Monday, December 31, 2007

A Stupid Story About A Coat

Last winter I retired my old full-length black wool coat. It was horribly out of style with it's bulky shoulder pads, and it was much too big for me in general since my mother used to be convinced I was a size 12 even though I'm not. And it was wool, which is not cat-hair friendly and highly impractical in South Texas winters where 28 degrees is considered a "hard freeze." (Note to locals -- It's going to be 27 tomorrow night. Better wrap those pipes!)

So this winter I went on a hunt for a cute, fashionable, well-fitted coat. I spent a depressing hour at Burlington Coat Factory trying on a b'jillion coats when -- ta da! -- I found it. The perfect coat. Black weatherproof material, knee-length, little silver closures instead of big buttons. I loved it.

It hung happily in our coat closet until I finally had a chance to wear it on our anniversary, when I treated my hubby to a dinner at Ruth's Chris. We feasted on high-falutin' food, saw Gregg Popovich, and enjoyed an evening of grown-up conversation.

When we left the restaurant, I realized that my coat did not have pockets. Why would a coat have no pockets? I was most bummed since I really loved this coat but, come on, pockets are kind of a necessity, aren't they?

The cynical side of me thought, "I bought this at a discount store. I bet this was a second-quality coat. I bet the seamstresses accidentally sewed the pockets shut and that's why it was so cheap." So I went online and found the exact same coat at Macy's, where the description clearly stated the coat should have on-seam pockets. Darn! So I ordered the more-expensive Macy's coat and planned on returning the Burlington coat.

The Macy's coat arrived. I opened the box, looked at the coat, and thought, "Where are the stinking pockets?" Seriously, it must be a conspiracy. I must have gotten two defective coats from two different stores. (Yes, I'm that paranoid.)

Upon careful inspection, I realized that the coat did have pockets; they were just partially sewn shut. I guess this is common practice in the fashion industry, but these pockets were not just basted shut, they were full-on sewn shut. So I got my Burlington coat, inspected it, and saw that yes, there were pockets after all. I just needed to get my handy seam-ripper and carefully opened the pockets. Voila, my perfect coat is now, indeed, perfect.

So here's the stupid part of the story. Because I didn't figure out the pocket problem on the original coat, I wasted $13.95 in shipping to get a replacement coat that I didn't need. Aargh! Fourteen bucks down the drain, and I have to fight the after-Christmas crowds at Macy's just to return the darn thing. Double aargh!

I wish there was a moral to this story other than my own stupidity. But there isn't. Like I said, it's just a stupid story about a coat, which I will happily wear for many years to come.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blah Humbug

I really do love everything about Christmas -- the twinkling lights, pine boughs, freshly baked treats -- the whole Advent season is usually a joyful time for me.

Not this year, though, and I don't know why. I'm not feeling the usual post-Christmas letdown; this year I never felt the Christmas spirit at all.

I did all the right things: I sent Christmas cards (partially homemade), I baked pumpkin bread, I put up the tree and reminisced about all the ornaments, I bought all the gifts (including the gifts from one of the grandmothers, who wasn't able to shop this year), I wrapped all the gifts, I hand-stamped the annual calendars, I did the nightly nativity reading with the kids. So why is it so blah humbug?

Part of the problem is logistical -- I put the Christmas tree upstairs this year and haven't spent one evening up there enjoying the lights. The gameroom is a bloody disaster because the attic ladder is still broken and we have an over-abundance of Christmas tubs and junk cluttering up the room. And I don't deal well with clutter so I'm just avoiding the upstairs altogether.

Part of it was familial. The kids didn't get out of school until December 21, so life was going at breakneck speed until then with school functions and parties. Then we had to pack up the van and truck over to Houston since Kevin's mom can't travel post-surgery. We've never shared Christmas Eve and Day with them before. It was nice, but not what I wanted. I wanted our old traditions and our own quiet family, but instead I got thrust into a huge celebration of people I haven't seen since our wedding 12 years ago. The introvert in me wanted to run and hide, but I put on my game face and did the best I could.

