Saturday, December 26, 2009

We Had Ourselves a Merry LITTLE Christmas

Kepler was delighted with his festive noisemakers, just like I thought he would be!

This Christmas was a little different than some Christmases past. Our two main sources of Christmas money had either dried up completely or dried out significantly. Indeed, the only source still producing didn't show up until December 19. Until that point, I had no idea how we were going to do Christmas this year. Being that uncertain was very weird. It has been years since we've had any trouble buying Christmas gifts. Work bonuses have been given every year on the first Friday of December, just in time for a jolly Christmas, but the economy saw to it that the bonuses disappeared this year.

I tried to prepare the kids that things would be a little different this year, and I worried about it day and night. At best, Christmas is always a source of stress for me as I try to balance all the juggling balls called "materialism," "clutter," "buying for someone who has everything and can buy anything they don't already have," and, of course, the one I am best at, "GUILT."

I have one child whose love language must surely be receiving gifts, and he dearly loves the Christmas bonanza. So, for him, after we had opened all the gifts, I needed to snuggle with him on the love seat and help him process his disappointment. He was so sad, but he remembered all the things I had told him ahead of time about fewer gifts, but no less love, and about how to be grateful in the face of some disappointment. He felt better after we talked, and then he enjoyed his new Scrubs DVD while I went back to bed for awhile.

The second round of disappointment for him came when everyone else started posting their Christmas gifts on Facebook. Wow, iMacs, iphones, ipods, expensive cameras; some of his friends received even more than one from that list. I was very proud of him though as he acknowledged his disappointment but again remembered to focus on being thankful for what he has been given, and to acknowledge that the love of his family is pretty wonderful.

It made my day to hear this particular boy tell me that he thinks this is our best Christmas ever. I agreed, and I'm not sure why. But, even though it was small, it really was one of the best ever. I hope yours was, too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

GET. THIS.

Just to clarify, this post has nothing to do with the value and/or benefits of public school, or really anything about the pros and cons.

I met with a local high school guidance counselor this morning just to explore what it would take for Joel to take a class or classes at the high school during second semester. She gave me great information and I came home armed with everything I need to be able to make a decision.

I asked about homeschool classes, and what kind of documentation is required for the credits to transfer to a public high school. Here is her answer:

"The homeschool student must take and pass the public school final exam for the same course in order to show that they have mastered the material in the public school course."

Wowza. Presumably, and she confirmed this, not too many students are able to do this.

This means, in Joel's case, that for him to receive credit for Physics, Chemistry, Algebra 1, Geometry, Spanish 2 and 3, and American History, he would have to take SEVEN public school finals to receive credit for those classes. What student do you know that could do that, even if they did well in the class? Seems like the nature of the beast is that kids learn it and then forget it.

Hey, I get it that this is the public school's policy and I'm fine with that. Just felt a little bit like some Seattle fishmonger slapped me in the face with a halibut and then tweaked my nose with a lobster claw. Seems like it's easier to get into college after homeschooling than it is to get into high school! I found out this morning that once you get to high school, the chasm between homeschooling and public school has widened considerably. Interesting. Certainly makes a case for staying the current course.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Thinking about Christmas

I've heard quite a few sermons and messages about Christmas over the years. This morning at Crossroads, Brian talked about the value that each of us have based on what someone was willing to pay for us -- we are so valuable to God. Christmas is about him sending Jesus to us to demonstrate his care.

At the end of the service we sang O, Holy Night. Verse 3 follows.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

At the end of the service, Brian spoke of the light that came into the world. He took a candle and lit the candles of several others. Each person lit the candle of a person next to them. And it occurred to me. THAT'S the way the gospel of Christ is spread -- sharing the light with another person.

And when the light is received, we are ready to learn to love one another, and to share his gospel of peace. What a beautiful message. Greg and the kids and I were in the top balcony this morning so we had a high vantage point to see the light spreading through the auditorium. A little candle isn't flashy and doesn't give off a lot of light, but 300 candles make it quite possible to see in the dark. But each candle was necessary, even mine.

Merry Christmas.

'

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This Week in the Life of Siouxsie

Charlie Brown Christmas is playing in the background and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here. All we need is some snow. In the meantime, the kids put the Christmas tree up last night and there was only one bitter fight when three kids asked one kid for the Christmas lights that one kid had used to decorate his/her own space. Father Christmas came to the rescue once again, sending them off with a fistful of cash to buy new lights.

I am now the proud owner of a personal library database, thanks to my computer-generated, er, computer-savvy son, Joel. I've always dreamed of cataloguing and shelving my books similar to the way the library does it. And now I can. The books have been in the basement for several years and I am getting ready to bring them back upstairs so that we can be surrounded by their wonderfulness and pluck books off the shelf whenever we feel like it. This is also an opportunity to cull out any that have been taking up space that would be better used by other books or magazines. The library will open for business very soon.

I asked the kids to give me writing prompts this week. Joel's was: I hear music in my head. I wrote two pages. I want to write two pages of creative writing every day. During that piece, and several others, I have realized how much music means to me. As an outgrowth of that realization, I spent a few minutes at the library the other night just picking up cds that looked interesting, whether or not I had ever heard of the artist or heard their music. Music is just magical to me, and I am excited about the new artists I have found and am enjoying.

The tutoring session I had this week with my "Whiz Kid," a second-grade student I work with every Monday, was exceptionally rewarding. I had picked up the book, Click, Clack, Moo (highly recommended to every human regardless of age, gender, or religious beliefs), and put together several activities for her to do. For this little girl who usually doesn't like to read the assigned book, I saw a huge hunger in her to read. She read the book once, then asked to read it again, and then asked to read it to another student. We laughed and laughed at the antics of the cows and chickens and poor Farmer Brown.

I also enjoyed my meal of crow this week as I discovered that Joel's missing library book was carefully tucked into a box BY ME that I put into the BACK GARAGE.

And my last news item is that I resumed the practice of writing Morning Pages, a la Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist's Way. What a wonderful way to start each day!

Happy Saturday to you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Christmas Memory


When we moved here in 1999, I knew that several of my neighbors were parents of kids I had gone to school with here in town. We were not close friends, but there was a connection for me. I later found out that one of the residents of my street was actually in my class, although we had not been anything more than acquaintances. Imagining this connection between myself and my new neighbors, I attempted to reach out to them. One of the attempts happened at Christmas time.

Greg and I had been involved in several Christmas wrapping outreaches over the years. Once, while buying a gift for some sort of charity function, we had stopped in the mall and wrapped the gift on an empty table. Several shoppers stopped by our table and asked if we were wrapping gifts for others. We reluctantly said no as we only had one little roll of tape and a small bit of giftwrap. But I loved those gift-wrapping times. Serving others by making their gifts look nice was a lovely experience, especially for the men who sheepishly walked up to the table and put their gifts down in such a way that you knew those gifts had no prayer of getting wrapped unless someone did it for the generous, loving man standing in front of you.

So, in an attempt to meet my new neighbors and do something kind for them as well, I took around a flyer to every house on my street, letting them know I would be glad to wrap gifts for them. All they had to do was bring the gifts to my house and stand around and eat cookies and wait while I wrapped the gifts. Good idea maybe, but something in the execution of the plan went awry. No one rang the bell.

