigal son and how it mirrors the relationship we have with God. Try doing this at midnight. We were cuddled up in the dark talking about the way God rejoices when someone who has been away comes back to Him. There were questions and answers, singing of snippets from the song, "When God Ran" from Phillips, Craig and Dean. It is a poignant picture. I wonder how a child who has never really known the rejection, distance of alienation of a parent can experience this in as profound a way as I did. I know that I can trust God to reveal His love to Kullen, all on His lonesome, but I know that I ached to be loved with that kind of abandon. This picture of the father, watching and waiting for the son, seeing him come from far off, and casting all dignity aside, hiking up his garment and running for all he was worth to the son who could have surely been called a disappointment, a lost cause, a failure is one that I need fresh daily. Sometimes I wonder how children who grow up in loving homes need Him like I do.
Thank you Papa.

23 June 2008

Apology and Retraction

In my haste to post some instructions for backing up your blog, my wording misrepresented my thoughts and may have inadvertently sounded accusing. Please read the edits in this post to clarify the matter, and clear Homeschoolblogger of any malicious intent. Sincerely.

22 June 2008

Based on What?

I saw this on my friend Rachel's blog - and I wonder how this value is assessed.

My blog is worth $19,758.90.
How much is your blog worth?

Definitely checking into that!

If You Want a Giggle

You can read about my daughter's fingernail saga! It is hysterical.
She is a sucker for second chances, and I just love her heart.
She is a chronic nail-biter and after cracking several of the fake nails within 24 hours of spending $20 of her hard earned money on them, her friend Ellie, who is a hairdresser shoved her hands in bowls of acetone and made her soak them off. Lesson learned? I hope.

21 June 2008

Photography Mosaic

I joined this yahoo group to learn some basics about photography, and although I do not have the greatest camera, I am hoping that I can learn a thing or two. As we've met people on the group and shared links to our blogs, I found this fun little game. It took a while to figure out - but I think the results were worth it. It was interesting to me that I gravitated to pictures with certain colors. I am really into black & white photography right now - and like reds. Oh - look the colors of my blog!

My creation

Here's how you play:
The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image. I picked the FIRST image ...
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's Mosaic Maker.

The Questions (with my answers):

1. What is your first name? Julie
2. What is your favorite food? Italian
3. What high school did you go to? Jefferson
4. What is your favorite color? Red-ish
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Jeffrey Dean Morgan (if I indulged a crush!)
6. Favorite drink? Sweet tea
7. Dream vacation? The Badlands (with my family)
8. Favorite dessert? hot fudge cake (at the moment)
9. What you want to be when you grow up? screenwriter
10. What do you love most in life? family
11. One word to describe you. open
12. Your flickr name. Jewlsntexas

It took a bit of time to figure out - you have to have a Flickr account, and you have to sign in. Also, some photographers can opt out of allowing the service. If you do post a mosaic, leave a comment here to let me know so I can come and take a peek!

20 June 2008

The ABCs of Ridiculous Things I Could Be Doing Instead of Blogging

Okay - I want to play a bloggy game - so take the bait and play along.
I know there are tons of other things we could be doing instead of blogging sarcastically speaking. Here is how you play. I am going to start with A - you of course will change this and start with the next letter. Copy this post to your blog and encourage all your fellow bloggers to add to the list until somebody makes it to Z!

Here are Some Important Things I Could
Be Doing Instead of Blogging

A - Alphabetize my spice rack
B -

Now it's your turn!

If you get to Z - please mail the whole alphabet of "more important than blogging nonsense" to me at julientexas AT sbcglobal DOT net! Together we can do this!

One of the Best Things

One of the best things about the way my kids have grown up is how close they are to each other. If they had left the house every day and led their own lives, being oriented to the peers who had the same reading or math abilities, they may have missed out on one of the best gifts in life - their siblings. Our move to Texas has played an even bigger part in this process, as during that first year they only had each other - the three of them. The girls share a special closeness as sisters that I only ever tasted briefly in the confidences of sisters whom I did not live with, but loved all the same. Here is a little glimpse at their closeness:
Kendra has had a job for about 5 months now at a little restaurant in a town not too far away. She wanted a job as soon as we moved, but since she was only 15 we tried our best to slow her down. It wasn't very hard as there are few jobs available for teenagers in our area that aren't in the fast food industry. She started working shortly before she turned 17. A couple of days ago she came home from work with an application for her sister. Kaitlyn is 14 - turning 15 in a few weeks. My first instinct was to discourage it, but then I realized, she always gets to do things sooner than Kendra because her sister has paved the way. They could work together and Kendra could look out for her. (Although if you know them, you know that it is probably the other way around!) The thing is, Kendra said she was so excited when the manager said he would hire her sister that her co-workers were perplexed, saying things like, "I'd kill my sister if she worked with me." to which Kendra replied, "My sister is my best friend."
Now if that doesn't just give a mama's heart warm fuzzies all over! The best part is that I know it's true. Kullen on the other hand was not too thrilled. In fact devastated might be a better way to describe his reaction. He hates his oldest sister being gone all the time, and now the possibility of the other one being gone more often was a bit more than he could handle. I won't say there were tears involved, but let's say that something on somebody's face was leaking.
We'll all have some serious growing pains over the next several years as they start making their way in the world a little more separated from one another than they are used to, but I think we'll come out on the other end, still extremely close at heart.
As a little disclaimer, the picture here is over a year old. They're both going to hate it!

19 June 2008

Through the Lens

I found Hallie's blog through my friend, Marsha because she was trying to connect us about my planner. The very first visit to her blog is so eye catching because she has the most amazing photography. I have always loved photography - although I've never had a really good camera - but I just have to join this yahoo group class with a weekly assignment. I just thought I would put the word out there in case any of you want to join in. The information about the class is here.
Oh yeah, it starts tomorrow.
No time like the present.

