Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weird or Quirky Habits

I was tagged for this meme from Tortelitha and Amy so evidently inquiring minds really do want to know.

Here are the rules:
(1) Link to the person that tagged you. (I did above...so go and say hi to Tortelitha and Amy)
(2) Post the rules on your blog. (That's what this is)
(3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
(4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
(5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

1) EDIT: Evidently I can't count. I started with #2. So that's my first quirky habit: I can't count.

2) I have a bad habit of leaving little pieces of trash everywhere. It annoys my husband because I could just throw them away, but I don't like to have trashcans in every room so I would have to take them to the kitchen or bathroom and that takes energy. So when I clean up I really end up picking up a lot of trash.

3) I would rather read a book than do almost anything. I read many genres but usually it ends up being fiction, science fiction, religious fiction, or non-fiction books with really cool titles.

4) I really like to paint. And I'm particular about how other people paint my areas. Give me a brush and a bucket of paint and I'll cover every surface in sight. It's rather dangerous.

5) Too much chocolate soymilk makes me toot. And evidently it smells really bad. According to my husband.

6) I usually don't really listen to music. I use it mostly as background happiness. But if I know a song I have to sing along. It's weird and hard to explain. I'll often sing along with the oldies at the grocery store.

I don't tag people but if you like this meme feel free to do it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Denali Turns Three

We celebrated Denali's third birthday at our New Year's Eve party this year. It was a great time and many of our local friends were able to party with us.

Denali blew out his candles here. See the very lovely cake? I decorated it myself.


Then a whole bunch of kids sat quietly to eat their cake and ice cream. I tell you, it was SILENT.

Then later we gave them all noisemakers and it was so loud. It was hilarious to hear them all blowing them at once. I think Nicole was not too impressed with it though.

Denali is growing up more and more every day. He's just exactly as tall and weighs just as much as his sister did at this age. He's telling us with words what likes and doesn't like and he's telling jokes and stories. We are very impressed with our (still snuggly) big boy.

Fight Free Award

Emlyn had an awards ceremony today for the completion of the first semester. She got the "fight free award," which students get for not fighting all semester, and she got a "spirit award." We are very proud of her.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hiking with Kids



A couple weeks ago Emlyn got to go climbing with her daddy. They found a tree that looks like an A. Can you see it?

She loves to pack her own backpack of special things to take along.

Yesterday we all went and though the kids were slightly cranky we had a great time. Emlyn once again packed her own backpack. Some of the things inside were a yellow basket, a chameleon, and two party hats from New Year's.

The kids are getting so big! They are real troopers when we hike, even when I get a little bit lost and we have to turn around. Yesterday they made mud tattoos on their arms and legs and got to crawl in a little cave.

While we were climbing yesterday I finished a 5.9 called "Gut Punch the Buddha." I was supposed to learn how to clean while I was up there but felt ill from the exertion so had to be lowered instead. :(

Friday, January 25, 2008

Quinta La Pagoda

Watercolor, 14 by 20 inches

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perspective

I was just finishing Madeleine L'Engle's book "Two Part Invention." In it one of the things she talks about is perspective, and how hard it is as an artist to be objective of one's own art. Then she ties it in to our perspective of what God is doing in our lives. We are living this, so it is hard to see the big picture. We only see our little part.

Today as I was painting a picture I could completely understand what she was talking about. I thought it looked good but had no idea whether it was "something." I just don't know if it's anything special.

I don't feel like posting the picture right now. But I think I like it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weights

Today I got a pair of wrist/ankle weights that I plan to wear just around the house or walking to pick up Emlyn from school, to help intensify what I already do. I thought I was ordering 2 3lb weights, for a total of 6 pounds, but it turns out they are each only 1.5 pounds. Turns out that even just an extra 1.5 pounds on each wrist really makes a difference.

Let's see if I can do this regularly...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My backpack

On Saturday I was at a women's seminar at church. We were talking about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Each of the four speakers really had some wonderful things to say that brought me peace. In particular Sheri said something that really helped me.

