Friday, September 28, 2012

101 in 1001 Progress Report

Is anyone out there still plugging away at their 101 in 1001 list?  I am. It helps to remind myself that I actually made one, or else I might put off some things if I don't make the effort. Other things happen rather spontaneously.

Since August 25th I have crossed off a few things.

-Got my hair cut by Mario. I've already carried on about that. Here was the result of the cut. Not a big change.  Certainly not worth the price of admission to his chair.

-I taught my dog a new trick.  Actually, my sister did when she was here earlier this week. She's quite the dog whisperer. She noticed how smart he is and how driven he is to find tennis balls in the backyard. We were up talking one night and she said, "I bet you could hide them in the house and then tell him to go find them."  So she started with one ball and "hid" it slightly between the chair and piano. Too easy. Reilly found it immediately.  She then went to the hall and hid a ball in the magazine rack in the bathroom. He couldn't see her, but he heard her, and zoomed right to the magazine rack. Voila! Then I took two tennis balls, hid one on a lower shelf of my writing desk, and another behind a sofa pillow.  Each time he was being held back in a different room so he couldn't peek!  Guess what? He came around the corner of the living room, sniffed a bit, and found the first  ball on my writing desk and the other buried deep behind the sofa pillow.  So much fun for all of us to witness this incredibly intelligent creature doing what he most assuredly was born to do: search and "rescue"!


- Mega cooking party for someone in need. My sisters and I mega cooked for my parents while together on Monday. We made all sorts of vegetarian entrees for their freezer. They were very grateful since Mama still doesn't have clear vision and can't stand on her feet for very long at a time.
No one took pictures that I know of.  We were up to 'here' in chopped onions, diced tomatoes, gluten-free batters, and ricotta cheese.  And we weren't there to be photographed, although I thought a time or two it would be fun to have pictures of my sisters and I working together in Mama's kitchen.  Oh well, I've got memories.

- We bought mattresses for the boys. Queen for Steve, twin for Joel.   The mattress guy is a Christian and very easy to work with.  I used my best negotiating tool--honesty--and said, "I won't play games. I have this much for both mattresses. Can you do it?  He raised me 25 bucks and we shook on it. He said don't tell anyone what I sold that queen bed for. I've never sold it lower, and I've been here a long time!"   Anyway, the boys have  had a good night's sleep ever since.  I have had a few good naps in various bedrooms myself when  no one's home. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

I'd love to hear updates from others who are part of the 101 craze!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge on Thursday

This is Sibs Week here -- my sister and my husband's brother both decided to come to Maryland to visit family this week--and I've been busy and distracted with preparations and visiting as well as the normal stuff of keeping a home going and a kid going to school in clothes instead of pajamas.  Today is my first sib-free day so I'm blogging.    Thanks again to Joyce for asking some good questions.

1. The Wednesday Hodgepodge this week falls on John Chapman's birth date. He's more famously known as Johnny Appleseed...what's your favorite variety of apple?

It WAS Fuji, but now it may be honeycrisp. 

2. When did you last say 'ick'?

A couple days ago I felt something tickling my forearm. At first it just felt like an annoying itch. But then it felt crawly. I looked down and saw a stinkbug.  I HATE those things!!!

3. Do you think there's a generation gap? Explain.

Oh, boy,  yes I certainly do think there's a generation gap.  Want a list of supporting reasons? I know you do, so here's my "Kids These Days" List.

                                  Kids these Days:

                             a.  Don't know how to sit still and pay attention for more than 12 seconds without getting bored, meaning without having some form of electronic entertainment in front of them or in their hands.
                             b.  Are much more verbally disrespectful to adults than my generation ever DARED to be. 
                             c.   Have way too much stuff. Most don't appreciate gifts.
                             d.   Aren't familiar with hard physical labor.
                             e.   Seem to understand technology while still in utero.
                             f.    Know almost all the pop stars' names, but not any political figures' names except for the President.
                             g.   Are narcissistic. (Young adults, mainly.)  Just look how many self-portaits are posted on Facebook.  Every other day they're changing their profile picture and uploading scads of photos of themselves eating hamburgers, drinking a latte, snuggling their sweeties, watching a ballgame, painting their nails. Makes me wanna say, "Really? You're special, but you're not THAT special."  
                              h.   Can't read cursive, or if they can, they read it haltingly.
                              i.    Don't hear the old hymns, let alone memorize them.
                              j.    Come from "blended families," not "broken homes." Our vernacular tries to sweep the brokenness away with euphemisms. Actually, many of my peers have divorced parents, but my children's generation is miserably broken.

Okay, I'll stop.  I sound like an old fogie.


