Sunday, December 31, 2006

Do I Get Combat Pay For This?

It's New Year's weekend, which means Kevin is at the office. It's no fun for him, but every year he rings in the new year staring at a spreadsheet. Something about the year-end financial report for all of USAA, and the bigwigs are breathing down his department's neck until it is finished. Kevin's silver lining is that he's receiving double-time since he's working on a holiday. My silver lining is that it's only a couple weekends out of the year, as opposed to a couple months of 80-hour weeks like it was when he worked for Arthur Andersen.

That said, all is not rosy on the homefront. I spent Friday night with a stomach bug. Today Caelyn seems to have caught the same thing, so I've spent most of the afternoon holding back her hair and listening to her recount every single time she's ever thrown up in her life. (She likes to verbally process while she's sick. My job is just to rub her back and say, "I know.")

So Happy New Year, everyone. I hope all my friends and family are having a grand time! I'll celebrate when school starts again.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kid Quotes

David is fully resisting the idea of potty training. We had a semi-successful day today, but overall David's mantra has been, "I don't want to get on the potty train!" I guess he thinks it's a ride.

Also, at dinner tonight he said, "Excuse me, I burped in my bottom." You're probably smart enough to figure that one out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Never Tried This One

My kids are getting past the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) stage, but there were times that this technique would have been helpful! I can't tell you how many times they got into stuff in the pantry or my ink pads or other "no-touch" items while I was doing something else.

Please, don't send me comments saying this is child abuse. This child is obviously fine and probably wasn't there for more than a couple minutes. This is just a stickier version of a Baby Bjorn. Thanks to Blessed Assurances for sharing this image.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I Love the 80s

Last night was a surreal evening. Kevin's company had its annual "Holiday Party." Kevin works for USAA, the ginormous insurance company that employs 16,000 people locally. The company party is held downtown at the Convention Center because, really, where else can you have a party for thousands upon thousands of people?

Here's the fun part: They hired the classic 80s rock group Foreigner to perform. Seriously. We got to listen and sing and laugh hysterically for over an hour to such classic Foreigner hits as "Feels Like the First Time" and "Jukebox Baby" and "Urgent." Highly entertaining.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh, The Places I've Been!

For no reason whatsoever, I made a map of every state I've visited. Never mind that some of those visits were merely drive-thrus on my way to or from college. The point is: I've been there. I've been to an extremely nice Target in Albuquerque, I've eaten at Molly Murphy's House of Fine Repute in Oklahoma City (where later that night my car was broken into), and I've been to the airport in Newark, New Jersey, on my way to New York City. And that's enough New Jersey for me.

Someday I'd like to head up to Ohio to see some friends. I really want to do a tour of American authors' home in the Northeast. Someday...

create your own visited states map

Sunday, December 03, 2006

How Good is Your Grammar?

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm Thankful For...

Thanksgiving is almost over, and the last 48 hours have been quite an adventure. We made it to Houston safely although we had to make a few extra stops for our kids who weren't feeling well. When we arrived, Caelyn took a speedy turn downhill and visited the bathroom a dozen times in the first two hours. Noreen unearthed some anti-diarrheal medicine, but I noticed that it had expired in 1997 so I opted to send Kevin to Walgreens. Caelyn later perked up, but then she got a fever and her other symptoms continued. Now David's sick with a pretty high fever, too. The poor guy took three naps today. Kendra's hanging in there but says her tummy hurts. Tonight's Thanksgiving Feast? Each of the kids ate a roll and part of a banana. I know the kids wish they were in their own beds, and I really wish we were at home, too. But we're not, and it's probably just as well that we stay until Saturday so David has time to recover before hitting the road again.

Despite our less-than-stellar holiday, I am thankful for so many things. The short list:

1. I am thankful for my husband, who puts up with me and loves me and challenges me and laughs at/with me. Every day for the last dozen years, Kevin has never failed to tell me that he loves me, even when I'm not acting very lovable. Kevin is faithful, loving, selfless, and a great dad.
2. I am thankful for each of my children. I love Kendra's literal view of the world and her growing heart for God. I love Caelyn's ability to always see the bright side of things. I love David's sweet spirit and his play hard/sleep hard tendencies. I love how God is training me in righteousness through my children.
3. I am thankful for my friends. God has truly blessed me with a great group of women with whom I can share, pray, cry, laugh, and be myself. I love all my friends dearly and I'm so grateful to have you in my life.
4. I am thankful that I'm able to stay home and be a mom. Housekeeping with a joyful heart is a struggle for me, but I am truly thankful that I can focus the majority of my energies on home and family. I'm thankful that I'm always available when my kids are sick, that I have the freedom to attend Tuesday morning Bible studies, and that I'm the one who picks up my kids from school every day.
5. That said, I'm also thankful for my parttime jobs. I need to learn how to manage my time better, but I'm thankful for my curriculum writing job and for my eternally patient boss. I'm thankful for my fun mystery shopping jobs and for the free food and stuff that they provide for our family. I'm thankful for the unexpected editing job my sister provided for me recently.

This is the short list, of course, because I'm thankful for so many other things, people, circumstances, etc. God is good and He has blessed me richly! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Props to Kevin

My sweet husband appears to be growing up. Today he managed to sell our 11-year-old Mazda and buy a 2006 Nissan Altima without 1) losing his temper; 2) haggling unnecessarily with the salesman; and 3) making the car dealership people angry, too. Not that he was throwing money away, because he made sure he got a good deal. But when he bought the Mazda 11 years ago, he spent EIGHT hours at the dealership trying to eke out the last possible penny. Today's adventure was over in just a few hours. (And as an added bonus, David got a balloon. And Kevin got the spoiler.) The dealership still did the whole cheesy "let me take this figure to my manager" trick, but Kevin withstood all the tactics. I'll miss the little Mazda 626 -- Kevin bought it just before we got married and it was my first new car. Godspeed, 626, you served us well.

And on a completely different note, we are supposed to leave for Houston in the morning for Thanksgiving with the grandparents, but 66.67 percent of our children are sick. David is on the mend, we think, but Caelyn is a weepy mess with a sore throat, throbbing head, and continually runny nose. At least it's not an urpy sickness this time. I'm not sure Kevin's mom has forgiven us for bringing and sharing the horrible stomach virus last summer. I know her carpet never fully recovered.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Look Like Dirt = Run Into People You Know

This is my last week of weight training with my friends Kathleen and Amy (Kathleen's the personal trainer/torture expert; Amy's the other willing participant in this quest for muscle mass). Kathleen was particularly demanding today, but in a nice way. At any rate, I left her house a little sweaty, probably a little smelly, and with a bad case of gym hair.

