Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Phone Call From ING

Today I got a phone call from a lady at my online bank, ING. At first, I asked if they made a mistake that I had won the essay contest, because the last few days I've been thinking I dreamt it. She laughed and assured me that I had won (see my last post). Then she asked if I would be willing to let them use my audio response to the phone call I received, telling me that I had won. She said she had been listening in on that phone call and it had been recorded. Everyone there was so moved by my response that they wanted to use it in their advertising somehow. I agreed to that, saying that I didn't think I had said anything to offend a relative or anything (a joke, o.k?) But I can't understand why they want to use it - I just cried for, like, most of the conversation, at least that's how it seemed to me.

Todd and I have had the afternoon to discuss this. I won't get paid (I'll sign a waiver for the legal stuff) and I hope they don't distort it in any way. I hope I'm doing the right thing. But since this whole thing is definitely a gift from God, I'll just have to trust that this is o.k. to do.

I also found out today that they had 5400 essays entered! I was shocked! 5400! They chose 500 people out of 5400 and somehow, mine was chosen. There were 6 people from Oregon that won. This is so amazing to me. And it just further confirms that this was God's doing, not mine. I am working hard to keep that pride thing out of this. It was God. Todd says God gave me the words to write and that is true. But to me, it was just God.

Having this to ponder is keeping my mind off the mess my livingroom is in right now. Todd is in the midst of a slew of remodeling ... well, click here if you want to learn more.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Winner Is ...

God is SO good.

Let me start by giving Him all the glory for what He did today.

Back in October, I entered an essay contest with my online bank, ING. They were choosing 500 winners to receive a free mortgage payment in January 2009. The essay was to be 250 words or less, stating why you thought you deserved a free mortgage payment.

I had to enter.

But not for myself. I wrote about my husband, all that he's been through this past year. How I just wanted him to be rewarded somehow for all that has happened to him and how he's pulled through, giving God the credit for sparing his life. And I did it in 249 words. You all know how hard it is for me to say anything in brief.

After entering, I found that I wanted to win so badly it hurt. Every time I thought about it, I prayed for God's will, knowing that there were tons of people that needed this more than we did but also saying I wanted this for Todd, not for me. I prayed a lot.

Today, I received an unexpected phone call from "Andrea" (I think), saying that I had been selected as one of the winners. I totally broke down and cried. She was so sweet. I told her much of what I've written here and the phone call was very emotional. Thank you's and Christmas greetings were exchanged and I praised ING bank for always being helpful and courteous. I LOVE this bank!

My praise goes completely to God. I am so, so thankful that He considered my prayer and answered like He did. I am humbled. I won for Todd but only by God's grace. I give Him all the glory.

I am so excited! It's been an emotional day. I kept crying, whenever I thought about the phone call. I called my mom. I hugged my kids. Todd's reaction? "Good job, honey." And then, of course, he said, "I guess they only had 499 other entries, right?" Right. Thanks sweetie!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent - Week 2

We've just started our second week of Advent - oh, how I wish I would have grown up with this nightly tradition! Ours is a simple routine but the kids really enjoy it and look forward to it each evening. So do I.

After dinner, the table is cleared and the Advent wreath put in the middle. Someone turns out all the lights but a small one (for me to read by). Chad lights the candle(s) and I have everyone quiet down. Then I pray for God's blessing on our time together. The rule is this: After I pray, there are to be no more jokes or disagreements. One child got sent to their room last night for breaking this rule and missed out on a turn at blowing out a candle (they have to learn!) Anyway, after I pray, I read the scripture meant for that night. Then we discuss the scripture and questions are answered (this year, there have been a lot of questions) and we do further research if necessary to satisfy their inquiries. Then we sing. Chad now plays the piano for us (it was his choice to do this and it's been wonderful). We each get to choose a song and fortunately we have a song book to help us out. You'd think after all these years, I'd remember all the words to time-honored Christmas carols but my mind is getting older. And this year, Carmen is singing with us! Every song, too! All these years, she has been either silent during this time or whispers. Not this year! It is so, so sweet to watch and listen to my kids sing with me. I try to sing quietly so I can hear them. Oh, how I wish I could record these evenings but they won't have it! They said I'll just have to record them in my mind (and my heart - and I will!) For the song, "Away In The Manger", we made up hand motions to go with the words and this is the one song that Carmen has always enjoyed participating in. I well remember her tiny little arms folded and rocking back and forth, to mimic rocking the Little Lord Jesus. She still looks just as sweet when we sing that song.

So, after we finish singing, we turn out all the lights and blow out the candle(s), taking turns nightly. We try to remain silent until the candle glow is completely dark. We usually end up laughing. Then the younger kids pick out a Christmas story for me to read. For many years, I would buy a new Christmas story book each season but now we have enough for a week's worth of reading. The kids don't mind having a story repeated because they know this is the only time they'll hear them. Chad doesn't always hang around for the story (at 13, he knows the stories by heart, I'm sure!) but I love it when he stays to listen.

All this takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much talk the scripture inspires. Last night, the questions flew: "What's Deuteronomy mean?" "What does the word 'Messiah' mean?" etc. They really make me work sometimes but isn't it great? I learn a lot, too.

The scripture verses I read are from an article I cut out years ago from a "Focus On The Family" magazine but the same verses are available from a website I was on the other day. We don't do crafts or food as part of our tradition but I know other families do. That's what a family tradition is all about - each family celebrates things a little differently.

I think this is my favorite part of Christmas - seriously. I know one day this tradition will end but I don't want to think about that. I want to remember these nights for the rest of my life.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Good Morning, Todd - How About Some Emerson?

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

(My sweet husband wanted something new to read!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On With Christmas!

I'm a happy girl. I'm almost done shopping. And Thanksgiving is over. Bring on Christmas!

This past holiday was a rough one for me. All of November was spent being depressed for several reasons. The gray weather. The 21st anniversary of my father's death (two days after Thanksgiving). I have written about this before and I had hoped this year would be different. It wasn't. And it doesn't help much that my mother-in-law's father died on Thanksgiving as well (years and years ago). Too many reminders, know what I mean.

We always get together with Todd's family. This year brought an adorable new baby who cried through most of the dinner, a newly married happy couple (complete with slide show on computer - I cried!) though the new husband is apparently extremely allergic to dairy, and a family in the process of splitting up. The wife was there, putting on a brave face (she's tough on the outside) but did break down at one point, at least in my presence. Her teens were there, one an A-student, hard-working kid headed for college, the other a problem kid, substance abuser but getting help - he actually seemed happier than I've seen him in a long, long time. My heart goes out to this part of the family.

And then there's me, dreading this day for weeks, managed to get my kids ready (I'm learning how to handle Carmen's stubbornness when it comes to dressing nice!) and Todd even got to sleep a bit between work shifts. Yes, he had to work the day before and that night. We ate dinner, had pie and took him home to go to work. I decided to go back with the kids and we enjoyed that time but it got us home too late. I'm still tired.

God did answer my prayers, though. I enjoyed myself and laughed so much my face hurt (this is a sure sign I'm having fun). There wasn't one person there that I didn't want to see - they are all very nice people. And they like me. I'm so blessed to have married into this family. Perhaps next year I will be able to avoid the dark cloud that overshadows this holiday and focus on the blessings God has given me.

What I do look forward to is the day after Thanksgiving - shopping at our local toy store (20% off!) Alas, I slept through my alarm and didn't get there until 8:45 a.m. but perhaps it was better - the rush (all 30 people - this IS a small town!) is earlier than that so all in all, it was fine. I took the kids back later to buy gifts for each other. I have this down to a science.

So, now, we are preparing for Advent tomorrow night. It's something we all look forward to as it makes a bit of Christmas happen every evening. I'm so glad I started this tradition years ago. Carmen is really excited this year, which makes me happy. She's not always been so willing to participate - maybe this year she'll actually sing with us!

Oh, at Thanksgiving, my cousin had an Iphone (or something like that) and we were able to Google Earth to see my friend Paula's home (appleleaf) in Australia! Amazing! If only it wasn't so far away!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

There Must Be A Better Way

I've been spending my evenings Christmas shopping online. It amazes me how much time this takes. Between my slow computer and looking for discounts, plus looking for a gift I can afford, it takes all evening just to do one order. Not just for my kids but also distant relatives.

So, that's what I've been doing. Blogging will have to wait.

Found any bargains lately?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kids Are Kids

Last week, I was loving homeschool. This week, Carmen is being toad-girl again. Sigh. I guess she can't help being 7 and female - two totally explainable reasons for her behavior. Not that females act like toads but her yo-yo personality reminds me of myself sometimes. And I am female and all.

Our triops are nearly 2 inches long! Ugly, ugly critters! One is so bold, he jumps at anything I put into the tank (for cleaning purposes). I have read that they are blind but with three eyes, I can't help but wonder if they really do see something. The tank is really green but it's supposed to be that way. I'll be glad when this science project comes to an end. However, Carmen has taken responsibility for feeding them twice a day and that's definitely a good thing.

I love how young children are so honest about life. How they say exactly what they are thinking. Except, however, when they are talking about me. I don't want to hear what they think about how I look or what I'm doing or how I'm doing/not doing something. THAT is stinkin' annoying! And my opinionated little darlings ALL like to tell me exactly what they think. Like, way more often than I can tolerate. It's so hard to bite my tongue and let minor comments roll off my back. It's even harder to explain why certain comments may be insensitive to others. But such conversation is necessary, at times. My kids aren't always being disrespectful, just honest. Tonight, when Carmen kissed me goodnight, she said, "Your cheek feels like a blown-up balloon." I said, "Is that a good thing?" Her standard answer, "I don't know."