Perhaps if I had put myself in their shoes, I would have realized that this idea, generous as it may be, probably would make most people incredibly uncomfortable. Now that I have lived on this street ten years and have not even met everyone on the street, I realize that this is not a street full of people who are leaning over back fences chatting and having block parties. That has been fine with me, for the most part. I think that if I wanted to make connections with the people on my street, there are probably other ways that might work better. What this experience taught me (like a really long time after the fact) is that you really have to consider your target audience when you are offering something. I wanted to connect with the folks on my street, but with a few exceptions, it looks to me like the folks on my street are all set.

So, I wish them all a wonderful Christmas season. For anyone who doesn't do Christmas, then I wish them a wonderful Holiday season. And I'll go back to the drawing board on how to connect with these folks.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where, O Where Has Siouxsie Gone?

I'm off on a 50,000 word journey for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, to its afficianados -- oo, did I spell that right?). 12,150 words into the process of writing a novel in one month. I'm traveling along with old and new friends, some of whom have participated in NaNo before, so are able to provide good advice to the novices among us.

I started with a loose plot, and started that story, but had to write some of the back story before I could really get into the plot. I don't expect THESE 50,000 words to be anything other than material I can re-work at some point, or edit into a 2-page essay or something, but I remember Madeleine L'Engle said something about writing that stuck with me.

"A book comes and says, 'Write me.' My job is to try to serve it to the best of my ability, which is never good enough, but all I can do is listen to it, do what it tells me and collaborate."

My story has said, "Write me." So I'm listening, doing what it tells me, and enjoying every step of the process.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Happens When Your Daughter "Steals" Your Phone Charger

Ever read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?" Remember, every little thing the boy does for the mouse leads to some other task to do for the mouse?

Well, if your daughter steals your phone charger, and you are expecting an important call, you will have to find some other way to charge your phone. The only other way to charge your phone is in the car, so when you go to the car to charge your phone, you notice the leaves in the neighbor's yard are flying off the trees. When you notice the neighbor's leaves are flying off the trees, you decide to write a poem.

And here it is:

the leaves sparkle and spin in the breeze
preparing for their final launch;
excited, each leaf releases its hold on its security;
dropping gently, they carpet the ground in vivid color.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Contents of my Head**

Between thoughts and memories of recent U2 concert experiences, there are a few other ideas rolling around in my head.

Going to these concerts has taught me in a big way how marvelous it is to get refreshed. Hanging in there every single day is something that most of us do. Homeschooling multiple kids, having questions come at me from every direction, and remaining calm in the face of such overstimulation is something I seem to be able to do. But, my brain gets fatigued. And gravity seems so strong. Having an experience where I step out of my normal life and have joyful fun has gone onto my "must have" list. Maybe not U2 concerts every time, but something that allows me to move, sing, express my joy, meet people, and experience FUN is going to be necessary in the future.

My calling is to be the mom of these five kiddos, and to persevere whenever things get tough, and to love my family in word and action, while at the same time growing as an individual.

But I'm talking about more than coffee dates at Starbucks, and ladies' Bible studies. Indeed, as fine as those things are, neither of them meets the criteria I listed above. Who of us, as mothers who try to help our children have experiences that make THEIR hearts sing, takes the time and energy needed to find experiences that make OUR hearts sing. Do you?

Sure, being a mother is a sacrificial job, as is being a father, or any of a number of other roles. But does making sacrifices have to equal sacrificing oneself completely? I'm going to be a better mother if I have an intellectual life, a social life, and experiences that involve travel and love and joy and getting lost in the music.

Today I have spent time counting with Kepler (who contributed TWO to my ONE!!), listening to Spanish with Joel (and I took French), helping Anna-Jessie with difficult math, discussing Val's to-do list with her, and looking with pride at Eli's excellent science papers. Doesn't look like much written down like that, but since it all happens at the same time, I just about break my arm patting myself on the back as I usually smile through it all. I love my kids. I love being a stay-at-home mom. I just think I will love it more if I sing and dance a little more often.

I must give lots of credit to Greg, who sees the importance of me getting refreshed and is willing to do what it takes for that to happen. He travels most weeks at least 3 days, and I am glad to hold down the fort while he is away. I am thankful for his support of me, and his enthusiasm for the opportunities I have to grow. What a love.

**from Annie Lennox's song, Why

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It Was a Beautiful Day

Dateline: Raleigh, NC October 3, 2009
Correspondent: Bono Fan

Our goal: Meet Bono.
Our technique: Whatever it takes.

0100 hours. Stephanie finally arrives after her Duluth-Minneapolis flight is cancelled and she has to drive like a bat out of hell to catch her Minneapolis-Raleigh flight.
0200 hours. Stephanie and Susan finally go to sleep, exhausted on the one hand, and filled with anticipation on the other.
0900 hours. The fans wake up to a beautiful day. Will today be the day they finally meet Bono? The man himself? Could it actually happen?

Susan has gotten inside info from Cincy friend Deb about meeting the band outside the hotel, so this is where the Raleigh fans begin. First to the front desk. Asking if they know where the band would have stayed last night. After asking three people, get a small lead to the Downtown Marriott.

Bono Fan #1A and Bono Fan #1B drive to downtown Raleigh to suss out the Marriott. They approach the valet parking attendant and begin their interrogation. "Did U2 stay here last night? Could you tell us if they did? Would you give us a different answer if they did than if they didn't? Do you know where else they might have stayed?" The attendant stays cool for awhile, but finally cracks under the pressure. "I doubt they even stayed in Raleigh last night," he says frantically. "Most of the big bands don't. They fly in the day of the show and fly out after."

The Bono Fans eye him carefully, considering the veracity of his words. They walk around the corner and sit at a table to consider their next move. After a few inquiries and phone calls to local radio stations to see if they can obtain press passes since they both are bloggers, they have to move on without passes. OK. Next stop: Carter-Finley Stadium, site of the upcoming concert.

Having already grilled one parking attendant at the stadium, 1A and 1B discover that the band will probably enter the stadium through the underground tunnel. Next step: find a parking place that doesn't cost $20 and is open before 3 pm and find the tunnel. Ah, here we are on Peter Hermanos Junior Drive, on the approximate correct side of the stadium. And what's this? A little parking lot, with no "NO Parking This Means You" signs? 1A and 1B pull in as another car pulls out and informs them that this is where one parks for will-call tickets. Sounds good. They park. 1A assures 1B at least 50 times that it is ok to park here. With their goal in mind, The Fans stride purposefully forth to ask the attendant where the will-call office is. No one said they actually needed tickets, did they??

1A and 1B can feel they are getting closer to the right place. Their next interrogation is of a security guard who says this is Vegas for these two fans and that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

I forgot to tell him I have a blog.

The security guard can't tell us anything. Except that somehow we convince him that we are not crazy people and we can be trusted, so he gives us a really big hint about where the band is right now. I listen carefully because 1B is still distracted because she is worrying that the car will be towed away. I reassure her 50 more times that it will not be towed.

