Saturday, December 29, 2007

Amazing News - We Are Home!!

Yes, you read that correctly! We are actually home! Todd had his surgery on Thursday morning, was out of ICU late that night and into a private room. He didn't even use a wheel chair. We saw him twice yesterday and today - we went in at 10:30 a.m. and he said his doctor thought it was possible that he would be released today! Sure enough, the surgeon came in and gave the o.k. We raced back to the hotel to check out by 12:00 noon, stuffed the trunk with everything and got back to the hospital to get Todd. We put him in the back and my oldest son in the front, surrounded by get well plants and other stuff we couldn't get in the trunk. It was a wild ride home. But we made it! God is amazing .... just amazing. I just can't believe it - can you?!!

I just realized how very, very tired I am. What a roller coaster ride this has been. Just yesterday, we were prepared to stay for another 2-4 days and now we are home. I am having trouble processing all this.

Today, the surgeon told us that it was a difficult surgery but explained how Todd's heart reacted when the pericardium was removed. It was as if his heart was breathing a sigh of relief - "Ahhh, now I can fully beat again!" I remarked that it must have been a beautiful thing. I got to hug the surgeon today - I couldn't help it. He is a very intelligent and kind man. I told him how grateful I was to him and though I couldn't name another child after him, I would name something after him someday. He suggested a pet turtle! (Yes, even surgeons can be funny!)

During our hospital visits, I was able to speak with several people who were there waiting for loved ones to come out of surgery, etc. I offered to pray for several of the people and they were so touched. My kids brought cheer to several people as well. I hugged one lady who spent quite a bit of time putting a puzzle together with Chad during my husband's surgery. I was glad that Chad makes friends so easily with strangers - I think it helped her pass the time while she waited for news of her husband. There was an instant bond with others there, even if we only talked for a few minutes. Everyone had the same expression - I can't explain it but I think you know what I mean. The hospital becomes your village for a few days when you must be there. Does that make sense?

Todd is able to walk and stand for quite awhile but definitely needs his pain meds. He looks and feels really good. He said he has no more shortness of breath and his other symptoms are gone. I am so happy for him. So happy. He now bears the scars of a battle that he has won (with the Power of God). The Power of God! (It must be said twice!) Praise the Lord!

I am so very thankful for all that God has done. And I've told everyone I could how God miraculously worked in my husband's life. I want God to be honored and praised. I taught my kids some worship songs today - it was cool to hear their sweet voices in the car, singing, as we drove to pick Todd up.

I must go sleep now. Thank you again for going through this with me. May the Lord bless you for your role in supporting someone you've never met. (Well, o.k., Carrie has met me but no one else has!) I never thought I'd be so grateful for the Internet. This journey would have been a lonely, lonely one without the support of my friends here. My whole family (especially my husband) have been lifted up by your prayers. Thanks again.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good News! The Surgery Is Over!

God is so good! Thank you, thank you for your prayers!!!

Todd's surgery went very well and he is doing "remarkably well"!!!

My prayers were that he would do better than anyone expected - and God has answered that prayer exactly!

God is to be glorified! He has had His Hand on my husband and everything else involved with the surgery. I want everyone to know how much I appreciate your prayers and I praise God for hearing them. Todd was walking by late last night and today he's in a private room. His pain is being well-managed and he looks really good. The medical staff is very please with his progress. This is only the first day after surgery and he is doing so very well.

We are doing as well as can be expected, living out of the hotel and trying to keep my three active kids in line. Please continue the prayers, if you don't mind. I have definitely felt lifted up by all the support I have received from all of you. God is to be praised. I can't tell you how relieved I am to have the surgery over. (Yes, tears are coming now!!) We are on the road to mending and I am so grateful.

I saw Todd twice today, he was pretty tired in the afternoon. He had been up and walking again and that made him pretty sleepy. I have to make sure he doesn't push himself. I miss him so. Thank you all again - praise God for all He has done and thank you Lord for the prayers said for Todd.

P.S. My sister called me! You know the one who hasn't talked to me in over a year? Yes - she called me! Praise the Lord for additional blessings!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Please Pray

This is my last post until after my husband's surgery, which will be on December 27th at 7:00 a.m. I would appreciate your prayers for Todd, for his surgeon, and for all the hospital staff who will be taking care of him. Please pray that God will watch over every aspect of this event, that the surgery will be uncomplicated, that it will go quickly and that Todd will have no problems with recovery. Please also pray for me and my kids, as we'll all be there, staying in a hotel. The hospital is 2 hours from our home, which will make it more difficult for us but we'll manage. My in-laws will stay in the same hotel for a few days and Todd's uncle will meet us at the hospital on the day of the surgery. We hope to be able to come home in 4-5 days. Pray for good health, cooperative children, good traveling weather, our safety and my sanity. I'm kind of running on auto pilot these days, with Christmas nearly here, but then I need to plan for the days following. Pray for me to buck up and stop being in denial. I have to be strong.

Thank you so much. I appreciate your prayers. To God be the Glory. May we see His mighty hand doing great things this next week.

I sincerely wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Have Our Tree!

Well, here's the post you've all been waiting for. (Drum roll, please ....)

Did we buy a real tree or an artificial tree?

The answer is: Neither.

Our nice neighbor across the street GAVE us her artificial tree - can you believe that?

I had ordered one online at a store 50 miles away, just as the storm hit 1-1/2 weeks ago. Then the storm, the damage, the roads closed, all kept us from going to pick it up. Our neighbor across the street is a recent widow and we called to check on her a few times during the week. When I mentioned that we were going to go pick up our tree soon, she said she had a tree she bought 2 years ago and wasn't going to use it anymore (I think it reminds her of her late husband). She really wanted us to have it. So, my husband went over and brought it home. Now, it's not the kind of tree we would have bought. But a free tree is a free tree. It's in good shape, over 7 feet tall. So we saved a good deal of money there. God is good. And now that we've decorated it, it looks really nice. I think everyone is pleased, with the exception of our moody oldest son, but he'll get over it.

Another gift from God came in the form of a free turkey. Two weeks ago, we got a flyer on our porch from a local group of full-time moms, asking for food donations for a family they were sponsoring for the holidays. They also had a raffle for a free turkey. I planned to give and enter the raffle but on the day they were to collect the donations, the storm had begun. "You're not seriously going out in this today, are you?" is what I said when I called the lady in charge. Yes, she was going out anyway. Brave soul! So, they picked up the small bag and last week, during the blackout, I got a thank you note saying I had won the turkey! What's even cooler about this is that with the blackout, we had to thaw and eat our Christmas turkey a few days ago. And the Lord replaced it with a free one!

Today was my toy shopping day. I got to head out to my favorite toy story 25 miles south of here, on beautiful Cannon Beach. But this time, I got to see all the damage the storm had done, all the way down. Nearly every house I saw had at least a few shingles blown off, several had a lot of roof damage. I saw what looked like a small mobile home, blown clean off it's base, the toilet sitting there, lonely, with the bathtub still clinging to the wall hanging in the air. Trees down everywhere. Some leaning precariously. There won't be a shortage of aged firewood next year. The people here aren't afraid of chain saws and I saw a lot of new firewood stacked to cure.

I've talked about the view from my kitchen window. It's a tall stand of trees, way up on the top of the hill. There are fewer trees up there now, as some of them fell on the property just on the other side. One fell right on the middle of a home. Ouch! We can see in to the forest at the end of our street. But it's just trees. They can be replanted. The buildings can be rebuilt. It's just so sad to see so much destruction. Everywhere I've gone, that's all that is talked about. "What kind of damage did you have?" has been asked of me, over and over. I heard a lot today, as I talked with people I knew and strangers as well. It is what people do when they all share in a similar experience. Suddenly, we all have this thing in common which makes us temporary acquaintances. I took photos of my in-laws indoor damage and showed them around a bit today. No one can believe what they are looking at (I still can't!) I think everyone needs to talk about it, share their story. A part of me wants to keep talking and another part of me wants to put it behind us. But it will be with us a long time, especially as we assist my in-laws with their rebuilding. My husband put the shed back together - he found nearly all the pieces! Another blessing.

The road we took to Portland last week is now covered in 6 feet of mud in an area about 40 miles from us. A landslide happened yesterday. Praise the Lord we didn't get caught in that, as it could have happened anytime and I'm also thankful the road crews closed the road about 2 hours prior to the slide - they knew it was going to happen. There is no word on when it will reopen.

Thanks for the tree input. I'm glad that is done and now I feel like I can enjoy the Christmas spirit. The tree made all the difference!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Hurricane Roared

This is what I posted Friday on HSB, but if you'd like to read it again, proceed ...

Last weekend, I spent all my time preparing for what we were told would be hurricane-force winds off the coast. High wind warning, 100 mph winds predicted, etc. So we prepared. Or so we thought. I don't think anyone really prepares for something that has never happened to them before. I can now say I've lived through a hurricane. A what? Wait a minute, this is the Northwest coast - hurricanes don't happen here. Well, now they do. And it did. The winds picked up Sunday morning and the first thing to go was our metal chimney. I had some more online ordering to do and cringed at every high gust that slammed the windows, lights flickering. When I said goodbye to my husband after dinner, he walked out into fierce winds and some rain. I was doing laundry and dishes like mad, fully knowing the power would go out soon. I got all the kids bathed and in bed, and managed to blog a little bit. We set out candles and flashlights on the kitchen table. The storm worsened. At 10:15 pm, I had just left a comment for a friend (hi mamaself!) when everything went dark. I felt my way to bed, scolding myself for not showering earlier!! I was just too busy, you know? Once in bed, the noise became deafening. I have compared it to being next to a jet engine but I'm the drama queen after all. It was loud, the loudest I've ever heard and sustained. It just didn't stop or let up. Stuff kept hitting the walls and roof. I slept in fits. Finally called my husband at some point, just to hear his voice. Prayed. After awhile, I had passed from fear into calm but annoyed. The rose bush by our window kept being slammed over and over against the glass - most unsettling. The wind kept wailing and honking through the windows but it was a constant roar with the sounds of debris flying. At 3:00 a.m. a gust I measured at 69 mph, hit the house. Then the giant boots began stomping on the roof. It started at the south end and worked it's way up, back and forth over the house. Thump, THUMP, thump, on and on, for an hour. I prayed it would blow off, whatever it was, and hoped it wouldn't come through the roof. Called Todd again to ask what it might be. Finally, it stopped (we later found that 42 feet of rain gutter had ripped off and was slamming against the roof as it went. I did, in fact, here something hit the ground, softly - weird!) Slept at last until 7:30 a.m., then I heard a little voice say, "Mom, the phone is ringing."

