Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mr. Thorough

Meet my husband, Paul G. Zubrowski, better known to me as Mr. Thorough.

From the chore he's assigned himself today (removing the scum and mold-encrusted sink handle bases in the bathrooms to bleach-clean them)
to the amount of practice and thought he puts into leading worship for care group for the past 11 or 12 years, to his 25 years of attention to detail as a commercial insurance underwriter, Paul is thorough.

He shops sales ads for the best prices on anything and everything. He saturates himself in subjects that he loves to read about, namely the Almighty and the Almighty Dollar. When he makes breakfast for the family, he doesn't just fix eggs and toast; rather, he'll spend a half hour making a full spread of omelets, hash browns, bacon, biscuits, and orange juice.

Give him a house project like painting a room, he has the tenacity of a bulldog and the precision of Michelangelo. Before one of the kids embarks on a job interview, he will grill them on their motives, strengths, goals, answers, and wardrobe selection. Plan a trip and he'll find the fastest route, the cheapest rates, the tastiest restaurants, and the finest views.

His logic is thorough. He can counter any argument if prompted. (That is to say, he's not argumentative, he can just poke a hole in almost anyone's reasonings.) I often think he'd make a great trial lawyer.

When he goes over the checkbook, prepares income tax refunds, or seeks a better mortgage rate, Mr. Thorough is in his element. One time we were at a home settlement, sitting around the table with agents, brokers, and title officers who had printed out countless stacks of papers with endless columns of figures. Without a calculator, Paul spotted a $300 error in our favor. He politely asked for one of their calculators before pointing out their mistake. I loved his humility and his eye for numbers. (I vaguely recall the broker saying, "We even put these numbers through the computer twice. How would you like a job?")

I could say more about Mr. Paul Glenn Thorough right now, but I'll let this much suffice: I love his thoroughness. It gives me a great sense of comfort that he sees not only the big picture for our family, but has the details in mind that are like strokes on a canvas. He reminds me of God that way.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bull or No Bull?

City slickers. That's all I could think of as I watched a news report on WJZ TV tonight. The reporter was throwing around a bunch of bovine terms he knew little to nothing about. He had the sad news to report of a Texas Longhorn "bull" being shot to death by a frightened Maryland state trooper today because it had threatened to kill the deputy in front of him.

True story. (Mind you , in my head a dying cow is singing, "I got shot by the sheriff, but I didn't get shot by the deputee-ee.")

So the reporter makes a few flubs in animal vocab. It's just terminology. But it's funny to me . You country folks will probably laugh, too, if you don't cry over the butchering of mixed genders in this piece.

Here's my paraphrase of his story. (See how many blunders in cow talk you can find. Never mind that Doe is a deer, but I used it in place of the real dude's name.)

Snow-laden trees toppled over on Mr. Farmer's property early this morning, taking out a line of fence. Some cows got out, three to be exact. They are Texas longhorns and both males and females have long horns. Maryland Deputy John Doe responded to the call . When he arrived, he began to try to get the cattle back where they belonged. At one point, a heifer who felt cornered, lowered his head and charged the deputy. The bull knocked the deputy down to the ground. The trooper who came along for assistance said they're intimidating animals.
"I felt I had no choice but to use deadly force against him." says the trooper. "I was afraid the steer would kill my deputy," said the sheriff. "I had a clear shot of the cow and thought I should kill him."
"Farmer X is understandably upset about this," emphathized the reporter. "The bull he shot was due to have a calf in a couple weeks," said the reporter.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow in Heaven?

Joel asked me the other day, "Mom, do you think there will be snow in heaven?"

"I don't know, honey. I've honestly never thought about that."

"I think there will be, "he said.


"Because I like it," he said. "--And, because God likes it or He wouldn't have made it."

"You're right, " I replied. "He does. The Bible says God makes everything for His pleasure. We just happen to get to enjoy some of the things He makes."

"Not everything?"

"Oh, no, not even half of it. I mean, there are billions of trillions of stars we can't see. There's oodles and gobs of fish in the ocean that even scientists haven't discovered because they live at the bottom. "

"Do you hope there's snow in heaven?" he answered, getting back to his first thought.

"Yes, I do. It's beautiful and I'll have a new body that won't feel cold becaue I don't like the cold."

