Monday, June 30, 2008

The Egg is Not Yet Fried


Although we do not have any insurance coverage to fix the Good Egg, we are getting the windshield replaced on Wednesday. That will render said Egg driveable. We then will take the other cracks one at a time, starting with the sunroof. Our neighbors (they of the bashing tree) know a lot of people who do a lot of things and they said they would put out the word that we are needing the sunroof fixed. And they had the tree company come out today and clean up the mess.

The moral of this story for me tonight is "It costs something to see clearly."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Making Progress on the Yearbook

The ultimate decision about the bad boy's info was made by the administrator. She wanted me to leave it out. I put some of the info in, but left out most of it (all the questionable stuff). Based on his answers about how little he loved school this year, I have no fear that he will be buying a yearbook and then complaining about being censored.

I am learning more and more about the program I am using, so the yearbook is going more smoothly all the time. I have already accepted the fact that this yearbook will not be perfect, or anything close to it. I think it is going to be great and I will be quite proud of it when it is finished.

Into Each Life A Little, Er, Tree, Must Fall






or What I Learned About Insurance Today

Did I know that it was going to rain today? Did I know that it was going to rain horizontally today? No, and not only did I not know those two things, I also did not know that my beloved Previa (The Good Egg) was going to get mooshed by a big stupid tree branch from our neighbor's tree. And, not only THAT, but I didn't know that events such as the one I have just described -- remember, the NEIGHBOR'S tree broke and smooshed the Egg -- who gets to pay for it? Yes, WE do!

I was shocked, I tell you. His tree falling onto our property -- seems like a clear-cut case of his homeowner's insurance paying for the damage. But, no-o-o-o-o-o-o. That falls under our responsibility.

Bad news, for sure. But, worse news. We dropped the comprehensive and collision on this car awhile back 'cause it's really old and I guess we figured it wouldn't be worth it to fix the car.

First, we saw that the tree branch had fallen. Then, we noticed that the Previa was entwined in the branches. Then, we noticed that the windshield was big-time broken. So far, not too bad. Then, we noticed that the back sunroof was broken. And, after the branch was removed, we discovered the body damage.

I haven't gotten around to telling all my blog readers about the Previa. It was made the day Valerie was born (1/27/93) and she's been looking forward to driving in it just about a month. The middle row of seats in the Egg (as we call it) turn around and have seatbelts you can wear while facing backwards. It took us a lot of places with the kids facing each other, playing games, and occasionally kicking each other. There are two sunroofs in the Egg and I always have loved the amount of light that comes into the car.

I don't know for sure that we have lost the Egg, but it for sure is a Cracked Egg at the moment.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quick Post about Crazy Dream

I have this recurring dream where I go back to high school and can't find the classrooms, etc. I am aware that I'm almost 30 years past high school, but the main experience is that I am unable to navigate my schedule, the facility, etc.

Before I work this morning, I had this dream, with a VENGEANCE. Not only was I going back to high school, I was with about five people I did not know, and who were rather androgynous. I tried to peek at their notebooks to see their names, to see if I could figure out whether they were male or female, but to no avail.

My first class was some type of physics class. We went on a train ride through a place with an almost unending amount of information. I did not know what the assignment was. I could not figure out any connection between the things I was seeing, and when we finally got to the bleachers to begin the assignment, I dropped my notebook. Of course I was on the top row. By the time I threaded my way underneath the bleachers, I had apparently forgotten what I went for because I got all the way back to the top without my notebook, which had disappeared anyway. Soon I saw it in the possession of some guys across the way so I had to make my way all the way over there to get it back. Meanwhile, I'm a fill-in for a twin who is married, with her sister, to another set of twins. Problem is, the original twins have fallen in love with the other twin. I'm in the middle because I don't know either guy very well. On top of that, I can't tell them apart unless I am with both of them. When I see one of the twins (might even be my husband twin for all I know), I don't even acknowledge him because I can't tell which one he is. He doesn't acknowledge me either.

After a totally unfruitful time in the physics class, we make our way to the next class -- I don't know the title, the professor, the location. I follow the androgynous crowd. We come upon row after row of paperbacks, quite a few of which say "Advantage" on the spine. I choose one of those. The class is total chaos, especially because i cannot even tell who is the professor. Finally I settle on one woman who must be the teacher. As she is talking, one of the guys i am with starts to mock and belittle the teacher, who is absolutely and completely full of herself and her importance. It all kind of falls apart.

Extremely weird. I didn't really expect anyone to read this, but I needed to write it down for consideration for later.

As I said, the high school bit is recurring, but the degree to which I was totally clueless was amazing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eating without Distractions


This lady has the right idea, or you would certainly think so if you came to my house. Every one of us loves to read while we eat -- we'll even read the cereal box if there is nothing else available. (I think reading while eating is "the thinking man's" version of reading while watching tv.)

Since we have five growing children in the house, we have noticed this phenomenon that happens -- I go grocery shopping and bring the groceries home. The kids unload the car, and emit loud exclamations of enthusiasm as they see all the good food. As I unload the bags and put the food away, the mongering hordes swoop in and pick up a bag of this and a carton of that and four or five pieces of fruit (per person). I can't even get the food put away before a decent amount of it is eaten.

The problem is, sometimes, a lot of times, we don't eat until we are full. We eat until the bag is empty, or we have finished the page/chapter/book/article. I think I have alluded elsewhere to my love/hate relationship with food and eating, and I would rather not pass that along to our kids, even though I may do it unintentionally.

I recently posted a sign on the fishbowl on our dining room table asking everyone to refrain from reading while eating and I explained my thinking. Each time we eat now, we use bowls, plates, silverware, etc., and even NAPKINS! I asked everyone, as an experiment, to just focus on the eating process, the texture and taste of the food.

Here's what I have found out. Eating is boring! If I'm reading a book, I can chew crispy foods for a long time. If I am sitting at the table, I can't chew quite as much food. I just don't want to take the time.

Do you think this could be a major diet phenomena all over the world? Could I get famous and be on Oprah? Maybe not and maybe not, but if I only eat while I'm doing nothing else, I bet I might even lose some weight.

The Dinette Set - Why do I Love it?



This comic makes me laugh out loud every single day. I've put an RSS feed on the right side of my blog in case you would like to see more Dinette Set comics. This lady is brilliant at capturing the lives of her comic characters.

The Dinette Set's website says: The Dinette Set is an in depth study of banality and entitlement within American Middle Class Culture. From small towns, to sprawling Suburbia to major cities, an inane, repetitive lifestyle persists and is growing. The Dinette Set takes a wryly brutal aim at the world of mindless consumerism and the mentality that fosters it. The Dinette satirizes middle class culture, incorporating thought provoking observations of the human condition that viewers will instantly identify with. The little notes to self that inhabit the backgrounds via t-shirts, kitchen chalk boards and coffee mugs are priceless.

