Monday, December 27, 2010

From Russia With Love

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

Thirteen years ago today (Man, that seems like a LONG time!), I married a Russian college student whom I had known almost six months. Our first date had been on June 30th, when I took him fishing at my grandpa’s pond. We caught lots of sunfish that day. He cooked me spaghetti a few nights later, literally spaghetti and sauce, and we ate it at his college apartment out of margarine tubs. I told him about Hamburger Helper. He asked me to go shopping with him.

While at the grocery store I introduced him to things like yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream. He’d known all these things before, but didn’t know the name for them in English. I also told him about whole milk. He said that’s what he’d wanted, but didn’t know what the red cap meant. I offered to cook him a roast with potatoes and carrots, and the next thing I knew, we were getting married.

Some people said he married me for his Green Card. I think it was because I could cook and he couldn’t at the time. Russian men usually have a woman to take care of them.

We went to a pawn shop in Galena, Kansas, and bought my wedding ring for $140.00. It had been welded together at one time and then ripped in half and had a jagged edge and a small chip in the diamond. We bought his ring at the Miami Coin Shop for $40.00. The shoes he bought to get married in cost $46.00. My dress cost $50.00 at the going out of business sale at the Miami Bridal Shoppe and my mom made my veil attached to a headband of fake pearls we bought at Wal-Mart.

We had $110.00 in our checking account that first day we were married. And that was pretty much it in the way of assets between us. Of course, there was the harvest scene couch he’d bought at a garage sale that you had to be careful when sitting down on because a nail might poke you, but aside from that, our checking account represented all our worldly possessions that had value to anyone else besides us.

He didn’t tell his parents he was getting married. His mother would call in the middle of the night screaming and crying. My husband is an only child.

Needless to say, I went over like a lead brick. They wanted to know what color I was, was I pregnant, and what was my name? I passed on all accounts except they didn’t like my name. We sent pictures after the wedding and his grandma decided that I was too pale so I must be sick a lot, I was too thin so I must not know how to cook, and I was older than him (2 ½ years) so I must have MADE him marry me.

Then the paperwork began! YEARS of paperwork to be exact. I didn’t make enough money so my uncle had to co-sponsor my husband with me, making the both of us financially responsible for my husband. My dad wouldn’t do it. My husband would finally receive his Green Card just after we purchased our first house, three years plus after our wedding day. He would become a US Citizen when our first child was eight months old.

Eventually I won over my Russian in-laws. I guess they got used to the idea that my husband wasn’t coming back. And that maybe not all American women were what they thought they might be. They eventually gave me credit for my husband graduating from college, for him getting a job, for us buying a house, for our first child. Before she died, his grandma even decided that I looked a little like their Northern people. What a turnaround I’d had!

I cannot fathom that there would have been any more perfect a person for God to have chosen as my spouse. My husband gets my sense of humor, he’s smart, and cute, and all that, too. He’s even keeled when I freak out, and he still likes my cooking.

It is strange to think that my husband didn’t even speak my language until he was 15 years old. It is strange to think that he had to travel halfway around the world to get here. It is strange to think that he ended up going to the junior college in my town because his test scores were too low to stick with his friends and go to the college where they went. It is strange to think that he ended up unloading the truck with me on Saturday mornings at Arby’s in my hometown.

What a logistical nightmare for anyone else but God! I guess I was a hard order to fill!

Happy Anniversary to my big strong Russian husband!

He loves it when I call him that!

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:19-20

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Imperfect Christmas

“O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.”

Picture it. Christmas Eve service. The church is packed. Nearly every seat is taken. The service has been carefully laid out in the bulletin. Easy to follow along for those who aren’t Regulars.

And then, with the first song, clearly marked “O Come All Ye Faithful” verses 1 and 2 in the bulletin, the organist begins to play “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” We all know the tune, yet can’t find it in the hymnal fast enough and muddle through the first verse confused by the song change.

A few more Christmas passages are read, and we are supposed to follow up with “O Come All Ye Faithful” verses 3 and 4. Since we started out on “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” the congregation could not be steered from that first verse of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” then as some finally noticed what was printed in the bulletin, we finished strong with verse number four.

Then the sermon about how we are all connected to the baby in manger. During the first five minutes, someone’s car alarm went off in the parking lot. Whoever the culprit was must have noticed their error because the horn only honked 10 or 12 times. Then I began my sermon dig for my checkbook so I would be ready when offering came up, and I had no pen in my purse. Then as if on cue, all the children under five in the sanctuary simultaneously lost their wonderment over being in church and began to protest. I look across the aisle and two teenagers were drawing comics. The family in front of me gave a stick of Chapstick to their 2YO son to amuse him, only recognizing their error when he was out of arm’s length and wielding a fully extended glob of Chapstick.

But then, the cloud of chaos lifted just in time for the individual candles to be lit for the “candlelight” portion of the service. My children held theirs in such a way as not to threaten burning down the church, and my now 6YO really belted out “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” with me. A perfect ending!

Perhaps a few people at the service were first time visitors this evening. Perhaps they didn’t even notice the things that I did. Perhaps our service having several imperfect moments was much like Jesus’ birth, where nothing seemed to go right for Mary and Joseph. But, wow, what a perfect ending!

Merry Christmas!

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Run, Run As Fast You Can...

“Do you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

In the past week, I have been a witness to a couple of occurrences of a gingerbread man running away while he was supposed to be in the oven baking. The first instance was at my son’s Kindergarten, where the kids were just walking back after not finding their gingerbread boy in the oven. They were aghast, confused, in denial.

“Mrs. Teacher put too much LOVE in him and he became real and ran away!!” they lamented.

Well, way to go Teacher! I told the teacher not to put so much love in him next time. It was all her fault, they concluded.

For the rest of the evening, we watched for the gingerbread boy. We were all instructed to call the teacher immediately if we had any clues. Occasionally, one of the kids would swear they saw a flash of brown somewhere out of the corner of their eye.

We went to our 4-H meeting at the local community room of the bank and the kids baited the gingerbread man outside with their rice krispie treats they had for snacks. They left a piece for him on the handrail outside and were all watching for him to take the bait so they could run out and catch him.

They also brought signs to hang up like a Missing Person poster with the gingerbread man drawn in their rendition of his likeness.

During the meeting, I slipped out and removed the bait, throwing it into the flowerbed. When they saw that the rice krispie treat was gone, it freaked the whole bunch out. The funny thing was that even older siblings who were present, who had been in the same class for Kindergarten, and had had the same experiences, didn’t remember. They were just as intrigued by the disappearance of the gingerbread man as the little ones were.

The good news is that the next day, the gingerbread man was found... by the POLICE! Officer Boggs brought the gingerbread man back to my Kindergartener’s class, lights flashing and siren blaring. He’d had to put a piece of plastic over the pan to keep the gingerbread man from escaping after chasing him into someone’s yard for running down the street WAY faster than the posted speed limit.

Our small town is a speed trap for even a Gingerbread Man!

Anyway, thanks to all involved for making the day of at least 24 Kindergarteners, a few 4-Hers, and I’m sure for all of their parents too!

