Thursday, July 31, 2008

Link to other writings by Siouxsie

My oldest and dearest friend, Dolly Mama hosts three websites and has some very successful online businesses. As part of one of her websites, she has guest blog posters write about their experiences as mothers. My particular emphasis is as a mother of a special needs child. Here is a link to the posts I have written on her blog. The Down Syndrome Express Feel free to enjoy them and look around her store. She has some beautiful baby things available and I think she offers amazing customer service!

Have you seen Wall*E?



So I read the movie critic in my little local newspaper who said Wall*E got an A+. Not many movies get that kind of grade, so I thought it might be fun to take the whole fam to see it, including the little guy. It was showing at my very favorite theater, so off we went. First of all, the movie was fabulous, but in the words of Nick from the Big Chill, "You just have to let art . . . flow . . . over you." The movie was very visual. It got mixed reviews from our family members. I personally thought the theater was extremely hot temperature-wise, so could not concentrate. Plus, Kepler thought the theater was really not as fun as being home sitting on the family room floor throwing his blocks, so Greg missed the middle of the movie and I missed the end. Joel thought it was brilliant, but I sometimes suspect that he actually has a mac in his head where his brain is supposed to be. The other three kids, you know, those other kids, all thought it was fine, but not the best they had ever seen.

What made me laugh laugh laugh was the incongruity between the message of the movie which seemed to be that humans are trashing the planet, literally, and the fact that all five of my children were presented with the little trinket I have pictured here. Ironically, the "wristwatch," while it did fit on a wrist, in no way was able to keep time, and had to be thrown away as soon as I took the photo. A few of the "wristwatches" didn't even make it out of the theater. Just ironic that they would present us with our own little piece of trash to take with as we pondered the problems we have with overconsumption and mindless disposal on this planet.

My Playlist has Changed


In deference to one of my most faithful readers, I have adjusted my playlist so that it does not autostart when you access my blog. Anyone who would like to hear the music can scroll down and click on the "play" arrow on the playlist.

As always, striving to meet the needs of all my readers.

Fun New Toy I'm Thinking of Marketing

video

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Bed


So, last week, my beautiful daughter asked me to enter a contest to try to win Jonas Brothers concert tickets. Sadly, the deadline was 24 hours earlier than she thought, and I didn't have a chance to sing my song for the radio station. I'm not really a Jonas Brothers afficionado but knew she loved them so I was busily learning a song to sing for the contest. I didn't think much of it when we didn't get the tickets, until yesterday when I saw the article in the paper about the concert. The JB were supposed to open for Avril Lavigne and I suggested that Val might want to try to get lawn seats for the sold-out concert. Then, I had a brilliant mother brainstorm. Why not see if there were single tickets still available? Got online, found a good seat, texted her to see if she was ok with going by herself, found out she was and went to order the ticket. Gone! Oh No! I cannot tell this girl she had a ticket but we lost out because we did not order it in 2 minutes and 15 seconds as required. I kept on trying and after about six tries, another single ticket showed up. Snatched it up!

Although I had no expectation yesterday morning that I would be going to a concert yesterday evening, off we drove at 5:30, eager to reach the Will Call window to pick up her ticket. Coolness abounds. The lovely people at the venue had opened up another pavilion where parents could sit, for free. So even though I did not have a ticket, I had a very comfortable seat. And there were even two screens showing the concert, although all the sound came from behind us from the actual concert.

Those boys really know how to put on a great show. And they didn't open for Avril. She opened for them. They played for almost two hours and I was very impressed.

When we met up after the show, she was smiling from ear to ear. Couldn't thank me enough. Couldn't have been any better - her seat was great!

Had a moment of doubt when I chatted with some other moms. I was feeling pretty pleased about having gotten Valerie to the concert and then I was hearing about what these other moms had done to get their daughters back-stage passes, and I had this doomdart hit me, suggesting that I really hadn't done anything special. Quickly, I realized that I actually had done something so special that she will never forget the experience. We were able to text back and forth during the first two acts until her battery started to run down. I was amazed at how much we got to enjoy together even though we were in two separate places.

The evening was topped off with her purchase of a Jonas Brothers t-shirt. It was a great time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Yearbook -- It's a Wrap!


