Friday, April 25, 2008

Good News/Bad News Dialogue

Good News: My daughter wanted to keep going in math today - 6 pages!

Bad News: She decided she ought to get a toy for all her hard work!

Good: We have two bathrooms.

Bad: One toilet stopped working two days ago.

Good: Husband has a job.

Bad: Toilet stopped working the day before he had to start his 12 hr/day work week. Eat/sleep/work for 3 days. No time to fix toilet.

Good: We had sun today! I sat outside and felt warmth - it's been a long time!

Bad: It's supposed to rain for the next 10 days.

Good: Timberdoodle is giving free shipping on orders over $85 until April 30th. Timberdoodle sells homeschool stuff. We ordered math curricula for all the kids - it was time.

Bad: Financially, it really wasn't a good time to order anything but let's hope that "stimulus" check from the government gets here soon!

Good: God is. He just is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day In My Town

How does one spend Earth Day in my town? By wasting as much water as you can, of course!

It started off with promise. The kids and I began discussing who started Earth Day, when and why. We talked about ways we could help the environment, big and little. I made Alec in charge of keeping the lights turned off in rooms no one was in. Alec also tried to make solar panels with straws and aluminum foil but since there was zero sun today, it kind of failed. At least he tried! I had Carmen make a colorful "Earth Day" banner for the kitchen.

And then I reminded Carmen to use the bathroom. She came back and said that something was wrong with the water in the toilet. This commode has had some issues so I got the plunger and worked away at it. Several flushes later, I asked my son to check my bathroom - if it was o.k., then the problem was just in the kids' bath. If mine was the same, the problem was with the outside line or further out. Bingo - ours had the same problem. Bummed that I had wasted all that water and arm strength, I called the city water dept. And what do you think they are doing on Earth Day? Flushing all the hydrants, of course! But they weren't in our area at the time, so she sent a workman out to our house in case it was a different issue. He arrived in record time and I answered the door, sans make-up (he didn't care but I did - at least I was dressed!) I offered to show him a sample of the water (yes, I actually got a cup of toilet water to show him - I cringe about it now!) He said it was just "compressed air" or something like that. Said it would clear up by evening. Then he ran our outdoor hose for awhile and flushed the hydrant at the corner, and then went up the street to flush another hydrant. Water poured down our hill, around the corner and headed straight for our driveway. Picture a fake flood in a disaster movie. Fortunately, our driveway has a drain built into the side - right where this flow of water went. The builder of this house must have been told that when the hydrant is flushed at the corner, our driveway is the target for the run-off. Bless him.

I was aghast at how much water had been wasted today! Just in my little block alone! And much of it was my own fault! Sigh. I was truly, truly bummed. Nothing I can do about it now except try to make up for it somehow - I know, I won't shower tonight, there's a start. I hate to think of the extra $$ on my water bill next month. I just felt like a failure, you know?

On the other hand, my kids got to see how to handle a water issue. How I interacted with the workman, thanking him for his quick response. In other words, a life issue. So, my kids learned in spite of their mother. How often this is the case.

On a positive note - my sweet oldest son, Chad, makes it his mission to pick up trash on our street on Earth Day. I gave him the route he could take. We live on a block full of women living alone (at least 6 that I know of) and I suggested he clean up in front of their homes. I gave him a trash bag and gloves and proudly watched him work. I was thankful it wasn't snowing (like yesterday) or raining, like it did later. God gave him a window of good weather to work in. I applaud my son for his efforts. It was all his idea.

All is not lost. My husband did the ultimate Earth Day thing - he bought me a Toyota Prius hybrid. It hasn't sunken in yet. I haven't had my own car in years. I don't deserve it (he disagrees with this, what a guy!)

Actually, in our home, everyday is kind of an Earth Day, as we do all we can to help the environment. We talked about ways we could up the effort (composting came to mind). So, tell me ... how did YOU spend your Earth Day? I think the international Earth Day was March 20, wasn't it? But I'd love to hear if anyone else greened up their curriculum for today.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We spent 2 days in Portland this week as there was a concert we wanted to go to. And we surprised the kids with a trip to a science museum as well. Alec has been asking to go to this museum for about 2 years and we finally did it. This museum has a retired submarine docked in the river that runs along the museum and you can take a tour of it. Of course, the museum was full of school kids out on field trips, as well as babies and toddlers everywhere (this being Wednesday after all - isn't this were everyone takes their babies and toddlers during the week?) Anyway, we headed for the sub tour as soon as we got there and, surprise, we were the ONLY ones on the 12:10 tour! I thought it was pretty cool that my family got a personal tour of the sub. Oh, I didn't take the tour (I hate places so confined - ugh!) but Alec just loved it. They all enjoyed it but Alec has been waiting so long for a sub tour that he was just thrilled. He just lives and breathes subs right now. It's downright annoying.