"I do," he said. "I love the cold, so I think it'll be cold in heaven."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tweakin' the Blog

I realized my sidebar was getting incredibly cluttered with info, some in duplicate form. I am in the process of scaling back. Some changes I know how to do, I am just taking a little at a time. Some I don't know how to do and am not eager to learn because it so often frustrates me. I wish I were eager to learn about everything, given I am a teacher, but sometimes I have to force myself when it comes to technical things. When something I want to do on the computer doesn't work the first time, it's like getting a grain of sand in my eye that I can't find but am intensely annoyed about. . I admire people who pick up technical things really fast, but I'm not motivated enough to spend free time learning it.

For example, how do I keep all those categories somewhere for my own use where they won't show, but add a search box instead?

So, what I am going to do is eliminate the blog roll (where the links are underlined) and instead stick with a blog list which shows posts recently published. When I discover you've posted something new, I'll add you. Or if you leave me a comment to cheer me up, I'll add you:). The winter blahs are getting harder to fight.

Anyway, let me know if you're not on the blog roll and would like to be. Otherwise, I'll wait till I find a new post of yours.

New Word (Don't Look it up Yet)

I came across a word yesterday I've never heard. While it's English, I found it on the blog of my French friend, Isabelle. She has better English than most Americans, and actually taught English Lit at Duke several years ago. She is still in her late 20s and has her PhD.

But I digress.

The word she used is adumbrated. Don't look it up. Just tell me which of the following definitions you think it is (or know it is):

Adumbrate (verb) means:

1. to make clear
2. to consolidate
3. to foreshadow
4. to silence or cancel

I think my sidebar poll will have a new word now and then. That'd be fun for some of you fellow word birds out there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Gospel Primer for Whom?

For me, I hope. I'm using this post to refer you to Amy's contest . She's giving away some free goodies of the gospel sort. Check it out. This is my shameless plug to increase my odds of winning.

I love contests. Check out Lavender *Sparkles* today and enter to win. Even if you already own a copy of what she's giving away, leave a comment. You can always give it as a gift or tuck an extra copy in your glove box. (The gospel needs to be reviewed often in my vehicle, if you know what I mean. Not that I ever get angry in traffic or anything. Ahem.) Anyway, send some blog traffic Amy's way right now.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If Only I Were as Fun as This Art Teacher

I came across this art teacher/musician online. Doesn't it just make you want to take art classes all day long? He makes up songs about art and artists. I've got one of the ditties already in my head . It's called "You Cezanne."

I say, "Ce", you say "zanne"
I say, "Ce," you say "zanne" ...

and then there's the Picasso Polka (featured in this video) which has the word "blue" so many times you'll never forget Picasso's Blue Period. I love the way the kids giggle during the "American Gothic" bit. Maybe I'll have the kids dress in blue (they love casual days), play the blues, and make a Picasso-inspired blue painting. Any suggestions for a blue project?

I'm gonna see what it'd take to book this dude at school. It's probably not in the budget, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Here's the clip: Watch it and tell me if you can spot the math teachers. They can't dance.

The Man Who Cried "Woof"

Admit it, ladies. Every now and then your man deserves the doghouse. Maybe you asked for something "personal" to wear, and he bought you a Super-Pak of socks. Or perhaps he actually uttered a remark that should've stayed inside his head. Or it could be that the "electrifying surprise" he had hyped for three months prior to your birthday resembled one that the woman in this funny video received.

Thanks to Kathy for posting. I'm putting the video here for my BFF BL in KS and anyone else who might miss it on KW's.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why I Don't Do Facebook

Lately I've received several notices saying that So-and-So has added me as their friend on Facebook and will I accept? I feel honored,flattered and pressured all at the same time. But...

I don't do Facebook. Here's why:
1. It would embarrass my kids.
2. I would rather invest my life in face-to-face community.
3. I fear delusion.

My kids think it's creepy for people "my age" (over 40) to be on Facebook. They begged me to please never start, and so far I have respected their wishes. It's not that I let them run the show, it's just that I have other pseudo-satisfying outlets for communicating.

When I told one of my 40-something friends that my kids objected, she told me they should just "get over it." She said she mainly does Facebook as a way for her to stay connected to her nieces and nephews at college as well as find out what her kids and their friends are putting out there. I could see her point. But my extended family members who want to know what's going on with us? They don't read my blog unless I remind them about it. People on Paul's side of the family email if they want to know something. My side of the family prefers phone calls or-- get this--a handwritten letter. Seriously! My sister in Arizona emailed me last week bemoaning the fact that I haven't sent her a long, handwritten letter since she-can't-remember-when. She said she loved the days I would send her five or six pages of my life and make her laugh. Got that? She EMAILED me asking me to HANDWRITE her a letter. She laughed when I pointed out the irony.

