31 July 2008

Me and My Boy.jpg

Me and my Kully boy! Our hair is the same color now! Ha ha. I sure love him!
Mobile blogging is THE BOMB!
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A Partial Picture

This is as much as I can stand to show right now of my hair - it does scare me. I had really dark hair - much like Kullen's when I was a little girl - but it has lightened (rather faded) to a non-color color. Drab. Anyway - I have always had an aversion to blonde hair - for myself I love it on others - because my mom always had some form of it on her hair - and it was always so fake. Anyway, after matching up the color of the roots of my hair, the color ended up being quite dark. I actually think I might grow to like it as it fades and I adjust, but for now everytime I pass a reflective surface I am startled. Try that first thing in the morning when you grab the spoon for your coffee! Bwaaaaah!
Kendra's friend Ellie also cut my hair, and regardless of what becomes of the color, I have a permanent hairdresser! The cut is terrific! She did just what I asked.
I only had to take 743 pictures to find one that didn't make me look like I was on crack!
I can hear my stepmother telling me to put on some lipstick now! ha ha

The Hair

An "after" picture will be posted as soon as I stop freaking out about how dark it is!

On Dating

I have had a lot of different thoughts over the years on this issue. Interestingly enough, I have landed nowhere near my original thoughts on the subject. When my girls were smaller I really grasped the whole "courtship" model, and while I still think that parts of it are valid and beautiful, I know that purity and chastity are not externals. While the physical manifestations or lack thereof can be enforced from the outside, it can produce no fruit within. I was one of those who said, "my girls will never date." I have had to reevaluate those words.
Someone on the radical unschooler's list that I belong to asked if we would "allow" dating. I want to be clear that in the same way we wouldn't want our kids to get into a vehicle with someone we didn't know - male or female, drop them off in an unfamiliar area, or hang out in unfamiliar company - we would want to know the person that wanted to take them out. It isn't a "dating specific" standard. We share our thoughts, express our opinions and we listen to them too. We have found that this give and take relationship causes our kids to live in a relationship where they trust us. We don't have to enforce a regulation because they are often asking us what they should do in a given situation.
Casual dating is a bit of a foreign concept. We tend to be a family of wide open hearts that take people we care about all the way in. We have tried but find it virtually impossible to maintain fairly casual relationships. We're either all in or we're out. The young men that have come around thus far are no exception, not because of our daughters, but because our family develops relationships alongside them.
I am sure I have said this here before, but I realized when my girls were younger that forbidding something didn't make it go away. When I told Kendra that she was too young to like boys, I later found out that she still liked them, she just no longer shared that information with me. I don't know about you, but I want to stay in the loop with my kids. I want open relationships. Here's a newsflash for parents of teens: they are attracted to the opposite sex. Often before they are teens they start to model the boy-girl thing. It gets blamed on our culture, public schools, the oversexualization of our children. Maybe it's time we started to realize that God made us this way and all the control we try to exert over it has led us down a bad road. May I suggest that this denial of normal attraction is the cause of so many of the perversions we see in society today.
The concern about sex. I think we need to get over it. We have talked about sex with our kids specifically. Sometimes more specifically than they are comfortable with, but we want to leave no stone unturned. We want them to know that God has a plan for this beautiful relationship to develop between a husband and wife and all the possibilities for it to be corrupted along the way. However, the old mindset of "if they get pregnant as a teenager it will ruin their lives" has dissolved into the background. I had my first child before I was married - and I believe it was the catalyst for the changes needed to save mine. I wouldn't recommend that course of action only because marriage is harder when it is done in reverse of this plan, but Papa is right in the middle of it all, redeeming, working, mending.
Fear about these things has been replaced with liberating freedom. I don't have to choose for them. I can give them all the tools, cheer them on, help them make decisions and allow them to make their own choices for their lives. As much as I love my kids, their relationship with Papa is their own. In that drama, I am supporting cast only.

Bible Study with a Friend

My friend Lizbeth is coming to stay for close to a month – she’ll be here Saturday.
She said to me yesterday, “Why don’t we do a Bible study together while I’m there? I haven’t been in a women’s Bible study in a while.”
So this took me off guard.
I immediately tried to assess her motives. She’s worried about me being out of church. She thinks I’m a heathen backslider who needs her to help me.
Then I took a breath and realized – hey she loves the Lord and maybe just wants to do a Bible study.
(I immediately go to the dark side. It is one of my horrible flaws.)
If you have any suggestions of a Bible study that we could do together, throw it my way, quickly before I hyperventilate on the edge of the dark side.

30 July 2008

Christian the Lion

This was the single best thing I have ever been sent online. My friend Sheryl who is currently absent from the blogsphere sent me this video via email. I hope that everyone I know takes a minute to watch it. You'll be so glad you did. It's only 2:28 minutes long - just do it.

BTW, whether you're my friend in real live, my blogging buddy, a co-worker, family member, or friend - I love you.

The Huns Have Invaded China!

That is what my snarky daughter said at this sight of me!

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29 July 2008

Test with picture

If this works - there's no stopping me! Bwaahahahahaha!!
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Trying mobile blogging ! TEST 123
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28 July 2008

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I read this quote this morning on my Google homepage about being misunderstood:
To be great is to be misunderstood.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we are going to Houston to hit some museums, the Galleria mall, and whatever else we can get into there. Kaitlyn wanted to do this instead of her birthday. But, yesterday we found out that the Fine Arts Museum - the one she most wanted to visit - is not open on Mondays. What's up with that? But she still wants to go - and perhaps we'll go back and do that one day in the fall.
See y'all tomorrow - unless I can figure out mobile blogging - then maybe I'll send you updates throughout the day. (I have to do something at the mall!)

27 July 2008

Girls Afternoon Out

I have mentioned my loneliness ad-nauseum on this blog. All that is not to say that I haven't met some terrific people, one of those being my friend Melody. The problem is Melody is one busy person. She has an elderly mom a few hours away in Louisiana and a daughter and grandson a few hours away in Austin and it is hard to catch her in between.
This morning I woke up with a mild spray paint fume hangover! (J/K) About lunchtime Melody called to see if I wanted to come and hang out a bit. We dropped Kullen and her son JT off at the movie theater to see Batman (again!) and then she and I went to Books-a-million. We had a great time. We had coffee and visited and shopped around for books. She is a really neat person. I just adore her.
It was the nicest gift to have a day out with another adult, especially one that I like so well. Melody and I moved to the area about the same time, and we have both had our struggles getting settled here. I know that the Lord put us here for one another - if we could manage to be in the same spot at the same time!