So I drove to the HEB on Blanco and 1604 because it's not my regular store and I figured I could shop anonymously. Wrong. I immediately ran into Diana Lowe, one of the pastors' wives from church. Five minutes later I'm at the deli counter waiting for my mesquite smoked turkey when I recognize the woman standing beside me. It's JoAnn MacPherson, one of my former students from when I taught high school journalism. She's married and a full-fledged grown-up, so now I feel sweaty, smelly, unattractive, and OLD. Still, it was fun to see her.

I go home and spend the next couple hours frantically cooking dinner for Kathleen, Amy, and my family. Making minestrone while wearing a white shirt was not a brilliant idea, so I got noticeably splattered with beef broth and tomatoes. Now I'm sweaty, smelly, unattractive, OLD and a slob, so what happens after school? I run into one of my impeccably groomed friends when I take the kids to Shipley's.

It's almost 7:30 at night and I still haven't showered. And really, what's the point now? Kevin's a little stuffy so he won't notice if I'm not too rosy, and I can sleep in my dirty clothes and save the clean jammies for another night. And bad hair at night? Who cares?

But I can guarantee that tomorrow I'll look (and smell) good and I won't run into anybody I know. Vanity's funny that way.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Coming Up To Breathe

The last two months have been hectic, crazy, over-worked, etc. Thankfully, I've finished a big editing job and I'm taking a few weeks off from curriculum writing, which means I'm enjoying a few hours of freedom each day. Time to clean the house, tackle some serious clutter, deal with a mountain of laundry, cook a decent meal, hit the gym, sew an Indian costume for Caelyn for Thanksgiving Feast... OK, maybe I don't have that much free time after all. But I don't feel like I'm in a constant state of stress right now, and that's a great feeling.

So here's what I got to do this weekend. I sat in my car from 6-10 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights counting the number of customers who entered a particular store. Seriously, I got paid to sit in my car and make a tally. It was glorious! Eight hours of magazine reading, Bible study, logic puzzles, and spontaneous praise singing. Eight hours without a single person demanding a single thing from me. Eight hours of peace with a side of quiet. I didn't even turn on my radio because I wanted to enjoy the silence. My backside got a little sore, but it was well worth it.

And now I have an Indian costume to sew.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Apparently I Don't Exist

I always knew I was unique, but this is ridiculous! Thanks to Megan for the laugh.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Need a Nap

It's 8:48 in the morning, and I've been up since 12:46 a.m. I had a migraine last night so I went to bed early and fell asleep before 9. I woke up in the middle of the night and took more Excedrin, and then I couldn't sleep so I watched Lost on Tivo. Finally stumbled back to bed after 1:30, but then I kept hearing noises (thought it was the cat). After 20 minutes of restlessness, I realized the kitchen light was on. A quick investigation revealed that my son, who is almost 3, was wandering around the house. Returned him to his room only to discover that he'd thrown up in his bed. Seven hours later, and I still haven't slept. I've done three loads of laundry and have a day's worth more. Poor David is lying pathetically on the living room floor because I don't want him to christen the couches with urp. (I'd put him in bed, but both sets of sheets are in the wash. Besides, and it's a TV-watching kind of day.) I'm off to search the garage for the Little Green Machine so I can clean up the carpet.

Here's hoping this is short-lived and that the girls don't get it. Kendra's 7th birthday party is in 49 hours, and I'd hate for her to miss out on her celebration.

Please Pray for My Dad

If you're a praying person, please consider praying for my Dad. He's had a long history of illness, strokes, and increased disability. As a result, he's become severely depressed. He's currently in the hospital and hopefully will receive proper treatment. He's also in the process of selling his house and moving back into the retirement community where he was last year, so pray that he'll adjust and accept his new situation better than he did last time. Also, pray that I'll have the right words to offer him. He's lost hope.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Opening Day

Yup, it's official. Today was opening day -- for catalog season. I found half a dozen catalogs in my mailbox today, and I know from experience that the number will only increase as we inch closer to Christmas. Normally I just toss them into the recycling bin, but this year I think I'm going to take the effort and actually call the companies and request to be taken off their mailing lists. It won't make much difference, I know, but I hate to see all that glossy paper wasted.

I like giving and receiving presents, by the way. Generally, I like stuff. I just don't need to see examples of every single thing that I could spend money on. And I certainly don't want companies to waste time, paper, and money sending shiny catalogs to me when 99 times out of 100 I won't even look at them. And I really like my mail carrier, so I'm hoping my efforts will lighten her load, too. At least for my mailbox; I'm sure her truck is filled with catalogs headed toward the neighbors' houses. Sigh.

UPDATE: One hour later, and I've called a few companies. One company happily took me off their list and said they appreciated the feedback. The second company could not find me in their system, even though I had the catalog in hand with my correctly spelled name and the customer ID number. I guess I'll just pitch those catalogs when they arrive on a semi-weekly basis.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I love Target. It's the happiest place on earth for me. And today God has blessed me with a $100 gift certificate to Target!

The education program at Trinity University (my alma mater) is celebrating its 15th anniversary of the master's program. They sent out surveys to all the MAT graduates asking for current information and career stories. As an incentive, they said they would have a drawing for two $100 gift certificates to either Barnes & Noble or Target. Today the education department sent out an email saying that I was one of the winners -- yippee!

On top of that, I scored two mystery shops this month at Target. I get reimbursed for $50 for each shop. That's $200 of Target money this month! Now is the real test: Do I use the freebie money for something practical for the house, or for birthday gifts for Kevin and the kids, or for something extravagant for me?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Sir, you are a saint."

That's what I wanted to say to a certain man last week. I was in the public library when I noticed an elderly couple sitting at a table. The husband was quietly working on financial paperwork, and the wife was reading the newspaper. I don't know what happened previously, but the wife was verbally berating her husband as if he were a child. She told his how horrible his manners were and how awful a husband he was. After a few minutes she returned to her newspaper. Soon she asked, "What is a nemesis? I don't know that word." Her husband answered, "An unlikable enemy," which I thought was a decent answer. The wife lit into him again about how stupid his response was, how he shouldn't add a word like "unlikable" if it really just means "enemy." (I know, the irony...) Later the husband politely asked, "May I please have 50 cents?" to which the wife responded, "No, because you don't know how to ask a question properly. You should have asked, 'May I have two quarters?' because I don't know if you need 5 dimes or what." She proceeded to call him a swear word rather unbecoming for a lady, especially one in her 70s.

So I'm listening to all this, wishing I could say something to her. I wanted to chew her out. I wanted to heap burning coals on her head by being kind. I wanted to tell her poor, defeated husband that he is a true saint and a model of patience. I wanted to tell her husband to get a backbone and fight back. In the end, I paused for a few moments and prayed for the both of them. And then I prayed for myself, that I would never act like that. Surely this is the woman that Solomon was thinking about when he wrote "a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Can't Move Today

Actually, I can move. I'm just moving very slowly. With pain. Lots of pain.