My Group is Changing



Last night was Wednesday and Wednesday is group therapy night. As the clock struck 7, I sped out of the office. I felt sort of embarrassed about that, because I'm sure people noticed that I was quiet and left immediately. Actually, part of the reason I left so quickly is because I'm NOT sure anyone notices me. I have brought up two things that were important to me, and they were not followed up on the next week. I know I can bring them up, but one of the things I would like in this group is for people to remember and ask the next time, especially because the two things I am talking about were going to be ongoing. I even asked for accountability.

So, I've been one of the main talkers in the group. And I already mentioned that the other main talker is leaving the group. Next week is his last week. Last night, I was reminded just how important he is to the group. I'm starting to wonder if I want to keep on with the group, because the other members barely ever talk. We might be in for some really quiet meetings, especially if I start talking less than I have been.

I will have to miss our session in two weeks, so both of the main talkers won't be there. I wonder what that session will be like.

Either we will move into some new, better phase, or we will regress into total silence. I look forward to seeing which it is.

My wishes for Jessica and Caleb


My dear cousin's eldest daughter is getting married Saturday. I had plans to attend the wedding, but as gas prices have risen, our plans for travel this summer have changed. Plus, I didn't really think it would work well for me to drive myself and any number of my kids 900 miles to the wedding.

Jessica is their eldest, 23 I think. She has two younger sisters and a younger brother. All the kids are just wonderful, as are their parents. I haven't gotten to meet Caleb yet, but I have no doubt he is a great guy.

As I think of them getting married, I would like to tell them:

Dear Jessica and Caleb,
My thoughts and prayers are with you as you get married today. May you have a wonderful, special and memorable wedding day. I hope you love being married as much as we do. After 23 years, I think the things that make the biggest difference are these: not saying unkind things when angry; working through disagreements before going to sleep if at ALL possible; remembering every single day that your spouse is a great blessing to you; touching each other regularly; learning what it means to be unselfish; studying and practicing I Corinthians 13 about bearing all things, believing all things, enduring all things, hoping all things. Laughing a lot together. Reciting lines from favorite movies that you enjoy. Reading to each other. Always being open to learning new things, about each other, and about yourself. Allowing the Light of Jesus Christ to come into any dark places and light them up. Knowing that everyone brings baggage into a marriage and committing to doing what it takes to get rid of the baggage. Reading good books on marriage (As For Me and My House by Walter Wangerin, Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle, and my most recent discovery -- The New Rules of Marriage by Terry Real). Buy and listen to Steven Curtis Chapman's CD All About Love. At least read the lyrics, even if it's not your type of music. I think he has done a great job capturing what it means to love and so many of the things we face as work on our marriages. Keep your marriage first when you have children. Always treat your spouse with respect. We love you!

Alphabet Siouxsie



Well, we're all the way to S. I thought about this one a long time when I did the last post and couldn't think of anything. Let's hope my creativity quotient is higher today.

S is for Stinker. Probably part of my good-girlydom, I've always been afraid of having bad breath or b.o., or worse. So, I used to chew gum ALL the time. For years, I chewed gum. I'm not much of a gummer anymore, but I do always have a box of Altoids along. Perhaps because I've always had a sensitive nose, I'm just not into stinking myself, or having any unpleasant smells around me, like a sour towel or washcloth. Now, I'm not so strict with other people being stinky. Kepler has natural ways of becoming a stinker. So, don't worry -- I'm not painting you with the same anti-stink brush I'm painting myself.

T is for Teetotalist, or Teetotaler, if you prefer. I'm trying to think. I think I had my first alcohol sometime around the age of 21, of course, since I wouldn't break that rule! And I think it was probably about 4 ounces of wine. I'm not telling this so that you will be impressed at my "virtue." Rather, I just laugh at myself because I've always been so careful to follow the rules. Like right now, I actually don't drink any alcohol because I take a medication that shouldn't be taken with alcohol. I really don't get the appeal of getting drunk, and I'm not planning to see if I can figure it out. I'll leave that to others. But, unlike the teaching I received at my very fundy church as a kid, "We don't drink and we don't chew, and we don't go with boys who do." I think alcohol can be a part of my life. And anyway, I do go with a boy who drinks.

U is for ulotrichous (thought you'd enjoy learning a new word, as I did) -- No, I don't have woolly or crisp hair.

V is for (ok, I'm running out of steam here) violinist. I did take lessons in 7th grade for four weeks, but I stopped after that. I do play the flute and the piano, and I did have a dream early on that I could have my kids learn stringed instruments and turn into the Taylor String Quartet. Alas. I crashed and burned while trying to simultaneously teach the kids Suzuki piano, take them to Suzuki string lessons, and do all the practicing and listening required in Suzuki music instruction.

I'll save W,X,Y, and Z for next time.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Woman Finds Missing Item!

Here is the credenza our tv sits on. It has two doors and a panel in the middle. As so often happens, I found the sure steps when I was getting out a toy for Kepler, or doing something else noble and right. I never find missing items when I'm chowing on Lime Tostitos, or when I am taking a nap. Not that naps aren't noble or right, but they're not the same KIND of noble and right! There was only one toy in the credenza and I was actually playing WITH Kepler, so I decided to get this pegboard out. When I crawled into the credenza (practically), there they were!

As you can see, Kepler does love these things.

As you may also have discerned, Ansel Adams did not take these photos.

Just call me Our Lady of Perpetual Findings.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Photos for your Edification



Thought you might like to see me and my bff, Stephanie, of the blog No Cleaning Here

This photo was taken, oh, a few years ago at the camp where we met and worked together. The camp was instrumental in both of us marrying our particular guys. She met hers AT the camp. I met mine right after completing an 18-day wilderness trip.

If you haven't checked out Stephanie's blog, you're in for a treat. She has a great sense of humor and is a great friend.



And this photo? Well, this is my sister and me, studly basketball players, posing in totally natural poses for our photo. To give you an idea of how very good we were -- we lost one game 81-10. Actually, that was the year before this photo. Photo year, we even won some games, and I at a towering 5' 2", was the actual MVP of the season. Just thought you might want to know a little more about me, you know, beyond the alphabet posts and all.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Senior Info - Yearbook - Dilemma

So, the seniors have, to one degree or another, completed this questionnaire about some of their favorites. All of them except for one are what you would expect from young Christian men and women. The last one, though, may have filled this one when he was in a snit about school. One of his favorite memories was making a particular teacher angry. I know, because I know the teacher, that his unwillingness to cooperate just about did her in. She cares deeply for the students and didn't know what to do with a student who obviously did not want to do the work. Also, he lists his favorite books and sayings and quite a few have a theme of rebellion. Perhaps he is just messing around, but I'm not so sure that's it. So, now I'm wondering -- do I censor what he has written? I'm putting in the other students' questionnaires in their entirety. But even if he would like to be immortalized (I can't imagine there will be more than 20 copies!) this way, is it fair to everyone else to put this info in? My inclination is to leave out the items that I think will be hurtful to others. And, yes, I would have to make some judgment calls here if I decide to leave something out.