She talked about a particular person who holds a grudge. Before I start holding the grudge I am partying in God's presence, worshiping and basking in His love. Then someone (or something) does something that makes me mad. I put it in a backpack and start carrying it around. Every couple of days I put another rock in my backpack that reminds me of this grudge, until I am completely weighed down by it. I also then find that I am outside of God's presence- He's really far away. When I realize my sin, I need to run back to his party circle and return to worshiping.

My backpack last year was full of rocks about my house. I subconsciously knew the whole time that I was doing this, but I never really gave up that backpack until Saturday. I had lots of reasons to be displeased by my house. I could list them for you but that would be counterproductive. I would go around and complain to all my friends (sorry friends!) about the travesties of my life. It really distracted me from my real reason for this life and made me miserable. My backpack got so full that I would get so tired of talking about it, and so weary of carrying it. And yet it was still there. I couldn't put it down! I couldn't give it away and come back into God's presence.

Finally on Saturday I realized what I was doing. THIS HOUSE DOESN'T MATTER. I am thankful for it, and for the shelter and comfort it brings me. I am thankful for Joel and the hard work he does to provide for us. But when my house starts to distract me from God, and when I start to resent friends and family for how their houses are so much prettier they are, I want to try to remember this backpack and how heavy it was.

Ironically this realization also helped me to make decisions about decorating and helped me be able to paint my kitchen on Sunday.

Please remind me when you hear me talking about this backpack. Help me remember that this backpack is not what this life is about. Help me throw it to the ground and run back to God's circle.

CS Lewis

Today I was reading more from "The Problem of Pain," which, by the way, is a great read if you have the attention span for it (and I don't often).

CS Lewis was talking about the longing that each soul has, the yearning for "Something," and how sometimes we almost can talk about the something that we yearn for, and then we find out that the other person is thinking about something else, or doesn't quite understand.

I want to quote a couple paragraphs because it really resonates with me. It's worded so beautifully.

"This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul. I am considering not how, but why, He makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key, and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you--you, the individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith. Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another's. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction. The Brocken spectre 'looked to every man like his first love', because she was a cheat. But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it--made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."

From The Problem of Pain, pgs 151-152

Doesn't this just make you long even more for Heaven and that blessed home?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kitchen Update






This afternoon I took advantage of Ruth's amazing babysitting abilities and painted my kitchen cabinets. I think it turned out fabulously. I love them so much I can't even tell you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Visitors

It's amazing to me how fickle my emotions can be. Last night I was really low. Today I was good. I had lots of visitors, including two great local friends, one friend from high school, and my youngest sister is here for the weekend. So this day has been full of blessings.

This weekend I have a women's conference at my church. We will also be going to my other sister's house to visit, and then on Monday (MLK Jr Day) we will go see The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

My house is clean. My heart is at peace.


Time for more fun with my sister Ruth!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yuck

Well I'm pretty depressed. Which is nonsense considering all I've been blessed with in my life.

I just can't seem to keep up with this house.

Although I read in CS Lewis' book the other day, The Problem of Pain, that of course we can't get too comfortable in this world. We can't let it go perfectly. If it seems to be going perfectly, we will lose sight of our real goal. The real prize is not a new fridge. Or HD TV. Or losing those last five pounds. That is not the prize.

The prize is eternity in the best place ever. With God. No bills to pay, no dishwashers to fix, no dirty diapers to change. That will be wonderful.

No, what I read wasn't about the whole life isn't perfect thing. I just remembered. It's this:

We say life is so short. So transitory. Why can't our lives be longer? Why did [a loved one] have to die so soon?

Why would we want this life to continue farther? We have already managed to mess it up so much in just a few years! Honestly, if I had 200 more years to go, I would be even more depressed. I can't even make it through one day without being short with my kids. Why would I want 200 years?

Oh, Father. Please just send Your Son back so we don't have to toil through this any longer.

But until he comes, I will TRY to take each day at its best and see it for what it is. I will TRY to laugh with my children, and be silly with my husband, and read good books (the bad ones aren't worth my time), and read good blogs. Which there are a lot of.