Make Plans Without Me

Just in case you're wondering if I can say - come to your wedding, attend a birthday party, bring a dish to a potluck sometime in April-May-ish 2010 - just wanted you to know that I'm going to be busy.

Updates and a Confession

It made my heart grow faint when I saw this message on my dashboard "scheduled outage at 2:00 PM PDT". It says only 10 minutes. Okay - I can handle that.
An update on the FaxZero service - works like a charm. The only issue I can see is that you can only send .doc (Word) documents or .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) documents. I have used both the free fax and the $1.99 faxing options. They both went through successfully - so have at it.
And.... if you've read here more than once you know that I'm pretty upfront with things. I share my heart unabashedly; the good, the bad, the ugly, the partially processed thoughts and the thoughts with fillers (think of your brain as SPAM). So I have a wee confession of sorts to make, as they say confession is good for the soul. I have been a neglectful mother. I have been under a tremendous amount of stress because of our financial situation - which is extreme in ways I cannot express fully here out of respect for the privacy of others. That stress has led me to hole up on my computer - and while I have been busy in ways that are productive - working on my planner, writing assignments, helping friends, going way overboard with my job - because I can immerse myself there and zone out. Yep - I've kept up with the housework, cooked meals, planned things - but I haven't been really tuned in as a mom. Can anybody relate to that half-listening state and the feeling of just wanting to be left alone? It isn't them. It is totally me. I don't want to be asked for something I can't give. I can't take another expectation, question, heart to heart because I am kinda spent - and the biggest drain is stress. Please pray for us - because in the next week to 10 days, we will either have relief or our situation will increase a hundred-fold. I can feel it in my neck, my back, my head.
This evening, the kids and I are going to a local water park for a few hours reprieve. I am going to squeeze my chubby little butt into a bathing suit and go float some of my cares away on the lazy river with my kids. I will not think about anything else. I will laugh. I will enjoy their smiles. I will look them in the eye. I will remember what a privilege it is to be their mom.
Thanks for letting me spew a bit. You can wipe yourselves off now!

The Simplicity of Planning

An article of mine on this subject was just published at my friend Leslie's Simple Journey Ministries! Check it out.

18 June 2008

Urgent Blog Back-up Notice

It has come to my attention that those who have blogged previously at Homeschoolblogger may have their blogs deleted if it points to another blog - in fairness it is a free service for the user but the "space" used is paid for by others, and takes up room on their server. I wanted to point you to this post that tells you how to back up your pages and picture files quickly and easily. I have done it a couple of times. When you get to the instructions, if you have a lot of entries, you will need to break them up because it will never save them all. I had 511 - so I put in the total number of entries as 150 - and then followed the directions and saved 4 pages which covered all of my posts. It doesn't allow you to save the comments, but it does allow you to look at the posts and read them. It is a lot faster than trying to copy and paste all your posts which I started to do here once upon a time, and never finished. I can't exactly tell you how to go through this process on HSB because I am so unfamiliar with their layout anymore - but I did find all the things Ronda pointed to in that post after hunting around.

Here is how you back up your Blogger blog just in case you want to know:
  • At the top of your blog page to the right choose "customize"
  • To the left, choose the "settings" tab
  • The choose the "formatting" tab
  • Set your number of posts to show per page to a number that works for you - if you go too high it won't load properly - and if you go too low you'll have too many page views to save - I am a pretty voracious blogger, so I set my number at 100 - and had to save 10 pages
  • After you save these settings, click on View Blog
  • In the first page, go to the "File" menu at the top of the page to the left, and choose "Save Page As"
  • When you go to save your page you'll be able to choose a file and destination - I chose a folder called "Blog" and made a sub folder named "2008.06 Blog Back-up"
  • I saved my first page as The Clearing pg. 1 - then I clicked "Older Posts" at the bottom of the page and did the same with the next page until I had done all 10. Once saved, you'll be able to view these pages even when you're not online.
It is a good idea to back up your blog occasionally. We put a lot of work and love and thoughts into our blog. Don't lose your hard work!

If this post in any way made it sound as if I believed that TOS/Homeschoolblogger had ill intent, or wanted to ruin anyone's hard work, that was not my intent. I offer apologies to anyone this may have offended.

Laughing Myself Silly

I never watched The Office before. I didn't even know what it was about, except the obvious. I wondered how there could be a show about the stupidity that can go on in an office full of people. Via the wonders of Netflix, I have been catching up on past seasons, and I have been laughing myself silly. It is a show about nothing. This morning I was practically screaming with sidesplitting laughter when Jim faxed an email to Dwight supposedly from his future self about the coffee being poisoned, causing him to run across the office and slap it out of Stanley's hand. Oh my gosh - I'm laughing just typing about it. If you have ever worked in an office you recognize the cast of characters. It is way too funny!
Thanks Emily!

The Master Plan Coupon

The first five people to leave a comment on this post will be able to purchase The Master Plan at a special price of $20. Leave a comment with your name and email address and I'll do the rest!

17 June 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

The girls and I just watched this movie. It is such an awesome way to pique interest in history.