On the other hand, tonight as I was reading "By The Shores Of Silver Lake" (Laura Ingalls Wilder) to my younger son and daughter, I thought about how this time is not forever. I look forward to our nightly reading but I know it will end at some point. Even now, Alec doesn't always want to hear. Chad comes in and listens sometimes. Carmen is a devout listener. I would read to them forever if I could. But they will grow and change. Perhaps someday, when they are (hopefully) reading to their children, they will remember our nightly readings. I know I always will.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two Days Post-Election

It's been raining cats and dogs ... wait, that's how I started my last post.

Get used to it - it's supposed to rain for a long, long time.

That alone is reason enough to be depressed. But now I'm a depressed Republican. wah (just a little whimper).

I didn't buy anything at Boden.

I need some cheering up.

Oh, yes. God is still in control. I thought of that last night and I was just reminded of it a few minutes ago. God is still God regardless of what our country does.

I feel a bit better now. Just a bit.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On The Eve of Election Day

It's been raining cats and dogs all day. I'd love to know where that saying comes from. Well, maybe.

And the shingles are still dead.

It gives me tremendous satisfaction to look at our front lawn and not see those stinkin' shingles there. Just a semi-green lawn.

Well, I'm off to a slow start here. I'd much rather be ordering something from Boden but blogging is way cheaper.

And tomorrow is Election Day. No comment.

I did vote today, along with my husband. We had a lot of measures to discuss. A lot of nonsense, mostly. I hate those mug shots that appear in the Voter's manuals they send out. Absolutely no one looks like someone I'd want to vote for. Some of the photos even look scary. For years, there was a man who continued to run against an elected official in our area. He repeatedly lost but continued to run just for spite, I think. He always used the same photo and, geesh, if I saw him on the street, I'd run! In our small town, I probably have seen him around but we have quite a few scary individuals living here, he'd just blend in.

Which leads me to another train of thought - if you know nothing about a particular race, do you vote for the person whom you like the looks of? Oh, come on, I think more people do this than we realize. Which tells me that your campaign photo is pretty important and warrants a jacket and tie or at least a good hair cut.

And, speaking of small towns, I am always amazed at how often I see people I know, or used to know, or have met somewhere, or whom I recognize from their place of employment. Our town is 10,000 and the neighboring town that I am frequently in is close to that if not more. So, in an area of 20,000+ people, why is it so likely I see so many familar faces?

Let's take Halloween night, for example. On Halloween, we always eat at a Chinese food restaurant that we enjoy. Just after we sat down, in walks a family that I knew from swimming lessons - from 2 years ago. In fact, I think this same family was at this place last year - it must be their tradition, too. And just before we left, in walks a family that we lived next to when we first moved here - 18 years ago! The daughter is married with a toddler of her own now and we laughed at how she remembered my oldest being a toddler. All this happened within an hour, and during that time, only two other groups of people came into the banquet area we were sitting in. Small town, indeed.

Well, with the time change, it's later than I think. And it's still raining. Todd is working. I might just have time to do some Boden window shopping ...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mom & Kids 1, Shingles 0

Today, we conquered the beast and won! Let's clarify ...

There's been a flurry of home improvement going on around here. Mostly Todd painting, replacing windows (remember THAT post?!!) etc. And replacing a good portion of the roof.

Two weeks ago, Todd worked his 3-day 12-hour shift work week, came home at 7:30 am, checked the weather and ordered shingles to be delivered - that day! Then he got up on the roof with my 13 yr old and started ripping shingles off. Of course, I fretted and prayed that he and Chad wouldn't fall off the roof, plus I tried not to worry about his lack of sleep. By 8:00 pm, Todd finally went to bed, after being up 28 hours straight, working most of that time. The next day, back at it, full speed replacing the shingles. He was racing against the weather. I was parts runner and pray warrior, since Chad was on the roof again with Todd. Now, I can't remember if he got it nearly finished that day or the next but I do remember that the minute he walked in (after dark) it started pouring rain. God was good (as always). Todd was pleased he got that section of the roof done over the bedrooms, bathrooms and living room. The rest of the house will have to wait until 2009.

O.k., there's the scenario. That section of the roof had been done 3 times (that's the limit around here that you can layer new shingles over old ones). That's why he had to rip off the old roof first. And where did all those shingles go? The lawn, of course. And guess who's job it was to remove all those shingles? The crew, with me as foreman (er, forewoman).

Every day I looked at those shingles, I dreaded it more and more. Rain came and I was relieved to have an excuse. On nice days, it was just too nice to work, we had to go for walks or whatever, anything to delay the inevitable. Finally, the time came and we all went out to begin.

Gloved and sunscreened, we loaded a few old tarps into the back of our enormous work van and started removing shingles from the lawn. Any idea what happens to grass when you leave something on it for several days and it rains? Not just mud but all kinds of crawling things moved in. Ugh! Every shingle had to be shaken to remove anything alive. And the nails! Oh my goodness, nails everywhere! My younger two were given nail duty while Chad and I hauled shingles. Attitudes were lousy. No one wanted to do it. It turned out to be a rare hot day. We lasted all of an hour and went back in.

The next day, I managed an hour of work but had to go onto other duties. Todd laid down the law ... if any child doesn't help with the shingles, they would be punished! Sounded good to me. Next good day, everyone went out for another hour, more cheerful this time and we got more done. But it seemed like it would never end (like this post). Finally, today Todd said we only had 2 days of sun before it would rain another week. Feeling the pressure, I headed out with Chad this morning, came in for lunch, then everyone went out to work. It was a really windy day and gorgeous but we had to press on. After an hour, the kids retreated but I set my mind to get it done. And we did! Each child came out for a short period to continue the work (they all felt sorry for me, I think!) and all in all, the kids saved me 4 hours of work. I prayed that the Lord would help me get it done by 4:30 and He did! I went into the house, put my filthy clothes in the wash and went to my bedroom. Flopped on the bed and cried! My husband was awake and getting ready for work. He was really impressed that we had gotten the job done so fast! I am so, so happy to have it done.

Except ... tomorrow we have to take the van to the dump and unload all those shingles. I am not afraid.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's Most Embarrassing Moment

As usual, I was running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off (an ugly image if ever there was one). I was getting ready to take a shower, carrying my clothes with me as I ran through the living room telling my kids what I wanted them to do. After issuing my orders (clean up your stuff and vacuum, yada, yada, yada), I dashed down the hall. My 13 year old called out, "What's this?" I looked to where he was pointing - yikes! There lay a feminine product and fortunately it was only a liner. "It's mine!" I said without further explanation, snatching it up and running away before any questions could be asked.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Windows and Rope Tricks

Have you ever seen an image (either imagined or in print) of a grand piano being hoisted up the side of a building with a rope through a window? That kind of gives you an idea of what I did last weekend.

Not the piano part (our piano was delivered up ended on it's nose, through our front door, years ago.) The rope part. My husband decided it was time to replace the windows on the back side of our house. The side that is two-stories high.

From the front, our house looks like an L-shaped ranch, one story. But we live on a hill, and when you pass by the house, you see that the back goes down the hill and the living area is really on the top floor. My husband, when time and weather permitted, had replaced nearly every window in this house except these last two difficult ones. And that's where we came in (his "crew").

Here was his idea: After dislodging the bottom corner of the window, have Kate tie a rope around the frame and wrap the rope around her body, thereby bracing the window. (It's a good thing I've learned how to tie a square knot!) Have Chad hold on to the center of the frame and have good ol' Alec hold onto Mom (pull, Alec, pull!) Do you have this scary image in your head yet? Now add my husband up on an extension ladder outside (remember, two stories up), guiding all this commotion while yanking the window out of the wall and easing it down to the ground. I don't even want to know what the neighbors were thinking. I was having a heart attack or at least it felt like it. But it worked. Amazingly. Then we had to do it again - but with the larger window (6' x 4', right Todd?) I really panicked with the heavier window but Todd told me to knock it off. I can't tell you the relief I felt when this was all over. Alec was jubilant! He was thrilled and loved how it was a "team" effort. I couldn't have done it without my strong sons. And the Lord. I prayed ALL day, until I was weak, seriously. Because not only did we have to do these crazy stunts, I had to watch my husband stand on that ladder all day, sometimes using a skill saw over his head, cutting out the windows. Man! I'd just stand there looking out the window, praying with all my heart that God would keep him safe. It's concrete down below where his ladder was positioned and I kept shuddering to think about what might happen. I trust the Lord and my husband's years of experience, of course, but things do occur. Sometimes without warning.

And then there was the giant wasp that flew in. After we got the first window removed, Chad said, "Mom, look over there" and right in front of a bookshelf (we think it was reading "Brothers Grimm") was the longest, biggest wasp I've ever seen! Carmen bolted and I ran after her. I glanced back and saw that monster right in front of my face! I screamed, startling my husband (still on the ladder) and started batting the air around me, shaking my head, hair flying. Todd wanted to know what was going on. The kids had disappeared (abandoning Mommy, shame on them!) finding safe haven in their rooms with the doors shut. Todd didn't see it (therefore, he didn't believe me) but it never appeared again so, thankfully, it must have flown back out. Perhaps it found the Brothers Grimm as appalling as I do.

So now, as I sit and type in front of our new window, I still shake a little at all we went through to make it happen. My poor husband has spent far too much time on a ladder and has the sore muscles to prove it. But, I had the satisfaction of hauling all those old windows to the dump yesterday (free dump day!) and as the guys were pulling out the windows and unceremoniously dumping them with a tremendous crash, one of the men said that it must have been a bummer to load all these windows into the van. I thought to myself, "Loading them into the van wasn't the hard part." Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe!

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Babies In The House!

Oh, don't be silly. Not human babies. And not guppy babies (at least not yet, I'll keep you posted).