In other "friend" news, my friend Lizbeth is coming to visit us for the month of August! I am so excited. Lizbeth can make me laugh till I nearly pee my pants. She is crazy and fun, and is going through a hard time right now. I hope that this will be a good break for her. Our biggest issue is going to be our boys getting along - so please pray for that. They are both 2 years older than the last time they saw each other, so I am hoping that Rex and Kullen have a blast together too.

A Few Cans of Spray Paint a Party Does Make

Kullen's room has been so plain. As part of our "spring cleaning" thing this past week, learning to love and appreciate our home, we overhauled his room completely. We put a specific shelf out in the middle of the room, and made a little divider wall with his bed behind it. He really likes it and has been hanging out in there most of the day.
The one problem with his room is that his room has these huge walls made of these wooden slats, and I have been at a loss as to what to do with them. I decided the other day to let him make a mural, and thanks to some inspiration from some of my online unschooling friends, I decided to let him use spray paint. We went to the store Friday night, and I let him choose two colors. He chose black and green. With the teenage boys that were coming over tonight - I figured they could help him get started. It was only a matter of minutes after they got here before they were on the loose. By the end of the night it was a work of art. The really fun thing is that this is sort of a freestyle art. You can get more colors, and continue to paint over it until it looks like a piece of urban art.
It was a pretty fun night!
I posted these pictures on Facebook and already got one comment from Kendra's new boyfriend Dylan that said "your family is so awesome!!!" I just can't tell you how much that meant to me right now.
And for those of you who care, Kendra's new boyfriend Dylan is to the far left in the red shirt. He's pretty awesome too.

26 July 2008


Do you ever feel like everything you say comes out all wrong or is misunderstood? Being so prolific with words - spoken or written - I tend to try to heap more words on the problem, hoping to bring understanding evidently only making it worse. I am going to try being quiet for a while, but I don't have much hope for success in this area, knowing my own track record for silence.
Having gotten one phone call and one email about this - I only intend to be quiet about one particular subject - at least on my blog. Sorry if I gave anyone undue cause for concern, and if I have disappointed those who were relieved! *wink*

Days Alive Calculator

Kullen asked before bed tonight, "Mommy, how many days have I been alive?" I am so tired that my first answer was to ask if I could figure that out in the morning, thinking of all the math involved. But then I did a quick online search and found this site. Here are our stats:
Kullen - #3,969
Mommy - #14,028

25 July 2008

Back in Black, and I'm Never Going Back

How's that for a snappy title for this Friday morning?
It is actually another cell phone post. The HTC Mogul super "smartphone" as they call it tanked after only 2 1/2 weeks of use. Just about the time I got my gazillion contacts entered, and learned the 24 step processes to make phone calls (I never did learn how to utilize the media player!) I woke up and the screen was frozen. The time said 11:54 and I wondered how I had slept that late! I had to take the battery out to get it to power down, and though I performed cellphone CPR (hitting the reset button, and anything else I could think of) it never came back to life. Turns out it was a "not-so-smart phone".
Sprint had also replaced Kendra's phone because of the not providing Picture mail on her Blackberry Pearl. She got a Palm Centro and it is the cheapest, most lightweight, hard to figure out piece of plastic that I have ever seen. She is terribly disappointed. There is a metal band around it that is already coming off and the battery door is not working properly.
So again with the round of calls and emails to Sprint.
Yesterday I got a Blackberry Curve. It has lots of features, but it doesn't take 4 years of college to operate. I can pick it up and dial a number and make a phone call without having to turn it on, unlock the touch screen, get out a stylus, choose the phone from the menu, etc. etc. etc. I finally got them to consent to send Kendra another phone to replace the piece of junk that she got as a replacement - she's getting a red Blackberry Curve.
We both love the Blackberrys. This one still does not support Picture mail. We're told we'll have to be patient, but we both prefer them over anything else we've had, so we're hoping they last for a long long time - at least long enough to get Picture mail activated on them.

I had at least one person say to me the last time, how do you do that? Meaning, how do I get Sprint to replace the phones. The short answer is that I don't give up. I call and email until I get their attention. It is bothersome, but it has proven successful.
I bid you adieu and hope this is to be the last cell phone post for a while!

23 July 2008

The Benefits of "Spring Cleaning" Even in the Summer

Well since my friends have helped me have a better perspective, I have been motivated to do some much overdue spring cleaning. In so doing, I came across a journal that I was writing in when we first moved into this house. Just reading those words, and the things that I felt about this house, how much I loved it and how it was everything I dreamed of - well - it inspired me to use my lemons to make lemonade.
I love cleaning things out, sprucing them up. This house has gotten away from me. I have felt a bit overwhelmed by everything. I didn't try anymore because I decided I was done here. But now I know that I want my world to be beautiful. Today I threw things away, moved things around. I feel like I got a fresh start for my new attitude. I wish I had lights to hang up. I wish I could decorate for Christmas or at least fall.
I needed it.

In the midst of trying so hard, there always seem to be things that roll at you. The new show Wipeout has an obstacle course where barrels roll towards you while you are trying your best to make your way up a slippery slope. Life kinda comes at you like that. For instance, I woke up this morning and my cell phone that I have only had for two weeks was fried. As expected the representative at Sprint was horrendously rude - even laughing at me at one point, and telling me to "calm down". (That always works, doesn't it?) But I realize now that there are friends rooting for me - in real life, online, and even those of you who just read this blog on occasion and are motivated to say a prayer for that frantic, squirrelly little blogger - cheering me on and hoping I make my way up that slippery hill called life, and manage to store away a few good nuts for myself along the way! With people rooting for you, you can't just stand there at the bottom and let them knock you over the edge - that collective energy keeps you moving. Here's to you my friends!

And in case I didn't mention this before, KENDRA HAS A BOYFRIEND. Someone we really like, and hope to get to know a lot better.