[End of stream-of-consciousness]

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Garage: A Love Song

Sung to the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky"

Garage, Garage, how I love you!
You hold all our junk and tools
and usually our cars!
2007 was sad,
No parking for me.
Because of our fence,
and then our siding.
But now it's all cleaned out,
and bulky pickup is soon.
They'll take all our rotten wood
out of the backyard.
My Honda is happy
and I am too.
Now I don't have to interact
with the neighbors.

(I really do like our neighbors a lot. That part of the song is sarcasm, people!)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Literacy Website

The other day I referenced a website but couldn't remember the url. I seem to have remembered it now! It's got numbers, telling time, reading, colors and shapes, and probably some more on there too. It's really fun.

It's called literacycenter.net.

A Creed

My uncle Brent posted this creed on his blog. I wanted to share it with you.

http://www.brentwrogers.com/?p=44

Question 1.
What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer.

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a)

am not my own, (b)

but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c)

who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d)

and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e)

and so preserves me (f)

that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g)

yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h)

and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i)

and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

http://www.ccel.org/creeds/heidelberg-cat.html

I printed it out and hope to remember to read it this week. Aloud.

Interestingly enough, my brother Daniel spent a school year in Heidelberg. That's where this creed came from evidently.

A New Haircut

Last night my sister and her fiance graciously offered agreed to watch my kids over night so I could have a little rest. I was so excited I couldn't decide to do with the time.

First I decided to get my hair cut. It hasn't been cut since last spring, whenever that was, that I cut it short. Or was it fall? I don't even know. No it was after Christmas 2006. So yeah. Anyway I told her (the hairstylist) that I really liked the last haircut but this time I am trying to grow it out, so to just layer it a little bit and thin it a little bit and cut off the split ends.

Is there something wrong with what I said? Is it even possible to layer hair a little bit? You know, to kinda mix it up at the ends so it isn't just a blunt line? I thought there was. Anyway she cut it all right. I think she cut too much. I don't know because I am not any good at this stuff. Oh and she cut it dry so she could "see the split ends". And then left me with this funky layer showing right at my ear level. It looks somewhat better now that I've washed it and the natural curl is back, but really? I think I look stupid.

At least my hair grows quickly. What should I tell them next time?

Sorry there's no picture. Joel lost both of the cameras. I mean they're around somewhere. I just don't know where exactly.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Number Learning

I've switched volunteer positions at my daughter's school. I'm now semi-official. I tutor 2-3 kids a day for half an hour. They are learning various skills. Today one of the children was working on learning his numbers. My supervising teacher let me know about this site- which I can't remember right now- which teaches all kinds of skills, including numbers.

Then I came home and saw a High Five game. High Five is published by the Highlights people, and is geared towards pre-k learners. My mom gave Emlyn a subscription to it this year. In every issue are poems, stories, and cartoons, and also a game in the back. This time it was a matching game for matching numbers to the corresponding amount of dots.

This reminded me of folder games. Folder games are ideally games that children can play on their own. They teach concepts to the kids in a fun way. They are easy to make and easy to store, since you make them out of a file folder. So I did a google search for "number folder games," and came up with quite a few good ones. Some of them were free. I printed out two of those and assembled them. Then I started making up my own, and finished with the original High Five game. I now have six games that teach numbers, and plan to take them to school tomorrow. Ideally I would laminate them and make them more durable for multiple uses. We'll see if that gets done. At any rate I hope to teach the little boy at school, and maybe some other kids, how to recognize their numbers.

Some day soon I will post pictures of a bunch of stuff. We've upgraded to a paid Flickr account so that our poor iPhoto won't have to hold 8500+ pictures all the time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Smell

My day started out kinda bad and progressively got worse. At least now it's over and I can blog about it.

It all started with a smell. A bitter, sharp kind of smell. And a color. Kind of light grey.

I went into the kitchen this morning and began breakfast preparations. We needed to go grocery shopping so breakfast was slim pickings. Emlyn and I kept smelling this smell. We couldn't figure out what it was. Eventually I narrowed it down to the refrigerator. I looked inside and decided it must be the herbs in the bottom of the fridge. I'd never heard of veggies making this smell, but what else could it be?