May all our holiday experiences contain too much love, even if we won’t necessarily remember the details!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adventures of Baby Jesus #1

“Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.” Luke 1:66

Last night (I know… FINALLY!), we broke out the Christmas decorations and the kids and hub put up the tree while I was at a church Christmas function – think desserts, desserts, and cheese dip by candlelight. Anyway, they broke out my foam nativity guys that I purchased off the internet a few years ago on an after Christmas clearance sale. I think it might have been marked down to $2.99 - a bargain considering these guys are about 6” tall and are very cute. The downside was that their sticky had long since died and I had to hot glue all the parts together. There’s not much I can’t accomplish with a glue gun, so that really wasn’t an issue.

The company graciously (and probably accidentally) included two nativity sets with my order, so one was given as a gift to a pre-school teacher at the daycare with whom I’d had a tumultuous relationship. Hopefully, that gift mended a few fences with her. Hard to say. I never saw her again. Maybe in Wal-Mart…

The second nativity set included an extra baby Jesus, again, I’m guessing by accident, unless there was an overproduction of foam baby Jesuses that year. Anyway, Baby Jesus #2 had never seen the light of day, until last night.

While the kids were breaking out the ornaments and such, they ran across the nativity set. Of course, they got everything out and set it up under the Christmas tree. Then they ran across Baby Jesus #2. The hub reports a deep discussion between them ensued.

“Look, it’s another baby Jesus!”

“Well, there’s only one baby Jesus. We can’t have two!”

“Who is it then?”

“It must be John the Baptist.”

Now, I’m not sure if Jesus and John the Baptist were close cousins or not growing up, but Elizabeth was one of the first people Mary told about her pregnancy. And John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, excited about his boy cousin, who would be his Savior. John even eventually baptized his cousin, in what was undoubtedly his most spectacular baptism ever!

Anyway, I’m not sure when Elizabeth and Mary ever got together when the kids were little, but this year John is visiting in infancy, without his parents, our nativity. Both he and Jesus appear happy about it!

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Size Fits Most

“But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7

It’s the holidays! Let’s talk about gift cards for a moment.

I was given a gift card approximately four years ago to a major retailer, but had never used it. The gift card resurfaced in our home sometime over the summer and I called the number on the back and magically it was still good. I made a conscious decision that I should use it as soon as possible since I was pretty sure I’d had it nearly forever in gift card years.

But it was to a store that we don’t frequent very often, and is at least 30 minutes away in the big town.

Anyway, the moment finally presented itself a couple of weeks ago. Leaves had been blowing into the garage and the leaf blower we’d had for 10+ years had a locked up motor from last year and hadn’t been fixed. I never liked that leaf blower anyway. It was a gas model and hard for me to start. I decided it was time to put my gift card into action and buy an electric leaf blower.

I started online. I found an electric model that was 5 lbs. lighter than the gas counterpart and would blow 225 mph. And it was on sale. Sold! I decided at this time too, that when I visited the store I would also purchase the gutter-cleaner-outer attachment for the leaf blower to make our lives easier. I had brief daydreams of being able to purchase these two items together and have the gutters cleaned out by nightfall, making my husband so proud of me!

Those dreams were squelched when I actually went to the store and found that the gutter attachment was not available for in-store purchase. I took my on sale leaf blower and went home, slightly disappointed.

Upon arriving home, I promptly ordered said gutter-cleaner-outer attachment off the internet. The description said, “Fits most….”


Kind of left it open, didn’t it?

But in my eyes, most says majority, and majority says a lot, and a lot seems to be readily available, so I clicked the “confirm order” button for my site-to-store pickup.

I got a little anxious and tried to click on the link in my order confirmation email a couple of days later, so I could see the status of my order. It took me to a place to login to my online account. I entered my email address, the one just used to confirm my order, and the site told me that email address had not been registered with an account. Hmm. First bad sign.

Then about a week later, I received another email confirming my gutter-cleaner-outer was ready to be picked up in the big town. I also got a call from a nice computer generated lady telling me the same thing, but I had to listen to it twice to be able to understand the whole thing.

The following day – yesterday to be exact – I traveled to the big town to retrieve my order. Sure enough, they had it and were able to retrieve it for me from the bowels of the store within 5 minutes – a sign said that was their goal!

When I arrived home, I began to understand what “Fits Most” meant. It meant it would fit gas models with threaded flanges, gas models with a button to secure attachments, electric models with a button for attachments, and electric models with threaded flanges – that were all ROUND.

Unfortunately, I had purchased the readily available blower with the RECTANGULAR flange.

So, this morning I took my third trip to the big town to exchange my blower for one with a round flange that would work with the attachment. I was assisted by one of the very helpful associates in my return and exchange of blowers. He took my $35.00 extra dollars, as this blower was NOT on sale, and told me this was the only one that was electric with a round attachment flange. Should definitely work.


We’re back to that word again.

A little voice in my head said I should try it before I left the parking lot since I’d had the forethought to bring along the gutter attachment. But there were a lot of pieces, and I had my kid with me, and my husband had actually tried it before and knew what piece should go directly on the blower. I was just sure it would work, drunk with the associate’s confidence.

I sobered up when I got home and actually tried it.

Most apparently means – will work for most everyone else, except me.

The flange was the right shape, but was just slightly too big. Big enough not to work. Big enough to require lots of duck tape alteration to get it to work. Big enough to send my blood pressure rising into the sky and a few choice words to come to mind.

With that, I resolved to return the whole mess of frustration and call it a day. I resolved to muster as much grace as one with an aggravated temper can, and not unleash my wrath on the next available cashier. I resolved myself to the fact that I was going to have to drive to the big town ONE MORE TIME!!

The fourth time at 60 miles round trip, but who’s counting??

I also resolved that they could figure out how to put everything back in the box the way it should have been as I did not have enough patience left to mess with it. Shoving it all in with my foot, and stomping on it while jumping up and down on the box, would probably have resulted in breakage and would have made returning my burden unlikely.

And so, after much gas guzzling and several scenic trips, a few choice-word thoughts and a credit on my credit card, I have nothing to show for my Plight of the Leaf Blower.

So, when you give that gift card this holiday season, remember the Plight of the Leaf Blower sparked by an old gift card that resurfaced after years of not being spent.

And remember not to give me a gift card. Sorry. Bad taste in my mouth.

And remember the perfect gift of Jesus, who truly is “One Size Fits All”, not “Most”.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nativity Adventures

“O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” -hymn 31, in your Blue Hymnal.

We had an Advent Fair after church yesterday where families constructed their own Advent wreaths to take home. I have to say, I am now in the Christmas spirit. Yes, I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but I’m ready to break out the tree, hang a wreath on the door, and get out the nativity set. And in my house, that means it is time for… another installment of…

The Adventures of Baby Jesus!

Our resin nativity set has a tiny baby Jesus who comes out of his manger. He’s about an inch and a half long and is torpedo shaped from all his swaddling clothes. My kids like to play with the nativity set and you just never know where baby Jesus might turn up.

He’s been in the kitchen, stuck in the couch, rescued from the bathroom, adored by the Super Friends, and has even taken a few train rides.

So, as we prepare for Advent – which I think may be short for Adventures – this holiday season, I hope you invite Jesus into your home. Let him have the run of the house, and I’ll bet you’ll find him in every room.