My resistance to doing Facebook goes far deeper than not wanting to embarrass my kids. (I have never been afraid to use my talents in that area.) What it boils down to is this: I both long for community and fear delusion. I don't feel nearly as connected to people as I did before the internet, back when people did Face, not Facebook. Face was, you know, face-to-face get-togethers in our homes? We actually talked, not typed, our thoughts. We could hear each other laugh or cry; we didn't use emoticons. Our lives were no less busy. For goodness sakes, I had three kids in four years; I didn't get to eat a hot meal unless I drove through McDonald's.

The fear of delusion is that vague, haunting sense of getting sucked into a virtual world where I've carefully crafted the face I want others to see--and vice versa. I want to be known and accepted, but if you truly knew me, would you accept me? I can be so ugly sometimes. Ask the people in my real world (my family). They don't get the scheduled and edited blog post. They get the real-time rough draft. Sometimes they like me, sometimes they don't. By the same token, I want to know people as they really are (I think). I am sure I have a lot of masked acquaintances. Do I like their masks? Or am I unable to know the difference between their face and their mask? Am I deluded, and happily so?

First Corinthians 13 gives me hope that someday all our masks will come off.

Facebook won't exist.
Email will be history.
Blogging will be null and void.

We shall see Him face-to-face, and know even as also we are known. No hiding. No delusions. No doubt of His acceptance. I will see His face and His book, where my name is written, not on His wall but on His hands.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did I Tell You I'm Writing a Book?

I just started last night. It's actually part of a well-known series. Our care group was talking about wonderful books to give new moms to help start their child's own library.

Titles that were thrown into the mix included Goodnight Moon, Make Way for Ducklings, The Ox-Cart Man, Love You Forever, and Mars Needs Moms. (Mitzy, with a flair for the melodramatic, was suggesting the tear-jerkers.)
My Paul, never a sap, chimed in with "How about If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"?

Great one, we agreed. And so are its companions, If You Give a Mouse a Muffin and If You Give a Pig a Pancake.

I said I'd write the next one. It's called If You Give a Wife a Credit Card.

Remarked Paul, "Now that's a tear-jerker."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

He Who Sins Worst, Laughs Best

In our care group tonight we were talking about serious stuff. We're going through Dave Harvey's book When Sinners Say "I Do."

We talked about sin. Some of us are "overt" ("out there") when we sin (you know exactly what's on our minds). Some are covert (quieter, "hidden," and controlled). We talked about what it means to see oneself as the worst of sinners. We talked about true guilt (you have sinned and thus are guilty) vs. false guilt (feeling guilty when you haven't done anything wrong).

But in spite of the serious topic, we found ourselves laughing hard. Again. It happens every time we get together.

I didn't mean to crack everyone up, but I said, "I'm guilty of false innocence."

At first they were silent, squinting, and saying, "Huh?"

Then I explained. "I have this tendency to think, 'Who, me? What have I done wrong? Me at fault? You've got to be kidding!' I am the only one who believes I'm innocent. That's what I mean by being guilty of false innocence."

The harder I tried to be clear, the dumber I sounded.

They lost it. I lost it. I lost it so bad I started stomping and honking through the nose and wheezing. I hate when that happens. Is anything more attractive? I had to use the notebook to hide my red, honking schnoz.

A little while later (after some successful discussion of the serious type) Paul's shoulders started shaking.

"What's so funny?" I asked him quietly. He shook his head, but began snorting. "Tell me!" I said too loudly. Now everyone wanted in on it.

"I was just thinking, " Paul said to the begging group, "If you're waking up with the worst of sinners, you should sleep on the other side."

Do You Know What Barack Drank Yesterday?

Read here to find out Joel's made-up answer. I thought it was clever.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Perlman Deserves

During the Inauguration ceremony our class was watching on TV today, some famous musicians were introduced. Itzhak Perlman was one of them.

My student "Ryan" was sitting beside me and asked, "Who's that?"

"The best violinist in the world," I whispered.

