Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Paul!

My husband turns 47 today. Can't believe I'm old enough to have a 47-year-old husband. Weren't we young just last week?

Paul, I don't know if you'll read this. I know you're blog-averse, but I want to write down my appreciation for you. (Yes, you can use it at strategic moments in the future.)

I appreciate your steadfastness. I can count on you.

I appreciate your work ethic. It's rare these days to be employed 24 years in one place . I'm glad you have an impeccable track record for getting along with people, for striving to be your best, for putting career ahead of leisure.

I appreciate your sense of humor. It's gotten cornier over the years. I must be rubbing off on you.

I appreciate your dedication to church and care group as a worship leader. Hearing you play guitar is always soothing to my soul.

I appreciate that you like me to experiment in the kitchen and that you're not stuck on meat and potatoes. I also appreciate that you don't bark at me when I pull lame leftovers out of the fridge and call it a meal.

I appreciate your recent efforts in growing in romance. I know it's "foreign" to you, but the other morning when you wrote "I LOVE YOU" with blue toothpaste in the bathroom sink was just about the best morning I've had in years!

I appreciate how much time you spend with the kids, teaching them to play golf, encouraging their music, listening to their points of view. You're a great dad.

I appreciate that maybe you're still reading this.

I appreciate that you've stuck with me through all kinds of moods and madness. A lesser man would've called it quits a long time ago. You are a man of your word.

I appreciate that God decided to make us one.

I love you.

Happy birthday from your much younger wife. :)


Friday, June 27, 2008

I Lied

I thought I was signing off. But then I popped over to my daughter's blog. She is so stinkin' funny when she pokes fun at herself. Check out her recent "dumb moments."

One More Post for the Day: Chirp 'n Chuckle

I've not blogged all week and must be having withdrawal symptoms.

Just a funnie before a sign off.

Yesterday I was delighting in watching my little songbird friends land, nibble, take off, and repeat. Stephen came into the living room just as a sweet cardinal alighted on the feeder.

"Look!" I said, "that's Mary." (He looked for a woman.)

"Mary and Mannie come every day, but almost never together," I explained as he watched the redwinged gal peck at the seeds. " Mannie is short for "Emmanuel" which means "God with us" because of how God sent a cardinal a few years ago when I was super depressed and just wanted to know He was with me."

"Mannie, huh? And Mary?"

"Yeh, she's the female there. You can tell. She's not as bright."

Stephen erupted in a hearty man-chuckle.

"I mean, she's not as brightly colored!"

But it was too late.

Artists, Please Chime In

I've found a new addiction: soft pastels. I blame it on that Chalk Fest near the Inner Harbor Marriott last weekend. Came home, did a floral. Then another, then another. Next day (last Sunday) I did a Baltimore oriole, a song sparrow, a summer tanager, and a yellow finch. These are for greeting cards. The sparrow's eye didn't turn out right. I put it on last. Now I've learned to start with the eye, and if it "goes south " (for non-seasonal reasons) I start over .

Pastels are so forgiving because of their blendability. Yet the color does stick to the fingers .(Washes off easily, so give it a try!)

I bought a spray preservative called "Preserve-it!" at Michael's. Even spraying it in the open air gave me a nice high. Just kidding. I happen to like chemical smells, that's all. However, I still feel like the pastel isn't "set" into the paper, as if it "rubs off" just a tad. Maybe it's my imagination?

Question: is there a better preservative and how much does it cost? This can was 4.99. I get a discount since my girl works there, but she is planning to quit at the end of summer, so I want to scoop up the things that I'd use that aren't normally on sale. Any suggestions for preservative?

Vocab Answers

I posted the answers to "Take a Stab at New Vocab." See my comment box after that post for the latest in corn.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bella, the Movie--and Other Good Flicks

Ironically, I'm not a movie buff, but the last few I've watched a few with Paul lately were so good I want to recommend them.

By far, the best movie I've seen in a long, long time is "Bella." I'm not even sure what to say about it, because every time I start to write part of the plot, I feel like I'm going to give away the best parts. Let me just say it's about sacrificial love, family loyalty versus family splits, and the abiding joy of doing the right thing. We all needed Kleenex during this one--even the guys. When it was over, I went up to my room and had a really good, hard cry that no film since "The Hiding Place" has evoked from me. There was comic relief in it, don't worry, but the agape love I felt overwhelmed me. I don't remember any bad language (if there was, it obviously hasn't lingered in my mind) nor was there anything overtly sexual. It was clean enough to watch with my teens.
Two thumbs way up.