Yesterday my friend Amy and I tried a new class at the gym. It's called STRONG, and now I know why it was written in all caps on the class rosters.

Basically, it was a series of weight training exercises. I've never used a dumbbell in my life, but I figured out how to add the weights and lock the cap thingie on the end.

I was doing OK with the shoulder squats and reverse flies. But somewhere around the second set of skull crushers (don't ask), my triceps gave out. I barely made it through the lumberjack chopping movement. And then the sadistic instructor put us through 5 minutes of ab work.

The hour went by quickly, and after class Amy and I were smiling and said it was the best class we'd taken so far. Then Amy called me late last night and asked, "How much are you hurting right now?" Not as much as I'm hurting right now, I tell you.

Strangely enough, we've agreed to go back to the class next week, too. I'll just load up on Advil first.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sometimes I Feel Like This...

"So much of me believes strongly in letting everybody live their own lives, and when I share my faith, I feel like a network marketing guy trying to build my downline." -- Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz

It's sad, but true. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to sell Christ to people, as if He were a set of Ginsu knives. It's not that I don't believe in God, or in salvation, or in the Bible. Because I do, wholeheartedly. But sometimes you encounter somebody who obviously doesn't know God, and when you start talking about Him they get that glazed-over look in their eyes, as if they're thinking, "How long do I have to listen to this pitch before I can hang up?" I'm not ashamed of the Gospel, but I don't want to be a nudgy vendor woman, either.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

5 Things

I was tagged by my buddy Megan to do this...

5 Things in My Freezer:
a stack of gallon-sized bags of spaghetti sauce (I just cooked in bulk);
some raspberry chocolate chips that I don't know what do to with;
three mini loaves of zucchini bread;
three pounds of butter, mostly unsalted;
way too much ice cream

5 Things in My Closet:
a huge stack of ill-fitting or outdated clothes that I need to donate or sell on Ebay;
the girls' old crib bedding;
a set of construction Legos for David's Christmas present;
my graduation caps and gowns;
several clumps of cat fur

5 Things in My Car:
a pile of trail mix nuts that the kids didn't eat (they devoured the raisins and M&Ms, though);
a pile of well-worn Chick-fil-A books;
some Windex Wipes so I can clean the grubby fingerprints off the windows during carpool;
a thin layer of Kevin's whiskers, since he shaves on the way to church;
a yoga mat

5 Things in My Purse/Wallet:
my new driver's license with a photo that does NOT have huge bangs;
a lipstick that's been melted a few too many times in the Texas sun;
three singles and a dime;
a coupon holder dedicated to grocery store items;
a coupon holder mostly dedicated to Chick-fil-A, but also to bowling alleys, dry cleaning, and other local eateries

5 Things Most People Don't Know About Me:
I wish I could sing well enough to try out for American Idol;
I want to be a drummer in heaven's alternative Christian rock band;
I do impersonations of people I know (Kevin really likes this fact about me. He's pretty much the only person who sees me in action);
every aptitude test I ever took said I was supposed to be an engineer -- my math SATs were 200 points above my verbal SATs -- yet I became a writer anyway;
I danced in the halftime show at Super Bowl XXI

5 Books I've Recommended in the Last Few Years:
Blue Genes by Paul Meier (it's helped me understand my struggles with depression);
The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn;
Heaven by Randy Alcorn;
Looking for God in Harry Potter by John Granger;
Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl

5 Books I've Bought But Haven't Read Yet:
The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ by Randy Singer
The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

5 Things I Should Be Doing Instead of Blogging Right Now:
finishing up the laundry;
packing for our trip;
boxing up the stuff I just sold on eBay;
writing a reading passage for my job;
dealing with the disaster zone upstairs

5 People I Tag to Do This:
the Kwans
anyone else? Let me know so I can read 'em.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Good and the Bad

This has been an utterly crazy week!

The Good:
I finally got to ride the Great White rollercoaster at Sea World. Kevin's parents were in town, so we all went for the day. We were able to leave the kids with Grandma and Grandpa for half an hour so we could get our adrenaline rush. Totally fun ride until...
The Bad:
The brake system was a little faulty at the end. Instead of coasting to a stop, we slammed short and Kevin's neck hurt for a while. Not a good memory for Kevin since he's already a bit squeamish about rollercoasters.

The Good:
We bought David's "big boy bed." He slept in it for the first time last night and did really well, although he was sleeping sideways when I checked on him this morning.
The Bad:
Buying a mattress is pretty much the same experience as buying a car. The salesman actually took a $100 bill out of his wallet, laid in on the table, placed a sample of "protectant" on the bill, and then poured colored liquid onto the bill. All this was just to prove his point that we needed to spend another $75 for a protective sealer, which I could do myself with a $4 can of Scotch Guard.

The Good:
Now that David's in his big boy bed, we can finally switch the kids' bedrooms around upstairs. The girls needed to move across the way so they could have the dual bathroom.
The Bad:
Kevin decided to start moving the kids' furniture at 7:30 last night. Which means the kids didn't get to sleep until after 9:30. Which means I'm anticipating a meltdown later today. Thankfully, we have a copy of "Chicken Little" from the library and they can zone out when they start to get cranky.

The Good:
I have been gainfully employed the last two weeks. I've gotten several decent mystery shops and got to take Kevin on a date to Outback. I also had to do a shop at Rolling Oaks Mall for a kids' event, and Kendra won a Cabbage Patch baby. Actually, she won a personal video disc player (not the same as a DVD player), but we traded with a 9-year-old boy who won the Cabbage Patch. Both kids were pretty darn happy with that trade. Americans should barter more -- it's fun.
The Bad:
Working is good, but not when it all comes at once. In addition to all the mystery shops, I'm also scrambling trying to finish the six reading passages that I need to write for my other job. It's been a little stressful and I'm not getting enough sleep.

We're leaving on vacation to California on Wednesday. Pray for peaceful flights and flexible children!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Kid Quote Contest

This is for Alex, the Amys, Megan, Stephanie, my sisters, and all my other mom friends whose kids say the funniest things. Write down what they say, and submit the funniest and/or most poignant ones to this contest. The winning quotes are made into adorable greeting cards. Your child gets a little cash and a lot of recognition!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.

When my Granddad died, my father sold his box seats at Dodger Stadium. My father had four daughters, and he probably thought his girls wouldn't be able to appreciate the joys of baseball. He was wrong.

Sometime in the early-80s, my dad and I started going to Dodger games together. Our family life was unstable, but my dad and I found that we could have some semblance of a relationship by sharing baseball. On warm summer nights he'd come home from work, pick me up, and we'd make the short drive to Dodger Stadium. I loved driving the last stretch up the hill, where a sheer cliff flanked the right side of the road. Maybe my excitement was partially fear of a rockslide, but I did love the drive.