"We should do a project on him," he said. I laughed. These poor kids. Can't simply
be in the moment when I'm in the room.

A Middle-Aged White Woman's Look at the White House in the Middle of Inauguration Day 2009

I can honestly say I had never been more excited about a Presidential inauguration than I was today. Ironically, my happiness today more than doubled the disappointment I felt after the election.

Today I watched the inauguration as a teacher of fifth and sixth graders, students who really cannot grasp the significance of this historic day. In their lifetime only two men have become President, and they cannot remember when the first took his oath.

As I sat there watching the ceremony live on CNN, the image of the White House mesmerized me as never before. The commentator had said that part of it was "built on the backs of slaves." That statement pierced me to the heart. Tears ran down my face as I came to grips with the fact that I myself cannot truly comprehend what this moment means. Hard as I try, I cannot fully understand the injustices my black brothers and sisters have had to bear.

I cannot. I am a white, middle-class white woman.

I have never suffered for the color of my skin. In fact, I have been privileged because of it. I have never been ordered to sit at the back of a city bus, nor been bought or sold on an auction block. I have never been commanded to pick cotton till my fingers were raw nor felt the sting of a master's whip across my back. I have never been the object of racial slurs as I walked down a street nor banned from a municipal pool.

Today as I watched Barack Obama being sworn in, I wept. I wept for joy for a people who have hoped for, prayed for, and dreamed of the day when one of their own would represent them in the highest, most respected office in the nation.

He is not a sports hero.
He is not a famous rapper.
He is the President
of the United States of America.

A black man.
In the White House.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

11:35 pm and the Sheriff's office calls

Saturday night I was waiting for Sarah and Stephen to get home from a local restaurant where they had gone with some friends after worship practice.

The phone rings. At 11:35 pm that terrifies me. I check the caller ID and hope it's not about my children or parents. I don't recognize the number, but I pick up.

"This is the +++County Sheriff's Department. " says a concerned woman on the line.
My heart races. My throat tightens.
"Is there a Zoanna at this number?"
She asks if I own a certain vehicle and I say,
"Yes. Have my kids been in an accident?!!"
"No, ma'am, everything's fine. Were they just at {a local restaurant}?"
I think of the intersection there. Someone we know was in a serious accident at that same spot last month.
"Officers are there now. They didn't pay their tab."

I am trying to process. My mind is reeling. You're kidding. They're hyper-responsible. They wouldn't not pay. Cops are called when a 20-buck tab isn't paid? Really?!!

"Really?! That's hard to believe. Maybe they got confused as to which one of them was gonna pay, and neither one did. That's bizarre. Let me call my son, he's probably not the one driving right now."

The sheriff's dept asks if they can call him directly and have him call me after they've spoken. I agree.
Still confused and nervous, but relieved and sure everything's going to work out, I wake Paul up to tell him. He asks a few pertinent questions and waits for more info.

A conversation with Stephen assures me he paid and so did all his friends and Sarah. When I called, he and Sarah had just stopped at Walgreen's on the way home.

The cops call Stephen while Sarah is in the store. Stephen has a pseudo-panic attack, rushes into the store, grabs Sarah at the register and says, kinda loud and shaky-voiced, "Come on! We gotta go. The sheriff's office just called and they want to see us back there!"

(Can you just imagine what the cashier and general public in line are thinking? Their minds must read like headlines: Clean-Cut County Kids Busted for Shrifting Restaurant out of Half-Price Appetizers." )

They head back to the restaurant . The cop is "no-nonsense," according to Sarah. (That's good. I'm not fond of the nonsense type.) The manager is with him. Receipts prove it wasn't them. The tab in question was a bar tab, not a food tab anyway. The waitress apologizes. They can go.

They arrive home later and give play-by-play. Sarah says that while their group was leaving,
a guy had barged through him and left in a hurry. She thought he was rude, but that was it; she wasn't suspicious of him.

But someone who had walked out at approximately the same time as they had, left without paying. My kids' waitress had already gone home for the night before they left, so the waitress who cleaned up wasn't privy to the fact that they had squared up.

Tag numbers were collected. Our van's was among them. Car owners were questioned. I got dragged into the investigation via phone.

