Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ALL DONE

Thanks to Amy's encouragement and help from Joel, we are ready to go.

I just have to take a shower and sleep, and then we'll be on our way to California.

You all have a wonderful Christmas and take care. Signing out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sickness Round 2

Emmy and I both have a mild tummy bug. It's not strep, and I was able to cook and do some cleaning today, but not because I wanted to.

Today we played "cook all the perishable food in the fridge." It was a fun game and the chicken noodle soup is yummy.

I am thinking about switching to Blogger Beta, but the page you read before switching says "YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK." And that's just scary. But I think that's why people have been having problems commenting. Blogger's trying to get me for not switching.

Tomorrow:
Clean house
Do all laundry
Pack
Run two four errands: dry cleaning, Costco, library, food for M
Balance Quicken
Pay credit card bills

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Random List

A. I am very tired.
B. I am getting sick. Sore throat and I ate something yucky the other day.
C. There has been no packing done as of yet, and no lists made.
D. I got my nativity scene up 3 days before we're supposed to leave. It's on a timer and will stay on while we are gone. I'll post a picture tomorrow.
E. We had a mini-Christmas with Grandpa today. Emlyn got a cool toy puppy and a million legos. Denali got a tricycle and a leappad. Joel got a book and I got a book.
F. I drove to Weatherford and back with the kids yesterday. I got to sing a million Christmas carols and hang out with relatives it was totally fun but made me tired.
G. I really want to make some packing lists but I'm too tired.
H. Denali is officially a big boy. We took the side off the crib and put on the safety rail. He went to sleep without any trouble; we'll see how long that lasts.
I. I am getting a massage tomorrow.
J. I tried on a dress today and it was loose rather than tight. It was a weird feeling. I also put one of my favorite dresses in my giveaway bag because it really is too big for me. But it was sad too.
K. I am so tired!
L. I really am skinnier, y'all. I've lost 15 pounds and at least one clothing size. I'm rediscovering the things in my closet.
M. I guess I'm going to go try to sleep.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Art Car Revisited

This afternoon Amy suggested that I do some art. She knows that if I don't create things regularly it is just no good for me to even try to clean the house. Or something. Anyway she suggested it; I took it and ran with it.

Here's what we had done on our car before:
http://princessbride42.blogspot.com/2006/10/finally-done.html

And here's what I did today:

That's 2 Corinthians 4:7.


That's Hebrews 10:39.

Oops

I'm so glad I saved that bowl of compostable material in my sink for 3 days. It looks really pretty at the bottom of my trashcan.

Office on a Budget Part 4

This is the view outside from my desk. Pretty nice!

All in all it looks like we paid about $60 for all the storage in the office. Not too much, huh? Someday I would love a matching set with lots of cabinets with doors so I can hide most of the clutter. But for now it's manageable and works for us.

Advice? Just look at garage sales, Freecycle, etc for the big furniture. Then sort your projects by type and get some plastic bins for them. Just a little sorting will help things immensely.

Also always shred any mail with your name on it that you're not going to keep. We believe even junk mail should be shredded if it has our names on it.

Office on a Budget Part 3

These are my trouble spots. Even though they are technically organized they do not look very pretty and that's why I'd really like a big wall cabinet with doors to put these items on.

This shows my teaching supplies, painting supplies, and crosstitch supplies. It's nice to be able to see into the boxes, but only if you can hide the boxes sometimes.



This is pretty much mostly junk. Some of Emmy's art, a clock I need to sell, some ribbon. This is where I put stuff I don't want the kids to get into. It's supposedly only temporary.

The bin on the left is more stuff to scan and archive. So is the stack in the middle. The right boxes hold something to give away.


I probably spent about $20 on bins here. The desk was also a hand-me-down.

Office on a Budget Part 2

Below you see the other Wal**Mart shelf. I think they ran about $10 a few years ago. On this shelf are Joel's papers, our magazines and catalogs, and some computer boxes and binders. We keep only the latest issue of most magazines and catalogs, but there are some exceptions. We keep all the Consumer Reports and all of the back issues of Backpacker. See the empty shelf? Empty shelves are our friends.



This is our new file cabinet. We got it free off of Freecycle. It's about 3 times the size of our old one and we still managed to fill it up. We keep lots of papers just in case we ever need to prove we paid a certain thing. On top is all Christmas presents. Don't you wish you could look inside?

The top drawer is current files and all our warranties and instruction manuals. The second drawer is some more files, not quite as current. The third drawer holds more of Joel's papers and our outdoors files and maps. The fourth drawer holds pictures we need to scan and archive.

This is my desk. The two cabinets on the bottom were hand-me-downs from a relative and the top is a door from another part of the house we decided we didn't need anymore. I try to keep my desk pretty clear although I am not very good at it. Currently the top holds our computer, printer, scanner, pens and pencils, weather radio and battery chargers, and whatever papers I am currently working on.

The right cabinet holds empty folders and binders, etc. The left cabinet holds our receipts and Emmy's art projects. The box below holds trash. We didn't pay for any of the storage in this picture.

Office on a Budget Part 1

I'm going to tell you more about my office, which I promised to do a couple months ago. The good thing is I had to clean it a little before I took pictures, so now it's clean. And I'm not really sure why this text is blue and underlined, so sorry.


This is one corner of the office. The two shelves are Wal**Mart little ones ($10). The recent papers are on there, as well as magazines and catalogs, binders of important things, the shredder ($40) (always out of reach of the children), Joel's box of current papers, and a container with blank notepads.

Some of those things are actually empty right now, which is amazing. It's due to the new file cabinet which I will talk about later.

Joel's box is pretty big because he is not always home when I look at the mail, and he also leaves papers out with things written on them, and I never know if they need to be kept. After a year the papers go into a different place.


My favorite part in this picture is the little vertical filing thing. It's made out of cardboard and cost about $10. Some of the categories are "Sarah," "To be filed," "receipts to be entered," "VIP," "Emlyn's Art," and "Coupons." We keep all our receipts so it's important to know where they are before we enter them into Quicken. VIP is for bills and passports and other things of that nature.

This is our rolltop desk (free from a relative). Most of the drawers are full and you can see it's overflowing onto the flat space. The good thing is you can close it and most of the mess disappears.
Some of these plastic boxes ($5 each) contain Emmy's Art Supplies, my cards and postcards, scrapbooking supplies, painting supplies, crosstitch supplies, and learning supplies like flashcards. This rolltop desk is nice but it doesn't fit our needs very well. Someday we hope to sell it and buy something a little better for all those plastic boxes.


To be continued...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Electricity

The last three days in a row our electricity has blinked off and then back on at least once each day. It's not good for our computers.

I told the city; maybe they can do something about it.

Looks like we are all germ-free. I had to clean the house yesterday for visitors so I am feeling a little better about life. Plus I got a new Anne McCaffrey book from the library. I finished it in one day.

We got a nice big file cabinet off Freecycle; it is big enough to hold all the papers in our office and then some. It's so nice.

Yesterday was Emmy's Christmas program and then party. The program was hilarious as usual.

Today I'm supposed to get my teeth cleaned but because of sickness I have no babysitter. I hate canceling appointments but a four year old and a two year old at the dentist is not a good time. So I really don't know what I'm going to do about that.

Guess I need to get Emmy some breakfast.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Sick.

Well looks like Denali did get this bug after all. So much for flu shots. I am home again, watching mind-numbing TV.

And feeling guilty cause I think we got some friends sick.

And feeling a little yucky myself.

And that means I won't get to go to Amy's house today, or to caroling tomorrow, or to Emmy's Christmas program, or to the Ladies' Bible Class luncheon.

Please pray that he gets better very quickly so we won't have to cancel any more engagements.

/Feeling sorry for myself.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

:) Skinny Jeans

Thanks to Angela, I have some "new" pants to wear in my skinny size. We met up today and she gave me some pants. I am loving the ones that were her favorites! Thanks! Some of the other pairs don't fit me as well but I have high hopes for them.

Got to eat at Freebirds. Man they have good burritos.