Here are his actual answers:

Likes: music, cars, revolution
Dislikes: school, liberals, country music, snobs
Advice: Stand up for yourself
Favorite sayings: “Take what you can, give nothing back” “Revolution gains freedom”
Favorite teachers: Mr. Z, Miss M, Mr. G
Friends: My bro, S, T, E G, B, J
Favorite songs: [removed after I read the lyrics!]
Favorite Foods: protein shakes, malts, seafood
Favorite Time at the homeschool program: Making Mrs. H mad
Things I want to remember about this year: nothing about school
Favorite color: Turquoise
Favorite restaurant: Maggianos
Favorite books: Communist Manifesto, Frankenstein
Favorite activities: working on cars, golfing, playing music with my friends, conspiring against the Brethen!

Stewing here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Incredible Hulk movie is pretty Incredible



Tonight's date was to the movies to see The Incredible Hulk. When I heard Edward Norton was in the movie, I knew I wanted to see it. So, Greg and I went to the movies. Two dates in the space of one month! This is a good thing.

And this is a good movie. I don't know if "Love Conquers All" is one of the subtitles or not, but it is definitely one of the themes. The music was great and the actors did a great job. Looks like there will be a sequel, judging from the end of the movie.

I don't want Greg to take our kids to see it in the theater, though. The sheer immensity of the sounds and sights seem like they are more than a teenager or pre-teen should really be exposed to. I don't mind if they see the movie with us at home, but I don't want them to see it in the theater. Plus, there is one scene I would like to fast-forward through for them, and you can't do that in the theater.

It was super fun to see The Courtship of Eddie's Father showing on a TV at the beginning of the movie, and to see Lou Ferrigno in a small role as a security guard.

Our only question lingering after the movie -- at one point Dr. Banner was called Bruce, and at another point, he received mail addressed to David B. I remember that his name in the original show was David Banner, so this is a mystery.

And, by the way, I do love to watch Edward Norton act. He is SO good. I have seen him in Fight Club, Death to Smoochy, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil, Anerican History X, and Keeping the Faith. I think I need to see Keeping the Faith again, because that was before I became such a big fan. The movies I would recommend include The Illusionist, The Painted Veil, and of course, The Incredible Hulk.

Until next time,
Siouxsie

I'm on the Yearbook Committee.

Oh, wait. I AM the yearbook committee. See, last summer, I had this great idea that we should do a yearbook for the homeschool group we are a part of. My daughter and I were going to head it up and make it happen. Never mind that I already had a full, yea verily, overflowing plate. It was a new idea and I am always quite enthusiastic about new ideas! Yes! I can do it! It will fit in! Somehow!

So, we started sending out emails to students saying things like, "Join the yearbook committee! Students needed to do photography, layout, [and other really cool things]." Soon we had a LIST of people! People who said Yes! I can do it! I am interested! Week after week went by and we didn't get ANYwhere. Mostly, I suppose, I don't really know how to let it be up to the students.

Later in the year, when we hadn't gotten beyond sporadic emails, I finally admitted I couldn't make it happen. I gave the whole kit and caboodle to another student who really wanted to have a yearbook for her senior year. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to make it happen either.

Did I just say ok well we won't have a yearbook, just like every other year, and that will be ok. ?? Did I? No, I did not. I said, ok I can do it. But there weren't exclamation marks anymore, just lower case letter and very slow typing. yes. i can do it. i think.

So, today I am going to make this yearbook. {grits teeth} I am going to get this thing done. {grinds teeth and grimaces}.

My FINE husband yesterday reminded me that this is a good thing I am doing and that the kids will have this yearbook for years. So, I really did change my attitude. All the gritting and grimacing is just for effect for my readers. Oh, how I long for Microsoft Publisher, no doubt a totally outdated program, but boy could I use it. Right now I am trying to use Adobe CS InDesign. It doesn't work the way my brain works. So, I'm going to give it one more chance to shape up. If it doesn't come around, me and MS Word are going to finish the job.

Oh, by the way. Will you sign my yearbook? Or at least my yearbook post?

More Alphabet Sioupsie



R is for Right-handed. Yes, that's right. I am a leftie, a southpaw. And look at the other synonyms the thesaurus mentions: awkward, clumsy, dubious, gauche, insincere, maladroit, sinistral. I'm pretty sure I'm not any of those things, at least the ones I know the definition of! So, in case you don't know, it's a right-handed world. But, for the most part I think I have adapted ok. And so far, my kids are all right-handed. We'll see about Kepler. I think the most brilliant idea I ever had as a left-handed person was to learn to write with both hands back in second grade. Alas. The teacher knew in her infinite teacher wisdom that this would be a very very bad idea, so she wouldn't let me. And since I was a good girl (see earlier post), I didn't even try to do it at home on my own time. But I showed her, didn't I. I can read upside down and backwards and she can't stop me!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Broken People - Part II



I started with this therapy group at its inception at the beginning of last August. Five of us, plus two psychotherapists met together for several months before we ultimately ended up with eight patients and two therapists. My group has been a great place for me and has been a great experience.

This past Wednesday, though, I left feeling quite sad. One of our members has reached a point where he feels like he is ready to leave the group. Others in the group were being all, like, "That's great you're ready to leave and you're taking care of yourself." "Hey, if you can do it, maybe I can, too."

But I was feeling sad about him leaving. His contributions to the group have been huge. He has a wonderful way of distilling down what you've said into the basic issues and I have found his questions and comments to be very helpful to me over the months. As well as the impact he has had on me personally, I know that he and I are the ones who do the most talking in group, and I believe I may have started feeling that I CAN'T leave the group yet, regardless of whether or not I have reached my original goals.

Our other members are still in varying degrees of deep brokenness -- the kind where they feel inadequate, unworthy, and unlovable. I feel like I have made huge progress i this group. You know what? I bet the others feel like they have as well. I guess what I am dealing with is feeling some responsibility to my group members, to stay and offer what I can. But what if it is time for me to move on? The very fact that it is so hard for me to make this decision makes me think I probably still have some work to do!



The truth is that sometimes I feel like a junior facilitator in our group. I see the facilitators affirming what I am saying, and building on what I have said. But the truth is that our facilitators are very good at what they do, and I don't think they really need me to make the group work. Such a challenge to find that balance between embracing the truth of making a valuable contribution, and realizing that I'm a work in progress just like everyone else in the group.

I love the people in my group. We have no contact outside the group, in order to make the group environment as safe as possible, so I don't think I will see any of these people after they or I leave the group.

For now, I know I still have issues that I can work on in group. So, for the time being, I will keep making my way to the office on Wednesday at 5:30.

Broken People



Sunday morning, we had a great sermon on the concept of Brokenness. I believe the pastor was using the word in the context of realizing that we humans are broken by sin and that Christ is our healer. His text was the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, one of whom was quite self-sufficient, and the other who realized his great need for a Savior.

In the bulletin was a handout and "Proud people" and "Broken people." There were two contrasting sentences in each paragraph. Here is an example:

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

The first few that caught my eye didn't give me any problem, but as I read more closely, I found several that I just couldn't accept.