21 July 2008

Kendra's Complete Happy About Texas List

Here is Kendra's list of things to be happy about in Texas:
1. Southern comfort food
2. wide open sky
3. Memaw
4. The school down the road
5. My house
6. My front porch
7. The independence I've learned from living here
8. The closeness to my family that's developed since living here
9. The Sundew Trail
10. Kyle (our neighbor)- his sheer adorableness and love of all things edible
11. Katelyn - her laughable cruelty to anything with an XY chromosome
12. Cayla - her sweetness and her fun personality
13. Daniel - what an amazing, intelligent person he is
14. Merris - her cuteness, her sweetness and her style
15. Chelsea - how easygoing, friendly and fun she is!
16. Sarah - how easily she gets scared (in a cute way!)
17. Brock - his teddy-bear-ness and what a fun and great guy he is
18. Trent - his sense of humor
19. Nathan - his amazing oddness
20. Elishah - her passion for life and her optimism
21. Ellie - how motherly, caring and sweet she is
22. How neighborly (most) people are
23. Michael.... I guess... his antics and craziness!
24. Josh - his hysterical pessimism and how great he plays The Joker
25. .... A certain someone - basically everything about him.

Okay so she has a stronger connection to some of these people than I realized. This has helped me. BTW - when we went to see the Dark Knight the other night, two of her friends who are brothers had their sisters paint their faces like The Joker! It was hysterical.
And the school down the road she mentions is on our block and she likes to take walks there - when school is not in session obviously.

Happy About Texas List

Some of my online friends - in their loving way have been trying to encourage me to get a grip and take notice of the blessings in my life. This, I am sure is a bit harder for my IRL friends - people I have actually met, been to their house, slept with, showered with on missions trips, etc. to actually inspire me to because they miss and love us. An online community can be a terrific blessing to a person's life. For me the Radical Christian Unschoolers group that I belong to and several offshoots, Unschooling God Journey and a political discussion group have been lifelines. Literally.
Today we were challenged - our whole family to come up with a "happy list" - things that are good about being in Texas. Somebody suggested getting the kids involved and offering a prize to help them also break the negative mode we've all been in. Another friend offered to send us goodies if we each completed this list of 25 things each! I have finished mine - but because this is an exercise in thankfulness and contentment, I am going to keep working on it every day this week alongside my family.
Without further adieu, My Happy List:
1. great homeschool laws
2. my old house
3. longer growing season
4. front porch swing
5. room for everybody
6. gotten closer as a family
7. learned I am stronger than I think - it is OK to be alone (in process)
8. ditched the institution for a real relationship with God and others
9. found RCU and met some great online friends
10. my big comfy bed
11. watching Travis enjoy his extended family
12. learned to digital scrapbook
13. learned to make bread
14. the Sundew Trail
15. neighborhood walks as a family
16. spring wildflowers
17. big blooming bushes in yard - azaleas & crepe myrtles
18. family reunions for Travis
19. fireworks at Christmas
20. my big old kitchen island
21. beautiful house decorated for Christmas
22. 2 1/2 hour drive to Gulf of Mexico and Galveston beaches
23. free ferry rides
24. living near the post office
25. fireplace in the winter
26. mature shade trees

I'll add to this daily to let you see how we are doing. I want to post our entire list of 125 when we get it done!

Pick a Star on the Dark Horizon

This song is so beautiful. It is part of the soundtrack of "Prince Caspian" by Regina Spektor called "The Call". I know that some bloggers oppose the war language - but I see life as this - a battle between good and evil - and most of it for me is happening currently in my mind. This line "pick a star on the dark horizon, and follow the light" speaks volumes. It is my game plan.

20 July 2008

I'd Rather Not

This morning I got up early - did all the household stuff that normally I would ask for help with - by myself and enjoyed doing it to love on my family. Then I entered the 2 hour process of making homemade donuts. They turned out delicious. I was able to pull my husband in from the back yard and the kids out of their beds with homemade powdered sugar, cinnamon and chocolate glazed donuts. That batch made about 4 dozen, so we're sharing some with the neighbors when they come home from church.
In the sugar induced haze that followed, I looked at Kaitlyn and said, "You know, you could just consider your butt crack one large dimple in your butt."
She said, "I'd rather not."

Moral to this story, eat donuts first and clean house immediately thereafter to expend the energy rush, and don't talk in the meantime.

19 July 2008

Yes and Amen!

Wow. I saw a link posted on a friend's blog that I had to go and check out. Tammy is a self-described heretic, and one of the most fantastic, thought-provoking, fun-loving, new kind of Jesus freak that I have run into on the blogosphere.
I have been treading water for a long time, wanting to give up and feeling "far" from God in my broken, irritable, depressed and floundering state. I have gained weight, broken out, broken down, contemplated running away, and felt as they say "lower than the belly of a snake". I keep trying to maintain and hold it altogether. I have worried as some would say about my "witness".
Darin Hufford's post at the Free Believer's Network she linked to, titled "Authentic Spirituality"was just what I needed to hear. It was about the smoke and mirrors of our spirituality. The whole post was tremendously affirming of a lot of thoughts I have had over the last several years, but this part leaped off of the page and spoke like a megaphone to my heart:
Being spiritual, in my opinion, is when an individual embraces every facet of their humanity with no apologies, knowing well that their shortcomings are not evidence of God's absence but rather, evidence of life.

Where I am. In the confusion. In the brokenness. In the frustration. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the reality of my present circumstances manifested for others to see, without drawing a veil around it may be in fact a better witness. Things hurt. Life is hard. It is the experience of being human. As Darin describes it, "life on an ass". The picture of Jesus. Not royalty carried around on a pillow, but the hard, bumpy ride of a donkey on unpaved paths and cobblestone sidewalks.
I am blessed with insurmountable humanity.

18 July 2008

What's Up or Down

Last night we went to see The Dark Knight at midnight. The movie was good - but it was 2:42 minutes long. Wow. Even though we got there an hour ahead of showtime, the theater was packed - so we had to sit in the second row, staring straight up for almost 3 hours. Everybody had a neck ache by the end. So while it was good, we are going to go see it again at the dollar theater sometime this coming week. We didn't get home until 3:45! Needless to say we all slept in and have had a fairly lazy day. I think that is a necessary thing once in a while. I brushed my hair and teeth and put on clothes, worked a couple of hours, threw my bedsheets in the wash, but have felt little motivation to do much else. I even had Travis pick up pizza on his way home from work.
In other news, on the subject of alternative housing, I have been reading about cob houses. I know- the very first question is, what on earth is cob? Well it is literally a building material made of earth. It is a mixture of dirt, sand and water. Houses were commonly made of this material in England since the 1500s and are still superior structures today. There is a lot to learn about this type of construction. Overall I like it because it is a lot more homey and cozy than a dome house. I bought a book today on Amazon called The Hand Sculpted House. Secondhand it wasn't too bad. I can't wait to get it and read and learn more. One other thing that is pretty feasible about it would be that we would also be able to put it partially underground. Travis really wants an underground house - feeling that economically it would be a tremendous benefit. I would have to have the main living area of the house accessible to sunlight and air, so we would make a compromise on this.
Part of me thinks that I am pipe dreaming here, and that we don't have what it takes to really take on something like this. The other part of me knows that paying off a mortgage for 28 more years at our ages in the ever increasing economy is not going to be do-able, and we need to come up with a more economic, sustainable, environmentally friendly way of living. It has made me consider things that I never would have thought of before, and get an excited flutter in my heart in the anticipation of it all.
Another tremendous thing we are considering would be the ability to put a small cottage next to us on the same property for Kendra to live in, now that she is older. This would give her privacy and independence and still have her close enough to us so our family can stay close and share our lives, at least until she leaves for Italy.
If anybody knows anything of these alternative types of housing, please share what you have learned. I'll be sharing more here as I learn. For now, I leave you with this video:

17 July 2008

Chocolate Cinnamon Biscotti

I made this little treat this morning for our breakfast - we have been trying to break away from muffins and have scones and biscotti and other goodies for a change. Kullen didn't like these too much because they're pretty hard - but the girls and I loved them.
Before the recipe police start sending out violation notices, I will share:
Chocolate Cinnamon Biscotti
1 pkg. plain German chocolate cake mix
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) melted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (we skipped these)
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (you could take it or leave it - we liked it)
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper and set aside. Mix cake mix, butter, eggs, flour nuts, chocolate chips and cinnamon together on low until well blended, 3-4 minutes. The dough will be thick and form a ball. Transfer it to prepared baking sheet and shape into a rectangle about 14 x 4 and 1/2 inch thick. Bake the biscotti rectangle 30-35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and let biscotti cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven ON. After the cooling period, use a sharp, serated knife to cut the rectangle on the diagonal into 1 inch thick slices. Carefully turn these slices onto their sides, using the slicing knife to arrange them on the same baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake the biscotti for 10 minutes longer, then turn the oven off. Let biscotti remain in the oven until they are crisp - approximately 30-40 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet and transfer biscotti to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely, 2 hours.
Store biscotti in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several weeks.
We also had some great success making some beautiful Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti from scratch around the holidays. I am sure to try making biscotti more often. It is the perfect thing with that first cup of coffee in the morning.

An Old Pasttime and Sustainable Living

Travis and I have been talking a lot about sustainable living lately. One thing we would love to do is lower our living expenses in a radical way. Travis has always wanted to live underground, but being someone who needs light and air, and being somewhat claustrophobic, that would be a "no can do" for me. More recently we have been reading about cob houses, straw bale houses, and dome houses. My favorite of these being domes. Yep, they are a little odd looking from the outside, but I found a website where you could see pictures of the insides of these things and they appear cozier than I ever could've imagined. I'm all about the cozy-homey thing.
I have always loved to draw floor plans - so last night I started to doodle a dome house floor plan that is about 45 feet in diameter, and would have an upstairs.
There are some obvious problems with this floor plan, one being that there is no door to the 1/2 bath. The master bath also was pretty tricky. I am evidently not big on bathrooms. Anyway - I would want the living room/kitchen pretty open. I did a little designing of the upstairs, but never could get it the way I want it so that is still a work in progress.

16 July 2008


Emily let me know today that she was having a hard time loading my blog! I believe it - wow I had a lot of stuff that had to communicate with different sites. No wonder. I cleaned up my sidebars and hopefully this will help for everyone concerned! Now bring on the comments!

The Milk Nazi and Tunnel of Fudge Recipe

Yesterday for Kaitlyn's birthday we had a lot of chocolate. I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Of course, somebody in the house had downed the last bit of milk the night before. That put a damper on the pancakes and later the chocolate cake. (This is one of those expectation things I was talking about in the last post that I should have somehow anticipated the ravenous milk consumption, knowing we were going to have these pancakes and a chocolate cake later and purchased extra milk. I failed.) In our small town, there are two convenience stores and a Dollar General that only sell the hormone laden, antibiotic riddled milk - and I.won't.buy.it. Not only won't I buy it but if I do - after learning what is going on with it, nobody here will drink it. In order to save the day, I would have had to drive to the next nearest town - but my tank was on empty. So a $10-12 in the gas tank plus $5-6 in fluctuating costs for the "mid-grade" milk we buy (no hormones/antibiotics but not organic) = almost $20 for a gallon of milk. We had to do without it, even on a birthday. But this means that I am going to be patrolling the kitchen watching for those who drink vast quantities of milk, and having to ask them to please consider others. I nary get a glass of milk or a bowl of cereal in a week's time. I have never desired to police food, but this is what it has come to folks. We have been doing all sorts of things to try and conserve - I rode home this morning in the searing Texas inferno of 10 am without the AC on in the car! We have also asked the girls to wait up to an hour to come home from work because Travis drives right through that area on his way home from work about 4 pm - and they were calling me between 2:30 and 3:30 to pick them up. (I feel like a horrible parent for this - but it saves us a LOT of money in the course of a week because of the gas consumed.)
Now, only continue reading if you have milk in the house. I have been adequately reminded of Tami's rule that you don't post about food if you don't share the recipe. I posted about Kaitlyn's Tunnel of Fudge Birthday cake, and less than 24 hours passed before the recipe police were on my tail! This cake was really good. Kaitlyn does not like rich, overly sweet things, and she really enjoyed this cake that has more of a dark chocolately taste than the overly sweet birthday cake with an inch of buttercream frosting. Enjoy this recipe:
Quick Tunnel of Fudge Cake
from the Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook
A similar recipe won Ella Rita Helfrich a $5,000 prize in 1966 in the Pillsbury Bake-Off
1 1/2 cups milk
1 pkg (3.4 ounces) chocolate fudge pudding and pie filling mix (not instant)
1 cup semisweet chcoolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter

vegetable oil for misting the pan
flour for dusting the pan (Or you can use this - it works great!)
1 pkg. devil's food cake mix with pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped walnuts (I omitted these because the birthday girl does not like them)
1. Place the milk in a medium sized sauce pan and whisk in the pudding mix. Cook, stirring over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil - 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and butter. Stir until the pudding is smooth and thickened and the chocolate has melted. Set the pan aside.
2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.
3. Place the cake mix, oil, sour cream, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the walnuts, making sure they are well distributed throughout the batter.
4. Reserve 2 cups of the batter. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the pudding filling in a ring on top of the batter, making sure it does not touch the sides of the pan. Spoon reserved batter over the filling, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.
5. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, 45-50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack to cook completely, 20 minutes more.
You can drizzle this with chocolate icing if you wish. We sprinkled powdered sugar on ours and it was delicious.