It's my mother-in-law, saying, "Our house is destroyed!" Oh, God! She proceeded to tell me about trees coming through her roof over three rooms in the back of her house. She and her husband were staying in the front bedrooms and couldn't leave, as their driveway was blocked with downed trees. Just then, my husband returned from work so I ran outside to find him so he could talk to his mom. What a sight - me in my black silk pajamas running out the door, the wind raging from all sides. I found him securing a tarp over our woodpile. I was a wreck, dazed by her news and little sleep, crying, "Your mom's on the phone, her house is destroyed!" I still can't believe it. We couldn't go help her because the storm was still going strong, so we spent the day doing very little, watching stuff fly through the air and holding the windows back, as they were bowing in like crazy. The storm continued all day. A local radio station had phone lines open for people to call in, so I called to tell about my in-laws' situation and how we couldn't get to them. The neighbors that live on my in-laws' street heard me (they know me, I used to live on that street, too) and went down to my in-laws' house with chainsaws, clearing their driveway. They did what they could to help out - what a blessing! My mother-in-law called me to tell me and I was so relieved, we both cried! The wind began to lessen somewhat by late Monday night. But not much. When we woke up Tuesday morning, it was finally calm. Then everyone began to assess the damage. Oh, man. It's bad. 911 went down right away. No cell service. Over 42,000 homes without power. We could only call within our prefix. We later learned 1 in 5 houses in Astoria alone had roof damage. Nearly everyone had fences down or trees down. Trees were down everywhere - even trees that had been there for over 100 years! Winds as high as 125 mph had been reported in two spots, one just across the river from us. Everything was closed. All highways out of the county were closed. The community was on its own and did a fantastic job of helping each other out. We heard so many stories on the radio of people helping people. Organizations set up soup kitchens and places for people to shower, things like that. My husband had bought ice the day before and went out again for ice and bottled water. Fortunately, our water was never affected - thank you Lord. Todd rigged up an ice chest with a metal spigot and filled it with hot water heated on our good old wood stove. He cooked breakfast on the campstove on the porch stoop. Praise God for my dh!
We spent Tuesday helping my poor in-laws. I wish I could post photos of their house. It had over 20 trees toppled on it. A tree fell on their livingroom, knocking a huge part of the roof in, and the same tree pierced two big branches through the ceiling of the adjoining bedroom. Imagine huge pencils through a piece of styrofoam. And the masterbath is the most freaky to me - a branch as tall as the room went straight through the roof all the way to the floor, right in front of the bathtub. I still shiver at that one. I had prayed for my in-laws' safety during the worst of the storm, not knowing how they were, and God kept them safe. My mil had been sitting in her living room, got up to move and 5 minutes later, the tree crashed through over where she had been sitting. God is good. Their house has been condemned so we spent the day helping them find storage and moving things out with the help of friends. The neighbors returned to help, and one neighbor actually found a house for my in-laws to rent while they rebuild their home. There was no gas in town, and one neighbor gave my husband enough gas for our Camry, so we could drive to Portland the next day (we had an appt.) I am so thankful for the people on that street!

We went to Portland on Wed, and since we still didn't have any power, it was nice to get away. I was finally able to call my mom on the way there, since cell phone usage was unaffected about 15 miles inland. The only open highway had damage from a huge mud slide and a broken dike but it only delayed us by an hour and we made it to our appt. in time. Had a nice dinner, a hot shower and slept well. The next day, I called home and got through - we had phone service! Little by little, services were being restored. There were over 100 trucks with workers from the surrounding areas and states, coming to help the counties affected by the storm. Our mayor told us to thank every power worker we saw - well, I had already been doing that! Here's a big hug to all you Idaho power workers! And I tracked down the neighbors who showed up with chainsaws and gave them each a hug! As we were coming home on Thursday, we could see power had been restored here and there. We were hopeful. We got to the top of our hill and could see power on at the top house but it ended there. Sigh. O.k., I prepared for another night of darkness. My dh slept for a few hours while I struggled with the propane stove and the manual can opener. I spilled candle wax. Everything went wrong. But I finally got dinner ready, he ate and went to work. As I was pouring boiling water on the floor, trying to clean up the candle wax, the power suddenly came on. I can't tell you how grateful I felt at that moment! I cried. Then we held our breath, because there had been problems with keeping the power on. But it stayed on. Thank you, Lord! The kids and I celebrated with fruitcake, saved especially for the occasion (it gave us something to look forward to! And this is the GOOD fruitcake, my mom has it sent to us every year!)

Last night and today (Fri.) I've been up to my ears in clean up (ice melts in the fridge - what a mess!), doing laundry, trying to get things back to normal but I had to go out this afternoon and help my in-laws again. Then our insurance claim adjuster came to the house, assessed the damages, and wrote me a check on the spot! Boy, that was quick! Honestly, I hadn't even had time to look around our own house much. I had seen that our storage shed had exploded, pieces all over our neighbors' yards. The bikes and stuff laying there, exposed and sad. The cursed rain gutter laying in a heap at the front of the house. Shingles here and there. But honestly, our damage was minimal compared to some. There are so many homes and cars with huge trees smashed on top of them. It hurts to see that. We haven't been all over town, the mayor discouraged people to sightsee due to downed power lines. But I'm sure in a few days, I'll see more damage. We've seen several barns destroyed and two trailers on their sides.

After dinner tonight, my kids finally got out some Christmas decorations. I haven't been home all week and Christmas decorating really hadn't been on my mind, so I'm glad they took the initiative. I just want a quiet day. I'm so tired. I have also discovered a new fear - wind. It has been mostly still these past few days but if I see the trees moving, I get scared. I've never been so fearful of wind - I'm sure it won't last. I hope. Apparently, two typhoons banded together from Hawaii and created what I've heard described as a "perfect storm". Now we know that hurricanes CAN happen on the west coast. I really hope I never have to go through that again.

We have a heavy wooden outdoor bench on our south-facing deck. It usually sits against the wall of the house. On Mon, we woke up to find the bench had been pushed against the railing, as if the wind just scooped it up and moved it there. Later, we saw it bent forward, like it was bowing to the railing. And later still, the wind had set upright again. The wind is powerful - you've got to respect it.

On the radio, the DJ was talking with a pastor's wife about where to donate supplies, but then he asked her where God was when things like this happen. Her response was almost what I would have said. In my opinion, God is everywhere you see people banding together, helping each other, sharing supplies, giving a hug, checking in on neighbors (which we did, also). There were few injuries and few fatalities in this hurricane, as far as I know (at least in Oregon, I know Washington had several deaths) God was here. Still is. Weather happens. We can be made strong through adversity and bring God the glory as we see His hand on the situation. And I am thanking Him everyday for being with us throughout this long, stressful week.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tis The Season of Absurdity

Thanks for your helpful "tree" comments. We'll be in heavy discussion this weekend.

I just spent the last few hours in what I have decided is total absurdity. I have 5 gifts to order for various family members who live far away. You'd think this is no big deal. Um, no, not for me. So many decisions. The diabetic relative I can't send sweets to. The relative that isn't speaking to me but I feel I need to remember the family anyway. There's the family that is all overweight and I don't wish to send more calories than necessary. The relative that we'd rather forget about but, blood is blood, you know. Oh, and gift #5 is for a relative that has really disappointed me lately, but I'm sending a gift because I still love this person.

Absurd, I tell you.

I spent way too much time figuring all this out and then, trying to get the price down to save on shipping. Searching for online coupons that never seem to be for the company I'm using. Ah, I did find one for 10% off, so that's good. But then ... more than halfway through my order, the website shut down for repairs, promptly at midnight. Heavy, heavy sigh. No, make that a really loud, silent scream (don't want to wake the kids).

It's absurd.

But maybe it's for the better. Maybe I need to compare prices more with another company. Maybe I just need to go to bed but if I wait too long, things might be sold out or unable to ship in time.

I ponder way too much. None of these people really care what I send them. But they would notice if I didn't send them anything. And to add to my misery, 2 years ago, this company that I was trying to order from tonight (whom shall remain nameless) sent a substitute gift to replace the sold-out one I had ordered. They sent 2 giant pears. I mean, what would you think if you received 2 pears in the mail? And this was to the relative that isn't speaking to me! I only found out about it because another relative had the guts to call me and ask what that was all about! It was funny but it wasn't, you know? I called the company and they apologized, saying it was all they had in the price range of the sold out gift and said they would send my original gift to this relative. So, this relative got 2 gifts and never, ever phoned me about any of it. Isn't that, like, amazing?

No, it's absurd.

This is the reason I try to get this mail order nonsense out of the way early on. I want to enjoy December. So, tomorrow, I'll be back on that website mainly because they've always tried to be good to me. I'll give them another chance. It's not their fault I'm up so late. If only I could give them the addresses and let them order for my relatives for me - but, then, that would be absurd.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Paper or Plastic? (so to speak)

Thanks (again) for your support and prayers. I am truly blessed to have friends like you!