As I have come to believe deeply that low self-esteem is actually a result of pride (hubris), I can see that I have been quite prideful in my life. I know that I am more broken now, but only in the sense that I realize that I am not the Savior of my life. I am not broken if you think of brokenness as there being something inherently flawed in me.

There were 30 pairs of sentences, and I have re-written 7 of them. Read on and let me know what you think:

original: Proud people focus on the failures of others.
original: Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.
rewrite: Broken people never lose sight of their spiritual need and they realize that only Jesus Christ can fill that need.

original: Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
original: Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.
rewrite: Broken people recognize that every human on earth is a precious child of God and they treat others with the deepest respect and love, as they would like to be treated.

original: Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
original: Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.
rewrite: Broken people see themselves in light of the holiness of God and see themselves as humble recipients of his righteousness and mercy.

original: Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
original: Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.
rewrite: Broken people are filled with a deep gratitude for the gifts that God has given them and they share those gifts with others -- they have freely received and the freely give.

I have spent days, weeks, months, years, and decades thinking about myself. But finding healing doesn't mean I'm never going to think of myself ever again. And I am concerned that churches inadvertently encourage Christians to focus on themselves in the name of not thinking of themselves. You can't just stop thinking about yourself. Indeed, while there are no doubt people who, for a time, forget about their own needs almost altogether, forgetting to eat, etc., by taking care of ourselves (in good, healthy ways, not selfish ways) we are more available to other people. As friends. As wife or husband. As mother, father, sister, daughter.

Have you met people as I have who refuse to accept a compliment? What about people who have a really hard time receiving something without quickly finding something they can give back? Or people who confuse being humble with feeling bad about themselves?

What would be different if all Christians in every church had at the forefront of their hearts and minds this thought -- "I am a cherished child of the King. He has blessed me with gifts and talents and my own special me-ness. Let me share these gifts with others!"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Interesting Insurance Info


So, I thought this is the way insurance worked: You pay your premium, along with a big bunch of people. From that money, the insurance company pays out the benefits. I figured one month they might come out ahead, another they might not. At any rate, I thought that is how it worked.

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE when I found out today that Greg's company is a "self-pay" company. That means they pay admin fees only to the insurance company, and then when I incur an expense, Greg's company actually pays that expense. OK? See where I was going wrong? I thought Anthem paid it out of the money they got in premiums. But, no. The company itself pays for all of those expenses.

Somehow that made a big difference to me. Since I thought it was Anthem making the decisions on whether or not to pay, I was tapping into that societal consciousness that sees insurance companies as the bad guy. Not that there aren't some problems with health insurance in our country, but I finally got some clarification today on why and how "normal and customary" payments are determined.

And since I think Greg works for a REALLY great company, I am even more willing to incur the additional expense I am having to incur. We have great insurance coverage and I appreciate the company's decision to take such good care of their employees.

Just thought you should know.

Things I Wondered at Boomerang Bay Today

I wonder why people, large and small, choose to wear such teeny-tiny swimsuits. (Not a good idea to google this to get a picture. Oops.) Surely they have heard of the damage that sun can do to their skin. And I think some of those ladies need to look in a mirror from behind before they leave home. Just seems weird to me that our societal standards seem to accept going around nearly naked.

I wonder why people pierce themselves. I've never asked anyone why they had pierced their lip, tongue, eyebrow, etc, but I just wonder what is the appeal of piercings.

I wonder why people tattoo words like "hate" across their stomach.

But mostly, I wondered why people ride the "lazy river" ride and then speed through it as fast as they can. Greg and I took Kepler on that ride and we truly lazed around the route. MANY people passed us. Made me laugh.

Welcome to any and all Readers of my Blog

I have been blogging for three months now and I find that comments just really make my day! So, feel free to make a comment about any of my posts -- as much as this blog is for me, I also enjoy the process of connecting with other people, especially people I haven't met yet! So, welcome and enjoy . . .

Lost and Found



Missing cell phone status: FOUND. Even though we had looked down in and under the couches, yesterday I stuck my hand down in the cushions and pulled out a cell phone! Kind of like Tom Thumb -- Oh, what I good girl am I! (Told you I'm still a good girl!)



Missing library book status: STILL LOST. But I was able to renew it, and I also found out that losing it will only cost us $3.91 so I'm not sooo worried anymore.



Missing Sure Steps: STILL MYSTERIOUSLY LOST. So strange. I still believe I am going to find them because I still have hundreds of nooks and crannies to check.

What all three of these items have in common is that I am going to keep them a little closer to ME and a little farther away from the KIDS as I find them. I know Kepler loves dangling his little Sure Steps, but he can dangle these once he has new ones to wear on his feet. And I think I will just hold onto Joel's phone for the time being.

Making progress!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Long Overdue Alphabet Post


Hey, how come nobody mentioned I had forgotten to continue on with this series??


N is for Nasty. You'd probably never find me on Santa's naughty list. When I was a youngster, I was a really good girl. I was really afraid to do something wrong. I hated the thought that I might let my parents or my teachers down. And then there was the issue of wondering if God might be up there ready to send a lightning bolt if I messed up. I suffered great guilt and confusion during the sixth grade spelling bee - it was down to me and Tina Hansel as the two last spellers. Tina got the word, "socket." Tina had a little twang in her speech and when she spelled it, I clearly heard s-o-c-k-e-t but her "e" sounded a little like an "a." The emcee said she had spelled it wrong. I stood there, stunned. She had certainly spelled it right. I paused to think about what to do. I spelled it "s-o-c-k-e-t" apparently without the little twang, because I spelled it correctly. And I went on to spell the winning word. But the victory was bittersweet. I was so hard on myself for not standing up during that spelling bee and insisting that Tina had spelled the word correctly. Now I am grown up and I'm still a pretty good girl, when it comes right down to it, but my motivation is different. I just like being kind and friendly to people. It makes me feel really good. And I think Proverbs is right when it says, "He who refreshes other people will himself be refreshed." Sure is true for me.

O is for Optically Gifted. At the young age of seven, I was clear that I wanted to wear glasses (oy vey, I say now). I read under the covers to try to speed along the process. And, sure enough, I was able to get glasses when I was seven. That means I have had to use something to help me see for almost 40 years now! I got contact lenses when I was 13 (oy vey). Back then, they didn't have contacts that you could wear for five minutes and throw away with nary another thought. No, it was that whole clean them, boil them, neutralize them, don't wear them too long. A list of rules as long as your arm. When I finally got around to looking into laser surgery to correct my vision, something I had dreamed of for so long, I was told that my distant vision would be corrected but I would lose my close up vision and that things would be blurry up close without glasses. At that point (and even now) I could see close-up very clearly without any corrective lenses, and I couldn't imagine losing the ability to see the faces of my husband and children clearly in those lovely intimate moments when we are face to face. So, I said no to the surgery. Contacts act like suction cups on my eyes in minutes anymore, so I pretty much stick to glasses.