After the movie, we looked up some of the history on the internet and found that most of it was quite true to what is commonly believed. I have always gotten very confused on the kings and queens of England. Could those people not have been named something other than Mary, George, Catherine, Henry, Ann?? That makes it hard to wrap your brain around sometimes.
This particular story is aligned with the life of Henry VIII in the mid 1500s.. If have yet to see the movie, you may want to read no further. Henry was married to a Spaniard named Catherine of Aragon - who did not give him a living male heir, although she did give him several children, all but one was still born. He took mistresses, and was taken with one of the Boleyn sisters. This part is likely fictional although I am sure there are historical artifacts that tell parts of the story such as letters, diaries, etc. but in the movie the King summons Mary and her family to court separating her from her husband so he can have her. And have her he does - and their union produces his only male heir, a son named James. While she is pregnant he loses interest in Mary, and takes an interest in her sister Ann. Oh there is so much to tell. We enjoyed the movie so much and got us looking up things in the Story of the World books we have and on the internet. Here was a great link about the history of the Boleyn family which is said 'could be likened to a Greek tragedy'.
Kaitlyn said she'd love to be a historian. I didn't love history until I was an adult, mainly because of dull, dry textbooks that faded colorful stories such as this to black and white. This is the way we want to learn - every day, all the time, in all sorts of ways.

15 June 2008

Hopping Mad Mama

I picked Kendra up from work today around 5. She had texted me saying that it was time to pick her up, and that it was the worst day ever in the history of waitressing. When I picked her up, she proceeded to tell me about the busy-ness of her day, and the pressure she was under, and with a sigh said, "I hate working on Sundays!" Oh my. I've heard this before.
Kendra said that people flooded into the restaurant after church, hungry and demanding. She was also feeling bad with some pretty severe cramps and said she was so busy she didn't have a chance to stop and take anything for it. At one point, she had half a dozen full tables going, and a woman at one of her tables had asked for coffee that she hadn't had a chance to get, and she grabbed my daughter by the arm and said, "Get my coffee. Go get it RIGHT NOW!" Excuse me? I have had all kinds of bad service at restaurants, and I have never felt that it would be appropriate to physically get the attention of my waiter or waitress.
Here's the thing - that "Sunday crowd" often cause the biggest rush of the week. They are hungry and often demanding. They expect magic from the people who are working hard to take care of all of the customers. They are often even the lowest tippers. I even heard a story once of a preacher who would leave a tract as a tip. What message did this leave the waitress who was working hard to earn a living? If you feel it necessary to leave a tract, leave it with a tip, not instead of a tip. People that work in service positions work hard and make a meager income.
Here is a repeat plea - those of you calling yourself by the name of Christ, please remember Who you represent. And if you touch my daughter again, you can deal with me!

14 June 2008

New Coolio Internet Stuff

At my husband's request, I am trying out a new internet browser called Flock. As with anything new, there is a learning curve, so the verdict is still out. It looks pretty neat. I know it has all kinds of features that are supposed to help you keep up with your social networks. I am not sure that I can keep up no matter what tools they offer, but one neat perk is that whenever a browser is new, there are less chances for viruses. I evidently got infected recently by a Trojan virus (ie. serious, hideous, scary, frightening, scarred for life porn -not kidding so thank GOD the kids don't use my computer!). The virus was piggybacking a file sent by a company I work with, and believeyoume you don't want that baby. Ick, ew, gross.
Secondly, I had to send a fax to our mortgage company. The last time I had to do that, it cost me $29 buckaroos. I didn't want to do that again being that our finances - (not fiancees- we're already married) are so dang tight. Heck, even if we had money to throw it away - I can think of more fun ways to throw away that amount of money. Anyway - I did a Google search for "send fax via the internet" and located FaxZero. You can go to their site and send a fax that is 3 pages or less for free, of course they put an advertisement on the cover page. Or you can pay $1.99 via PayPal and fax up to 15 pages. I'm waiting to get a notification that my fax was successful, but I'll let you know how it went!
And one last thing. If you are a Blogger blogger, there is a new option to add a blog list! It is really awesome. You can add 5-10-25 blogs to this list via the URL or you can load them from your Google Reader. It will show you a list of a size of your choosing. You also have the option to include a little snippet of their post. What a great way to get your blogger friends noticed by other bloggers. I had eighty-two blogs on my Google Reader. Scary. I don't read them all every day. I go to my "friends" list and work my way out if I have time. Are you comment worthy?

Right Before Your Very Eyes

If you see things rapidly changing around here, it is because I was working on another blog where I can put all of my ebooks, etc. so that those of you who want to hang out here can without watching one long running commercial. I made my own heart stop for a minute when I accidentally made all the changes to this template. Yeah, cause I'm savvy like that with blogger templates. Anyway - thanks for the patience while I am under construction! The Open Book Nook will be open and ready for business very soon!

Poor Sweet Kitten

About a week ago we had a kitten hit in the road in front of our house. It was so sad. I came home and Kaitlyn was outside crying and Travis was standing beside her wearing that same bewildered expression that he had the first time they placed her as a newborn in his arms, trying to figure out how to comfort her. Then today, I backed out of the place I park my car, which is just a spot under a tree for shade and could not be considered a driveway, to find another baby had gotten under my car. I was devastated. My whole body hurt. I could literally feel an ache in my skin. We had been on our way to do a quick errand, and after I regained my composure we went. That errand was to pick up kitten food so that we could take the babies into the house and keep them safer, ironically. When we were at the store, Kaitlyn said she could only imagine as sad as that was for us how terrible Steven Curtis Chapman's family must feel. It seems proper perspective is always available. Poor sweet kitten - but not my child. That poor family must still be hurting so badly.

13 June 2008

Sorry for Your Luck

Have you ever passed by a store window or a strategically placed mirror and felt as if you had no business being out in public looking the way you do? You immediately start critiquing your hair, your facial expression, your weight, your clothing style, the way you walk? Have you ever heard your own voice on a video or a recording like your answering machine and found that it wasn't at all true to your own perception of your voice? Well, I realized this - other people see me and hear me all the time. I do not have their perspective - I can only see from the inside of myself, out. So, it occurred to me one day, when I glimpse my reflection or hear my voice it is really only a shock to me. Everybody else already knows what I look and sound like.
Ha ha - sorry for your luck!
(blogger just gave me some sort of failure error in posting this - do you think it's the picture? will this blog be flagged for objectionable content?)