No, this time it's triops. 5 of them. Tinier than the head of a straight pin (for those of you that do not sew, this is something used for sewing). They are supposed to grow anywhere from 1 inch to 2 inches but I think Cristina had one that grew longer than that. I'm not sure I can handle it if they get that big. They are ... well, I don't know, unusual-looking. I mean, they have been around for a really, really long time. They look like tiny horseshoe crabs to me. The kids already knew all about their background and we finally decided to set up the tank that I had bought months ago. These things take time and diligence. Use the wrong water and they might not hatch. Over heat them and they die. I have difficulty being so responsible for something so fragile.

First we had to find a light source that would work. I remembered I had a desk light packed up in the garage somewhere ... bingo! I found it. We decided on a location for the tank but the cord of the lamp wouldn't reach an outlet (it's always something, isn't it?) All the extension cords are in with the Christmas lights. Then I spied an extension cord in with the slot cars - hooray! If anyone wants to race slot cars, I guess the triops are out of luck. So we did everything right and now all we had to do is wait. Do you know how hard it is for a 7 year old to wait for anything? Every hour, Carmen would ask how long it would be before we could see eggs hatched. After two days, thank the Lord, there they were! First, 3 of them appeared. Then today, we found 2 more. Carmen is delighted.

It will be fun to watch them grow. A few years ago, we hatched those silly Sea Monkeys and it was fun until they started to mate. Now that was difficult to explain (they like to dance). But they all died before any new eggs were hatched. We've also had an ant farm which I vowed I'd never do again but we are thinking about getting the newer gel ant farm (don't ask me why). It was horrible when all the ants died. This kind of thing really upsets me. I don't handle the death of anything very well. So it is with trepidation that I continue with these triops, knowing their existence on earth is a short one (to us, anyway). I can only hope we can provide them with a good quality of life while they are here. In return, they will teach and entertain our family (I know, I know, SPARE ME, right? I'm such a geek!)

I asked my daughter if we should name them but she doesn't think she'll be able to tell them apart. I don't think she feels the same as I do about small living things. She informed me tonight that if her new guppies give birth, the deformed ones can be fed to the other guppies. Her sainted brother told her this. I was aghast but I hid it well. I said we would just have to wait and see, but I was thinking "I DON'T THINK SO!"

Such is the mind of a tenderhearted soul.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What I Learned Today

Today I learned that if you are standing on an upturned bucket in the dirt, and you put more weight on one side than the other, the bucket will tip over underneath you. And you fall. And it hurts. And your paintbrush goes flying. Then your son and your (nurse) husband start yelling things like, "Are you o.k.? How did you fall? How did you land?" (or something along those lines).

I learned several years ago that falling after you turn 40 is not like falling before you turn 40. So I already knew that but was reminded of it today.

Then I learned that my daughter, Carmen, has magic arms. When I was on the floor with an ice bag on my shin, she was rubbing my leg for me. She asked if her hands felt sweet. I said, "Yes, like magic." She asked how that could be. I told her it was because of the love coming through her hands.

I also learned how to paint window trim with primer. You'd think in 45 years I would have had the opportunity to do that before now. Like, years ago when falling wasn't such a big deal.

And I learned that, as a mom, I'm doing o.k. Tonight I sat with my lovely Carmen, getting ready to read to her while she had her evening snack. We had been talking about that long-ago day I had my ultrasound to find out if she was a boy or girl. I said that day was forever etched in my mind ...

Carmen: "Why?"
Me: "Because I was both happy and scared."
Carmen: "Happy because you were going to have a friend?"
Me: "Yes. But I knew how to raise boys. I didn't know how to raise girls."
Carmen (thinking a moment): "Well, Mom, don't worry. You raised me just fine."
Me: "Thanks, Carmen!"

That was the best thing I learned all day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Mind On Books

For the past month, I've been reading a book about John Law, a man from Edinburgh basically responsible for the creation of banks and paper money, as we know them today. At one time, he had control of the entire Louisiana Territory. It is not easy reading (late 1600 through early 1700's) but it is interesting. And about a week ago, I began reading a book about how Wall Street began (it actually was a pasture that the owner built a wall around - hence, "Wall Street". How quaint!)

Anyway, after all the frenzy of financial news of late, it made me really uneasy to read both of these books. I felt like I was on overload. I put the books aside. Perhaps when this settles down (and a bailout or whatever is settled), maybe I'll return to the financial reading.

For now, however, I have started reading one of my tried-and-true books that make me happy. Do you have books like that? Ones that you like to read again and again, because they are safe, predictable, you know you'll be rewarded when they are finished. I read these books when I am stressed/worried/fearful because they take me away from those feelings. At least for a little while.

This time I turned to my book about a couple living in CA that bought an ancient ruin of a home, located at the foot of an old castle in a little hilltop village in Provence. They buy it, return home to CA while it is being renovated and when they go back to Provence months later, it has been restored beautifully. This place and the people in the village they live in truly become their second "home". There is pretty much nothing but happiness in this book. Oh, a few difficulties but, mostly, real life dreams coming true. I never want this book to end. Would you?

A few pages here and there get me through the day. And when it is done, perhaps I'll be ready for John Law. Perhaps. Wall Street, however, may have to wait awhile.

P.S. I am so sad to hear about Paul Newman. It's like the end of an era. It IS the end of an era.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wedding Vows and Firewood

Just what do wedding vows and firewood have in common? Absolutely nothing. But they were both part of my day.

This morning, I went out to the garage to get a cassette tape of The B-52's*, because I had "Dance This Mess Around" in my head all morning. As I went through the drawer (in his pre-nursing days, my husband built garage cabinets with drawers) I came across the audio tape of our wedding vows. Since we had an aversion to being videotaped on our wedding day, this is all I have. I had thought about listening to this tape on our 20th anniversary last month but, since that didn't happen, I decided to hear it today.

I called the kids in to listen as well. We all sat around, listening to Pastor Matt talk about Adam meeting Eve for the first time (Adam said the Hebrew equivalent, "Wow, what a woman!"). He also talked about what it meant to have a Christian marriage. Great stuff. Todd and I kept glancing at each other. It's amazing just how right Matt was. After 20 years, you can look back with hindsight, but at the wedding, it was all ahead for us to experience. Sickness and health, richer and poorer, etc. Todd's role as the head (spiritual and otherwise) of our household. My role as his helper (also translated as "rescuer" and here Matt told Todd, "You'll see this come true someday" or something like that. A rescuer ... I don't know if I've been that exactly but I do know I've been a helper. It was really neat to realize that we have both been nearly everything that was said by Matt or spoken of in our personal vows that we wrote ourselves. By God's grace, obviously. God already knew what our future would be, we just had to find out for ourselves and own up to our promises. And I think we have, so far. No plans to change that course.

When the tape was done, I got a big hug from Todd. Then I put in the B-52's tape and danced. The kids didn't like it. Who doesn't like Rock Lobster? If you are too young to know that song, my apologies and my condolences.

This afternoon was a firewood bonanza. After over a month of worrying and fretting, I finally got 2/3rds of the required amount of firewood delivered, which means we will be warm for most of the winter. We had two different suppliers deliver, thankfully at different times, and the boys and I stacked a total of two cords (that translates into 4 pickup loads). Todd helped a bit but had to stop to get ready for work. My arms are sore but not nearly as sore as they'll be tomorrow (it takes me a day before the pain really sets in).

My sweet husband starts his three night work week tonight. As always, I will miss him.

*FYI - B-52's is an offbeat music group from the early 80's that dominated a good portion of my life for a long time. Amazingly, they just did a new record. But their old stuff is the best.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I See

I got contacts today. After nearly 20 years of wearing glasses, it felt really, really strange to walk around (and drive) without my "face jewelry" (that's how I feel about my glasses). I felt like I was missing something.

Unfortunately, my eyes still haven't grown accustomed to the new lenses so I blinked a lot and had trouble focusing - for 6 hours. No wonder my eyes are tired.

I was nervous when I went in to get my contacts. I had to be retrained because it has been so long since I last wore them. But after a few attempts, I got them in. It worries me how much you have to pull on the delicate area around your eyes just to get the flimsy little things in. Age is already showing around my eyes - I really don't want to make it worse. And when good ol' Doc Williams talked about what I needed to do when I removed them tonight, I was surprised (though I hid it well) and a little scared. I hadn't thought about having to take them off. And clean them. And buy solution for them. And the wearing schedule for the first week. And after a week, try the other pair that he gave me. And then I have to buy them in a 6-pack twice a year (these are for 1 month use). When Todd and I talked about me getting contacts, I didn't think about all the work and worry they are. I had forgotten. At least I don't have to cook them anymore. That was a hassle.

So now I have even MORE things to do at night before I go to sleep. Sigh. The older I get, the more there is to do to maintain ... me. But, I went and bought new cheapo sunglasses today (instead of the expensive prescription ones I've been wearing for nearly a decade). And spent some time trying on reading glasses (yet another fun thing about being 45). My kids were giving me their extremely honest opinions and I spotted a lady in her 50's, watching us with a knowing smile. That will be me in 10 years!

Now, what is nice about reading glasses is that they have some really cool styles now. They are not your grandmother's reading glasses anymore! I guess because the baby boomers are now all in reading glasses, newer styles were called for. I tried on leopard spotted ones, cat-eye with gem stones, black with colored spots. I'm still looking. We've seen some zebra striped ones in a catalog, too. Decisions, decisions ...

A few weeks ago, when I told the kids I was getting contacts, my 7 year old lamented, "Mom, you'll look ugly with contacts!" I have no idea what she was picturing in her head but I think her fears are put to rest. My lenses are kind of blue and make my hazel eyes appear bluer. And she likes that.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Week

I have many reasons why I haven't blogged for awhile ...

1. Todd has had 4 days off.
2. The weather has been awesome!
3. I am in hot pursuit of finding our winter fuel - we heat with wood and it has been scarce this year. I mean, we live in Oregon, HOW could firewood be scarce?
4. Last but not least - we started up school this past week. How did it go? Read on ..