When we got to the Stadium, we'd get a couple of Dodger Dogs before finding our seats. (Dodger Dogs are the only hot dogs worth eating, by the way.) I'd get a Diet Coke, my dad would get a beer, and we'd take our seats, which were usually along the first baseline. The sun was always blinding, at first, but eventually the sun would dip behind the scoreboard and the round, orange Union 76 gasoline sign that stood on top. From that vantage we would watch the game and catch glimpses of the celebrities who were in attendance that day.

My dad taught me how to read the box scores. I learned all the terminology. I listened to the legendary Vin Scully announce the games. I ate Cracker Jack and ice cream and joyfully sang during the seventh inning stretch. I became a huge fan of Steve Sax, Orel Herschiser, and even Fernando Valenzuela. Mostly, though, I learned how to sit still during the very long stretches where nothing seemed to happen. I learned to appreciate the steady, slow rhythms of baseball. And occasionally, my dad and I would have a good conversation about something other than the game itself.

One of my clearest father/daughter childhood memories was in 1988. My parents were on the verge of divorce, and my mom and I had already moved into an apartment. I was a senior in high school and acted like my dad barely existed. He reached out, though, and invited me to Game 1 of the World Series against the Oakland A's. We had incredible seats between homeplate and first base. We were four rows behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The governor was there. The whole stadium was buzzing with excitement, yet my father and I barely spoke during the game. There was an enormous, unspoken tension between us that baseball could not heal. By the ninth inning I couldn't wait to go home.

But then an ailing Kirk Gibson emerged from the dugout, took the plate, and made an amazing, miraculous three-run homer that brought the Dodgers from behind and gave us the win. I remember watching the crowd go nuts and seeing my dad's face. He was happy for the win, but his face showed the strain of our broken family and fractured relationship. It remained one of the many unspoken moments between us, but I think I understood a bit more about my dad that night. He had screwed up our family, but he was aware of his mistakes. He didn't know how to express it, but I think he was sorry about his inability to fix things. I probably didn't express enough appreciation at the time, but I was honored that my dad chose to invite me to the game as opposed to any of his friends.

My dad lives alone now, and I only see him once a year. When I visited him last summer, he enormous television was showing a Dodger game. The screen looked off-color, though, and after a few minutes I realized that Steve Garvey was playing. My dad was watching a replay of an old Dodgers game on ESPN Classic. I don't understand why he'd want to watch a game from 30 years ago, but maybe he was trying to come to terms with his own life, too. Baseball just happens to be his medium.

And now, for sheer love of the game, here's a link to my favorite speech from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams. James Earl Jones could never have given this speech about any other sport.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Caelyn's Latest Word Picture

Five-year-old Caelyn had a stomach ache this morning. "It's like there's a scorpion inside my tummy that's pinching me." She's a little wordsmith, she is. I'll bet she becomes a writer.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stuff on My Cat

The kids and I have discovered a hilarious website:
The basic premise is that cats are even better when you stack stuff on them. Every morning we check out the new photos and giggle.
We're so entertained by the pictures that we've started dressing up our own cat. Poor Zelda has been extremely tolerant, and here's our favorite shot so far.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Favorite Kid Quotes of Late

My kids are always cracking me up with their clever language usages, but I think Caelyn is the most creative. Here are some of her latest quotes:

"Sometimes I'm just melting with happiness!"

"When I get sick, it's like there's a volcano in my tummy that comes out my mouth." (Now there's a vivid picture.)

Then again, Kendra asks the most profound questions, such as:

"Can presidents come back to life?" and

"Why didn't God make all our fingers the same size?" and

"Can a shark's head come up through the toilet and bite me?"

Recent Escapades, Part Three -- SAPD Not Involved

In yet another blip on my screen of bad luck, our mailbox was demolished by a runaway truck last week. A neighbor is building a pool, and the excavators forgot to set the brake. The truck rolled down the street and smashed into our front yard, taking out both our and our neighbor's mailboxes. Thankfully, the kids weren't outside playing. Also thankfully, the excavators have already written a check to fully pay for the replacement mailboxes, which cost over $500 a piece. Until then, I have to drive to the local post office to pick up our mail.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Recent Escapades with the SAPD -- Part Two

Remember the huge garage project I did to surprise Kevin? (He really, really liked it, by the way.) While the paint was drying, I had to park my minivan in the driveway. And here's what happened:

On the Saturday after VBS, I went out for some much-needed alone time. I went shopping, and while I was in Rack Room Shoes (the scene of David's escape; see previous post), I found a super-cheap and fairly cute black purse. I bought it and immediately switched my wallet and cell phone into the new black purse since I was wearing black pants and shoes.

When I came home that night, I brought my old brown purse into the house out of habit. I didn't really think about bringing in the new black purse. Big mistake.

The next morning I went outside with the kids to load up for church. Right away, I noticed that the passenger's window was shattered. I went inside, told Kevin, and asked what would have caused the window to break. Sometimes I'm just so stinking naive, but Kevin once broke a window just from the vibration of his lawnmower, and he did mow the lawn on Saturday, so my thoughts were on that path.

Suddenly it dawned on me that this was an act of vandalism, and that I didn't know where that black purse was. I did a quick search of the house and confirmed that, yes, we'd been robbed.

It only took 90 minutes to call the police and file a report, and then call all the credit card companies to cancel the cards. Several informed me that they had already red-flagged my card since they had noticed unusual activity on the cards. I haven't seen all the statements yet, but it looks like the thieves had a good ole time buying beer at gas stations and getting some electronic equipment at Walmart.

Later that week, the SAPD called me to say they had "recovered" my wallet at the Valero down the street from my house. I went to the police station to pick it up, and some of my cards were still in there. My driver's license is MIA, so some hoodlum is probably using it to get into bars. There were also some credit cards that didn't belong to me in my wallent. Some poor bloke named Steven B. Harwood also got burglarized, I guess, by the same guys. But, at least I got my Costco card back and a few other things. All the cash was gone, but the thieves didn't take my coins. I suppose they aren't interested in small change when they were busy racking up hundreds of dollars of fraudulent purchases.

And here's a tip: The DPS office in New Braunfels is not any faster than the location on Perrin Beitel. I waited an hour with three kids to get a replacement license, and the New Braunfels office didn't have any chairs to sit on. Can't wait to see that new license photo, considering I was rather frazzled and David was pulling on my shorts.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Recent Escapades with the SAPD - Part One

When you become a mother, you automatically join this private club of women. It's an unspoken club, but it exists, nonetheless, of every woman who has a child. There are subsets in this club: Adoptive moms, moms over 40, moms who gave birth without an epidural (I'm in that one, twice over).

I'm the newest member of this subset: Mommies who have lost their child in a public place. I'm also a member of this secondary subset: Mommies who had to call the Police Department when their child got lost.

Yup, that's me. Mother of the Year.'

