Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Things You Might Not Know About Paul

Let's face it, I do not have the stamina to name 49 on his birthday. Maybe if I were half his age, but I'm not. I am younger, however--a fact I remind him of quite regularly.

Here are ten things you might not know about my husband. In random order:

1. He has tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It's from years of listening to an unholy decibel level of music, even when the music he converted to in his early 20s had a holy emphasis .

2. He loves to spend hot Sunday afternoons on the deck, drinking iced tea, listening to music (at lower decibels than in his youth), getting tan .

3. He loves to acquire free T-shirts. Never mind that some of his shirts represent things he has no affiliation with. or interest in. Free T-shirts equal endless pleasure for him.Except the American Red Cross ones that say "It's Hip to Give." He earned those with his blood . Literally.

4. He despises cats. And makes no apologies for it. He is cordial to them, but avoids them at all costs .

5. Though not the youngest in his family, he was the last to get married. The fact of the matter is, he had determined early on that dating is an expensive hobby, whereas playing the same guitar year after year was a fairly cheap one. And a guitar makes no demands of your time. He decided that he would not spend a penny on a girl until he was fairly certain he'd be parting with all of his pennies at the altar in exchange for her love. And demandingness.

6. He is a good iron-er. My personal superhero: Iron Man.

7. He is really good at word games: Scrabble, Taboo, UpWords .He is also really good at strategy games: chess, Risk, Clue. He is also really good at outdoor games: baseball, football, tennis. So if you take him on in a game, you might want to anesthetize him first .

8. His exercise routine is admirable. One day he runs on the treadmill, the next he lifts weights .
Sundays he takes off.

9. He predicts the ending of almost every movie. Seriously, I don't know how he figures out "whodunnit" so often. Once in awhile he gets stumped, but that's a sure sign the movie is really good in his opinion.

10 . He obsesses about finishing a jigsaw puzzle once he starts it. And if the last piece in a 1000 piece puzzle turns up missing? Oh boy. The. man .can .NOT. sleep. If the Bible were not finished being written, I am sure God would include the "finding the lost puzzle piece" among the parables of coins and sheep . Just for Paul. He feels the passion of the pursuer of lost pocket change and lost puzzle pieces. Lost, stinky woolies? Eh. Not so much.

So, there ya have it.

Happy birthday to my half-deaf, well-tanned, free T-shirt lovin', cat-hatin', last-married, fresh-pressed, smart-gamin', health conscious, mystery solvin', puzzle maniacal, one year older husband.

From your eavesdropping, pale, shopaholic, animal lovin', first married, oft-wrinkled, not-so-smart-gamin', health semi-conscious, mystery-producing, puzzle loathing, four year younger

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting Ready to Detox

Feeling like sludge has replaced blood in my veins, I am embarking on a 2-week plant protein detox. I did something similar a few years ago .Basically it's a Daniel diet, but I have a written plan this time from a magazine to help me get enough protein.

Anyone got advice?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friendly Americans

Paul and I went to Rehoboth Beach on Wednesday. While he was scoping out parking for less than $1.50 per hour, I guarded the meter where we parked. A white-haired, grandfatherly man with a beard approached as I was straining to read the directions on the meter (and yes, this sounds very elementary, my dear, but these are a new-fangled kind--to us, anyway) where one meter feeds several spaces at the push of a corresponding button. But the sun's glare was creating a reading problem for both him and me, and we struck up a little conversation. I asked where he was from and he said, "Canada." I asked if it was his first time here, and he said, "No. I liked it so well, this is my fourth trip down here in a year. I actually prefer America. People here are so much friendlier."

I told him my theory about that ."The farther south you go, the friendlier people are. I think it has to do with the temperatures--cold weather, cold people . Warm weather, warm people. Up north they're too busy hugging themselves to keep warm to wave hello."

He said, "You know, I never thought about it that way, but I think you're right. Where are you from?"

"Maryland," I said. "And I can tell you we're friendlier than Pennsylvanians, but I absolutely love Georgians!"