Sweet Solitude

I have always loved to be around people, and thrive on the conversation and laughter in a moderate sized group. I also like people one on one. This is one way that I know that I am maladjusted in Texas is that I tend to be a bit withdrawn.
As a preteen, I lived alone with a single mother who worked all day and went out all night so I spent most of the time for those couple of years by myself. This was especially difficult in the summer when I didn't have at least school to break up the monotony of my days. I was stuck inside and not allowed to go out of the house. I think I got a little glimpse of what it must be like to be in solitary confinement during that time. I wasn't allowed outside, at all. I didn't have any friends. Life was pretty miserable. I think it is why I gravitate to people and relationships - I have almost a fear of being alone.
I just watched "Into the Wild" about a guy who leaves civilization and goes and lives in the Alaskan wild country completely alone. He talks to an apple, and screams his brains out and does a lot of things we might consider eccentric, but he seems pretty content with his life. It just amazed me that someone would have the courage to go off alone into this vast expanse with not another living soul. I noticed that all his relationships (shown in flashbacks) were a mess, and full of obligation, expectation. Some days I feel like I will drown for the heaviness of the expectations that others have of me, and I can't even imagine what it would be like to be free from all of that. But it would also mean being free from their love, companionship, and all the beauty they bring to my life. Most of the time, I would think this is too high a price to pay. One of the quotes he wrote in a book toward the end of the movie was "Happiness only real when shared." This helped me a lot as I sat pining for the freedom and simplicity of his solitude, to realize that the things you go through in life are rather hollow unless you have someone to share them with.
One thing I could totally relate to was the writing. I know that if I had time alone I would write and write and write. It is how this great story was recalled later, through the words of the one who had experienced it. But I also wondered if some would consider him mentally ill, unable to make sound decisions for himself. I wondered how much we have lost or kept others from in this incessant desire in our culture to put labels on, medicate and hold back anyone wanting to do anything unorthodox like taking off into the wilderness alone.
For the first time ever, this year on my birthday I told Travis I wanted a weekend alone for my birthday. That was in February - and of course we haven't had the financial ability to do that. I just want some quiet, a reprieve from the expectations, the noise, the constant asking of questions, the never ending cycle of housework, bill paying and errands. It gave me a thrill to even be able to say that I wanted to be alone - and deep inside it terrifies me. Not necessarily because I'm afraid someone will figure out that I'm all alone and hurt me, but because I fear I will not enjoy my own company.
I am still going to pursue that sweet solitude the first chance I get.

15 July 2008

The Anniversary of a Miracle

Today is the anniversary of a miracle.
It is hard to believe those fifteen years ago today, I met one of the most significant people that I would ever know. She wasn't crying at the time, but I wanted her to so badly. You see, there was this heartstopping couple of minutes after my daughter Kaitlyn was born before she took her first breath. The doctor was doing everything she could to stimulate her, and still we had no response. In the vulnerable position I was in I could see and do nothing. I remember calling "Travis" and he said, in a clearly choked up voice, "It's okay Julie." Well, it wasn't. Shortly after doctor managed to coax some small squeaks out of her, we had people from the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) in our room. This really isn’t how you expect things to go. For just a little while they had her laying in a bed with oxygen blowing over her. There were many silent, desperate, incoherent prayers uttered from the heart that was pretty hardened to God.
The second Apgar score was much better, and a few hours later she was in our room with us like nothing had ever happened. But, she never did really cry. She is the same today. She might open her big doe eyes, and tears may pour out but rarely does she make a sound. Between her two intense and high-strung siblings, she is the quiet center. Our token introvert.
When Kaitlyn was a little girl, she was so cute you just wanted to squeeze her. She was the little Buddha baby, with thick rolls around her legs and a jelly belly. You would never know it to look at the slim, elegant girl that she is today. Kendra and I marvel sometimes at her poise and grace. I don’t know where she got it in a family full of people who are most like “bulls in a china shop”. She was quiet but when she had an opinion, she made it known. Once after dance class when she was about 3 or 4 there was a frustrated mother trying to screw a shoe onto her daughter’s foot, spewing out all sorts of threats as she did, and Kaitlyn leaned back in this big chair looking a bit like an angry Edith-Anne with her eyebrows furrowed, and said “You’re evil man!”

Her mind is that of an artist. Last night I was watching her doodle

while talking on the phone, and it blew my mind. With a few strokes of her hand, using an ink pen a very detailed face began to take shape. The thing is, she was actively involved in a conversation and not even thinking about what she was doing. I watched as she drew the delicate parts of the eyes and eyebrows, and suddenly a few little lines appeared in the middle of the page that became a nose. This is a great illustration of her personality as well. While my other two let it all hang out, Kaitlyn holds most of it back. It takes time to get to know her, but if you watch closely, little by little the picture starts to become something you recognize.
Fifteen years ago today a miracle happened in our family. Her name is Kaitlyn. We have all been changed by knowing her, and we are so thankful that day that God heard our plea from the birthing center all those years ago. I think He must’ve known just how much we needed her.
I love you Kaitlyn. Happy Birthday. You are a miracle.

Picture at the top taken this past February - and the picture at the bottom here is Kaitlyn on her 8th birthday in 2001. Our friend of a friend, Mrs. Barbara always said her eyes twinkled like she had a great secret!

14 July 2008


Travis went back to work last Thursday so he was off one whole week. Trying to make up a week of income is not easy. Thankfully I pulled in some extra money this month.
Our internet connection has been horrible. I am going to have to bite the bullet and spend the 2 hours on the phone with tech support to resolve this later today.
Kaitlyn is going in this morning to have the same surgery on her that she had in March on the big toe on her other foot. She is not too happy about it.
Tomorrow is Kaitlyn's 15th birthday. It is all about the food - a gooey chocolate cake and lasagna are her requests, so I will be spending a large part of my day tomorrow in the kitchen.
More interesting blogging later - I assure you.

12 July 2008

Car Wash

After dropping his sisters off for work yesterday morning - Kullen and I headed to the car wash! This is what it looks like from inside the car. Evidently the van is a formidable enemy.