Alec - easy. He gets up by 8:00 a.m., has enjoyed everything he is doing and has given me no problems that I can remember (it was a long week, o.k?)

Chad - challenging. He wants to get up at 11:00 a.m. (Todd sprayed him with a water bottle a few days ago - it wasn't pretty). The kid is 13 and I guess he's growing 'cause he just can't wake up in the morning. 9:30 is as good as it gets, so far. He gets distracted easily so getting him to start his work and keeping him there is also a challenge. Fortunately, he gets everything done really fast. I have to keep an eye out for his carelessness, however.

Carmen - ahem. My sweet little girl. NOT! I don't know where she gets her attitude but, man! She enjoys reading to me (Pathway Readers) but once we start math, she becomes a toad. We worked in Miquon last year so we began with that. 2 days later, I switched to something more fun for variety. But on Friday, she became a nightmare again. I just made her sit there with me until we finished the page. I kept encouraging her that she could do this, etc., and helped where I needed to. She has an extremely low tolerance for things she doesn't understand and doesn't really give things a chance before getting, well, rude and obnoxious. We talk about this and I try to help her but I guess it will take time for her to get through this stage. I can't let her continue this way (for her sake or mine). She is good at math, I've seen it over and over. I don't know what the deal is. This attitude spills over on to spelling and writing as well. Perhaps it's just "first week" nonsense. I have hope that this coming week will be better.

Todd has spent the last two days working on the house (prepping and painting). It's about 2/3 of the way done (is that right, honey?) and it looks great.

And I've been able to take a walk every day but one this week. That REALLY makes me happy. Is that strange?

This week is done. Tomorrow starts another one.

Friday, September 5, 2008


We got the test results - NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE AND NEGATIVE! Thank you, Lord! Thank you everyone that prayed! I didn't want to find out at the doctor's office because I knew I would break down, either from fear or relief. But that's how it happened anyway. It took me all day to decompress, to realize that I didn't have to think about it anymore. Todd's chances for recurrence are approx. 16% but I'm not going to think about that either. The cancer is all gone and may it never, never come back.

Sigh. I feel like we can go forward with our lives now. Thanks again for your support and encouragement - you all really, really, helped me through this. I praise the Lord for my friends here!

If you want to know more about our day in Portland, visit my HSB blog. Aerial trams and baby elephants - don't miss it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Animals In My Town

I don't often post about animals, as our only pets are fish, but living where I do, you sometimes encounter interesting situations involving wildlife or at least pet dogs. We seem to be the only people in our county that do not own one so you are bound to meet up with a dog or two, when out walking. Like we did the other night ...

Our whole family had walked halfway around "the loop" as we call it, which takes us up to the top of our hill, part way around the top and then back around down toward home. There is one house on a corner that has two scruffy little dogs that always bark a welcome/warning - we don't know which. In this yard is a tether ball pole. I never gave it a second thought until this one particular evening when we saw a man walking a Boston terrier and a corgi. We stopped to talk to a friend of my husband's and by the time we approached this particular yard of barking dogs, the man with the terrier and corgi had gone inside the yard with the terrier. We saw the terrier playing tether ball with one of the barking dogs (I think it was also a Boston terrier). The corgi was tied to the fence outside the yard. I asked the man if this was a "play date". He laughed and said yes. I asked why the corgi wasn't allowed to play and he said that "It likes to hurt things." One of Astoria's finest moments I'm sure. Weird.

About a month ago, on another walk, we encountered a most friendly young adult cat. Too friendly, as it followed us nearly all the way home and wouldn't take no for an answer. It kept running in front of us and sprawling on it's back, hoping for a rub. It's just wouldn't leave us alone for anything. I think this was the same walk where we saw some commotion up in a tree along the street. We looked up and saw a couple of raccoons, looking sheepish (can raccoons look sheepish?) They were a long way from home and were probably arguing about who took a wrong turn (one of them may have been clutching a map).

There are patches of forest all around here where animals reside and a few weeks ago, we spotted what looked like a goat, grazing on a grassy hillside in town. It turned out to be a most unusual deer. It was normal brown color to the shoulders and forelegs. Then it became grayish-white with dark brown spots. We couldn't get near enough to get a good look. Then, last week, I was doing the dishes (as usual) and saw out the kitchen window this same deer with it's mom, grazing in the vacant corner lot across the street. I grabbed the camera and called to the kids. We ran outside and I got some photos that hopefully will turn out. We made sure the deer crossed the street without incident (I felt badly for disrupting their meal!)

So, there's my animal post for the year (I hope). It's got to be more interesting than hearing me yip about Todd's test results - which we won't know until Thursday but that's o.k. It's in God's hands and if we haven't heard by now, it's a good bet that there's nothing to report. And thanks again for your prayers. I have felt your support and appreciate it very much!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Still Waiting But Hopeful

We are still waiting to know the test results of Todd's surgery BUT ... no one called us this past week, so we are hopeful that no news is good news. They said they would call if they found something. So, God willing, when Todd calls next week, the news will be favorable. Thanks for your prayers. I have worn myself out, praying.

Will update again when I know for certain.

In the meantime, enjoy the long weekend!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Wait

Thanks so much for your prayers. Todd came through the surgery just fine. In fact, he suggested we go to the zoo while we were in Portland. I thought he was nuts. None of us had slept much the night before but, hey, the kids all wanted to go to the zoo as well. What could I do? And, of course, this was the day Portland decided to reach 81 degrees. Nothing I like better than walking around looking at animals in the heat, amongst a throng of noisy kids (not mine, everyone else's) with their harried parents and bored teenagers on first dates. Can you tell I'm still exhausted?

Anyway, we got home yesterday and God was good. He took care of us and Todd. God even helped me get to the hospital after I was tearfully lost without my map. (Todd drove himself to the hospital and we arrived later - long story). Our hotel was only 12 miles away but, if you know anything about Portland, it's not the easiest city to navigate (at least, not to me). I'm not the one usually driving when we go there. We did, however, get to see a lot of culture driving through downtown! Lead to a great discussion with the kids but I was too stressed to really enjoy it.

The main thing is this: The surgery went very well and things looked good visually. Now we wait. We will know by this Thursday, if not before. If they find anything, they will call us sooner. I am praying that they won't call. Please continue to pray that the test results will be negative. I am so thankful that the Lord took care of Todd and the rest of us so well. I trust that He will continue to be with us. Thanks again for your support and prayers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Thanks again for your comments. All this anniversary stuff has kept my mind off of the future. Until now.

I mentioned before that my husband had surgery to remove a mole on his arm and it was melanoma. At the end of this week, he is going in to have a larger excision made around the area, as well as two lymph nodes removed to be inspected.

We've been down this road before, a few years before Chad was born. This melanoma was unrelated to the previous one. After passing the 5 year mark, we were hopeful that he would never have melanoma again. But that's not what happened. At the time, I remember praying that the Lord would give Todd and me a long life together. I still pray that prayer, especially now.

I was going to go into further detail but I don't feel like it. If Todd wants me to explain more, I will.

What I do wish to humbly ask is that you will pray for Todd. The surgery is Aug. 22, in Portland. Please pray that it would be the Lord's will for there to be no cancer left anywhere. And that Todd would have no further melanoma. Also that the surgery would go well, that God would touch the hands of all that care for Todd. And that, again, we would have a long life together. I would also appreciate prayers for me and the kids, as it is a difficult trip, into Portland, overnight, the hospital wait and the drive home. Very stressful for me and sometimes for the kids. I want to be there for Todd and not be concerned about anything else.

Thank you so much. I love this guy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

20 Years Later

I posted a "now" photo here at my HSB post. Please be kind.

Monday, August 11, 2008

How We Spent Our 20th

Oh, you kind, kind ladies! What nice things you have said! Thank you so much. If you missed my HSB blog, called "20", it tells some details of our beginning to the present. And that photo (at HSB) at the bottom of me was one Todd really likes - me and my toothy smile. It's who I am, I guess.

So, what did we do on our 20th anniversary? Funny you should ask. Well, o.k., no one asked but I want to record it anyway.

Todd got up before me and made a white cake, complete with "20" frosted on it. It was beautiful and delicious. Carmen kept saying it looked like a wedding cake (she's quick!) We each had cards for the other and shared some chocolate-covered cherries before breakfast.

Later, after lunch and before we cut the cake, I instructed the kids how to sing "Happy Anniversary" to us. When one of them balked, I said, "No cake unless you sing". Got results fast.

It was precious. I stopped breathing so I could just focus on that moment and devote it to memory in my heart. They were so sweet. Then I grabbed the video camera and said, "O.k., now let's do that again so I can record it!" "Mom!" Just kidding - I wouldn't make them do that over.

After lunch, Todd got out my stored wedding gown and veil, ironed them for me (no small feat) and I put them on. Believe it or not, after 3 babies, the dress still fits! I now weigh 15 lbs less than I did when we married but having kids redistributes your weight. It was only a bit tight around the waist. Whoopee!

Todd put on a tuxedo that he inherited from my late step-father and he looked very, very nice. Then we had my son takes photos. Not the best idea, I'm afraid.

The photos he took were almost acceptable - except for a few things we couldn't quite come to terms with. Bad lighting. Bad angles. Sigh. We looked pretty good (if I do say so myself) but we haven't decided which one to post. Funny, Rebeca asked about "then and now" photos on my HSB post. I'll let you know, Rebeca!

When that was done, it was time to go out to dinner - just the two of us. A first in 13 years! I don't often have a chance to get really dressed up so that made it even more special. Todd looked very handsome in his sport coat. I didn't make him wear a tie. I fussed over which pantyhose to wear, changing 3 times. It was a wonder I had pantyhose at all! Has this ever happened to you?