Yesterday, I finished the last page of the yearbook.

Today, I drove me, myself and my laptop to Kinko's to find out how much each yearbook will cost.

Tomorrow, I will begin taking orders.

Today, I will probably also revise the cover since I found out about making the mosaic online. I think that would make a much better cover than the boring one I have right now.

Tomorrow, I will stop revising the cover since I have already spent MANY hours on this volunteer project and I will begin some other important project like planning for the homeeschooling year coming up.

Tomorrow, I will post more on my blog because it is one of my favorite things.

I'm So Organized It's Scary


Remember this post about having such a hard time ordering the checks?

A little ha-ha postscript. The new checks arrived safe and sound a couple days after I ordered them. As I conscientiously parked them on my desk shelf, I noticed a box of checks there which had some deposit slips in it. I picked up the box, and lo and behold, guess what was tucked right under the deposit slips? RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

I've included this autostereogram for your viewing pleasure, to give you a sense for how close the checks were. Let your eyes go out of focus and you will see some mushrooms springing up from the picture of leaves. No mushrooms, actually. For some reason, the picture disappeared and I had to put in another. Try this one!

If only I had crossed my eyes when I was looking for those checks!

Road Rage Directed at lil ol ME?


Some guy drove up beside me today, did a little honk, and gave me the finger. For what? Hmmm. Not sure. The only thing I can imagine is that maybe I pulled out of the parking lot a little slower than he was wanting. People don't direct that particular gesture to me very often, and I took it really hard. I had to talk to myself for the next ten minutes to remember it was more about him and his need for speed and perhaps his level of anger, than it was about anything I did. If I pulled out slowly, I am sorry if he had to touch his brake pedal, but I personally think it would have been a little more instructive if he had honked and yelled "Don't pull out so slow" and then flipped me off, if he really had to get that out of his system.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Picking ze Blackberries


Finally, the blackberries are ripe and ready to pick. Unfortunately, there is only ONE place around here when you can pick blackberries, aside from thorny bushes along the sides of some of the hiking trails. The berries can never get big by the paths because people pick them the second they are ripe. Anyway, my mother picked me and my daughters up at 7 am this morning so we could get there nice and early.

I noticed that people seemed to be feeling rather competitive this morning. Although we got there early and started out in the front-ish of the group, many people who came later walked around the group and more toward the front in order to get to the bushes first.

This place only allows people to pick on Saturdays, so it's a great family outing, but there are a lot of people and only so many berries. The bushes were completely picked out in less than 45 minutes. We ended up with 4 1/2 pounds, which was a far cry from the huge quantities I was hoping to get.

My companions were wanting to push forward a bit so we could get to the bushes sooner, but I just didn't want to do that. Maybe we would have gotten the bigger berries, but I couldn't see getting all fashed up about picking blackberries. There will be several other Saturdays to pick, plus there is a place in northern Kentucky, which is quite a bit farther away, but they pick every day. I expect we will end up with enough.

Hoping you get to enjoy some blackberries this summer . . .

Lemming Love for my Pet


The concept:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:
1. What is your first name? Susan
2. What is your favorite food right now? Blackberries
3. What high school did you go to? public school/christian school (the names of my schools did not get any hits)
4. What is your favorite color? Cranberry
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Edward Norton -- what can I say
6. What is your favorite drink right now? cold water
7. What is your dream vacation? Queensland, Australia
8. What is your favorite dessert? Tiramisu
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Childlike
10. What do you love most in life? Being in nature with my family
11. What is one word that describes you? Beautiful
12. What is your flickr name? SunbonnetSioux

I got this idea from Stephanie at No Cleaning Here.

Let me know if you try it. It's fun to see what shows up with each search word.

1. Lake Susan, 2. Curly, 3. debaters: brains, not money!, 4. Secrets., 5. I LIKE MYSELF!, 6. Passion in the rain..., 7. ....Leave Only Footprints, 8. tiramisu, 9. Chasing the Bubbles, 10. Will do tricks for fish...:O), 11. wham:a different corner, 12. kissed by the sun

Friday, July 25, 2008

My daughter is bored


I think there is a reason they say youth is wasted on the young.