4. What's on your computer screen saver? Do you leave it alone or change it often?

Right now it's a picture of a pretty guitar and a bunch of guitar cases.  My husband put it on there about a month ago.  (We share a laptop.) I think I change the screensaver about once a month or so and almost always it's a picture of my lovies...eating hamburgers, watching a ballgame, snuggling their sweetie. 

5. If you had the attention of the entire world for two minutes, what would you say?
Jesus is alive, He loves you, He died for your sins, and yes you most certainly are a sinner whether you think so or not, whether that offends you or not. Jesus was not just a prophet, a good teacher, a role model. He is the Creator the Universe, the Creator of You, and the Son of God and Savior of the world. The only Savior.  He is holy and just, and He will settle all scores, to be sure. He is coming back. Mark my word. Rather, mark HIS Word!  He keeps His promises!

And I wish you would stop believing everyone who says He is coming back on such-and-such a date. Jesus said that not even HE knows when He will return, but only His Father God knows.  So don't be so arrogant  as to think you or someone knows the day and hour if Jesus Himself doesn't. This message to repent is THE most important message you will ever hear. Go ahead and shun me, try to shut me up, call me a fool, disagree with me, or hate me. I don't hold the keys to your destiny, nor do you, but the One I'm telling you about does. Listen to Him.   And don't think you are off the hook at responding to Him just because a bunch of His people, me included, have been hypocritical or not lived anything near perfectly.  Our example might be sad, but blaming us won't justify you. So listen up, and listen good. Put your ipod away, take those plugs out of your ears, turn the TV off, silence your cell phone, and just listen. Do you believe this message or not?

6. Four fashion trends to try this fall are-brocade/jacquard (fancy printed fabrics), peplum, lace, and printed pants...which of these four would you be most likely to wear?

What's peplum? It sounds like diarrhea medicine.  I like brocade and lace. Absolutely not printed pants on these short, stubby legs. They would do all the wrong these for me  from every angle.  Jacquard?  It's  just not me.  But lace is ultra feminine. I love it.  Don't have much, but if I add anything to my wardrobe this fall, I might add another touch of lace.

7. What can make your bad day better?

Again, a list:  a bouquet of flowers, a letter or card in the mail, an unexpected bit of money,  a sweet text from one of my kids or friends,  a good joke, planned or impromptu dinners out, being invited over to someone's house for coffee, did I say flowers?,  a mani-pedi, a wonderful hair day,  getting my hair done,  getting a compliment, a lingering hug, nice comments on my blog.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Get rid of your junk before your kids have to deal with it. And if they try to help you declutter, don't balk at every suggestion. You can't hang onto every relic of a better time in your life.  Let go of it! Don't frustrate your kids and mate by hoarding! I am preaching to the choir here, as well as venting.
Getting rid of stuff doesn't mean you're getting rid of the people or memory associated with that thing! Bless others by donating it, trashing the obvious trash, and appreciating an extra set of hands and eyes helping you let go.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Their Love Story, Part 1

Now that I have their engagement pictures uploaded to my computer, I'd like to tell the proposal story of my second son, Stephen, and his lovely bride-to-be, Ambrey.

But first, a little background, because everyone loves a good love story, and most of my readers, being women, like some of the romantic details.


How did they meet? Both were in Christian Club at the local community college. Steve had to finish up two classes before transferring to the university. Ambrey was a year behind him. During that fifth semester, he was the leader of the club, and there was this pretty girl he had eyes for, a girl with a pretty name, too, and a pretty smile.

He wanted to get to know her better, and so he hosted a few impromptu game nights at our house. I remember the first time she came over was with other kids--I mean college students-- from the Christian club; she was the only person who brought something. That spoke volumes to me that she was thoughtful and generous. Not many young people realize the importance of bringing something for the host or hostess to serve guests on a moment's notice as a thanks for hospitality. I bet her mom is the same way, I thought. She's had a good model. Ambrey didn't bring anything ordinary, either. She brought a pair of pomegranates. I giggled inwardly, thinking Song of Solomon! I bet Stephen has noticed her pomegranates! But I didn't say anything at the time. It's now a joke amongst all of us, and it makes her blush. So cute.

There was a guy in the club who was stalking her, more or less, by texting her obnoxiously and not getting the hint from her that she was not interested. Finally she asked Steve if he, as the leader, could maybe talk to this guy and tell him to back off. Ambrey is not at all the confrontational type. Nor is Steve, unless the situation calls for some diplomatic interference--especially if it involves protecting a damsel in distress.

Steve to the rescue! He and his co-leader and best friend, Eric, gladly sat the guy down and "in a very Christian, manly, firm-but-kind way said, "DUDE! LEAVE HER ALONE!" No, I don't know how they put it, but he got the message and Ambrey was duly impressed with my son's leadership, chivalry, and the swift way he moved in to take that guy's place in stalking her. Bwahahaha. She also liked his smile, his intelligence, his sense of humor, his big blue eyes, his gentlemanly ways, and a bunch of other stuff she still goes on and on (and on) about!