I didn't think about our easy-going society much again until being around more foreigners this week. Yesterday, I was sitting on a beach chair next to Val, one of our friends from Far East Russia. Her English is pretty good, but sometimes I am not sure if I'm making sense with my questions, so I rephrase them in ways a Russian could more easily understand them. ( I hope.) The answers never cease to amaze me.

"So, Val, let me ask you what you've been reading, studying, or what God's been teaching you lately."

"Hmm? What?"

"Have you learned something the past few weeks or days or months from God?"

"Ah, yes, okay, I understand. Yes . Since being here, in Amereeka, I see how much your nation smiles. Ze people, zay seem so...friendly . EVerybotty--man, woman, keeds--zay smile. Zat ees sumsing I vant to take back to my country. In Russia, people are so like zees [she frowns and crosses her arms]--so serious. I sink zat God vants me to smile more, too."

"Oh, wow. You mean you don't smile much in Russia yourself?"

"No, not enough, my deeah. But why not? In Yeshua vee have such joy. Should vee keep it to ourselfs? No, vee should not! God vants us to smile! Zat ess vat he has been showing me."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

His Hands

After dropping Joel off for week-long, out-of-state camp , Paul and I freewheeled it along Route 30 in Pennsylvania. Today I reflected on the little things that I'm thankful for, amidst the really big thing of having a full week to pick and choose what to do without having to plan for our children. I have chosen to think how much I love my husband's hands.

Yesterday, just after reaching over to hold Paul's hand on the gearshift (tears in his eyes after saying goodbye to our slightly anxious 8-year-old), I realized again how much Paul's hands mean to me. I recalled how he held each of our babies. From the tips of his fingers to the base of his palm was longer than the distance from their neck to their thighs. A friend of ours said of Paul once, "He doesn't hold babies like most men do, like a sack of potatoes. He cradles them right under his chin like something fragile and precious." Yes, I remember it well.

Today he used those hands to mow the lawn and then relax on the golf course with the oldest of the babies, now 22 years and six-foot-seven. Ben's lack of employment at the moment is a mixed blessing today. Moments like these are rare and I'm glad Paul has a son who enjoys such outings with him. I'd be sad if they could be together but didn't want to be. There are plenty of father-son duos like that.

With nimble fingers, bright light, and smart mind, Paul unselfishly fixed my glasses on Sunday morning when we were getting ready for church. We were going to visit Ben's church which starts at 11, and then head up to camp. But while drying my glasses, I accidentally popped a screw loose-- and, of course, couldn't see to fix them myself . Paul discovered that the Walmart lady had put the wrong size screw in. My husband ended up fixing my glasses with part of a guitar string. Hey, it holds more securely, and it's far more an ingenious fix than duct tape. (Slightly less noticeable, too). But the repair job put us twenty minutes late for church.

My husband's hands are dear to me. I'm thankful for them in countless ways.

This is my contribution to Tuesday Unwrapped.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good Thing I Love Him

I'll try to upload pictures from our vacation (which started yesterday). Having a good time and just stopped home for an overnight this evening and one day at home tomorrow before heading to the beach.

Yesterday, on the way up to central Pennsylvania to take my baby boy to camp, I enjoyed the conversations I could carry on with my only two travel companions--him and Paul, while I was awake. Sometimes I would get melancholy thinking of the week ahead without my youngest. But he has a way of snapping me out of it when I least expect it. Good thing I love him. Otherwise, I might have turned around and pinched him for saying this. (And, yes, it did crack me up ,and yes, I was able-- after cracking up with Paul--to tell him it's not polite to say such things, even if they're true.) Probably because we had just passed a runaway truck ramp and I had just explained about steep grades. If he'd wanted to, Joel could have remarked with one of his spot-on analogies. Sure glad he stopped while he wasn't too far behind.

It happened at a fork in the road in the old industrial town of Cumberland, Maryland.

Here's what he said.

Friday, June 18, 2010

When Did You Know?

I was 18 when I got a taste of freedom. Left home to go to Seton Hill College in Greensburg, PA. It was the first time I'd ever really been away from home for a long stay, and it really was the last time I felt that my parents' home was my home. Not that it wasn't homey or I wasn't welcome. It's just that I clearly defined a new space as "mine," albeit I shared the huge, wood-floored, ex-convent room with three other girls.