The Situation: The kids and I were at Rack Room Shoes looking for summer sandals for me. Kendra was supposedly helping me by looking for shoeboxes with my shoe size. (Hey, when you wear a size 11 you get pretty excited when there's actually a shoe in your size.) Caelyn was supposedly in charge of David. Not the best plan, but that's what was happening.

After 30 minutes and several directives to the girls to "please go get your brother and bring him to me," I was checking out at the register. David came up to me with a random box of shoes that he had pulled off a shelf, somewhere. I told him "no touch" and said we were going to leave in a minute. He pouted when I took the shoes away from him and walked off toward the girls.

One minute later, I tell the girls that we are leaving. "Where's David?" I ask. The girls say they don't know, so we make rounds around the store looking for him. After circling the store 3 times, I ask an employee to help me find my son. She checks the storeroom and then says, "Do you want me to call the police?" I can't even tell you how stressed I was beginning to feel. I don't even think I answered her. I just told the girls to stay there with this nice worker and I darted out the front door and started running up and down the strip mall.

When I came back into the store, everything converged within seconds. The employee was on the phone with SAPD trying to describe David's clothes (the girls were helping her and actually remembered what David was wearing). Just as the employee was asking me how to spell my last name, the other worker calls out, "Hey, I think he's in your van."

I ran to the window and yes, David's head is now peeking out of the the sliding door on the minivan. He was rather sweaty, since he'd apparently been sitting there for several minutes watching me run up and down the sidewalk.

The employee told the police that we'd found David just before she gave him our name. I was saved from public humiliation at the police department, at least. I quickly thanked the workers, gathered up the girls, and practically ran out of the store. I don't think I started crying until we'd gotten on the highway.

A truly horrible experience, but I'm grateful for several things. I'm grateful that the car was parked immediately in front of the store, not across the parking lot. I'm grateful, strangely enough, that the car was somehow unlocked so David could get in and be in a relatively safe place.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This Is How Tired I Am

I just poured myself a glass of milk, got out a clean bowl, and then poured cereal into the glass of milk. I wanted cereal, but I'd rather eat it out of a bowl.

Why am I so tired? In the last four days I have:
1. Removed everything (and I mean everything) from the garage. This included all the tools, toys, shelves, and Kevin's makeshift workbench that was resting on cinderblocks. I hauled most of it into the house except for the lawn equipment and kids' toys, which are in the backyard. When you walk into my foyer, you are greeted by our second refrigerator. Our dining room is filled with boxes and boxes of garage junk.
2. Degreased, cleaned, etched, cleaned, powerwashed, squeegeed, powerwashed again, squeegeed again, powerwashed a third time, vacuumed the remaining etching dust from, primed, and painted our garage floor. It looks great, but I may have to apply a second coat tomorrow afternoon.
3. Purchased, loaded, unloaded, and assembled the biggest, heaviest garage shelving units I've ever seen. The assembly was kind of fun, actually.
4. Taken care of all the needs and a few of the wants of my children single-handedly, as Kevin is in San Diego enjoying dinner cruises in the bay. Not fair.
5. Gotten up at 6:30 every morning to get us all to church by 8:15 for VBS, where I've spent 4 hours every day running the Preschool Games & Activities for 50-plus squirrelly kids, ages 3-5. Lesson learned for next year: Three-year-olds do not want to play organized games. Also, not all three-year-olds know their names.
6. Dealt with an insanely unwanted ant infestation in my pantry. This required the removal and sanitation of all my plastic storage containers. Why do I have 100 Rubbermaid and Ziploc food containers? The ants are dead, the pantry's clean, and I now have an accurate inventory of the insulin-inducing amount of carbs in there.
7. Gotten by on less than 6 hours of sleep a night.

This entire garage redo is Kevin's belated Father's Day present. He doesn't know I'm doing it, and I'm really hoping he is happy about it all. He was strangely fond of his workbench that he found on the sidewalk, but it was time for something useful and space efficient. Hopefully when he gets home after midnight tonight he will not be upset by the amount of sheer clutter in the house as he tries to navigate his way from the front door to the living room. The garage floor won't be fully dry until Saturday, at which time I will haul everything back and place it all in labeled boxes on the shiny new shelves. Maybe Kevin will have mercy on me and help a little.

For now, I'm going to enjoy my glass of cereal (current favorite? Basic 4) and hit the sack. I've got to be at church in 10 hours.

Monday, June 19, 2006

My Latest Curriculum Passage/Short Story

I vividly remember the first time I realized we were different. Not a different race or religion or anything like that. No, we were different because of our mismatched furniture.

I was in the second grade, 8 years old, and I was having my first sleepover. My mom dropped me off at my friend Gracie’s house on Friday evening. We were supposed to have pizza with her family and then watch a movie. I had just taken a bite of my second slice of pepperoni when it suddenly hit me.

“All your chairs are the same!” I blurted out, my mouth full of melted cheese.

Four pairs of eyes stared at me like I had just sprouted green hair. Mrs. Morgan was the first to break the silence by asking, “What did you say, dear?”

“All your chairs are the same,” I repeated. “The chairs we’re sitting in. They all match.”

Again, the Martin family stared at me with confused expressions. “Of course they match,” Mrs. Morgan said. “The table and chairs are a set. They’re supposed to match.”

“Oh,” I said meekly. I decided to change the topic by asking what movie we were going to watch later. Then, hoping to deflect the attention off me, I took another bite of pizza and pretended to be extremely interested in the pattern of the tablecloth. Nobody brought up the chairs again, and I survived my first sleepover without further embarrassment.

When my mom picked me up the next morning, I waited until we got home before I mentioned the chairs. But as soon as I walked into the kitchen, I saw that yes, indeed, we were different. None of our chairs matched. Instead of a set of six, nicely matching chairs like the Morgans had, we had six chairs of differing heights, styles, and colors. I couldn’t believe that I had never noticed this before. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized that this was, you know – weird.

My mom saw me quizzically staring at the kitchen table and asked what I was thinking about. “The chairs,” I answered. “How come they don’t match?”

“Match what?” she asked.

“Each other!” I said in a tone of voice that usually wasn’t tolerated at my house. “Aren’t chairs supposed to match each other?”

My mom told to me to sit down. I automatically chose my favorite chair -- the ladder-back one with the woven seat. My mom sat in the dark mahogany chair with the wrought iron legs. She folded her hands, sighed, and then asked what I thought of the Morgan’s chairs. I shrugged my shoulders and said they were nice.

My mom pressed on. “Okay, nice,” she said. “But what made them nice? What did they look like?” I didn’t know. I said they were brown, and they matched the table.

My mom said that yes, most people buy chairs and tables in a set and that yes, they usually match each other. She said there was nothing wrong with buying furniture that way. But then she posed this question: "Which one of these chairs is your favorite, Becca?"

That's easy, I thought. I told my mom that I was sitting in my favorite chair.