The Master Plan in Action

I just wanted to show you a little teensy peek at how The Master Plan has helped me get organized! I am really really really loving this interactive feature! I planned out my entire menu for the coming week - and then right next to it I was able to make my grocery list! It was so awesome and so easy. We are really trying to cut back on expenses, I am trying to find meals that stretch our dollars with one or two "nicer" meals (on my friend Leslie's advice!). This week we are trying Monte Cristos because I had one that made my mouth water when I hung out with my friend Shannon the other night! (Dip that baby in raspberry sauce! YUM!) We'll just have to see if the kiddos like it. If I could get my act together, we could even rent the Count of Monte Cristo to watch it to complete the theme.
Here is my menu as of tonight - although I'm sure I'll remember some other things before I head out to the store in the morning. So I'm not printing just yet.
I love how this works. I also love that I can see at a glance some things that need work. Just as soon as I posted this page I realized that most of what we're eating on Saturday is high carb/white flour, etc. so I can do some adjusting, with a couple of little clicks of my magic mouse! I also see that I am having pasta salad for lunch on Thursday and I can probably have some leftover as a side with hamburgers that night. Those are just two brief observations.
I was able to make the grocery list on the connecting page -
There aren't many vegetables here - because I'll likely pick those up as we go at roadside stands, and get some things that are just starting to show out of my own backyard garden. I realize that I wrote tomatoes here - and I will not be buying them at the store! No way. Plus they can't even compare to homegrown.
So just thought I'd share that little peek into one way that The Master Plan has streamlined my life! Woo hoo. I'll let you know how the shopping goes.

12 June 2008

ReDiscovering the Neighborhood

Let's face it - with the rising cost of fuel, we are all having to make more discriminating choices about where we go. This is a bit disconcerting for those of us who live in *ahem* the middle of nowhere. I don't exactly - there is a small town about 12 miles up the road with what amounts to a third world Walmart. There aren't exactly chickens running the aisles, but let's just say that it wouldn't surprise me.
But right in our midst is a little treasure. We have a little hole in the wall joint called the BBQ Pitt. The kids and I had to run an errand at the post office, so we walked to the end of our street and then went for a late lunch at this little red shack with the walk-up window and particle board walls that are covered from top to bottom with posters of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Shirley Temple and the likes. There is also a jukebox and a Nascar wall.
We had a nice meal - you can't beat a good BBQ sandwich, fries with gravy, fried catfish sandwich, chicken fried steak and corn dogs. (Artery cleanse please!) 50s music played, and we laughed while we had our lunch. I'll take the BBQ Pitt over stinky old McDonalds any day!

11 June 2008

"Christian" or "Secular"

I found myself in a mini-discussion with someone last night wherein they were making a judgmental statement about another woman who listened to secular music. It led me to dust off my copy of Addicted to Mediocrity where Franky Schaeffer writes:
In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, something happened within the church which constitutes the first theological point I mentioned. A strange truncated unscriptural view of spirituality grew up. First spirituality was seen as something separate from the rest of real life. It was above ordinary things; it was cut off and not part of the eerday working out of our lives. Spirituality became something religious and had a great deal less to do with truth, daily life, applying Christian principles through that life. It became something in itself, both the means to an end and the end in itself. Spirituality became a thing separated from the rest of life. Thus, certain things increasingly were regarded as spiritual and other things as secular.
The true division in the Christian life between one group of activities in life and another is that line we call sin. Those things which are specifically sinful are indeed cut off and separate from the rest of life for Christians and to be avoided, but everything else comes under the heading of our Christian life, if it is to be a true and full Christian life in the real sense. Either Christ has redeemed the whole man, including every part of him (except those things that are sinful), or he has redeemed none of them. Either our whole life comes under the Lordship of Christ or no part can effectively come under it.

The obvious question that follows is - what is sin? Likely some have already decided what that is, compartmentalize all of their lives in these categories of Christian and secular and condemn at least in their hearts anyone coloring outside the lines on these issues. Moral relativism aside, what is sin for me may not be for someone else, and each of these things are discovered in the inner workings of a relationship with Father. If you're scratching your head wondering what I'm getting at, think of meat sacrificed to idols and how some could eat it with a clean conscience and others because of exposure, could not. I also think of my children and how other children have "rules" that their parents have set for them that we do not - let's use a curfew for example. If one child is out at 1 am but his curfew was midnight - this could be a sin of disobedience to his parents, but for my child who does not have a specific curfew, and stays out as late as we discuss and feel comfortable with in any given situation, it is not. (Feel free to blow holes all through this example but it is the best one I have at present.)
The author goes on:
Either God is the Creator of the whole man, the whole universe, and all of reality and existence or he is the Creator of none of it. If God is only the Creator of some divided platonic existence which leads to a tension between the body and soul, the real world and the spiritual world, if God is only the Creator of some spiritual little experiential "praise-the-Lord" reality, the he is not much of a God. Indeed, he is not I AM at all. If our Christian lives are allowed to become something spiritual, and religious as opposed to something real, daily, applicable, understandable, beautiful, verifiable, balanced, sensible, and above all united, whole if indeed our Christianity is allowed to become this waffling spiritual goo that nineteenth-century platonic Christianity became, then Christianity as truth disappears and instead we only have a system of vague experiential religious platitudes in its place. This indeed is what happened.
Thus people's lives became compartmentalized. This thing was spiritual, but that was not. And unfortunately in terms of this book, we see that the arts, creativity, enjoyment of beauty, even enjoyment of God's beauty, even an enjoyment of God's Word in the Bible for itself, were set aside. The arts were regarded as unspiritual, unfit and secondary to those high and spiritual goals now set forth for Christians to achieve.