We come upon an area that looks suspiciously like an underground entrance. We approach the security guard, but he is having none of our jocular banter, telling us he's heard it all before, whatever THAT means. But we think we have hit the mother lode here. We see two guys across the way: By now we are completely comfortable going up to complete strangers to find out whatever we can in our quest to meet Bono. We walk over to the guys. I ask: "Hi. What are you guys doing?" And thus begins a beautiful friendship. We thought we were Bono Fan #1 and #2, but we're definitely going to have get in line behind these two, who have met the man multiple times. These gracious guys, John and Robert, share their curb with us, and regale us with their U2 stories. We meet them around 1400 hours and settle in for the wait.

Finally, about 415 (forget the military time, I'm too excited by now!) we notice a lot more police activity, and we believe the band is about to arrive. We have a good vantage point. We are in the right place, as I keep telling my friends. I am completely confident that Bono is going to stop and talk to us. As if he has heard me, Bono drives by, rolls down the window, and indicates that he will be back in a few minutes.
Now we know he is actually going to come out and we are beginning to go crazy with anticipation. Suddenly, there he is. A person I have admired for over 20 years, have loved for the fact he is a husband and father, a follower of Christ, a lover of people, a giver, a broker of his celebrity to make a change in the world, and of course, the best poet of our time. And suddenly, we see him:

Although John and Robert, and Stephanie and I have been here for hours, there are those fans who find a way to cut line ahead of us. So, Bono first stops to take a picture with a woman who is shaking with excitement. After her, John is next. John is in the military and Bono perks up when he hears that. He personalizes a photo that John has of himself with Bono in Boston. He signs Robert's Rolling Stone magazine.


And then, suddenly, Bono is in front of me. I am touching him. I can't believe this is happening. I ask him if we can get a picture with him. He is so gracious. "Of course." His attention is diverted by someone farther down the line who, ahem, isn't waiting their turn. The picture is of me and Stephanie with him, but this is a cropped photo of just me with him since it's my blog. :-) (You can see Stephanie's half on Facebook - it's her profile pic.)


He signed Stephanie's hat and then moved on down the line. A moment I will never forget. I told everyone I saw for the rest of the day that we had met him. Everyone wanted to know how! We had met Bono, and we still had the concert to look forward to! What a day --

General Admission tickets this time, and we wanted to be close but not too close. We ended up in a perfect spot and made new friends Stefan, Cleidy, and Ben, from Germany, Brazil, and France. We thought WE had come a long way for the concert! Here are the five of us.



From beginning to end this was a wonderful day. The concert was fantastic. The moon was full. The friendship was warm. The weather was beautiful. The band was U2. And I was there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Eating as Recreation

Me and food, we're close. Real close. I have wonderful memories of me and food that go way, way back to my early days. But, as sometimes happens with good friends, we grew apart. But I couldn't live without food, so I began to use her. I would read, and eat, but wouldn't pay any attention to her. No longer cared about the details of what I was eating, as long as it tasted good. Yes, I suppose the food offered more than just a sweet, pretty face, but I was more interested in doing something else while I ate.

I noticed my children had picked up this habit, and even though we would occasionally eat a meal together, when my children ate alone or with another person, they would inevitably read all the way through the meal, including and not limited to the time they carried their dishes into the kitchen.

I decided on October 1st we were going to have two new rules here. One: no eating anywhere except the table. For us, this would mean no more eating in front of the computer, or in front of the tv, or in our rooms, or walking from one place in the house to another. Big change. But the second rule was bigger. Two: no reading while eating. We would now have to carry our food to the table and just eat it.

It's been a week. Here's what I have noticed. I am eating less. No longer just something to do while I turn the pages of a book, I have to be intentional about sitting down at the table and eating. This takes time! Until this past weekend, I could easily justify killing two birds with one stone, eating while doing the crossword puzzle, eating while reading a novel, eating while going through the mail. As I realize what it means to over-consume, I have realized that over-consumption doesn't just mean eating too much food! For me it also means treating food as entertainment, as filler, as recreation. No!

The picture? It is the grape stem I finally noticed today. Now that I have nothing to distract me from the food, I am looking at the food. I had never seen these long, long roots that connected the grapes to the vine. A few stems only had short roots around the edge. I suspect this happens as the grapes ripen and are ready to pick. But you can see that there are very long roots on many of the stems. What else have I missed as I've distracted myself from the food? I am looking forward to those discoveries.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Untitled

Alone, in a strange city far from home, I am hungry. I have no car. I suspect public transportation doesn't come to where I am. I have no idea how to summon a cab, nor what such an extravagance would cost. I suppose I could ask for help, but I do not want to appear unknowledgeable or feel vulnerable. The only choice I see for eating is to set out walking and find a place. There are no sidewalks, so I walk in the gutter.

Within five minutes, I see a Wendy's restaurant, but I was hoping for something more sophisticated, less fast-food, so I turn left at the corner and keep walking, hopeful there will be something better around the next corner. In awhile, I see I have returned to where I started, having walked in a big circle. Now, I am back where I began, only hungrier. I have scouted to find local resources, and have come up empty-handed. I settle for Wendy's and I eat alone. No one to talk with or laugh with over my fries. Just a blank wall in front of me.

I do not turn on the TV. Although the noise will distract me from my plight, I know nothing will change. I will still be alone; in a strange city, far from home and family.

Poverty is the extent to which an individual does without resources. In a very mild way, this experience has shown me a little of what it is like to be without resources I would normally take for granted. However, in truth, even in this experience, I am far from impoverished. At the same time that I am alone and hungry, I have plenty of money in my wallet. I am staying in a three-star hotel. I have no worries at all about being mistreated because of my race or gender or socio-economic status. I have access to hot water, a soft bed, people who defer to me because I am a guest. Perhaps most importantly, I have a lifetime of big and little successes, the experience of solving problems of all sizes and shapes.

Because of my security and comfort level, I am able to experience this minor inconvenience of being without a car as a blessing in disguise. As I walk, I notice the beautiful trees, noting that the varieties here are different from most of what we have back home. I remember my daughter needs leaves for an art project this week and I am delighted I can gather some leaves for her that we might not find at home.

Eating without distraction affords me the opportunity to focus on my food, to hold my sandwich with two hands, rather than trying to hold a steering wheel, or a cell phone, or a book with one hand while stuffing in my food with the other. I notice I am comfortable with my thoughts and my solitude. My creative ideas find an outlet and are able to develop.

How much do I miss by driving everywhere, always late and in a hurry, never able to stop and examine a branch for just the right leaf? My brain is a laundromat dryer, my thoughts the clothes tumbling over one another; tangling, intertwining, always moving around and around and around. Where can I untangle the thoughts? How can I give attention to each one, smoothing each, really looking at them? There is no space in my hasty driving, hasty eating, hasty movements, hasty life.

I notice other clothes in my dryer. Those must belong to someone else. "I have to." "I should." "It must be done now!" "I've got to hurry! Hurry!" "There's no time!." Wait! Apparently those clothes also belong to me. As more of those pushy gray clothes invade, the beautiful, colorful ones get covered up. The grays mute the bright items that I really love and the interesting items I would like to explore.