Older brother Ben is bothered that Sarah and Stephen would "put up with that stuff" (false accusation), drive "all the way back" (10 minutes) when the waitress could have figured out that they had been in the restaurant part, not the bar, yada yada, and that driving back there at midnight was actually dangerous. (Sarah says, "Ben, you have to cooperate. You don't tell a cop, 'Look.') I remind him that Jesus was falsely accused and didn't open his mouth but went all the way to his death for his accusers. Ben asks me if I live my whole life thinking that way and I say, "I should."

Paul agrees everyone did the right thing except the restaurant manager. He is upset that the manager didn't apologize . I remember my own dad getting upset when I was falsely accused and had to deal with a cop. It was one of the few times I saw my dad visibly angry. Paul reacts the same way when his kids are involved. He believes we should contact corporate headquarters and express our dismay over the lack of courtesy from management.

"We should at least get a gift card out of it," Paul says, and goes back to bed.

I agree.

Friday, January 16, 2009

how do I?

Make the picture of the pens fit the space? It hangs off the edge now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breadmaking Evangelism

This morning in my Bible study on David, I was reading in First Samuel 21 where David, the fugitive warrior-shepherd running from Madman King Saul, shows up in Nob before the priest Ahimelech , hungry, scared, tired. David asks for bread.

So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the
bread of the Presence....

These are the loaves that are placed in
the temple sabbath after sabbath
as a reminder of the covenant of everlasting

How about I make bread every Friday to help us remember His covenant love with us? I started thinking again about how wonderful it would be to use my bread machine regularly. Is there anything that matches the aroma of fresh-baked bread? It fills the house with warmth and serenity like the very Presence of Jesus.

Wouldn't it be good to make a practice of remembering God's covenant love to me in a visible, tangible, edible way? To look forward to warm, delicious bread every Friday night (when sabbath begins)...what a pleasant thing. To think of the Bread of Life. As often as ye eat or drink, remember Me.

I would more purposefully think on Jesus--and on Susan-- from Saturday to Friday if I put evangelistic breadmaking into my week.

As often as ye eat or drink, remember Me, says the Lord. He didn't mean "as often as you take communion at church and hear these liturgical words."
I admit, I don't think of Jesus every time I pull a slice of bread out of the wrapper, I don't think of Him right away when I eat tortillas or muffins or even bread pudding. But there is something about smelling a loaf of bread baking that lifts my entire soul heavenward and makes me grateful. When I put a little bit of yeast into the machine and think of my sin ("a little leaven leavens the whole lump") I do think of Jesus who is Faithful and Just to forgive me of all sin.

Thoughts of breadmaking flowed rapidly, and before I knew it, God had prompted me to start wanting to make bread for my neighbor Susan. I have been praying for her for a long time, but I fail miserably at reaching out to her. I feel awkward about asking her to church when I hardly make contact about ordinary stuff, but I would have no trouble taking fresh, warm bread to her every Friday night.

I will, by God's grace, start making bread sabbath after sabbath. My prayer is that, after five loaves, Susan will start hungering for the Bread of Life. And I will be used to deliver the Bread.
photo courtesy of Justin Clayton @ He does amazing work!

I'd Be a Terrible Nun if I had to take a Vow of Silence

so my next post will be about something God spoke to me this morning.

Still Silent but Working

...on my new blog look. Please take a sneak peek and speak up.

The new blog is called "Miss Ellen E" and the URL is easy to remember: (It's a whole lot easier to spell than "miscellany, " huh?)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ado and Adieu.

I've been saying too much about nothing lately. My blog is a case in point. I think it's time for a moment (or month?) of silence. I just deleted my last two posts that were much ado about nothing.
I'll still read yours, but will refrain from commenting on every post.

Till I have something more substantial to talk about...


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Not exactly overheard

In class we have moved on to studying the Midatlantic states. Each student chose a state to become an "expert" on. (As there is no definitive demarcation of which states qualify for this region, I chose six-- from NY down to VA-- since I have six students.)

On Monday I handed out the decade poster assignment they were to do at home. On Tuesday I started the new geography unit to be done during class time. I handed out blank maps. The kids labeled and colored things like major cities, crops, landforms, and such. This coming week I will surprise them with a fun (I hope fun) assignment in which they have to arrange a 14-day vacation through the Midatlantic region for a fictitious family from France who have just arrived and are in in Kansas City, Mo, but since that's a rather boring place (unless you're at a Women of Faith conference with your BFF named Barb), they want to see part of the East Coast.
They will have to convert currency since they just arrived with euros. Their 11 year old daughter, Lisette, wants to ride a roller coaster, her dad wants to see the Naval Academy, and her mom wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Those are compulsory stops on the vacation. The students have to create an itinerary that will suit the well-to-do family.