Other good ones we've seen:

"Music Within"--based on the true story of a young man, Richard Pimentel, who loses his hearing in a bunker blast in Vietnam, but the injury forces him to learn to read lips and gives him selfless passion for the rights of the disabled. He befriends a brilliant young man in college
who has a sharp wit and severe CP. (No one else can understand him.) When they go to a restaurant for pancakes on the friend's birthday, a waitress tells him he is the ugliest, most disgusting thing she has ever seen and that they should leave since his very presence bothers the other customers. Yes, there actually was an Ugly Law on the books back in the 60s. I had never heard of it but was repulsed to discover such a thing. The two fight relentlessly for the reversal of this law and the making of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (The DVD has a section where Pimental himself gives a witty, intelligent testimony of his experiences that inspired the movie.)

Warning: As with all war movies, bad language is inherent. The guy with CP is pretty crude at times, and there are some sex scenes that could've been cut out. But this movie was so good, I want to see it again. That says a lot about it, let me tell ya! One and a half thumbs up.

Another good one is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Also based on a true story, it's about an editor of "Elle" magazine who has a sudden and rare kind of stroke that leaves him completely paralyzed. Not only paralyzed but--because of an eye surgery that he didn't have the voice to protest--he has vision only in one eye. He says the accident took everything from him except his imagination and memory. A very patient, loving, and attractive speech therapist teaches him to spell using blinks. She runs through letters (all in French) and when she says the one the word starts with, he blinks. He dictates letter by letter this way until he has written the book he had promised to write prior to the accident.

Warning: the first 15 minutes (or so it seemed) the camera view is that of what the patient himself sees. He's lying in a hospital bed, so the angles are upward. When the doctor sews his right eye shut, you see the sutures from inside the eye. Yes, gross and scary. When the doc leans close to his eye with a scope, you feel as if you are the patient himself. This movie made me very thankful for my health, my mobility, my family, for the ability to control facial muscles for expression. It convicted me of complaining about stupid stuff. It inspired me to chase my dreams with perseverance. Had the movie done a better job of introducing the main character, as opposed to relying on flashbacks, I would've been more emotionally connected to him. I shed a couple of tears, but didn't need tissues. To me, that means the movie gets just one and a half thumbs up.

We got these movies at either Redbox or the library.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pleasant Time at the Art Fest

Paul, Joel, and I went to the arts and music festival in downtown Baltimore this morning. It was my loving husband's idea, one which sure beat dejunking the back of the basement.

I really thought there'd be more to it--more vendors, more variety, more eccentricity, really. But there was enough to entertain me for two hours, for sure.

My favorite things:

1) Oil paintings by Karen Trimble. I don't know if the color red, except in blood, has ever made me so emotional. Not like crying, but I couldn't get my eyes off this simple painting of cherries. Wow. She also does paintings of clear glass bottles. No easy feat for most people, but she said it's not that difficult. She teaches classes at her home. I got the info and hinted (no, told) Paul I might like classes for my birthday.

2) Good Elephant Pottery. Classy grey bowls, platters, mugs, vases, and tea light holders. Vendor was an Asian version of Therese G. Wasn't really my style and I can think of better uses for 65 bucks than for a skinny tray.

3) Dyed silk pillows. Wish I'd had $38 to spend on one. Gorgeous and practical--a combo hard to beat. Walked away from it. Waa.

4) Crab cake sliders (mini sandwiches) by Oceanaire Restaurant. Only 3 bucks each. That we did plunk down cash for.

Of course artwork is such a personal thing, but frankly I could not see how some it qualifies. One was a photo of an old lady in a housedress standing in front of her water meter. The guy wanted 200 bucks for "Helen." You've got to be kiddin' me!