What begins as an epiphany about what poverty is ends as a realization of the role over-consumption plays in my life. Because I am biting off more than I can really chew, I must drive quickly and eat quickly and keep a breakneck pace going at all times. I recognize that now is the time to make changes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

O Blog, Thou Art Not Facebook

Dear Blog, I've missed you. That poseur, Facebook, has been demanding my attention and dangling nonsense in front of my eyes many times a day. But Facebook offers momentary scintillation, or boredom, as the case may be, and yet it feels like some type of connection to the outside world during days that are filled with the minutiae of attending to the needs and wants of at least five people and one house. Lately, though, Facebook isn't even doing the trick.

Several mornings my eyes have opened and I've realized my stomach is in knots. Really, in the scheme of things, I do realize I have it pretty good. Loving husband, warm house, plenty of creature comforts, five lovely children, my health, a huge amount of autonomy in my life. It's just that within those good things, I have so many demands on me each day. I acknowledge that some or all of them are self-imposed, but big deal. Really, what does that have to do with it. The fact remains that each day, I get up knowing I need to spend 5-7 hours directly with Anna-Jessie on her schoolwork, while at the same time trying to manage Kepler's time so he is doing something other than watching DVDs all day, while at the same time being aware of what Joel is working on and whether he is keeping up, while at the same time being aware of needing to get to the laundry or dinner or grocery store or library or pay bills, while at the same time needing to oversee Eli's work because he still needs some help making sure he manages his time well, while at the same time being available for Valerie when she needs to have her math graded, while at the same time being aware that there are SO many papers that I need to handle, while at the same time knowing that I am NOT on top of the things I am needing to handle.

My sister calls this "stacking." And that's a really great word, because that is definitely what I am doing. But something is holding me back. Maybe it's as simple as making a list of plagues and nuisances, as Erica calls them. And then addressing them one at a time.

See? Facebook never gives me this much satisfaction.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guess Who We Saw This Weekend?




Well, Mike and Stephanie, of course, since we met up in Chicago. Fellow HoneyROCKERS. They drove down from Minnesota, and we drove up from Cincinnati so we could share this concert together.







But, also, we saw Bono. And Larry. And Edge. And Adam. And they were RIGHT THERE. And they sang and played like the (letting the thesaurus help me here) matchless, superb, transcendent band that they are.



So, let me tell the story of going to the concert. First of all, kudos to my beloved Greg who is so much fun to be with, and who took some amazing photos. I will post several of them here.




I've always loved U2, but sometimes it has been from a distance. Saw them in '87 and '92 and then listened to toddler music and kid songs more than anything else for several years.



But they have always been in my heart, probably at least in part because I am the same age as Bono, and Greg and I feel like we have grown up with these guys. So, even if their music wasn't at the top of my playlist, I have admired them all along.

The first song I ever heard in concert was "Where the Streets Have No Name" at the Joshua Tree tour in 1987 in Chicago. The last song of the concert Saturday night (before the encores) was "Where The Streets Have No Name" so there was a little 360 for you!

The '92 Popmart concert was not that great for me. I was pregnant with Valerie, and I was most concerned at that concert that my as-yet-unborn baby's hearing might be affected! I don't even remember who the opening band was, but I didn't really like them. But the good part of that concert is that I knew if I ever saw them again in a stadium I was NOT going to sit all the way at the opposite end of the stadium. I wanted what I was seeing to match up with what I was hearing. That info came in handy as I went to buy tickets for the 360 Tour.

We bought tickets in March. September 12 was way, way in the future at that point. As the summer passed, I noticed that we were having a tighter budget and suddenly, I was thinking maybe we should sell the tickets and use the money for sensible things like shoes and broccoli. As I investigated resale value, I noticed there were MANY, MANY tickets for sale and they were not selling for face value, but rather were considerably less. I finally listed the tickets on ebay and StubHub on Saturday, September 5, after a very stressful week which included a lovely couple of meetings with the bank due to my unfortunate, but understandable, mistake which caused a costly little problem with the account.

As I always do on Saturdays, I drove to Crossroads to volunteer at the Info Center and attend the 5:30 service. On the way down, I called my beautiful sister, Mindy, who was out of town, but miraculously available. Cell phones are such a boon to mankind. Mindy is someone I know I can call and hear loving, compassionate support, and she seems to be able to get to the heart of whatever the matter may be, which she did in this case as well. By the time I arrived at Crossroads, I was in tears, but they were tears of relief and needed to be shed. I was learning a new role at the Info Center this night, so we got into that after I explained that yes, I was crying, but I was fine.

I love the music at Crossroads. The band is made up of professional musicians, and several volunteers, and they are GOOD. Robbie started singing, and I perked up -- a U2 song! I had not heard any U2 there before, but it was the perfect song for the service. The next song was "In the Name of Love." Another U2 song. (Here's Robbie.)


Hmmm, I thought. Isn't THAT interesting timing? I had been receiving a lot of encouragement from all sides to go ahead and go to the concert, but I had really gotten into a place of worry and stress. I noticed the fact of the songs, but really sat up and took notice when Brian mentioned something about a concert and about how it is "labor" to go to a concert. He wasn't talking about U2, but it definitely applied to me, since there would be numerous logistics to cover.

In thinking about whether or not to go to Chicago, I had piled up the facts that Greg would be driving home from Michigan on Friday, and back to Michigan on Monday, so he would already be doing a lot of driving, let alone adding in 300 miles each way to and from Chicago on the weekend.

By the time I heard the U2 songs and what Brian said at Crossroads, I decided to characterize that as some sort of message, maybe even from God. But it was at that point that I said, "OK, I'm up for going! Let's do it!" We had two extra tickets, and had thought months ago that we would like to offer them to Brian. We had never gotten around to that, and by this point, I decided he wouldn't be able to use them anyway since the date of the concert was the date of the first double-Saturday-service and I figured he would be speaking.

Greg decided to offer them to Chuck Mingo, who also speaks at Crossroads, because he had recently described Bono as one of the best theologians of our time. Chuck declined the offer because, actually, HE was going to be speaking on the 12th, rather than Brian.

So I emailed my friend, Christy, at Crossroads and she sent out an email for me to the whole staff, offering the tickets as a gift. First email I got was from Brian! He was interested, so I called him right away. But after we talked and he asked for time to think about it and I agreed, I got to thinking about the other emails I had received. One, from Patrick, expressed an enthusiasm and sentiment that I was really hoping to engender in someone. So, off I went to my sacred space to pray about what to do. I didn't want to make Brian mad by taking back the offer, but I wanted to offer them to Patrick. In my prayer journal, I "heard" God telling me that Patrick's response was a gift to me and that He would take care of Brian. I went ahead and called Patrick, who was ecstatic, and gladly accepted them. But, in an hour or so, when I was getting ready to call Brian and let him know the tickets were gone, Patrick called back to say his wife couldn't go, so he was sorry but he couldn't use them.