11 July 2008

A Nice Little Story

One of my favorite unschooling books is called the Teenage Liberation Handbook. Last night Kaitlyn started asking some questions that were sparked by the very methodical education plan that one of her friends is on, and I read this first part to her called A Nice Little Story. It is a great illustration about how our attempts to teach can often squander, even kill a real love of learning. Those things fleshed out in the realness of everyday life are a real education, and the rest is often just jumping for paper fruit. Read it, you'll understand.
FYI - because somebody always tends to react - I do not endorse the site or any of the content therein - only this one story from Grace Llewellyn's book, "Teenage Liberation Handbook".

09 July 2008

Struck by Humanity

Today, the kids and I toured the museum district in downtown Beaumont. We had a pretty nice time which I'll post more about and share some pictures and maybe even a little video later. At the end of our afternoon, it started to rain. Not just any rain, Texas rain. A summer thunderstorm. Since I didn't want to make the hours drive home in that mess, we decided to sit it out in the movie theater and see Hancock.
This isn't a movie review. This is a story about how something in that seemingly slapstick, action movie hit me right between the eyes and made me burst into tears. It has to do with eating. (disclaimer: this is not a diet post and there are no spoilers here as the scene that struck me was fairly insignificant)
There is a scene in this movie where Hancock (Will Smith) is in jail, and a woman and her son bring him a container of spaghetti. The Hancock character picks up a huge meatball with his fingers and starts eating. Suddenly I was crying. I knew exactly why. There is a humanity that we all share in the eating. We all do it. Our bodies require sustenance from the time we are born. Whether you eat with chopsticks, a fork, or your fingers, from one end of the world to another, everybody eats.
This may not be a profound revelation, but let me peel the onion and take you a bit deeper with me. Growing up there were few days when my mother didn't make me feel like I was going crazy. She was bi-polar and as her child, I was always along for the wild ride. My dad was difficult in a different way, edgy and stubborn. It was hard to see past the John Wayne exterior. He could only express his feelings by saying, "I love you dammit." But for me, no matter what we were going through, any rift between us, if I watched them eat, my heart would break for the unspoken realization that they too, in spite of the hardened exteriors were indeed human too. Daily their bodies required that they take in nutrition. It is a humbling thing to know that a person is not self-sustaining.
I have experienced this outside of my relationship with my parents as well. I can feed Travis when I am angry with him, but I cannot watch him eat. I see him differently - vulnerable, needy, open. It is such a strange sensation, and I wondered in the theater today having a breakdown over Hancock eating a meatball with his fingers if anyone else ever feels this way, or is it another freaky thing that I experience, alone.

08 July 2008

Don't Miss Rachel Ray TOMORROW

I found this really terrific blog a couple of months ago about Crockpotting. Stephanie is a really neat lady with a terrific sense of humor that comes through in a way you could never imagine in posts about recipes! I just visited her blog and found out that she is a guest on the Rachel Ray show - tomorrow, Wed., July 9th! I know some of you found her blog via this one, so I thought you might like to be sure to see her there.
Here is the link on the Rachel Ray website.
Have you ever heard of six degrees of separation? Me and Rachel Ray are now 2 degrees! I can live vicariously through a fellow blogger! Go Stephanie, crock pot queen!

It Hasn't Come Yet

Don't think about the phone..... Don't think about the phone...... Don't think about the phone...
It still hasn't come yet. Why is it that the more you try not to think about something, the more you are actually thinking about it.
I am like a kid waiting for Christmas!

07 July 2008


My earlier post recommending The Shack sparked an email from a friend. She told me that some of the things in the book that she read a few months ago troubled her. She also sent me this article. I know that she loves me and I am so glad that she cares. There is no love lost between us – because relationships always trump the need to be right, heard or understood.

I thought since I had publicly recommended the book, I should address some of the things that are being said about The Shack. This article by Wayne Jacobsen of The God Journey did an excellent job of addressing in brief some of the controversial reviews and claims of heresy pointed at The Shack.

One thing I noticed, as I perused the article that was sent by my friend, was that the author has a website called Kjos Ministries solely dedicated to discernment. If we have the Holy Spirit what more do we need to discern the truth from a lie? If we follow others, any others, even those that seem to be right or have the truth, are we not in just as much danger of being led astray because we don’t know the truth, the path we’re walking on, the Bible for ourselves? The other thing that was of great concern to me is the complete and total dedication of a website to refuting ministries, people, books, etc. I don’t see Jesus telling us what not do to as much as He showed us how to live, how to love, and to “follow Me”. The culture of legalism, the need for rules and clearly defined limits has bred religion and made sites like this and these email lists of what to support and what to boycott and ban very popular. I’ll think for myself, thanks.

My friend Tammy said something about this that really floored me….. “Religion comes in His name and deceives many.” Wow. That will ruminate in my brain for a while.

Anyway, all of that said, read at your own risk. If you think me a heretic, I hope that your relationship with Christ allows you to love me anyway.

The Shack-aloud

After talking with several of my friends who are reading The Shack for the first time, and catching their excitement and enthusiasm anew, I decided the other day to pick it up and read it again. The first time through, I have to admit as a mother I hated the first few chapters. I wasn't even sure I was going to keep reading at one point. Too painful. Too raw. Too scary. Monsters and boogey-men, blood and gore don't scare me. The stuff that really happens, that scares the hell out of me. So I knew at least on that level it would be a religious experience.
Then yesterday on Rob Horton's blog there were these two interviews with Paul Young, the author of The Shack. I love it when a series of things seem to be pointing you in one direction. I prefer this to the vague sense that you should move this way or that. There was a specific part of the second interview that I wanted Kendra to hear, addressing the "gender" if you will, of God. Yesterday morning we watched a video called The Case for Christ with Lee Strobel (which I would highly recommend!)- and this interview clip dovetailed very nicely into a discussion we were led into regarding patriarchal societies, and how much of what is taught in church and religious circles revolves around that mindset. She decided that she wanted to read The Shack too, so we decided that we would start it as a family read-aloud.
Late last night we started the book. Everybody was really into the story, even Travis which is rare. We typically can only read one or two chapters - but last night we read four together until 1 am. It grabbed everybody's interest, and I hope that it continues to do that, challenging our image of God, helping us together take the lid off of some old dust covered boxes.
If you are interested in reading the Shack, I stumbled on a website not long ago called Papa'sLove.org who will send a copy of the book to you and your friends for free. If you are uncomfortable doing this for yourself, consider me your friend - email me your address at julientexas AT sbcglobal DOT net and I will be glad to have them send a copy to you!