Then I took dinner to a family. The wife was 30 weeks pregnant with baby #2 and passed away suddenly. One day she was fine, the next day she had preeclampsia. I cannot even imagine what the father is going through. I always think if you get past 20 weeks you are good to go. Not so here. Please be in prayer for this family.




I am so thankful for my blessings.

Humph

Well looks like Emmy is still sick, and she went to a birthday party yesterday. Sorry to all those moms and kids.

Now Joel is sick too.

I have to go sing at church for about 6 hours. Hope I'm not sick.

Wish Joel luck as he watches 2 kids while sick himself. I don't wish that sort of thing on anyone.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Today is Better

Got some chores done.
Don't feel so sick anymore.
Did a couple errands.
Making headway on the Christmas cards.
Cooked a yummy lunch in my new wok.
The wok is a Christmas present from sweet Joel.
Not sure if the lunch was so yummy cause I was so hungry, or if it really was yummy.
Going to get out of the house by myself later.
Tomorrow also.
Not feeling so skinny but that's okay.
My kitchen was really clean for about 5 minutes.
Going to take a small rest.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Looks Like it's the Flu

Well she hasn't kept anything down since dinner, and she's still throwing up every half hour. Guess it's the flu. I'm hoping it's a strain that Denali was vaccinated against. Here's praying no one else in our family gets it.

We are watching a TON of TV. Denali thinks he's hit the jackpot.

What's That Smell?

Time for another round of the popular game "What's That Smell?" This time it is...

Throw-up.

In a bed, then later on the linoleum (thank God).

Emmy is sick.

If it's just twice threefour times, can we still hope that it's mild food poisoning and not a virus? Can we?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It Happened Again

Somehow, once again, I am overbooked.

There are just so many neat people to visit with, and fun things to do (like cleaning my house), that I just find it very difficult to cut back.

At least when we are in CA we will have lots of hanging out time. At least that's what I tell myself.

Mostly because all you cool people won't be there to distract me (and Heather, and Lori, and Emily, and Kathy).

I'm off to take the trash out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What's That Smell?

Let's play a round of "What's That Smell?"

You've just returned from dropping your daughter off at preschool. Luckily it was a quick trip because you left the burner on, drying off the cast iron skillet!

You failed to burn the house down this time, but just wait. You'll succeed eventually!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hmm

Yes, I do believe that is my son wearing a princess pullup.

It's so beautiful, too!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Babysitting

Last night I babysat 3 extra kids. It was really fun. The older 3 (Emmy and her two friends) were very helpful as far as cleaning up was concerned, and they all played really well together. Our Christmas cards are handmade this year and the oldest one (6) helped me a whole lot with them. So if your card from me has exceptional child's writing, it's not Emlyn's, it's this other little girl's. We put them down at 8 and they all stayed in their beds and went to sleep. Amazing.

Now I just have to write about 6000 cards. Let me know if you want one.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ziggy Marley Concert



All right, the famous pictures are here. I bought this dress over Thanksgiving break and it was a surprise to Joel, along with the necklace and shoes. I was very excited to wear it on a date, and it looked really good. The only snag is that we went to a reggae concert, so I should have really been wearing a rasta outfit. But Joel (intelligently) didn't tell me to change so we were a little overdressed.

This dress is a size 14!

The concert was really good. The opening act was "Sky," a female singer who's been the lead singer for Mochibe (sp?). She was awesome. There was lots of pot and the music was really loud and they sold out. Aside from those things the music was really nice. I'm glad I went, even if I was wearing a completely wrong outfit.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Exciting News

This just in:
Due to a very good friend (Kim) offering (did you hear that? she offered!) to babysit tonight, Joel and I will be going to see a concert and I will be wearing my hot new dress. Tune in tomorrow for pictures.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Charlene and Victoria, and Parent-Teacher Conference

Charlene and Victoria are doing well. I think they will be released tomorrow; actually, they are already released but they are waiting for insurance approval of the wound-vac Victoria is using. We went over to their house today to clean a little and put some food in their pantry and fridge.

Today was our first parent-teacher conference. Emmy is doing really well in preschool even though she's the only girl among 5 boys. She knows most of her letters, follows directions, etc. There were no concerns. I am so proud of her! She's really growing up.

Our friends Mat and Amber had their second baby yesterday. His name is Erik and I am excited to meet him.

Anyone who wants to is invited to our house tonight for rock wall climbing, shrimp gumbo, and hot tubbing. You don't even have to climb if you don't want to.

I am in my skinny pants! I'm making a stack of giveaway pants and shorts because I don't intend to wear them ever again. Anyone need a size 18/XL wardrobe?

I am frantically cleaning.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

:)

Joel is home and life is good.

It drizzled yesterday; that's almost like rain.

One of my pairs of pants is too big–so big, in fact, that I think it looks bad on me and I will give it away. That's a nice feeling that I haven't had in years.

Did I mention Joel is back?

For an interesting read on pitbulls and other dog attacks, see this link. It's a longish article but definitely worth it.

I think I messed up on the shipping addresses for my Amazon purchases. Something that was supposed to go to CA came here. Now I'm wondering exactly what was shipped to CA.

Joel is back! Yay!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Charlene and Victoria are still in the hospital. I was blessed to be able to go and visit with them this morning without my kids. They are doing all right, but Victoria's mobility is really hampered and I am worried that Charlene (Victoria's mom) is more worried about her daughter than herself. Please pray for quick healing and rest for both of them.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Prayer Request

I was going to just post about my movie night but I got home and found out that some dear friends of ours were attacked by pitbulls tonight. Please lift Charlene and Victoria up in your prayers. They are stable and not too badly hurt but Victoria is in middle school and will need surgery tomorrow.


–––

I expected to be sitting and talking about how "Facing the Giants" was so inspiring and changed my life. Due to unforseen circumstances, though, my sister Ruth and I ended up seeing "One Night with the King" and I am so glad.

Imagine a love story. Beautiful costumes, attractive actors and actresses, and a compelling story. But the story is only somewhat about the love between a king and a queen. The real love story is about an average girl's love for God. She risks everything, up to and including her life, to tell the world who her allegiance is for and to petition for her family's salvation from death.

I get chills when I think that an average person can do so much good and have a lasting story such as that of Esther from the Old Testament. That would be the greatest knowledge I could have; that people would remember me for my faith in God (and also a small bit for my uncommon beauty ;).

This movie was masterfully done. I am so glad I went to see it.

Remember,
you could be put in a situation where you don't know why you're there, or what you could possibly do. But God knows. He has put you there "for such a time as this."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks

I just came from my morning walk and it reminded me to be thankful.

I am thankful for...

the two little acorns on our 5 year old live oak tree
the mist burning off of the trees and ground and looking like smoke
my little cold kitty
the seedlings which I hope will be coming up soon
good walking shoes
sisters
a full night's sleep
friends who offer to let us crash their Thanksgiving meal
online shopping
strange dreams

and

GOD.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

While the cat's away, the mice will play

Joel has embarked on his annual Mexico journey and my youngest sister is here to celebrate Thanksgiving with me. This afternoon my other sister came over and we cooked a fantastic dinner and hung out. It is lots of fun and I'm looking forward to more fun. We've already planned outings where one sister (not me) babysits and another sister goes out with me. It will be great.

Our dinner was delicious and fairly easy to make.

I ordered lots of Christmas presents online and I'm excited about them. I think I got some really good stuff this year. You know how some years it seems as though the gifts are just dutiful and not really fun; this year is the opposite. I feel as though I have gotten into people's heads and really chosen some good stuff. Of course you'll have to check back in a month to see if I was right.

My office is nicely arranged but Joel took the camera with him. You will all just have to live in suspense–or–come visit me!

Well we are watching Antiques Roadshow so I'll sign off.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Office

My office is frustrating sometimes. Joel and I try to keep the papers under control but sometimes they control us, especially with a very artsy 4 year old. She can make 20 pieces of junk art in one afternoon.

Anyway today we gave a cabinet back to its rightful owner and therefore the things that had been stored in that cabinet were suddenly all over the place, in a room that already seemed cluttered. In a panic I tried to convince Joel I should go to IKEA immediately and purchase a pretty office. He kindly reminded me that we have no money. So I called my good friend Mandi to come stare at it with me and maybe give me some ideas of what to do with no money and a bunch of junk important papers.