This summer has been such a wonderful, free time for me. I still have five kids, still have stuff to plan for homeschooling this year, still have the yearbook to finish, still have MY BLOG to write, but this summer has had such lovely times of learning, and relaxing, and loving, and I wish I could inject Val with the excitement I have for all the daily things I love to do.

I suppose it's just part of being 15. We have four more weeks before school starts again, so I'm enjoying the fact that we still have A THIRD of the summer left. I know she is counting the hours until she can get back into the swing of school. I think when she gets her learner's permit on Monday, her life will perk up considerably.

Until then, I'm enjoying this day and I hope you are too!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Promised Photos



Greg has been wanting a pond for YEARS. Back when we lived in northern Wisconsin, we used to love canoeing through the quiet channels of the lakes, and the water plants were always so peaceful and beautiful. We have many beautiful memories from those times.

Sunday, he came driving home with the back of the van filled with a pond liner and a BUNCH of rocks. He had been to our favorite water garden store and purchased a pond kit. I could tell he was pretty motivated, because when he got home after work on Monday, he dug the entire hole for the liner, went to Lowe's to buy sand, put the sand under the liner, and partially filled the liner with water. By this time, he was having to use the car headlights to see what he was doing, so he dragged himself inside and fell into bed. Tuesday, he finished filling the pond and got the pump placed and hooked up. And Wednesday, he stopped by the water garden on his way home from work and picked up the plants that came with the kit. By the time I got home Wednesday evening, he was sitting next to the pond, reading a book, and enjoying his little oasis. When I took the photos this morning, I noticed that the big rock in the second picture looks exactly like a heart. To me, that heart represents Greg's love for nature, for beauty, for me and the kids, and for God. So, when I go out the front door, not only do I smile at the beautiful pond, but when I come home, I am reminded of his loving heart. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Uneventful Day


Spent today doing the following:

Taking Kepler to the ophthamologist. 20 minutes instead of normal 2 hours. Nice change.
Taking Kepler to pick up his new Sure Steps (compression braces for his feet). Got to see a part of town I never visit and managed to inch my way back to the highway pretty successfully.
Finding out how much it will be to add Valerie to our car insurance when she gets her driver's license. Yowza!
Working on the yearbook. My brilliant brilliant son Joel gave me a tip that made the experience more like "fun" rather than "torture."
Going to my group. Well, that was eventful. Near the end of group, something came up for me, complete with tears and emotion, which really surprised me. I need to do some thinking about it.
Taking the boys to the park for a photo session for my mother, who wants a photo of all of her grandsons. (The granddaughters are next.)
Visiting my parents to see if there was anything I could do for them after a hard day of spending time with a doctor who was not able to help them much.
And coming home to see my honey sitting outside by our new pond. Picture will be forthcoming.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kaizen . . . or Not?!


So, first of all, I got way too hungry because I just HAD to go to Tarjhay TONIGHT to get Kepler a potty chair. I have no idea how to potty train this child, but I decided without a little chair, it for sure would not happen. When I got home, all my plans to have a baked potato with some cottage cheese just disappeared when I spied the ziploc bag of leftover pizza on the counter. Two pieces later, I was already being tempted by the chocolate chip cookies. I forgot to ask myself, "What is one small thing I can do to take care of my health this dinner?" and asked something more along the lines of "How the *&%$& am I going to manage not to eat that whole $#@$%@# bag of cookies?" I guess it was a form of kaizen because I ate one half of one cookie and actually stopped.

Then, in the basement, my favorite clutter pit, I felt that familiar overwhelmed feeling and remembered! "What is one small thing I could do to improve the condition of the basement?" The answer was to deal with the six boxes over there. After I successfully completed that major step, I had even more energy left so could ask the question again. I ended up working for about 45 minutes and came upstairs with less clutter and a calm spirit, plus some sneezes from the dust.

Highlights of the Game

My family and I spent the afternoon at the Great American Ballpark watching the Cincinnati Reds play baseball. Today was Disability Awareness Day, sponsored by Mass Mutual, and we were given tickets by our financial planners. In addition to the special day, our wonderful pediatrician was given an award by Exceptional Parenting magazine and we got to see him out on the field receiving the award. He is such a special doctor, taking awesome care of all the kids, but especially Kepler, because he has a son with Down syndrome and many patients with DS, so he is just a great doctor for us.