Part of it was just the fact that I'm the grownup now. I really miss the magic of Christmas, where my parents surprised us with unexpected gifts and where the traditional foods just appeared on the holiday table. Now that I'm the mommy, I have to do all the planning and shopping and cooking and, well, all of it. I think I'm mourning the fact that I'm in charge and if I don't do it, it doesn't get done. (Hint to husband -- I'd like a surprise under the tree next year.)

Of course I know that the season has been over-commercialized and over-Americanized and overblown entirely, but I'm still a sucker for all things traditional and familiar so I like the festivities and gifts. And I'm not taking down the tree until I have some Christmas joy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Christmas Medley

This one is guaranteed to brighten your Christmas spirit!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Queen of Klutz

For the record, I've always been a little accident prone. When you've got a 5'8" girl with size 11 feet and abnormally long limbs, accidents are bound to happen. But this week has been worse than usual.

Incident #1: I sideswiped Kevin's car. OK, this has nothing to do with my gangly arms and lack of coordination. But my klutziness certainly carries over to my driving. I have, after all, backed up into a CLOSED garage door because, when I looked over my shoulder, I saw sunlight. Only problem was that the OTHER garage door was open, not mine.
At any rate, last week I left to run an errand after Kevin had gotten home. I was backing out my minivan when I felt some unexpected resistance. Immediately I panicked and thought I'd run over the cat. So I pulled forward, opened the driver's door, and discovered that no, the cat was fine, but Kevin's car not so much. Kevin had parked his car in the driveway, which is not quite wide enough for two cars unless one car's nose is touching the garage door. Kevin's car wasn't. It was parked several feet back because he was planning on hitting the gym later. I didn't know that, I didn't notice that his car wasn't in the garage, and I certainly didn't see his midnight blue car parked in our unlit driveway.
Maybe this was a subconscious plot to make Kevin's nearly-new shiny car more like my beat-up embarrassment of a car. Maybe I'm just a bad driver. Either way, this was my first act of supreme klutziness of late.

Incident #2: I walked smack dab into a tree branch. Again, it was dark. We had just gotten home from our Thanksgiving road trip and I was walking next door to retrieve our mail from our super-nice neighbors. Again, our driveway and their sidewalk is unlit, and I was walking rather quickly since it was cold, when WHAM! I impaled myself on a crape myrtle. Right in the eye, no less. I'm sure my neighbor thought I was winking at her, but I couldn't open my eye. When I got home I had to pluck out several thorns from my eyelid, and the next day I had to visit my ophthalmologist and have her remove the remaining debris. Classic.

Incident #3: I caught my hand in the ladder going up to the attic, which resulted in the world's worst blood blister and an inch of missing flesh. How's that for a visual? I was super-motivated to get going on Christmas decorations this morning, and I must have climbed that attic ladder a dozen times in an hour. The pull-down hinge on the ladder is acting funky, though, so I hit it with my hand to pop the hinge back into place. Not smart, since the hinge closed right onto my palm. I screamed rather loudly, cried for about an hour, and haven't quite recovered yet.

I'm really praying that I don't have any more incidents, but maybe I need to review the 911 drill with the kids just in case.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Highlights of the Week

It's been insanely busy this month, most of the activity happening in the last week. Here's a rundown of the highlights:

#1) My sweet boy is now four years old. His birthday was on Saturday, but we weren't able to celebrate that day because we were heading up a service project on the South Side (#2) and going to church to see the Thomas girls get baptized. But David, who is wonderfully laid back, was perfectly fine with delaying his celebration for a day. He was also incredibly forgiving when I forgot to make cupcakes for his class on Friday. Did I mention it was a crazy week? I realized at 1:30 p.m. that I had completely forgotten to make and send a treat to school so they could celebrate his birthday. David never even mentioned it to me after school, and I was able to get over the mommy guilt eventually.
Yesterday we hid his birthday presents (our family's goofy tradition) and I got to watch the kids shoot Nerf Balls all over the yard. Today we met David's two favorite friends at Chick-fil-A for lunch, and this afternoon David and his sisters tore up the yard in his new Firefighter Jeep, a special present from Grammy. It was a haphazard kind of birthday, but David didn't seem to mind in the least. Words cannot say how much I adore my son.