Speaking of annoying, something I've encountered the past few days is some really, really pushy people. We got to swim once at the hotel pool this week and after about 1/2 hour, these 2 ladies came in with a little child (maybe 5 or 6?) with long hair, trunks and a swim shirt. I thought it was a boy but the rest of my family insists it was a girl (did have a high voice). Anyway, this child gets in the pool with us and immediately starts playing with the toys we brought. We all got out and went into the hot tub and he/she followed us, talking all the way. He/she gets in the hot tub and continues to hold rein of the conversation. We were all polite and I tried not to get annoyed but, man, what do you do? We all got out to get dried off and the kid follows us over, insisting that my oldest meet him/her at breakfast the next day ("Hey, kid, hey, kid!") He/she kept asking over and over WHEN we would be in the breakfast room and I kept saying I didn't know. I was so glad to get out of there! The mom of this child was busy talking with her friend, didn't notice her kid really. Is it just me or would this have bugged you as well? Am I too intolerant of kids like this? It was obvious that this child wanted/needed attention but I guess I just wasn't in the mood to give it too them. So sue me.

Today, I got a phone call from a charity that I have supported in the past. They gave me their pitch about their current cause and asked, "Can we count on you to send us a donation of $300.00?" "No," I said. He went down to $200.00. "No," I said. He finally conceded to what ever amount I could give them and this is where I said I do not respond to phone calls for donations. End of conversation. I'm getting better at dealing with this kind of thing. I don't often let people push me anymore and I'm not ever afraid to be blunt. I'm pretty good at diplomacy but sometimes people need to be hit over the head - they don't get the hint. Be blunt.

Last one. My dh and I have been joking around with the idea of getting me a new version of the Volkswagen Beetle because I drove a 1968 model as my first car (wish I still had it - got great gas mileage). We can't afford one, of course, but it's fun to talk about. We've been driving by a dark cream-colored one at a local dealer lately and today we stopped to find out the price, just for fun. Of course, we were approached by the dreaded salesman. I asked what the price was. He said it wasn't on the car, the owner had it inside the building. "Why isn't it on the car!" I cried? He started asking us personal questions and wanted to know what our price range was. I said I just wanted to know what the price was. He said he didn't know but what would we be willing to pay? I said I didn't know, I just wanted to know what the price was? (Notice that I have repeated myself here at least 3 times and have gotten no response.) He wanted us to go inside and we said never mind. I said that we've bought enough cars to know what goes on inside the dealership. Can you believe this? Maybe I should have been more patient but my husband was thoroughly disgusted so I guess my reaction was appropriate. We won't be going back there.

There must be a Bible verse that gives advice for dealing with, what I would call, pushy people. God loves these people. I try to be patient in these situations. I'm just not there yet.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Apple A Day

In the produce aisle today, I bumped elbows with a lady who was also choosing apples to purchase. I commented on how expensive apples were and she agreed. Then the conversation turned to how many calories an apple had. I said that it wasn't much and that apples were low fat, fiber-rich and you could probably eat 2 or 3 a day, no problem. She said she was just starting a diet to lose weight and didn't know the caloric count of foods, etc. I gave her some advice as to how she could find out that information (she didn't own a computer) and she was ever so grateful. Really, she was so happy someone took the time to help her out.

It always makes me happy to help someone without it being preplanned. I feel like God put me in that place at that moment to have that conversation. Just a few minutes prior to that, I exchanged banter with an elderly lady and we ended up talking for at least 10-15 minutes (I loved how she said, "I'm 95, you know", and I couldn't believe it, she really looked at least 10 years younger!) Anyway, I could tell she was lonely and wished I could have talked with her longer but my sweet Carmen was patiently waiting and I knew she was really hungry for lunch. Poor Carmen, just as I finished talking with this lovely lady, a girlfriend I hadn't seen in years walked right up behind me and we talked for another 10 minutes. But Carmen was such a good girl. She never said a word, never complained. She was downright grouchy on the way home but that's o.k., she was good when she needed to be. But she did get rewarded for her good behavior.

Anyway, I got sidetracked here. What I've been thinking about all afternoon was how this lady I talked to didn't know how to find out the information she needed to help her diet. It's rather puzzling to think that, with all the ways of gaining information, doing research, etc, there are people that don't know where to start. I happen to love research and I also enjoy learning about nutrition, health, food, etc., so this kind of information comes easy to me. It just really struck me that someone didn't know an apple wasn't fattening!