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Surprise Chicken

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!

We’ve told these words to our children numerous times since their birth. The daycare used them, then we started using them, now the school uses them. It is part of their psyche, I suppose, by now.

A few months ago, I told you about hatching my first egg. (Read: Something Egg-citing!)

Betty has been doing just clucky and has turned into a very unusual looking chicken, taking mostly after her polish crested father. We eventually got Betty a buddy at the sale barn, whom the kids named Bommy. Betty and Bommy are inseparable… mostly because the rest of the flock never fully accepted them because they are the young ones.

Well, Betty is now about 6 months old, and guess what SHE did last week?

She crowed.

You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit… even with chickens.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, October 4, 2010


“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

A few weeks after school started, I was looking for something to do, so I signed up as a substitute teacher. So far, I’ve worked at least two days a week ever since at one school and have covered PE, art, learning disabled, T-1, 1st, 2nd, and special education. I feel my life has been infinitely expanded through my serving as a substitute and I now have a greater appreciation for what my kids’ teachers go through in an average day. I also have a more profound respect for those who wish to homeschool their own children, and a few ideas as to why they thought that might be a good idea in the first place.

Thought I would share with you a list of things I’ve learned in the past several weeks from my taking the place of someone more qualified and experienced, if just for the day.

1. I feel like Wonder Woman or Batman every time I get the call to substitute teach. It’s like, “I got the call! Gotta go!” Thankfully, spandex is not required.

2. There is a great disparity in ability and willingness among the children in individual classrooms. Keeping those engaged who are bored, and bringing up those who are behind is a constant balancing act the teacher must perform.

3. The children will try the substitute teacher for approximately two hours after the departure of the real teacher. They may try things such as telling the sub they get double snacks, suggesting proper recourse for a misbehaving classmate, or inferring that the sub is doing everything wrong. Self-doubt is preyed upon and must not be visible to the children!

4. The good thing about being a sub is that you get to make your own rules and don’t have to really do it the way the teacher would. You can wreak havoc and then never return.  *insert evil laugh here*

5. Children who are in special classes for extra help may not remember that you were there three weeks ago and know full well they know how to do their math homework and count to 20 on a number line, no matter what they say!

6. Watching two very mobile special education children on a playground with 150 other kids is not my idea of a picnic.

7. Carrying a 50 lb. special education kid who has fallen and scraped her knee makes you feel like you’re in the World’s Strongest (Wo)Man contest after about 100 feet.

8. Some classes are more emotionally unstable than others and you may feel as if you’ve played Dr. Phil to a host of tiny socialites before going home for the day.

9. Some boys will draw inappropriate additions to dot-to-dot animals that may crack up the substitute teacher – on the inside.

10. Orchestrating Dodge Ball between 50 children is one of the greatest thrills you could ever hope to have.

11. A PE whistle brings about an undue sense of power.

12. Some children who have problems at home may feel compelled to tell a complete stranger of their plight.

13. Having the appropriate response to “My dad’s in jail!” is not something I’d ever thought of before.

14. My son is now widely known throughout the school because his mother has been a substitute teacher. He beams with pride every day that I am there.

15. Children that I have had in class before remember me, holler at me, and hug me in the hallway.

16. This may be as close to a celebrity as I ever become.

17. I love decorating bulletin boards!

18. I’m only 5’9”, but second graders see me as an amazon woman, and point it out regularly!

19. School may be the only personalized attention that some children get all day.

20. I’m more thankful each day for my own children, for their personalities and abilities, for our family and our home life, for their ideas and independence, and for the chance to see the other side through the eyes of a substitute teacher.

See, and you thought kids were the only ones getting anything out of this thing called SCHOOL!

Now go out and hug a teacher today! And give thanks to the greatest substitute of all – Jesus.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fly Away

Since I’ve been negligent of my blog postings lately, due to illness, substitute teaching and some light traveling, I thought I’d post some pictures from this year’s monarch raising as the season draws to an end. The song that is most applicable, of course, is I’ll Fly Away, and I think of my monarchs every time I hear it. Now everyone sing along: 

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,

I'll fly away;

To a home on God's celestial shore,

I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, Oh Glory

I'll fly away;

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I'll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have gone,

I'll fly away;

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I'll fly away

I'll fly away, Oh Glory

I'll fly away;
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,

I'll fly away;

To a land where joy shall never end,

I'll fly away

I'll fly away, Oh Glory

I'll fly away;

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I'll fly away.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hand to Hold

“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, you steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:11-12

There we were, out in the barn again, having a late night run around. Then it was time to head to the house, it was after dark, after all.

My 7YO, caught in mid-run when my husband flipped off the light, unfortunately found himself sprawled out on a chicken cage in a matter of seconds in the dark.

His injuries were announced with screaming and husband flipped the light back on. Bruised and scraped shin, scratched arm with giant bruise, and several other areas where skin had once been, but was no more. A horrendous crash!

Of course, I tried to comfort him as best I could, but was really empty-handed until we got back into the house. He asked, “Will you carry me?” My 7YO weighs more than 60 lbs. now. I have found with chicken and horse feed that my weight limit is approximately 40 lbs. from house to barn.

“No, honey, I can’t carry you,” I say.

“Well, just hold my hand then,” he says.

So I did.

And that made him feel better. Good enough that he was able to walk to the house and wipe his tears away. He almost rejected my SpongeBob band-aids I have for such an occasion.

Sometimes all it takes to get us through a painful spell is a hand to hold to lead us.

Proper lighting doesn’t hurt either.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of the light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” John 12:35-36

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Old House

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to tear down and a time to build.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3

Our house is old.

The courthouse says it is older than I am by 6 years, but I believe that to be true for only parts of it.

I believe the closets are from the 1930s judging by the wallpaper and plasterboard walls behind it.

So that makes it WAY older than me.

And then there’s the upstairs.

Strangely more modern but with impossibly small, steep stairs and creaky floors.

Was an architect or general contractor even consulted for this mish mash project??

Who knows?

Needless to say, every time we try to do an “upgrade” it turns into something a bit more than what we’d bargained for. But we always learn a lot. So, today, I thought I would share what we’ve learned living in our home about its past and life before us.

1. Our neighbor, who has lived in his house since 1955, says that there was once a house on our property that burned to the ground, and then they moved in a house and built on to it. I’m guessing a house built in the 1930s and moved to this location in 1970, the year on file with the courthouse.

2. For 15 years, my house had a porch and the entry faced west.

3. In 1985, the upstairs’ two bedrooms and bathroom and two-car garage were added, creating a laundry room downstairs and a North-facing front door.

4. This occurred shortly before the previous owner bought the house. He was a bit of a do-it-yourselfer.

5. We bought the house in 2005, and moved in on December 31st. We had two mortgages for one month because our other house had not sold yet. Our other house was brand-new when we bought it.

6. The first room we “upgraded” was the kitchen. We started out with appliances since the stove had to be turned on with at pair of pliers and was harvest gold in color. The dishwasher was so loud that you couldn’t talk over it, and during the rinse cycle it would belch out a column of steam into the kitchen like some kind of deranged dragon. It also had a sea foam blue interior and was more of a glorified rinsing machine, as it never actually “washed” any dishes.