"Right,” she said. “That’s always been your favorite chair. That was a chair from your grandfather’s store.” My mom reminded me how I used to love going into Grandpa’s store and help him stock the shelves with merchandise. I’d forgotten that, since my Grandpa had retired several years ago and had sold the store. I didn’t realize that I loved this old chair because it reminded me of my grandfather.

“What about the other chairs?” I asked. “Where did they come from?”

One by one, my mother told me the story behind each chair at our table. The green chair was from the restaurant where my dad had proposed to my mom. Just before they got married, my dad went to the restaurant and asked if he could buy one of the chairs. He gave the chair to my mom as a wedding present. Smiling, my mom said the chair always reminds her of how much my daddy loves her.

Then my mom told me about the formal-looking armchair that had an embroidered seat cushion. My great-grandmother had made it. The design had red roses and green foliage and tiny, intricate swirls of gold in the background. She had needle pointed eight seat cushions, exactly the same, and they had been around her dining room table when my dad was growing up. When she died, all the surviving family members took a chair to remember her by. This was my dad’s favorite chair, and now I understood why.

When my mom had finished telling me the history behind all the other chairs, I realized that we weren’t different because our furniture didn’t match. In fact, I wouldn’t want a set of perfectly manufactured chairs like the Morgans had. Their furniture was pretty, but ours had character. Each of these chairs represented a piece of our family history, and that’s something you can’t buy in a store.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More Recent Reads

I'm officially done with Karen Kingsbury books. I just read her latest, Even Now. Yet another ridiculous plot! If your daughter runs away from home, and you spend 18 years searching for her, wouldn't you think to go through the box of journals in her room? Maybe, just to find a pertinent clue? No, not in Karen Kingsbury land, where parents conveniently wait until the dad is dying of cancer so we can have a Hollywood reunion scene.

Karen Kingsbury always has something like this in her books. In the Baxter family series, one daughter takes an AIDS test which comes out positive. Instead of getting a second test, even though everyone in her family and doctor's office tells her to do so, she stops living her life, cuts off all her relationships, blah blah blah. Of course she finds out later that the AIDS test was a false positive and all this heartache could have been prevented. But realistically, if you were told you were HIV positive, wouldn't you get a confirmation and then start guzzling AZT drugs? Again, not in Karen Kingsbury land.

On the other hand, I really liked Randy Singer's Self Incrimination. Great courtroom novel about an abusive father who's shot in his home, and the step-daughter confesses. Can't say too much more, but it was highly entertaining even though I figured out the whodunnit pretty early on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Recent Reads

I'm a bibliophile, so much so that I can't even keep track of what I've read and what I haven't. Just to help my memory a bit, I've started keeping a loose log of the books I've read. In no particular order, here's the short list of what I've read in the last six months or so:

Daughter of the Loom by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller. A historical fiction about the Massachusetts textile mills in the 19th century. I love historical fiction, and this one was pretty good.

So Far From Home: The Story of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl by Barry Denenberg. Another historical fiction book about the Lowell, Mass., textile industry.

Cape Refuge, Southern Storm, River's Edge, and Breaker's Reef all by Terri Blackstock
These were four novels in a series about an East Coast island town. Christian suspense, I guess you'd call it. Decent fiction, although a character's name is changed from book one to book two. I emailed the author and she said it was a huge mistake on the editorial side.

Redemption, Remember, Return, Rejoice, and Reunion, all by Karen Kingsbury. The whole Baxter family series. Slightly predictable, but I really liked this series. Always a sucker for happy endings.

Fame and Forgiven, both by Karen Kingsbury. A second series about the Baxters, but this time focusing on their long-lost son turned Hollywood actor. The series is getting pretty cheesy, but I'm still going to finish it when the next few come out.

Dying Declaration, Irreparable Harm, and Directed Verdict, all by Randy Singer. Singer is kind of a Christian John Grisham. These are fun courtroom novels. One of them has a ridiculous character who is a Cambodian refugee who speaks flawless English and uses phrases like "Technicolor." What ESOL Cambodian refugee would know that word? The courtroom scenes are mighty fun, though.

Blink by Ted Dekker. An outlandish plot about a Berkeley genius who can see multiple futures, each one slightly different based on certain actions or inactions. His mission is to save a Saudi Arabian princess who's run away to the States to avoid an arranged marriage to a tyrant. Within a week, both she and the agnostic protagonist find each other and Christ. What lifetime Muslim would so quickly dump her heritage and jump to Christianity? Implausible, for sure.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. OK, this is in the juvenile fiction section of the library. Disney just came out with the film version, which I haven't seen. The novel was quirky and fun and definitely has Disneyesque scenes.

I know I've read more, but I'm blanking right now. I'll add more when I can remember what the books were.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lessons I've Learned This Week

This has been a very frustrating couple of weeks, and now that I'm past it I need to reflect.

A quick summary: Sweet Caelyn's birthday was on May 15. She was turning 5 and really wanted a party. I planned on May 13, but her friend Casey had already planned her party for the same day. So we switched to May 20, but her friend Olivia had already planned her's for that morning. So, we settled on the afternoon of May 20. Not the best timing, since this was going to be an outdoor party and it would likely be 90+ degrees, but Caelyn's other friends had trumped our plans.

I handed out the invitations, and didn't hear from most people. Two people called to say they were coming (thanks, Mrs. James and Mrs. Mayo). Some gave me a verbal thumbs-up. Most just didn't respond. It's very difficult to plan party activities and favors if you don't know who's coming.

The day before the party, we heard from two people who now couldn't come even though they previously said they could. We heard from one person who said they'd be arriving late. On the day of the party, one person called to back out.

I tried not to be upset, but I was really frustrated with the whole situation. Individually, most of these people had valid excuses for not being able to come after all. Cumulatively, though, it felt like Caelyn was getting shafted. Only 5 of her friends came, four of which she'll never see again because they were pre-school friends and they'll all be at different schools next year. Only one of her church friends came.

So, here's what I've learned.

1. Always call to RSVP to a party. If you can make it, say so. If you can't, call early enough so the hostess can actually make plans.
2. If you say you're going to be there, don't back out at the last minute unless it's a true emergency. (I'm not speaking to you, Amy. And I appreciate your phone call.)
3. Caelyn has the ability to have a great time no matter what the circumstances. She missed her friends who couldn't come, but she was a great little hostess to her friends who did.

Maybe this was payback for me being a poor RSVPer in the past. In college I was invited to leadership dinner at the Vice President for Student Affair's house. I never got around to RSVPing, and at the last minute my friends convinced me that I should go and it would be OK for me just to show up. I did, and Dr. Grissom made a public joke about me being a party crasher since I hadn't RSVPed. I was wholly embarrassed, but I learned my lesson.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

These Are A Few of My Least Favorite Things

In an homage to The Sound of Music...