Next day, Brian called in the morning and had decided against going. He was enthusiastic about having some sort of contest in the staff meeting that morning to give away the tickets, so I told him to go for it. Soon after, "Jamie" called to say she had won the tickets. She was going to pick them up from me on Friday. Sadly, on Friday, she called to say that she had the flu and would not be able to go to the concert, but that the second-place person was Patrick and she would let him know they were available. Patrick called me minutes later and we arranged for him to pick up the tickets Friday morning.

At the concert, Patrick and I texted back and forth about what we thought about what we were seeing, and if I hadn't already been thrilled that he ended up with the tickets, I was for sure delighted now, as his role as videographer for Crossroads had sharpened his eyesight to be able to appreciate the logistics and technology in a unique way.

All in all, the time leading up to the concert was special, but the concert itself was beyond special, and will hold an extraordinary place in my heart for always. Every time I remember being there, singing with 65,000 other people, dancing, smiling every second of the show, I just feel a very deep happiness and thankfulness that everything worked out the way it did.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Review of "Adam"

Way too many loose ends. Questions the movie creates but fails to answer.

Adam’s father has died and now he is alone. He eats the same breakfast, All-Bran cereal, and the same dinner, macaroni and cheese with broccoli and chicken on the side, every day, presumably microwaved. Here’s the well-stocked freezer, with the mac n cheese on the top shelf, and the bags of broccoli and bags of chicken sharing the lower. We see the macaroni and cheese supply gradually dwindle. As an element to show the passage of time, it works, but we are left wondering what he does when the food runs out, which it certainly will as he methodically makes it disappear one package at a time.

And how about that magic washing machine? Adam works his way through a closet full of suits, and soon we see empty hangers and a bulging laundry bag. It is at this point in the movie that he meets Beth, his new neighbor, outside the laundry room in the basement of his building. Standing next to Beth at the washing machines, he stuffs the entire contents of the laundry bag into the machine. Suits? At least twice as much clothing as could fit in any washing machine? No detergent? And yet everything works out just fine as we see him well-dressed shortly thereafter. Give me one of those washing machines!

The lack of attention to detail was distracting to me.

And let’s look at Beth herself. A young woman, in New York City, just recently badly hurt by a man, and just moved into a new apartment. How realistic is it that someone like Beth is going to pursue a relationship with a man who, to all appearances, is in his own world? Why would she do that? What compels her to go back to him after he is clueless about helping her with her groceries, sitting by while she struggles up the stairs?

When the two of them go to Central Park to watch the raccoons, they experience a magic moment together. The next morning, he leaves her a new laundry card because he didn’t put anything on the park bench to soften it for her. How is it that this man who has almost no ability to discern what someone else is thinking or feeling is able to realize how much she would have appreciated something to soften the hard park bench?

I suppose that this movie accurately represents what it’s like to have Asperger’s syndrome, but I don’t really know for sure. Overall, it was hard to care about Beth’s character. Although I loved the scene when she was helping Adam learn typical gestures and mannerisms, and the fact that she really did help him, neither character really moved me deeply. The movie needed more grace, more mercy, and more love.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Check out This Post

Anna-Jessie has a blog on which she posts on about a quarterly basis.

Check out this post. I especially like her "ad" at the top of her post.

Such fun it is to have these kids around!

The Girl Who Cried "We're Moving!"

Just about 10 years ago to the day, we moved back to Ohio and into this house. It's a small house with a big yard, and isn't the type of house that most of our friends live in. Most of the kids' friends live in two-story houses that have great rooms, and large open kitchens, and high ceilings, and extra rooms here and there, and even sometimes two staircases. We chose this house when the kids were small, because it had a big yard and the house seemed big enough for the little ones. Actually, Greg chose and bought the house, although it was I who sent him the MLS sheet and asked him to check it out.

Over the years, we have realized that this is a pretty smallish house for 6, then 7, people. One time we thought we might try to move to a bigger house and looked at a few. Once we thought about building on. Both times we abandoned the idea in favor of staying where we are.

Recently, I had the idea again. Moving. This time, I wanted to move somewhere where I would be closer to people to "do life with." Thing is, I don't know who or where those people are, but we're still talking this general area. So, not sure where to move. We went so far this time as to consult with two realtors and tell the kids we are moving for sure. We've made several lists, taken some of the clutter out of the house, taken some stuff to Goodwill, and painted numerous rooms. But now school has started. And I've put the brakes on.

I love the idea of moving to a new house, but I also love our home. It has a few annoying quirks, but after 10 years, we're pretty attached to this place. The thing that strikes me as the best of both worlds is to go ahead and build on to this house, including addding a partial second story, with a few bedrooms up there. Downside is of course over-improving for the neighborhood.

Financially, this isn't the best time to sell a house, from what I've heard. So there's that unknown as well.

But, bottom line is, school has started. Which, as you know, means there is lots and lots of activity here every day. Even the thought of removing the needing-to-be-replaced family room carpet is a bit overwhelming as I imagine moving FOUR desks, and FOUR computers, plus the other furniture, pulling up the carpet, putting down the pergo, and then hooking everything back up. And oh yeah Greg is out of town most of the time. So, here I am, pioneer woman, to be sure, holding down the fort, but can pioneer woman ALSO replace flooring, heft furniture here and there, and still do all the stuff I regularly do? Probably. :-)

As so many things around here go, this is something that will happen if I make it happen. My lovely children are absolutely awesome, and part of being awesome children doesn't really include getting all responsible for buying and selling a house. They would all do anything I asked them do, so I know they are there to help. It just seems like the overall project is kind of on me. Greg is keen to help, but hard to do much when he is in Michigan.

I guess the real bottom line is I spoke a little early about the idea of moving. Yes, I want to spend time with a group of people I can invest in. When God shows me that we need to move to another house, then I move! For now, I want to continue to get this house into move-in condition, continue to remove stuff from the house, and keep my eyes open for the next step. I like the idea of just kind of letting the smoothness of life go along for awhile without throwing a giant wrench in the monkey works by putting myself under the incredible pressure of moving, with all the accompanying work that goes along with it.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I am so proud of this boy

video

Eli and his friend, John, went to CVS to jump the steps today. I have been most comfortable with him skating at skate parks, but I get that every ledge and stairset is a potential skate spot. We've talked numerous times about how he should handle himself when he is skating in places where he may get asked to leave, and I am proud of how he has responded in those situations.

John is the first skater. Eli is in jeans and jumps the stairset successfully. I love watching him skate.

Where'd She Go?

For one thing, she has been spending ENTIRELY too much time lurking on Facebook. And for her meager postings, she was rewarded with a cheeky teen the other day mentioning how he gets a big kick out of the things that parents post. I guess he thinks we should stick to esoteric song lyrics as our status.

Besides that, have been homeschooling mightily.

Last night, at the Last Wednesday service at Crossroads, Brian talked about how God redeems the difficult things in our lives. And for whatever reason, this year homeschooling is light years away in terms of difficulty and stress from last year. I believe this is one of the areas that God has and is redeem(ed/ing) in my life.

Hopefully, I will be back soon to tell you all more about it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

We xoxoxo Cincinnati



Sweet morning with Greg and Kepler. We headed up to Mt. Adams to meet with other people from Crossroads to pray for our city. This is not my usual thing to do on a Saturday morning, but I have learned by now, don't miss anything that Crossroads does, cause I will miss a lot.




