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.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Todd Takes Over Kate's Blog For Today!!!

We Love You,
Todd, Chad, Alec and Carmen

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Keyless Life

It's funny how quickly we humans can adapt to things. Years ago, we bought a van that came with one of those little square things that would unlock your car from yards away when you pushed a button. It was great, especially when it was raining and I had little ones in tow. It had a standard key to start it. Next we bought a hybrid vehicle that had a keyless system, using a little square thing that would unlock the door when you pushed a button but would also allow you to start the car by inserting it into a rectangular opening and pushing a big button on the dashboard. The next hybrid we bought (after selling the first one to the in-laws) had what is called a "smart" key. You just need to have the square thing on your person (or in your purse) and the car will unlock. To start the car, you just get in and push the big button on the dashboard. Way cool. It's the same way with the hybrid vehicle my dh just got for me. I have gotten so used to this way of starting a car that when I get into our old 1994 Ford Club van, I forget that I need a vintage Ford key to start the thing.

As cool as this is, I have always tried very hard to hide the fact that I am opening the car and starting it without the use of a key. In fact, it seems rather silly at times, as I've taken to swinging my purse at the lock in an effort to wake the car up and pay attention to me. Then there are the times that I leave my purse in the car and try to lock the door after I get out - the car refuses to listen and won't lock the door. It's smarter than I am! I believe the designers of the keyless system must have had wives (or husbands) like me.

Let me explain: For most of my life, I have had the misfortune of locking myself out of things. Bike locks. Cars. Homes. More amazingly, I have locked my car with the engine running, not once but twice (two different cars at that). And worse still, I locked Chad in the car as a baby, not once but twice and the second time the car was running. Later on, I locked Alec in the car as a baby. Please don't tell the authorities. I didn't leave the kids or anything. It was a matter of putting them in their car seat, putting my purse in the car and shutting the door. After I walked around to the driver's side, I realized that I had automatically locked the door before shutting it. Simple mistake - unfortunately I didn't learn the first time.

Then there was that memorable time when Chad was about 11 months old. It was morning, pouring-down rain and I was doing laundry in the garage. Wearing sweats, no make-up and bad hair. Chad had just learned how to lock the door between the garage and kitchen. Need I say more. I ran from window to window, trying to convince him to unlock any of the doors to let me in. He just jumped up and down on the sofa, giggling - good joke, Mommy! I finally had to leave him and go to the neighbors' and call my dh to come help. We kept a house key in the garage after that.

Finally, a few years ago, my kids and I were all getting ready to go to the beach late in the afternoon. After loading everything into the car, someone shut and locked the front door, not knowing that my purse was still in the house. We went to the neighbors to call a locksmith as my dh was out of town. You'd think after all this time, I would hide a key somewhere but I just never seemed to get around to it.

Well, my dh solved that issue. He put a combination lock on the front door. Seriously! I had no idea these things existed and I was skeptical at first. But it is SO NICE! My kids can get in easily and no one can be locked out of the house. NO ONE! We got ours at Lowe's but I'm sure they are available anywhere door locks are sold. It looks really nice, too. Not like a jail cell door or anything!

As a teenager, I remember having one of those big, fat rubber sandal key rings with a ton of keys on it. Now, the only keys I have in my purse are for the back door and that old Ford key. It's just amazing. One less thing to worry about.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I spoke with my mom on the phone at the beginning of this week. She mentioned that my sister, who lives in TX, could be moving soon due to the kind of work she does. Her choices are as followed: Atlanta, GA; working from home via computer; or (sigh) Portland, OR.

"Oh", I said.

Didn't think too much about it. Until Tues. evening. Just as I was sitting down to dinner, my sister called to say she would be in Portland for a few days and wants to see me.

"Oh", I said.

We talked for about an hour and made tentative arrangements to meet her at her hotel in Portland this Mon. I hung up the phone and made my way to the dinner table to eat a cold meal. I was numb. I couldn't think or focus. I know people were talking to me but I couldn't seem to hear anything. For the rest of the night, I felt like this.

There are two reasons: One, this is the sister with the troublesome family. Where she goes, they all follow. Oh, my. I'm sure some of you have a family like this in your bloodline so I won't go into all the details. This sister is really very nice and has always loved me but because of her family, I was so glad to be many states away. The thought of being just 2 hours away ... oh, my (sorry, that's just how I feel!)

The other reason, and this is the one that really disturbs me, is that they will be in MY state. They will be bursting MY bubble, so to speak. I have lived away from where I grew up for 16 years now and I like it that way. I finally became ME when I moved away and I really don't want anyone from my past back in my life. Is that as awful as it sounds? I feel threatened in a way. It's stupid!! I shouldn't feel like this. Sigh.

I have decided to give it all to the Lord (can you think of a better thing to do?) If it's the Lord's will that my sister and her, ahem, brood, all move to Portland, then so be it. I do know that she really wants to stay home until her youngest graduates from high school next year so I've been praying for that because she asked me to. But since I can't do anything about this situation, all I can do is let it go, give it to God and not worry. If it's what God wants, then it's what's best for my sister. That is the attitude I am trying so to hard to take.

But, boy, it's been tough. I am dreading seeing her and her daughter. Just really dreading it. And feeling guilty about feeling that way. I'm sure it will all go well. I need to make it a good visit for her sake. My kids will be the focal point so that's a help. I guess if she was just visiting for fun, it would be different. But she is visiting her company there for an interview - for the possibility of staying there.

Oh, my.

Oh, help.