Although the Reds lost, we all had a great time, with the possible exception of the couple in front of us who endured not a few bumps as we went in and out the aisles for various and sundry things. Sorry guys. I did ask at one point if they have children, and they said yes. I figured if they didn't have children, all the jostling might have really been getting on their nerves, but all was well.

Here are a few photos from the trip. You'll see that I managed to get Greg's shoulder in one photo at least.




Saturday, July 19, 2008

This Cracked Me Up


Saw this on my daughter's Facebook page and it made me laugh.

One Small Change is Changing My Life


Somehow I came across this book title months ago and put it on reserve at the library. I picked it up this week and read right through this little book. Dr. Maurer takes the concept of "kaizen" (continuous improvement) which is an important part of the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing in general, and applies it to non-manufacturing settings.

I suppose we've all heard that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, but I have never been able to apply that idea when it comes to the daily issues I face. And most of the "big" issues I have tend to feel overwhelming to me.

Major learning points from this book:

**Our brains are designed to respond with fear when faced with change and the amygdala is the brain part that controls the fight-or-flight response.
**We typically respond to the need for change by using "innovation," which is the drastic process of change. I don't know about you, but when I need to start exercising after a period of sedentary inactivity, I do NOT start by walking 16 steps down the street and back (or whatever the doctor tells you about starting slowly). I do a TOUGH WOMAN'S workout and do a two-mile run/walk no matter how long it has been since I have exercised. I ignore the aching feet and muscles and pretend like my heartrate is just fine.
**The alternative to innovation is "kaizen," which means small continuous changes.

How this works in my life:

I usually have 500-600 (exaggeration maybe) huge things I must make decisions about -- anything from what to cook for dinner (very huge issue) to whether or not one of my kids should do a certain activity to how in the world to fit in a date night this week to wondering if I will ever get Kepler off the bedtime ice-water bottle he loves. ETC. My amygdala seems to be PARTICULARLY adept at the "flight" part of fight-or-flight so whenever I am faced with a decision, I almost immediately get overwhelmed and get the heck OUT of there.
(Isn't she cute?)

I learned TWO things that made this a really FINE week.

1. Tiptoe past fear by contemplating small changes that allow the amygdala to stay in its happy state of hibernation.
2. Ask small questions that also bypass the whole fight-or-flight nightmare.

Examples of #1.

I have six dining room chairs that need to be re-upholstered (backs and seats, separately), and really look pretty dirty and ratty. I believe the idea of reupholstering probably came to me about 1 year ago, and I got the fabric at about the same time. But the thought of all the work involved, and the unknowns of the process, and getting the chairs to my mom's for her pneumatic stapler, and buying the foam and the right amount of foam, and, well you get the picture. When I contemplate all that, a bag of Lime Chips and a nap usually get me calmed down.

This week I asked myself: What is one step I could take to getting my chairs reupholstered? Answer: Reupholster the back of one chair. Did I do it? Yes. Do I feel like I really accomplished something -- I sure do.

Another example was looking at cooking dinner but using the kaizen method. Usually, I experience a doomdart when I remember ain't nothin' going to be on the table unless I put it there, and then I realize that I need to go to the grocery, and remember I do not ever feel like I am on top of having a good inventory of food, and oh no, I haven't given the kids any vegetables for five days unless ketchup counts, and the reason I'm overweight is because I don't have a meal plan, and well you probably get the picture again. Again, a bag of Lime chips and a nap help, but I usually have to add in a handful of chocolate chips too.

This week I asked myself: What is one dinner that sounds good to me? Answer: chicken cordon bleu, rice, salad, sliced peaches and a nice loaf of bread. Did I cook this for dinner on Thursday? I did. Do I feel like I really accomplished something -- I sure do.

And there are many other examples from this week of how I applied and used this idea in my life.

I feel a lot less like this:































and a lot more like this:

Updating Everyone Especially Stephanie (My Pet)



Hello faithful legions of readers!

It has been five entire fun-filled days since I have last written. Although the yearbook is tapping its toe, and threatening to send me to the principal's office if I do not complete it, I have decided it is now time to bravely update the world on my doings from the week!