The kids don't know what the project is yet, only that there will be one.

"I'm giving you two maps," I said. "If you mess up one, you'll have a second handy and I won't have to run and quickly make a new copy. Try not to mess it up anyway, because I would like for you save the second copy for next week's geography project."

Said one student directly to anyone within earshot, "If I hear the word project one more time, I'm homeschooling."

Thursday, January 08, 2009


A cloud of sadness hovers over me.

She said she wants to leave
For a short time
To serve God
Out of state
This summer.

She wants our permission
and our blessing. She won't
go without it, she says, beautifully

Her dad, at first, balked.
Then prayed
and finally,
gave his blessing.

Now it's up to me.

I try to pray about it. But I cry instead.
I reach for the phone to ask for counsel,
but the lump in my throat chokes out
Tears fall like spring rain
Whenever I think of
My daughter
Not being here.

No, no, no,
Says my selfish heart.
You can't go.
I love you too much.
You're daily sunshine here
in our home.

God can use you here.
He has, He is, He will.

I try to remember when I was
I left home for a summer.
For all the wrong reasons.
It wasn't to do God's will.
I didn't ask for a blessing.
I hit rock bottom, but it was there
I found the Rock.

But I never went back home again
for very long.
I had detached.
Grown up in a sense.

So is this about her
or me?
Do I want God's answer?
Not yet.
So I don't seek it.

I'm too

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Q & A Wednesday: Tech Question

I'm tired of looking at my blog. I want to change the whole thing, but since I'm a dummy at it, I keep changing templates. Boring, I know. But it's the best I can do with my limited knowledge. The main thing I'm tired of is that sidebar list of categories (topics of previous posts). It's longer than my annual to-do list! However, I don't want to dump the filing system altogether. So...

For those among you who are good at this blogger tech stuff, I've got a question or two (or three).

1. How do I hide my long list of post categories (which now appear in my sidebar) yet still retain them for future reference?
2. How do I put a search box on my blog ? Sometimes I want to look up old stuff I've written (recipes, mainly, on short notice in the kitchen).
3. Anyone want to come over and give me a really artsy, feminine new template, bursting with color and flowers? I'd love you for life. (I probably already DO love ya, but I'd throw in a meal if you'd be my techie for a while. ) So many things in life I want to learn, but I haven't figured out why computer skills don't make the list. You'd think it'd be a handicap I'd want to overcome; instead, I want technical things done for me.

Yes, I've got my son, Steve, who finds his way around a computer as easily as I find my way through cookbooks, but I feel like I tap him for EVERYTHING computer-wise. I don't want to emasculate him, either, by having him search and manipulate a gazillion floral arrangements on my blog. Poor guy. He would do it, I know, without complaining; he's patient and kind. I just don't want to ask him.)

Top 8 in '08

Kristin shared her top 8 blessings/memories from '08. It prompted me to think of mine.

Here are mine:

1. Improvement in our marriage
2. Watching my children mature in the Lord and serve the church
3. Wonderful vacation in Myrtle Beach--had just my own little family, no tag- alongs...loved it.
4. Jobs: Paul's great new job as AVP of underwriting; Ben's as a tree feller; Sarah's as a church secretary; Steve's as a salesman at a Christian bookstore, Joel's as a comedian, mine as a teacher
5. Watching my children use their God-given bents (Ben in business, Sarah with young children, Steve in music and theology, Joel in art) and their love of learning/discipline to study hard.
7. God's care for family members' health: my sister's benign tumor, Ben's multiple hospital incidents, my parents' renewed strength, my new orthotics
8. A fun Saab story to tell plus a Jeep for Stephen, the two together costing only 4600 bucks.

Consider leaving your top 8 here or use this as a tag and let me know.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Respectful Appeal Heard (but Denied)

Maps. Scripts. TV Shows. Character dress-up days. Will the projects never end? I pushed the students to finish all scheduled school projects before Christmas. They succeeded.

They got a long, generous break from Dec. 19th till Jan. 5th.

Yesterday was the 5th and the first thing I do when the kids plop into their seats after gym class is what? You guessed it. Issue another project due in a week.