Compartmentalized. We can't even see that all music, art, writing has its root in the Creator that created each of us in His image - to create. Not all that we create glorifies Him, but much does that would not pass through the "Christian" filter. The front cover of this book exemplifies this so well - we have a man in painter's overalls with a Christian fish symbol on his back pocket. He is using a paint roller to paint over the Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam masterpiece.
I won't quote the whole book here, but let me wrap up with this:
The second occurrence, which I called secular, took place during the same historical period. Something happened in the secular world which then deeply affected and infiltrated the Christian church. Following the Darwinian theory of evolution (which led to the concept of the survival of the fittest and the onward, inexorable and merciless march of society, and to nineteenth century industrial utilitarianism), people began to look at themselves and the world around them in purely utilitarian terms. So the tree which once had value, not least of which was its beauty, its shimmering leaves, the dappled shades it cast upon the mossy ground beneath, now only had value because of how many cubic feet of paper could be produced from it. So even man was measured by what he could achieve, produce, earn, contribute and so on. Not only that, all man's attributes, talents and endeavors had to be justified in some utilitarian way. No longer was it good enough to say that some human attribute was a God-given gift which should be freely enjoyed and given. now those gifts had to translate themselves into utilitarian usefulness. Either they had to contribute monetarily or in some other way to the society. They had to become propaganda tools, advertising tools or monetary earning tools, to be considered useful and therefore tolerated by the church.
The idea that individuals are worth something in themselves, because they were created in the image of God, whatever they could contribute or not contribute was abandoned. The same is true with regard to individual talents.
Unfortunately, the church itself was infiltrated by that view. The view was translated into religious terms. Now everything anyone did had to measure up somehow in utilitarian terms in the church. It had to be useful to the onward march of the church. It had to help in its efforts, in its programs, its church growth emphasis week or whatever.
This would be bad enough by itself. To make it worse, what everything had to measure up to as being useful toward was this false view of spirituality, this shriveled, truncated, narrow view which selected a few things arbitrarily and called them the Christian life, the walk with the Lord, my Christian growth, witnessing or whatever. That this was all that remained of the full Christian life we were redeemed to and that these sad standards were used to measure all Christian endeavor for its utilitarian usefulness to the church left many things in very deep water.
The arts were particularly and bitterly affected, first relegated to the basement of the church as unspiritual and now, whenever they were allowed to see the light of day, demanded to make some useful contribution to that church.

I don't have to tell you that I love this book. It is likely pretty obvious. I am ready to reread it. If you want the cliffnotes - it is all God's world. There are no compartments. Some of what we do glorifies Him and some of it doesn't. It doesn't make any of it any less spiritual. But I don't think we have to be afraid that we are always sinning or always disappointing him if we don't have an evangelistic message to all that we read, if we don't throw His name into every song, or if we paint a picture that isn't of the cross. All of our lives are stories, songs and paintings that are all about Him.

10 June 2008

My Feet Betray Me

I spend a lot of time consciously not thinking about my parents. Unfortunately for me, because most of us have them, there are things that serve as constant reminders that I wasn't just dropped to earth by a low flying stork. May and June offer two holidays that could prove excruciating if I let them into my mental consciousness very far. But I don't. Most of the time I am successful at the denial game. But once in a while I will talk with a friend and hear that they are doing something mundane like making jam with their mom, and I am so overcome with the want of a mother that I could physically crumble into a heap.
Father's Day is this weekend. A few years ago - 11 to be exact, I was sitting in church on Father's Day, about 20 some weeks pregnant with my beautiful boy. I could feel the tension building, the emotion overpowering me as the pastor talked about fathers. I was trying to relax and do some deep breathing when the contractions started, but found myself helpless to stop what my body had put into motion. Thus, that Father's Day of 1997 ended with a stay in the hospital. This was a very real indicator of how much it is hurting me even when I try to deny it. I am so thankful they were able to stop the pre-term labor, and that I had good friends to gather round me for support, yet that has never been an adequate substitute for having parents.
My mom decided with a little help from me that she wasn't speaking to me about a year and a half ago. It seems there is a level of control she wants in my life - such as the ability to dictate which family members I maintain a relationship with - that I am not able or willing to give in order for us to have a relationship.
The situation with my dad is a little different. There are siblings involved. There are my children's cousins. But still it seems that he wants little or nothing to do with me. I try to maintain this illusion in my own mind that it is my choice that keeps us apart - and then the facade that he no longer has the ability to hurt me with things such as hanging the pictures I send them of my children, their grandchildren, partially behind a door down a dark hallway while the similar pictures of the other children are in proudly on the mantle, with properly directed recessed lighting. (Okay, I made that recessed lighting thing up - but it sure seems that way!) I do not blame my siblings, but this has put a strain on our relationships as well.
So I keep a lid screwed pretty tight on that bottle. But then out of the blue, something very ordinary, will blow it off very unexpectedly. Yesterday I caught a glimpse of my feet and was overwhelmed with emotion. Minus the toenail polish with slightly softer skin, they were my dad's feet. I was thinking about the years as a little girl I saw those feet walking around in flip flops, driving the Pinto, the shape of the toes, the gait of their steps. Even my own feet betray me.