The overlook shows the beautiful Ohio River and our lovely city. We spent about 30 minutes praying for specific things about the city. And whatever changes the city experiences because of it, I know I am changed for having been there.


Often, we leave Kepler home with the other kids when we go somewhere, but having him along really brought home the point that he is The Great Connector of us and other people. So many people spoke to me and Greg because of Kepler. We loved making the connections with people.


As is typical Crossroads, there was a way to memorialize our experience. They had a huge version of the ILOVECincinnati bumper sticker and asked us to write prayers on it before we left, which we did.

Mt. Adams is a very chic part of Cincinnati that we don't get to very often. I think it is where all the beautiful young professional people live. What a view. When I first asked Greg if he wanted to go, he didn't jump at the chance, but after thinking about it, decided he did want to be there.

I got the directions last night the old-fashioned way, off the internet. Greg brought along the almighty GPS though. (My directions were better. He even thinks so.) And off we went.

On the way home, we marveled at the spirit that was there, and the joy we experienced at meeting and talking with people who care enough about Cincinnati to give up an hour or so and get together and pray for healing for our city.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Realty? or Reality?

Two evenings this week we spent hours at our dining room table with capable real estate agents who came for a preliminary meeting about the possibility of listing our home for sale.

Realtor #1 was extremely professional, way prepared, gave us reams of paper and tons of information, and even homework.

Realtor #2 was extremely laidback, prepared enough, and gave us some very good info but no homework except to consider replacing the furnace. (more expensive homework than the first guy!)

Here's the thing. They both came armed with printouts of "comparable" houses that are our "competition." I got the impression from the first guy, let's call him PaperMan, that the key to selling your house is see what's out there that's comparable, then make sure you price your house a little lower than them and prepare your house to be as perfect as possible to show. Guy #2, ConverseMan, agreed but had slightly different formulas for figuring out what is actually comparable.

Our street connects to a neighborhood that has much smaller houses, all on a slab, with postage-stamp yards. Our street is NOT part of that neighborhood, but I think there is probably a perception that it is. So, PaperMan says our competition is that neighborhood. I don't get that. And I don't agree. I don't want to price our house to be competitive with the houses in that neighborhood because our house is bigger and nicer, if I do say so myself.

Also, as I have been letting this percolate, I've realized that realtors can maybe only go by what they see on paper. And if a house has three bedrooms, then it is a comparable house to another that has three, even if there are huge differences in the condition, quality, and care of the home.

So, it's just got me to wondering if PaperMan's approach is really the best one. I would imagine if you have your house priced in the bottom three of similar houses, you will be more likely to sell it. But does that mean it's a good thing to sell it for that price? I suppose the answer to that question depends on how badly you want/need to sell your house.

ConverseMan had a different idea of what might be considered comparable and I liked his ideas better. Seemed like he was being more specific about how to decide something is comparable.

In the meantime, I will continue to beautify the old place to put its best foot forward when we finally decide to start showing it to prospective buyers.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dog Lovers, Be Kind.


As Donna Fargo used to sing,

Shine on me sunshine
Walk with me world
It’s a skippidity do da day
I’m the happiest girl, in the whole U.S.A.

Like 8 months ago I was journaling about how it can be overwhelming to have five children and keep on top of things. And then I lost my mind completely and we got a puppy.

She lived with us for five months, and she went to a new adoptive home last night with a lovely young couple who wanted a companion for their beloved dog.

We were foster masters.

Now that she is gone, I realize that parenting 5 kids is a snap. Nothin' to it.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed at all, you should add into your life more than you can possibly possibly take care of and then remove something when you can't see your way to take even one more step. It does wonders for making things more manageable.

I am so glad for her that she will be in a place where she will be deeply loved and cared for, and I am so glad for me that I am not going to be the one responsible for her.

This doesn't mean we will never get a dog, but I think we learned that a puppy in THIS house with THIS family is not a good fit.

Enjoy your pets today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Move Along, Grumpy

OK I promise I'm not going to have a Seven Dwarfs theme forever.

I just wanted to get Grumpy off of center stage. But it took awhile, because that wasn't my only grumpy day. Why, you ask? Well, thanks for asking.

Can you say puppy?
Can you say clutter?
Can you say daughter's incessant coughing?
Can you say computer?

Well, of course you can. I haven't posted about the dog because I don't think I ever came to terms with having a puppy after the initial lovey-dovey minutes. But she is being adopted by a very loving family tonight, so that is a very good thing. I think everyone who reads my blog, with the exception of Gregoire, has actually been INSIDE our house, so you know that it is small for the 7 of us, and has been basically infinitesimal with a puppy in the mix. Just dreaming about having all that space back after tonight!

I have posted about clutter numerous times, to the eternal joy of all my readers. I try to make those posts clever and humorous so it's not just all doom and gloom about having too damn many files, photos, books, clothes, papers, and fill-in-the-blank-here. The clutter just won't go away. I think there is some type of spiritual significance to my problems in this area.

Daughter's incessant coughing. Yesterday I finally bought some horrid cough medicine for her, with at least 5 ingredients that I avoid as much as possible (red #40 -- why do they put this in?) I am of the "wait it out, sleep and drink lots of water" medicinal methodology. Hasn't exactly worked for this cough. Hence, the medicine. They sell little cough medicine strips now that just melt in your mouth, not in your hand. I thought this might make it easier for my rarely medicated child to ingest. Alas. No. The strips are a thousand times worse than the liquid and she had to drink 5 cups of water and chomp on some serious altoids to get through the ordeal. Poor thing.

And the computer? Well, as I have mentioned before, computers are such a boon to mankind and such a pain in mankind's butt. But, instead of ranting on and on, I will just say how very grateful I am to have a computer, even if it DOESN'T work like I want it to, and even if it CAUSES ME MORE WORK. Oops, I wasn't going to rant.

Have been feeling like the world's worst mother lately, although surely I cannot be the world's worst mother, can I? And feelings, whoa, oh, oh, feelings -- such a thorn in the side of mankind, sometimes. They just make me want to sleep and eat. Oh, not the ones like joy and happiness. Just guilt and anger that I thought I had already dealt with. We're ba-a-a-a-ck.

So, here's your dose of Siouxsie today. Not the typical post of the stay-at-home mom who writes lovely reflections on the local elementary school and how the village is doing such a good job helping her raise her children. But, thank God I am feeling better.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thoughts on My Sister's Keeper


I had the distinct privilege of being asked by my daughter to go to a movie with her. I had seen a review of the movie and knew it didn't get a great review. But I did not want to miss this opportunity to spend time with Valerie.

Shortly into the movie, I could tell Val was disgusted with the screen adaptation. Although I had read the book, I did not remember the story in the detail that Valerie did.

I don't usually cry at movies anymore, but this one really got me. Not because of the movie itself, but because the mother of the family put one child ahead of everything else in the world -- her job, her husband and marriage, and her other children. Everything else was secondary to the needs of the one child. What got this mother's heart was that I think I do that same thing to a certain extent with my sweet little Kepler. I know that my other kids have had to forego certain things and time with me and/or Greg because of the needs of Kepler.