We went to a fabulous restaurant overlooking the Columbia River - we save this place for special occasions (it's spendy). We sat in the loft section where we were the only ones seated for at least an hour. Very private and very awkward at first. We kind of looked out at the water and around and at each other for a bit. I was nervous, like on a first date or something! I finally relaxed and we had a great time. I want to go out with this guy more often! It was so fun. We just talked and talked. We held hands. The food was great and we ordered coffee and dessert as well. I didn't want it to end. Finally, Todd's phone rang. It was Chad, wondering when we were coming home. Time to go. We picked up Subway sandwiches for the kids on the way home (we ate early, we didn't leave them starving or anything!) The kids were thrilled to get Subway plus cake for dessert!

I had a lovely anniversary. We really enjoyed each other's company on our special day. I have often said that my wedding day was one of the most perfect and wonderful days of my life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, went wrong on that day. Seriously. Even it if had, it would have been o.k. but what a blessing that it went as well as it did. Well, my 20th anniversary now has to rank right up there near it. I praise the Lord for a simple and lovely day to remember.

Monday, August 4, 2008

20 Years

If you would have told me, many years ago, that I would someday meet a tall, blue-eyed, blond that would ask me to marry him (after just 5 weeks of dating) and that we would someday celebrate 20 years together ... I would have thought you were nuts!

But that's just what happened.

And that special day is this Wednesday, August 6th. Send no gifts - just prayers for another 20+ years. Or more.

(This is us on our happy day with our pastor, Matt, my sister's bro-in-law. Look familiar to anyone?)

I can't imagine being married to anyone but Todd. There just isn't anyone under the sun who can remotely put up with me. Oh, sure, he thinks I'm hot (which is a blessing, let me tell you!) But he also loves me regardless of how often I nag him or the kids. Regardless of how often the kitchen is full of dirty dishes. Regardless of how often dinner is served after 6:30 pm. On and on ...

Because, in me, he sees the love I have for my Lord, my intense desire to be a good mom to my kids, and my ability to love him .... regardless.

He sees in me the potential to be so much more than I am. He often encourages me to write more, to better myself, to try something new. When I am in a self-critical mood, he tries to turn my attitude around.

Marriage to someone for this length of time is long enough to see the very best and the very worst in each other. To memorize each other's face, to see all the imperfections both inside and out, yet love each other through them. He helped me in each of 3 births. I've seen him through numerous surgeries for melanoma (with another one in a few weeks - please pray), and heart surgery (just to list the most serious ailments!) He supported me when I gave my all to a women's ministry that I was head of for several years. I backed him when he decided to close his cabinet business of 15+ years and go back to school to become a nurse. I sleep alone 3-4 nights a week due to his work schedule. I don't like it but, because I love him, I do it because he prefers working in ICU at night. The give and take seems to equal out over time.

We've both had times when we wanted to walk out. But we didn't. Because God is the tie that binds us together. Marriage is difficult. Without God, marriage must be nearly impossible. Because when you take two people and build a life together, you can be certain there will be many, many bumps along the way. But when you survive the bump, the joy is there to meet you. The love is renewed and fresh.

Thanks, Todd. Happy 20th Anniversary!

Love, Kate.

Monday, July 28, 2008

This Day

Thanks for the comments regarding my previous post. I am happy to say that with more sleep, my daughter's attitude seems to have improved. Maybe her dour attitude was just fatigue, and maybe that's a contributing factor some of the time. But I would love to hear any other comments regarding raising little girls with a healthy sense of self. My husband read my post and now we both are paying more attention to how we interact with Carmen. Girls ARE different from boys and relate differently even to Mom and Dad. It can be exhausting!

But now, I just have to discuss my day. Bear with me, please. Last night, my daughter told us that her ground-feeding fish (plecostomus?) was dead. Great. I said we'd deal with it in the a.m. I looked in the tank this morning and saw it sticking out from the fake treasure chest at the bottom of the tank. Ick. I HATE dealing with dead fish. So I scooped the chest out with a net and took it into the bathroom. Using a plastic bag turned inside out, I removed the fish - but only got half of it. Double ick! Then I dumped the contents of the chest into the bag and suddenly, the bag started flipping around. For a split second, I thought the dead fish was still alive, only it couldn't have been because it was in two halves. Then I saw the worm-like cooley loch squirming around - AHHHHH! My dh came running and I shoved the bag at him and ran into the kitchen, where I had a good cry. I had forgotten that the cooley loch lives in the treasure chest. The kids tried to comfort me but it startled me so badly that it took quite awhile to calm down. All this before 10:00 am! I gathered my wits and made breakfast. Then laundry, dishes, bank business, and lunch. After lunch, I began my list of errands. Among other things, I had to hit the store for mushrooms and some things for my dh's birthday tomorrow (I had thought his birthday was today but, fortunately, I was wrong). As I drove into the parking lot of a strip mall, I passed an elderly lady driving an old Cadillac. On top of her car was a nearly full plastic glass of water. No one was behind me, so I sat and watched as long as I could. She drove out of the lot, across the street and into the next parking lot. Some kids on bikes watched the cup as she drove by. It never spilled. She disappeared from sight and I had a good laugh. I parked and walked into the drugstore, still chuckling to myself. Then I looked up and saw two women in front of me, both wearing various neck braces and arm casts. I was afraid they thought I was laughing at them so I stifled it. They looked like they had both been in a car accident or something. I was in a hurry but I tried to be patient as they lumbered slowly into the store. God often tries to teach me patience. Anyway, the next stop was a nursery, where I had planned to buy a monkey puzzle tree for my husband's mom's birthday. The kid working there didn't know what it was and said he'd look it up on the Internet, so that he'd be able to find it for me on the lot (what nonsense!) I finally found a rather pitiful one on my own and by then, the place was crowded (there wasn't a soul there when I first arrived). While waiting in line to purchase my tree, this sort of funny kid started talking to me. Then he said his name was Zach and wanted to shake my hand. By this time, I realized that he wasn't all there (to put it politely). My hands were full so I just apologized and declined a handshake. Then he wanted to know my name. And persisted. Fortunately, the clerk could see what was going on and quickly completed my purchase. Another customer tried to distract this kid from pursuing me. I just kept saying, "I'm sorry, I have to go" but this kid started to follow me out the door, asking my name. I couldn't wait to get in the car and leave, but the tiny parking lot was now full of cars. God is good, the kid stayed inside and I was able to get out of there. Oh, I just wanted to get home! And then ...

What I haven't shared on here is that my husband had minor surgery for a suspected melanoma on his arm last week. We got the news today. He got home shortly after I did. He saw the doctor for his follow up consult - it is melanoma and he'll need another surgery. I cried. Fifteen years ago to this month, Todd had his first melanoma surgery. He needed 2 more surgeries for that one as well. I have always prayed that he would never have it again. But God sometimes says no. Melanoma is a deadly cancer that can only be treated with surgery. Other treatments don't work. And it can spread if not removed in time. Fortunately, this one looks like it was caught in time and the second surgery is to make darn sure it's all removed. I just feel so badly for my husband. And, honestly, I feel badly for me. It's been a rough year for me, emotionally. And I didn't see this coming. My intuition was wrong this time - perhaps I didn't want to believe it might be cancer again. Yeah, that was it. I was fooling myself. We both knew.

The good news is that he'll have the second surgery here in town, instead of Portland. He'll have a consult with a plastic surgeon the day before our 20th wedding anniversary next week. Bummer. We'll have to celebrate big.

Melanoma happens because of the damage done to your skin as a child and young adult. I want to encourage you Moms to sunscreen your little ones. My kids often balk at this but I always remind them of what their Dad has gone through. This sure reinforces the issue. Protect that young skin. And protect your own as well - tanning ages your skin quicker.

So - that was my day. I had to get it all out there. We ended the day by watching the "Miss Potter" movie, in honor of Beatrix Potter's birthday today. It was good to veg.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is It So Tough To Be 7?

I had a disturbing thing happen tonight. While my 7 year old daughter was in the tub, I was folding towels and we were talking about being nice to others. She said that she's not nice and that she's bad. She meant it. In a split second, I realized that I needed to treat this statement seriously so I looked around the tub door and told her that she was not mean, she was a sweet person. I also, truthfully, said that she sometimes said or did bad things but that she wasn't a bad person. I don't know if she believed me but we went on to other things.

Thinking back on this conversation now, I know how easy it is for girls to feel badly about themselves, even at her age. From what I've observed, girls tend to want to please but they sometimes reach a point where they decide they can't please or maybe they've been told too many times that they aren't being nice and so they believe they are a bad person. Something like that. Carmen has been getting more and more, well, joyless. Sarcastic. She's funny a lot of the time because I don't expect such sardonic comments from her - I mean, she is ONLY 7, with a much more mature sense of humor than we expect of her. But with that sarcasm (which I try to quell) comes a child who perhaps sees things negatively. Perhaps her self-esteem is low and so her sarcasm is a product of that. Or the other way around. I don't know. I'm chattering here because I'm trying to make sense of this and wondering what I can do for her. Got any suggestions? I know there are several of you who have girls older than mine. Is this normal for a 7 year old girl? I have two older boys, so girlhood is all new for me. I was raised with 3 older sisters along with all the influence they had on me. I suspect it's the attitude of my 10 year old son who has had the most influence on Carmen. Which could explain a lot. Perhaps I need to work on his attitude and then it would rub off on her. No? Maybe? Or send them both to a good boarding school in Europe?

So ... how does one genuinely help a child to have better self-esteem? And, is that even the issue? I think we encourage her appropriately, not too much or too little and with sincerity. I can't let this go, I need to deal with this now or it will only grow. No, I'm not freaking, just being a parent.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ladybugs, ladybugs

Last week, we were at a toy store and I picked up a small ladybug habitat. I've been wanting to buy the larger one that I've seen in catalogs but it's about $20, more than I wished to spend. Plus, the company that makes them won't ship ladybugs to OR; this is likely due to the fact that we experience occasional ladybug invasions. I remember one year we had an average of 14 ladybugs crawling on our dining room ceiling daily. I was constantly catching them and letting them go outside. The worst of it was when one fell down on the table during dinner (did it land in a glass? I think so). Freaked poor Carmen out so much that for months, she was leery of eating out there. We just bought a new chandelier to go over the dining room table and so took the old one down. It appears that many ladybugs met their doom around the base of each lightbulb holder. Ugh!