She and I looked at everything, I threw away a bunch of stuff, and now it's starting to look usable again. Sometime I will post pictures of what you can do with an office even when it's composed of old, non-matching furniture.

Now I need to read to my little boy.

Emlyn's Preschool

Today was Emlyn's first performance. Her school put on a program for Thanksgiving and it was hilarious. If you have never seen 25 4-year-olds do a performance, you're missing out.

At any given time 1/3 of them had their fingers in their noses. A couple of kids never stopped goofing off. At one point one of them was fooling around and almost fell off the stage.

It was great. There were lots of parents there and after the program we all sat down and ate lunch together.

Emmy asked me beforehand to make sure Denali did not go up on the stage.

Hilarious.

Christmas Decorations



You all were so excited to see what I did instead of a real tree, so by popular demand here are our Christmas Decorations for this year. You'll notice the skillful origami made by Joel, the beautiful tree drawn by me, and the artful placement by Emlyn.

The other picture is of our hearth. I put our treeskirt and some stockings up there, along with the Christmas tins I use to hold our ornaments. That, by the way, is a great way to store ornaments. The tins are decorations in their own right, and they are small enough that the items don't get crushed or bumped around too much. Then I stack them into large bins that can also accomodate the big things like treeskirts, wreaths, and lights.

That's another tip for you: store each strand of lights in a giant ziploc. They may be tangled, but at least they are only tangled with themselves and not each other.

We are officially ready for Christmas season. Bring it on!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Faux Christmas Tree

This year because we are going to California we are not buying a real tree. SOB.

I just can't handle not having a tree, so I will be taking a tip from my mom and making a tree out of green posterboard.

We will use Joel's origami to decorate it and do some kind of Advent thing around the edges. It will be great. Really!

I'll post pics after we make it tonight.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Conquering Separation Anxiety

As a mother and a caregiver I find that often parents are unsure about how to have a successful dropoff from parent to caregiver. It can be difficult because we all love our children so much. It's important, therefore, to make sure that they have successful interactions with other adults that we trust so that they can be at ease in life. In light of these difficulties I'd like to lay out some tips for leaving your child in Bible class, at the gym, with the babysitter, or even with the parent he doesn't see as often.

Disclaimer: This is, of course, in situations where you trust the caregiver. If you don't trust the caregiver, you shouldn't be leaving them at all.

Steps to a Successful Dropoff:

1. Prepare the child beforehand. "I'm going to drop you off with Miss Susie for a little while while I exercise. I'll be back soon!"
2. Enter with a smile and greet the caregiver. "Hi, Miss Susie! Joey is going to play with you for a while!"
3. Help Joey find a toy or activity. Don't drag it out, just show him a book or something.
4. If you need to tell the teacher anything, make it short and sweet. "Joey just had a snack but will probably want something to drink soon."
5. Say "goodbye" and walk out. Don't look back.

It's important to keep the whole thing to just a minute or two. The longer you are there the more trouble you will have. It's also important that you actually say goodbye so the child doesn't feel betrayed that you snuck out.

Here's the caregiver's end of the bargain:
1. Miss Susie will call you if she feels the child is too distressed. She is good at this sort of thing and knows you're worried.
2. Miss Susie will engage your child in a fun activity and be reassuring. "Momma will be back soon!"

One of the reasons a prolonged goodbye makes the situation worse is because while the parent is worried that the child will miss them, the child just senses the parent's distress and thinks it's because there's an unsafe situation.

In my experience there have only been a couple of times when the child did not calm down within 15 minutes of his mommy or daddy leaving.

Some things not to say:
"Momma won't let these people hurt you!" This implies these people want to hurt Joey but momma is protecting them. Not a good thing.
"I'm not leaving!" Yes, you are leaving. That's the point.
"I'll give you some candy or a new toy if you stay here!" Bribery.

I know it's hard to leave someone you love so dearly. You care about your sweet child. But your anxiety about leaving them makes everything worse. Even if they were already somewhat anxious, you can fake them out with your smile and apparent nonchalance. It's perfectly okay to go around the corner of the building and cry for a few minutes. I know I've done that. The important thing is that you teach Joey how to trust others.

CDs

I'm downsizing all over the place today. Here's a list (just for my own edification, mostly) of the CDs I'm selling to Half Price Books in a few minutes.

Parallel Dreams
Mask and the Mirror
Lord of the Rings the Two Towers
La Bamba
Evita
The Celts
Watermark
Talk on Corners
Best of the Chieftains
Celtic Woods
Celtic Bagpipe
Depressed? Stay Depressed.
Soundtrack for World Travel
Bluegrass Class of 1990
Little Deuce Coupe

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wildflowers and Torture

Joel and Denali on our recent camping trip.


Emmy and Denali helping me plant the wildflower seeds.

First,
Emmy has renamed one of her baby dolls "torture." Quite interesting. I guess I need to stop using the phrase my sister has been using recently or we will have certain words in our familial vocabulary that shouldn't be there.

Second,
We FINALLY got the wildflower bed done. This morning we planted the seeds and now it's up to God to do the rest. The blackberries will be waiting until the spring and the salvia/lantana bed has to wait till our fence is redone.

Third,
Joel bought our plane tickets last night. We will be leaving here and flying direct to San Jose, CA, on December 20. Joel will come home on the 28th and the kids and I will stay in CA till the 4th of January. Denali's second birthday is the 5th so maybe we can do a birthday party there for him.

I am so excited about the trip. It's been over a year since I was there and I just love CA so much.

Emmy is still sick with fever, and she threw up a little this morning. I felt bad going to HEB with her but I HAD to go before next week's Thanksgiving craziness. I bought a fancy turkey to cook even though we are not celebrating at home. Joel will be in Mexico so we're visiting a friend's meal on the day of and just hanging out having fun the rest of the week. Thankfully preschool is still meeting on Monday and Tuesday.

Going to watch some more TV.

IKEA Madness

IKEA has finally come to our town, and while I had never been before last night, I can see why people love it so much.

The grand opening was Wednesday and there were people camped in the parking lot for two days for the honor of being first in the store. Their first day they sold $500,000 worth of merchandise. That's a lot. So last night, after babysitting for 4 1/2 hours and having a sick girl (which always means lots of TV and no leaving the house), I got the idea of driving over to IKEA to see what the craziness is all about.

It was not too crowded- we got there at about 7:30 in the evening and it closes at 9:00. There were tired and frustrated people directing traffic in and out to keep the flow moving correctly.

I found some Christmas presents and other little things that I liked. I'm not really in the market for large furniture right now (no money, remember?) but thought they had some good deals on stuff.

My friend and I each spent exactly $41.07 and got completely different items.

Overall I would say it's a good store, but it's definitely a "wander and let things catch your eye" type of store rather than a "get in and get the exact item you want and then leave" type of store. I will be trying to do the second method here in a couple of weeks though so I can get this table for Emmy's legos. She's inheriting her daddy's old legos this Christmas, the little ones, and I don't want them all over the house. So I'm getting this table as a way to contain the chaos. The two shelves lift off quite easily and serve as trays, and there is just a hint of a lip on them so the legos won't slide off. The trays are each about 2 feet in diameter, which is perfect for a current lego project. And it's only $24.99!!!

I think that's a good deal.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More about shoes

I bought some really cute shoes yesterday.

I have to return them. Within 10 minutes of wearing them they began to form blisters on various parts of my feet.

It's so sad! They are really cute.

Guess it's back to the drawing board as far as winter shoes are concerned.

Update on $35 Shoes

First of all, I guess I should be precise. Each one of these shoes technically cost $17.50. But if you have to buy a pair (which you always do), they are $35.

Secondly, I found it!

In the closet with the shoes.

'Doh!

See we have one of those wall-mounted shoe rack things for the adult shoes, and then a basket on the floor for the kid shoes. But when you toss the shoes in the closet (not that I've ever done that, but still), maybe a kid shoe might lodge itself behind a shoe on the rack so that you can't see it very well unless you look.