06 July 2008

School Stories

My kids love it when my husband and I tell stories of things that happened in the past, things we did as kids, things they did. Earlier today we were sitting around the table after a late lunch, and we were telling them how when we were in school you couldn't talk, virtually anywhere. I know that we could talk quietly at lunch, but if it got too loud we would lose the privilege. I even remember one school among the 20+ that I attended where there was no talking on the playground!
I told the kids a story of myself in the 1st or 2nd grade - sitting at the lunch table with a group of classmates. Some lemon-sucking faced teacher came over to the table and said, "This table is being too noisy!" As she walked away, I slammed my fist down and said, "SHUT UP table!" I spent the rest of lunchtime in the corner of the lunchroom.
The kids thought this story was hilarious! You can see my wit even then! Hardy har har.

05 July 2008

Experimentation and Realization

I think I have entered the realm of donating my body to science, while still living. It seems I have decided to see how many days a human being can live off of potato salad alone. In all fairness, I am having homemade peach ice cream later - so that may throw off the results of said experiment.

And I realized that as I get older, I don't really enjoy the fourth of July. It has nothing to do with patriotism or lack thereof - but more about the sheer volume. I love seeing the fireworks, I just wish I didn't have to hear them. I am going to be a nervous wreck by the end of the weekend. It appears the loud, obnoxious holiday observance will be lasting the duration of the 3 day weekend here in Texas.

Growing Up Online

A couple of days ago I watched a PBS Frontline special called: Growing Up Online. It made some pretty interesting and scary observations about the generation of teenagers that spend so much time online. I watched it with the "watch instantly" feature on Netflix, but if you click the link above it will take you to the PBS site where it is also hosted for free viewing. It is just under an hour long.
One thing that was discussed is how very comfortable kids are with being public. Strangely while they are so public online much of the time saying some of the most outlandish, ridiculous, inflammatory, provocative, defaming things to and about one another, teenagers in general are becoming more and more withdrawn - making less and less eye contact with me when I pass them in public, and developing this strange pseudo-society sub-culture kind of thing. Not all - I am just making the observation that this is happening more and more.
My husband and I were discussing the other day how things used to take a while to catch on. I had cousins who would visit from out of state or meet kids at camp that were from different areas of the country and we would introduce each other to new music, movies, books, etc. Now there seems to be a consistency throughout the country - and although I'm not a global traveler I would assert possibly throughout the world. The internet is this constant flow of idea, style, technology sharing. In a strange way while we're becoming more diverse in being exposed to more, we are also becoming more the same.
One mom on the program was very concerned about her kids reputation. I would say that I have seen photos posted and I wonder if the kids that are posting them realize that they will exist forever? Once you put it out there in cyberspace, there is no taking it back completely. You can delete it off of your Myspace, but maybe not before someone else has saved it. I also do not understand the full spectrum of how the internet works, but it may exist on a server somewhere as well. I had a friend who asked me to take her daughter's name off of a blog post specifically because college admissions departments are learning a lot by googling the names of prospective students - good and bad. There was nothing bad in the particular post, but it was understandable that nothing on my blog should be a reflection on someone else.
One profound thing that was said was that the internet has created the greatest generation gap since rock and roll. Wow. I see that to be true in society at large. However, with my own kids, I don't see a gap. Unlike the mother on the video that was so worried about her kids safety and reputation, my kids don't black out a screen when I walk up. We have talked consistently about the kids keeping certain information private and being wise about predatory behavior. I don't get on their accounts and check them out, or their friends. (Which I find creepily voyeuristic of other adults. Check out your own kid - but your influence ends there. If you want to read what my kid is posting, see their pictures, evaluate their choice in movies or music, then get your own account and ask to be their friend.) I have found as with most other things that authoritarianism builds walls and causes a rift in relationship. I am not saying that I never talk to my kids about not liking something or disapproving of something. I do, vehemently at times. We saw a movie recently that seriously disturbed me, but Kendra loved. We have had several conversations about it. I know other parents that would say, "You're not allowed to like that movie." as if this can alter the hidden recesses of their children's hearts. I did say, "I have no idea how you could like such an awful movie." Can you hear the difference? I have also never had to trick them into giving me their passwords - if I am curious about something I ask. If I was worried about their safety I would verify - but we have the kind of relationship where if I wanted to know something, I would ask and they would tell. Only once has Kendra ever withheld information about a situation because it involved the privacy of someone else and a promise to a friend. I asked if the person was alright, and if there was something I could do to help. It was very difficult for me because she usually talks to me about things very openly. When the time came, she convinced the friend that he could tell me his secret - and he did. It's nice to be the adult that the kids will confide in and send requests to be their "friend" on the social networks. It is because they can do so without judgment.
Not long ago, one of my girls had an issue with someone, a man that we knew from the theater circle in our hometown who was in his late-20s. He was making comments on their pictures that felt a little icky. He revealed some secret feelings he had for her - and while none of it was overtly suggestive - she had learned to trust that feeling in her gut that it wasn't right. She was away with friends for a weekend, and talked to me on the phone about it, and then she said, just go on my myspace and read it. So she gave me her password, and I read the messages from him. None of the were cause for alerting the authorities - but I could validate her feelings that he was moving in a wrong direction. I didn't save the password and haven't logged into her account since.
One thing that is of note is that Kendra is 17 and Kaitlyn is almost 15. At 10, Kullen's online world is much smaller than that of his sisters. The internet is not going away. I think that there are a lot of dangers in letting kids grow up online - but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to keep them safe. We have to learn to deal with technology the same way that parents of the 50s had to deal with the thrusting hips of Elvis Presley. Relationship always trumps regulation.

04 July 2008

Where Are the Turtles???

After a big fourth of July dinner, we were cleaning up the kitchen and screaming "Where are the turtles?" mocking this clip from The Office.....

Then suddenly we wondered, what must it be like to be our neighbors?

Sprint Did Me a Solid

Well, actually they're going to - and I will believe it when I see it. And yes, I am taking witty verbal reference, and hip slang cues directly from the movie Juno.
As referenced in this post the other day, we have had "issues" with our cell phone provider over promising the moon and not delivering. After phone calls for one day solid, I launched an email campaign until we got an offer saying that they would replace both of our phones with a handsets of our choosing. I didn't want to be greedy so I chose a phone that was comparable to the one that I had - but since it is on back order they are going to send me this baby, Sprint's new smartphone, the HTC Mogul.
I am so excited.
As a teen boy I know would say, "I think I just peed a little."
I am here to attest to the fact that the squeaky wheel does get the oil.