Back to the habitat. My daughter actually loves ladybugs (as long as they aren't falling from the ceiling) and when she saw this small habitat, she asked if we could get it. So we did. My kids already know a lot about ladybugs and having one in the habitat would be a great experience but I hadn't seen any outside yet. I was hoping they would start appearing soon. Then yesterday, my son went outside and came running back in with a ladybug! Such excitement! Into its new home it went. Ever since then, my daughter has been very busy making sure this insect is well cared for, not too hot or too cold, isn't dead, has something to eat and drink. Today, someone found another ladybug, a smaller one with more spots, and he/she joined the first bug. We do not know how to tell if they are male or female. Any suggestions? I'm sure the ladybugs know, but they are not telling. This afternoon, Carmen asked if I'd go out with her to look for aphids. We found one on a rose leaf. Into the habitat it went and became dinner. Poor thing didn't have a chance. You can also feed them raisins. Which we did.

Amazingly, I'm the only one who has let a ladybug escape (no surprise there) but I caught it and returned it to it's home. I was redeemed. Tomorrow we need to clean up the ladybug waste (ahem) and we've been discussing where we'll put the ladybugs while we are doing that. It has been really educational and fun for my daughter, as well as my sons, all for under $7.00. Not bad. I think I've read that the Japanese think of ladybugs as good luck. If I believed in luck, I would agree. However, since I've lived in OR and have experienced the invasions, my thoughts on that would have to be: "One ladybug in the house is good luck, more than that is a nuisance!"

Unless, of course, we get more habitats.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Clay Time Is Over - For Now

"Enjoy life. There's plenty of time to be dead." ~Hans Christian Andersen

The above quote came from a post on jugglingpaynes. I just felt the need to share it here. Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?

We just finished a most unusual week, at least for our family. It was definitely out of the norm for me and my sleep-in-late kids. I had signed the kids up for an arts class using clay and every day I had to arise at 6:30 a.m., get myself ready, get the kids up at 7:30, feed everyone and head out the door by 8:30 (well, o.k., it was closer to 8:40) to drive 17 miles south to the class. Now, for your average Joe (or Jane) this is no big deal. As you might expect, we are not average. It was killer! I am not an a.m. person. Never have been. And my kids are like me.

In addition, I never was able to get any coffee the entire week, which didn't help my 11:00 a.m. slump each day. Oh, I didn't just sit and watch my kids - nooo, the instructor handed me a lump of clay as well, so I learned right along with my kids. It was fun but by 11:00, I didn't want to do anything more so I spent the last hour cleaning up (lots to clean up in a ceramics class!) And last night, I didn't sleep well so today I was in the dream zone all day. The class went until 12:00, so every day we'd get home, eat lunch and then it seemed like we didn't want to (or couldn't) do anything else the rest of the day. Our routine was thrown out of whack. Then there was the rush after dinner to get everyone to bed so we could start over the next day. It's been stressful, I tell you! (I know, I know, such a baby!)

But, it's been worth it. I'm glad it's over but I will miss the fun parts. It was so great to watch my kids sit and think about what they wanted to do. And then dive in. My oldest really surprised me with his fearlessness to try everything the teacher showed us. He worked on a potter's wheel, not once but twice! He poured molds. He coiled. He slabbed. Everything! This is a child who doesn't do any kind of craft at home and when he does, it's really abstract. I think he was very pleased with himself and I know he had a lot of fun. That right there made it all worth it (even the fee!) My younger two already have experience working with Sculpy clay so I knew they would take to the class - and they did. Even Todd got in on it (he has lots of clay experience.) He was able to come with us for 3 days and he made some lovely things. We are considering taking the class that is just once a week - and in the late afternoon! I can handle that easily - at least for a month or so.

Our finished pieces won't be fired until they dry so it will be several weeks before we can go back and get them. I'm looking forward to having everything here so we can enjoy them. I'm also looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. And coffee. You know - the old routine.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The 3rd, 4th & 5th of July

On the 3rd, a few days after my last post, my family and I went to buy fireworks. We always buy from the Boy Scouts firework tent. Our neighbors are usually there, but their son has grown up and is no longer a scout. This year, as we walked into the tent, I saw two women at the register. One of them looked familiar and I asked, "Do I know you?" Besides the fact that she tuned our piano years ago, she turned out to be the lady who interviewed David Ogden Stiers on the radio a few days ago! I was so pleased to be able to tell her how much I enjoyed the interview and we also told her how we had watched the Star Trek episode she spoke of, just the night before the interview. She agreed it was strange and we had a good chat. She told us about the interview, how she was able to get his agreement to meet her and how quick-witted he was. I was so glad to be able to talk with her and I know she appreciated hearing our comments.

As this is a small town, this lady (her name is Kathleen) has a son who used to take trombone lessons from my husband's step-dad, (Grampa Bob). My son, Chad, used to have euphonium lessons on the same day but different hour - we never crossed paths.

We celebrated the 4th yesterday, along with the rest of America. It rained all morning but by 3:00, it was clear enough to go to the parade in the next town over. A nice man beside us gave our kids some small American flags to wave. Lots of firetrucks and sirens (small town parade stuff). And those dreaded clowns. My kids run for cover. They don't like them either. Then back home for pizza, complete with pepperoni stars, the long wait for dusk to set off our way-too-expensive fireworks (my husband's thing!) and then watching the big fireworks set off from a dock on the Columbia River in town. We had to watch them from a different vantage point than usual and it was kind of uncomfortable. Too many people and some of them were drunk. I can't stand that! But the fireworks were beautiful and loud, just the thing to end the day.

One of the drunk men a few feet from us did provide a funny moment - at a hotel behind us, someone's car alarm was set off by the booming of the fireworks. The annoying honking went on for several minutes when this drunk guy finally said, "Turn that s*** off!" At that precise moment, the honking ceased. Then he said, "Thank you!" Todd and I thought it was hysterical and we had a good laugh.

We also got in some learning today. I use this day as an opportunity to teach my kids why we celebrate on this day and we sang some patriotic songs that I think my kids should know. There are many things that we automatically learned in school growing up that I need to teach my homeschooled kids, like the Pledge of Allegiance, for example. This became alarmingly apparent on the evening of the 3rd. As usual, we went to the 4th of July concert in our town (where Grampa Bob plays in the symphony) and at the beginning, there is a flag ceremony where all the military flags are presented, along with our nation's flag. When Old Glory appeared, I told my 7 year old to put her hand over her heart. She said, "Why?" rather loudly. I said, "Just do it!" and made a mental note to explain later. We usually say the Pledge of Allegiance on the 4th (among other times of the year) but I think she had forgotten or it didn't make an impression. I don't know. I just don't want that to happen again, plus these are among the important things my kids need to know about our country, about being an American.

No wonder I am always SO exhausted on the 5th! Our 4th seems rather busy compared to my own childhood. But it's what we do. Hope you all had a good 4th!

Monday, June 30, 2008

That's Mr. Stiers, To You

I'm still waiting. But that's not what I want to write about. Oh, and thanks so much for all the encouraging comments (wonder woman - I like that (see mama self's comment on my last post!)

Remember awhile back, I mentioned that weird coincidences seemed to happen to me? I've also recently written about Star Trek: The Next Generation. This post combines the two. You can't wait, can you?

Last Thursday evening, my husband put in his Star Trek tape that has about 6 episodes that we taped years ago. I never know what episode is going to play because we've never written down what exactly is on them. The episode that first played is the one that guest stars David Ogden Stiers as a scientist from another planet. He boards the ship to conduct an experiment on his planet's star with the help of the Enterprise. I like this episode because I like this actor so I was glad to be able to watch it. I remember Mr. Stiers mostly from the comedy M*A*S*H, where he played Charles Winchester III, the blue-blooded tent mate of Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and BJ. Do you remember who I'm talking about? Of course, he's done lots of other screen and TV work but this is what I'm most familiar with.

Anyway, the very next morning, I went into the kitchen where my sweet husband was unloading the dishwasher (nothing more beautiful to see in the a.m!) He had the radio on and said, "David Ogden Stiers is being interviewed on the radio." I didn't hear him right at first. Then it dawned on me that it really was this actor, being interviewed on our local (small town) radio station. I was amazed! After listening to the interview, which I enjoyed, we heard that he was going to be at our local theatre, participating in a musical program. I was still amazed! I found out that he lives about 3 hours south of here, on the coast. I thought that was so cool! I thought, "Wow, I get to see this guy in person, right here in our little town!"

But wait, Todd has to work. It's kind of spendy. It's not going to happen. O.k. I decided that it was enough just to hear the interview and know that he was here. I did find out that he guest conducts for the Newport Symphony Orchestra (Newport is 3 hours south of us on the coast), the next time being this January, so I might be able to go to that. Maybe.

And wouldn't you know it. The ICU unit at the hospital was closed (meaning they had no patients) - they called about 5:00 p.m. to tell Todd not to come in. Bummer. The concert had started at 4:00 p.m. It just wasn't meant to be. But that's o.k. It was just one of those wonderful coincidences that happen in my life, I suppose, to give me something to ponder.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Hate Waiting

Here's another question ... How do you handle stress? (Warning - The following is a boring post about my present medical situation. Feel free to move on to another blog that makes you laugh!)