The most fun part of the festival was sitting next to Joel as we each did a chalk drawing on the brick sidewalk. It's a contest. You reserve a section (we got a 3x6 foot section each). They give you a brand new set of 24 pastels for free, and you go draw. The theme was Baltimore Old and New. Joel didn't quite get it, but he did a cute drawing of a boy wearing cargo pants. Winner gets $750, 2nd place I forget, 3rd place $100. I used the herringbone pattern of the brickwork to do a quilt in red, white, black, and gold --colors of the Maryland flag. Unfortunately I had opted to wear a long skirt with a slit in the back, so there was only so much ladylike mobility afforded me. (I couldn't have finished the drawing without giving passerby a show they wouldn't pay money to see.) However, I liked the strong graphic nature of the four rows I did complete, and some guy even took a picture of it, which made my day. When I went to turn the pastels back in, the girl said, "Keep them." Yay!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Take a Stab at New Vocab

True or false? People who don't use their brain cells end up with incurable ringworm.
I don't know the answer. I'm assuming it's false. I made up the question.

At any rate, it's high time I stretch my cranium by learning some new words.

I began tooling around around Miriam . Here are some words I found by doing something as bizarre as typing in random letters into the search box. Literally, I would let my fingers type five or so letters, then I'd see what real words came up similar to my crazy, nonsensical spellings.

Take a stab at these. I'll give you multiple choices. Leave your guesses (by letter) in the comment box. Correct answers will be posted on Wednesday evening. Winner gets a prestigious WooHoo from all four of my regular readers!:)

1. wherry a. long, light boat b. shawl made of feathers c. tropical fruit drink

2. buccal a. related to the cheek or mouth b. an alcoholic c. something on a belt

3. flyboy a. small mistake b. fishing lure c. pilot

4. jacal a. clay hut b. Mr. Hyde's alter ego c. Hungarian dance

5. knout a. a nose ring b. vagrant; bum c. a whip for flogging

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Day of Statue Ants or The Worst Day of My Life

I bolted awake when I heard him wail. I had dozed off while reading on the sofa.

"Mom! Joel's bleeding!" Stephen called. I raced up the stairs to find Joel clutching a white towel to his left hand. Spots and streaks of blood had started to soak into it. I kept asking him to let me see but he said it hurt too much. He was crying but his voice was weak and I knew it wasn't good.

"How did you cut it?"

"I don't want you."

"You have to. Was it with a knife?"
"Yes," he whispered through tears. My fear and anger were mixed, but my fear was stronger.

This was my baby.

"What happened?"

"I cut my hand and ran up the the bathroom....for water.....then everything went blue....I fell down. Good thing I didn't on the toilet or anything....."

He had nearly fainted trying to give himself first aid!

"Why didn't you call me?"

"Because......I thought you'd be angry."

"That you used a sharp knife?"


Well, the lecture didn't need to come. He had suffered the first round of pain from his disobedience. He would get the lecture on deceit from his daddy later.

I was really afraid seeing the blood oozing into the towel. But I know that sometimes it's not as bad as it looks. So I took a peek. He had sliced a one-inch long gash into that webbed area between the thumb and forefinger. It was open enough to tell me it probably would need stitches. That's what I told him. It's always better to warn kids of what could be a'comin' down the pike.

Sarah and I drove him to get some urgent care. In the van, I questioned Joel to keep him alert and to find out why he'd had a knife. Turns out he wanted to make a craft--what kind he didn't know--and he was cutting a thin plastic cup with a long serrated knife. Mind you, I keep the knives at the back of the counter. He has heard many times not to ever use one till he grows up and learns to be a chef (one of his dreams).

Patient First was busier than I'd ever seen it. Seventy minutes after arriving, Joel was getting lidocaine (sp?) . Lots of it from a needle that seemed more jabbed than guided, honestly, by the doctor. It was incredibly painful. He screamed louder than if he had sliced his hand again. I wish I could've taken the pain for him. I'm pretty tough with needles myself--a veritable pincushion--but I hate to see them stuck into my loved ones.

When the doc checked him five or so minutes later for numbness, Joel gave his typical answers.

"Can you feel this?"

"Kind of."

"Can you feel this?"

"Two percent," he answered.

The doctor looked at me as if to ask, "What'd he say?" I told her "two percent-- means a little bit." She smiled.

When he was sufficiently numb, she rubbed iodine and some other clear antiseptic on his skin. It must've hurt like the dickens. He screamed again, and cried, and Sarah whispered into his ear, "What Jesus went through on the cross was worse than this." I told her, "You don't have to compare. I don't know if that's helpful," but then I felt convicted .When I was having labor pains, the Lord himself reminded me, "For the joy that was set before Him, he endured --" Maybe everyone needs to be reminded when in pain that nothing compares to what the Lord suffered?