They spent many, many, many hours together, and hours turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Whether doing homework in our basement or hers, or hiking with the dogs, or going to church, or playing board games, or fixing dinner together, they were always smiling and laughing and having good talks or comfortable silence together. They also grieved together the loss of their dogs. Our Molly died in January in 2011, and her Holly (also a golden) died the following October.

Both of them sensed they could spend perhaps the rest of their lives together, but Ambrey asked him to please not say "I love you" until he was serious. Her one and only boyfriend before him had thrown the phrase around casually, and she remembered him saying it on a Sunday and breaking up with her on a Monday . So Steve respected her request. Besides, he knows the meaning of love to be commitment and sacrifice, not simply warm fuzzies and not lust, promised he would not tell her of his love, but show it in every way. Of course it took a lot of self-control not to say it when his heart was full and his mind imagining the two of them at the altar on their wedding day, and setting up a home, and being happy with her all his life.

And the same went with her. She would not say it, either, though everyone knew it. They have the kind of relationship that makes other people say, "That is true love. I want that!" They chose to keep showing their love through the kindnesses and thoughtful ways and words such as "I adore you, " or "You make me smile," or "I can't wait to see what God has in store for our future," or "I cherish you." They remembered each other with Rita's treats on tough homework nights. They had sushi picnics. He changed her oil. She gave him a survival box of snacks to keep in his Jeep. He dug a gazillion holes for junipers for her parents to plant on their sloped back lawn on a 100 degree day--with a smile and sweat, both of which Ambrey certainly admired about him. A cheerful worker he is. (I told him he reminded me of Jacob working for Laban in order to marry Rachel.) She went on vacation with us to the beach, and he went to the beach with her family. The place she's always been happiest.

That's the background. Tomorrow, the foreground. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Letters


Dear Memes,

Sometimes I wonder what I'd do without you. You give me focus and boundaries for my wandering
blog fodder that's in my head. Thanks! Besides that, I just plain like you.

Dear Blog Readers,

Thank you, also, for putting up with my steady flow of memes instead of "real" blogging when I don't have time for more thoughtful, original content. 

Dear Mother of the Preschool Girl in Front of Me at Carpool Drop-off this Morning,

Don't worry about lingering in front of my car to get your hug from your little pig-tailed daughter with the pink backpack.  I can wait. In fact, I want to wait, to live vicariously through you, as I no longer have anyone little enough getting out of my car and wanting a hug.  Oh, sure, I tell him I love him and ask if he needs help with his stuff. He says no, he doesn't, and of course would be mortified if I got out and hugged him. He is ten, after all, and getting a hug from his mom is just "not manly," he says. Not in public, I mean.

Dear Driver  in  REVERSE in front of Me in the parking lot,

What part of the "BEEP BEEP BEEPBEEP BEEeEEEEP!" do you not get when you are BACKING UP?  I mean, there's friendly and then there's FRIENDLY.  I don't know you, so let's just be friends, okay?  It works better when you leave some space between us, even if we  do become friends.  But thanks for saying "Oh, sorry, sorry!" so that I could hear you. We all make mistakes, but I really don't feel like swapping insurance info today. Or any day.

Dear Manly Son, I'm glad that even though you are in fifth grade, you still want me to hug you good morning before breakfast when it's just the two of us, you still enjoy telling me about your day after school, you still like for me to tuck you in at night and scratch your back.  And I like you when you call me Mommy.   I also enjoyed surveying you on some of your earliest memories today. I asked what song you remembered from when you were very little and you said, "Strinkle Wise."  Of course, we all know that's really "Strength Will Rise" (When We Wait Upon the Lord, Wait Upon the Lord). Now  I've got that tune stuck in my head, and a smile stuck on my face, which is good, considering I have this all this pre-company housework that I need strength for and don't usually smile about.

Dear Refrigerator, Would you mind just cleaning yourself out, wiping yourself down, and restocking yourself for once?  You sure take up a lot of space and just stand there doing nothing but shivering on an empty stomach.

Dear Pantry, Would you mind organizing your innerds for me and shutting your door automatically so the dogs can't find out that you spilled chips and almonds within their reach?

Dear Fall, I love the airs you put on. Go ahead and show off. Normally we don't think of "showing one's true colors" as a compliment, but in your case, we all gladly make exceptions. 