Me: Okay, guys, take a look at this blue sheet. Your assignment is to do a decade poster for the
years 1910-1920. You have to display five main events or people, each with four historically important facts written in complete sentences, in 20 point font. Furthermore, you must find a creative way to use blue and white. The first part of the assignment--Woodrow Wilson's picture and facts--will be due tomorrow, war pictures Wednesday...Titanic Friday. The whole thing is due next Monday. Any questions?

Student 1: May I please make a respectful appeal?

Me: Sure.

Student 1: Can you please not give us a project the first day back to school? I'm pretty overwhelmed.

Me: Well, I appreciate your respect, but since you've all had a nice, long break with no homework of any kind, you should be well rested. I'm going to respectfully deny your appeal. Any other questions?

Student 1 again: Can you please not make it due for another week?

Me: Sure. It'll be due in a week.

Student 1: Thanks.

I don't know if his sigh was relief or exasperation with Project Lady. I'd like to think he felt he had an extra week by knowing the project isn't due for a whole week.

Same student said today during my art lecture on Pointillism: Mrs. Zubrowski, when you retire from teaching, you should be a librarian.

Me: Why?

Him: Because you're just that kind of person.

Student 2: Yeah, you are. (Smiles.)

Okay, so what exactly does that mean, I wonder? Any guesses?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Coffee, Cream, and Cronies: Renee's Birthday Party

Twice in one week I had a hilariously refreshing, great time with sisters in Christ. The first was on Monday night when Laurie gathered a gaggle of us together to catch up on what God's been doing. Sounds serious, and much of it was, but throw in a trio of Kare(y)ns and listen to us cackle!

The second was last night. I had a rather impromptu, surprise dinner party for my friend Renee'. I had asked her a week ago to give me the names for 4 or 5 girlfriends she would want to have dinner with, and she said, "I don't think I have any girlfriends left." It made me laugh, but she was in the doldrums. She said I was the only one she could think of. Malarkey! I knew better. Pondered a few days taking her out one-on-one for dinner, but after praying, I knew in my heart she needed good, old-fashioned girl time to cheer her up, and who among us doesn't need to hear we're loved?

I called her Tuesday and made plans to take her to Applebee's, just the two of us, since she couldn't think of other friends. Fast forward to Thursday night when I started calling her friends (who are also mine, but not as close; they all attend one church, I another. We've all taught at some point together.) Everyone who didn't have something planned already said "yes" on the spot. Cheryl, Liz, Kathy F, Kathy K, and Pam all agreed Renee' needed a party in her honor.

Renee' loves coffee. Addicted is more like it. Even her daughter, Maggie (one of my Inklings),can't make her subjects and verbs agree without caffeine. So Theme Girl here decided to make coffee the theme. On short notice, it was easy for guests to pick up gift cards for her favorite coffee drive-thrus and convenience stores, or a bag of coffee and flavorings. I gave her a mug that says "Friends Forever" that has the verse "a friend loves at all times" scrolled on the inside. The funniest card, Pam's, said something about "at our age , our bodies are still temples...even if the steeples are pointing in the wrong direction."

My centerpiece came together fast. I needed it cheap, simple, and girly. An etched vase with greens begged for new flowers, but I didn't want to buy some. (I mean I didn't want to spend money on them!) While thinking of conversation-starters to write on coffee filters, I scrunched one up when it ripped, and --eureka! --it looked like a rose. Marie Osmond's 1970s song "Paper Roses" popped into my (aging) head. I quickly made three white coffee filter roses and nudged them into the greens. Flanked the vase with a pair of Irish coffee mugs filled with real coffee (lightened with creamer) and floating tea lights. I had brown/tan/creme striped ribbon sort of figure-eighting among the three centerpiece things.
(For the record, I nixed the conversation starters. This group needs conversation enders.)

Guests arrived between 6 and 6: 15, but Renee' didn't show till 7:15. Not to worry, we're a self-entertaining bunch. I made a large, thick paper placemat that we all signed and Renee' loved it. Didn't even spill soup on it.

Menu: Rainbow Bean Soup (would've been butternut squash soup but the store had none), Chicken Caribbean Salad, Boiled and Buttered Potatoes, Portuguese hot rolls, and coffee cake. It all tasted good, but since everyone was so hungry, they ate faster than I could serve things up, so they ate salad THEN chicken THEN potatoes in a rather off-beat sequence, but no one complained. The chicken was a bit dry, but that was from trying to time it for Renee's arrival. Say no more. The best cake I've ever had is the Sock-it-to-Me Cake that my daughter Sarah made, but presentation suffered : when I turned it out of the Bundt pan (either it wasn't cool enough or hadn't been sprayed generously enough) I joked , "Hey, Renee' , ya know, when you're over 40, even your birthday cake falls apart."