I started a crockpot experiment with my honey pecan chicken recipe. Let's just say that it should NOT be done in the crockpot. The only one who would eat it was Denali.

We all felt kind of sick this morning; Joel so much so that he almost didn't make it to church with us. But we carried on and went to church.

As we came home I opened the crockpot to find the aforementioned failure of a meal. The honey had burned, the chicken was simultaneously dry and soggy. But that's okay, I told myself bracingly. We have other food to offer everyone.

That's when I opened the freezer. And noticed my meat was thawed.

Now I have had freezer issues before. For a couple of years now I've had to spray bleach in the back of it because mold builds up in some area it's not supposed to. So I was afraid it was a buildup problem.

What I encountered was much worse. There were char marks on the white plastic of the back of the freezer. And more of that grey stuff.

Our freezer exploded. Turns out Joel heard what sounded like an explosion last night and before he got up to investigate the sound stopped.

Anyway about half of the food in the freezer was completely thawed. I could have saved some of the veggies but my motivation was not exactly there.

So this afternoon instead of doing laundry, and hanging out with the family, and enjoying money that we didn't have, we got to go refrigerator shopping. We all piled into the car and went to Fry's. Where we proceeded to argue about black vs stainless steel, bottom freezer vs side by side, and water ice dispenser vs none. We quickly realized that this was going to be no good with the kids in tow, so we dropped them off at a friend's house (thank you so much Ryan and Wendy!!!!!) and went to Sears.

And Lowe's.
And Target.
And Home Depot.
And Wal-hate.
And Fry's again.
And finally, Best Buy.

At Best Buy I finally caved. I know, I'm a softie for my husband. So we ended up with what he would have bought if I hadn't been around. Stainless steel, sided by side, with water and ice dispenser in the door.

Honestly, that's cool with me. I don't hold grudges and any new appliance was going to be better than what we currently have at home- an old, cream behemoth that smells bad inside.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Oh! There's a secret? They aren't just magically smart?

How many of us want our kids to be motivated, successful, and able to use all of the abilities God blessed them with?

Joel forwarded this article to me, and I thought you all might like to read it as well. The basic point is that according to studies kids are more likely to succeed if they are praised more for their efforts rather than their innate smartness.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids&print=true

This makes sense if you think about it- if you believe you're doing something well because you're smart, when you fail you might think it's because you are not as smart in that area, and therefore you won't try that again. Conversely, if you believe you're doing something well because you have tried hard and given it a good effort, when you fail you will be more likely to just try it again and make more of an effort.

This hits me close to home because I always knew I was smart but have not always been great at giving things a good effort. Most things that I do, if it doesn't work well the first couple of times, I just give it up and go try something else. If I actually have to study for a class it's annoying to me.

Anyway just an interesting article. Hopefully I can start using different language when I talk to my kids about their achievement and abilities.

I did it!

In light of the article I'm about to post, this is particularly exciting to me because I actually gave this some effort and persistence and it paid off.

Our sink backed up on New Year's Eve, right before we had 35 people over for a New Year's Party. I had of course planned to use real dishes because we have lots of beautiful dishes, and what's the point of having beautiful dishes if you don't use them?

So we have had about 200 dishes sitting around our house since Monday night. Last night Joel fixed the sink (good job hon!) and then the dishwasher wasn't working. Since I am feeling better (I worked myself sick getting ready for our party), today I decided to see if I could get the dishwasher working. I called the manufacturer and got directions on how to access the drain pan. Evidently if too much water gets in the dishwasher, it overflows into a little pan beneath and then the floor. Then the dishwasher magically knows that there is water there, and won't put any more water into the washer. It's called an overfill issue.

So the lady told me how to do it. I took off pieces from the bottom of the dishwasher and tried really hard to remember where to put the screws. I had a little stall when I realized I needed to soak up or vacuum out the water, and I don't have a wet vacuum. But I managed to get it dried out with some towels, our vacuum, and my neighbor's hair dryer. I put it all back together with no loose pieces left over, and now the first load is running.

I am so cool!

But don't tell Joel. He might make me do all the maintenance now, and it's dirty yucky.