Dear Brother of my Hubby from Ohio and Sister of Mine from Arizona,  Of all 52 weeks in a year, you both decided to come visit us the very same week. What are the chances of that? I love it. We feel blessed to have our siblings come whenever they can. It's just funny, that's all, the timing. It always does us good to be with kinfolk who are helpful, funny, and are "dog people." I can't wait to give you nice, new mattresses to sleep on while you're here and do what you'd like to do in your "down time."

Dear Steve and Ambrey,  Now that I have your CD of engagement pictures, I am eager to blog that part of your ongoing love story. 

Dear Mothers of Grooms, I am considering doing the flowers myself for the wedding. Am I crazy? Can you offer me wisdom? The budget is too tight to hire a pro to do it all. I love flowers, but I also want to enjoy the day. Is it possible to be really involved AND enjoy one's child's wedding day?

Dear Housework, I am reconsidering the truth that only God is omnipresent. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Fall after Another in this Hodgepodge

The temperatures, they are a changin', but the Hodgepodge remains a predictable pleasure every week, thanks to our faithful hostess, Joyce, whose blog you simply must delight yourself in today, which is the day after her birthday.  It would be super lovely to stop by and wish her a happy happy day-after-birthday day!

1. What's the best and worst thing thing about growing older? 

What a thought-provoking question! Wow.  I would say that the best thing about growing older  is that I've reached a point in my life when I can see the fruits of my labor as a Christian mother.  My three adult children (now in their early twenties) are serious about their relationship with the Lord, they have close friendships that draw them closer to God, they have found their niche in the work world doing meaningful work, they enjoy each other's company and are just a lot of fun to hang out with. I can look back without regrets that I chose to stay home with them and watch them mature 24/7.   I can't think of anything else that would give me this much pleasure, knowing that my efforts were not in vain. 

Here the three olders are on one of our fall homeschooling days, circa 1994-5. I just adore this picture, despite the lighting. I had a cheapo camera with REAL FILM back then. 

The worst thing about growing older--besides the aches and pains which are many--is having more dreams than energy to make them come true. 

2.   Autumn arrives this week in the Northern Hemisphere...what one thing do you love most about the fall season? 

The colorful trees.  Living on the East Coast brings endless landscapes of golds, reds, browns, greens, and oranges. 

3.  Speaking of fall...pumpkin seems to be flavoring everything these days-are you a fan?   What's your favorite pumpkin flavored food or beverage? 

Yes, I'm indeed a fan.

Favorite drink--Dunkin Donuts' Pumpkin Spice coffee. 
Favorite food--pumpkin pie, with a runner-up fave of pumpkin roll

4.  Since we're on the subject of fall...what's the worst fall you've ever taken?

When I was seven, I was riding my bike too fast in front of a boy who was chasing me on his bike.  The front fender of his bike tangled with the back fender of mine, and down I went, face first on concrete. Lots of blood, let me tell ya. 

I immediately got a big knot on my forehead and my mom thought for sure I would have a concussion. She wanted to take me to the ER, but I was full of faith that God would heal me if my parents prayed for me, no doctors necessary.   And that's what happened.  I don't think my mom got a minute of sleep, though, staying up to wake me every couple hours to check me for signs of concussion. 

I fear falling. Things don't get up and go again real quick like they used to after a fall. 

5.  If you could own a prop from any film what would you choose? 

The table from the Walton family's kitchen.

We watched that show every Thursday for years when I was a kid, and I always dreamed of growing up to be the next Olivia Walton, her table filled with children and in-laws, having both fun and serious talks. There's something about an old wood, 10-foot table that just speaks to me of bonding.  To this day, one of the best feelings I get is setting the table for a whole bunch of people I love. 

6. What's the most interesting word you've read or learned in the past week? 

Strumsticks.  I  had never heard of them until last night when I was talking our school's music teacher.  Check it out. Sort of a ukulele, guitar, dulcimer type instrument. 

7. When was the last time you locked yourself out of your house, car, or office?  Was it a big deal?

In the week before school started,  I locked myself out of the van. I was on my way to a faculty meeting, when I stopped for gas. My debit card wasn't working, at the pump, so I had to go inside to pay. In my haste, I locked the door, purse inside, keys inside purse.  Thankfully my phone was in my pocket, so I called GEICO to come unlock it.  As many times as I've locked my keys in the car over the years, it's been well worth the three bucks a month to have lockout service 
added to our auto insurance policy. 

It was not a big deal, because the convenience store there has booths to sit in, plenty of coffee, and food. I sat down and planned some lessons and texted a friend who would've rescued me except she was at the orthodontist. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Please pray for four people from our school who were in a car accident on the way home yesterday.  Apparently another car lost control while in motion at an intersection, hit the median,  and spun into the van which was sitting at a red light. The impact flipped the van onto its side.   One of the passenger seats dislodged and landed on the other girl's seat and the van also caught fire. 