When Joel quieted down, I told him the doctor is an artist like he is, and was painting his hand. He wanted to know what color. (Hey, anything to bring commonality.) "Orangey red and clear," I said.

She put four stitches in, nervously. She said she was nervous knowing that he was nervous, which Sarah gathered long before.

Joel checked out the finished product of black sutures in a row and said, "They look like ants. Statue ants."

That was the best description of stitches I'd ever heard.

His hand is now bandaged so that he can't flex the thumb . Had to keep it dry during a bath and I found that wrapping Saran Wrap around the bandage and wrist a bit does a great job. It clings to itself and to skin.

At least 14 times Joel has declared that day "the worst day of my life."

Statue ants. I would love to think it's the worst thing he'll ever endure. And yes, he got the deceit lecture from dad later that night.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ten Graduation Memories

It's a beautiful thing when an event you've anticipated and planned for a long time actually turns out better than all your hopes. Such was Stephen's graduation.

My top 10 memories before, during, and after the Big Event.
1. Photographing Stephen on our deck. He's so patient and cooperative.

2. Decorating the auditorium for the grads: Isaiah, Jaimie, and Stephen. Jaimie's mother, Lisa was a wonderful helper who offered her service to me for seven hours! That was twice as long as I thought the whole thing would take. Lisa was the only one who didn't laugh when I fell off a chair while stretching to attach a sunflower at the nearly 9-foot peak. I was bruised and sore for three days after, which wasn't as long as my kids joked about it. Such a graceful moment.

3. Help from underclassmen, namely Shannan, Sherri, and Katie. They stuck with me through my indecisiveness. They fetched things for me when my achey feet were about to give out. They stayed lighthearted when I was feeling like wiggin' out over the enth detail. What I appreciated most was their candid feedback when I made various suggestions about decorating the podium. Everything we tried was looking frou-frou or partyish. In the end, we all agreed nothing looked as good as leaving it alone.

4. All of the planning that principal Jacob Wilson and director Chris Clancy put into the ceremony. Every word and action appeared to have been carefully selected.
5. Jacob's touching speech. As he took the stage, he was so overcome with emotion that he had to apologize. It was to be the last time he would address graduates at a CDS graduation because he and his family are moving to Ohio.

6. The photo shoot afterwards. The outtakes are far more memorable than the "good" ones by the pro named Tony R. Three people with cameras stood a few yards away taking our pictures. Like a ventriloquist not closing her lips for the performance, I'd tell our family, "Look at Tony and snile. Snile now at Hannah. Now at Eric. Ack to Tony again." My poor mom was so confused'; she didn't know where to look. She didn't know which one was Eric, which one was Tony! Ben scooted out as soon as the pro shoot was over. He was leaving for an Outer Banks vacation with friends., hence the lack of shots with all four of m'babies together.

7. My parents and sister Jill were there. We had perfect seats--second row center, behind short people.

8. Being a "Z" wasn't too bad at this ceremony. There were only three grads!

9. The Mexican food was a big hit, especially with my vegetarian folks. It was
a nod to the wonderful missions
trip the Jr-Sr class had just
taken. After the reception, many volunteers helped
clean up--far more than
I expected. We, the grads'
families, were supposed to have
recruited our own clean-up
crews; I didn't have the courage to \
anyone.I just want them to enjoy it
and not work. I was expecting
to be there till 10 pm. We were out
by 9! Plenty of food, but not too much left over to lug home, which was our collective goal.

10. Best of all? Stephen's valediction. I couldn't have been more pleased. The theme of his speech was "I am the most richly blessed guy I know." He cited the blessing of family, friends, school, and church. He included rich details. He made great eye contact and paused at just the right moments. I could envision him at a pulpit years from now. Just as the New Testament saint Stephen is described, "He, too, has the face of an angel," I said to myself. He was funny, poignant, sincere, poised, articulate. His love for God and His people oozed out of him. Truly my heart was full to overflowing with gratitude for this young man who happens to be our son. .