Many great highlights from the week. Kepler and I went to his new physical therapist and I really like her, and I think Kepler does, too. He thinks physical therapy is super-duper fun, and since we only go once a month, it's always new to him. The facility is updating their computer system (again) to the biggest, best, and newest program so we had a slight delay, but since none of our information has changed, we got through pretty quickly.

Tuesday, I went to my first personal training session with my very own trainer, Javier. I had had two free half-hour sessions with him a couple weeks ago and decided I just didn't like his style. But I've had enough trainers to know that they all have their strengths and weaknesses and own styles, and I decided to give the training relationship a chance. The main thing about personal training is that I LOVE it. And I already feel more fit and healthy and balanced.

Tuesday night I went to my special Food Group where I meet with other women who have eating disorders or food issues. What a sweet time that was. When I arrived at group, I was feeling very tired but when I left I was feeling beautiful and energized!

Wednesday I went to my regular therapy group, the first meeting I have attended since Mark left. You can read more about that change here..
I wondered what the group dynamics would be like, but overall I thought it was a great improvement, even though we will miss his input and presence.

Thursday, I became a temporary pet owner. We are pet-sitting Mason, a sweet, sweet dog belonging to friends of ours. Valerie was hired to take care of him but she was at camp this week, so the rest of us walked him (and stuff). I think everyone who knows me know that I would most certainly NOT call myself a dog person. I have had one dog in my life, and even though "Bernadine" was our family dog, I doubt that I ever even petted her, let alone walked her, or cared about her. (Fortunately for Bernadine, my two sisters loved her dearly, so she got lots of love and attention.) Anyway, surprisingly, I have really enjoyed having Mason here. He will be here for 2 1/2 weeks.

Friday, I had my other personal training session of the week. It was really probably a little more intense than I like, but it's always a process to figure out how to work with the trainer. Maybe I have hindsight disease, but I don't remember my first trainer ever having any trouble figuring out good weights, reps, exercises for me. Javier isn't having any trouble figuring anything out, but I want to make sure the exercise time is the most value it can be, and if I work out too hard that is no better than working out too easy.

I will post this and write another post on the major learning I did this week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finally Throwing it Away



Thought you'd enjoy seeing the old and new telephones in our house. The new ones work better. The old ones had a lot of static in them and my patient friends and family would have to suffer through me growling about my stupid phone and I'd have to go find the better phone.

While talking to my sister today, it occurred to me. Why am I keeping the old phones?

Why indeed.

I'm not.

Oh Good Grief



In my decluttering attempts, I got rid of a really big desk and took a bunch of stuff to the basement. It appears that I may have alertly taken my last two packs of checks down there and they are somewhere. I discovered today that I don't know where they are. This is bad.

Well, since I couldn't remember whether I even had any more checks, I couldn't remember the next number I was supposed to order. So, first I tried to order from the bank website, which is where I normally order. But I ran into snag after snag, mostly because I didn't know that number. Next, I tried VistaPrint (Home of the Free Stuff!). I slogged through the process of entering all the data, waiting forever for everything to load, etc., and finally got to the part where I was supposed to get my free checks. They rightly figured that once you have gone through the extremely lengthy process to order your free 25 checks, you might figure it would be worth it to go ahead and get 150 for only $9.99. OK, sure, go ahead. The next screen asks me if I want duplicate checks for another $1.50. OF COURSE I want duplicate checks. Then we have to choose the shipping method -- one of the choices was called VERY SLOW. Finally, I think we are about ready to check out.

BUT NO. Now I have the opportunity to go ahead and order business cards and notepads on this screen. And now a nice magnetized box for my post-its or some labels on this screen. After two or three MORE screens, I got the one that said I had earned a free magazine subscription, and I couldn't find anywhere that I could say I didn't want the magazine. How much time have I spent on this by now?

Finally, I said. FORGET IT!!!!

Got back on the bank website, called the bank to find out what is the stupid check number I need. Bank can't tell me but transferred me to the check company who can. But the check company has to make sure it is really me going through this ordeal, so I have to verify everything under the sun. Getting the mysterious number from the check company is what told me I have some checks around here somewhere.

Back to the check company website to place the order. Finally, finally, finally, it is in process.