7. The walls of the kitchen were covered with lattice-patterned fruit and floral wallpaper down to a chair rail. Below the chair rail was fireboard that looked like white brick. Fancy! There was also a fake enclosure built above the cabinets to connect them up to the ceiling.

8. One night, I threw a crowbar through that fake enclosure and ripped it all out.

9. Another night, I got mad and ripped out all the wallpaper.

10. Beneath the wallpaper we found that our kitchen had once been lime green, and so it was again, much to my horror! We also found that wallpaper and fireboard hides a lot of imperfections in drywall.

11. And then there were the beams. Two big dark wooden beams running across the length of the ceiling. We didn’t like them, so we ripped them out too. The only problem was that even though the first beam was decorative, the second was not. Ooops! So it had to stay. We drywalled over it and it now matches the ceiling.

12. The chair rail was attached to the wall with three-inch nails. Guess they were afraid it might not stay put.

13. The fireboard was GLUED to the wall and then nailed. Guess they were really afraid it was going to take off.

14. Oh, and the lime green walls matched the Holly Hobby themed green contact paper that lined all of my kitchen cabinets. Holly Hobby had to stay, as she had become a part of the cabinets and could not be removed. Holly Hobby must have been a stubborn girl.

15. Our pharmacist’s husband does excellent drywall work on his days off as a fireman and had our whole kitchen finished with new ceiling matching old in three days.

16. Making walls smooth again is called “refloating” the walls.

17. Dark red paint covers anything lime green very nicely.

18. It takes months to recover from “updating” any room of your house.

19. Several, and I do mean several, months later, we started on our downstairs bathroom.

20. Our bathroom used to be some kind of porch. We found the porch floor when we tore out the top floor.

21. The earthy smell that my bathroom had had when it was damp outside was actually the remnants of what had been quite a large rat’s nest in the walls and subfloor.

22. We found lots of rat droppings, an empty box of D-con, rocks, and a sock in the walls. Not sure on the rocks or the sock.

23. We also found rat bones under the tub and sink.

24. Sometimes a room will never be clean, no matter what you do to it, until you tear out all the walls and fixtures.

25. I wrote our names and date on the lower porch floor so that if someone ever decided to do it again, they would know they weren’t the first.

26. We also found a window behind the tub. It could not be resurrected, so it is still behind the tub enclosure. Only this time it is insulated and boarded up properly. We hope!

27. That disgusting feeling can sometimes be eliminated with a fresh coat of paint, or a ShopVac.

28. Our living room had a huge draft from the window behind (yes, behind) our entertainment center, so since the weather has been nice, we decided to “fix” it last Saturday.

29. The window was broken and installed in such a way that the window could not be fully closed.

30. The trim boards were (again) nailed to the walls with three-inch nails.

31. There must have been a big sale on three-inch nails.

32. Our drywall in the living room was placed directly over the paneling that had once covered the walls. It was that lovely shade of brown-gray so popular in the 1970s.

33. If a tornado ever comes, we have lots of wall reinforcement downstairs.

34. Our luck it will be the only house still standing.

35. You should always measure and have a replacement window in hand before tearing out an old window.

36. Nothing is standard size on my house.

37. Home Depot and Lowe’s take up to three weeks to get a custom window in.

38. The Habitat for Humanity Restore might have what you’re looking for, but it will be at the bottom of the pile, and your children will become very cranky.

39. A standard sized window can work if you have a husband and an uncle that are so inclined to remove the outside covering of your house, trim down a vinyl window to just the frame, move the header of the window and several side boards, and cut through the drywall inside the house.

40. We now have one standard-sized vinyl window.

41. And all the other windows on the downstairs of the house are encased in rock on one side.

42. Should make for interesting window replacement in the future.

43. More window replacement will not occur for several, and I do mean several, months.

44. Oh, and the old window frame had turquoise blue paint on it. What a colorful life our house has led!

45. The more work we do to our house, the more it becomes “ours”.

Happy home remodeling, if that so happens to be what you’re doing today. Otherwise, be thankful you’re not in the throes of updating!

Oh, and don’t come over just yet. We haven’t put everything in the living room back in its place just yet, since I’ve decided to paint it while the furniture is all moved. And then there are two more windows to replace, which will require all new trim… It could be several, and I do mean several, more months!

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homekeeper Journal 8/25/10

Fall musings with prompts provided by the Christian Homekeeper Network.  They have a new message board too.  Check them out for encouragement:

Autumn in my kitchen means ……. Comfort food! Soups, stews, pie, rolls, bread, turkey, ham. All the stuff you just don’t want to have in the oven/on the stove all day when it is hot. Plus, I think cooler weather makes me more hungry. Anyone else?

Autumn in my home brings …….breaking out the Halloween decorations and getting ready for winter. This year, I have high hopes of insulating some window sills before it gets too cold to eliminate some drafts. We’ll see how that goes, since one is behind my entertainment center.

I bring Autumn indoors by ……..tracking leaves throughout the house… Oh, this probably meant intentionally… by decorating with pumpkins from our pasture.

A few favorite Autumn activities for my family are …….we always intently watch our pumpkins grow, we collect caterpillars from the milkweed plants and raise monarch butterflies, and we always look forward to a big pile of leaves to throw around and jump in.

Two favorite Autumn recipes are …….Pumpkin pie, and chicken and dumplings.

This Autumn I would like to ………Have friends over for a big burn pile party.  Last year we cooked hotdogs over a wheelbarrow full of hot coals and had a good redneck time. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Want Some of This

“The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:3

I told you our pony was a pig. This summer was no different, as he spent his days eating himself into potbelliedness and eventually into lameness. Self-control does not run in the family.

About a month ago, after I’d taken the kids to Branson, I returned to find Roany a little gimpy. The hub and I hastily constructed a stall in the barn and used a couple of rows of chains to keep Roany in. The chains did not work, as apparently Roany Pony is somewhat of an equine Harry Houdini, so I constructed a gate for said stall a couple of days later. But not to be overcome by a diet, during his time of escape, he promptly knocked over my feed barrel and ate the rest of the chicken food as well.

Hard to say whether it was the grass or all that chicken food that finally put him over the edge, but he came down with a fairly decent case of founder. He was lame for about four days and then eventually began to recover. We kept him in the stall a little over a week, then mowed his pasture short, and he’s been fine ever since.

What struck me as funny during his whole doctoring dilemma was the response I got from my horse, Scooter. He was SO jealous! He thought that if Roany was receiving special treatment, so should he!

Roany was confined to a 12 x 12 dirt-floored stall 24 hours a day.

Scooter had the run of the pasture.

Roany received minimal rations of hay and feed every day.

Scooter could eat as much as he wanted.

Roany would have to wait for me to tie him to the tree each evening for 30 minutes to eat.

Scooter had his freedom and could be outside all day.

Yet, Scooter would run the fence and snort and holler for me every time I went out to check on Roany.

Did he really think Roany was better off?

Did he really think Roany was getting something that he was missing out on?

It made me think about how sometimes we see a certain person’s lifestyle and think, “Man, I wish I could live like that.” But then in reality, if we had their lifestyle, would we think it was so great after all?