P is for Psychologist. At some point, I must have been planning to become one, though, because I majored in Psychology in college. I was too far into it to change when I realized that the field was (is?) very research-oriented. I just wanted to help people. I didn't go on for my master's although I flirted with the idea. I love the idea of helping people and I find ways to do that, even though I am not able to do anything clinically. I have been extremely blessed in my life to learn many principles that have made a difference in my life. I have also been extremely blessed to find healing and experience God's grace in many areas. I still have some wounds that I am aware of, and probably some that I'm not aware of, and I still love the idea of being a group therapy leader, or somehow helping people work through the pain and difficulties that are still affecting them as adults.

Q is for Queenslander. Although I lived in Queensland for 16 months, I can't claim it as home. I surely loved Australia and my friends and experiences there. One of the defining experiences of my life was living in Australia with Greg. I would definitely live there again. My favorite place in all the world, Eli Creek, is off the coast of Queensland. I experienced a lifestyle in Aus that just really suited me perfectly. I found Adrian Plass in Aus. Greg and I made some incredible memories there. Basically, I got to live out a dream I had had since I was a child.

More to come . . .

Boomerang Bay Today - I'm a Hero



Today, I singlehandedly took 7 whole children to the waterpark, Boomerang Boy. Of course, five of them were my own, so that made things a little easier. But this was the very first time I have ever been there, and I was taking Kepler along, so I wondered it was going to work to have him there. It worked great!

Sorry I don't have any actual photos of the kids. It was more than I thought I could handle to take my camera, keep track of it, keep it from getting wet, take photos, let alone good ones.

We arrived just as the park opened. I anticipated a long line of people waiting to get in but I was pleasantly surprised to find a parking spot three spaces from the door, and a fairly low attendance when we arrived. We were even able to find chairs under the canopy by the baby pool.

I took Kepler on one of those lazy river rides where you float along on an innertube. Characteristically, I made sure not to go under any of the big splashy parts. He was way relaxed and on the second time around his little eyes closed, even as he clapped at the end of each song.

We ended up staying about 2 1/2 hours and it was just a perfect amount of time. With season passes, we can go up any time and not feel like we have to stay for 6 or 8 hours to get our money's worth.

We are looking forward to going back! It was so fun to see how much the kids enjoyed themselves and how much they enjoyed playing with Kepler. Such great kids. Several of the kids independently thanked me for taking them to the waterpark today.

See? I'm a hero.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Responding to a Comment Left on my Teen Challenge Post

A reader left a comment on my post about Teen Challenge, directing me to several links from a particular website run by someone who is very anti-Teen Challenge (and programs like it).

I think it is pretty much impossible to prove or disprove the comments of people who are against something. So much of the time, there is an agenda behind the comments. Perhaps that person had a personality conflict with a leader. Perhaps the person had a brother or cousin who did not succeed in Teen Challenge. Perhaps the person believes honestly that a program like Teen Challenge should be summarily destroyed because of the religious nature of the program. for some reason.

My experience at Teen Challenge that evening included talking with participants who were clearly in favor of the program, as well as a guy who had only been there a short time and felt that there were too many little picky rules.

I haven't struggled with drug addiction or alcohol addiction and I know my knowledge of such things is extremely limited.

Of the things I read on the anti-TC websites, I saw a LOT of anger. Again, sometimes anger is justified, but sometimes it comes from disappointment or hurt.

I want to be careful how I say this because I do not want to be misunderstood as condoning any type of abuse. Sometimes people need to hear honest and true things and those things might need to be said forcefully (not yelling, just firmly and clearly). After all, I would guess that ANYONE involved in drug abuse has issues with self-discipline, anger, authority, and self-esteem.

My intent was not to direct anyone to Teen Challenge, as much as to share my experience with being there and my deep belief that Jesus is my hope. So much has been written and said and even done in the name of Jesus that has been hurtful to other people, but that is because people are human. I know that Jesus does change hearts and lives. Once any one of us understands that we are a dearly loved child of God, we can begin to live a different life -- one that includes peace, hope, faith and love.

I am sad for anyone who tries Teen Challenge or any other program and comes away from it still broken and still addicted. And I was aware that night that the three guys who were graduating still had a pretty tough row to hoe and my prayers were with them as they left the security of the program location and learned to apply their knowledge in the real world.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Fine Art of Looking for Missing Things



There are three things missing in my house.

1. Joel's cell phone.
2. Kepler's Sure Steps (foot braces he wears in his shoes).
3. A library book checked out by Anna-Jessie and overdue and unable to be renewed.

One of my most pettest peeves is not being able to find something. When something is missing here at home, I have my radar on almost all the time as I move about the house and I look and look and look and look. Now, almost all the time I find it.

However.

1. Joel's cell phone has been missing for quite some time. He found it one Saturday, had it for an hour, and, sadly, lost it again. I've looked and looked but haven't been able to find it.

2. Kepler's Sure Steps, for which we were charged $1400 just over a year ago, were on his little feet last Thursday afternoon. Sadly, on Friday when it was time to put them on, they were nowhere to be seen.

3. Library book. Aargh. Not in sight.

The Fine Art of Looking for Missing Things mainly consists of leaving no stone (or shoe, or sock, or piece of furniture, or article of clothing) unturned. It also usually includes moving the furniture because I have found that is the best way to really find out what is underneath.

Over the past several days, I have conducted three archeological digs -- one in Eli's room, one in Joel's room, and one in the living room. Archeological digs consist of picking up every single thing in the room, throwing away the odd bits (or large bagsful) of trash, putting all the stuff that goes elsewhere, well, elsewhere, moving the furniture of course, and just generally putting things in order. And, a big goal of the digs is to make the floor clear, so that one could vacuum, or maybe walk.

These three rooms have been certified clear of the three missing objects. I do have two more rooms on this floor, but if the missing pieces are not there, then I have to descend (jaws music here) into the basement, that pit of packrattery, that den full of piles of everything.

Wish me luck. I will need a flashlight.

Gotta Get Bill's Mug Off of Here

I'm not liking visiting my blog and seeing that picture of "Bill" staring out at me. So, I'm putting another post up that will help move "Bill" on down the road.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bill and Al -- The Guys You Don't Want to Hire

So, we had this funky window in our living room until last September. Sorry, oh visual ones, I can't find a picture of it. Anyway, it was quite unique, with 9 nearly square panels (about 18" squares) and was nearly floor-to-ceiling. As much as I liked the openness of this window, we had only one wall in the living room that wasn't taken up by fireplace or window, so we decided to have the window replaced when we sided the house.

Enter "Bill" (his real name but not exactly his real photo - the eyes are pretty close though -- I found this through googling "hillbilly guy"). He is the window "specialist" for the siding company. Now, granted, this was an unusual job. But after he removed the old window, he began to frame in the lower section of the new wall. PROBLEM WAS, Bill didn't think he needed to leave any allowance for the drywall to be mounted later. Now, even I know that you have to have room for the drywall, but Bill was just sure that his boss had told him to do it this way. Now that I understand better about taking care of myself, what I would do if I could do it over is to say, "Bill, until we get visual contact and approval from either your boss or my dad (a builder), we shall not proceed." Because, well, Bill was wrong. As my dad said, he was a "dumb bunny." Dad and his cohort went to the trouble to fit small panels of drywall between these stupid studs, and nail them specially -- it was a lot of work.