Kullen had a doctor's appointment today. He ran out of inhalers, and since our nurse practitioner is no longer at the practice where we go regularly, we had to go in for an appointment in order to get a new prescription. It didn't start off well, as I got there at 2 pm for a 1 pm appointment. (I looked at the wrong date on my calendar!)
If you have asthma you likely know that as of January 1st, Albuterol is no longer approved for use by the FDA because the aerosol dispenser is damaging to the ozone. The problem with this is that no substitutes they have used actually give Kullen any relief. Albuterol is being substituted with a new inhaler called Pro-Air, which doesn't seem to work. Kullen went through four of them in the same amount of time he typically uses one Albuterol.
I went through the whole rigmarole with the doctor, pharmacist and prescription company. The situation is just ridiculous. They can't fill a prescription for Albuterol - even though they still have it because the prescription drug companies aren't reimbursing them enough on it. The prescription companies aren't approving the Albuterol because of the environmental concerns - even though the pharmacist told me in no uncertain terms that the methane gas emitted by cows is doing more damage than the little Albuterol cannisters. And to top it all off, there are essentially no generic substitutes for asthmatics. Sounds like an elaborate plan schemed up by drug companies. Caught in the middle is a little boy who I just want to help breathe easier. There is no nice way to say this - it really ticks me off!

09 June 2008

Unschooling Snapshot of Fractions

Last week, Kullen was helping me make biscuits. We were humming around the kitchen together and throwing ingredients into the mixer. He had the measuring spoons out and was measuring baking powder. I looked and realized he had a rather large spoon out. He told me that our set didn't have a 1/8th tsp. like the recipe called for, so he was going to use the 1/4th twice. Yikes! I tried explaining - which eventually took us to the chalkboard where I drew two pies and cut one into fourths and one into eighths. With that simple picture, he has a better understanding of fractions than all the 4th/5th grade worksheets in the world could've conveyed. Why? Because it had meaning in his world. It was applicable to life. I was a grown adult woman cooking in my kitchen and had "ah ha" moments where some comcept I had memorized in elementary school finally had applicability. When children are free to live life and learn as they go, things they learn have relevance. Instead of being random facts floating around in their head, they have tangible meaning. Life equates real learning. You can't live without learning even if you try! I'm all for it!

This is Seriously Low

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Unschooling: A Work of Heart

One day I might write an ebook with this title. Since our family took the leap into the great unknown of educational freedom, life has never been the same. Recently on an unschooling list, someone asked about what a typical day looks like in our homes. The problem with such a question is that it almost never looks the same. Some days are rather lethargic - people reading, zoning out on the computer, playing video games, watching movies. There are days and days at a time when the TV doesn't go on - although the warmer weather drives us inside and that seems to peak this time of the year.
Kendra is an avid writer. Those are her plans for the summer - to write. She got a good start by handwriting letters to some of her friends. She got stocked up on supplies - making the purchase of a 3 ring notebook, paper and is currently in pursuit of dividers.
Kaitlyn is always creating something. She and Kullen have been playing a lot of Nancy Drew mysteries on the computer. She finished a painting she was working on and has recently begun to design her own chart of personality traits, and how the zodiac influences that. Let me restate that we believe the magnetism of the universe, the placement of the stars and how that affects all living things is the design of the Creator. No worries about witchcraft here.
Kullen has a new hatchet that Uncle Robert gave him when he and his dad went to visit the elderly uncle. Kullen adores him, and I am sure that this will be a prized possession for years to come. A few days ago, he plunked Gray's Anatomy book down in front of me and wanted me to help him look up the spinal cord. Something about Quasimodo piqued his interest in abnormalities. The book he chose was a bit too technical, so we borrowed Kendra's Biology II book that specifically targets anatomy. He learned without teaching how to use the index and research different parts of the body and has been telling me some of the fascinating things he's learned.
I find it fascinating that the kids are free to pursue their own interests as much or as little as they want. I love it that they can dive into things they would be told in school they would have to wait for a few years, or take it much further than the overview they might get. I love it that they can explore and develop their natural gifts without a teacher telling them they are doing something wrong - and find those things that don't work naturally with trial and error.
I know that there are a lot of other kids in various forms of "schooling" who do these things as well. Homeschooling allows students far more time for pursuing personal interests than traditional schooling does, but often I find these children locked into rigorous "elective" schedules often much more catered to the interests of their parents than their own and have little time to follow their own bliss. A lot of these kids don't even get a break from these rigors in the summer.
This time of year, I start hearing the chatter in the homeschooling circles about the next "school" year. The year hasn't ended for us - it lasts all year long. We're sticking with unschooling - all the way baby!

08 June 2008

Demons, Devils and Ghouls, oh my!

To quote C.S. Lewis...
"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."
Satan and his minions. A force to be reckoned with, or creatures of our imagination? Let me preface to say that I believe that there are indeed spiritual forces all around us; forces of good and forces of evil. I believe that Satan is a foe of the believer, yet not God's equal opposite counterpart. I think sometimes we give the devil too much credit. Bad things happen, Satan's messing with me. Good things happen, God is good. On these lines, I think that it could be said a great cross-section of believers falls into the second error mentioned here by our dear Clive. Often I find, while stopping just short of saying, "The devil made me do it." the sentiment is implied as if we are victims, unwitting participants in the game being played in which overcoming us is the chief aim.

This is how it goes:
My AC is out - Satan is out to destroy me.
I got a new car - God is blessing me.
My husband and I aren't getting along - Satan is trying to undermine our marriage.
My son got the scholarship to college - Praise God! He's so good!
Mother has cancer - The devil is NOT going to win this one.
I got the promotion at work - I am so blessed.

Sound familiar? It takes on the tone of picking flower petals - He loves me, He loves me not.
I suggest this - God is good all the time. You can't have it both ways. If God is good, He is good when we have layoffs, loved ones get cancer, whether we have reliable transportation or have to walk on foot. He knows what we don't know. He knows how even the worst of circumstances are working for our good. If we believe this with all of our hearts, we can't always discern where to give credit or place blame.
This thought becomes a picture in the Hiding Place with Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie. While sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews from the Nazis, they discover the most horrific conditions in their bunks - the horrid stench of vomit and body odor, mixed with lice and fleas. Betsie urges Corrie to "give thanks in all circumstances" by praying and thanking God for these things. Corrie does so on her sister's urging, begrudgingly. Later they realize that these very conditions are what kept the guards out of their barracks, and in essence protected the women in their company from violation. To whom would we give credit for this terrible form of rescue?
I do not know the answers, and I am not a theologian. I am one person walking humbly before you trying to know God better in the day to day of it. I am not sure I always get it right, but I know that He will never fail me - devil or no devil!