I’m pretty sure that had the tables been turned for Roany and Scooter, Scooter would have behaved much like Roany. He would have pouted. He would have looked at me like I had betrayed him. He would have looked for any opportunity to escape his circumstances. And he would have resented his current life based on the life he’d had before his confinement, even if it was for his own good.

May you be happy today with what you have and may you never founder. You never know what you might find on the other side of the fence.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homekeeper Journal 8/18/10

Writing prompts provided by The Christian Homekeeper Network.  Try them yourself:, or read how others have interpreted them.  This week's topic: Simplicity.  I think the tractor seat I spent three hours sitting in on Monday is a perfect example of stripped down simplicity.  Sometimes it might be painful, but it really is all you need. 

Simplicity means …. Focusing on what’s important, getting rid of the stuff that isn’t.  Like in the above example, padding. 

I could probably simplify my kitchen by …. Removing our island cabinet. It seems to be the black hole of the house where everything ends up that doesn’t really have a place or purpose. But if I took it out, we would just throw our stuff on the table, or the couch, or the floor, or somewhere else.

My life needs simplifying in these areas …. Electronics. I think I could totally do without some of the electronic entertainment that has infiltrated my life. Although, where would I get my news without Facebook??  Oh, and papers!  Enough paper comes and goes through my house each year, that I truly wonder how we have any trees left on earth. 

I tend to go overboard with … or, I can’t seem to find a balance with… organization. And it really is a little of both. I have areas of the house that are good to go, but then some areas are just the pits. But I’m working on that. Slowly.

My favorite simple dinner is …. Grilled cheese. Or cereal. Or ice cream.

My spiritual life needs simplifying especially in this area ….. I think I need to be better about reaching out to people, but that really isn’t my personality. We all get so busy that we forget to spend time with others besides our family, yet our family could really benefit by spending time with others. It’s a vicious cycle that I hope one day to break. Maybe when I’m not so busy….

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mowing Musings

“All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:6-9

Mowing is the single-most destructive thing that I do. I’m reminded each and every time, when innocent frogs, grasshoppers, spiders, butterflies, dragonflies and other hopping critters fan out from my path of destruction. Mowing is mostly an aesthetic practice. I say ‘mostly’ because if we didn’t do it, the mice and snake population would most likely increase closer to the house, and that places it in the necessity category in my book to keep away the snakes and mice.

My weekly yard mowing sessions are usually kind of a self-reflective ritual that I have, but today I brush hogged the back pasture and had about three hours on a loud noisy tractor with exhaust blowing in my face to self-reflect, and it turns out that’s a little too much time for me to be introspective.

My thoughts began to wander to my surroundings. My first thought was wonder. After the heat we’ve had the last couple of weeks, it was a wonder anything was alive anyway. But I began to notice that not only was the grass alive, it seemed quite content to keep on growing in the 100+ temperatures, despite our lack of rain recently. A new baby catalpa tree had sprouted up since last mowing and was about two feet tall. I hacked it down since it really wasn’t in an ideal location. I also had a baby willow tree that had shot up by the old Christmas tree, where all the dead pets are buried, and I decided to leave it. I wondered if it came from my neighbor’s willow tree that he has by his pond. Maybe someday I too will have a pond. I want a pond. Maybe the willow tree is marking the spot.

I noticed that the different grasses in my pasture were quite distinct. The big bluestem (or what I think is big bluestem based on my plant science classes many moons ago) was nearly as tall as I was seated on the tractor. The fescue almost looked like waves of grass below. Some kind of grass with a reddish tinge to its leaves had gone to see in wild little fuzzy cattail looking bunches. The Bermuda was nearly dead. I vowed to never have a pasture of primarily Bermuda grass for fear the horses will starve to death.

I noticed there were purple wildflowers in my pasture. Some were low to the ground and looked almost like morning glories. Others were tall and purple and the butterflies seemed to be particularly interested in them. After chopping down several, I began to have second thoughts about all my destruction. Then I noticed a patch with quite a few and decided to leave it alone. Hope the butterflies enjoy their oasis in the pasture.

I also began to take notice of my tractor driving and tried to maximize each swath that the brush hog cut. My corners were over-exaggerated and I thought there must be some way to keep them from getting all pointy and hard to maneuver, but alas I was not smart enough to figure it out. I thought that a triangle must be the hardest shape to mow. I vowed never to have a triangular pasture. Or enter a tractor driving contest.

And proper tractor posture is very hard to maintain. Just so you know.

Just when I was thinking that I must be getting too much exhaust in the face, I looked up and saw an eagle. At least I think it was an eagle. It was quite a ways away and appeared to have a brown body and a distinct light-colored head area. Now I think I know where some of my chickens must have gone. Must not have been back to the mother ship after all.

As I was finishing up, I rethought the eagle episode. Maybe they were vultures. Maybe they were circling because they knew I wouldn’t last much longer. Maybe I’d really had too much exhaust.

But then I went back to thinking they were eagles because it’s much more pleasant to think my poultry gave its life for the symbol of our country instead of for a nasty old vulture.

Hope you’re having a great day today and enjoying your surroundings. And if you’re mowing, I hope the vultures aren’t circling and that you haven’t had too much exhaust!

“As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Day of ??

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.” Deuteronomy 4:31

During the school year last year, I wondered what I would do with the kids all summer long. I dreaded the last day of school because at that moment I would become their own personal concierge and I felt responsible for keeping them entertained.

Today, my job is done, at least from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. Today is the first day of school.

All the swimming, playing, museum visiting, zoo tripping, road-tripping, fun of summer is over. They’re back to school and I’m left sitting, feeling somewhat empty.

After spending a large portion of the day yesterday at a water park and getting the sunburn to show for it, we had “meet the teacher” last night. We dropped off all the school supplies for my older kid first and saw that four kids from his previous class would be his classmates again this year. Then it was over to the Kindergarten center with my youngest. He has the same teacher as older brother did (in fact, older brother has taken it upon himself to plan out the rest of younger brother’s school career), so it was more a formality than anything.

This morning, we dropped Mr. Second Grader off at the curb and he jumped out of the car with a “See Ya!” and ran off. Then it was over to the Kindergarten center where parents and families were all walking their “big kids” to class. My “big kid” didn’t want me walking him in! I had to make excuses and tell him I HAD to walk him in since it was the first day of Kindergarten. He obliged. We saw one girl that he knew from 4-H was going to be in his class and I introduced him to a couple of kids whom I knew as babies. He had been bouncing off the walls all week with excitement about Kindergarten, but now reality was staring him in the face.

His face fell.

I knew how he felt.

So, I did what any good mother who wanted to retain her composure did, and gave him a quick hug and kiss and ran for the car. I’m sure he was fine, and I was extremely glad he was not the little girl at the front door, whose mother had just left, throwing a fit that was making the windows rattle.

As other parents clung ever more tightly to their children.

My reality is staring me in the face today. I have no one to entertain but myself. I bought chicken food on the way home from dropping them off, but really, I have no other obligations today. I’m sure I’ll get used to my new routine very shortly, but today has me thinking maybe I should clean the bathrooms just for fun.

Or take a nap.

Or clean the carpets.

Or make a quilt.