Enter "Al" (also his real name; also not his real picture, but I have no doubt he enjoyed counting all that dough we gave him). Al is a fine plasterer with whom my dad has worked for many years. He does know how to plaster, but he is the messiest worked I have ever seen. He said he could plaster over the messed-up window job, which he did. Let me just say, Bill + Al = Mess. The drywall mud cracked and some of the tape is visible. Plus you can see the stupid studs if you even glance at the wall.







Enter "Siouxsie" (close to her real name). I figured OK, I'm Pioneer Woman, I can fix this. Now, nine months later, here's what I decided. I'm not fixing the drywall mud. I'm not covering up the barely visible tape. I'm not going to try to make it all smooth. I am going to live with it. So, I got out my paint and paintbrush today and painted over the whole mess. And I can't help but think that it's actually in better shape being a mess and being painted than it is being a mess and being a mess.

So, if "Bill" shows up at your door to install your new window, BEWARE. I COULD make all kinds of derogatory, albeit funny, comments about Bill and his intelligence, because he surely seemed like he maybe had done a few too many drugs in his younger days, but I think I will just leave it at this. You don't want Bill to do your work.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saying I'm Sorry

The "simple" act of saying I'm sorry can be difficult for many of us. I found something by a man named Paul Davis, on the internet, that I thought was quite well-said.

When you hurt someone
Make haste to render an apology.
Whether you're right or wrong
Do so, be well, and live long.

Embrace and endear people tenderly
Delight in others wholeheartedly
Refuse to act offensively
Be silent rather than speak abrasively

And when you've wounded others carelessly
Discover the power of an apology.

Taking Care of Oneself

Knowing that my fine group is going to be asking me on Wednesday how I have done with having some quiet time in the morning, I have gotten up three mornings in a row and done just that. One of the things I planned to do yesterday was to buy some math curriculum.
So, yesterday morning, I was getting ready to send $250 to someone I had never met in order to buy a math curriculum, and as I wrote the check, I got this little feeling inside that said I should think about this before I did it. So, in the name of taking care of myself, I emailed the lady and told her that I had some concerns about sending off $250 and just having to trust that she would send me the curriculum. Maybe you can't imagine how uncomfortable this might be -- what if she gets offended? What if she writes back a really testy email telling me off? What if it's the "wrong" thing to let her know of my concerns?

I got a quick email back from her, quite gracious and reassuring. The only change I made was to send a money order instead of a check. And I only did that because I knew it would simplify things on both ends -- she wouldn't have to wait for a check to clear, and I wouldn't have to wait for the material to be mailed.

For all my readers who are doing important things like closing high-dollar real-estate deals (is there anyone among my readers doing that?!?), this may seem like a really small thing, but for me, it was a huge step to feel an inclination to wait and check something out, and to DO it, even though it felt risky to me.

Yay, me! Try it! You'll like it!

Changed Hearts and Lives



Last evening, my family had the privilege of serving dinner at the monthly family dinner of the Teen Challenge organization near us. Teen Challenge is a residential facility for young men ages 18-35 who are in trouble because of drug and/or alcohol addiction. Three men received certificates of completion last night, and we heard their stories and their testimonies of what God has done in their lives through Teen Challenge.

Besides the testimonies, my favorite part probably was the drama, which was done by two guys to the song, Who I Am, by Casting Crowns. (I've added this song to my playlist as well. Click on it if you would like to hear it.) Here is part of the lyrics:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love, and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

My prayers are with Matt, Scott, and Nick as they move on from Teen Challenge and face life "in the real world," replete with temptations and the need for daily choices to remember who they are.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blogging about Insurance


You hear it all the time. So-and-so needs an operation and the insurance company decides not to pay for it. The insurance companies are painted pretty black and with a pretty broad brush. However, our experience with our insurance company has been just incredibly good. When Kepler was in the NICU, his hospital bill was $42,000 and insurance covered all but $200. We have excellent customer service, excellent benefits, and clear paperwork.

The only tricky part is when I decide to utilize a provider who is the dreaded "OUT-OF-NETWORK." Out-of-network claims always seem to take two or three tries, and I do get different answers from different customer service reps about these claims. But, still, overall our insurance company does a great job.

I've mentioned my fine therapy group I attend. The cost is $40 per session. Our insurance covers this service 70-30. That is, they pay 70% and I pay 30%. I went into this group planning to pay $12 per session, once I received my reimbursement.

Oh, how easy it is to adopt a sense of entitlement. For some reason, in 2007, the sessions' "allowed amount" was $40. Once January rolled around, apparently, the "allowed amount" became $25.89. So, finally in June, I am having time to get this figured out. My very helpful CSR told me today that it looks like the pricing changed at the first of the year. She assured me that the coverage is still 70-30, but the company decided to pay 70-30 of a lower amount. To confound matters and compound the problem, my provider used a different (wrong) code for my February charges, so they still went through as $40 amount allowed.

I started getting a little frustrated on the phone (28 minutes) because I can't get an answer as to WHY the allowed amount would change. If this procedure is worth $40 in 2007 surely it's not worth less in 2008. The only explanation she gave me is that the company is reining in out-of-network providers to more closely match in-network providers. This seems arbitrary to me, although I can understand that there have to be some limits. After all, you could go to an out-of-network provider who decided to charge 2x or 3x the going rate in your area, and then that probably would be a problem for the provider.

So, the bottom line is this. I am so thankful for our health insurance. And having 70% of $26 paid is better than having 0% paid, which is the case for a lot of people. So, I will adjust. I would just like to understand how such changes come about. Did the fact that I had several claims of this sort in 2007 put up a red flag? Are there people who work for insurance companies who do nothing but figure out how to pay less benefits? As it is, our health insurance costs already went up at the beginning of the year, so it's a double whammy to also have the benefits reduced.

I will adjust. But I don't like the fact that I have absolutely no input nor recourse about my health insurance costs and benefits and coverage. Ultimately, the fact is, we have better health insurance than the majority of people, so I need to remember that. But it was just a shock to find out that things had changed so drastically. My payment will go from $12 to $22, which will add up over a number of weeks ($500 for the year).

A supervisor is supposed to call me early next week to give me more information about how this process happens, so I hope to take some time to think about some clear, concise questions to ask if and when the super calls.

Upon further consideration, I have NOTHING to complain about.

Go Anthem!!

survey says . . .

blog readability test

Movie Reviews



Previously, my blog reading level was high school. So, with one short entry, I have raised the bar another whole educational level.

Thank you for reading.

Trying to Raise the Reading Level of My Blog

My articulate, computer-savvy male offspring evocatively expanded upon the particular computer-based thought-journal I continually rejuvenate and renew.

The singular reading level analysis bestows an educational level grade for the reading level of a blog. We have wondered cogently whether said analysis looks for sentence length, or perhaps the degree of difficulty for words contained herein.