#2) Our Sunday School class was able to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to about 150 people at Riverside, which is a government-subsidized apartment complex on the South Side. We've been doing Easter and Christmas celebrations there for several years now, but this was our biggest turnout. We went through nine turkeys, a gross of rolls, and tons of other holiday-type foods. It's really difficult planning how much food to bring, but we did OK this year. The biggest goof was on my shoulders -- last year I brought way too many green beans and ended up tossing an entire crock pot full. This year I only brought 5 pounds worth, and we ran out early.
I was in full Martha-mode and wasn't able to watch the games or interact with the Riverside families as much as I would have liked. But I was able to greet everybody as they went through the line and talk briefly to Jennifer, a single mom of four girls who are adorable.

#3) We got to celebrate "authentic" Thanksgiving Feasts at the girls' school. This is a fun tradition that requires everybody to dress up as a Pilgrim or Indian (sorry, Native American). Again, I was in Martha-mode since I'm the room mom for Caelyn's class and was in charge of coordinating all the food. But it was still highly enjoyable to see the kids dressed up and playing silly games. I did realize how thankful I am that I don't have a job that requires me to be on my feet all day long. My legs were so sore at the end of both days!

#4) My laundry room is clean! All the laundry is washed, although not put away. Tomorrow I'll deal with all the piles in a housecleaning blitz. OK, this isn't earth-shattering news, but it's a major accomplishment for me. Have I told you how much I love my new washer and dryer? I can fit twice as much laundry in the washer as before! The thing sounds like an airplane engine warming up during the spin cycle, which amuses me greatly. At any rate, I highly recommend the Whirlpool Cabrio.

#5) I found out that my mom reads my blog (Hi Mom!). I don't talk about my blog so I was pleasantly surprised that I have one more way to communicate with my mom since she lives 1400 miles away.

I have so much to be thankful for, and hopefully I'll have time to reflect and write later in the week. We're heading to Kevin's parents' house on Wednesday and I'll be doing a lion's share of the cooking to help out Kevin's mom, who recently had knee replacement surgery. I'm looking forward to having some time to relax, although that likely won't happen since I need to finish proofreading Kristine's book and write two more passages. Like I said, it's been crazy busy this month.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Culture Shock

I live in San Antonio, but I don't. Sure, my mail is addressed to San Antonio, but my city is vastly different from the San Antonio just 20 miles south or west or east of my neighborhood. My San Antonio is 75 percent white, 95 percent English speaking, and 100 percent above the poverty line. But that's not the real San Antonio.

I've lived a sheltered life. A comfortable life. And for some reason, I'm a little afraid of things outside that life.

Today I visited my friend KJ, who is stuck at University Hospital this week. University is the public hospital, equivalent to County on "ER." No insurance? No problem, since they'll treat anybody who walks in the door. KJ thinks she's one of the few people actually paying to be there.

Yesterday, one of the Amys visited KJ. On her way in, she saw a man who was in leg irons. He was a prisoner of some sort, and Amy was a little freaked out by the time she got to the 12th floor.

But it got me thinking... Why are we so afraid of people "different" than we are? Jesus would have gone up to that man, struck up a conversation, and probably absolved him of his sins. Me? I would have meekly scurried away and said a prayer of thanks for the nice armed guards.

My visit to the hospital was less exciting. I made a concerted effort to smile at people and pretend that I didn't feel out of place. But I did, and that bothers me.

I have no real conclusions or epiphanies here -- I'm just noting an observation about myself. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

YouTube Tuesday -- At Kevin's Request

Kevin's all-time favorite song, I think. Scroll down to see a picture of him dressed as MC Hammer (and me as Joan Jett) from a party last year.

Here's the pic of us going to our Sunday School class's Rock Star Christmas Party. I do believe that was the most irreverent theme we could have chosen, but it was mighty funny to see our friends dressed up as Cyndi Lauper, Roy Orbison, and Robert Palmer's dancing girls. I have plenty of blackmail shots for future use, but I'll go ahead and publicly embarrass myself now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Holy Giveaway!

I'm not being facetious -- this really is a holy giveaway from Kim at Life in a Shoe. She's offering $250 dollars of materials from Vision Forum! I'm so impressed with their catalog it almost makes me want to homeschool.

At any rate, if I won here's what I would pick...