Now, I have a silly little poll I'd like to take. Our family is debating whether to get an artificial tree this year, to save time, effort and (in the long run) money. Especially money. But we are divided on this issue. Tradition vs. practicality. I mean, Christmas trees are grown here and sent elsewhere. We can get ANY size, shape, etc, of tree we want at a reasonable price, usually. But, it's still money gone up in smoke every year (we sometimes saw it up and age it for firewood.) Then there's the needles all over the place. An artificial tree MIGHT look o.k. but would it be the same? Does it take a bite out of Christmas, so to speak? Make it less special?

Let me know what you think. I'll take your comments to the table the next time we discuss this issue.

Today we saw the biggest Christmas tree I've ever seen on a flatbed truck, complete with crane and two support vehicles. It was headed into town and I'm sorry we didn't follow it to see it's final destination. It's a small town, I'm sure I'll see it somewhere. I'd hate to vacuum up the needles that fall from THAT one!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two Things ...

I'd like to wish my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving! May the Lord bless this day in each of your homes and may He be the focus of your thoughts.

Some of you know this is a difficult holiday for me, as my father died at Thanksgiving in 1986. Strangely enough, my mother-in-law's own father died on Thanksgiving, years before that. She has learned to deal with it much better than I have. Last year was especially bad because I lost my sweet step-father just a few months prior. But this year, I'm doing better I think, at least with that awful memory. No, this year I have my husband's pending surgery to keep my mind occupied. A blessing and a curse. Which brings me to my next thought ...

We have moved my husband's surgery up to shortly after Christmas. So, after Thanksgiving is over, I would appreciate your prayers for this. Please cover everything about the surgery, the staff, my husband, me and my family. For good health and safe travel. Portland is a 2 hour drive from here so we will be staying at a guest house (I think) across from the hospital. He'll be in recovery for at least 5 days - pray that he'll be home as soon as possible. Please lift me up. I want badly to be strong for my darling. He's usually the one I count on to be my rock. I want and need to be his support. I know the Lord will get us through this. I appreciate your prayers.

Praise His Holy Name - He is so good. He's my rock and my fortress. In Him will I trust.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I "Shutter" To Think

My husband is in the process of painting our house. I'm sure you know how long such a project can take. The hardest part is aligning his days off with warm, sunny days in fall. The lady who had this house built (we are the second owners) must have loved ducks and the color purple. She had purple shutters placed on most of the windows, and a small, white duck centered on each shutter. We are finally removing the shutters as each side of the house gets finished. When giving people directions to our home, I will miss telling them that, "our house is on the corner, grey with purple shutters with ducks on them" ... well, maybe I won't miss that so much.

Anyway, several shutters have become part of the fort my kids made under the big tree in our yard, out by the street. Chad put one of the shutters high up in the tree. They've had a great time out there.

Sunday night, at 2:30 am, I heard the wind rising. I knew a big storm was coming. No joke!! It was SO loud out there - it kept me awake most of the night. I kept hearing things bouncing along the street. The wind whips right up our street, from the bay, and when there's a storm, it's really strong. Of course, our recycling bin had been put out for Monday pick up, so I imagined it was strewn all over our cul-de-sac. Or maybe blown over the hill into town. My son had done his best to secure it, though. I wasn't about to get up at 4:00 am to check on it. And then, right at 5:00 am, there was a huge gust of wind. The lights went out. The noise outside was awful - wind, debris, who knows what, flying through the air. I think we recorded that one at 46 mph. A few minutes later, I thought I heard a siren in the distance. I got up to call the power company and report the outage and as I looked out the window toward the bay, I could see darkness all over our hill. The status report said power would be restored by 8:30 am. I went back to bed and finally slept.

We all woke up around 7:30 and I went into the kitchen. As usual, I looked out the window over the sink, toward our neighbor's yard up the street. There was something odd in their front yard. As my eyes focused, I realized I was seeing a tiny duck! Oh, my gosh! It's a shutter! In our neighbor's front yard. Everyone came running to the kitchen and son, Alec, got the binoculars. We couldn't believe it! That shutter had to be blown out of the tree, tossed over our fence, then across the street, and then across the vacant lot directly across from our home. Our neighbor's yard next to that has a fence as well. The shutter made it to the other side of their yard. If it had gone over the other side of their fence, it would hit their car! I told my husband, "There might be a blog in this." We all laughed nervously, as it would have been awful if the shutter had done damage to life or property. As the wind was still howling, I sent my oldest son (Chad) out to retrieve the shutter and secure anything else in our yard. I told him to watch his back. It never ceases to amaze me, the power of wind.

When my husband first looked out the window of our bedroom that morning, he saw that the recycling bin was intact. Minutes later, when Chad went out to get the shutter, he said that the bin was blown down the street and had, in fact, spilled over. Brave Chad picked everything up, bless his heart. And before he got to the rest of the shutters, my son, Alec, and I were watching out another bedroom window and saw another shutter caught in a gust and flipping, end over end, across the yard. It was quite an unusual morning for us!

The power was restored before we got up, thankfully. I prepared breakfast for everyone, so thankful for electricity (never take it for granted!) I made my hot chocolate last and as I was putting in the microwave, the power flickered. Oh, please Lord, just another minute! God is good. A few minutes later, the power went off again. We prayed for the power to be restored soon in the area, as we knew it was widespread. I think it came back on about 9:45 am, for us anyway. 47,000 people in the Northwest lost their power and there may be some that still don't have electricity, last I heard.

A most interesting way to start the week. No wonder I'm tired!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Stress and My Six Year Old

One day I was complaining to someone about my 6 year old daughter - her stubbornness, inability to make a decision, some eating issues, some other stuff I can't recall at the moment. This person asked if I had any of these issues as a child. I had to answer truthfully, well, YES! They just looked at me with a grin on their face. I blushed and felt really stupid. I realized I am dealing with me - it's payback time.

My poor parents. I was the youngest (as is my daughter) and my parents were older when they had me (I'm even older). There are too many parallels to list here. The biggest difference is that she's homeschooled and I should have been. So maybe with that difference in her life, she has a chance to overcome some of those issues that I might have developed from being sent away every day when I really wanted to be at home. Who knows? I hope so. I absolutely hated eating lunch at school and went home to eat as often as I could. At 10, I went through a time where I refused to go back to school after lunch. No one knew what to do with me. Ignore it, it'll go away. I remember in 2nd grade, I went to the nurse's station nearly every day for awhile with a stomachache. I'd lay down for awhile and then go back to class. I clearly recall counting the dots in the ceiling tiles (remember those awful white porous squares that hung up there? It always bugged me that the dots weren't in straight rows, but randomly spaced. I digress ...) One day, I came back to class and there were a bunch of "get well" cards on my desk - my sweet teacher had the class make them for me. I'll never forget that. I think she was trying to help me, probably guessing that the stomach aches were from stress.

Stress from having to go to school every day is something, I pray, that my daughter will never face. No, her stress will come from an over-anxious mother, if I'm not careful. I need to let her be and make her own decisions - decisions that I don't need to make for her. You know, stuff that's not all that important. It's so hard, though. If I don't remind her to go to the bathroom, she'll literally not go for hours. I know this is not healthy, especially after you've been asleep all night. So what do I do? Continue to remind her or let her deal with the consequences? I know this all sounds so trivial but when you live with it all day long, it gets tedious. My new doctor said I need to get away for a break. Maybe a day or so without all the little daily worries would help bring a better perspective to my life as a mom, teacher, wife, assorted other hats.

How about some suggestions? Do you take a break from time to time? What do you do? I'd love to hear it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oh, Good, I'm Not Crazy

Last night was the beginning of my dh's work week. This time it's 3 nights on, 1 night off, then 3 more nights. It's always difficult for me to sleep on the first night he's gone. I usually stay up too late and then I'm over-tired and find it hard to relax. As usual, I finished blogging at midnight, did a load of dishes while listening to the radio and showered. I read my Bible, snuggled in the covers and prayed. It only took 1/2 hour this time to fall asleep. I was dreaming when suddenly, I heard a knock on the window. I jerked my head up and listened. The knock started in my dream but I was sure I heard it just after I woke up. It was 3:00 a.m. I laid there listening. I finally got up and checked on the kids, then walked around the house, looking out windows as I went. As I approached the kitchen, I could hear a whooshing-roaring sound, faintly, like a cement mixer in the distance. I couldn't figure out where a sound like that would come from but decided it was machinery somewhere far away. Our small airport is across the bay from us and we often hear airplanes starting up and taking off, so I figured it must be that. I did look out and see the moon with Mars nearby, which is something I've been wanting to see but didn't want to get up at 3:00 a.m. just to see it!

Back to bed I went and fell asleep 1/2 hour later. Off to an appt. this morning, grocery shopping, lunch at home, out for a walk with the kids, talked to my mom on the phone and, finally, time to do the dishes again, around 3:30 p.m. I went to turn on the radio, like I usually do, and discovered it was already on. The volume was just turned down. Aha! THAT'S what I heard last night! It was early morning static from a radio station that hadn't gone on the air yet! So ... I'm NOT crazy! What a relief!

Even better - my dh got put on standby tonight, due to lack of patients in the Critical Care Unit. Yippee! Praise the Lord for small town life!

Oh, and that knocking on the window? I had put my cell phone on my nightstand, something I haven't done in awhile. Have you ever heard a cell phone when someone else in the area is using their cell phone? "Beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep" is how my phone sounds. I think I just heard that unfamiliar sound while I was dreaming, and thought it was knocking. That's the only thing I can figure out. The cell phone will stay in the kitchen tonight, just in case!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pasta (briefly) but mostly, Miss Potter

If you haven't read my last post, go back and read it. Then read this one.

Two nights ago, I made spaghetti. My husband usually removes the bay leaf before he serves the kids. As I sat down, he said, "No bay leaf?" Yep, that's right. "Oh, I must have forgotten it." Man, it's getting pathetic. I made kosher hot dogs last night - no ingredients to leave out there! I'm beginning to lose confidence in my cooking ability. But that's not what I want to write about here.

I have been absolutely delighted with the movie, "Miss Potter", do you know of it? It is the story of Beatrix Potter, mostly during the time of her publishing, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit". It covers her childhood briefly and her adult life in her early 30's. We have watched it several times this week and I get something different from it each time I watch it.