People out there probably like Vista Print, but I found the interminable upselling to be maddening. And I was reminded, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

OH, oh, oh, oh

Our accommodations in Iowa were TOP-DRAWER,
to be sure. The four older kids slept up in the attic and had their own cool hideout all week. Greg and I and Kepler slept in an extra bedroom. Everyone was very comfortable.

But, oh my goodness, how nice it was to get back to my own bed. Mmmmm Good.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Generosity


I have spent time with two people in the last week who are extremely generous. The funny thing is, they are each in very different stations in life. One is a SAHM mom of six, and one is a working woman who is married with no children, except for two puppies. Each of them are noticeably generous, and I wonder what might need to change within me to be generous like they are. One area I noticed their generosity is with food.

When we ate breakfast yesterday morning at a buffet, my Joel ate a good five courses of food. At home, I only let him have one bowl of cereal, as opposed to two or three, and he is welcome to eat other food, but he usually sticks with one bowl of cereal. I was amazed at how much he ate. He IS a growing boy, but wow, I had no idea he could put so much away. And while we were at my generous friend's house last week, Joel commented that he loves the atmosphere at her house. It was in the context of her putting out a great spread for lunch and I could see how much he enjoyed having so many things to choose from.

So often, buying, preparing, keeping track of inventory, etc. of food is something I do rather grudgingly. When I buy 12 boxes of cereal per week, I guess I get a little worried that it is going to be gone too soon. And it really does bug me that it often happens that Greg will look in the fridge in the evening, or in the cabinet and let me know that we do not have any cereal left.

Anyway, I noticed a real contrast between these two women and my own behavior. Not to get too inwardly-focused, but I would really like to learn to be more generous -- not only with my family and myself, but with people who come into my life. I think being generous with myself and my family would be a good place to start, though.

Today in Des Moines


Today I experienced a few firsts; or at least, one. I got a pedicure. My brilliant sister-in-law, she of the Iowa Cubs idea, treated me, Valerie and Anna-Jessie to pedicures today. This is the first one the girls have had, which probably isn't surprising, but it may be surprising that I've never had one. And did you know that sometimes MEN give pedicures. A Vietnamese man gave my


toes a makeover and did a fine job. I've been looking at my pretty toenails all day long and wondering why I never did this before! Look at Valerie's pretty toenails! She had her pedicurist paint a music staff with notes on each big toe. So cool!

After lunch we went shopping at this older mall that almost everyone has abandoned, apparently, cause there was almost no one there. I don't know quite what has gotten into me, but I saw some extremely cool shoes and bought them on the spot. Valerie has informed me that she plans to steal them, which may mean I have bought something extra cool. Here they are:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Minor League Baseball -- Good for What Ails Ya


My brilliant sister-in-law Terry thought of taking us to see the Iowa Cubs play tonight. Not only did we go to the game, but Terry and Jeff know like everyone in Des Moines, and were able to get parking passes, and a pass to the Cub Club, a restaurant where you can eat and watch the game at the same time. Way fun.

The kids all ended up with souvenirs -- t-shirts, hats, mini bats, and even a real baseball for Kepler.

The evening was made slightly challenging by "Jim," an employee of the ballpark who was intent on doing his job well and made sure none of us got concussions by sitting on the railing, and that none of us were trying to pull a fast one on the Cubbies by trying to sit in seats without tickets. He was a friendly guy, but really wanted to make sure no one tried to pull the wool over his eyes.

The Cubs were kind enough to win, and it was just a great ending to a very nice day.

On the Road


Seeing as how I am a true STAY-AT-HOME kind of mom, traveling is a little stressful on mine own self. Even if the trip is fun and the stay is super duper, I always miss my bed, my kitchen, the feel of my carpet under my feet, my cluttery messes, etc.

And it is always kind of tricky to help Kepler assimilate to a new place, especially one where there are two puppies running around and trying to love him to death. He is not impressed, but is getting somewhat oriented towards the dogs.

So, I am writing from Des Moines, Iowa, where we are staying for another three days before making the big drive home on Friday.