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
So Much More
Parenting from the Heart
Mother/Home-Making Set
S.M Davis Family Rebuilders Library
The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters
Jonathan Park Set

There were so many other wonderful books and CDs, but this is what I whittled it down to.

If you want to enter the giveaway, head on over to Life in a Shoe and check it out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spice Cabinet Cleanup

First, I confess that I alphabetize my spices. Also, I try to buy only McCormick spices because I like their bottle design best and it makes my spices look pretty all lined up on the shelf.

OK, now that confession is over, I'll tell you how I spent an hour this evening. I went to the McCormick website and checked the age on every single one of my spices. Yeah, I'm that geeky.

Most of my spices were purchased within the last decade, and I'm OK with that. I'm not going to buy into the current marketing rage that says that all spices have to be thrown out every six months or a year or every few years. I'm not that Martha Stewartish.

However, one of my spices was from 1980. That's not a typo. My glass bottle of Cracked Black Pepper was, indeed, 27 years old. It was manufactured before Madonna's Borderline, before leg warmers, before jellies shoes. My memories of 1980 include listening to KC and the Sunshine Band, watching Erik Estrada on CHiPs, and being tormented by the biggest bully this side of the Mississippi.

How I acquired such an ancient bottle of pepper, I'm not sure. I own a pepper grinder and tend to use that whenever a recipe calls for it. So I happily tossed the bottle of rancid pepper into the trash and felt an iota better about my cooking abilities.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You Tube Tuesday - Tension Breaker

From the classic movie "Summer School." I could use a good primal scream this week, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares

If you're new, you need to go back and read about my oven that's been broken for nearly a year. Go ahead, I'll wait.

So imagine my relief when my husband announced that it was finally time for a new oven. Problem: He wasn't on board getting a nice oven with all the bells and whistles that my old oven had. So he ordered a not-so-nice oven and I quietly dealt with it.

After several weeks of personal prayer and turmoil, hubby conceded the lesser oven wouldn't be the best investment. Problem: He had already removed the broken oven and it was sitting in our dining room. Oh, and the new oven had been delivered by Sears and it, too, was sitting expectantly in our dining room. It was like an appliance Stonehenge in there.

So he ordered the better oven and we were told it would "be a few days." That was 10 days ago. It's been an interesting 10 days trying to feed my family without an oven. Crock pots and microwaves can only take you so far, you know?

Glory be, the new oven was finally ready for pick-up (because Kevin refuses to pay for delivery and installation). He fetched it last night and maneuvered the 300+ pound monstrosity into the kitchen where it sat there all day giving me hope that the oven saga would soon end.

Mm hmm. Let the record show that it is now 1:43 in the morning, and we've been trying to install the blasted oven for more than FOUR hours now. The entire reason Kevin is trying to install this thing himself is because Sears wanted to charge us $165 for installation. I can understand his point, especially since Sears did a less than stellar job hooking up my washer and dryer. They got the hot and cold inlets reversed and I did three loads of laundry before figuring it out. Rinsing clothes in 140 degree water is not a good idea, by the way.

I admire Kevin's desire to spend our money wisely, but I'm not comfortable with the idea of heaving a $2000 appliance into place. I'm highly concerned about breaking a door or, worse, the entire stinking oven. I don't think we're under warranty here.

That said, Kevin built a fairly impressive ramp out of cinderblocks and two-by-fours. We hoisted the oven up the ramp and discovered that it was too big for the cabinet cutout. We thought it was only the screws that were too wide, so Kevin carefully measured and cut out four neat little notches for the screws.

Attempt #2 failed as well. Kevin shaved off part of the left side of the cabinet. Attempt #3? No go. This oven seems to be expanding with each trip up the ramp. As does my anxiety. Kevin keeps having to flip the oven down on its face and work on the cabinet opening. Every time we try another attempt, the oven doors flap open and the oven starts beeping incessantly. Oh, mercy, this is not going well.

[Excuse me while I go help for Attempt #4...]

Thirty minutes and a whole lot of sawdust later, the oven seems to be in place. Almost. It's sticking out about a half an inch from the front.

$165 for installation. Five hours to install, five hours of worry and fret and heart palpitations on my part as I envision 375 pounds of metal crashing onto my husband and $2000 going to pot. That works out to be about thirty bucks an hour, right? Yup, I would have paid that.