What I enjoy most about the movie is her journey towards acknowledging herself as an artist/writer. A published author. Giving herself those labels, to me, seem significant. She published her books at the turn of the century, no small feat for a woman. She was a tenacious woman, persistent by Victorian standards. The acting is great and the sweet romance is fun to watch. I enjoy quiet movies, safe movies (by all standards) and this is one of them. We let the kids watch it with us a few days ago and they enjoyed how the characters in her drawings would move when she spoke to them (a fun special effect but not cartoony, just subtle, and fun.) I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates lovely movies. Also, it's filmed in and around the areas of London where she lived, with some really beautiful scenery.

As a fledgling writer, I find myself watching this movie from that point of view. I am very familiar with all aspects of printing and publishing, having worked in the business for many years before becoming a mom. But having a book published - that is my goal. So that aspect of the movie is a thrill to watch. The first time she sees her book in a book shop window - I feel the joy right along with her.

Tonight, my daughter handed me "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher" to read to her at bedtime. I looked at it in a different light. There on the credits page was Beatrix Potter's publisher's name, the same one in the movie! And looking at the characters in that book, I remembered things said and shown in the movie about them. It was too fun! I now see her books in a totally different way. A real person wrote them and now I know the "rest of the story". I love it!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Read The Recipe

It's too bad there is no title given to moms who are famous for leaving out an ingredient (or two) when preparing a recipe. I would definitely be a finalist. What could that be called? Mrs. Always Something Forgotten? Mrs. Oops, Didn't See That? Mrs. Total Airhead?

Here's where I'm going with this ... on "my other blog at HSB" I posted, just a few days ago, about making a chocolate cake with my daughter. And if it weren't for her astute observation, I would have left out the sugar. O.k., it was funny at the time, we laughed and life went on. Tonight, I made a quiche, with bacon, Swiss cheese and broccoli. I decided to leave out the salt, on purpose, because I thought the bacon and Swiss cheese were salty enough. Well, I was wrong on that account so, lesson learned. Even so, my husband said the quiche was delicious - that is HIGH praise, folks! But later on, after dinner, my husband was just about to leave for work and was putting on his shoes near the door. I was standing there, looking at the quiche recipe. And I said, "Oh, I forgot the butter." He said nothing. Either he was silently shaking his head at yet another faux pas of his poor wife's cooking abilities or he just didn't hear me. Let's assume the latter, for my sake.

Before I sat down here, I got to thinking about just how often I do this. I either misread the measurement of an ingredient which sometimes results in a better outcome (but usually not), or I leave out an ingredient entirely. What's the problem? I don't know. And it concerns me. It's not age because I've done this for 20 years. I was young when I got married and first learned to cook from my dh. He sometimes makes fun of me because I usually stick so close to the recipe, I'm often afraid to wing it. And even if I do follow a recipe to the letter, the same recipe may not come out the same way, twice. Take my cornbread pursuit.

For years, I just made cornbread using the Jiffy brand mix. It's easy, it's always good, no problems. But when I started becoming a label-reader, I wanted to make a more healthy cornbread and began looking for recipes from scratch. I have tried several and I just can't get it right. There's one recipe for cornbread that I've made at least half a dozen times and it never comes out the same way. I don't know what the issue is. It perplexes my dh. That's not a surprise.

So every now and then, I buy the Jiffy mix just to save my sanity. What's a little lard, right?

Maybe I should just have my daughter read my recipes to me. She knew we needed the sugar in our chocolate cake and she didn't even read the recipe (she's not that good at reading yet!)

In the meantime, I'll muddle through. My family will be patient. And I'll look for a good sale on Jiffy mix!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Funny Postman

Last Saturday, our neighbors two doors down apparently had a family wedding. There were lots of cars parked all over the cul-de-sac we live on. One car parked directly in front of our house, as close to the driveway as they could get. This is no big deal except for the fact that our mailbox is located in this exact spot. We were told years ago to leave 2-4 feet in front of the mailbox to allow the postman (in his mail truck) to leave the mail without having to get out of his truck. We have followed this request faithfully, also not a problem since we seldom park on the street.

When I saw that car there, I was a bit irked. And it wouldn't have bothered me if it wasn't in my view for most of the day. I had a lot of dishes to do that morning and the car was in full view, all morning long, from my kitchen window. So I simmered. And I started worrying. We have a nice postman and all but this was out of my control. We didn't know who's car it was and I hoped it would be gone before the postman arrived (usually in the mid-to-late afternoon). I started making my excuses in my head long before he got there. I even wrote a note, saying we didn't know the owner of the car and apologizing for the inconvenience, and taped it to the mailbox. I don't know why it was bothering me so except maybe my hormonal-triggered anxiety state.

Later that afternoon, I was changing my clothes when I heard the mail truck go around our corner. I heard the brakes squeak as he pulled in front of our drive way and parked. I heard the gate. Then the doorbell rang. I was running down the hall, trying to zip my pants and shouting to anyone who was within earshot, "Get the door, please!" My husband finally answered the door and I heard the postman say, "You've got a vehicle parked in front of the mailbox, would you please sign this form." I pushed past my kids, who were crowded around my husband, and nearly shouted, "We don't know who's car it is!" The surprised postman stepped back and said, "No, no, I'm just kidding!"

Geesh! This seemed like such a set up, you know? I stammered just a sec, recovered and said, "I ought to thump you!" So, everyone laughed and we chatted a bit, lamenting on the inconsideration of the owner of the vehicle. Then we took our mail, thanked him and said goodbye. Before he left, I managed to say, "Hey, where's that form, we've got a shredder!"

I'm still a bit embarrassed about this situation though I still laugh at the irony. He'll never know just how worked up I was over that stupid car (although maybe I gave that away). Later that day, the car was gone. Still don't know who it belonged to. But I'll bet their postman isn't as funny as ours!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dancing in the Sun

Some of you know that I used to take belly dancing lessons (my instruction is not teaching at present - bummer) My last class was in March but apparently my daughter hasn't forgotten.

We were walking down our hill the other day and it was a rare, sunny afternoon. The sun was shining gloriously on the bay below. It was stunning. I said to my daughter, "Look how the water is shimmering in the sunlight."

She said, "I know what the water is doing, it's belly dancing."

I corrected her, "Well, yes, shimmying is a part of belly dancing but the water is actually shimmering."

She said, "Yes, it's belly dancing."

O.k., Carmen, you win.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Denim Deals

I was so thrilled by this, I had to post it. A few weeks ago, our local major department store (the only one in our county!) of which I've been a faithful card-carrying member since I was 16, sent me a coupon for $10 off any purchase. Wasn't that nice? I needed a new pair of jeans, so off I went (without kids).

I found a pair that fit, amazingly, and saw that they were $36.00. O.k., that makes them $26.00, still not bad. But when the clerk rang them up, they were actually on sale for $19.99. That made them only $9.99!

After a few days, that same store sent me another offer, this time 15% off any purchase if I used my card (of course, I'll use my card!) My dh always says that if you really like something, get two of them. So, back I went, the jeans were still $19.99 so I bought two pair, a dark and a light wash. The cashier not only gave me the 15% but she also gave me an additional % off (perhaps for my pretty face LOL) which made the price of each $14.94!

Now, I'm used to seeing boot cut, stretch jeans for $50.00 and up in catalogs (that's how I do most of my shopping). So to get 3 pairs of jeans for under $40.00 was awesome!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Good Things

My dh had a fun surprise yesterday. He went out of town for an appointment and when he was done, he stopped by a big grocery store for some things that cost more here in our area. He was in the check out and he turned around - behind him was my blog friend at leingangs! Isn't that amazing, that they were both there at exactly the same time? We have met and gotten to know her and her family, so my dh knew her right away. I know the Lord likes to surprise us with little things like that - running into someone you know when you are far from home is always a trip!

And something really terrific has occurred for mamaself - her military dh is HOME! It is such a joy to see her family all together, after his being gone for over 6 months. Praise the Lord for keeping him safe and also for taking care of his family. Mamaself is a strong woman - I encourage you to get to know her! (See my sidebar for links to both of these bloggers.)

Blogging has added more joy to my life. I love praying for my cyber friends and getting to know them is always interesting. Meeting one and her family has also been a joy.

So tell me, what has blogging added to YOUR life?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

When I Get Old

I've had these thoughts rolling around in my head for awhile. My mother, who lost her husband last year, has been enjoying the company of a man who lives a few doors down. I only know of him from what she tells me but he seems like a personable, nice guy. He brings her dinner, they play cards, he drives her where she needs to go. In fact, he drives a lot of people, sort of a part-time job and an admirable one. She says they are company for each other. All this is fine. I'm so happy for my mom to have a friend. What doesn't set well with me is that he takes my mom to casinos and bingo halls. These are places my mom wouldn't think to go to and I wonder if she's just going along to be polite or for something to pass the time. I do not judge her for going, nor do I judge him. But I sure feel like she's wasting her time. Is that really where the Lord wants her? That's my opinion, I haven't shared it with her. But it has sparked a lot of thinking in how I want to spend my time when I get old (if the Lord allows me to).

When I get old, I want to spend my time in a worthy way. Worthy of the Lord, that is. Volunteering with some of the organizations that I like. Planting trees, helping build a house, things like that. Starting a prayer ministry, in a group situation or phone ministry. I've thought of being a spiritual mentor to younger women, having had the good fortune of having a mentor myself. Of course, I'd love to just enjoy my husband 24/7! I definitely want to spend time with a favorite hobby, though I'm not sure what just now. I'm not much of a gardener but maybe someday ... Furthering my education would be fun. Perhaps a cooking class! My husband wants me to model (there is a need for older models these days and I wouldn't need a bikini body!)