Our principal rushed to the scene and said it was a miracle that all four passengers ( a mom, two teens who are my art students, and a fifth grade girl in my son's class) were not seriously injured.  The mom broke her clavicle and the girls were cut and bruised and shaken, but they were all treated and released from the hospital shortly after our school chaplain visited them.  My son said everyone in class made get well cards for their friend. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gifts of Beauty, Positive and Negative

I just had to have these flowers. Is there anything like a sunflower to say, "Happy happy!"?  The Kansas state flower always says happy to me.
The cheery yellow paper that came with the flowers
makes an excellent addition to the thin tissue paper for a gift bag.
I love the woven textured feel to this particular paper.

Speaking of gifts, my baby sister had a birthday this past weekend. She asked for a Keurig from her hubby. Being a lover of themes, I decided to go with the "my cup runneth over" theme. So I  bought a big sampler of flavors for her, put them in a white pitcher that I would otherwise have taken to Goodwill,
and wrapped a coffee-colored ribbon around it.

My daughter
made a card that says "Life is Good."  I wrote to my sister, "Life is good because God is good.  You're the best gift a 14-year-old girl could get, except for maybe a new purse."

My only regret about her babyhood and toddler years is that I was too self-focused to appreciate her.
Life was school, friends, boys, cheerleading, talking on the phone, and sleeping in. That didn't leave much room to really love on a precious little bundle of pinkness.

I would like to think I'm not such an adolescent any more.

A close-up of the coffees before I stuffed tissue down on top of them.  I also gave her some cold, hard cash in case she'd
like to buy one of those (overpriced) inserts for filling with your own coffee.  (Mine always comes out too weak.)

My personal favorite in regular coffee for the Keurig is Gloria Jean's hazelnut.
For decaf, Timothy's is smooth and delish. Of course drinking decaf is a bit like
driving a car with deflated tires; it gets you where you need to go, but not nearly as fast.

Today in the drawing class I'm taking, we continued with still-lifes, and how to

draw by being able to see negative space.  (The shapes of the things around the objects--the empty spaces--that help us "see" the positive ones better.)  The exercise was difficult; the brain gets used to "locking on" to positive space. For example, look at a kitchen chair. Your brain sees the spindles, the back, the seat, the arms, the legs.  But the only way it perceives those things is by relating them to the empty space that's between the spindles, between the back and the sides, between the arms and the seat,
and so on.

 The still life above (with trophy, harp-shaped decoration, and
wooden quill pen)
was our last one of the day. I may cringe for putting this up, but I'm all about
showing "before and afters" with the hope that someday I will be able to produce
 a lot of "after"-type artwork with ease and great satisfaction. 
But for now, I am enjoying the blessing of being able to "see" better than
I "saw" last week. I'm thankful for the Mother's Day gift of an art class from my
family.  It's my first time as student instead of teacher since 1987.  Love it!!!

There's beauty all around--in sunflowers and textured paper,
smooth coffee and shiny pitchers,  baby sisters and charcoal sticks. 

It's so much more pleasant to dwell on the positives than on the negatives, but without the negatives, we would not appreciate the positives at all.  Life would be decaf all the time.
Yet our cup runneth over, if only we will see.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hodgepodge: Punt, Pass, and Propose

 Written on Tuesday

1. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? The NFL is back in action along with all the college teams. Are you a fan? Who do you root for? If you're not a fan what do you do while the rest of America watches Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, and now Thursday night games?

I am a football fan, but I only watch my home team, the Baltimore Ravens, with any enthusiasm. I'm not one to just watch football for football's sake. Last night we had our first real game, and "our boys" started the season with  a "W" against the Bengals.  It's funny; I didn't used to be a football fan, but the rest of the family's craziness has rubbed off on me.

2. What's something I'll always find in your closet?

Gifts put up for people as I find little things throughout the year. These usually are for stocking stuffers or my Samaritan's Purse shoebox child, but sometimes I pull out a giftie just because I can't wait to give it.  My daughter-in-law was the most recent recipient a month after their honeymoon to Dominican Republic. I gave her some Tropical Passion scented hand soap that seemed perfectly named for the couple who were (and still are) all over each other! She giggled when I gave it to her--and I think she blushed, too. (I'm horrible that way.) She held it up to Ben and said, "Look, babe!" and he just nods, "Mmmhhh. Yeah." 

3. Share one of your earliest memories.

Is this a Hodgepodge question or a therapy session, Joyce? Tee hee.  I had a counselor ask the same thing a year ago, and I had two "earliest memories,"  one good and one traumatic. (She said that our earliest memory has a huge bearing on how we subsequently relate to authority the rest of our lives. How they responded  to us at the time is pivotal, albeit buried deep in our subconscious.)