I still have a glimmer of hope that the oven will get installed correctly and that my kitchen nightmare will end soon. My in-laws are arriving in 34 hours and I would kind of like to be able to cook a meal for them. Then again, restaurants are good. I'll let you know how this turns out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

YouTube Tuesday - Praise Aerobics

I'm starting a new trend in the blog world. Lots of bloggers do Menu Plan Mondays and Works for Me Wednesdays -- I'm starting YouTube Tuesday. I could only watch 90 seconds of this video...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep...

This is one of those weeks where, if I stopped to think about how much I have to do, I'd break down in tears and get nothing done. So instead of throwing myself a pity party, I'm choosing to embrace the non-stop adrenaline rush and pray that I'll be able to keep all the balls in the air with letting any crash on my head. Back to the grindstone...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Another Giveaway!

Life in a Shoe is hosting a giveaway of Vision Forum's exciting new adventure series, Ballantyne books.

While you're visiting Kim's site, read her brilliant blog entry about how NOT to raise a picky eater. (That subject is one of my bigger pet peeves!)

Friday, September 21, 2007


Or maybe just moronic. I was driving by the neighborhood Krispy Kreme and saw their ad campaign for their new Whole Wheat Glazed Doughnut. As if whole wheat goodness is going to offset the 3.5 grams of transfats. Natch.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


As we learned from yesterday's instructional pirate video, "aaarrr" can mean anything from "I want a muffin" to "My team is winning." My "aaarrr" today translates as "I have two sick kids and my day is shot."

Backtrack: Last spring I tried to sign David up for preschool for the fall. Even though the girls had gone to preK there, we'd technically taken a year off and now we were banished to the "out-of-house" registration day. I arrived two hours before the registration was supposed to begin and there was already a line snaking its way toward the parking lot. I spent the next several hours trying to entertain my three-year-old son, and in the end we were No. 8 on the waiting list. (Apparently I've told a few too many people how much I love this preK program.)

The school year began and David was not enrolled anywhere. I'd pretty much resigned myself to having him accompany me on all my daily tasks and errands, and he seemed fairly game. So I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call last week saying that there was a spot for David at preK. I guess someone dropped out and the first seven people on the waiting list had already stuck their kids somewhere else. Lucky us, I say.

I'm getting to the point, really.

Yesterday was David's first day of school. Kevin dropped him off to lessen the separation problem from Mommy. I had an extremely productive day and arrived promptly at 2:30 to pick him up. David was passed out on the floor, covered in a blanket and hugging his beloved Bear Bear. I was very surprised that he'd taken a nap considering he's only taken a handful of naps in the last year. Maybe Mrs. Shirley wore him out with fun activities all day, I thought.

David didn't talk at all during the drive to pick up the girls from elementary carpool. When we got home, I asked him what his favorite part about school was. "Nothing," he said. He proceeded to tell me everything he did not like about his day. I send Mr. GrumpyPants off to play Webkinz and prayed that he'd make some friends at school on Friday.

Unfortunately, it's looking like David won't be at school on Friday. At dinner I realized that he had a fever, which accounts for the nap and general grumpiness. He woke up several times last night, and this morning he was delirious. I think he woke up in the middle of a dream, because he was crying about "I didn't mean to throw it" while pointing at his stuffed animals on the floor and then said "I didn't want the whole alphabet!" I'm still not sure what that was about, but he's all tucked in on the couch watching Diego right now.

To top it off, Kendra was also up in the middle of the night complaining about a sore throat. It looks fine to me, but to appease her hypochondria I took her temperature anyway. My bad. She's got a fever. So now she's on the other couch playing Webkinz on the laptop.

Aaarrr! Obviously I'm not really upset that my kids are sick -- that's just the way life goes. I'm just praying that whatever they have doesn't get spread around to the rest of us. And on that note, I have some disinfecting to do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast, Me Hearties!

Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. You might not be up on your pirate lingo, so here's a refresher course from YouTube.