We shared some serious moments about how Renee has been a dear friend.
1. She has either hosted a party for one of us or our kids at some point.
2. She has brought food to the ER when we're starving and cashless.
3. She has babysat for us.
4. She has come to our parties. (She came as a Renoir lady for my 40th; a real hoot!)
5. She has always listened, without judging, and reminded us to forgive our offenders.
6. She has never appeared flustered or put out in the least, no matter how many people are in her house or how late they've stayed. To feed so many so often, she owns five Crock Pots. She calls herself Crock Pot Queen.
7. She can be counted on to make us laugh.

We laughed a whole lot last night. Liz brought a new game called "Last Word." Pam, the oldest among us, had a hard time catching on, and every time she messed up, she'd raise her arm and say, "Ten years, girls, ten years." I knew she meant it would be us in ten years , but I just had to ask, "Is that how long it's going to take you to catch on to this game?"

Stephen took a picture of us as a keychain keepsake for Renee'.

Everyone kept saying this was so much fun, we've gotta do it again. Whose birthday is next month? Cheryl! The thing is they say none of them could have as much uninterrupted time as they got here (Paul generously took the kids out to dinner, then sequestered the boys in the basement to watch playoffs, while Sarah was out babysiting). The last person (Renee') lingered till well past midnight. She said, "Thanks, Zo. This was so much fun. I really needed it."

And then, in ture Renee' fashion, she asked, "Do you have a travel mug and could I get some of that extra coffee to take with me? I'm going home to cook now. I've got a bunch of people coming to my house for the Ravens game tomorrow. I need the caffeine."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Academy Awards from my Kitchen

Thought it'd be fun to post my favorites in various categories from 2008. Not movies, but less glamorous stuff. Foodstuffs, to be exact.

For example, I tried a few new recipes and can remember the Oscars they got. I'm too lazy to link to every one of them right now, but if you're interested, click on "recipes" in my sidebar. They're all there.

Best Noodle Dish: Don't Invite the Rabbi, Just the Pasta (one I invented)
Best Breakfast: Baked Apple Oatmeal (courtesy of Briana A. )
Best Beverage: French Vanilla Hot Cocoa (courtesy of Danielle)
Best No-Bake Dessert: Blueberry Pie (courtesy of Danielle)
Best New Hot Sandwich: Eggplant, Red Pepper, and Feta Panini (?source)
Best New Cold Sandwich: Combat Training Shrimp Wraps (my invention)
Best New Soup: Seafood Bisque (my adaptation of one from

Stay tuned. The nominations are still out in other categories.

Have you got any new recipes from the past year that deserve red-carpet recognition?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year, New Discipline: Memorizing Scripture in 2009

Foray: to invade or make one's way, as for profit or adventure

My friend Amy issued a challenge to memorize larger chunks of material, not necessarily scripture, but certainly that's the most eternally profitable literature in all of life. I mean, can you top God's living Word?

I have wiggled and squirmed every time the Lord has prompted me to make a concerted effort to memorize more than a verse here and there in my adult life. I was really good at memorizing scripture as a kid, and am so thankful for all the VBS challenges, Christian school requirements in Bible class, the Bible quiz team that demanded a minimum of 50 verses learned in order to compete intrascholastically.

Then came college. Marriage. Kids. Excuses. I am 43, and though still married and mothering, I am out of college and excuses. The Lord put His finger on the discipline I need most for my growth in Him right now. Having heard His voice through many human voices on this topic, I can't squirm any more. Thanks, Amy, for being the most recent, most motivational voice.

I decided there was no right or wrong place to start. I do know I need to grow in humility, so I chose Philippians 2. I am committing to memorizing verses 1-11. I started on the first two this morning. Making pictures and patterns in my mind comes fairly easily, and that's what I am doing to tackle this bucket o' Bible verses.

Phil. 2: 1-11

1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love,
any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from
rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than
yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also
to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is
yours in Christ Jesus 6 who,
though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a
thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a
servant being
born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the
name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.