I've got a lot of time between my age now and my mother's. But these are things I've been thinking of for quite awhile. I don't want to waste my time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Middle Name Tag

Emily at thelearningneverstops has tagged me with the middle name meme (what's meme?)

The rules: List one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. Write your own blog post containing your middle name facts. At the end, choose one person to tag for each letter of your middle name. Then leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged.”

O.k., my middle name is (drum roll please) ... Gail. (I hear Em gasping!) I started to say that I never liked my middle name but I don't wish to offend any others reading this that were blessed with this name at birth (meaning - Gayle and the other Gayle)

Let me clarify: I never cared for the actual spelling of my middle name. I always associated it with Gale Gordon of The Lucy Show (it was in reruns when I was very small, I'm not that old!) Anyway, I never liked Gale Gordon (the bank manager), I thought he was a grump. I was so very glad my name wasn't spelled like his but it was darn close. Years later, I saw it spelled "Gayle" and thought that was a nice way to spell it but by then, I had stopped being bothered by my middle name altogether. I always figured that when I got married, I would take my maiden name as my middle name, to keep it in the family (my father had no sons). That didn't happen, bummer!

I don't know what Gail means. Gale is a strong wind - that COULD be me. What I do know is that I was the fourth and final child and after naming 3 girls, my parents had run out of names. They had the first name picked and decided on my middle name while my mom was still in the hospital. They had no answer for me when I asked why they picked my middle name.

Years later, after my dad passed away, I got to thinking. In 1961, a new TV show came out called The Avengers. It was an English spy show with a savvy-dressing cast and was a big hit, both in our house and elsewhere. Anyone who knows this show, probably remembers Emma Peel being played most famously by Diana Rigg. She was amazing. But, before Ms. Peel, there was another beauty, named Cathy Gale (played by Honor Blackman). She was on the show from 1962-1964. Since I was born in the middle of 1963, my husband surmises that my dad must have liked this character and since I was called Kathy growing up (still am by family) my dad must have gotten the idea for Gail from this actress, changing the spelling for whatever reason. It's a good theory, even if it's not true! My mom doesn't think that is where the name came from but it's a funny coincidence. And it lends some intrigue to my middle name!

G - Grateful. I am. Very. For everything God has given me, shown me or taken away, because He knows what's best for me.

A - Apologetic. I have no trouble saying I'm sorry (when I need to, not just in everyday conversation.) I've worked hard to instill this important trait in my kids. It's annoying when someone doesn't own up and apologize when they should. In my opinion.

I - Insane is the first word that springs to mind but, no, how about intercede. As in intercessory prayer. As in praying for others. I truly believe this is a gift from the Lord, as I consider it an honor and a privilege to pray for others and when I say I will, I DO! And God gives me many, many opportunities to pray for people, it's so exciting! If you open yourself up praying for others, believe me, God will show you the way!

L - Loyal. Like a puppy. If I really care about someone or something, I try to give it my all. I obviously don't care that much about housework.

Funny, I was just thinking I was tired of posting about myself lately and then this tag jumps up. This was fun and different but once again, I'm not going to choose anyone specifically. If you want to try this tag, leave me a comment, I'd love to hear more about you!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Homeschooled Mom

I'm homeschooling myself. Doesn't that sound like fun? I get to pick the subjects I want. I set my own schedule. And I correct my own work. Of course, I get all A's (I wish!) Though I do seek help from my principal from time to time. I only wish my childhood schooling could have been like this.

When I look back, I should have been homeschooled. I have read a lot of homeschool moms feel that way. That's one reason many of us thought about teaching our kids at home in the first place. Because we wish we could have been. But, you can't turn back the clock. Must go forward.

I am trying very hard to keep a schedule for myself. Usually just after my kids are done, I get 10 minutes or so to work on my math book and French language lessons. It's just a little each day but it's worth it, to me anyway. I've also been going through a slim book on writing skills and when I finish that one, I'm going on to a grammar book by the same author.

My dh and I have discussed my attending night classes to further my education but, really, I don't think I could commit to that right now. So I'm doing what I can, on my own. I never really went to college, just a couple of classes that I only briefly attended. I just hated sitting in a classroom for any length of time. I wanted to work early on so I jumped into an office position at age 15-1/2. Worked after school and on weekends. It served me well as a springboard for the other routes my various careers went. But now that I've been out of the working world for so long, I'm feeling the need to learn more. Teaching my kids allows me all kinds of opportunities to learn, of course. But I want time to learn what I choose, too. And it's free!

This is apparently what one does when they reach a certain age. In my case, that age would be 44. Yesterday I said to my 45 y.o. husband, "I'm having a mid-life crisis!" And I am! I always wondered if I would really know and ... I do! I can feel it! He said he felt that way a few years ago and now he's a nurse (after 20 years of being a cabinet builder!) Lesson learned: You are going to get older, no matter what you do. Time is going to march on. You can either sit around and stew or you can do something. Anything you can do to move forward is better than going backward or sitting still. I can see that I've been slowly improving my life for some time now. I've been eating healthier for years. I've already embarked on getting more fit and exercising, I've been doing that for a few years now. I crave exercise. It's my new habit. It's hard to fit it into my day but I try. The next obvious step to me is to exercise my brain.

And this time around, I can learn at home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Week So Far

"We're not nuts, just a little crazy!"

That's a little ditty my friends and I used to chant while walking home from junior high. We did a little dance to it as well. It was so much fun. (I miss Debbie R. and Linda! Where are you guys?)

Now, 30 years later, I feel the same way. This week has been nuts! We started our first day of school yesterday - it went swimmingly. You can read about that on my blog at HSB. After school, we picked up and delivered a sofa for my mil, to a thrift. Went to the toy store to celebrate the first day of school.

Today went even better, (daughter actually enjoyed reading lesson!) though we had interruption after interruption. The firewood was delivered and unloaded in a big heap in the driveway - but wait! We ordered more than that! Phone calls, yada, yada.

Husband has MRI scan in Portland (way too early this a.m.) 2 hours away. Calls on his way home, during our school time. Can't just say, "Sorry, honey, can't talk right now!"

Middle child wanders about the house, for some reason, and is increasingly annoying. Sit down, Alec!

And later, errands, more phone calls, dishes, laundry, went for a walk with daughter, helped with stacking firewood, made dinner, on and on. We actually had sun for 3 days but today was cold and foggy. But if you drove 10 miles inland, you found sun. It just ain't fair!

But right now, it's quiet in the house. Sigh. In the infamous words of Dr. Seuss (you know him?) "Today is done, today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I failed in my mom duty. My oldest son got braces put on his teeth today and, to be honest, I never gave it a second thought. Oh, sure, I prayed for him before hand and gave him a little pep talk before he left for the orthodontist with his dad. I prayed for him while he was gone. When he returned, I smiled weakly and asked how it went. I wasn't prepared for the day that followed. He went right into my arms and cried. He didn't sob, just a sad, silent cry. I think he would have sobbed if he wasn't 12. My heart ached for him. I really didn't know how to help. Pain relievers helped a bit with the aching teeth. But I wasn't ready for the psychological issues. He is really, really bummed at how his life has changed so much. Even telling him it's only for two years and when he's done, he'll have an even nicer smile - knowing this didn't help. His heart and mind needed relief today. He said he's upset that he can't take his braces off like he can his glasses. I'll bet he feels kind of caged - I can understand that. Sigh. He got glasses for the first time about 2 months ago. And his voice started changing last month. Now braces. The poor guy. Growing up is tough and everyone goes through it and usually survives well enough. But he is a child of routine. Routine makes his world orderly, though he is rather careless and not a detail-oriented individual, at least in the world around him. He counts on certain things always being the same. I'm afraid I'm the one to start that scenario. But doesn't everyone do that? I guess change is more difficult for some kids (people) than it is for others. He cried when he realized there were certain foods he may not be able to eat. I said that we'll have to see, we just don't know. He's worried he won't be able to play his euphonium (that's like a small tuba). We kept telling him his teeth would feel better tomorrow. By tonight, he was doing a bit better. He spent most of the day playing solitaire on the computer - a privilege given only because of his present condition. I did take him to the beach where there was a classic car show going on (he loves cars at the moment). So I did good there. We enjoyed spending time together, just the two of us.

Things were going much better by bed time until naive mom had to help him brush and floss his teeth. You see, I wasn't at the dentist where they discussed how to do this with braces. I hadn't read the brochure and hadn't yet seen all the stuff they sent home with him. I wasn't prepared. I never had braces and never watched my sister take care of hers (ewww!) So I fumbled around with the flossing after watching him doing it incorrectly (at least I could see the floss wasn't going where it should.) And the he just gave up and cried. More sadness. It breaks my heart!! I HATE the fact that we can't make everything all right. I hate it! I'm one of those moms who has an overwhelming need to shelter my kids from everything - but I can't and don't. I try to let them deal with issues as I think they are ready. I'm totally honest with them about things. No sugar coating. But I do remind them that God is always with them, all they have to do is talk to Him. I pray for and with my kids every day. This world is a beast. Look for the beauty and the blessings. But remember that all is not going to be perfect. That's basically my philosophy. I remember, back when I was 21, a co-worker once said that it is more normal for us to have pain somewhere on our body than to be pain-free. She was right. And she was only 24 at the time.

I am raising sensitive kids. I am sensitive. Since they are with me all day, they can't help but pick up on that. If I bump into a chair or something (which happens often) one or more of the kids will say, "Awww" and I'll get a hug or kiss to make it better. What a blessing. I'm glad they are sensitive but I also have to work on a bit of toughening up. Then again, maybe I don't. Life does that well enough on its own.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Story That Needed Telling

I just finished reading a book called, "Bold Spirit" Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America (written by Linda Lawrence Hunt, published by Anchor Books, 2003) which is about a woman who walked from Spokane, WA to New York City, in the late 1800's. It is an amazing book. The woman who wrote it spent about 20+ years researching this story and the book she created from her findings is fascinating. I am so impressed with the writing, as well as the woman whom the story is about. I absolutely love stories about strong, independent women, especially those who are devoted to family and this woman's story fills that bill.