Waiting in long lines at Target or Walmart
Squeaky loose wheels on my HEB cart
Discovering my car door is covered in dings
These are a few of my least favorite things

Wasting two hours in the doctor's office
Only to find out that it's just a virus
Searching through trash cans to find my lost ring
These are a few of my least favorite things

E-mail spam and annoying chain letters
Getting a snag on my brand new silk sweater
Roasting in carpool when it's ninety degrees
Things are a few of my least favorite things

Toenail fungus, toddler tantrums,
TV shows that are crass and impure
When I'm depressed by my least favorite things,
I ask God to bring the rapture.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Random Reading Passage

I have nothing interesting to write about, so I thought I'd share one of my latest reading passages. This one is for the State of Pennsylvania's 3rd grade achievement test, so keep in mind the intended audience is 9 years old.

The Street Vendor

Saturdays are the best. I get to sleep in, and I always wake up to the smell of pancakes. When I finally get up, Daddy’s sitting at the kitchen table. “’Mornin’, sleepyhead,” my Daddy always says. On Saturdays I get to put as much syrup as I want on my flapjacks. Daddy pretends not to notice how my pancakes are drowning. He just winks and sips his coffee.

Later in the day, I have to go to my piano lesson. Daddy holds my hand as we walk through the city. Mrs. Kutz’s studio is seven blocks from our apartment. I have my lesson while my dad read his newspaper. After an hour, Mrs. Kutz always says, “Bravo, Amelia! You are playing nicely!” My dad smiles, folds up his newspaper, and holds out his hand. Arm in arm, we walk home.

My favorite part of Saturday is walking through the city. Sometimes I close my eyes and let Daddy’s hand guide me. When my eyes are closed, I can hear things I don’t usually notice. I can always hear the cars honking and the people shouting. But when my eyes are closed, I notice how the pigeons talk to each other while they sit on the benches. I notice how the bell on Wilson’s Grocery door sounds different than the bell at the hardware store.

Sometimes when I listen real close, I can hear the squeaky wheels on the Hot Dog Man’s cart. The Hot Dog Man is a street vendor. He has a cart on wheels with a big, striped umbrella for shade. He stands next to his cart on the corner and shouts, “Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs here!”

Every Saturday on the way home from piano lessons, we stop at the Hot Dog Man’s cart. When the street vendor sees us coming, he stops shouting. He smiles at me and says, “’What’ll it be, little lady?” This seems like a silly question to me. I ask for a hot dog and Daddy gets one too. I like mine plain, but Daddy puts mustard on his. We sit down on a bench and eat our lunch.

One day after eating our hot dogs, I had a thought.

“What’s the Hot Dog Man’s name?” I asked my dad.

“I don’t know, sweetie. Why?”

“Because we talk to him every Saturday, but we don’t know his name,” I said. This bothered me because I know everyone’s name. The boy who delivers the newspaper is Harold. The mail carrier is Anna. I even know the name of the lady who cuts my hair, and I don’t like getting haircuts.

I thought and thought, and finally I decided to find out. I marched right up to the Hot Dog Man. He was yelling, “Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs here!” But when he saw me, he leaned over and said, “You still hungry, little lady?”

I took a deep breath and asked, “What’s your name?” The Hot Dog Man looked surprised. He raised his eyebrows, and then he burst out laughing. Finally, he shook my hand and said, “The name’s Gary, little lady.” I smiled and ran back to Daddy.

We still see the Hot Dog Man every Saturday. We always buy two hot dogs, and we always sit on the bench to eat them. The street vendor still calls me “little lady.” But now, I can say, “Thank you, Gary,” when he hands me my hot dog. Then Gary always winks at me, like we have a secret.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

An April Fool's Anniversary

Today is the 13th anniversary of Kevin's and my first date. We were working at the Trinitonian, our college newspaper, and I was pasting down an ad for AMC Theatres. (On a side note, I really miss that old wax machine that we used to paste down the galleys. The melted wax smelled so good! But, I digress...) I was bemoaning to my coworker Lisa that I hadn't been to a movie in ages, and Kevin pipes up, "Yeah, we should go to a movie sometime." I didn't really think he was asking me out, so I didn't exactly respond. I just finished up my work and went back to my dorm room.

A couple hours later, Kevin called and officially asked if I would see a movie with him that night. I was a little surprised, and I said I already had plans with my suitemate. Kevin sounded rather crushed and I felt sorry for him, so I said I could cancel my other plans. He said he'd come pick me up after his Catholic Student Group meeting, around 8 p.m. he thought.

Kevin called after 8 to say his meeting was running extremely long. He said he'd get there as soon as he could. I think he finally showed up sometime after 10, maybe closer to 11. I was annoyed, but again, I felt sorry for him. We ended up watching "Sneakers" in my room sitting on the floor. It was hardly what I call a date, and I certainly wasn't overwhelmed with affection and admiration for Kevin at the time! Still, that's the story of our beginnings. The fact that it was on April Fool's Day is just an ironic symbol of our entire relationship since, I think!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fallout from the Doctor's Visit

It seems Caelyn and David picked up a virus from their visit to the doctor last Friday. Both of them were up last night urping. It was a loooong night! Looks like it's gonna be a laundry day.

When she wasn't shrieking, Caelyn actually had a great attitude during her sickness. Favorite quote after one urpy episode: "At least it didn't get in my nose that time!"

Monday, March 27, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my 35th birthday, a minor milestone. Kevin surprised me with a new laptop computer, something I've always wanted. Now I can write my articles while reclining on the couch -- yippee! At church I had to teach the 3-year-old kids, so my adult Sunday school class serenaded me in the hallway. I've never cared for the Happy Birthday song, but I enjoyed having my friends sing to me. And last night Kevin surprised me again by having the Thomases join us for a scrumptious dinner at The Vineyards, one of our favorite restaurants. All in all, a very joyous birthday! And happy birthday to Martin Thomas, whose birthday is today.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

David stuck a bead up his nose

If I had written about little David a week ago, I would have bragged about how well David is developing. He's had a language explosion and his vocabulary is increasing daily. He's no longer having separation anxiety about going into his nursery room at church. And, even though he's just 2 and a few months, he can already identify five or six colors. But, today I get to share about my goofball son who had to get a bead extracted from his nose on Friday.

Kendra and David were watching TV on Friday morning when David started crying about how his nose hurt. Kendra thought he might have a neener (our word for booger), so I tried to help him out. David started having a fit whenever I touched his nose. I thought he might have something stuck up there, but I couldn't get him to sit still long enough to find out. Eventually his shrieks of "No Mommy!" made me decide that traumatizing him wasn't a good idea.