Or paint the bedroom.

Wait a minute…

I can do whatever I want!

I don’t have to answer to anyone.

Or get them to put their shoes on.

Or ask them what they want to do.

At least not until 3:00 pm.

Better go, time’s a wasting!

Maybe I’m not so empty after all.

“… my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Things We Do

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2

My 7YO started Tae Kwon Do classes about a month ago after his Pa Pa took him to see The Karate Kid movie and he declared, “I want to fight kids!” We figured it would last about a week, and after one good whack, he’d be out. Now, several whacks and some gut punches later, he’s still in and is convinced he just needs to learn how to block. We go three times a week for a total of four hours and it was suggested by my hub that maybe I should join in as well, instead of just sitting there with the other mothers.

“You’re mean enough. You ought to be good at it,” he said.

So I whacked him.

Not with the trained skill or correct form of Tae Kwon Do. I guess that will come with practice.

So last night, after weeks of putting it off, I joined in the class of punching, kicking, and stretching. We line up by rank based on belt color. Since I’m brand new, I’ll eventually have a white belt, but I’m putting off buying the outfit until I determine if my hip will hold out. I’m at the end of the line with a 5YO and my 7YO.

During the stretches, they told me I needed to keep my legs straight. I told them I was trying, but that I was old. They didn’t buy it.

Then we had to practice moves across the mat. The flying leg kicks almost did me in, as I felt little electrical impulses traveling up and down my spine. I figured this morning I’d be bed-ridden. At the end of the class, we practiced self-defense moves. I blocked a punch and knocked one little boy to the mat while I tickled him to ward off his attack. I also took a pretty good shin kick from the 5YO who complained about my legs not being straight.

Aside from pain in my hamstring this morning, there was one side effect that I had not counted on. My 7YO was so PROUD of me. He thought I did great and told his dad all about my throwing the little boy down. He told me I was a great Mommy and gave me the biggest hug.

So, even though Tae Kwon Do was not my idea and I’ve never met an exercise that I liked, I’m pretty excited about going back tonight for round two.

And I must admit: knocking down kids on purpose is kind of fun.

“My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.” Psalm 7:10

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking The Plunge

“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced…” 1 Chronicles 16:12

Sometimes our memories of things just aren’t quite what they should be. Sometimes our memories are worse. Sometimes time has softened what was once reality. So it was at Silver Dollar City last week.

I wrote before about our last trip to SDC and our forcing the boys to ride the Lost River of the Ozarks ride and their horror and distrust resulting thereafter. On our visit last week, I decided to continue on with the tradition (albeit only a few months old) of making the kids ride one new age-appropriate ride per visit to the park. Hey, if we’re going to pay the big bucks to get in, we might as well ride at least a few of the rides. And I really think they might like the rides once they are over their initial shock.

On Thursday, our designated water day, we entered the park early and headed straight for the Lost River of the Ozarks ride. Everything went off without a hitch. We rode with a grandma and grandpa from Dallas who had brought their pre-teen granddaughter on the trip and my kids seemed to enjoy their second consecutive survival of the giant tube.

Since I was on a roll now, I thought we should go ahead and try the American Plunge. It is a good old-fashioned log ride, and it was one of my favorite rides growing up. I had no reservations that it was to be enjoyable for the kids. We stood on the bridge and watched several of the logs come down the giant slide into the splashdown area, and then we got in line ourselves.

The three of us rode with an older sister and her little brother who apparently was quite a ride rider himself. He was all of about 4, so my boys should have been bolstered by his confidence. So there we were, little brother, older sister, 7YO, 5YO, and me in the very back of the giant log. Things were going swimmingly as they released us out into the open waters. We went through a little cave and saw some kind of statue being drown in a whirlpool while a fake dog tried to pull the spinning head out of the water. The kids thought he was being flushed down the toilet. Then we rounded the corner and met up with the giant conveyer belt that was to take us to our destiny.

This is where reality began to set in and I realized that this was not going to be the happy little ride I remembered from childhood. I hadn’t ridden this ride since I was a teenager and was probably more desensitized to thrilling experiences at that age. It became evident to my 33YO brain that all hell was about to break loose once we made it over the top of the conveyor belt. I grabbed hold of my 5YO and braced my feet along the sides in an attempt to keep him firmly planted in the log. I left the 7YO to fend for himself and hoped he had sufficiently sandwiched himself in between the 5YO and the older sister in front of him. I made last minute attempts to have my sons brace their feet on the sides as well, just as we topped the veritable peak of doom.

And then we surrendered to gravity and were all hurled 9 million miles per hour down the 20 foot drop to the splashdown area. My teeth loosened in their sockets and I did what I’ve always done on thrill rides – closed my eyes and screamed. Only this time, my scream was at least partly genuine, as I knew then that I was the cause of what could have been one of the more frightening experiences of my children’s lives. And that they would probably never trust me to be the judge of a ride for them again. And they were probably wondering if we were all going to die, since their mother was screaming like a banshee.

Nevertheless, we all survived the log ride. The kids used words like horrible, terrible and awful to describe their ride and my 7YO said his eyes almost popped out. I kind of would have liked to have had a picture of that. They used to take your picture coming down the big slide. Not sure if they still do or not, since my children weren’t hanging around that place any longer than they had to.

And I was soaked. I looked like I had taken a bath with my clothes on. I remembered a time when I would have been ecstatic to have been the wettest on a ride. I remember a time when I used to ride any roller coaster in the park, so long as I could scream and close my eyes. I remember a time when the log ride didn’t scare me, and I realized I’m all washed up!

We spent the rest of the day in the ball house and riding the butterflies, tea cups, and flying elephants.

And I didn’t scream once!

“Look to the Lord and his strength; see his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weary Travelers

Then they said to him: “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” Judges 18:5-6

Ok, I’ve been busy again. I’ll blame it all on the children, but they go to school two weeks from tomorrow and my excuses will be gone all day, so we’ll see what I come up with then.

Today, however, I’ll catch you up on last week. On Tuesday, Tulsa County Fair Entry Day, the kids had their Lego ships built to enter into the Cloverbud exhibits and I had 15 pictures that I thought I would enter just for fun. Entry time was 4:00 pm and sometime during the day, I got the itch to go somewhere. So I decided we would run our entries into Tulsa to the fair and then promptly head home, pack, and take off to my dad’s where we would spend the night, and head over to Branson, MO in the morning. Hub had to work, so I was on my own with the kids. I was so brave!

Our 2 ½ hour drive on Wednesday was uneventful and the kids hardly spoke as we had stopped by the library and stocked up on comic books before the whole fair thing on Tuesday. They were engrossed in Batman and Superman, and luckily do not get car sick from reading. We rolled into Silver Dollar City about 11:00 am and ate PB&J sandwiches in the car before heading in. It was nearly 100 that day, and the kids didn’t want to wear their sandals to do any water rides because they didn’t have the full bathing suit wardrobe on. What were we thinking??

KidsFest was going on, which means there were lots of extra kid activities to be done around the park, all of which are my children’s favorites. We hit the colored sand tubs, the indoor play area in the a/c’d barn (break from the heat) and the magic show (break from the heat). We walked miles and miles, and made it until almost 5:00 pm that evening at the park. I noticed people staring at me on our way out. When I got to the car, my face was as red as a beet and looked like I was about to pop.