So there ya go. At least Denali had some $26 shoes to wear while the others were missing...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dream

Last night I dreamed about my grandpa. He had just had heart surgery and we were all going to visit him at the hospital. After all the rigamarole of getting through security and up to his floor we were all standing around his huge bed. Denali and Emmy immediately climbed up there and started playing with him but we knew he was in no shape to play with little kids. So I got up there too, leaving a bunch of other relatives to just stand around the bed. I couldn't think of anything to do except touch him; rub his arm or shoulder gently. Sometimes sick people and older people just need one thing- the human touch. It really seemed to help him feel better.

Later on in the dream he actually got up and started cooking, playing guitar, etc.

When I woke up I was sad. I was too busy with college and getting married to be able to be there for my Grandpa when he got really sick before his death. He was at my wedding but too sick to preside over it as I wanted him to. Then the next semester right before Christmas (I think) my mom called me and said I should come home from school because he wasn't doing well. By the time I got my plane ticket and got home it was too late. I was just there for the funeral.

My grandpa was cool. I take after him in coloring (red hair, fair skin) and he always used to hold his grandkids and have a great time with them. I really wish I could have said "goodbye."

My mom says it was for the best because it would have been really depressing to be there the last couple days, and that it's best that I remember him earlier than that. I'm not convinced. I should have spent more time talking to him about his book, or about the things he did when he was younger. But I didn't get to. And that makes me sad.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lost Things

Invariably, if you lose something, the day after you replace it the item will be found.

Yes, that was the case with my debit card.

To make a very long story short, I thought my card had been thrown away when in fact it was in the pocket of my jeans. After a week of not knowing where it was, I finally called and cancelled it. Guess what was in my dryer?

My card.

Oh well. It was time to change the pin # anyway.

Now tell me what I am supposed to do about the missing $35 shoe of Denali's?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Good News

I just had to share this with you all.

We just got our electric bill. We use levelized billing so it is the same amount every month regardless of usage. Every year they re-evaluate the amount. They just re-evaluated, and they're charging us $45 less every month. That's... $540 a year! That's a 17% savings! (and if you can do math you can figure out how much we're paying)

Woo hoo! $90 towards our vacation!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Post 300 and Gardening

The wildflower bed with all 47 concrete blocks installed.


From left to right: almost dead lantana, raspberry salvia, another lantana, unknown stubborn tree-like plant.

This is my 300th post.

This morning I got my exercise by finally finishing the recycled concrete border to my wildflower bed. It took about a half hour and I had to move about 15- 40 pound blocks, but it is finally done. Of course I still have to lay the newspaper and new dirt, plant the seeds, and finish painting the border. In all I used 47 concrete blocks. That's a lot of digging.

After that I went over to where I planted the salvia and two lantanas yesterday and delineated that bed with the bricks that had been around the wildflower bed. Those bricks have been working hard since we've moved- always bordering some flowerbed till we can get something better. One of the lantanas was very sad the week it was in a pot. I only watered once and it mostly died. Strangely enough the other two plants are fine. I went ahead and planted it because there's still some green. This new lantana bed is about 8 feet long and 3 feet deep along the back fence. I'm not going to work much on that bed because soon we'll be replacing that fence.

Our xeriscaped bed in the front is looking good. It needs more mulch but now that the edge is in it looks nice. Someone kicked my cactus and knocked a piece off. That made me very sad. Now I have another piece of cactus. I will maybe put it back in the lantana bed where no one will break it. Lantana and salvia, thornless cactus and rosemary. Those are the four plants we have in our garden that are most drought resistant and don't need any care at all.

We try to make our whole garden sustainable without much help from us. I garden extensively in the fall and spring, when the weather is nice, but other than that these plants need to take care of themselves. So far we've had some die off but overall we've made some pretty good choices. Even our roses do just fine on their own. Our trees are almost old enough that we won't need to water them any more either.

In the spring we'll plant Joel's thornless blackberries along the back fence and then also some tomatos. The tomatos did pretty well last year considering my lack of enthusiasm for watering when the temperature is 95 or above. So I'll do some more of those. I would like to do more veggies but they really take more care than I'm ready for yet. Anyone have ideas for other veggies that are so easy?

Busyness

We finally got the TV hooked up and it looks great.

Please give me a good reason why I got the car washed a whole 30 minutes before it rained.

Anyone want to come dig holes? I need lots of them. It's very hard to garden with children around.

Speaking of children my 4 year old is making puppy eyes at me. Glad to know I could update you all so thoroughly.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

An Afternoon at the Costco

Well, Denali's sick, so I'll just run into Costco after picking Emmy up so we can get Denali's prescription.

While I'm here, I'll just look at those TVs we want to get.

Oh look. That one looks less than 37 inches wide. Maybe it will fit. I'll call Joel. Okay! Looks like we're buying a TV! Oh. It won't fit in the cart. Guess I'll go get one of those flatbed carts.

Okay. Here we go. Oh, not supposed to lay it flat? Ok. Oops. Where is Denali-with-no-shoes-and-a-sinus-infection going to sit? How about on this handle?

Right. Over to prescriptions. This thing is heavy and awkward. Okay. Now gotta go shop for other stuff. Cause I have to wait for the medicine.

Um. Maybe I can leave this TV at the front and get a regular cart.

Ok. Spent 1/2 hour shopping. Time to go get the medicine. Oops- Joel needed his sleep meds too. Can they fill that really quick? I'll go buy the rest of the stuff and come back for it.

Bought the TV and assorted items. But the checker says you're not supposed to lay an LCD on its side and plus it won't fit into a Honda Accord anyway. And the bank doesn't like big purchases. So write a check.

How are the kids? They're fighting but okay. So I guess I will get someone who owns a pickup to get the TV for me. Can you hold it? For a couple hours only. Well better get on the phone then. Person A: not home. Person B: home but can't do it today. Person C: home but very sick.

All right, guess I'll go process that return so they don't have to hold it overnight. Oops. Wrong line. Oops, you need the TV in front of you. I'll go get it. Can you watch my precious children, one of which has groucho marx glasses on? Thanks.

Oh, you can hold it till tomorrow? Okay.

Okay back over to medicine to get the meds. Oops, wrong pin. What is that dang pin #? How about this one? Or this one? Or this one? Quit fighting dear children! Fine. I'll just pay with my check card. Okay. Out once more to the car.

Load them in. Squish the bread. Great.

We're home! Everyone start crying and fighting over who gets out first! Go to bed! Let's give Denali his precious medication. What's this? Powder? I'm supposed to add 38mL of liquid? What??????!!!!!

Fine. Go to bed. I don't care if you haven't eaten and that you are sick.

It's now only 2 hours since we left the preschool.

Can I just go to bed now?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Budget Revisited

I know you all don't care this much, but today I started my vacation jar. In order to pay cash for all the things we want to get this winter we are going to have so skimp in other ways. So each week I will take out cash in the areas I'm in charge of and try to save some money by the end of the week. Hopefully we will be able to do it.

This will pay for, among other things, a trip to CA to see my parents for Christmas. I am very excited about this so it should be good incentive.

Wish me discretion!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Garden

Now that it's only 80 degrees during the day the gardening bug has hit again. My wildflower bed was run over with weeds this last time, so I'm redoing it. I went and bought 1 cubic yard of dirt. My father-in-law and I bagged it ourselves. That's 20- 40# bags. That's a lot of dirt.

We're redoing the wildflower bed and digging two new beds. We're also laying black weed barrier in the rose bed and the xeriscape bed and mulching them.

Yes, I am tired.

Today I started putting out the newspaper and putting the new dirt on top. The problem is the newspaper will fly away if I lay too much out at once, so I can only lay out 2 feet at a time and then dump dirt on it. Then there's fire ants in there and that's annoying too.

We had fall festival yesterday at church. The men in my family were sick so Emmy and I went by ourselves. I was too lazy to do any costume other than store-bought princess for her. I'm a loser.

It's hot here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Redecorated Chair Part 1

I am so proud of the rocking chair I refinished for Denali's room. He still uses it and loves it.