My earliest good memory was when I was in preschool. (I've blogged about this before.) I had a teacher in Sunday School named Miss Iney. I can't recall her face or the way she smelled or anything she said  verbatim, but I remembered her soft, plump lap, and soft, plump arms holding me when I walked into the classroom every week. Hers was a lap of love; I didn't have to answer any questions right to get a chance in her lap. I didn't have to be on my best behavior or my worst behavior. She might have been teaching or might have been singing or might have been having playtime or snacktime, I don't remember. It was simply a place I looked forward to being every Sunday, so early on I associated church with a place I wanted to be. Miss Iney's love had no conditions; her arms and lap were the arms and lap of Jesus.   That's why I believe there's no such thing as "just a nursery
worker," and I am quick to remind  a two-year-olds teacher (my daughter) that just because they think a child isn't getting anything out of her "lesson," that child is associating her Sunday School teacher with Jesus. The impact is lifelong. I t hink I've spent my whole life loving to be  (or longing to be) in the company of (soft, plump) older, godly women.

I won't share the other memory right now. You asked for one. I'm abiding by the rules, for a change.

4. What circus act best describes your week so far?

"Swinging from the trapeze with the greatest of ease." The week started on a high Sunday when I visited our old church again, and I saw many familiar faces of people I love. 

I 'let go' and grabbed the other trapeze of bidding my hubby farewell that afternoon, as he had to catch a train to Greenwich. I knew he was dreading the travel and the meetings. I mean, how exciting can a two-day seminar on Catastrophic Commercial Insurance  Coverage be?  You tell me.

I went from the low of seeing him unhappy and stressed, to  my Monday morning high of starting a drawing class. I am taking a non-credit course at the local college for ten weeks. The teacher, who has cobalt blue hair and is probably my age,  had encouragement and practical tips for everyone.  I learned a lot in two and a half hours as a student and as a teacher.  Mainly I learned that I was unprepared to stand at an easel for 2.5 hours . Ballet flats are for ballet class. This was clearly not a ballet class.

Last night I came down from the high when the old  dog peed on the kitchen floor yet again. This morning I was "up" again preparing Beef Burgundy in the crock pot and then going to a Bible study for the first time (with this group). These are among the most loving and fervently praying women I've ever known. I like that they prayed hard to start to beging the meeting, not 'hurried up and prayed real quick" to end the meeting.

Now I am swinging easy on the computer (as I write this on Tuesday) but have to swing back out to do carpool and swing back to spruce up the digs for a weary travelin' man whose been a stone's throw from Ground Zero, today, 9/11, 11 years after the world as we know it, changed.

5. What's a food you disliked as a child but you love now?


6. Describe your summer in three words.

I think this question was asked before, and I answered it on a day I was feeling sorry for myself about not getting a summer vacation this year.  Granted, that was a huge letdown, but I learned a lot about myself from the disappointment. So, let me give  three positive words that have fun pictures to go along.


                                          Sorry about the blur,but I shoots 'em as I sees 'em.

-Art camp (okay, that's technically two words, but I'm taking literary license here)

-Engagement (more pictures coming. This is the teaser photo.)

7. Where were you on September 11, 2001? Will you do anything special to mark the day this year?

I was sitting at the kitchen table, schooling the three older kids who were 13, 12, and 10.  I was pregnant with my youngest. The phone rang ; it was my husband asking me if I had seen the news. No, I don't watch TV during the day. He told me I would probably want to tune in. I knew it had to be important if he would interrupt our school day with "turn on the TV."  I asked if I could get a recap later on the evening news. He said something about  a plane crashing into the World Trade Center which might not have been an accident because the skies were blue and clear.  Just like today.

For days after, I cried and cried for the survivors. I recently saw the 9/11 memorial on the NJ side of the Hudson,  and, oh dear,

8. Insert your own random thought here.

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Simple Woman's Daybook 9.5.12

Outside my supposed to be quiet, but my daughter's car alarm starts honking at random times, always at night.   I don't suspect someone's messing with it; the car is old. The sound of the alarm is getting old, too, waking us up in the night. Sare Bear can't hear it, but Papa Bear jumps out of bed and races down the steps for the keys to turn it off.  Mama Bear is more "bear" than "mama" when she is rudely awakened. What is causing this nuisance alarm that might get the police called on us for disturbing the peace WITH our property instead of ON it?

I am thinking...that I am going to enjoy the little class of five high school students (all girls) I have this year. For a while I was really stressing over trying to make it
measure up to something of an AP art history class with drawing and painting squeezed in.