Now that I have added a clearly superior and educationally outstanding post, we shall re-analyze.

I am compelled to admit some bemusement about the reading level analysis. I enjoy using imperfect grammar and spelling in a playful manner. Perhaps grammar and spelling play parts in the analysis.

Stay tuned for the exciting results.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Taking Care of Oneself



This is an idea that has gotten a lot of press in recent times. As we've "evolved" into higher consciousness beings, we have "realized" that what REALLY matters is taking care of No. 1.

In my weekly therapy group tonight, I brought this concept up because I don't think I'm all that good at "taking care of myself." Probably on the continuum, I am somewhere more in the middle, because I neither deprive myself of sleep in order to vacuum, nor indulge my whims at the expense of others. (And there you see how I see this whole thing).

One helpful idea that was shared. Making a choice to take care of someone else, when that someone else is CHILDREN, is different that making a choice to take care of another adult who is capable of taking care of him- or herself. Nevertheless, it is surely challenging to figure out a balance between doing what's best for the kiddos and doing what's best for myself. Would be nice if there wasn't a difference, but sometimes there is.

Take basketball, for instance. Basketball, a sport I am deeply committed to on behalf of my children, requires a great deal of time, energy, money, and did I say time. We decided earlier this year to take off from sports until basketball starts "next fall." Whoops, the new coach and new venue are so excited and exciting, respectively, that we've actually got the option of starting basketball NOW!

I love the sport. I love watching my kids. I know they love playing. Even Kepler is very enthusiastic about basketball. My only other kid who isn't playing has some really good buds who are also little sibs of players. This new home court is GREAT and we will all be able to get almost free memberships to this health facility as players and families of players. There's a pool, tennis courts, basketball court, personal trainers, classes, racquetball courts, a running/walking track, a great kids' care facility, and some SWEET locker rooms. But the new place is about a 25-minute drive from home. And, there will be plenty of driving to do with three kids on teams. So, I am faced with a decision here. Is it best for the kids and/or me to go ahead and get involved during the summer, thinking of the benefits for all of us? Or is it better to wait until fall and have more downtime in the summer.

There are pros and cons to every choice and every decision. I haven't made a decision about basketball yet, but I have decided that one thing that is extremely important in taking care of myself is to begin to set aside time every morning to have some quiet moments to THINK, to LISTEN, to PRAY, and to get clear direction about my day and the days of the kids. I made the commitment to my group tonight that I will take some time every morning this week and I asked them to ask me about it next week. Accountability!

I just have this really full plate, and it is so full of good stuff. I suppose my plate does have limitations, and I just have to figure out what I REALLY want on the plate.

I Make a Hecque of a Pizza


One of the positives about being low on funds is that you have to be a little more creative in the kitchen. When it comes to pizza, my favorite pizza is LaRosa's. I can order online (oh, bliss), we can run and pick it up in less than 10 minutes, and it is dern good. Oh, but it probably contains, at the very least, high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and a few other baddie cats, and, oh yeah, it takes a chunk out of the budget ($26-$38). My second choice when it comes to pizza is DiGiorno's frozen pizza. Pretty good, actually, but also contains the baddie cats. Third best is my own crust with jarred spaghetti sauce, and various toppings. Since I was trying hard to be frugal AND healthy tonight, I made a pizza that didn't have ANY baddie cats in it at all, and no prepared foods.

Organic whole wheat flour.
Yeast (with a little honey for an extra oomph)
A little oil, a little salt, a little more honey (grown locally)

The sauce consisted of some garlic, an onion, a can of tomato sauce, and some spices.

The topping was hand-grated low-moisture, part skim, mozzarella cheese.

It definitely took longer. It surely cost way less than our typical LaRosa's order. But the best part -- I knew there was absolutely nothing in this pizza that I had to feel guilty about (I don't get guilty about cheese).

The photo above is the ACTUAL pizza. (That's my thumb there!) I watched my carb hounds (aka my children) chewing and swallowing healthy, homemade pizza. Dinner's over and there's no guilt to be seen!

Now that's a nice ending to dinner.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Oh, Pshaw, Part II


Well, one must be on one's toes in these days of apostasy.

At my FINE bank, when one makes a deposit, one is entitled to $100 of that deposit right now, but the rest of it only becomes available when thine deposited checks clear their bank of origin.

One would think that one would know this since one has banked at this bank for nigh only nine years. But one is not in the habit of double-crossing oneself and overdrawing one's account, now is one?

My FINE bank tellers did confirm in fact this morning that had I been a sly enough banking customer to have deposited ONE check yesterday and ONE check today, I would have indeed had $100 available yesterday and $100 available today, which adds up to $200, which is twice as much as the $100 that is available to me today since I alertly deposited all of the checks together.

So, NOW I know. In the meantime, Kepler better not need too many diaper changes today! And I guess it's beet pancakes for lunch too!

Never a dull moment.

Everybody Ought to Know



My dearest author, Adrian Plass, is quite probably the funniest man on earth. While we lived in Australia in 1990, this book was published and I saw it there first. However, I was at first unimpressed as it reminded me of some book I had heard of by Adrian Mole, which I know nothing about, but was unimpressed anyway. That is, I was unimpressed until I cracked open the cover of the book.

The cast of characters (below) is just chock full of loveable humans. But Adrian himself is the piece de resistance. He does amazing things in his quest to be a good Christian, including (but not limited to) attempting to make a paper clip move on his desk, in response to the verse about being able to move a mountain if you have the faith of a mustard seed.

Greg and I read this book to each other even now, 18 years later. Adrian has a wonderful way of capturing the foibles and wonderfulness of us imperfect Christians. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, although someone who has been in the evangelical "culture" will certainly get a lot more of it.

Do yourself a favor. Read this book. You will love it. Guaranteed.

For more info on Adrian, visit his website

* Adrian Plass appears as himself as the main protagonist.
* Anne Plass, Adrian's wife.
* Gerald Plass, Adrian and Anne's son. His quirky and teasing sense of humour frequently offends the religious sensibilities of some of the more staid and conservative members of the church (notably Doreen Cook and Victoria Flushpool), and he has a minor obsession with anagrams, frequently announcing entertaining rearrangements of the letters in the names of various notable Christian personalities.
* Leonard Thynn, a close friend of the Plass family, whose eccentric personality and tendency to misunderstand social situations are a frequent source of both entertainment and frustration for the other members of the church. He struggles with alcoholism and lives at home with his elderly, deaf and similarly eccentric mother, Mrs Thynn.
* Everett Glander, Adrian's nemesis - a non-Christian who works at the next desk to him at work. He is constantly telling dirty jokes, about which Adrian admits to feeling guilty about the fact that he finds them funny.
* Victoria Flushpool, a rigid, doctrinaire and intimidating woman who considers balsa wood models to be evil on the grounds that the number of letters in "balsa wood" is a factor of 666, the Number of the Beast. Towards the end of The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn, she is brought to repentance and becomes much friendlier and more approachable. She and her husband later go to Africa as missionaries.
* Stenneth Flushpool, Victoria Flushpool's long-suffering husband and closet balsa wood modelling enthusiast.
* Edwin Burlesford, the patient and wise pastor of the church.
* Elsie Burlesford, Edwin's teenage daughter, an obstinate, headstrong character who considers the mildest, most tentative constructive criticism imaginable to be akin to Romania under Nicolae Ceau┼čescu.
* Andromeda Veal, the rabidly feminist seven year old daughter of a Greenham Common woman.
* Richard Cook, a staunch and literally minded but enthusiastic church member, who frequently shares surreal "visions" and "pictures" with the rest of the group.
* Doreen Cook, Richard's equally staunch and rather more doctrinaire wife who insists that everything must be evangelically correct.
* Charles Cook, an enthusiastic Bible College student who manages to quote twelve Scripture verses for each word of "I hope you get better soon."
* Vernon Rawlings, a friend of Charles Cook with grandiose visions of himself in ministry and a habit of peppering his prayers with "really just".
* Frank Braddock, the Plass's laid-back, pipe-smoking next door neighbour.
* Percy Brain, the Plass's next door neighbour on the other side: a lonely, retired thespian who views himself as another Laurence Olivier.