The summer after freshman year I went home again,but when offered a job at the beach with my sister, packed up quickly and stayed from June till late August. Our visits home felt just like that: visits. At the end of my sophomore year, during which I had my own private room on campus, I went home again, only to hunt for an apartment to share with my good friend, Kelly. On her meager income as a Western Auto Parts cashier, and my piddly pence as a waitress in a poorly-located, overpriced Holiday Inn, we could only afford a 2-room apartment in the heart of the city . We lived on 33rd Street, diagonal to Union Memorial Hospital. We had no kitchen and nowhere but the bathtub to do our dishes. But it was our home. She stayed for three months, I stayed for nine. (I made her keep her end of the lease for the remaining six. I couldn't afford her half of the $220 rent.)

When you left home to make your own home, how old were you , and what were the circumstances? Marriage? College? Career? Just curious.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Vacation without our Kids?

It seems surreal. How has life gone by so fast that my youngest is now eight and we are letting him go off for a week of summer camp in Pennsylvania? (The condition for this decision was that his brother, Steve, would be his counselor and keep a protective watch on him all the time.) Sarah will be his chum whenever she has free time, I'm sure. Ben is 22 and rather eager to have the house to himself for awhile. Just the dog and him.

Selfishly I want a week at the beach, but Paul cannot get time off Monday or Tuesday because of "going live" with a new computer system at work. But from Wednesday through Saturday we are planning a mini trip. Ideally we will get a full day at the beach without anyone saying, "Dad! Dad! I'm thirsty! Can I get a lemonade? Mom! Mom! Let's go back in the water now! Dad! Dad! Will you help me make a sandcastle? Mom! Mom! I'm bored now. Can we go?"

Instead, Paul and I will have our tall iced teas and no Capri Suns. He will have his stash of Guitar Player, Kiplinger's, and Cook's magazines. I will probably have a murder mystery that's caught my interest from a book review by one of my fellow bloggers. (Suggestions, anyone?) And I hope I will have found a pile of cast-off shelter magazines that someone or some library wanted to unload. (Let me know if that's you. All my subscriptions have expired.)

Our plan is to meet up and stay with my sister and our two missionary friends from Russia. Jill' has a friend whose parents are letting us use their beach home in Chincoteague, free of charge! Our Russian friends, Andrey and Valeria, want to put their toes in the Atlantic and get a couple days of sunshine--true heat they don't experience in Birobidzhan--amidst their two weeks of a heavy-duty speaking schedule.

A second day, I hope, will include some trail riding for me and maybe the others. (Paul's a no-go when it comes to riding.) It's been 30 years since I straddled a saddle, and so I'm thinking I might want to do this on the last day of vacation. If I am crippled by stiffness from two hours atop a lazy mare, I surely don't want it to impede some exciting shopping in a quaint seaside village .

A third day would include a boat ride. A fishing boat or a speed boat. Nothing too big or too fancy. Just something we can do some fishing from, for a couple hours. For me, it's more about the solitude and relaxation on the water, in the sun, with the man I married. I have no desire to eat what I catch. (A mentality that the fish also favors, I'm sure.)

The fourth day, Saturday, we might head back up to camp to get Joel, or let him stay over with Sarah at the Kurtzes'. My guess is that he'll be exhausted and ready to see his parents again. Maybe not, but it's my hope, too, I suppose, that he missed us a little but didn't get homesick.
If we go up Saturday, I would love to stay again at the Iron Corbel Inn in Altoona. It's a lovely
B&B run by a young widow with two small, adorable kids. She and her husband had bought the manse as a dream home to fix up as a B&B. They moved there and, when the younger child was 18 months, the husband got very sick, was admitted to the hospital, and died from being given a wrong medicine. The woman continues to make a living at the Iron Corbel, and has my deepest respect. When we visited last summer, she served a cheese frittata and some tea, then walked her children down the street for children's choir that Sunday, then came back and cleared tables.
All the while battling what sounded like bronchitis. I was humbled and amazed and more than glad to support her with our night's stay.