Crock Pot Spaghetti

This has got to be one of the best finds for the crock pot thus far. I was so surprised that I didn't find it on one of my other favorite crock pot blogs. It was so totally easy. My friend Julie tweaked it, and I liked her tweaks so much I will make it this way again and again!

Crock Pot Spaghetti
1 lb. Italian sausage cut into 1" sections
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (standard size)
1 chopped onion (to taste - I used 1/2)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 regular sized can of diced Italian tomatoes
Approx. 1 cup hot water
8 oz thin spaghetti, broken in half

Put approx. 2 Tbsp. of oil in bottom of crock pot along with sausage pieces and chopped onion. (You could add green pepper, or any other veggies you like at this point.) Cook approx. 1 hour on high - stirring at 1/2 hour. Add spaghetti sauce and diced tomatoes. stir well. Cook on low for 2 more hours. (If you prefer you can use tomato sauce, paste, etc. and simmer your own sauce ingredients instead of using jar sauce which I will try next time.) Once sauce has simmered a couple of hours, turn crock pot back on high, and add broken noodles and water so that there is enough liquid to cover noodles and to stir the mixture freely. Cook on high for 1 hour.

I have a pick eater who loved this. She said she preferred the texture of the noodles to the way they are normally. They were a little starchier than usual. While not gourmet Italian food, it was yummy, simple and didn't heat up my kitchen. To feed 5 of us, I doubled this, and we'll eat it for 2 nights! Nobody will complain.

07 June 2008

And the Winner Is...... Master Plan Contest

I had my lovely assistant Vanna Kaitlyn help me with this drawing today. The winner is.....
And even though TAMI purchased one, she linked to my contest anyway so she could win one for a friend. How awesome is that?
Keep reading, keep reading.
I am not quite done with you contestants yet. If you are interested in hosting a contest on YOUR blog this coming week, I will not only give you a copy of the Master Plan for yourself but one to give away just for participating. If you are interested, grab the info and post your entry, then email me or comment here to let me know it's up. This is for my contestants only.
Congratulations Tami!

05 June 2008

What's All the Fizz About?

It used to be that we were trying to keep the soda consumption in our home down. Way down. In fact we go for months at a time without buying any of the 2 liter bottles - but we don't make an issue about it if the kids want soda when we eat out. The girls are often choosing to drink lemonade and tea when we eat out. But recently there is a new enemy - the energy drink. I am personally really sensitive to caffeine - it doesn't make me hyper - but it causes rapid heartbeat, so I've never had more than a sip of the stuff.
We've even noticed that among our very health conscious friends, the same people who turn down sweets and junk food turn to these drinks and I am wondering if they realize the contradiction. My husband has forbidden our kids to drink them because of the effects they have had on him, and with good reason according to this article. All things in moderation - right? Maybe not.
I have wondered about the possible contradiction since we love to drink coffee. An 8 oz. cup of coffee has on average about 85 mg. of caffeine while the caffeine in 8 oz. of an energy drink varies from 50-145. Mountain Dew which was the taboo-rebel drink of my teen years compares with only 37 mg. of caffeine! But here's the kick - many of the energy drinks have 3-4 times that 8 oz. serving. (To be fair - the average coffee mug is at least double that as well!)
Some other ingredients in energy drinks:
  • Taurine - which appears to play an important role in muscle contraction especially in the heart and the nervous system. A German double-blind study on this showed that the volume of blood ejected with each beat of the heart was increased in drinks containing this ingredient.
  • Guarana - is a tropical berry that grows in the Amazon and is an additional stimulant like caffeine but not - and provides a unique flavor
  • L Carnitine - is an amino acid usually created by your liver and kidneys that increases your metabolism and energy levels. It is also known to stimulate heart rate.
There are other things that energy drinks contain that seem to support health, such as Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, Vitamin B and antioxidants (I'll stick with my blueberries thanks!), but it seems hard to justify the bad with the good. I read about a dozen articles and it seems that the jury is still out on the immediate or long-term effects on mixing all of these things together. Another interesting practice is mixing the energy drinks with alcohol to inhibit the depressant effects, enabling users to consume more alcohol without feeling it. We can all see the dangers of this.
My son is 10 and one of the most exciting things in his life is the thought of an energy drink. He drinks them at his friends' houses, parties, etc. - but dad said no more. My husband doesn't put his foot down about much, but this would be like giving a razor knife to a baby in his book.
Bye bye Red Bull. So long So Be. Vamoose Vault. Move-along Monster.

What are your thoughts?

New Crock Pot Ebook

After reading my article in the planner about Crock Pot cooking, my friend Leslie asked me to compile a small crock pot ebook so she could give it to students in an online class she is having on simple and frugal living. I also thought I would share it here with you!
This mini, 14 page cookbook has a section on crock pot safety, and recipes ranging from snacks and beverages to dinners, personal favorites, recipes shared by friends, soups and old standbys. It is $5.95 - and will be emailed to you within 24 hours after purchase.

04 June 2008

Antioxidants, Anyone?

Oh yes we did.
I think we picked about 13 pounds between us.
I ate like a little girl, pulling warm berries off the bushes as the rain clouds came rolling in, and showered us before we left. I did offer to pay for our consumption. I seriously could not help myself. We were kindly told that was part of the whole berry picking experience.
Adult reservation is highly overrated.
I had a moment in Maine with Sal today.
I can predict the future. I see blueberry cobbler, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and blueberry jam.