I am thankful...that my principal had a pow-wow with me before class today and relieved me of the stress I'd been experience as a result of not being clear about the vision for the content. I was overthinking . My vision was too lofty--something to aspire to in the future, she said, but right now, for just a 1/4 credit class AND as a  parent volunteer job,  make it a techniques class, toss in art history as enrichment, and have fun. My plans were so time-consuming that they were taking the fun out of it for me, which should always be a red flag to a teacher.  I am so grateful for the rapport I have with my superiors; they delivered a timely message of grace and truth to me. The burden lifted off my shoulders in five minutes!  I just don't know how to plan a simple curriculum! 

In the kitchen... is nothing left of the Mexican Chicken Casserole I concocted tonight. Chicken, green peppers, a packet of liquid taco mix, chickpeas, a can of
diced tomatoes with spicy red peppers, several handfuls of crushed tortilla chips, and a copious amount of shredded cheddar, and voila! A meal the whole family raved about--and the best part for me was that the whole family was here to eat it!! Rare treat indeed when that happens.

I am wearing... a lime green T and a comfy black skirt.  And no, I did not wear it in public.

I am creating... a new schedule for myself in my mind, whilst praying about how much outside-the-home stuff I commit to.   Right now I am trying to figure out
the best part-time work for the money and time constraints.

I am wondering...just how bad the state of the (dis)union is going to get, no matter who gets elected. We need God and we need a Godly leader at the nation's helm!  The world as we've known it is not going to remain the same for our children.

I am reading...  The Mixed-up Files of Basil something or other, with my 5th grader. Why does 5th grader sound SO much older than 4th grader?

I am hoping...that my mom gets her full sight back.

I am looking forward to...the delivery of new mattresses for the boys tomorrow.
The ones they have now have been in our home for probably 13 years.  No one could get a good night's sleep on them anymore.  teve gets a queen bed (early wedding present he and she picked out and I fenagled an unprecented sales price. When my husband says, "Oh, wow!" after my negotiations, I float on air.

 Around the house...deep cleaning of bedrooms has been happening. Feels good to find lost treasure under beds, and get rid of stuff.

I am pondering...nothing. My ponderer punched out four hours ago. It's now midnight.

A favorite quote for today...
I heard  when I was getting my mani-pedi (thanks to a birthday gift from my baby sister). This was said by a woman in the spa when we got to chatting about the duty of the mother of the groom. She was told by someone that it's our job to
I can assure you I will not be wearing beige. I WILL sit down. I will probably NOT shut up except to cry, but-- hear ye, hear ye--this girl doesn't wear beige for NOBODY!  I'll wear beer bottles caps hot glued together all over my body before  I'd wear beige.

One of my favorite things...
reading aloud with my 10 year old as he sits beside me and gradually lays his head on my arm. The tenderness of the child who usually pretends to be old for that stuff just melts my heart. I don't bring attention to it or else he quits abruptly.

A few plans for the rest of the week....  
Make new beds up fresh!
Join Weight Watchers. Again.
Grocery shop. :(
Medicate the dogs with their monthly treatments. 
Visit yet another church in our search for a new church home. 
Pray for my husband who is on the brink because of the stress at work. 
Try to settle on a date for an engagement party for immediate family.


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Hodgepodge Happiness

Without further (or previous) adieu ,I present this week's Hodgepodge.  Joyce's questions, my answers. Your comments. What a trio.

1. In your opinion what's the most important job in the world? Oh, and parenting is a given so besides parenting, what's the most important job in the world?
Teaching.  In fact, my daughter was given a mug that says, "Teaching is the profession that creates all others." She loves to chide her brothers about the superiority of her chosen field. One  brother is an accountant and one is a computer programmer, both professions that will likely bring way more money than Sarah can imagine as a public school teacher.  She says, 'Well, if it weren't for teachers, you wouldn't HAVE a job! If Mom hadn't taught you to read, where would you be? If she hadn't taught you how to add, would you ever have become an accountant? If Mr. Jones hadn't taught you
calculus, would you ever have made it into computers?" Blah blah blah.  Ha ha ha. So that's my answer.

2. Share a favorite or not so favorite memory from a childhood birthday.
I don't remember any birthday until I was twelve. I asked for a clutch purse and got bedroom curtains.

3. Peanut butter-crunchy or smooth?  Crunchy, please.

4. William Butler Yeats is credited as saying, "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing." Your thoughts?
Do you mean "growing" in the abstract way, Joyce, because I really don't want to grow physically any more. I would much prefer to shrink around the hips, waist, thighs, butt, and every other place.
But since I think you mean it a growing mentally, spiritually, relationally, then i will say I am happiest when growing in those ways. Well, I take that back. Spiritual growth almost always happens in the midst of suffering, during adversity and not prosperity. So it's not happiness while growing but seeing the results later.  Mentally I love to always be learning and adding skills to my toolbox of life. Next week I get the joy of taking a drawing class for 10 weeks.  Can't wait ! I hope to be a better teacher as a result of continuing my education.