Redecorated Chair Part 2

Redcorated Chair Part 3

Once you've got the first color wound around the chair, start weaving the second color through. I started at the back left and sewed the end on. Then you weave over, under, etc till you get to the other side. At this point as you start coming back, you'll be weaving on the underside of the layers the same way as the top. You see there are two layers of canvas. One on the top of the bar and one underneath. I think it will be more durable for little tushes that way. Weave back to the left on the bottom, then come and do the second row on the top.



This is the finished top.


This is the finished bottom. See how it's a little wonky? It's still woven the same way but not as pretty as the top.


Once again, anchoring the end. I hid all my end stitches under other weaving. Can you see the stitches peeking out?
The finished product. Almost makes me want to sell it or something! Took me about 4 hours including all the interruptions and waiting for the paint to dry.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Progress

I'm slowly crossing things off my procrastination list. It's amazing those little jobs that just stack up and stack up when I'm overly busy. Anything above and beyond normal daily duties just gets brushed aside.

Anyway this week I have been better at staying home. I have not stayed solely at home but it's been better. I've been trying to stay on top of the housekeeping, and any time I had an extra half hour I tried to do one of those jobs.

Tonight we have small group at our house so I'll be vacuuming and the like.

And of course spending time with my beautiful children...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Anti-Procrastination Day

As part of stay-at-home week today is designated "Anti-Procrastination Day." I have a long list of things that really only take a few minutes but pile up as things I don't want to do.

Want to join me in my quest? What are you accomplishing today?

Here's my list:

Replace 9V batteries all over the house, including smoke alarms
Finish Emlyn's jumper
garden border
Decide on new toilet
take a shower
decide on new fence
fix wall holes
clean and cover dining chairs
bleach freezer
order hot tub headrests and filter
order wildflower seeds
research corydalis and thornless blackberries
hang hooks
order new pillow
plant hostas

Monday, October 23, 2006

Long Post.

This is the new sculpture at my alma mater. It is a depiction of Jacob's Ladder, the dream Jacob had about the angels. It's gorgeous and my new favorite thing about the school.

Can you see the cross in the picture below? You have to stand at a certain place in real life for all the different stones to line up.
Denali kept playing with his blanket in the car and eventually fell asleep like this. Since then he's been putting it on his head often. I love pictures of my children sleeping.
Emmy's dad rocks. This was taken at the new sculpture as well.
In the car. Not sleeping.

Brace yourself... Are you ready for this?

Joel found a barbecue place that I actually like.

No, really!

It's out in Llano somewhere. Their sauce that they use is vinegar-based rather than tomato or whatever most BBQ sauce is. Their meat is GOOD. I never thought I'd say this, but I guess I like BBQ.

In other news, Emmy is evidently making up for lack of eating over the last few days. Usually she is extremely finicky and won't eat much of what we make available to her. But then ever week or so she eats a ton. This morning she has had three bowls of frosted miniwheats and some animal crackers.

I'm declaring this week "stay at home week." I will be driving Emmy to and from preschool, and if pressed I may make a grocery run, but other than that I am at home. I am tired and the kids are tired and we need a break. I am more than happy to accept visitors at my house, but I will not be visiting. So, come-a-callin'!

I've been able to pull out winter clothing this week. Well by "winter" I mean long sleeves and sweaters. That's about all we'll need. There will be a couple days where our winter coats will come in handy, and we may use mittens and hats on those two days as well, but at least we get to wear long sleeves! Denali has some really cute hand-me-down stuff, including the cutest raincoat ever. Emmy still fits her purple coat and is in some cute long dresses.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Insomnia

Today I finally put in all the rest of the test cores I am using for a border for my garden. I need about 10 more to finish that bed and hopefully Joel's dad can get them for me. I didn't think about the project ending; if I had I would have asked him sooner for the last 10. I am such a procrastinator sometimes.

We were able to leave the windows open today and actually be outside in the nature and stuff. Of course we all have allergies too, esp. Denali and Joel.

I'm thinking about starting "God's diet" or whatever it's called where you eat only organics and natural foods. Anyone done that, or know how much of a difference in cost it is? I guess I could Google it.

Friday morning we are going to the Dino Park, Zilker Park Train, and the playground with our playgroup. Hope it's fun even though I am not sleeping right now (4 am).

Well I guess I need to try to sleep...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Earthquake vs Tornado

How can someone who has been through the Loma Prieta earthquake and tons of smaller ones be scared of tornados?

Well, Oct 17 is the anniversary of the Loma Prieta. It was a 7.1 on the Richter scale and we were at home. I was reading to my little brother on the couch and heard what I thought was a semi coming down our street or maybe someone with a loud radio. The windows were shaking and things were wobbling. I realized suddenly that it was an earthquake! So I grabbed Daniel and went to stand in the hall doorway and my mom came to the hall with my little sister Ruth.

The earthquake seemed to go on a long time, and even after the main part stopped it still felt as if the whole world was swaying.

Grace was at a neighbor's house so we were somewhat worried about her, but it turned out she was fine. At our house the only damage was a a couple pictures falling over and the like.

Channel 7 was the first one back on the air (of course we had to turn on the TV) and we later found out that some freeways and bridges collapsed and all those people at the World Series (Giants vs A's) were quite surprised. It was supposed to start at 5 but that's when the earthquake hit.

Our cousins were living in Hollister at the time which was much closer to the epicenter of the quake. My aunt's new china cabinet along with all the china all fell over and broke. My cousin thought her papa was shaking the bed to be silly.

No one close to me was hurt, and the Hollister damage was the worst that I knew of personally.

I wasn't as scared also because I was at home. At school it might have been a different matter.

We continued to live almost directly on the Hayward Fault until I went to college when my parents moved to a different town.

Because of that quake many bridges were retrofitted and in fact the Hayward City Hall (less than 200 feet from the Hayward Fault) is not actually connected to the ground. It floats on hydraulics or something. I'm not really sure of the details on that but it sounds pretty cool! It has "53 friction pendulum seismic isolation bearings and fifteen 12-foot long hydraulic viscous dampers." Fancy!

And yet why am I afraid of tornados?

I think it's because they are somewhat predictable. If you have a storm cellar you're supposed to go there. If there is a tornado warning, go in the closet or whatever. It sounds like [insert description here]. etc. etc. Whereas an earthquake is not predictable. "The Big One" is going to happen sometime but who knows when? Just do your earthquake drills and anchor your bookcases to the wall and hope for the best. I prefer that to the uncertainty of a tornado.

Thankfully we don't live in Oklahoma or Kansas or Arkansas. I would need a storm cellar to live there and would have a weather radio definitely. Of course up there are sirens. No sirens here where I am. Yet there is a chance every spring and fall that we will have a tornado here. We have had two or three times I have taken everyone into the hall closet.

Anyway yesterday and today I have been thinking about that day 17 years ago. I will probably never forget it.

In memory of the 63 people killed by the Loma Prieta.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Credit Card

I figured out what happened with the $$. The charge was a legitimate one for something else, but I got confused with the description. So no one is overcharging me.

Did some shopping and gardening after the kids went to bed. Who says night is for sleeping?

Pizza

We are back from our Homecoming. It was fun and busy and tiring. I'll post pictures someday.

Today Emlyn and I sorted her art papers. She loves to make art and this time we decided to give away a lot of it because that's nicer than throwing it away. There was enough to send to all grandparents and aunts and uncles. Hopefully some of it will get displayed, but I also hope they won't feel obligated to keep it. I would have just tossed it if we didn't give it away.

She wanted to give some art to Jesus. I couldn't decide if it would be better to keep it as something to remember, or mail it, or put it outside and let it blow away. That's what she wanted to do with it.

I've been decluttering and cleaning. Trying to stay organized even though it's tough.

Got a charge on my debit card for $64. I knew I purchased items there but could only recall about $20 worth. And of course, it's almost the only receipt I've lost in 7 years. I need to decide if I'm going to complain to the organization or just chalk it up to life lessons.