Only Here

I have to preface this to say that when I was in elementary school, we lived in southern Florida not far from the Everglades National Park. My first step-father worked for the airlines and had to go out once to assist with a rescue of a rather horrific plane crash where people that survived the crash were now fighting to survive the alligators. Shudder the thought.
This morning Travis and I were watching the news and saw an advertisement of a special 4th of July event taking place locally where you can let your children swim with alligators.
Just to assure parents, they did tape the alligators mouths shut.
I don't think so.

On the Lighter Side

It's pretty bad when you are at such a low that your own blog gets on your nerves. I am going to try to think about something else. Complaints about the high price of flip flops, poor customer service with the cell company and then the layoff. It is high time for some lighter fare around here.
Today, I think I witnessed a miracle.
My husband is basically a solid. He does not like many vegetables. He loves greasy, deep-fried, non-organic, highly processed, overly salted, non-foodlike food products. If it doesn't have cheese it needs it. If you put cheese on it, he wants more. (Velveeta is the cheese-food of choice.) Gravy, he'll take extra. I have worked really hard on putting good, mostly homemade food on the table and in his lunch. One thing he won't give up are his daily pop-tarts. But tonight - the unexpected happened.....
I got him to agree to eat salad with our dinner every night for a week. I asked him to help me set a good example for the kids. In all fairness, I did get him Thousand Island with bacon dressing for said salads - so we'll see if that'll give it enough junk to help him get it down.
Yep, almost like the tears from the virgin shrine.
I'll take my miracles as they come thanks.
I will also be accepting any awesome salad suggestions!

Thanks for hanging in there - the blog will be staying "The Clearing" - and "The Whining" will hopefully be put to rest for a while. Perhaps we will start a family blog called "The Regular" or maybe "The Unconstipated". I wonder what Google searches would bring folks our way with that kind of title.

03 July 2008


I think I am going to have to change my blog name "The Whining".
I am so overwhelmed again - I just called Travis at work, just to be sure that he got his paycheck before I go grocery shopping. I have done that before and the payroll person was out sick and needless to say put us in a not good situation with our checking account. I asked him how much his check was for and he gave me two figures.
Optimist that I am...I thought something good had happened to us - as we thought he was being shorted some pay the first several weeks he was at this job that started at the end of April. Nope. It took a second for it all to sink in when he said that he got a pink slip with it.
Another layoff.
Things were finally going better. With the economic stimulus check we seemed to get on top of our finances. I actually sat down the other day and for the first time since October I planned a quarterly budget.
1/4th of my back has been on lockdown for about a week - and seemed to be loosening. My cycle is all messed up. My left jawline has begun breaking out in huge, painful acne-like blemishes unlike anything I've ever had. The stress is really taking its toll. I have a friend in the same boat - which makes me feel none better - just really sympathetic. I feel like I can't get a good breath - and keep doing that sigh where you reflexively suck in air really hard with a reverse hiccup-like contraction like you did when you were small and cried too hard.
I don't know what to do - Travis said there will be other jobs at the union hall. Maybe.
I can't take the instability.

02 July 2008

Diligent Consumer

Speaking of being a consumer, I took the kids to the dollar theater the other night to see Wall-E. It had some terrific messages about where we are headed with consumerism and technology. I loved it. I do think however, that all things in moderation. The trouble is that we live in an indulgent society - and we are not used to being limited. We want excess, we demand it. I think that being afraid of technology or staying away from it is not the answer either - but to remember always that it is a tool for our use and not something that uses us up in the process.
That being said, being a conscientious consumer, being sure that you are treated fairly and not cheated or misused in some way is a non-stop, full-time job. When Kendra turned 17 the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a Blackberry Pearl. It had all the features that she wanted, and whatddya know - she had a rebate on her phone that enabled us to get it - and only it - for her birthday gift. She wanted music, pictures, texting - all the features that teenagers want in a cell phone. I was sure to ask specifically for these features. We were not able to add the package to support any of them except texting until recently, only to find one of the features she most wanted and has paid for herself is not available through Sprint. (she has friends with the same phones that have this feature with other providers) Ugh. It would've been nice to be told that before we got her such an expensive phone - especially since we asked about it. I had two options - tell her to lump it or try to get Sprint to make it right. Here is the sticky part of the situation - it's your word against theirs. Long story short, after 6 phone calls and a run-around, we were finally told that the picture mail was not available with this phone - and if we wanted we would qualify for a rebate to get a different phone soon. Are you hearing this - they want me to purchase another phone! No thanks. I decided to start tackling this via email, and it looks like they might be replacing both of our phones.
It is a fine line to walk. I want to teach my kids to learn to be content with what they have, and not to foster the overindulged American mentality. At the same time, I want them to learn to stand up and insist on getting what they paid for when it comes to situations like this.
On the "not letting technology take over your life" note - my friend Tami posted about her summer puzzle tradition. I loved the idea, so we decided since we don't have a puzzle in the house right now to leave a Sudoku board game out - and play it as we go. Kullen and I played 3 full puzzles together last night. It was great!

Please spare me any of the sarcastic poor, deprived child comments. The phone was the only thing she got for her birthday. She even paid for her own party, and she is paying for her own features.

No Flippin' Way!

I get Bath & Body Works emails from time to time when they have a sale. There are certain things I like that I won't pay full price for - so I keep my eye out when there is a little extra in the budget for some nice lotion or hand soap on special. This morning I got an email from them and clicked on over to see what was on sale and found these flip flops. I almost had a heart attack. Are people in this economy paying almost $50 for a pair of flip flops? I mean they are cute - but not that cute. My friend Gayle is trying to stick to that amount of her weekly grocery shopping budget.

It's Only a Pot

Tonight, when I was making dinner I realized that one of my saucepans has completely disappeared. It meant that I had to wash and reuse the larger of the two that I have twice in order to cook dinner. I don't know why little things like this are such an irritant. It is a very nice pot - from a set that a friend gave me a few years ago. I just hate losing something like that. The whole family swears that they have NO IDEA what happened to it. I can just picture my husband using it outside to put water in his truck, and he knows that would freak me out. I keep reminding myself that it is only a little pot - but it is driving me batty. Where did that thing go???