Then we cooled off at the motel pool, ate pizza, and then headed over to the Branson Landing area to see the fire and water fountain at 8:30 pm. As we sat there, the fog rolled in over the river and the temperature immediately dropped probably 20 degrees. My kids obviously don’t get out much and were just amazed at the lightposts that played music and had different color-changing lights, as well as the lit up trees. They likened the trees to Moses’ burning bush.

Then it was back to the motel where I was sure we would all pass out from exhaustion, but we ended up staying up until 11:00 pm watching Billy the Exterminator. It was the only remotely appropriate show I could find on and the kids loved it so much, they are looking forward to tonight when it is on again. I would secretly like them to dress like Billy, but my luck they would want his hairstyle too, and I’m not sure I could handle it.

Thursday, we were back at the park about 9:30 am, bathing suits on, and intended to stay only until noon or so. We rode two majorly wet rides right off the bat (one of which I will tell you of our experiences on tomorrow) and were soaked for the rest of the day. Noon turned into one, then two, then three, and we ended up staying until almost 5:00 pm that day too. Countless miles were walked once again.

That evening the oldest had a special request for onion rings, so I took them to the A&W restaurant where I like to consume gallons of root beer from the tap. My Nanna had an A&W back when I was a baby, and I attribute my affinity to the stuff to having a baby bottle full of it on a regular basis.

I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Who would give a baby pop?

I’m thinking the answer may be – my family!

It would also account for all my childhood cavities too.

Anyway, just as the onion rings were served up, the kids began to fall asleep in the booth. As they slowly ate away at their food, their eyes rolled around in their heads that were slowly nodding to the table. I almost had to carry them out of there.

Friday morning, we got up, saw our friends from home who just happened to be staying at our hotel too at breakfast, and then headed home. We took an hour break at my dad’s house, even though no one was there, and then headed homeward again. Then at 5:00 pm that evening, it was back to the Tulsa County Fair for an ice cream fundraiser, and to see how we made out while we were away. The kids both got blue ribbons (everyone gets the same in Cloverbuds) and I got a first, a second, and two thirds with my pictures, once beating out someone I know who has a MUCH more expensive camera than I do.

All in all, a wild week for us!

Then we all went home and slept like dead people. The end.

[Jesus said] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homekeeper Journal 7/20/10


Something new I would like to attempt in my kitchen ………..finishing my backsplash. It is metal and has been a real booger to install. We’re using galvanized roofing metal and the little bumps always seem to be over an outlet or something.

When the newness wears off a relationship you find ………. out if you’re really as interesting to the other person as you thought you were.

The new school year starts around here on ……. August 12th. Second grade and Kindergarten for us. I hope my children get patient teachers who really like their job.

I need to start …….. figuring out what to do with myself after the children go back to school. I intend to redo the floor in my bathroom (and finish the backsplash), but I doubt that will take me nine months.

God’s mercies are new every morning so ……….. maybe I should remember that and be more patient with my own children.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bite Your Lip


“For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty destroyed.” James 1:11

I’ve seen enough tabloid magazines to know that a pouty pucker is all the rage as far as beauty standards go. Full lips are a desired trait, so much so that women are willing to go the route of having them injected with collagen and who knows what other substances to achieve this beautiful trait. I, personally, have never had any collagen treatments, but I can tell you an alternative method.

Because it was a scorcher yesterday, the boys and I were in the pool. As it is with most boys, they desire action in the swimming pool as opposed to my calmly floating around on my blow-up version of a chaise lounge. They want splashing and jumping and waves and water up their noses. All the things I am against while floating around peacefully.

Most of the time, they realize that I am no fun for them in the pool and quickly enlist Daddy to fill the role. Daddy was off doing something involving a ladder on the front of the house. So after practicing our newly learned swim lesson moves, I caved. First I picked the 5YO up and threw him back first into the water. Then the 7YO. Then the 5YO wanted to go belly first into the water, so I obliged. And this is where I should have stopped. Laughing and smiling and having a good time clouded my better judgment. As with all good times, it is always fun until somebody gets hurt. And that somebody is usually me.

I lifted my 7YO out of the water by his armpits (he weighs 60 pounds and is getting hard to maneuver), and flung him into the air. Just as I was letting go, he threw his rock-hard-basketball-shaped head that he inherited from his mother back, slamming it into my mouth. I thought he’d knocked my two front teeth out and that I’d bit completely through what was once known as my lower lip. My top teeth got the outside of it and my lower teeth got the inside. Then I tasted blood. I covered my wound, expecting blood to be running down my face any minute, and excused myself to cry without a child audience.

I went into the house to examine my wounds, and found it was merely a flesh wound. Barely noticeable, except for the additional heartbeat added to my lip. It hurt really bad, but I would live. Then, about thirty minutes later, I tried to tell my husband what happened and noticed I couldn’t talk right. I went to the mirror, and there it was – my FAT LIP. The first one I’ve had since adolescence.

And, of course, my fat lip lasted through the night. So today, if I look a little sad, if I seem a little pouty, or if I look like I’ve had a bad trip to the collagen doctor, remember I AM BEAUTIFUL! Fat lip and all.

Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about the paparazzi finding me and making fun of my bad lip job!

“May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.” Psalm 119:171

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Excessive Heat Warning

“(The sun) rises at one end of the heavens and makes it circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” Psalm 19:6

Today's forecast is HOT.  In fact, it will be EXCESSIVELY HOT.  Great.

Today: Mostly sunny, hot, and humid.

Winds: South 10-15 mph

Afternoon High: 96(Heat Index: Near 112)

Drink plenty of fluids. Stay in air-conditioned rooms. Dress in light colored, light weight clothing. Take frequent breaks from the heat. Check on your neighbors and relatives.

Also, be aware that pets need extra protection from the heat, and a lot of cool fresh water.

Since the heat is so prevalent, I thought that I would share with you some heat-related childhood memories from the good old days today.

As I’ve said before, I stayed with my Nanna a lot as a kid. Nanna’s trailer didn’t have air conditioning. Her trailer had small roll out windows under bigger plate glass windows that allowed plenty of light and heat to come in, with little hopes of getting it out. We put aluminum foil on the big windows to try to reflect the sun away from us. I remember peeking through the foil to see if my mom had come to pick me up. And that aluminum foil got HOT.

Nanna also had a screen door for a while that we would leave open as more of a symbolic gesture. You see, when it is 100 degrees outside, any breeze feels like a hairdryer.

My summers were filled with the whir of box fans that probably kept us from overheating during the day, and made it a little more possible to sleep when it was still too hot even at night. I would sit right in front of the fan and I remember talking into it to make my voice sound funny. Nanna was always worried that my long hair would get sucked into the fan, but it never did.

Then one summer, when I was 10 or so, some of the elders from church came over and cut a hole in the side of my Nanna’s trailer and installed a window unit air conditioner. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven! My Nanna was probably about 75 at this time and that a/c could have been a life extender for her. Summer is hard on old folks. See above about checking on your neighbors and relatives.