This is not his speech. It's just a little video Joel took of Stephen with his best friend Eric, who will be a junior next year. He is a godly young man, more mature than most sixteen year olds, whom I foresee leading the high school very well, the way Stephen has. You probably can't understand much of what's being said, but I like to hear their voices and remember them at this age. The six year old's high voice and the sixteen-year-olds' low ones.

Doorman in Flip-Flops

For Father's Day we ended up at Olive Garden after being told there was 2-hour wait at PF Chang's (for which we had a gift card from Paul's generous boss. Maybe we'll use it for his birthday at the end of this month.) I don't like Olive Garden at all, but it wasn't my day to pick.

We got there and were told there'd be a 25-minute wait. That's fine.
We took seats outside on the benches and retaining walls close to the front door. Joel found various forms of entertainment. One of them was this: hold the door open for guests.

Joel loves to hold the door whenever and wherever he can for people. No one has to tell him. He just does it. It's something his daddy always does for me at the car. It's something his older brothers have modeled and told him "that's what real men do." And, of course, he'll do anything to be cool, to be a "real man" just like them. You can tell it gives him a special feeling, because he will hold the door for a very long trail of people.

It was cute watching him stand there with his body keeping the heavy door propped open for those coming and going. Old ladies patted him on the head. Big burly men smiled as if to say, "Look at this kid showing me up!" A frail old man in a wheelchair acknowledged his help with a nod.

I wish I'd had a videocamera for what he did after about 25 people shuffled in and out. He took off his flip-flop and started to place it under the door to prop it open.

We chuckled in unison and told him "good idea but you need to keep your shoes on." We then told him he didn't have to keep holding the door if he was tired. He took a little break but went back to serving at the door until our flashing disk lit up.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

31 Things

My summer plans so far don't include much fun, but I expect there will be some now and then. I have to work at planning fun. How sad is that? But one thing I am doing
is semi-systematically decluttering the house each month using my own checklist. I call it my "31 Places to Organize in June." I have planned for each one to take about 15 minutes. Each 15-minute job is called a "phase" because, if it's gonna take 2 hours, I have to break it down or I probably won't even want to get started on it. Having it on paper gives me the satisfaction of crossing it off. I have a column on the page that says "What we got rid of"--my favorite column! It's really a good feeling to let go of not-so-great mugs, ho-hum dish towels, no-longer-fits clothing, and stuff that is more burden than blessing.

My children are helping. My hubby is attacking the back of the basement, which didn't even get a mention on June's checklist. But I am glad he (and Stephen) got started today. It means so much to me to have a task-oriented family in times like these. I am trying to think of a good incentive for rewarding ourselves at the end of each month. I know, I know. The finished product should be our reward, but I am a super-rewards-driven gal. Any suggestions for how to treat ourselves at the end of each successful month?

Homeschool Moms: What Say Ye?

I love end-of-the-year homeschool programs, show-and-tell style. I also enjoy being a homeschool reviewer for the privilege it allows me of seeing firsthand what the children have produced under the creativity and perseverence of their moms (and dads, in some cases).

What have I seen that impressed me in various homeschools?

For starters, from my reviewees ....

Julie's kids' many lapbooks. These are made of two file folders glued together in such a way that they open up like a three-page greeting card. Each one has a theme (multiplication tables, deer, moose, subtraction facts, oceans, etc). They take some work on Mom's part initially, but the beauty of them is how effective they are as learning tools and how fun they are to make. I was so inpsired that when I explained it to Joel and suggested we do a Star Wars one or Indiana Jones lapbook, his eyes got big and he said, "Cool!" (I would do a "cool" one as an intro to lapbooks, rather than start with an overtly "schoolish" one! ) Julie spends a lot of time pulling curriculum together from many different sources and I jotted down lots of her suggested websites.

Amy's kids' copious amounts of artwork hung in their basement stairwell and around the basement. It makes artists feel honored to see their hard work on display. I also admire that Amy has each child get up, make her bed, pray, and then come down to breakfast. The oldest is in second grade and is in a very good habit of starting the day with spiritual and housekeeping disciplines.

Kathleen's kids' eagerness to show me their favorite subjects, and their cute answers when I asked them if they liked a certain subject. When their answer was to be "no," they seemed reluctant to say so. I finally let them off the hook and said, "It's okay, you can say you don't like it. I don't like math, either!" Then the eldest giggled and said, "Me neither!" or "Not really--at all!" (with more giggles that seemed to come from relief over an adult saying it's okay not to like certain school subjects).