The amazing thing about this story is that all the author had to go on was 2 newspaper clippings and a report written by an 8th grade boy, a story he had heard passed down to his mother from her elders. I love research and the amount that was necessary to fill in all so many blanks is remarkable. Helga walked with her 18 year old daughter and stopped in towns along the way, talking with newspaper reporters who printed stories about their trek. She kept a diary as she walked but it was lost or stolen when she reached her destination. All that was left was the family stories. Such a tragedy! She walked to save the ranch she and her family lived on, as someone had offered her a large amount of money to advertise a new garment for women to wear that was easier to walk in and ride a bike in, a shorter skirt than was the fashion at the time. The skirt came to the top of her shoes! Even more amazing, Helga had given birth to 10 children and had lived through surgery - remember this was the late, late 1800's!

Now, what really made an impact on me was the fact that this woman's story was silenced by her family. The family was not happy about her making this walk and while she was gone, her disabled husband had to care for the children. 2 of them contracted diphtheria and died while she was away and the children never forgave her for being gone. They didn't allow her to talk about her travels and, for that matter, silenced her when she spoke out on things like politics - women in that era just weren't supposed to have opinions. She did eventually write down her story and asked a granddaughter to take care of her story but the daughters burned the manuscript after Helga died. The granddaughter never knew about the journey until she was an adult.

The author talks about how women have been silenced in the past. She also talked about how family stories are kept quiet. I can really relate to this. I found out, on accident, that my oldest sister was my half-sister and that my mother had been married and divorced before she met my dad. I also found out, by overhearing my mom's conversation, that my paternal grandfather committed suicide. All this before I was 7 years old! Now, I think it would have been better for these stories to have just been part of the family, not something a young child should discover and wonder about. My kids know all this, they are not hidden knowledge. I try to be honest with my kids about things, as much as I think they can understand. But I also understand that these are different times I am living in than they were 30+ years ago. Family issues like this just weren't discussed. But I do have family stories that were handed down, funny things or eerie stories (my family in the east was big on ghost stories!) that I heard over and over, when I was growing up. Like the one about my paternal grandfather standing on the porch, in broad daylight, and saw a woman in a long, Victorian black dress, holding a parasol. She glided down the sidewalk and right up to the bottom of the porch. And then she just disappeared into the sidewalk! Now, as a kid, this both scared me and fascinated me. As an adult, I just have to wonder who started that story and why. My grandfather died when my dad was just 9 so maybe there was a lot of eerie things that seemed to happen after that. I don't know. I have never liked ghost stories and don't tell them to my kids. I think I just realized why I feel that way!

Anyway, I want to urge you to look for the family stories that you may not know about. Are there stories that SHOULD be told? Fascinating facts that should be handed down to the kids? Ask your elders - before it's too late. And don't be silenced yourself. Your opinion matters! This story about Helga Estby's walk would have been incredible, had it been told firsthand by her. Think of the historical value alone! A lot was going on in our country at the time she walked. But, thankfully, her story was rescued by an author who told it well. Praise the Lord for our generation who have learned from the strong women of the past.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What ARE Those Kids Up To?

Thought I'd update you on what my kids have been doing the past few weeks ...

Oldest son (12) has taken over a small terraced section of our front/backyard (we live on a corner and on a hill) and is creating what he says is a rocket base. Lots of digging, laying in of concrete block and removing grass. He's been asking questions about atomic energy lately.

Middle son (9) is obsessed with Bigfoot. Well, we DO live in the Northwest after all. He knows it's only a legend but he's been busy creating Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) out of various materials. He dressed up in my suede jacket and had me video him running past the camera in the front yard, trying to recreate that famous blurred photo that is supposedly Bigfoot. He cut out big cardboard feet and made prints in the front yard (near the rocket base). And it gets worse ... he's got his little sister pretending to be Little Foot. Oh my.

And youngest kid (6). She's been busy trying to win at the card game solitaire, hard to do when she uses the deck of cards that is missing the 2 of spades. If she loses, she tells everyone that her game is "toast". Her current favorite bath toy is a new, unused rubber fishing lure in the shape of a large anchovy, brown with pretty gold speckles. She spied it at the marine supply not long ago and enjoys watching it wiggle in the bathtub. Ugh!

Lack of summer sun can have an adverse effect on a child's brain. Yep, you heard it here first.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pampered Cows

I found out some interesting news today. We buy our milk at Rite-Aid, a large pharmacy in our area. It is growth hormone-free and we buy it, five gallons at a time, on Tuesdays because on that day, everything in the store is 10% off. I've gotten to know one of the clerks there since he works on Tuesday and he likes to tell me information about the milk that I'm buying. Like how much the price has risen since last month and so on.

Today he told me about the cows. He said that they are bathed twice a day - yes, TWICE a day! Music is piped into the milking area. I meant to ask if they get to hear Mozart (or should that be Moozart?) The lawn on which they graze is not touched by chemicals and, not only that, the grass is manicured. Which brought to mind that scene from Gilligan's Island where the millionaire, Thurston Howell III, is lying on the grass, cutting individual blades with tiny nail scissors while his wive, Lovey, is sitting nearby, babbling. Don't ask me why I remember that scene but whenever I hear of a manicured lawn, that's what I picture. Anyone out there old enough to remember that scene? Or Gilligan's Island, for that matter? I digress ...

After I left the store, I got to thinking - I never get a bath twice a day. Manicured lawn? Yeah, right, it's all we can do to keep the sea of dandelions from growing so tall we lose Carmen amongst them. The piped-in music is possible - I do have speakers in the kitchen. But, really, those cows have it better than me! Then again, I'm not being asked to give up my milk for someone else's children. And I like the fact that the cows are being treated well.

I'll never complain about the rising price of milk again. Not when I'm thinking about those clean cows swaying to the music, being gently milked in a large, air-conditioned barn, painted pink of course. Gazing out the picture windows at the chemical-free lawn. The manicured lawn. Heck, give the cows a manicure, too. Why not.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Writing 101 by Kate

I've been in a "Laura Ingalls Wilder" phase (again) lately, as I've been reading her books to my daughter. I've been analyzing the last two books in this series, "These Happy Golden Years" which was published while she was living and "The First Four Years" which was published posthumously. The stark difference in these two books is that the latter was published exactly as she wrote it, which was on nickel writing pads in rough draft. It was never edited or "spruced up". It merely tells the facts of the first four years of her life long marriage to Almanzo. The contrast in these two books show how Laura truly made pictures when she wrote. Her sister, Mary, became blind as a girl and their Pa told Laura that she had to be eyes for Mary. Mary once told Laura that she "made pictures when she spoke", since she described things in such detail. As I read her work, I definitely see the prairie, the storms, the laughter. "The First Four Years" lacks this element a bit but not completely. I'm sorry she never got the chance to completely finish it. I still love it anyway!

I've been reading these books since I was 9 and I know that her books made an impact on my interest in writing. Lately, I've been looking for ways to spruce up my writing skills. The first thing I thought of was to practice describing something, think of how many ways to describe it and find surprising or interesting ways to describe it. I was walking down our hill at the time and the sky was bright blue and full of big, puffy clouds. I tried to describe the sky and all that was in it. It was hard! Big, puffy clouds is predictable. What else can one say about them? What exact color blue was the sky? And so forth. It was fun and challenging. Try it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

To The Rescue

There was a parade in town. We drive around and around, trying to park. Everyone else is there for the parade, too. Plus who-knows how many tourists. We get out of van, close the doors. Um, where are my keys? Sigh. Oldest son spies keys in van. Dh working in ICU, no use calling him. Get out cell phone to call roadside assistance (AAA). Cell phone is dead. Another sigh. Look for angel - ah, there he is. Scruffy-looking but kind, walking with his young daughter. Pardon me sir, do you have a cell phone I could use ... Yes, he says, I was just getting my phone out of my truck. He kindly dials 800 # for me and AAA is quick and polite. They'll be there within the hour. Sir, may I pay you for this call? Nah!, he says, free minutes on the weekend. Many, many thanks!!! Towing company comes to rescue exactly 1 hour later. Watched parade from 3 blocks up while we waited - kids prefer to play in playground across the street. Thankful for sunscreen and hats. Dh later recommends spare key hidden on vehicle somewhere. I am thankful for angel!

Later that day, I remember ... A few months ago, a lady was lost on our street. I was taking my daughter to swim lessons but I stopped to let this lady use my cell phone, to call the friends she was supposed to meet. She was very gracious. We were late to swim lessons but I explained to my daughter that helping people was an important thing, even if it made us late. While watching my daughter swim, I wondered if the lady ever found her friends. Driving home from the pool, we passed by a group of women and there she was! I stopped and she saw me, ran over telling her friends that this was the nice lady who helped her. I was so happy I could help and glad she found her friends.