I will try to write a few posts, but I can't promise they will be witty or wise. Maybe wistful. Maybe wandering.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I LOVE TO LIFT WEIGHTS


Although I am not a mouse, I think the body-shape is relatively accurate! I just returned from my second session with a personal trainer. And I am reminded that I absolutely love working out with weights. I always feel so strong and healthy when I finish. There are many benefits beyond just the initial high I feel, including stronger bones. My trainer's name is Javier. Personal training is expensive, I will grant you that, but I think it is a great choice for me, in light of my assignment and the fact that I really do need to take care of myself. Going to a PT takes care of me REAL GOOD.

I'll figure out one of those sidebar things that charts my progress for you and me. This is exciting!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Walking Humbly


One of my volunteer jobs is taking care of the group book orders for our homeschool group. This is actually a pretty huge job and I like doing it. But I volunteered this year before I really thought or prayed about it. Now that I am already doing it, I received the first order today and it included a challenge with it!

Last year, people sent me orders any old way -- post-it notes, in the memo section of the check, on scraps of paper, etc. I kept track of it all, but realized that this year I wanted to make it simpler.

I created a book order form and asked people to complete it, print it out and mail to me with payment.

The FIRST order I received was via email from someone who told me her printer was broken and wanted me to print it out for her. I know that is not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but I saw it as a time I needed to choose -- am I going to take on the responsibility that other people have to deal with their own computer issues and print the form? Or am I going to set a boundary?

I decided to put the responsibility back on her. I am so anxious! It is so much easier to just take the responsibility on myself. But why should I? If this person were needing to print something to get a passport, I doubt she would email the post office and say, hey go ahead and print this yourself. Or if she needed to mail a form to a doctor or dentist, would she send them a website and tell them to download it themselves?

I emailed her and explained that I created the book order form this year to avoid the extra work I did last year without it. And I told her I would only accept completed printed forms by mail or in my hand.

Since she is probably CrazyBusy like all of us, she might not take this well. But I know this is the right thing for me to do.

Eek. Believing it's the right thing, and living with the anxiety it produces.

I Think I Have the Assignment



While lunching with my good friend, Jean, yesterday, she commented on my dream post. Her sense was that God is asking me to redefine success. Her suggestion was that I begin to ask God if He wants me to do such-and-such and to listen more closely to Him about what to choose.

It JUST SO HAPPENS that I started reading this book called CrazyBusy and I had already begun to realize some ways to slow my pace down.

As I drove Kepler to the doctor yesterday afternoon, I decided to take that driving time to pray and think rather than listen to talk radio, or text (I know, I know). I asked God what the assignment is. A song came into my mind -- an old chorus I learned many years ago, based on Micah 6:8.

8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

I've been thinking I need a "mission statement" or something similar so that as I make decisions I can quickly ask myself "does this activity fulfill my three-point clear mission statement?" and if it doesn't I can confidently toss it aside and move onto the next thing.

CrazyBusy pointed out that this way of living modern life -- tossing things aside so we can get to the next one -- leads to the lack of doing the things we really want to do, and sometimes the things we really should do. God knows I have plenty of days where I do alot of stuff, but miss out on some of the things I really love, and some of the things that are really timely and important.

So, when Micah 6:8 came into my mind, I said, "Oh, God, you must be kidding. That is way too nebulous. I would have to actually sit down and think about what justice and mercy and humility would look like in my life." And I proceeded to put my thinking cap on again to see what God REALLY meant. But, something made me stop and say, OK. Maybe this IS the assignment.

I decided to consider this the assignment and allow my thinking to be overhauled, transformed, as it were. My "formidable intellect" as my friend Jean calls it, is the easiest thing for me to depend on when it comes to making decisions. But maybe said FI has gotten me into this mess. Being lightning-quick when it comes to making decisions is right handy when driving and needing to avoid something in the road, but can be downright inconvenient when my MO is to say yes to everything except the really hard stuff. Hard stuff like working with Kepler, helping another child learn to eat fewer carbs, helping another child learn to deal with strong emotions, another to deal with his love of being on the computer, another to deal with her tendency to see herself in an extremely favorable light and everyone else in an extremely unfavorable light. All those hard things aren't things I really want to face because they require persistence and patience and don't give any of those instant payoffs that the easy, urgent stuff gives.

So I'm off to listen some more and see how to fulfill the assignment today.