At our end-of-year program, lots of families had set up a table featuring things the kids had done. Oh, the gamut of learning and fun! Here's a smattering of it:

-dog obedience training
-public speaking
-4H achievements
-science projects
-delicious cookies
-vacations during the school year
-music recitals
-drama productions
-costumes from various cultures
-taking care of another new baby
-truck made of K'nex or similar material
-thoughtful essays

If I were to vote on what I liked best from our own homeschool this year, I'd say three things:

1) Sitting with Joel while we both illustrated a weekly Bible verse and displayed his on the wall
2) Reading Shiloh aloud. I've truly grasped the truth that some kids really are listening even when they're not looking at you or your book. Joel seemed to tune in better to read-alouds when I let him listen while playing with Legos on the floor as I read from the sofa. At certain places in the dialogue or narrative, he would look up and respond appropriately.
3) Co-op. I can't say enough good about it. Where else could I spend three hours teaching something I LOVE (art) in exchange for my little boy being educated by other moms in science and music? It was so much more than I could have given him on my own.

What say ye, homeschool moms? What were your three favorite things from this past school year?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Recent Tragedies

A neighbor who lives behind us, next to my friend Bonnie, is widowed because of the tragic death of her husband a couple weeks ago. It happened on the evening of May 29th . I wasn't home because I was at church decorating for graduation.

The man was diagnosed with MS two years ago and was confined to an electric wheelchair. Four months ago they hired a construction company to rebuild their second-story deck. The company came and demolished the sides of the deck, threw the old boards to the yard below, and left the floor intact. They never returned. Two weeks ago, the man and his wife went together onto the deck to enjoy a summer evening. She asked him what he wanted to drink, she went inside to get it, and--within seconds--he accidentally bumped the gear into reverse. He and his chair plunged two stories onto the rotting boards in the yard below. Paramedics came and took him to Shock Trauma but he died.

The construction company was back within two days and put up a whole new deck in four hours.

I don't know the woman, but feel God wants me to minister to her somehow. Bonnie says she is very private. Any advice?

In other shocking news, my friend Barb, who lives in Kansas, just emailed me to say that Chapman, Kansas was 85% destroyed by a tornado last night. Our mutual girlhood friend, Brenda, lives there with her family. We pray they are okay.

With all the tornadic activity common this time of year, please say a prayer also for my parents who are in Kansas right now. They went out to take care of rental properties.

Having survived a few in Kansas, I won't live in a house without a basement. If you invite me to yours in the summer but the house is on a slab, and there's even one ominous dark cloud in the sky, I will say "thanks but no thanks. " I don't mess with Texas and I don't mess with tornadoes.

Lego Guys

We were coming home from church and-- out of nowhere-- Joel asked, "How come Lego guys don't have noses?"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rescue 911, Sort of, For Young Moms

Dear Young Moms of CCC,

This has been on my heart and mind. I should have posted sooner, but kept forgetting when I had the chance. It was my friend Danielle whose most recent post came as a prompt from God, I believe, to follow through.

As most of you know, I love babies and toddlers, and have had three of my own in four years' time. When the youngest was 10, by God's grace I gave birth to our long-awaited fourth child.

I will never forget the days of having three in diapers. Most of the days felt very long. Some flew by, but only when I had a friend around. My mom was nearly an hour away at the time. Of course she came in emergencies (when I called, usually from the ER with a boy child!) or when special things were planned, but she wasn't in a stage of life where she was sitting around knitting booties. (She still isn't. She's a pastor's wife.) Many of my friends had moms "just down the street," and I fought jealousy big time. But I think, looking back, that God was preparing me with compassion for these present years when I see so many young moms where I was.

I had friends who were more than willing to help me in a crisis or even when I just felt strung out from dirty diapers, incessant crying (the kids' and mine), and life in the Mom Trenches. I didn't feel the liberty to "take time for myself" by hiring a sitter for such things as shopping trips with girlfriends, an afternoon alone in the park with my Bible or other good book, and did not recognize the sin of self-sufficiency. I thought a godly mom was one who worked herself to the bone, despised "me" time, and didn't let anyone into her thought life if the thoughts were anything less than "I can handle this. It's my calling."