My massage went really well- the lady really worked hard on my neck and shoulders. I have lots of problems with them. Of course now I'm sore but I'm hoping it's a good sore.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Perspective

This weekend I'll be going to my 5 year college reunion. I know, I'm old. Anyway I wanted to go to the Homecoming Musical, which this year is "Singin' in the Rain". So I was a little sad because I remembered how prohibitively expensive the musical was when I was in school. I could only afford the cheapest, $5 seats. I looked down in awe at all the people who had more money than I did and could afford even the most expensive seats! "Those have all got to be old, rich alumni," I thought to myself. "Maybe someday I will be able to afford some good seats!"

Well I guess I'm old and rich. I bought the most expensive tickets for my sister and I to attend. Guess how much they were? $17 a piece.

I suppose it all depends on your perspective.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I went outside to fix the rain barrels so they would actually catch the rain instead of dumping it on the ground.

Thank you God for the rain!

I came back inside, sat down at the computer.

Five minutes later Emlyn asked for some water. I got up and went to the sink. As I was rinsing the cup, I saw...

A GECKO! On my arm! I screamed a little scream and then took it outside to be happy.

It was a cute gecko, but I wasn't expecting one to be on me!

Eek.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Killer Toes

I have killer big toes. No, really.

You see my big toenails stand up at 45 degree angles. They aren't like regular toes, which point forward with your toe. They point kinda up. And they jab people, and cut holes in the tops of my shoes. I try to keep them trimmed but if I trim them too much I get ingrown toenails.

So last night Joel was commenting on how he always wakes up expecting to have blood on the backs of his legs from my killer toes. I guess it can be frustrating to sleep with someone with killer appendages.

Therefore I am now wearing bandaids over my toenails at night to prevent hurting Joel. It turns out to be a good use for those itty-bitty bandaids that come in a box of assorted bandaids. You know the ones that could go around a baby's finger and the ones that would cover about 1 zit? Those ones are the ones I'm using.

I'll let you know how much Joel appreciates my kindness towards him. Maybe I should shave my legs too...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Trip Update #2



I just realized I never finished talking about my trip... So I will finish it out and post a couple pictures.

Tuesday morning we drove to Searcy in Arkansas, where lots of my cousins and a couple of very good friends live. We stayed with my friend S, who has a new baby. They very kindly put us up for 3 or 4 days. Some of the highlights:
S made us a birthday cake and special dinner (Joel, and his mom, and my sister Grace, and I all have the same birthday). We got to play Settlers of Catan (which I won). We got to go to the grocery store and the bookstore without any kids (thanks to Joel). We went to a pick-your-own-fruit farm with the kids. We played and read books and napped. We cleaned and talked. We went to the university that S's husband works at. And the highlight of my visit with S was going to a coffeeshop in the evening without the bigger kids.

I also got to go to dinner with my cousins. We talked about lots of silly things and missed their older sister (out of 4 siblings, 3 of them attend the same university). We got to see some dorm rooms and just visit. They are cool cousins.

I got to see one of my other cousins too. She and I talked while my kids ran all around the student center. It was nice to catch up with everyone.

The trip was so much fun, and the Searcy part went especially well. S and I got to spend lots of good time together.

On Saturday we packed up and drove all the way back to Austin. It was a good trip but so nice to get back to our house and to be back with our own stuff.

21 mos old

Denali is now 21 months old. That's old. That's no-longer-a-baby old. Wow.

I wrote a bunch of other stuff and then deleted it because it was so depressing.

To combat the mosquitos breeding in our rain barrels, I am emptying the barrels to water our baby trees in the backyard. Although I guess they are toddlers now.

Today I am going to the gym. Then playgroup.

Father, guide me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Finally Done




Well after months of thinking about it I finally painted my car up a little bit tonight. Joel thought I was bonkers for doing it at 11 pm but I just had to do some art. Ever feel that way? Like if you don't do something creative you're just gonna burst?

We both like it. Joel's not too fond of the wavy line but I'll find a way to fix that later.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Renewal

I'm back, and I had a great weekend of renewal. We learned about worship and how to worship God. We spent lots of time worshiping. We also got to talk and visit with women without a million kids around. It was wonderful. And I got to drive the Miata...

Now I'm home and the house is a wreck and Denali is sick. I hope the fever goes away soon!

Friday, September 29, 2006

GRIN

Can I just tell you how awesome my husband is?

He is coming home from work warly today so he can watch the kids ALL WEEKEND while I go to my church's Ladies' Retreat.

He is so great!

See you all on Monday!

ACK!

I just realized it's been almost a month since I posted any pictures of my beautiful kids. The problem is, I don't have any new pictures in my repertoire to share (thanks to me leaving the camera in Arkansas). I'll have to find some old pictures...


Emlyn 4 years ago...
Emlyn 3 years ago...

Emlyn 2 years ago...


Emlyn last year...

Modest Jeans

I have been thinking about this Moms and Dads for Modesty pledge I signed up for. Target has a bad reputation as far as modest children's clothing is concerned. I decided to buy my daughter some jeans and see if I could find anything that was modest. Give it a test whirl, or something.

Emlyn is very tall and skinny for her age. Up till my trip to Target I was dressing her in 2T jeans and pants that had hems almost up to her knees and were still falling off her (she's 4). They were hand-me-downs. But I kept hearing about these jeans that had elastic adjustable waists, like maternity jeans do. So I hunted for some. And-surprise! They were there! In corduroy and denim. The brown corduroys (4T) I purchased were $15 and had flowers embroidered on the cuff of one leg and the front top of the other leg. Very cute and they fit her so well after I pulled 4 inches of elastic on both sides. The jeans (4T) I purchased were $10 and just look like regular jeans- no embroidery or anything. I had to pull the same amount of elastic on those.

So Target won in the pants dept. I didn't have to look hard and they fit her so well.

Then I tried to look for a pink shirt. I wanted her to wear the corduroys out and she was wearing a red shirt so I wanted to get her a pink shirt to match.

No luck.

Lots of inappropriate slogans, mature styles and cuts, and nothing in pink I would consider buying.

I also look for a special type of undies for her because of her allergies, and I am able to find some for her there that do what they're supposed to do. They are somewhat mature for her age but I'm hoping since they're under her clothes she won't realize it and neither will anyone else.

So- Target's score:
pants: A
shirts: F
undies: B

My take? Go ahead and shop at your normal stores until it's not worth your while (i.e. you can't find anything in a reasonable amount of time that is appropriate). I am glad to hear there are some stores that have only great choices, but I cannot afford Gymboree or the like (I don't think- feel free to let me know if I'm wrong).

I will continue to shop at Target, but I refuse to buy anything inappropriate there.

For more info on the modesty pledge, visit Everyday Mommy's site.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

All-Natural? What's that?

So when we got married I registered for these beautiful blue and green, 100% cotton, thick beautiful hot pads made by Park B Smith, whoever that is. They had little pockets so you could use them as a mitt. The only problem was that they are too thick! It's hard to wash them and too hard to grip if you want to fold them over the pan instead of slipping your hand inside. They are fancy and froufy but don't wash well.

So today I caved. I ordered silicone trivets (set of 3) and a silicone oven mitt. I paid $30 for the 4 and we'll see how it goes. I'll let you know. First impressions:
The oven mitt is smaller than it appears in the picture. It does not go up my arm; just covers my hand. I wanted a little more protection from the oven (I am good at burning myself).
The trivets seem to be overly stiff. I'm not sure how the folding over a pan will go.
I can put them in my dishwasher! No longer will I have to go through the washing machine, dryer, turn-them-inside-out-and-dry-again routine!

I'll let you know in a few weeks if all my cotton hotpads have been freecycled.

That's Ridiculous.

All this toy vacuum does is have a little light and make the sounds of a real vacuum. And for that it needs 4 C batteries? Whatever.

I'm On Drugs

Yes, I am.
I really am not the kind of person who just jumps on the drug bandwagon. I tried sticking it out with both of these things. But I just couldn't take it any more.

I just started Prilosec for my heartburn. I have had heartburn almost every night for 2 or 3 years. I kept thinking my esophagus would heal from being pregnant and it kept not happening. So I started. So far, so good. Two nights on Prilosec, two nights with no heartburn.