The Master Plan Continues

I have started to get some sales of the Master Plan, and it's pretty exciting. The contest to win a freebie is still going on, and thus far there are only 7 entries, so the chances of winning are high! I am not trying to nag ya, but FREE is a pretty good price. The price of the planner is also $10 off what it will be listed for shortly in other places!
One of my first "customers" has posted a review. Check it out if you want to hear an unbiased perspective - cause we just met. Really, you won't believe it after you read her review, but I didn't know her until a few days ago.
My friend Leslie, who wrote some articles on simple and frugal living for The Master Plan has also posted about it on her website.
Thanks for the links ladies! Happy Planning!

03 June 2008

You Are Enough

What if you understood that right now, where you are with whatever particular sin you are struggling with, whatever ugliness you know lurks in the dark corners of you heart, whatever you have achieved or not, are doing or aren't doing, believe or don't believe - that you are enough? Right now. Not something in the future, something to attain or strive for, but that if you never added one more thing to your resume, never leaped over any more tall sins in a single bound, never wrote a book, rode the bull, lost the weight, ate all organic, made your million, nothing else. The current you, at this moment in your life with no more growth or achievements are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Jer. 31:3 & Deut. 33:27) We say it, and confess it to be true because after all it's in the Bible, but we don't believe it.
My post yesterday was about fear, and I was struck with the vast number of responses that could be summed up to say the collective biggest fear is that I won't be enough. I won't do enough. As a woman, I can so relate. I have thought and felt every one of the same things. Just wanted to take time today to remind you that you are enough. He knows that you are but dust (Ps. 103:14) and loves you anyway.

02 June 2008

Oppositional Fears

I am going to start this post by sharing something that I was thinking about today - and ending it with a question, to you. It is for research in my writing, although I can't really tell you how it will weave into the fabric, because I don't yet know.
Travis was off of work today because the alternator went out on his truck. We went early this morning to try and find a shop where they could test the old one just to be sure that was the problem, and then to a junk yard to buy a new.to.us one. On one of our stops along the way, I stood just outside of the bay where a few greasy fingered mechanics were working, pulling rags out of their back pockets and wiping sweat off of their brows to keep it out of their eyes. The raw smell, a mix of axle grease, motor oil, and heat makes something deep in my stomach get a gnawing feeling. I was standing there wondering at their lives, the day after day of it all, when I was taken off guard by a woman in her late 20s, stringy hair pulled up underneath a baseball cap, and teeth that looked as if they must hurt for all the dark stains. She came around the corner abruptly and thrust her thin hand in mine, saying, "Hi, I'm Kim." There was nothing to do but reciprocate the introduction, and I was, before it even occurred to me to do so. As my husband talked to the mechanics, Kim told me that she wasn't a mechanic, but did maintenance work - putting tools away, maintaining the flower beds and other simple but steady and necessary tasks. She proceeded to tell me that they were open from 8 to 6, Monday through Friday and on Saturdays they were opened from 8 to 12. She said she was "priveleged". I carried that with me as I walked off.
Later we found ourselves in the offices at several salvage yards, trying to procure the right sized alternator for Travis truck. The first one was so full of smoke, I had to excuse myself and six hours later am still fighting a lingering headache from the 30 seconds of secondhand exposure. I stayed in the van at the last stop, where they found the right sized alternator stored in the bathroom. (I don't even want to know.)
All of these interactions today had me thinking about some of the people I've met that are born and raised, live and die in the same spot, and from the perspective of an outsider never seem to want for more. They are happy. If you talk with them, they say things that unhinge you, such as that they feel priveleged. I have these two opposing fears that are at work within me. One is that I will be lulled into the steady rhythm of this contented life that seems to work so well for them, but to me seems more like being stuck. The other is that I never would - and miss out on knowing what that feels like - the wanting nothing else but right here, right now.
So goes my question to you - what is your biggest fear for your life. I am not talking about something that scares you like bad weather or flying in an airplane or bad weather while flying in an airplane - but what at the end of your life you would regret most having never done, or missed out on, or participated in, or seen. I have a friend who I promised to take to see whales swimming should she ever be diagnosed with an incurable illness - but knowing her I am sure that she has moved on to something else by now and while that likely remains on the list, we'll have to reevaluate it should that time comes when one of us reaches the end of our natural lives. Please don't answer to impress me or anyone else who may stumble upon this humble blog of mine - just be real.

The Ever Expanding Duties of Motherhood

About 2:30 am I got a phone call. It was one of my children who shall remain nameless, having a sleepover at a friend's house. They were having difficulty sleeping, although they repeatedly asserted that they weren't scared. We talked for a bit - I had been sound asleep and was struggling to be encouraging. Then the little voice asked the question, "Mom, can you come get me?"
This particular request has never been denied any of my children - and in fact, I get them happily and cheerfully because I never want them to feel like it is wrong to want to come home. Ever. My own personal comfort is secondary in these situations.
But the child was 40 minutes away.
I talked, sang every song I could think of, etc. until we came up with a solution - we would fall asleep on the phone together. "I just want to hear you breathe, okay mom?"
And we did.

01 June 2008

Teaching Me About Romance

This evening, all three kids are off sleeping over with friends. Good for them. When I got home, Travis and I decided to watch a movie. At one point, the lead female character is sitting slightly behind the male lead, and she reaches out to touch the back of his neck but stops short. My husband says, "Don't do it. Don't you dare do it." (He always talks to the TV - we just ignore him - or at least we try.)
I asked him, "Why not?"
He lurches into this long dissertation about if the woman touches him, then he'll know she loves him. He gets up to go to the kitchen to get a glass of water ranting, "I always have to teach you about romance!"
I nearly bust a gut laughing!