All that to say this: I would like to be your go-to gal in frazzling times. I want to be someone you call when you don't know what else to do. Kind of like 911 without the blood (unless, of course, your situation involves it, in which case I recommend you call 911 first and then me!) Think of my number as YMH: Young Mom's Hotline.

Now, a bit about my schedule. My availability for the summer is loose. For me to come to your aid by myself depends largely on whether Joel has a sibling here to watch him. The older kids' work and social schedules vary daily. I can come with Joel, but in an emotional or sickly topsy-turvy that your own young'uns might be in, it'd be better without him, I think. Of course, my husband's desires will trump all (or should, let's say), but generally speaking, I would like you to think of me as a big red plus sign on a white background. Got the picture?

For the record, no, I am not looking to be paid as a regular babysitter. I tried that once as a mother and found I didn't like the fact that I was doing a more important job (caring for children) but making less than my "employer". Nor am I am at liberty to watch your kids for free at the drop of a hat so that you can get a pedicure. I am talking about bailing you out when one kid's on the toilet with diarrhea, one's throwing up on the coffee table, one's on your hip pulling at her ear, the doctor's office is calling you back but you can't find the cordless that Diarrhea Girl hid in the toybox, the cleanest dish in the house belongs to Fido, and you haven't slept more than 2 hours in the past 24 so you call me-- Savannah, Hosanna, Rosanna Danna, or Please Come, Banana! That's what I'm talking about.

IF that could be you this summer, please jot my number down. The worst I can say is no, but it'd be my joy to serve you with an extra set of hands and a knowing history of "where you're at", hon!

With love for you and gratitude for God for getting me through such times,

aka Your-Mom-away-from-Mom

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Video of Maria Sue Chapman and Her Dishwashin' Daddy

I came across this precious video tonight while prayiong for the Chapmans.

Maryland Style Cole Slaw

Local gals, if you or someone you love likes cole slaw, you gotta try Maryland style cole slaw from Klein's. It is absolutely delicious and I am not a fan of slaw, normally. It has to wow me before I'll take more than a couple bites at a sitting. Paul is ga-ga over good slaw and this has become our new MUST HAVE from the deli counter.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Private Justice

Never in my life have I read a book so fast. Certainly not one with 375 pages.I'm normally a slow reader. But I inhaled this one in about two long evenings.

It's a murder mystery that grabbed me. I mean g-r-a-b-b-e-d. Me. And I'm not easily grabbed by novels. To be honest, I've poo-pooed many novels, especially mysteries because they tend to be either (1) too predictable, (2) filled with cliches, or (3) not redemptive/a complete waste of time except for entertainment alone. (Entertainment is okay, but I like to think than even fiction has taught me something. I'm a fuddy-duddy that way, I guess.)

For some strange reason, I wanted to read a novel last week (probably to celebrate SCHOOL BEING OUT!!!) and saw this one on my shelf. I was just going to sit on the porch swing with it and wait for dinner to finish in the oven till Paul got home. I was thinking "Oh, a chapter or two and this'll just prove my point about mysteries."

I was wrong.

When Paul pulled in the driveway, I could barely lift my eyes off the page to kiss him hello. I also didn't want him to be far from me because the plot was getting scarier. If I hadn't had nail polish on, I probably would've bitten a nail or two.

Published in 1998 as the first book in the Newpointe 911 series, Private Justice could be old material if you're into mysteries. It's not been my genre, as I said, so it's new to me, and I can't wait to check out book 2 called Shadow of Doubt.

Terri Blackstock is the author. The main plot is that someone is killing the wives of firemen in Newpointe, Louisiana, and no one can figure out why they are the target or who will be next. The mystery is Christian fiction and there is some low-key but (for me) much-needed marital counsel tossed in it as a subplot. It's not preachy counsel, but it is biblical and smoothly woven into the text. Go figure. A good Christian murder mystery. Oxymoronic? Maybe, but totally gripping.

Check it out. Private Justice, by Terri Blackstock.

Friday, June 06, 2008

"For this is the Will of God...Concerning You" (who grocery shop)

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thess. 5:18

It was in the grocery store (Aldi, to be exact) that I found myself talking to myself yet again. If you're familiar with this discount food store, you know the pace is quick, the lines are long, and the customers aren't exactly well-off. (Or if they are, they choose to spend their dough on things other than name brand food.)