5. What's something that makes you cringe?
Many things. Let me go sense by sense.
Hearing--someone drumming on a table or clicking a pen incessantly
Sight--a woman or girl sitting in a skirt with her legs open
Smell--incense or B.O.
Taste--artificial sweeteners
Touch--dog mess in a bag

6. Name a song that always puts you in a good mood?
The Hokey Pokey

7. The answer is yes. What's the question?
"Will you marry me?" was the question my second son, Steve, proposed to his girlfriend this past Saturday at the beach. She said yes.  Stay tuned for post and pictures of this over-the-top romantic

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I am finally ready, I think, to teach my high school class.  It starts tomorrow. One week at a time,  beginning with the Italian Renaissance and ending with the French Revolution.  Art history plus drawing and painting in class. 400 years in 35 weeks.  Ai, yai, yai. Prayers needed. I may have said yes too soon to the question "Will you teach the 10th and 11th graders?"  

Sunday, September 02, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like First Grade

Three weeks ago my daughter was stressing out "to the max" to get her classroom ready for the school year. She took over last year in February for the first grade teacher who was going out on maternity leave. That teacher decided before the baby was born that she wanted to stay home full time. Excellent choice.  So Sarah gladly stepped in and the school retained her this year in the same position. She wanted to make the room her own, though, so out with the old and in with the new.
One day in mid-August, she headed out ready to "shop till she dropped". Nine hours and five stores later, she had amassed quite the array of eye-catching things to organize and decorate with.

The transformation began one day soon thereafter. We pitched in to help. (Joel didn't want to appear
in this blog post, but trust me, we put him to work.)  The clock was ticking down to the time when parents would be coming for Back-to-School Night.

On the far wall...
Bright, fun colors and lots of organization.  My girl's personality permeates her classroom.
Wonder how long this neatness will stay like this??? 
A getting-to-know-you beach ball.
Ambrey got the job of hot-gluing things that needed to go up high on concrete walls.
Up and down off the chair, squirting glue on the item and hopping back up before the glue dried! She calls it practice for her own future classroom. I call it enviable youth and trustworthy balance.
Sarah has been collecting books from yard sales and a store here in Baltimore called
the Book Thing where people can get books for free--as many as they want! People
donate them. What a help to teachers operating on a shoestring budget!

My favorite nook--the reading center. Children sit on those
furry, padded ottomans. (The lids lift off to reveal
more storage. How clever!) See the clothesepins on the Radical Readers board?
Each student gets one
(referred to as a clip) and for every 15 minutes they read,
they get their clip moved to the next "foot."  Prizes awarded, of course.
The Way to Go! box is, of course, a favorite with kids.
For extra good behavior or stellar work, they get to
pick a goodie out of it.  I forgot to ask if I could have a prize
for being a good teacher's helper that day. Or as Sarah kept saying,
I was at least there to take pictures of  everyone else working.
Well, hey. This is a major milestone, honey. The teacher is
pretty special to me and I'm sure we'll all love to look back
someday at her first Teacher Prep Week as a bona fide,
full-time first grade teacher. (I really did do some
work while I was there. 24 Friday Folders, 24 desk nametags,
and 24 Parent Packets all needed to be labeled, and she likes
my printing, so that took a while.)
Sarah kept her to-do list ever before us on the board.
Erasing things as we went felt really good. So
did taking some time at 4:15 to finally sit down and eat, but
with parents coming for Back to School Night at 5:30,
there was not time to photograph the weary
workers.  A few people were glad to see my camera
take a break as well.

I couldn't get enough of the reading center.
That bamboo rug and the stuffed animals (reading buddies)
and a bright blue bookcase. What's not to like?

At 5:00, we snapped this picture of her having changed into her professional outfit.
and a quick face and hair refresher. I, on the other hand, remained a sweatball of happiness before
disappearing  and leaving my little girl to do her grown-up thing, the very thing she's
wanted to do since she herself was in first grade.
(Honestly, we did not dress to match the
Vibrant Vocabulary bulletin board behind us. 
Notice the Ravens magnet up there. Gotta love our
home team.)
She has now experienced her first full week of school, and--as if teaching 24 students all day isn't enough--she took on an after-school tutoring job.  So, in my defense, I take pictures to remember
what my dear daughter looks like, since I see her all of maybe three hours a week. 
In case you can't tell, I really am rather proud of my one and only girl, who
has turned out to be nothing less than the best daughter a mom could hope for--
not to mention the best teacher any first grader could dream of having.
Love and prayers for a spectacular 2012-13 school year, precious daugher.
Your mama loves you.