(Cast of characters retrieved from Wikipedia.)

State of the Union

Well, pshaw.

Greg took the [one phone charger we can find] off on his business trip (at my suggestion and with my blessing) and my phone is doing that desperate gulping thing it does as it slowly fades into oblivion.

We have cinched the belt really tight over the past week cause we sort of overspent and there was no room for foolishness since the mortgage was to be deducted yesterday. So we are down to a can of beets in the pantry, some really old leftovers in the fridge, and not a crumb in the snack cabinet. Imagine my SURPRISE!! when I discovered this morning in my daily online banking session that I had alertly and secretly arranged for the rest of Valerie's camp fee to be deducted yesterday! So all our hard work to avoid being overdrawn by the mortgage was all for naught. And to that, I utilize a swear word I learned from my father -- Fat!!

And this silly yearbook that I foolishly agreed to single-handedly create on a program I do not know how to use? Foolish, foolish. Why? Why did I agree to this? Just because there is one senior who wishes to have a yearbook. Good reason? I think not. But nevertheless I have alertly committed myself to the "little" project.

The good news is I know there is another phone charger if I can just unearth it; I have two checks to deposit and being overdrawn in the morning but not in the evening is just like not being overdrawn at all, so I will be waiting at the drive-through at 9:00 sharp; and somehow this yearbook will get done even if I have to use Microsoft Word. So, don't cry for me, Argentina! I still have the best deal around when it comes to an outstanding hubby, and fine children who are strong and brave. I just hope they don't mind beet pancakes for breakfast.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reading Good Books: Good for What Ails Ya

Just finished In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan yesterday. This is one of the best books I have read on the topic of food. He discusses "nutritionism" which is the "science" whereby scientists isolate individual substances in a food and then make pronouncements about them. They find out that beta-carotene is good, and suddenly you see label after label announcing that this product has beta-carotene in it! Much conventional or official wisdom which has been spread throughout the land has later been found to be incomplete in some way. Remember how margarine was supposed to be better than butter? And then, oops, we mean margarine that doesn't have trans fats in it? Imagine how many people over the years, myself included, slathered on trans-fatty margarine thinking we/they were doing something healthy! Oops!

I am not a conspiracy theorist. Occasionally, I have books recommended to me that clearly fall in the conspiracy camp. I react as strongly to those as I would to be a bee sting. I go for reasonable and rational information. In Defense of Food is both reasonable and rational, and for me, completely believable. I could identify strongly with his assertion that going to the grocery store has become a pretty tough outing for someone who is trying to eat "right." How many thousands of food items are there in the store? How many do we need to avoid if we are trying to eat healthy food? If you want to just avoid high-fructose corn syrup, that cuts out a HUGE number of foods.

His main thesis: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. He doesn't advocate a strictly vegetarian diet, or any extremes, actually. The second half of the book expands on his thesis, in terms of what he means by "food," (don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food -- can you imagine her saying, GO-GURT? What in the world is GO-GURT?), what is not too much (how many times do we stop eating because the show is over, or the bag is empty, rather than based on whether or not we are hungry), and what he means by mostly plants.

For more info, go here.

Budgeting: Good for What Ails Ya

Friday morning, Greg and I had a meeting with some financial planners. We found out about these guys because they specialize in helping families with a special needs family member. I was so inspired after this meeting because these guys were just so personable.

One thing I was inspired to do was print out our check register from June 1 last year to May 31 this year and start looking at the actual numbers. Budgeting has eluded me, year after year, as I have started out with good intentions, but never been able to make all the numbers add up to satisfactory numbers. So, I'm nearing the point where I will be able to put a budget on paper that I believe will work.

The other thing I was inspired to do was to ask these two guys how one gets started in the business they are in. I would love to work with people in financial planning, and although I am a bit tied up at the moment, I can see this as being something I would like to work into in the future.

I highly recommend these guys to anyone, special needs or not. They clearly know what they are doing and I came away from the meeting with a REALLY good feeling about what we were doing.

Church: Good For What Ails Ya

So we've been going to this new church for about five weeks, or maybe six. Imagine my pleasure this morning as I walked through the church and heard someone call my name to greet me, and a little farther down the hall, I ran into someone I have known for about 8 years who said, "Are you attending this church?", hugged me, and said, "I'm glad you're going here. I like you."

Instead of attending the main service this morning, I went with Eli to the junior high meeting. Although I missed being in the main service, I loved getting to know the youth pastor a little better. I loved it that he encouraged the kids to bring their Bibles to church as they would need them. I loved it that he taught on the book of Jonah and I learned some things! And I loved that Eli did not want to go in but had to since I forced him, and ended up having a positive experience.

I loved running into "Karen," an acquaintance I've known for several years, who offered to show me where the junior high kids meet, made sure my son met her son, and introduced both myself and Eli to the youth pastor.

I'm glad we are there.

Bowling: Good for What Ails Ya

Recently, I realized that it had been approximately 827 months since Greg and I had gone upon an actual date. We usually get a couple of hours on a weekly basis to run errands to Lowe's, etc., but that time is always spent in productive pursuits. Matthew Kelly talks about "Carefree Timelessness" in his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy. Carefree Timelessness is the kind of time we spend with someone when we are young and in love. Remember spending hours on the phone with someone? Or going to a park and lying on a blanket looking at the amazing cloud formations? Well, I don't much like talking on the phone anymore and lying on the ground sounds painful, but I do think our little bowling trip qualified as Carefree Timelessness. We spent big and paid for two games at the beginning ($21 including shoes). I realized after we had bowled a few frames that we weren't talking about our kids, or any chores that needed to be done, or what driving we needed to do the next day to take people places. We were just hanging out together having fun. You can see from the photos that we are outstanding bowlers -- look at our form -- and that Greg scored his highest ever score, whereas I did not. So, here's a plug for bowling. It's great fun.