Three hours later, we're at Chick-fil-A some friends having lunch. I mentioned to Kim Lewis that David had a nose problem that morning. Sweet Kim, who is a nurse, coaxed David into looking up at the ceiling. Kim took a quick peek up his nostril and announced that something purple was indeed up there. I got on the cell phone and (laughing) called the doctor who said to come in after lunch. Why rush? It had already been up there for nearly four hours.

It took three people to wrestle David to the exam table. The nurse held his arms over his head, I pinned his legs down, and Dr. Howelton leaned over his torso while holding some rather long needlenose pliers. It only took 30 seconds of blood-curdling screams before Dr. Howelton presented me with a damp purple bead. And in typical Dr. Howelton fashion, she dryly says to Caelyn, "Do you want to put that bead on your necklace?"

Apparently shoving objects into facial orifices is a rather common childhood experiment. The nurse said someone else had called about it the day before, but the child eventually snorted it up and coughed it out -- ew! My parents once had to get several peas out of my sister Jamie's nose. She didn't want to eat them and her nose seemed like the most logical place for disposal. I'm just hoping David remembers not to do that again.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Yesterday's Irony

Yesterday I was running errands and I remembered to pray for my friend Amy who wants to stop watching TV at night. I asked God give her the self-discipline not to turn the TV on and to bless her with some special family time.

The irony: Last night I wasted three hours watching TV. Kevin had a meeting at church and then had to deal with a broken-down car (another story), so I turned on the TV for company. Three hours later, I had TiVoed my way through two episodes of American Idol, an episode of Dinner for Five, and some other show that I can't even remember right now. Entertaining, yes, but a complete waste of time.

My name is Chelsea, and I'm a TVaholic.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Not My Home

A brief conversation with Kendra after I did a basic-training class at the gym...

Kendra: Why do you work out at the gym?
Me: So I can be healthy and strong and live a long time.
Kendra: Why? I thought you just wanted to get to heaven and be with Jesus.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Feel Smart Today

For those who know me, it's no surprise that I'm a total geek and love puzzles. Not jigsaw, but word and logic puzzles. I subscribe to not one, but two uber-nerdy puzzle magazines — Games and Games World of Puzzles. Each month I get happy when the very nice postlady brings me a new puzzle magazine.

Games has monthly contests which are always incredibly difficult. There's no answer key, and if you can solve the puzzle you can submit a postcard with the solution to be entered into a drawing for $500. I feel smart today because I actually solved the monthly contest BY MYSELF and a little help from my American Heritage dictionary. I'd tell you the answer, but that would lessen my odds for winning.

Like I said, I'm a geek. But if I win, I'll be a geek with an extra $500.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yoga Free Verse

open the chest open the mind
try not to giggle at panpipe music
forward bend feel the stretch
down dog feel the headrush
chaturanga fancy name for pushup
can't do a pushup fall to the ground
up dog or cobra what's the difference?
warrior pose balance on weak ankles
arms are numbing tingling
like an endurance challenge on survivor
warrior two more like ballet
angle the arms pretend it's drill team
20 minutes later finally getting the rhythm
grab a towel stretch your legs
discover that legs are freakishly long
can't balance can't focus try not to giggle
instructor says lie down amen! amen!
stretch out hamstrings feel the burn
tilt leg left stranger's foot is near face
resist the urge to tickle stranger's bare feet
lotus position are we supposed to meditate?
straighten spine feel taller
next day feel pain

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


This is just for sheer fun. At Thanksgiving my brother-in-law showed me some of these Invisibles on his laptop. Here's the idea: These are scenes from films, but the people's faces and other body parts have been digitally removed. You have to figure out which movie the scene is from. Highly entertaining, even if you aren't the biggest filmgoer.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Kendra, my little Holy Spirit

The scenario: It's after dinner and the kids and I are playing a round of Disney Candy Land. Everyone is happy, we're all taking turns, and even David is enjoying the action. Then Kendra picks the card that sends her back to Cinderella's Glass Slipper, which is at the beginning of the board. She throws a fit saying she's going to lose and she's quitting, and then she crawls off and hides behind the rocking chair.

My reponse: I thoroughly raise my voice and chastise her. I tell her that you don't quit just because you're losing, and the whole point is just to have fun spending time with your family. (The irony meter was inching higher at that statement.) I tell her that she's not quitting, she will come back and finish the game, and I threaten her with a loss of priveleges if she doesn't obey. Kendra returns and sullenly plays with us.

A few minutes later, Kendra asks this: "Mama, how come you're nicer to everyone else than you are to your own family?"


Thankfully, I didn't react in anger, which would have only emphasized her point. But it's true, I am nicer to my friends, to strangers, and sometimes to random solicitors on the phone than I am to my own kids and Kevin. I tried to explain to Kendra that I get frustrated because I expect my kids to obey, to treat each other kindly, etc. When you don't act the way I expect, I said, I sometimes (often) get upset and angry and shrill. I pointed out that she's often nicer to her friends than to her sister and brother, too.

The sad thing is, we were having a much better day today than the last few weeks! We laughed more, baked a batch of Easy Bake Oven cookies, played outside in the sunshine, and I didn't lose it and scream like a banshee once. There was a lot of correcting, but apparently Kendra wants me to be a whole lot nicer about it. Honestly, I'm not sure I can be a full-time nice mom and train my kids well. Something to think on/pray about.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My New Year's Philosophy

Here we go . . . I've officially succumbed to peer pressure and have become a blogger. Paul Soupiset's been pestering me for some time now to blog, and my main argument was that I didn't want people to be privy to what goes on inside my head. But as my dear friend Christi Grooters once told me, people already know that I'm crazy.

I'm not a big proponent of New Year's resolutions, but this is what I've been thinking about lately. I spent December doing things that people expected me to. Did I really want to write a Christmas newsletter and send out cards? Not so much, but certain people would be upset if they didn't get a card. Did I really want to sew four donkey costumes for Caelyn's Christmas pageant? Again, no, but I did it because I want her teacher to think I'm a good mom and because I was the only mom with a sewing machine. Instead of enjoying the celebration of my Savior's birth, I spent December trying to fulfill an imaginary quota of good deeds.

As a result, I've decided that I'm only going to do what I really want to do this year. I may falter, but I'm not going to let guilt or unrealistic expectations force me into making the same poor decisions that I did last year. The key question is: How do I want to spend my time this year? Writing more? Probably. Reading more? Always. Shopping more? Ew.

One thing's for sure: I definitely want to focus more on eternal things and not foolishly waste my time. Which means no more Pengapop on Oh, and I want to have an ongoing book review section.

By the way, this wasn't my first choice for a blog name. Typography was taken, as was CaivanoFamily. That really surprised me, as there aren't that many Caivanos around. So I settled on CraftyCassie, which is my eBay name. My college nickname was Cassie (based on my maiden name initials), and I'm crafty, so there you have it. Not too original, but I didn't feel like spending hours trying to think of the perfect name. Perfection is overrated.

Happy New Year to my friends and family. I love you all!