I have also recently started some weird eye drops for itchy eyes related to allergies. I have had itchy eyes for about 4 years. I didn't think I was allergic to anything except Cedar, but I guess you can just have itchy eyes and nothing else. I put those drops in twice a day and so far they have helped some. They are harder to see a difference because one's eyes also get itchy when one is tired. And I am always tired. But yes, overall my eyes are only 1/4 as itchy as they used to be. So that's nice.

Well gotta go.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Skinned Knees and HOAs

Denali falls down a lot. Today he actually started to bleed a little bit on his knee so I cleaned it off with a baby wipe. He didn't cry or anything- just stared at his knee while I cleaned it. I guess in his mind he was thinking "it's just a scratch. walk it off..."

Today I was reminded why we don't live in a Homeowner's Association, or "HOA." I went for a walk to the nearest park which is in the next neighborhood over. It's by the HOA pool and communal post office boxes. I don't even know if I'm "allowed" to play in that park cause we're not part of the HOA. Anyway it's a quaint little park next to a nice pool. We played there for a while. Unfortunately there were no other kids so Denali didn't have a playmate, but it was a beautiful morning.

On the walk back I was enjoying the quiet and peace and birdsong when I noticed something that started to creep me out a little bit. All the trees were trimmed so that no branches came down below 8 or 10 feet. I could see lots of scars on the trees from where low branches had been cut off. Now we keep our trees trimmed, but not to a uniform height off the ground. And most of our neighbors don't do it. It really started to look a little strange. And then I noticed that all the gardens were very similar. There were no huge flowerbeds or ragged lawns. There weren't many wind chimes or other decorations. There were no cars parked in the street or trashcans left out. And there were lots of landscape guys blowing lawn cuttings around.

I know that lots of people live in HOAs and like them a lot, and I like the idea of a neighborhood pool and playground, but there are just too many rules for me. I want to plant whatever I want to. I want to paint my house pink if I wish to. I want to have the freedom to replace the fence when we can afford it, not when the people tell me to. For the most part we would probably fit into an HOA neighborhood pretty well. We mow our lawn regularly and park our cars in the garage. But it's the choice factor. I like the choice to have a swing in the front yard if I wish.

We really like our neighborhood. We have a neighbor who has the most gorgeous garden. She spends a lot of time and money keeping it nice. We also have a neighbor who parks his cars on the lawn and has a junk heap in the backyard. And that's okay! We like the diversity and the freedom. Give me a saggy tree and a junky backyard any day.

*Please note that I know some of you live in HOAs and that's okay with me that you do. I'll still be your friend. They are just not for our family...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Jar

Well, we've started The Jar. You know, the jar that if you do [insert inappropriate behavior here] you have to put [insert prized possession here]...

I yell. And because of that my kids have started yelling too. It was tolerable when it was just me (subconsciously) doing it, but now that the kids are too, it has to stop. So Emlyn and I have made a pact. Whenever either of us yells we have to put a coin in the jar. Denali doesn't have to because he doesn't have any money, he's only 20 mos old, and he just does whatever his sister does. Oh of course Joel has to put $$ in too if he yells, but he rarely yells. So I doubt he'll be contributing any to it.

I'll let you know how it goes. And how much money we "make."

Weather has always helped me understand God better. No one can predict it or control it. The storms are so strong, yet God could control it and is more powerful than even the strongest storms.

Rainstorms in particular are a reminder. I just love the rain and the awesomeness of a life-giving substance coming from heaven. I imagine how the Israelites felt in the desert, when manna would fall.

Usually in Texas when the rain comes it is even more of a blessing because we have been aching for it. It's such a relief for the thunder to roll in.

I can't imagine ever being sick of the rain. I wish I could focus my life more on knowledge of God and be relieved when I learn something from His word, rather than spending so much time wishing for rain. God's Word and His knowledge are so much more important than rain, yet I focus more on the rain.

God, send your knowledge down like rain upon me. Bless me with your wisdom.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Beef Jerky

Thank you, Joel's mom, for sending us a dehydrator. I am excited to see what we can make.


On the other hand, I really do not like the smell of beef jerky in the making all day long. :P

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Song Meme

Some of these are fun... I got this from Jenny on the Spot. Put your mp3 player on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING….

How does the world see you?
"Two Sets of Jones' " by Big Tent Revival (from my wedding; I hope they see me as the "nothing but Jesus" couple rather than the other one).

Will I have a happy life?
“Voulez-Vous Danser” by Ace of Base (I don't even know what they're singing about in this song).

What do my friends really think of me?
“Second Wind” by Petra (no sense to me)

What do people secretly think of me?
“Smile” by Music Machine (pretty good)

How can I be happy?
“Silent Night” by Rebecca St James (I really like holiday music)

Will I ever have (more) children?
“Army of the Lord” by Acapella (I like this one- I can depend on church kids to get my kid-fix...)

What is some good advice for me?
“You Didn't Listen” by Veggietales (who am I supposed to be listening to?)

How will I be remembered?
“The Mummers Dance” by Loreena McKennit (cause I like Celtic music? and flowing clothes?)

What is my signature dancing song?
“Ship of Fools” by John Cale (nope)

What do I think my current theme song is?
“Don't Wanna Miss You Here" by Lindsay Kane (remember God always- that's a good one)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
“I Have a Friend” by Acapella (that's pretty good I guess)

What song will play at my funeral?
“I Never Loved You Anyway” by the Corrs (I'm happy that it's over- guess that part could be true)

What is my day going to be like?
“Cannonball” by Clandestine (a song where this dude's legs get shot off by a cannonball. that's not encouraging)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Trip to Half Price Books

I got a gift card today to Half Price Books. Of course I had to spend it immediately. I had a soda with caffeine for lunch so it was not too big a deal to walk there after such a long day. I left at 8:35 pm (carrying a broomstick to ward off dogs and predators), got there at 8:50 pm (a pretty good pace for a mile), and picked out a lot of books. Half of them I already know are good, and that's why I bought them. The others are now in my "to-be-read" pile. The ones I already know about I have dutifully reviewed in my new and neglected book blog.

It took me 20 minutes to get home. I guess a backpack full of books does slow me down somewhat. I felt like I was in high school again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trip Review Part 1

We left at 9 am on Friday and drove for 10.5 hours. I had arranged lots of fun things for the kids to do in the car. Emlyn's favorite was tickets. Every 30 miles she would give me a ticket and she could choose a snack or a different toy to play with. She thought that was pretty cool.

We arrived in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Friday evening to visit Joel's sister and her husband, and as a bonus, Grandma was there to visit. We had planned on going to see Grandma at her house, but she was visiting her daughter so that cut a day and 150 miles off of our trip. We got to see the neighbor horses (they like carrots), go to the Farmer's Market, play with the dog Cricket, and see all of Aunt S' bugs. She's a bug lady. Uncle R cooked some awesome food for us too. They have a nice sized yard with a swing, a garden, and blackberry bushes.

On Sunday I drove with the kids to Nixa Missouri to visit my cousin and her daughter. It's 3 hours from Fayetteville. We played and visited, got to drive in a rainstorm, and then went to a wildlife museum. We saw fish, birds, and pretend polar bears and other animals. We then ate dinner and found a motel, had a great night's sleep, and in the morning visited with my cousin a little more before driving back to Fayetteville to pick up Joel. That night we ate at a Thai restaurant. Denali tried some of Joel's very spicy food. His eyes watered, his face turned red, and then he ate another bite! He's pretty silly.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

HOME

I love home. We are back and excited to be home. I will post later about all of the fun adventures we had!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go

Well we're just waiting on the last load of laundry and my toiletries in the morning, and I've got to pack the cooler. Other than that the car is loaded!

I have to decide whether I'm going to return the library books tonight or let them be late...

EDIT: Excellent. The library books are not due until the day after we get back from our trip. They're staying here.

Leaving

I know posts have been sparse this week.
I am trying to get ready to go on a road trip.
Not only that but for some reason I said I would make a quiche and cookies for a shower, host playgroup, and host small group at our house. So I have been a little busy.