These days, I couldn’t live without air conditioning and my children should be thankful they’ve not had to experience the true heat of an Oklahoma summer. Our respite inside or in the shade or in the pool is awesome in this kind of weather.

So if you come across a stubborn old woman who lives in a trailer that is much too hot because she’s always lived without air conditioning, and her windows are much too small, and she thinks the fans work just fine, remember you may have to make a window where only a wall was before. And that she’ll eventually thank you. And that it is for her own good.

Stay cool! 
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homekeeper Journal 7/13/10


Prompts provided by Sylvia at the Christian Homekeeper Network at
Try them on your blog!

In my kitchen this week ………. Pickles. Made them today. No word yet on whether they are comparable to last year’s fire-breathing vinegar version I made. We ate them just the same, but I felt like had serious heartburn for two days afterwards.

I think we do/do not eat healthily because …….. We eat as healthy as can be expected with two small children and a mother who considers Little Debbie her long lost sister. I really like sugar, and I’m trying to do better so I won’t eventually weigh 300 lbs. But at the end of the day, sometimes you just NEED a bowl of ice cream. Or cereal. Or a brownie.

Dear Lord, please let my metabolism hold out. Amen.

My family is/is not resistant to healthy eating because …….. We’re pretty open to trying new foods since I have a pretty good track record with the family in the whole cooking arena. I can usually read through a recipe though and know whether or not it is something we will all eat. I try to make dishes that the four of us all will consume, so that the kitchen doesn’t become my short-order diner.

I do have a garden ………. although technically it really isn’t much of one. We do have raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapeƱos, bell peppers, corn, peas (done now), potatoes, onion, gourds and squash, just not a lot of any one of these things. I also have big giant sunflowers this year that will provide some winter entertainment for the wild birds, and the pumpkins out in the pasture are coming along nicely. I’m trying out elderberries this year, and we’ve rediscovered mulberries. Wow! Sounds like I’ve had more gardening success than I gave myself credit for.

The hardest part about eating healthily for me and my family is ……….. my own love of junk food! I used to eat a bag of chips for lunch with a big bottle of pop when I was a teenager. I’ve been off the pop and chips for years, only imbibing occasionally, but sometimes they still call my name. I also love bread, cake, desserts, donuts – anything with sugar really. I would never think of eating a piece of fruit as a snack. The truth is I probably eat healthier right now than I ever have in my life, yet I could fall off the wagon at any moment.

Dear Lord, please let my metabolism hold out. Amen.

My favorite thing about preparing and serving healthy foods is …… that I can’t feel it immediately going to my spare tire. Some foods, I swear, I can literally feel clinging to their sister fat cells around my abdomen.

Well, time to do sit ups or something. Maybe I’ll have a brownie to comfort me instead.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Prodigal Son

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:22-24

Two Christmases ago, my step-mother bought the kids a couple of stuffed animals from the dollar store. One was a panda, who never really found his place in life; the other a stuffed tiger, to whom my 7YO firmly attached himself. He named him Baby Jaguar, and nearly wore the hide clean off that poor stuffed animal. We took him everywhere with us – the zoo, to church, in the car, on trips – and he slept with him under his pillow every night. He also loved spinning him around by his tail and I had to stitch up Baby Jaguar at least once from some over-loving.

And then that fateful day that every parent with a child with a favorite small toy dreads came, and it was said at bedtime, “I can’t find my Baby Jaguar.” We looked around, but told him he’d just have to find him in the morning. But he didn’t. That was over six months ago.

Several reconnaissance missions have been deployed to find the missing Baby Jaguar. We first started with all the usual hiding places, but no Baby Jaguar was to be found. Then we cleaned the whole house, looking in the not-so-usual hiding spaces, but found nothing. Tears and moans and worries went on for months until we’d finally resolved ourselves to the fact that we were not going to find Baby Jaguar.

In April, our church had a garage sale (read all about our fun here: Rummage Sale) where I found a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. We read that book, and even though I didn’t initially tie the story back to the loss of Baby Jaguar, the kids immediately thought that my 7YO had surely loved him too much and that he’d became real and ran away. The odds of us seeing a Jaguar in our yard were extremely low!

The kids finally stopped asking about him regularly and we kind of forgot about him.

Then one day, my 7YO decided that he must have left him at the church where he liked to throw him up into the air. He made up the story that he must have fallen into one of the lights and that we needed to look there. My husband took a ladder to all the church lights in the gym. Several balls, some partially melted and potential fire hazards, were found, but no Baby Jaguar.

And then he stopped asking about him for quite some time again.

Late in June, we were on the way to my dad’s when he asked about him again. He said maybe we could look for him when we got there. By this time, I knew we would probably never find his Baby Jaguar, so I told him that if we didn’t find him at Pa Pa’s house, that we would stop by the zoo on the way home and see if they had one like Baby Jaguar in the gift shop. We looked at Pa Pa’s house, but, of course, no Baby Jaguar.

I didn’t even know if they would have any stuffed tigers in the zoo gift shop, since all I’d ever seen in there were larger animals that ran about $15.00. Surely, though, $15.00 was a small price to pay for the angst of Baby Jaguar to heal. Plus, I knew in the back of my head that if we bought a replacement, we would surely find the old one! Isn’t that the way it always works?

I made good on my promise on June 25th. We stopped by the zoo gift shop and looked through all the animals. There weren’t any small ones where we usually looked, but as I rounded the corner, I spotted some smaller animals on a shelf. I called the kids over and they quickly located a stuffed tiger that didn’t really look like Baby Jaguar, but felt the same and was the same size. And only $7.00! What a bargain for therapy.

For two weeks, new Baby Jaguar has been tied to my 7YO’s hip, traveling in the car with us, sleeping under his pillow. Even though the kids note how he looks a little different from the old Baby Jaguar, he’s been a suitable replacement.

This morning, I hear screams from the bedroom.

“We found Baby Jaguar!”

What did I tell you?? He was in a Spiderman tool box… safe and sound… for six months!

You’ve never experienced a more joyful reunion between children and a stuffed animal!

Or a happier Mommy.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4-7

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Laps with the Cat

“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:12

Last Saturday morning was a rainy one, and we were trying to get our bags packed to head out to my dad’s for the weekend. My 5YO was not listening and would not get his stuff together, so my hub sent him out to run laps in the backyard. I’d heard the door shut, and couldn’t locate the 5YO, so I asked my hub where he was.

“Running laps in the backyard,” he confidently says.

I say, “Are you sure about that?”

“Yes,” he says, as I open the blinds and see our 5YO standing down under our bedroom window, fish umbrella in hand, petting and talking to the cat. I knocked on the window and he proceeded to run his lap, with cat following behind. She fell behind at one point and he waited for her to catch back up, so the cat ended up taking a lap with him.

When my 5YO returned indoors, I asked him “What were you and the kitty talking about?”

He said, “She asked me, ‘Are you running to the barn?’” in an excited voice.

I said, “What did you say?”

He said, “I said, ‘Kitty, I don’t have time for this!’” in his most serious voice.

And my husband and I almost died laughing!

Thank God for friends who support us through thick and thin, punishment or not, even if they are not at fault, and when we seem to have no time for them. And for make-believe conversations between pets and children that make us laugh.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24