This particular circle is complete. Or is it another link in the chain. I've been an angel to the rescue and, now, an angel was sent to help me. I pray that the Lord will send an angel to help that kind man with the phone, should he need an angel someday. You know he will, eventually.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Lessons At 12

My oldest recently turned 12, got glasses and is scheduled for braces. And his voice cracked for the first time (that we've noticed) a few days ago. That's a lot of change in a short time. In addition to all this, he's also had to learn how to deal with various disappointing events, also in the past two weeks. Nothing really major. Some of these lessons he dealt with on his own. The others, well, he needed Mom to hold him tight and let him cry. It's been interesting to watch how he deals with each incident. How badly I want to make things go his way but, of course, I know the great benefit of learning how to handle change, how to react when things don't go as you expected, what to do when things don't go your way. These are important lessons that he needs to learn. He's always been a bit on the sensitive side, which is good most of the time as long as there is balance. Be tough when you need to, soft when necessary. How I wish I knew if I was doing the best job I can to help him learn these lessons. Being a girl and raised with nothing but girls, that's all I know! But boys - I'm still clueless. I'm the one he's with most of the time so I know that sensitive side comes from me. And I'm not that great at being tough. I guess we'll learn together. I certainly can tell when a disappointment is worth crying over or just a shrug and go on with life. This I CAN teach! But then, I also don't want to make him feel stupid for being upset about something that I think isn't worth it. Oh, gosh. I could go on and on, couldn't I? Anyway, life goes on and we do the best we can. And with lots of prayer, I can help my first born navigate the rough and tumble world of adolescence.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Last summer, my family and I drove through San Francisco on our way to visit relatives. One of the places we went to was Lombard St. It's an insanely crooked street that goes down a seemingly near-vertical hill. Back and forth one motors the vehicle, driving past beautiful garden plots and neat homes but you are so busy peering over the dashboard that the flowers are just a blur. At least, that was my experience. Once we got to the bottom of the hill, we parked and I took photos of my family in front of the street/hill. As I snapped the camera, something caught my eye. A big flock of green parrots! I couldn't believe it! They flew from one tree over to another, briefly lighted and then they were off. I didn't get a photo because I used up the last of the film on the family photo. Darn! I was so excited and wondered about the parrots for quite some time.

A few weeks ago, I came across a book called, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill". I had to get it and find out more about the birds we saw. The author, Mark Bittner, has spent many years studying and feeding these wild birds, caring for them when they were sick, watching them mature and raise babies. What impressed me about the book was his concern to keep the birds wild, though he wanted them to feel comfortable being near him. His fascination with their individual personalities made this book a fun read. He gave names to most the birds, ones he got to know individually. Interspersed in this book are his views on his own journey toward finding fulfillment in his life. I do not share his views on spiritual matters but I respect his earnest (and honest) search. But the birds are the focus of this book and that's what I enjoyed the most. There are some B&W photos of individual birds in the book and they are adorable. I don't know if I would have been so interested in this book, had I not seen those parrots that day. Talk about being in the right place at the right moment. I mean, they were only there a couple of seconds and then they were gone. I'm thankful God allowed me to be there right then. And now that I know so much about them, I'm looking forward to the next time we are able to visit San Francisco. I hope to go to some of the places mentioned in the book, where the birds congregate. As of a few years ago, there were 85 birds in the flock. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to see them again!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Squids In France

File this under: A Homeschool Family Lives Here

My younger son, Alec, was making up a story about a squid (don't ask) who was found on a beach in France. I said, (in a really bad French accent) "Oh, Avignon or Saint Remy?" Chad smirked and said, "As if either of those places is on the coast!"

I laughed so hard because of the absurdity of the conversation. I wasn't even embarrassed that I didn't know where they were exactly (at least I knew they were in France and probably in the south!) But I didn't know a THING about France when I was 11. And this is just a sampling of what is discussed around here. Last night we were discussing the newly discovered ancient lake bed in Darfur. I mean, a MAJOR debate! (Check out NPR's website for that story - it's cool!)

Homeschooling has allowed us the time and freedom to learn, anything and everything. And the older my kids get, the more I see what a blessing it is and what a benefit it is to our family.

I did redeem myself and said to Chad, "O.k., then, how about St. Tropez? I KNOW it's on the coast!"

You know, I just looked up Saint Remy in our France Road Atlas (yes, we have one, I got it cheap from a remaindered book seller) and there are 16 places listed as Saint Remy or Saint Remy something. I know of only the one in Provence so maybe one of the others is on the coast. Maybe I WAS correct after all!

Friday, July 20, 2007


My daughter, Carmen, is 6 years old. Her world is one full of wonder. Lots of "firsts". Lots of questions. She's a deep thinker, sometimes quiet but usually talkative. She loves to play with Daddy, with their special jokes. She sometimes loves her brothers, sometimes hates them. Adores her brother, Alec, who is just 3 years older. Has recently learned how to play by herself comfortably which is good for her and good for me, especially when the boys and Dad are watching "Victory At Sea" on video. ("It's too loud, Mom" which I totally agree!) She kisses everyone and everything. If she sees a photo of a baby, for example, she has to kiss it. We are working on teaching her appropriate kissing but I don't wish to dampen her sweet spirit. When I look at her, I'm amazed. In my biased eyes, her face is a work of art. Perfect nose. Bright, blue eyes with long lashes. Her blonde hair hangs perfectly in place, no matter how Daddy cuts it. The blessing of straight hair, not unruly-wavy, like mine. I hope she always sees it as a blessing. She does not look like me, it's her Daddy she resembles. Serious-faced, usually, though quick to express her emotions (crying, shrieking, laughing, the usual kid-stuff). Currently missing her two front teeth (and two on the bottom row, somewhere.) How does she bite? Carmen and I share lots of special moments. In the summer, we paint our toenails. This time she wanted the iridescent wine color. It's hard to paint those tiny toes! I love spending time with her, doing girl stuff, laughing, reading, or just snuggling. I'll never tire of the sweet feeling of her soft hands on my arm or holding my hand. Touching my face. I love it when I hear her door open in the morning, and she quietly walks in our room. We exchange good mornings and she usually has something to tell me, either a dream or a stuffed animal story. Sometimes, when my dh and I are still asleep, she'll get up and go play quietly in the living room until someone gets up. What a blessing! Isn't wasn't that long ago that she wouldn't get up until someone came in and got her up. She is becoming so much more self-aware. She's a person, now, understanding more about her world. I want her to always stay this age, though I look forward to seeing the woman she'll become. With God's grace, our relationship will grow. Please, let it grow together, not apart.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I've been annoyed lately. And it's hard to find joy when I'm annoyed. I get annoyed when I go down the hill from where we live. My ears plug. So, when I get into town, I'm doing that fake-yawning motion you do when you're trying to unplug your ears. And I try to do this without looking like I am because I look really stupid. By the time I get to the main street of town (Marine Dr.) my ears are fine. But it's SO annoying! I get annoyed when the money runs out before the bills are paid. Arrgh! That's not supposed to happen! I've been annoyed recently because my allergy medicine isn't working anymore, right in the middle of high grass season here and apparently, that's something I'm allergic to. Annoying, I tell you! And, I'm supremely annoyed at the fact that I can't get my house cleaned. I keep getting distracted, or we end up going out for the day and there's no time, or I'm just too tired for whatever reason (like, from my allergies that aren't being helped by my stupid allergy meds).

So, where's the joy when I'm annoyed. I know it's out there. I just need to find it. Heavy sigh. I think the incident that really topped everything happened the other day. I was hurrying to get a glass casserole dish out of the microwave and out to the table when, suddenly, the dish flew out of my hands and hit the floor. But not without making a really big mess. Sliced green beans were EVERYWHERE. I didn't get mad. It was really so very annoying, I just shook my head, picked up the dish and served what beans were left in the dish! My wonderful dh came in the kitchen and started cleaning green beans off the floor - bless him! And then, after dinner, I went back into the kitchen and saw green beans on the upper cabinet, the kitchen window, and green bean juice dripping all over the clean dishes that were drying next to the sink! Really heavy sigh. Dh said he didn't seem them there! I wasn't annoyed at him, just at myself. I mean, really. Like I NEED green beans everywhere.

O.k., so where's the joy here. We are supposed to be thankful in all circumstances. And when one is thankful, one can find joy, right? I guess I can be thankful that the glass dish didn't break and it didn't hit my foot (though I got a bit burned by the hot liquid). I can be thankful that I have ears to hear, even though they plug when I drop a few feet toward sea level, at 25 mph. I can be joyful that there is money to cover most of the bills and there are some that can wait until next paycheck. The allergy thing - well, o.k., there's no joy there. Not that I can see yet, anyway. And, I can be thankful my dh doesn't complain much about the house. And I can find joy in the fact that my kids clutter the house when they are having fun being creative, artistic, playing games or reading (lots of books, everywhere!) So, I suppose, I need to pray and ask God to help me look for the joy when I get annoyed. It's there - I just need Him to help me find it!

Monday, July 9, 2007


I'm currently reading a book about a man who moved to New Zealand, taking his young family with him. What I've gathered so far, he pretty much fell in love with the place shortly after arriving in Auckland. He's talked a lot about what "home" means to him and times he didn't feel he was home even when he was physically at home. Got that? That got me thinking ... I felt at home where I grew up until I got married. My dh and I started feeling like we were no longer at home but we didn't know where "home" was. So we went looking - north. We knew we preferred trees and water. Interestingly enough, the author in this book I'm reading says that people often prefer trees and water, some sort of ancient survival instinct. Anyway, when we settled on the place we are now living, it felt like home, in a lot of ways. It took awhile. And now, when I return to visit the place I was born, it definitely no longer feels like home. No question. I no longer belong there. And yet ... there are times I don't feel like I'm home even when I'm sitting in my home. The wandering spirit - I definitely have that. In theory, anyway. I love to travel via books. Real travel is a bit more perilous. Scary. I love to read travel books. I guess I admire those that take their wandering spirits and go. Maybe someday I'll do that. Actually, I did do that - when we moved here 16 years ago. Maybe it's time to move again.