He's not sick, of course. But ever since he was born, I know I have put the other kids second to him many, many times. Perhaps that is somewhat natural, to spend more time with a younger, needier child, but I have sensed, with some actual evidence, that my older kids do feel like I put Kepler first too much of the time.

What breaks my heart is that I know all five of them have needs and I love them all so much. And sometimes it is just so hard to figure out how to show them all that I love them.

A broken heart doesn't mean that all is lost. There is probably room for me to change, and room for the kids to change, and room for Greg to change. I mean, I do believe that Kepler is a gift to us. It's just hard to have one child who has such obvious needs that seem greater than the needs of another. And yet, to that other child, I'm sure it's a mystery why Kepler's needs always take precedence.

I don't have this all tied up with a nice little bow right now. I feel raw and the only "summary" I can come up with is that I am glad that I saw this movie and I want to know how to love my kids, each of them, the way they need to be loved.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Take Me Out of the Ballpark

See this? I spent my ENTIRE day selling people ice cream sundaes in these little hats for a mere $4.75, toppings are free!

So, we had the opportunity to sign up for this "fundraising" deal whereby we work our butts off at the Reds game for a small amount of money which will offset our tuition this year. This was my first time today. I. Am. Exhausted.

First thing this morning, I drove downtown with Valerie and tried to find a free parking place. The place I planned to park was full, so we drove a few blocks further away and parked. I don't know. No one could possibly want to hear all the details. Suffice it to say, it's a buttload of work, and you're standing on concrete all day long, and then? At the end, we got to drive home in rush hour traffic.

I'm pretty sure Greg doesn't think it's worth it for me to spend an entire day for such a small amount of money. I'm pretty sure I'm too tired to make a good decision about it tonight, but I'm pretty sure he's probably right.

All I can say is, I'm tired. I didn't see the game. I just don't know if it's worth it. Sing with me now, Take me out of the ballpark . . . .

Monday, June 29, 2009

Don't Try This at Home


1. I know a three-year-old who loves to shred documents.
2. I know a mother who lets her three-year-old shred documents. This is an attentive, careful mother who never even leaves the shredder plugged in when not using it, let alone on.
3. I know why there is a warning on the machine to keep fingers out of it.

1. I am thankful I have lightning-fast reflexes, so that
2. These little fingers did not get permanently damaged when they went into the shredder today (up to the second knuckle!), just somewhat smooshed.
3. No more shredding for three-year-olds in this house.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Woman Gives Birth to Giant Rodent


but doesn't realize it for 10 1/2 years. When she walks into her daughter's room one night, she discovers it is inhabited by a genuine packrat. The floor is covered; under the bed is filled up; the tabletops are missing; under the top layer on the floor is tiny piece after tiny piece of thread, either from sewing or perhaps to line her nest with.

And money? You'd think there was one of those birds that likes shiny things in this room, because we found coins on, under, in and behind everything in the room. Packy must be saving for a rainy day. Probably to buy more treasures and treasure chests.

Alas, Packy will not be receiving anything for Christmas this year that will need dusting or storing. Nothing that will make little tiny pieces of scrap anything. Nothing that will leave shavings behind, or pieces of glitter, or grains of sand. But, never fear, Packy has many, many projects, toys, games, cds, scrapbooking materials, and enough art supplies to start another Michael's store.

I can't imagine where she gets it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How it All Wove Together


Via Facebook, I heard about my 30th high school class reunion. I was enthusiastic about helping organize it, but as these things sometimes go, life got in the way of my plans and I moved on to other tasks.

I planned to go to the reunion, although I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic when the time came to make the reservations. I caved in when my sister demanded that I attend as she wanted to make sure she would have someone to talk to. Had I thought about this for even 10 seconds, I would have realized that making small talk with people you haven't seen for 30 years has to be as easy as falling off a log. "What have you been doing for the last 30 years?" should be good for at least a few minutes of chat. So, I could have realized that she would probably be ok even if I weren't there. But, I reacted to her request by signing right up.

I'm probably not the only one in the world who is conscious of weighing more than I did in high school, maybe having an extra chin or two, and although I had intended to work out and get fit (superficial, anyone?), it didn't happen.

A week before the reunion, another opportunity arose that I really wanted to attend, and Greg especially wanted to. But Marcia Brady made an indelible impression on me when she broke her date with nerdy Charley to go out with the BMOC, and suffered for it by getting hit in the nose with a football. "Something suddenly came up" wasn't going to be MY refrain.

But my OTHER sister suggested that there must be room in life for us to change our minds sometimes. And Greg certainly wanted to attend the Reset group dinner rather than the reunion, and who could blame him? In deference to him, because I love him, not because he's my "boss," I chose the Reset group dinner and backed out of the reunion.

So, off my sister went to the class reunion, and off we went to our dinner with friends. We were a bit late because I had attended the service at Crossroads, where "Alli" spoke about authority. It didn't speak to me a whole lot but it was a good message.

I had such great memories of our time with these people for those six weeks, but the dinner was a lot different than the small group experience. At one point, there was a lot of political talk flying across the table and I actually interrupted and changed the subject to one that seemed like we might have more of a chance of talking about ourselves in a deeper way. But, that didn't really happen. The evening was less than satisfying and not nearly as stimulating as I expected it would be.

Driving home, I wondered if I had made a mistake in choosing the dinner over the reunion.

After service on Sunday, we were hanging out in the atrium and all of a sudden I realized that two of my high school classmates were standing near me. They were in town for the reunion, and visiting Crossroads the morning after. We chatted for a minute and it was nice to see them, but I realized that I was quite happy to just catch up for that short time, and the mini-reunion that I had experienced was quite satisfactory.

Funny thing was that I felt like I looked nice, which I don't often feel these days. So, no worries about the weight or chins. I enjoyed seeing my classmates, but was happy with the brief time we had. Realized it had been the right choice to attend the dinner, even though it was less than riveting, because my choice honored Greg, and ultimately worked out much better than it would have if I had planned the outcome.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Look What I Found in the Storage Room

One of my children, who shall remain nameless, wrote this list when she was age 7. She prepared this list the night before we were to attend a concert at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. This list is a perfect example of how she has always been an organized person from early on. The rows say the following:


To wear///Black Velvet Dress///White Sparkling Shoes///White Coloerd Tights

To take///A box of tissues if nessisery///"money"///This list///My ticket

DO///Listen to sphmony///say it was the best you ever heard///try to meet 2 players///if do, ask how long they have been playing

DON'T///Complain about sphmony///Say it was too loud///Say the players were teribble///Ignore everybody

Priceless.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Thought About Prayer

A few days ago I checked in with a friend who has been contemplating changing jobs. While we were talking she mentioned that she is cleaning our her basement and wanting to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Since I am in the midst of the same thing, I broached the subject of having a joint yard sale, but I told her I wanted to pray about it first. This is not because I am super-spiritual. I have just learned that it makes a difference when I pray about stuff. Sometimes things that seem like such great ideas to me, do not seem quite as great after I talk to God about them. But I was really leaning toward doing this yard sale and decided to make sure I prayed about it before I got back to my friend. Finally last evening I went out to my sacred space in the backyard to write in my prayer journal. I became aware of the fact that I really did not want to spend 10-15 hours of my life peddling my castoffs to people. But I realized that even if I made a couple hundred dollars, it still would not be worth it to me to use those hours of my life in that way. One thing I felt God "saying" to me what that he would take care of my friend.