So there I was, checking out, loading up my mountains of food onto the conveyor belt. (I had been so busy the last 2 weeks of May that I hadn't shopped. I was putting meals together okay, but we had lots of repeats.)

I don't know about you, but I get self-conscious when I'm putting food on the conveyor belt. I feel like I'm being judged. Judged for my food choices, for my abundance (I never go into Aldi for just a few things because it isn't exactly real close to home), for the way I try to organize food as I put it on the belt so that packing up is easier (puh-LEASE, lady, just throw it on there!). Maybe this is all my imagination, but I've judged others so I know that, according to Matthew 7, I've been judged by the same measure.

I try to avoid eye contact when I'm feeling judged.

But this last time I felt the courage to look up at the lady behind me and say with a smile, "I'm almost there." She smiled back and said, "Take your time. I'm in no hurry." Her niceness disarmed me.

I had been telling myself, while feeling nervous and anxious, while arranging all the cold food together, and the canned foods together, "This never ends. Over and over, week after week, year after year, child after child, you've done this same routine. Plan for food, drive for food, make endless choices about food, organize your food, unload the food, pay for the food, load the food, bring the food home, put the food away, cook the food, run out of food, plan for more food, drive...." Twenty-two years of this. I was too nervous to do the math, but I'm sure my grocery trips are in the thousands.

Then it was like God tapped me. "Be thankful," He whispered. And suddenly I started thinking thoughts like, "You're right, God. I am thankful for all the choices. I am thankful for the freshness. I am thankful for the money. I am thankful for the mind to make decisions. I am thankful for the health that I can get out and do this. I am thankful for every mouth I have to feed. I am thankful I enjoy cooking."

Before I knew it, I had swiped my debit card and was standing at the bagging guessed it, organizing my food again! Sorting it, packing it, pushing it to the van.

Instead of just concentrating on the first part of the verse, "In everything give thanks," I think I'll also remember the last part: "concerning you." When it comes to the humdrum, seemingly endless routines of life, I want to start thinking in the mundane moments that being thankful is being in the will of God concerning me, rather than concerning myself with what others might be thinking of me. Certainly takes the self-consciousness out of the cart and brings the God-consciousness to the conveyor belt.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I'm Moving

No, not my family.
And not my blog.

I simply mean I'm moving.
I'm moving my body.
Conscious choice to move it, move it 4 days a week for starters.
I did not lose 60 pounds by graduation.
I did not even lose six, unless losing three, twice, counts.

This body is no testimony to good stewardship. It doesn't resemble a temple at all.
I have sinned time and again by abusing it with food and sedentary ways. By making food my drug of choice, my socially acceptable drug of choice. So I've repented and asked God (again) for wisdom and grace.

The wisdom? Don't set weight goals this time. Just get moving. Move 4 days a week. I will be doing the fitness on Tuesdays and Thursdays at church starting June 17th. (I signed up only after checking the roster to make sure the other gals weren't all in their 20s with just a little 3 pound baby pouch to grunt off.) Also go 21 days w/o sugar, soda, or fast food. That right there should cut off several pounds.

The grace? Prayer. Encouragement from others. Feeling better. Moving.

Please Pray for Shelley

Shelley is my friend Renee's sister. Yesterday Renee' and her mom flew out to Colorado to visit Shelleywho now has Stage 4 breast cancer. Not only that, the liver has been affected and is in worse shape. Doctors need to do surgery on the liver first.

Please pray with me for Shelley, Renee' and the whole family. I know what it's like to have a sister hundreds of miles away all the time (I have one in TX, one in NV) and it feels horrible when they're going through something you have no control over, nor the ability to be there 24/7 for comfort and practical help.

I will be keeping two of Renee's kids tomorrow (Jesse and Mary). Jesse is like Joel's little brother, and Mary likes being a little Mother's Helper. Renee' says she loves to cook and clean, so who is getting the better end of this deal??? I think we'll feed the roses, make some bruschetta from scratch, write a letter to a soldier, play a board game, and do some other fun stuff. I think I might also promise them a snowball in exchange for matching up 5 pairs of Mr. Paul's socks! If they match 10, he'd probably say "Take 'em to Rita's!"

Seriously, would you please remember Renee, Shelley, et al in your prayers?