So, that's that. Today I am knee deep in organizing things that came off a bookshelf I can't stand anymore. It was fine when I had three homeschoolers, but now it collects far more than books and art supplies and junk than any soul needs in one room. There is also more laundry (goes without saying) to wash, dry, and fold. Bathrooms that need to be cleaned. I'm so glad for the capacity to dream and plan while doing such mundane things.

Vacation, here we come. I'm trying to contain my giddiness and keep my expectations low enough to accomodate flexibility, yet high enough to make some special memories.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Parallel Paths

Like many people, I used to think that one's life was a single path marked by a series of ups and downs in succession. That is, first a person covers rugged terrain uphill, hits the summit and experiences the mountaintop feelings, followed by a slope onto a plateau,and then perhaps into a valley or ravine, and then back up again.

Not so, I have come to believe, as my pastor reminded the teachers upon the school's closing, something he had heard and come to believe. Rather than this mountain/valley/climb up/ slide down on one path, our lives are lived on parallel paths--railroad tracks. (Since I have a writhing aversion to railroad tracks ever since two people I know were killed there, I choose to visualize a foot path through the hills.)
I guess I think walking this path as right foot, left foot, ("feet, feet, feet") where the right foot experiences joy, and the left foot experiences sorrow. They happen pretty much concurrently.

Examples of late, from my life:

Right foot: Sarah and Stephen just left for two monthsto be camp counselors-- three hours from home where their only internet connection happens on weekends. For them it's the opportunity to serve the Lord by ministering to youth, some of whom come from very rough homes. These now-grown children are the arrows we prayed for: aimed in the direction of God, propelled by God . They are also learning to live their lives independent from their parents (a big yay from them!) with freedoms not known at home.

Left foot: I miss them terribly. I cried more than twice as hard and as long (rather, I'm still crying, and the end is not in sight) while they were packing the Jeep. I would interrupt Stephen to ask if he had extra shoes in case the one pair got wet. He'd say, "Got it." Then I'd head for the corner of the living room and bawl. When I stood with my arm around him at the kitchen sink, and he said, "What, Mom? It's just two months," I felt salty tears drip into my mouth. "I know. And I'm so proud of you. This is what every Christian mom hopes for her children--that they will love Him and share His love with the next generation." I watched as Sarah folded her bright, happy, neon-striped sheets and remembered how we had shopped for them last year for her first bunkbed at camp. Then I slipped away into my bathroom, closed the door, and wept again. My right-hand girl, Joel's best friend, my confidante, Daddy's little girl, is leaving. My son, the one I go to for a laugh, for counsel from scripture, the peacemaker, the one who taps on keyboards and drums and can fix computers and help mend a broken heart--he ,too, is being ripped away from me.

Right foot: The school closed and God has plans for a different form of education for each child there. New plans for faculty and staff. I am confident ,based on God's character and past grace, that what lies ahead will be glorious. Some of the high schoolers who have been raised on the gospel under the shelter of our four walls will be tested in their love for Christ. Wheat and chaff will be separated. Younger students will expand their friendships at other schools, or --as in my case--get to know and be known better by their parents and siblings 40 more hours a week.

Left foot: My school closed. It hit me harder than I expected. Even though God had already been nudging me to homeschool next year anyway, and though I thought that my short two-year stint as a teacher of 5th and 6th graders wouldn't produce an overflow of tears , I was wrong. I knew I loved those kids and co-workers; I just didn't know how much.

When I went to rip the laminated sign "Mrs. Zubrowski" off my mailbox on the desk, my fellow teacher (who teaches the morning subjects) said, "Do it fast, Zo, like a Band-aid." I did. Ouch! That hurt. Good thing I didn't have a hairy mailbox. As I took down my last bulletin board about Greece, I wondered if I had taught my kiddoes enough geography for one year. No, I hadn't. But we had learned a lot together . At least they can tell a peninsula from a peen-cil . (They teased me about the way I pronounce "pencil.") And they will remember the faith of one Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, and Pastor Joel's presentation of his trip there, and our field trip lunch to Sizzling Bombay, and I hope they remember that Amy ("Amma")'s God who loved India is the same God who loves the owners of the Indian restaurant where they tried chicken tandoori for the first time--and liked it! As I packed away unused squares of colored felt from my "ugly cabinet," I felt guilty that I hadn't gotten around to teaching them about Africa. We were going to make a Faith Ringgold quilt. And I thought of my friend and 3rd/4th grade teacher, Bonnie, who is heading that way next week. I might not see her again for a very long time if she goes longterm to Zambia .