When I called my friend to tell her today that I was not going to be doing the yard sale, she mentioned that another friend on her street is having a sale this weekend and she thought she might put some stuff out since the other friend advertised her sale already. To me, that was an affirmation that it was not up to me to make sure this friend got rid of her stuff. It's also this weekend instead of next weekend, which may work even better for my friend.

I know some would say that it was I myself who had the thoughts and solved the problem. That there was no God involved. But I'm having more and more experiences where I sense God responding to me. Since I am using a prayer journal, I write down everything I "hear" and I would have to say that there seems to be an "other" who says the things I hear. That "other" is God. This season in my Christ-following life is the most vibrant, most alive, most exciting time I have ever experienced. I feel like I am in a relationship now, rather than trying to plod along in a religion. I invite your thoughts on the subject.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Well, At Least She's Consistent

I'm on a roll. The storage room is being cleared out even as we speak. How many boxes have I found so far that are filled to the brim with miscellaneous pieces of this and that? More than a few but less than a million.

I am encouraged though because it is helpful that I have done the same method of pre-sorting for all these years. At least if it is in the house, it is in one of these boxes and has a chance of finding its home with its other little buddy blocks or game pieces or whatnot. And office supplies? How I could ever justify setting foot in an Office Max ever again is beyond me. (Except for printer cartridges, of course, which apparently use themselves up in the still of the night.) Staples? Boxes of 'em. Pencils? Enough for an entire African country. Glue Sticks? Numerous, some sticky and some dry. Bags, boxes, emery boards, lunch bags, purple glitter, single gloves, YOU NAME IT, it's there.

But it's happening, people, it's happening! I am getting through this stuff! I definitely aced "sorting skills" along the way, because I am a champion sorter.

Now, back to work.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What I Saw on the Side of the Road

The reason this is significant is because I was driving home from Crossroads today and I came upon a tableau where there was a man out of his car trying to discern what was wrong with this lady on the side of the road who was crying and heaving and looked like she was throwing up or something. At first, I thought she was ill, because she was so clearly distraught. I stopped too and got out. Found out she had killed a raccoon crossing the road and she was beside herself with anguish because the raccoon had a baby in its mouth, which was now scared and hiding in the brush.

I don't know that I've ever seen anyone that upset about hitting an animal. It really made me wonder if there was anything else going on for her because her reaction was that it was a terrible, terrible tragedy and it was all her fault. Another person stopped eventually and between the four of us, we reached the local park ranger who came down with a box, and put the baby into it for the lady. She had calmed down by that point, and drove off with the baby raccoon in her van because the ranger didn't have any way to care for it.

While we were waiting for the ranger to get there, she told us that she feeds the raccoons in her backyard, giving them cat food and grapes. I say she has a heart for animals and will probably raise this one herself, or let her daughter have it, who also apparently loves wildlife. The animals in my own backyard have been destructive, with the deer eating our grapevines, our grapes, our hostas, a fledgling tulip tree, and other flora. And the animals in my parents' yard -- the chipmunks who ate right through things, the raccoons who discovered the trashcan and dumped it out night after night.

I thought about my reaction, vs hers. In the animal kingdom, s**t happens. I think it's part of being an animal. Yes, it was sad for the little raccoon that he lost his mama at such a young age, but I think it's part of the reality of life.

But somehow I'm not completely comfortable with my lack of compassion for this little raccoon. I don't know who else the lady has to care about -- maybe she is alone -- but I have a pretty full plate of living, breathing beings to take care of. Maybe that's the difference. Maybe not. But I'm glad for the little raccoon that he had an adoptive mama right there to take care of him.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Let's Look at it as Half-Empty, Shall We?

Usually, I try to be a half-full kind of blogger. But today, I got my storage room to half-empty status and I am in the zone.

My grandma had this china cabinet in her dining room and I loved that thing. To my great surprise, when she was breaking up her house to move into an assisted-living place, I received that china cabinet from her. Most of my cousins lived closer to her than I, and I figured someone would have spoken for it by that time. So, we moved it up here and I have enjoyed it so much.

A few years ago, it seemed like the china cabinet was taking up too much space in the living room, so I moved it downstairs to the storage room. For the past week or so, I have been cleaning out the storage room with the intent of getting that china cabinet back upstairs. Tonight my strong men moved it upstairs for me.

It's not in the greatest shape. Needs a couple of repairs, but I think it is beautiful. The pipes sticking up out of the top are from the doorbell of my paternal grandmother's home, my dad's childhood home. We gleaned those when the house was being torn down. And now I have tangible reminders right here of the two strong, beautiful women who were my grandmothers.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Worry, Residents of Tuscarora, It Wasn't an Earthquake!

It was just me, jogging!

I haven't exercised by jogging in, ahem, quite some time. Since I, uh, took a break from my weightlifting sesssions a couple months ago, I haven't really been exercising all that much, except, as you know, for the muscles involved in chewing up chips.

But today, I jogged. Pretty dern slow, I'll admit, but I was out there. And I stuck with it. My previous exercise du jour was what I call jwalking, which involved "interval" training of some steps jogging and some steps walking. But today I went all out. Jogged the whole way, even extending the finish line partway through.

Feels good.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Ate One Potato Chip Today


Now, if we're talking about yesterday, I would have to admit to more like 57 chips. But, see, here's the thing.

I lost a BUNCH of weight five years ago. I was so hot. Only a size 4, which is smaller than I ever was even in high school. I never bought a size 4 in my life until my super-duper weightlifting weight loss. As SOME people tend to do, I did gain it all back plus a few ounces. Give me a break -- I did have a baby between now and then.

The way I lost that weight was that I was absolutely RELIGIOUS about eating ONLY what was on my list. No steenking cheat meals for me, sister. I did my cardio RELIGIOUSLY. I did my weightlifting at 7:00 on a Saturday morning every single week (and 12:00 on each Wednesday). RELIGIOUSLY.

Readers of my blog know that I started back with a trainer last summer. Haven't been quite as religious. More like a super-duper backslider. One step forward, 23 steps back. I blame most of it on my trainers. (JK Jason). But just as I am eschewing RELIGION in the spiritual part of my life, I am also unwilling to be religious in the physical area. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying I'm never going to have an exercise routine, or lift weights. But I am ready for my eating habits to be REVOLUTIONIZED. And I think today was a start. I had to go all the way down to the basement to eat the chip. But I stopped after one. Isn't that amazing?

I've had to throw out most of my "rules" for eating. I told my kids the other day to name a food, any food, and I could give them a reason why they shouldn't eat it. Ugh. Today I ate food. I enjoyed it. I felt hungry. And whether or not I lost any weight today, I know my attitude and heart were different.

And I only ate ONE Lay's potato chip. Ha.