My friend, Cristina at jugglingpaynes, sweetly asked how I was feeling (thanks for thinking of me!). Amazingly, since my weird injured stomach muscle diagnosis, I've only had a few days of bothersome symptoms. My husband said that this is just the way I will be now - it's my future. Get used to it. Sigh. For awhile, when it was really bad (a few weeks ago) I felt like I'd never recover. I was so scared at each doctor visit, since I didn't know what was wrong. And I was terrified of what it might be. Having a diagnosis was a relief - at least I knew which direction to go to help myself. Even if there is not much I can do, I think I can manage it. I am so thankful to have days when I feel like nothing is wrong. I've learned how to isolate this central muscle and not use it, or at least to pull it in instead of letting it push out. And on the days I have symptoms, I try not to get uptight. Just manage it. My blood tests have all come back normal (super normal, in fact - hooray!) My nurse-husband gets annoyed when I press him for information, like "How can I make my blood levels even more super normal?" I am, however, wretchedly awaiting results from my abdominal ultrasound I had a week ago. (This was to rule out any other problems that might be present.) The (stinkin') radiology department said that they had sent the results to my doc but they hadn't. I might hear from him tomorrow or it could be another week. It's upsetting that I can't even read my own results. I'm paying for the darn thing, after all! So, that is still stressful but I am trying to think "Don't worry unless there is something to worry about".

To the average person, this would be logical. But I was born and raised by a sweet, loving, major-worrying Mom who looked for the worse-case scenario in everything. How can such a nice lady be such a worry wort? Worry is something that has been with me all my life, keeping me busy praying and trying to give up my woes to the Lord. I try. Really. But I let Him down all the time. He is able to carry my burden if I would only give it to him.

So, I'll await the final test result. I'll try not to think about it. Worry only if there's something to worry about. I'll let you know.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pre-Blog Life

Here's a question: What did you do with your time, prior to the Internet? Before you learned about blogging and got the nerve to start your own blog? For some of you, it's been a long time so you might have to really think about this.

For me, personally, I was pretty much knee-deep in young kids so my evenings (which is when I blog) were filled with getting the kids down for the night (baths, snacks, stories, etc.) Now, with just one child still needing me, I have more time in the evening - unless she's dragging her feet which has been the case lately. It's amazing ... just 10 minutes or so after I get her to bed, suddenly I feel relaxed and have more energy, even when I'm exhausted prior. I asked my husband about this and he said it's because I'm still on duty until she's in bed. And he's right - until Carmen says goodnight, I'm still "at work".

When I first started blogging, it was kind of addictive. I couldn't wait to sit down and write and/or read/comment. I'm glad to say that now I choose when I blog and it's not so compelling. For me, that's a good thing. There's nothing wrong with blogging every day but there are days I would rather read more or whatever. And things have changed here due to Todd's schedule. When he's home, I barely touch the computer, which explains why a week goes by before I post again. Yeah, it's getting kind of slow here at "Three's A Crowd", but I'm sure no one minds! But only having Todd home 4 nights a week makes our time together more important. Just sitting with him alone is a treat (even if he's watching a Star Trek video!) It's even more of a treat when we watch "As Time Goes By" (which is my favorite.)

Speaking of Star Trek (were we speaking of Star Trek - o.k. just pretend we were) ... Did you know that the character "Data", who is the android on the starship, doesn't use contractions when he speaks? He does later on in the movies but in the "Next Generation" TV series, he is programmed not to use contractions. The reason I'm bringing this up is I have noticed that I do not use contractions when I blog. I often go back over my writing and use contractions where I can in an effort to shorten a comment or to make my writing flow better. And every time I do this, I am reminded of Data. Darned annoying!

You know, tonight I felt like writing but couldn't come up with a topic. Funny how one can fill a page with nothing to say!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Starting To Surface

Thank you so much for your prayers. I don't always think to ask for prayer for myself but, like duh! I need it just as much as the next guy. Thank you again, I really appreciate it. And God answered quickly.

I made a visit to a new (to me) female doctor for my female issues and boy am I glad to have that visit done! It's been 4 years so I was overdue. But this lady doctor was really, really great - it wasn't the average doctor visit. For starters, she has set up practice on her own now and runs the whole show (answers the phone, etc.) She used to be at our local hospital but moved to Portland and can't yet afford to have any office staff. So it was just me and the doc for 1-1/2 hours. Like visiting a friend. And she knew my husband and my primary physician, which was also beneficial. It was tiring to drive 2 hours there and 2 hours back but I'm so glad I did.

So the diagnosis? (Drum roll, please ...) Mild diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscle. I can almost say it now. In layman's terms, this means the muscle that goes down the front of my belly, from my belly button on down, is split. Mildly. Ugh. This happens with pregnancy, as the belly expands rapidly and the muscle is stretched. This is an important muscle and holds up a lot of organs, from what I can see in diagrams. Apparently, I have had this damage for at least 7 years (since my last baby) but have recently done more damage to it. Which has caused several problems that seemed to me to be muscular in nature but I couldn't figure out why. Now I know. And the reason I am writing all this is in the hopes that one of you have heard of this and might know what I can do for it. There are exercises to help repair the problem but I am finding it difficult to get more information. There is a book somewhere but I can't find it yet. In the meantime, I am trying to be more careful with my stomach muscles and have better posture, which helps.

And this is interesting ... in all the info I have come across, one message is clear, "Do NOT do sit ups or crunches!!" I have been meaning to start doing sit-ups for about a month or more but just never did them - now I know why! I believe God was keeping me from doing them. I really do! He knows these things, obviously, before we do. I am thankful!

And my doctor said I was "fit"! I've never been told that! It really made me feel good - isn't that silly? My husband says I look great and I've been told I was thin, but to be told I was "fit" ... I don't know, it just rang pleasantly in my ear. Even if my insurance doesn't cover the cost of my office visit, it was all worth it!

Finally ... today we had a beautiful day. I even sat on the deck this evening, reading, with the sun shining on me. It felt wonderful. Yes, I had on sunscreen. But it still felt wonderful.

The fog has begun to lift. Literally.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Due to my present circumstances, I am experiencing total blog burn-out. If it appears that I've dropped out of sight this week, technically I have.

Minor health issues ... stress from said m. h. issues ... and this stinkin' weather.

All this could lead to a fit of depression.

Sorry. I'll return when I resurface. Might be sooner, or possibly later.

God bless.

P.S. Guess I was wrong about turning 45 - it really does stink, at least at the moment.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Your Opinion Matters

In the Sunday paper today, I read an article in "Parade" magazine that talked about the homeschooling issue going on in California right now. And the magazine wanted people to go to their website and vote on the following: Should parents need teaching credentials to homeschool their kids?

I went to and voted where indicated. I voted "no" because I know very well that parents do NOT need teaching credentials to teach their kids. I want to encourage those of you who homeschool or support homeschooling to go to and vote your opinion. As of 10:45 pm, over 15,000 votes have been tallied and it's 90% - no and 10% - yes. I was thrilled! On their website, under the heading "What's New", click on the article entitled "Taught At Home".

I really can't stand to see anything that puts homeschooling in a negative light when I know so many, many families that homeschool successfully, including my own (in my opinion). Enough said.

Friday, May 30, 2008


After reading a friend's post the other day, I was reminded of a man that I hadn't thought about in awhile. His name is Matt and he was a major influence in my life, from the time I was about 14 until I got married. My sister married a man named Jeff (another major influence in my life) and Jeff's sister is Cindy. Cindy is married to Matt, who is a pastor. You know how the saying goes, you don't just marry the person, you marry the family? In our case, my family and Jeff's family spent a bit more time together than most families related by marriage. I was in my sister's wedding and Matt officiated. I spent time at my sister's home, where Jeff's family often visited and we'd have these great spiritual discussions that went long into the evening (all of these people are Christians and I was a new believer) - I learned a lot. At that time, Matt was the Associate Pastor at a church in Long Beach, CA, and I sometimes went there with my sister.

Later in my teen years, I rebelled and went my own way. My sister and her husband, Jeff, didn't approve of my boyfriend so I stopped spending time at their home (I was SO stupid!) After 4 years of this, I was in bad shape. I didn't want to end the relationship but I didn't want to go on with it. So, one day, I went to see Matt at church. We talked. He knew all about my boyfriend and I told him how I was feeling. He made it very plain - he said, "This guy is making you sick and you can't get well until he is out of your life". Straight talk that I needed to hear - you'd think I could figure out something that simple on my own but sometimes you need someone from the outside to wake you up. I pondered this for a short time and even began to pray about it. The Lord spoke plainly to me as well. A few months later, the situation presented itself and I was ready to end the relationship. I cried for a week. But then, I went to church for the first time in a long time and I couldn't wait to tell Matt - I remember running up to him and saying, "Matt, it's over! I can get well now!" Please believe me, if this sounds weird, it wasn't - it's just what happened!

I continued going to church and became part of the college group. There was one time that I got myself into some mild trouble and Matt actually drove around one Sunday night and found me with friends outside a local restaurant after church. He said, "I want to see you in my office in 10 minutes!" Oh, man! It was worse than facing my own father! He and the college pastor were both there and they talked with me for awhile, giving me some stern advice. It was horrible, I knew I had let Matt down and I decided right then and there to get my act together. He never mentioned it again. I was so relieved and I knew he had forgiven me.

Then my dad died. My dad had a lot of respect for Matt. Matt officiated at my dad's funeral. And he read the words I had written and had hoped to say but couldn't, out of grief. I was so thankful to have a pastor that was personally involved with our family perform the funeral service - I know Dad approved!

A year later, I met the man I would marry at that same church in Long Beach. We had marriage counseling with, who else, Matt. And, of course, Matt performed our wedding ceremony. It was a perfect day for me. How cool it was to have my brother-in-law, Jeff (in place of my Dad), walk me down the aisle to join my waiting husband-to-be and Matt. These three wonderful men in my life were there together - I loved it!