There are certainly more parallel life experiences going on in my corner of the globe, as in yours.

I am just not handling the "left foot" on the path very well emotionally. The hormones are out of whack big time, but I know I'm held. I can't see His hands anymore than I can see gravity, but I know they both exist. Even when, like yesterday, I felt like an old jalope at the junkyard looking up at the 21-ton concrete crusher headed for my roof, I know I am held.

I can cry while being held .It's okay.

Right foot, left foot, feet ,feet, feet. Oh, how many feet you meet!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Have had a busy couple of weeks, and some of the events within those have been sad. Saying goodbye to our beloved school, to my beloved Sarah and Stephen who left for camp Saturday, to a familiar routine of socializing with friends. Attended my neighbor's funeral. Generally feeling low, like I did a few years back when "up" was only half-mast. I am still clinging to God for help and hope .

Just thought I'd explain the lack of posts.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Oh, Happy Day!

Some of you may know the song.

Oh, happy day, happy day.
You washed my sins away!

Well, today I gave my students the best news they've had in looooong time. Since their Greek posters averaged an A, and since I know that they know the material, and since I have beaucoup cleaning to do before my sister arrives from Texas--cleaning being more valuable than test-making this week--, I announced at dismissal, "Tomorrow: No Greece test!"

One girl said, "Mrs. Zubrowski, you're wonderful!" To which I replied, "I know. Once a year I try to be."
(And the second girl said, "Oh, you've been wonderful about 50 times this year." )

Melt my heart. Over the course of 36 weeks, I guess that means about 1.5 times a week. Not bad for an ogre.

Anyway, cheers and high fives all around the room. We had just come back from a fabulous field trip lunch at Box Hill Pizzeria. We loved the Greek food, the attention from the Greek owners, the memories they made.

But the chant one boy sang cracked me up.

"Oh, happy day, happy day!
You washed my Greek test away!"

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

This 'n That

So much to write, so little time. Here are some snippets from what I've been doing and plan to do, Lord willing.

Have been:

-enjoying the transformation from living with a family room that wasn't "me" (wasn't comforting to me, didn't draw me in, screamed "Hodge Podge Lodge") to a room that beckons me in to sit a spell and join others in the welcome. This is quickly becoming--check that, is now --my favorite room in the house.

-loving the new paint color and carpet in the basement. Pictures coming, I hope. You know me, I'm slooooow.

-anticipating my sister Rachel and her kids coming from Texas this week. They land Thursday night at my sister Jill's house. On Friday the three of us are getting pedicures. Yay!

-wondering how I'll feel on the last day of school. We have 9 days left. Then our school will close for good after 30 years .I have only invested two in teaching there, so I'm not as melancholy as most teachers, but still sad. I am excited to see what God is going to do, especially in the up-and-coming youth.

-painting my porch furniture. It was country white wicker. With a couple cans of brown spray paint, they are now, I think, more modern and hip.

-planning Olympic games of sorts for my class to wrap up our study of Greece. A field day, but with some goofy sports and some bona fide tests of strength, speed, agility, and endurance to bring out the Spartan in all of them. So it's for the athetes as well as the non-athletes to enjoy, and prizes for everyone!

-mourning the loss of another young person ( my age, which is young, in my opinion). Scott died from a long, slow battle with a form of brain cancer .

-trying not to think about the fact that both Sarah and Steve will be gone for 8 weeks at New Life Camp starting June 12th--the day after our school closes. Sniff, sniff.

-praying that the entertainment center I spotted goes down to the price Paul wants and that we get it.

-needing to weed the garden , but it doesn't thrill me. I like thrills and flowers. That's about it for my gardening incentive.