I guess that is one of the most important things we can teach our kids: How to find the information they are seeking. If they can do that, they can learn anything. It just never dawned on me that someone may not know where to start. I don't know who taught me, but I'm glad they did.

FYI: I just checked and, according to one on-line source, a medium apple has 80 calories.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Big and Little - God Cares

I guess this is my season to win things. Today, my family and I went to a class on the art of bonsai at a nursery south of us. There were maybe 30 people there and we each got a ticket for a drawing. They gave away 4 items and my daughter and I each won something! After the J Jill incident (a few posts ago) I figured I'd won big for the year but, no, God decided to bestow on me and my daughter a couple of treats. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when things like this happen. Of course, I felt bad for winning as I always want everyone to win - I felt guilty until my husband said to stop it and just be happy. He's right, of course. Carmen won a coupon for 25% off our purchase that day. I won a bag of dirt. O.k., it was a special potting soil for bonsai plants. Still, I won! It was cool. We all had a really fun morning at the nursery.

On my other blog (, I wrote about another neat thing God did today, this time for my son, Alec. It amazes me how God cares for the little joys in our life. How much more does He care for the really big things, right?

Last night, God showed us just how much he cares for the "What could have become a really big thing."

My husband nearly ALWAYS works on Friday night. But his schedule was changed for the first week of April, therefore, he was home last night. It has been really cold here so I had a fire going in the woodstove. Before dinner, I put a really heavy, dense log on the fire. After dinner, the house was really, really warm and I checked on the fire to see how it was doing. I heard a funny, sizzling sound but just thought it was the heavy log. Then I went to do the dishes. It was about 9:00 pm. As I was standing at the sink, facing the window that opens into our small, gated courtyard, I saw a hand waving in the window. Scared the daylights out of me! Then I saw a man's face and he was saying something. I opened the window and he said, "Ma'am, your roof's on fire!" I relayed this message to Todd (o.k., I yelled to Todd!), had the forethought to put on my shoes, looked into the living room at the woodstove for evidence of an indoor fire, then ran outside. Todd closed off the air to the fire, then ran outside and got the hose going. I ran out to the street to get a better look at the roof while he was spraying it and, sure enough, there were two glob-like fires burning up there around the woodstove chimney. He got the fire out and inspected everything. My ultra-hot fire had caused a chimney fire (oops!) and the rain had liquefied the creosote build-up, which then dripped onto the roof. Something like that. (Note to Kate: Don't make the fire so hot!) I thanked the man and and his wife (she got out of their car and came over to where I was) over and over for stopping. And I praised the Lord for putting those people there at the right time. Our street doesn't have a lot of cars on it late in the evening and if these people had been going up the street, the fire would have been hidden from their view by a big tree in the front yard. No, they were going down the street and had a clear view of the roof. If Todd had been working, it would have been a lot scarier for me and the kids. I would have had to call the fire dept. and everything. Ugh.

God is good. God cares - He really does.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

From Babies To People

Hey! My friend, Rebeca, had a baby boy today! Been praying for her for 9 months and now he's here! Isn't that awesome? I've got goosebumps! Send some prayers her way, o.k?

This evening, I was thinking about how much I'm in love with my kids. When I look at their faces when they are speaking to me, telling me about whatever they are interested in at the moment, it's hard not to lose myself in their sweet eyes. Sometimes I don't hear what they are saying because I'm busy thinking about their lives with me, as babies, toddlers, the years kind of pass before my eyes and suddenly I snap out of it and realize they've asked a question. Is that strange? Do you ever do that? Now that my sons are maturing, I can see how handsome they will be as adults (if they stay as handsome as they are now, that is!!) And my daughter's face is like a delicate tea cup ... to me anyway. I guess these are the words of a mom, huh? I'm supposed to feel like this so I'm not loony. Just in love.

Do you like to just "be" with your kids? I mean, there are times when we don't want to be with them (like when they are being obnoxious) but most of the time, I just like being with them. Today, we went to the post office and while my oldest and I were having a package prepared to be shipped, my two younger kids were looking at the mail products behind us. They were just quietly talking to each other and my oldest and I were talking with the mail clerk. At that moment, I thought of how nice it was that I didn't have to deal with any kid issues ("Put that down", "Quiet please", "Chad, stay with me!", etc., etc.) My kids were just people with me at the post office. It was so fantastic. It's not always like that but it is getting that way more and more. I turned around to my daughter and thanked her for behaving so nicely. Apparently, the clerk thought the same thing as he handed me some treats to give to the kids. Wasn't that nice? I'm always so amazed at little things like that.

After dinner, my oldest and my daughter went for a walk with me. A pleasant stroll up and down the hill, no fights, just quietly walking and talking.

My kids aren't babies anymore. Get used to it.