Friday, July 6, 2007


My sweet mother, widowed for the second time a year ago, lives in So. Cal. in an enormous senior community. She enjoys living there and feels safe. She knows most of her surrounding neighbors. Since I live two days away (by car) I try to call her every day. Yesterday, we were chatting and she was telling me about her day. She had gone to the store and when she returned, she parked her car in the carport next to a neighbors' car. Those neighbors were getting out of their car and they helped her with her groceries, carrying them to the house. She said they were good friends and my stepfather had enjoyed their company when he was alive. I asked her if she ever asked them in for coffee. She said she hadn't in a long time but she does email them. Hmmm. I said, "Mom, where do they live?" She said, "I can see their house from my livingroom window." Now, this doesn't sound as humorous on the screen as it did over the phone. But I had to hold back a chuckle. Emailing the neighbor across the courtyard. On the one hand, at least they are communicating. I personally prefer the telephone or letters. But on the other hand, we lose so much when the "body" isn't present to share a laugh or a good story. I think we humans need this kind of communication more than any other. Yes, other forms of communication are necessary and soul-saving (even life-saving) to the lonely. But nothing can fully replace the warmth felt by the presence of another human being.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Revisiting Laura

I have been reading the "Little House" books to my daughter each evening. We read one or two chapters and a lot of discussion goes on. I have been a loyal Laura Ingalls Wilder fan since I was 9 years old and have read all her books (at least all that I'm aware of) many times. But now, reading these books with my 6 yo daughter, I am seeing them through her eyes. She asks questions and makes comments about things I didn't notice. Lots and lots of questions and comments. If my boys are listening, they add their two cents. Sometimes it takes a long time to get through a chapter! But it's worth it, as my kids are learning a lot during this time. I'm learning, too. Reading these books to my kids allows me to enjoy Laura's life all over again and gaining new insights is an added bonus. I wrote a post about Laura many months ago on my other blog at HSB, and even in writing that post, I started to cry. I feel such a connection with her, I can't really explain it. It makes me sad that she died 6 years before I was born. It would have been such a joy to meet with her and chat awhile. She's been such an inspiration to me, in so many ways. My sense of adventure, my love of writing, my fascination with pioneer women and the westward movement. All these things, I learned from her. I'll always be thankful that my mom bought me "On The Banks Of Plum Creek" when I was in 4th grade. What a gap there would be in my life if I had never been introduced to Laura!

Which makes me wonder - will I be able to introduce something to my kids that will change their lives in a positive, wonderful way? I certainly hope so.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Son and Cars

My son and I went to a car show yesterday, down near the beach. It was, of course, a cold and windy day with enough heavy drizzle to really make you appreciate living in the NW. There are a lot of car shows like this throughout the year but usually, when I go, there are a lot of kit cars or cars that are pre-1960. We only had time to walk up and down part of the show which turned out just fine because these cars were from my era. What I mean is, the cars we saw were the same kinds of cars my friends bought and fixed up when I was a teen. Back in the 1980's, everyone (at least where I lived) was buying cars from the late 1960's and early 1970's. It was a like a time warp for me. The only difference was that the cars I saw yesterday were complete, shiny paint jobs, the whole nine yard. My friends' cars were in various stages of primer with engines needing various parts. It took a long time and a lot of money, neither of which my friends had much of. But they enjoyed the process and spent a lot of time talking cars, browsing auto parts stores and catalogs, raiding the auto dump. And I got dragged along for the ride. My son and I had fun looking at the cars and I told him about some of my friends' cars. But, seriously, I really do not wish to encourage my son in this hobby. Now that I am a parent, I feel that my teen years could have been better spent. I want something better for my son. I can't control his desires but I can guide him. I can avoid encouraging him by not putting too much emphasis on how cool the cars are. We talked about how much time and money these hobbies take. This is an issue that will take a lot of prayer - guidance and wisdom. And I need to pray for my son to spend his time and money wisely. When he is an adult, of course, he can do whatever he chooses. But for now, it's up to me and my dh to be his guide.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Now What Do I Do?

After finishing the book I mentioned in my last post, "Three Cups of Tea", I found myself getting depressed. After reading about how Greg is working to change a part of the world by making education available for the children of poor villages, it made me realize how much one person could do to make a difference. I started thinking how small my world is, my little circle, and asking myself "What am I doing to make a difference?" Oh, sure, I homeschool my three kids. Some would say that this alone is making a difference. But right now, it doesn't seem like enough. Especially when my kids have lousy attitudes, that really makes me feel like a failure. Like, what good am I doing here. Isn't there something more important I could be doing?

No, there isn't. In my heart, I know that I'm where I need to be, doing the work that God has chosen for me. I don't always like it, which makes me feel guilty. I don't feel like I'm very good at it, though others have stated the opposite, by observing the way my children are. I mean, let's face it, I was much better at my business than I am a wife/mom/housewife/homeschool teacher. When I had my business, I knew what to do. I had training and experience before I started my business and I felt confident enough to go it alone. I had absolutely NO training for what I've been doing the last 12 years of my life as a mom. Even less training as how to be a homemaker/wife. So, of course, any occupation that I had training for would seem easier than the my current occupation.

But did it make a difference in this world when I was working in my own shop? A little. Teaching my kids, raising them, being here for them, praying for them and with them, loving them - now, that makes a difference. A lot of difference. A favorite saying around here is "Mom, you're not giving me enough attention." Little do they know! They get more attention than most kids, they just don't realize it!

So, I must be content, at least for now, to make as big a difference I can in the lives of my kids. Someday, they'll (hopefully) make a difference in their world.

Monday, June 11, 2007

What I've Been Reading

My husband and I have been reading the most incredible book. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (published by Viking). Greg Mortenson was a mountain climber and trauma nurse. After a failed expedition on K2, he ended up in a village in Pakistan where the kind people living there nursed him back to health. He promised to return and build a school there. And he did! But that was only the beginning! There is so much in this book. You have to read it. We are almost to the end of the book but we know that's not the end of his story. It will inspire you to do great things.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Day Is Done

This has been a long, long day! Just one of those days that the mind of a homeschool mom wonders how much more she can take. Then I happened to pick up a homeschool magazine dated 2004 and started flipping through the pages. My gaze is drawn to an article on burn-out. Bingo! This article, written by the father of a homeschool family, describes why burn-out happens to homeschool moms. It's nice to be reminded that I'm not going crazy. There's a reason why I look forward to taking the trash out after dinner, just for those quiet moments without hearing "Mom!"

But tomorrow is another day. A new day. Who knows - I may feel refreshed and full of energy! One can have hope, regardless of how the previous day was. At least, that's how it is for me. I was thinking about the word "hope" last night. The Bible is full of examples of people who had hope. Lessons to learn from. There is always hope, no matter what.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Something Different

Today I did something I never thought I'd do: I found myself trudging up the hill I live on, carrying a snowman. A nearly four-foot high, complete with light bulb, snowman. Let's rewind here ... I went to a garage sale down the street from me this morning. This house loves to decorate for Christmas and every year, it's a joy to round the bend on the way home and see all the happy decorations, illuminating the yard. Well, now this elderly couple has decided it was time to cut back on decorations, as they do take a lot of work and storage. There was one snowman in particularly that I always looked for in their yard at Christmas and when I saw it for sale today, I knew I had to have it. I have always wanted a snowman for our yard (don't ask me why!) but I thought they weren't worth the money. It was a WANT, not a NEED, know what I mean? But today the price was right! Now, getting the little man home ... it would have fit in the back of the Camry but since we just bought the car, I was afraid of scratching the car AND damaging the snowman. So, dh took the car home and I took my snowman home.

I had to chuckle at myself, as I never pictured myself doing this today, or ever for that matter. So, did YOU do anything today that you've never done before? There's your challenge. Let me know!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Aren't We Lucky!

I am sitting here wearing pants and I am not breaking the law. Do you know why? Because on this day (May 29th) in 1923, some government official declared it wasn't against the law for a female in the U.S. to wear trousers! Are we thankful or what? I love to wear skirts and dresses but pants and capris are what I wear the most. I am forever grateful for that U.S. DA (I think that was his title and, of course, we know it was a man) for having the foresight to allow us females to be free to choose what clothes we wore. Imagine if there was a law forbidding men to wear anything but boxers shorts - oh, the wails across America!

Can anyone help me here? I can't figure out how to get that astrological sign off my profile. It's annoying me. I'm still learning my way around this blog. Sigh!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thought For The Day

I've had a lot on my mind this week (my husband is recovering from pneumonia) but this thought kept re-occurring today: If Einstein had been an average-looking person, would we find him so interesting?

Even more strange, after dinner I opened up a science-oriented book my son was reading and, low and behold, there he was - the man himself. I can't explain it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How Do We Love Them?

Think back ... do you recall the things your mother did for you that made you feel especially loved? I was thinking the other day how my kids might interpret my love for them. I mean, they know I love them in the usual way mom's do but there are certain things I do for them individually that I know they appreciate. When I do these things, I know they feel especially loved and when I don't do them, they notice!

My oldest, who's 11-1/2, feels loved when I listen to him. He's a story teller and knows how to catch me when I have ears available to listen (like when I'm doing the dishes). And before he goes to bed, I usually hear a quick story - helps him go to sleep if he can get that story out of his head! He also appreciates it when I prepare a green apple for him - even better if I offer it before he asks!

My middle son, who is 9, feels loved when I help him with a project. He is project-oriented, big projects, that require lots of thinking and materials. He doesn't get this kind of help often because he usually wants something we can't afford or it doesn't exist yet. (His request to build a full-size model of The Concord a few years back was not fulfilled, for example.) But I try hard to meet him halfway and do what projects I can manage. It's hard when he has an image in his head that I can't help him produce. But when it works, it's a beautiful thing! A simpler thing he loves is when I sit on his bed at night and let him talk about whatever is on his mind. He usually shows me things in his room that are important to him at the moment.

My 6 yo daughter feels loved when we go for a walk up the hill we live on, just the two of us. I used to be the one to point out things to her but now she does all the talking. She holds my hand tightly and balances on the curb. I love this time, too, as our house is full of boy-noise. We both appreciate the peace of God's creation. She also loves it when I warm her towel for her after a bath. If I don't, she gets very miffed!

I try not to spoil my kids. But I think there is a difference in spoiling and doing something they especially like me to do. Every kid needs to know their mother is their biggest fan and that they are special in her eyes, and the more kids in the family, the more important this is. So, what special things do you do for your kids? Is it time to start? It's worth it!

When I was little, I always looked forward to my morning hug from my mom. And she always let go before I did. Now, amazingly, my oldest comes right to me in the morning, looking for his hug and, you know, I'm the one who lets go first now! This fact just dawned on me today and I told my son that he was just like me when I was young. Tomorrow, I'll try not to be the first one to let go!