Because of that busyness and the aforementioned toe injury my children have been watching too much TV. This translates into being bored which makes them cranky with each other and they fight over things. Denali has decided it's fun to hit people (just a stage I know but they don't grow out of it unless you nip it in the bud). Emlyn is overtired because of preschool.

All that to say,
It's 3 pm and most of the stuff is done.
Well, no, I haven't packed clothes or toiletries. But toys and games? Food? It's DONE!

The cookie dough is ready to be baked.
Playgroup was a success.
Now I have to get Emlyn up from quiet time.


Oh- we're driving to Cushing, OK, then Fayetteville, AR, then Springfield, MO, and then Searcy, AR.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Moms & Dads for Modesty

I am constantly trying to dress my children with modesty and it appalls me what clothes the manufacturers are making for girls. In light of this I have agreed to this pledge:

Moms & Dads for Modesty Mission Statement

  • As a Mom for Modesty I believe in common-sense modesty for girls and young women.
  • I believe in refraining from sexualizing our girls and young women.
  • I believe that it is unwise and unfair to taunt boys and young men by permitting my daughter(s) to dress in an immodest manner.
  • I believe that true beauty comes from within and I strive to teach my daughter(s) this truth.
  • I will loyally shop at retailers that provide girls' and young womens clothing that is modest, affordable and stylish.

If you want to learn more click on the pretty picture in my sidebar or go to this woman's blog:
everydaymommy.net

Thanks, Moms & Dads for Modesty, for reminding us how precious our little girls are.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Two things I love about Denali

1. When I am holding him and singing to him he puts his ear right smushed against my mouth so he can hear the song really well.

2. Even if he's not really ready to go to bed yet, if I put him in his crib he is usually asleep within 15 minutes.

A New Blog

I never thought I would start a new blog. I figured I had little enough to say on this one. But discussions with Julie and Chris convinced me that I should start one that just does book reviews. So there you have it.

Are you really reading another book?

Go check it out. Or don't. Either way, I get to write about books.

Also Chris started a new blog that does movie reviews.

Also in the last few days I have started reading about 10 more blogs. They're all over in my blogroller doohickey.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Art of Feather-Kicking

The most important thing to remember if you're going to be kicking some feathers is this:

Don't slice your toe open.

Yes, I tried to kick a feather today. It was just inside the front door and rather than pick it up to put it outside I decided to kick it outside. With my bare foot. But instead of hitting the feather my toe hit the metal plate that goes across the threshold. I sliced the end of my toe off. About 7 layers of skin, including all the ridged skin. You know, the kind that makes fingerprints?

I would have panicked. But Joel was gone. So I was at home with two little kids and could not afford to panic. I put pressure on it and it did stop bleeding, so I think we're okay with not going to the doctor. Now I need to put a bandaid on. I tried calling 15 or so friends to see if anyone could come be a slave hang out for the evening but it's a holiday weekend so good luck with that.


****

In more exciting news, I got to go shopping with Grace for 3 whole hours without the kids. We went to the outlet malls and had lots of fun. My favorite purchase was the apple machine. I did three apples with it and it was so fun and easy! Mine is red. It was $15 and now I can make apple pies out the wazoo.


****

I got a leisurely nap with Emmy after her quiet time play-upstairs-so-mommy-doesn't-hear-you time. I think my daughter has forgotten how to sleep. I don't want to cater to her, but when she's not getting good sleep, what should I do? So she got to nap with me. But at night she goes to sleep with her fingers in her ears so she won't hear anything.

****

Emlyn is still awake so I gotta go. Wish me luck on the shortened toe thing.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sarah's New Spanish Chicken Recipe

This is the best food I've eaten all week. And I just made the recipe up.

Spanish Chicken
Serves 4

1 chicken breast, cubed
1 bag frozen Spanish rice (mine came in a microwaveable bag)
1 cup frozen spinach
cheese sauce:
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
8" by 8" casserole dish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook chicken in skillet (you may need 1 tablespoon butter or oil)
3. Melt butter in 1 1/2 quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.
4. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in cheese until melted.
5. Stir in spinach and chicken to sauce.
6. Microwave or cook rice according to directions on bag.
7. Put rice in the bottom of casserole dish. Spoon sauce mixture over it.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


* Denali shoveled it in, forgot to swallow, and wanted seconds. Emlyn said "in a dream I knew that this is yucky."

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Choices

I was reading this post about a mom who recently decided that judging people isn't the way to go. I wanted to write a little more about it here.


I am a stay at home mom, but the reality is I'm rarely home. I am off visiting people or on errands. When I am at home, I try to play with the kids for a good part of the day, and I try to keep the house at a fairly clean level. I also LOVE books and blogging (or at least reading others' blogs). These are the choices I've made.

Some days I envy people who have a clean house most of the time, because that would be a cool thing to have. Or I envy people who seem to spend so much time playing with their kids. Or making money. And sometimes I start to get a little uppity about it.

"Of course I know I could keep the house clean but I have got to have friends, right? And this is a really deep, profound book I'm reading here. Obviously this other person doesn't get to see friends as often and must be sad about it."

The truth? We all make choices about how to spend our day, and the choices are all different. Even those of us with jobs make choices. Some people choose to make more money and have less time for other things. Some people choose jobs that let them have the hours they want to work. And lots of us are great Christian people. So which one of us is right?

None of us. We are all just trying to "eat, drink, and be merry" in a fallen, meaningless world. I need to stop comparing myself to others and make sure that the choices I've made are good for me. Currently I am appreciating books. They help me get through this meaningless life. Others have taken a spartan view of life and keep their minimalist house clean while appreciating the quiet of their own home. That helps them get through the meaningless life.

And that's okay.

For those of you who know me well, I want you to know that I respect your choices. I am just reminding myself of it.

If you want to know more about the meaninglessness of life, read Ecclesiastes from the Bible.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm off to fold a load of laundry and then read my book some more (I have less than 50 pages left).

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Momentous Day

Denali and I had a great time at the library by ourselves. Even if we were early and had to wait 20 minutes for them to open.


Emmy and her beautiful pink and purple princess backpack. Notice the detachable heart-shaped lunchbox. I know it's sickening but they were half-off at Kohl's.



Today was truly a memorable day.

It rained for the first time in about two months. We scored about 1/2 inch and might get more tonight. At the first CRACK of thunder my heart jumped and I was outside almost immediately.

Denali almost died.
Do you ever make a decision, the whole time thinking "this is a bad idea. You should stop." I let the kids take a ball into the front yard. Our lawn slopes ever so slightly. Yes, the ball went into the road. I ran after it. Denali ran after me. The ball almost got hit. I almost got hit. Denali really almost got hit. Luckily downhill was towards traffic, so people first saw the ball, then me, then Denali, so they were already on their guard. Thanks to my neighbor who let me know he was in the road, I got him pretty quickly. I just scooped him up and ran inside with the kids. Then I yelled a little bit out of fear and then we played in the backyard which has safe fences and no cars.

Emlyn started preschool. She has not been in an official mother's day out program or preschool yet. It was sad and weird. Denali and I ended up hanging out with a good friend who was watching some other kids, so there were still two 4 yr olds and three toddlers, but no Emmy. Then I was the dorky mom who is 20 minutes early to pick up her child. She is such a big girl and I am so proud of her. Denali said "Emmy" all day long whenever he realized she was gone.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Playdough Recipe

Well I know there are a million sites with Playdough recipes, but I thought I'd post here the one I used today. I got it from this site: http://www.kinderplanet.com/playdo.htm

You will need:

* 1/2 cup salt
* 1 cup flour
* 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 1 cup water
* food coloring (I used about 25 drops)

What to do:

1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring all the time. When the dough has a good consistency, take it off the heat and allow to cool.

Pictures

As promised, here are pictures of Ruth's sendoff to college and the gratuitous cute kid pic.


Ruth and Emmy having a silly time at the Japanese restaurant.

Granna and Denali showing the menu for the night.


Ruth in her new room before things were unpacked. Notice the stylish dorm furniture.

Granna and Grace posing for the camera.

Thanks to Grandma for this cute helicopter outfit. Denali is officially in 2T clothes now.