Two years later, Todd and I moved north. Strangely, enough, Matt went north as well, to become the Senior Pastor of a church in Washington. It's 2 hours east of us and we visited his church on his first Sunday there.

I am very thankful the Lord put Matt in my life. In my opinion, there is no one else like him.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Current Reads

I'm not comfortable with leaving a post on fish here for very long but I'm unsure what to write about next. Lots of extended family and health issues going on at the moment - stuff like that tends to stymie my creativity. As if this blog reflects my creativity ...

So, here's what I'm reading at the moment:

The War of the Roses, by Alison Weir. 15th century goings on between the royalty in England. Not light reading, I'm only halfway through. King Henry VI's miserable life seems to drag on and on. I'm learning a lot of history, which I enjoy. I love Alison Weir books, she's great at research.

Starting From Scratch, by Rita Mae Brown. A different kind of writer's manual. Thought-provoking, informative. Reading books like this inspire me to keep writing. She's a tough broad which adds a unique twist.

Ah, Tuscany, by Don McPherson. This is yet another book about a foreigner buying and restoring a home in Tuscany, which I just can't seem to get enough of. This one, however, is written from a man's point of view which means, to my feminine eye, it can be a bit dry at times but that's o.k. No flowery writing to get in the way of the story. I would like to live in a foreign country someday. Books like this can either scare me or encourage me.

My biggest challenge is to actually finish one of these book before my kids become adults. I'm famous for getting several books going and only finishing a few (the ones I can't put down). Drives my husband nuts. Even my kids start asking, "Mom, are you ever going to finish that book?" What's it to them, I say? Life is short - if a book isn't worth my time, there's no point in finishing it. I have no trouble leaving it in the middle and never knowing how it turned out. Draconian, yes, but so be it. I've always wanted to type the word "draconian" - and now I have.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Guppy Alert

Yesterday, my husband spent a great deal of time on "Guppy Alert". Boney II, our resident pregnant guppy, decided it was a great day to have her babies. My daughter, Carmen, spent a lot of time watching her tank and periodically would run out of her room, shouting, "There's another baby!" Dad would spring into action, grab the net and spend the next several minutes searching for the baby. Carmen has young eyes and can easily spot a 3/16" long baby. They make a good team. I tried to net out a baby but apparently I'm not adept. No surprise. Despite our efforts, the male guppies managed to eat a few and it was a bit unnerving to hear my 7 year old daughter give me the gruesome details. We did rescue at least 12 babies so we feel good about that!

However, now we have many more mouths to feed. And many potential females. You know what that means. By the end of the day, Carmen announced she was "Done with babies!" It has been fun watching the first 3 babies grow (one died, 2 lived and are thriving). It's also fun to see so many tiny babies in the "tank within a tank" that they are housed in. But we know that our future is full of many more babies to come. Do we really want to go through this again and again? Where does it end?

The only humane option is to give them all to the pet store, who will take them for us. Carmen was a bit disappointed that she couldn't make any money by selling them to the pet store owner. But there is already a tank full of guppies there, the owner doesn't need anymore.

Carmen would like to buy a beta like her Dad and brother each have. One fish. No babies. She's a smart cookie, I think!

By the way, if you'd like to read a REALLY long post I did about my flat tire, check out my HSB blog (see my HSB Blog link at left). That is, if you've nothing better to do ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Let's Move On

O.k., I think one day of Bill is enough. I didn't think it would be very well-received.

But, hey, I made it into today's local paper! We happened to see a newspaper at the store today and there I was - tiny as ever on the BACK page of the "Daily Astorian"! Whoa! How many people can say THAT today?!

All right, enough of this nonsense. Incidentally, we chose to remain blissfully ignorant of all the details concerning Mr. Bill's poor lifestyle choices. We got the gist. My kids know nothing. One of the blessings of not having TV. If there's ever a reason for them to know, they'll learn when they are older.

Now, on to real life. Sunday night, I had a dream that I was in an office building elevator with my mother-in-law. Just before the elevator stopped, an earthquake occurred and the elevator shook back and forth. When it stopped and the doors opened, everyone on that floor of the office building was talking about how much everything was shaking and all. Then I woke up. When I got up and went into the kitchen, my husband told me there had been an earthquake in China - a really strong one. I was amazed! I told him about my dream and he said maybe I felt it (I think he was kidding!) Then after lunch, I got a phone call from my MOTHER-IN-LAW, saying she was in the hospital with double pneumonia. She and her husband returned from a cruise on Mon. and they took her right to the ER of the hospital my dh works at. She is feeling better now, thankfully, with proper care, rest and meds.

I know that I've always been particularly sensitive to things and I've occasionally had dreams that were somehow related to later experiences. I do not read anything into these situations, except that it's always weird and interesting. And sometimes when I have a dream that is unsettling, I try hard not to think about it! Fortunately, I do not dream very often.

For the record, it was Todd that posted that crowd photo for me. We just don't take photos very often with our video camera, which is the only way I can get a photo onto the computer. My dh does want a digital camera, it just hasn't been a priority.

Oh, I found out the details about the last president to visit Astoria. According to a book I have called "The Astorian", President Rutherford B. Hayes visited this town during his term (1877-1881) and in his entourage was General Ulysses S. Grant and General William Tecumseh Sherman. A bit of history there for you. See, you learned something new today!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Me and Bill

Always one for a bit of excitement ...
Look closely at the circled face on the right side of this photo. Yes, that's ME - on the wrong side of the tracks!
Sorry it's so blurry, not that it matters. I suppose you'd like to know just why I was standing in this crowd of people along the riverfront of my little town.
Well ... when I heard that former President Bill Clinton was making a stop at the museum on the river, I just had to go. I mean, it's not something that happens every day. Not around here. Ever. And while I am a registered Republican, I have my opinions of who I would like to get the Democratic nomination. So I went and joined the crowd to hear what Mr. Clinton had to say. I made friends with a mom next to me in the crowd and we talked about homeschooling! She has friends on the East coast who homeschool and she wanted to know if this area supported homeschooling. It does, in a big way, I was happy to tell her.
It was strange being there, I felt out of place because of my political party but, really, we are all just people. It's not like I had "Republican" stamped on my forehead or anything. And I agreed with a lot that was said. It was the first political rally I had ever been to and (sorry, Todd) I really enjoyed it. Must be that 8th grade cheerleader in me that I've never truly outgrown.
Tonight, I went to the local newspaper's web site and was looking at the photos and, low and behold, there I was! The rally was outside and, thankfully, it didn't rain and it wasn't too cold or windy.
So, this morning turned out quite different than I planned. And I had lots to tell the kids when I got home. Chad wanted to know if Mr. Clinton looked the same as he did when he was president (he did). We talked a bit about the presidents that have been elected since Chad was born. I might have taken my sons if they had been up and ready. It really was a last minute thing and I just happened to be ready that early in the a.m. (most unusual for me!)
A little bit of history was made for Astoria today. I believe the last time a president visited here was back in the late 1800's or early 1900's. It's about time, don't you think?

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Don't worry ladies, my blog is safely back in my hands. Todd surrendered it without a fight. I never know what that man will do next!

What a sweet treat to find his post on my blog! A total surprise. And thank you all so very much for your birthday greetings! Really helped make my birthday even more lovely!

I had a very enjoyable day. I slept in late and when I walked down the hall, I was greeted one at a time by my kids, who each got hugs. As I got near the front door, my son, Alec, opened it and there stood my husband, holding roses, candy and donuts! The timing couldn't have been more perfect! I opened their cards and we had breakfast. Todd had told the kids that on this day, they were to take their questions to Daddy, not Mommy, and they were to behave themselves. And they did (for the most part). I did school with Carmen and Todd helped the boys. Then I spent the next 3 hours visiting a few shops in town and across the river, where I bought a few things for my family and chatted with the owners. There's a toy store in town that opened up 13 years ago when Chad was a newborn. The owners (Katie & Bill) have watched all our kids grow up and we've enjoyed their friendship. Katie was working so we chatted for quite awhile and she ended up giving me a tiara to celebrate my birthday. I told her I'd wear it when I cut my cake - and I did!

I was starving so I headed home to eat lunch. Todd was just finishing my cake - lemon chiffon (he's the baker in our family) and I got to lick the icing pan - yum! He had fed the kids lunch and did a load of dishes. After I ate, we sat and talked a bit. The kids kept coming in to wish me Happy Birthday and give me a hug. Then we had to decide where to go for dinner. We chose a new restaurant on the river front that has been given great reviews so we made reservations and went there. It's a huge old industrial building that has been majorly renovated into a big, open restaurant and some other shops. The restaurant is really nice and everything was great. The service, the food and the view - all terrific.

We had cake when we got home and we took photos of me in my tiara with all the kids and Todd. The cake was awesome. If you want the recipe, I'm sure Todd would be happy to oblige.

It was a very relaxing day, I wasn't concerned about doing much of anything which is why it was so fun to do whatever. My throat was raspy from talking and laughing so much. I said "thank you" about a thousand times today. If you must know what I got for my birthday (besides roses and candy) Todd got me a new summer wardrobe and I've already written about the Toyota Prius he bought me on Earth Day last month. A red one. Wow. I don't need anything else for, like, years and years. I still can't believe it. I guess it's love.

Hey, Todd ... you've spoiled me way too much. Thanks for putting so much effort into my birthday. You really outdid yourself this time. Makes up for the birthdays we celebrated at "Subway" when the kids were babies! Growing older has its compensations, doesn't it? Y

I have to say that my 45th birthday was way, way better than my 30th or my 40th. And not just because of the gifts. No ... I was afraid to turn 30 or 40. I wasn't afraid of this birthday. Yes, I'm older but, oh well. It's going to happen. The first half of my life is officially over. My desire is to make the second half even better than the first. It started yesterday. I'll let you know how it goes.