BTW, I'm a fan of random man-made holidays. Did you know that August 8 was the national "Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Day"? I'm not kidding. Google it and celebrate with me next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


This might be of use to my friends in San Antonio. I've joined a Yahoo group called Freecycle (click on the title of this post for the link). This is a nationwide organization, but it's broken down into regional areas. Basically, this is a free way to unload stuff you can't use anymore but you don't think should be trashed yet. Also, you can submit requests for things you might need. It's a simple concept and so much easier than eBay. Yesterday I picked up five brand-new American Girl books for my daughters, who were quite thrilled and kept asking, "But why were these free?" I've also given away a bag full of maternity clothes that I no longer need or want.

Be warned: If you join you'll be getting quite a few daily emails that announce what's available and what's been taken. You can get a daily digest that summarizes the whole day, but then you'll miss out on grabbing what you might want. Most people operate under a first-email-first-served mentality, but the giver gets to choose the receipient. You are not allowed to share sob stories in an attempt to up your chances for getting free stuff.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fun Stuff and Giveaways

If you know me you know that I'm all about the free stuff. So I'm happy to share that Pinks and Blues is having a Hanes giveaway. Ten lucky winners are going to receive an assortment of kids-sized Hanes clothing. Head on over to the website and check it out!


I've solved my plot problem and have turned in all four reading passages that were due this week. Now I've got four more passages on the docket, so forgive me if I don't blog much in the next week or so. I need to stay in good graces with my boss by meeting my deadlines.

On a different note, my dear husband has finally bought me a new oven. It's been seven months since the panel on the oven broke, resulting in some guesswork about how hot the oven is. Also, every time we turned the oven off, it would beep incessantly until we pressed the off button about a dozen more times over the next few minutes. I'll be mighty happy to see that Sears truck come September 25. Kevin also splurged for a new microwave, dishwasher, and high-efficiency Cabrio washer and dryer. Yippee! The new washing machine should cut my laundry time in half, and the updated dishwasher should eliminate by current need to pre-rinse everything. Plus we got a rebate from Sears, a rebate from Whirlpool, and we'll get a rebate from our local utility companies for having high-efficiency appliances. Oh, to enter to current century.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Writer's Block

My writing pimp called me this afternoon and kicked back a reading passage that I submitted last night. Basically, he told me to start over. The only problem is that I can't figure out how to resolve the plot. A little help, people? I'll name a character after you.

Here's what I have to include: It's a story about some kids on a class field trip who get lost in the woods. I have to figure out a "clever" way for them to find their way back. I can't use a compass, the position of the sun, or any reference to north/south/east/west. (Apparently the kids taking this comprehension test are geographically challenged.) So how can the lost kids get unlost? I'm taking any and all suggestions.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, 8/27

Yippee! It's the first day of school and I get to go to the grocery store with only ONE child instead of three! Tagalong David is always content to sit in the cart while I wander the aisles (as long as he has a snack), which means I might get out of the store with everything on my list. Glory, wouldn't that be a miracle?

All of my recipes this week are from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

Monday: Shrimp Divan leftovers. This was a Super Suppers dish, and it flopped bigtime. My kids love shrimp but hated this one.
Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff over egg noodles, green beans, salad with strawberries and sugared pecans.
Wednesday: Probably leftovers of stroganoff. If not, we may hit one of the Kids Eat Free deals at a local burger joint.
Thursday: Tamale Pie with a Guacamole Salad.
Friday: Crispy Baked Halibut, sauteed zucchini with petite diced tomatoes, rice pilaf
Saturday: Restaurant night, I hope.
Sunday: Labor Day weekend, so we'll probably grill burgers.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Switched from F to T

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I haven't taken the Myers-Briggs test in quite a while. In college I was an ISFJ, but today I'm apparently an ISTJ, which means I think more than I feel. Yeah, that sounds accurate. I'd also like to happily note that my extrovert/introvert numbers are equalizing, so I'm not such a loner anymore. I've always been borderline on the judging/perceiving scale, so that hasn't changed.

Not that any of this really defines who I am. I just like taking tests.

But here's the description of ISTJs. I bolded what I personally relate to.

"ISTJs are often called inspectors. They have a keen sense of right and wrong, especially in their area of interest and/or responsibility. They are noted for devotion to duty. Punctuality is a watchword of the ISTJ. The secretary, clerk, or business(wo)man by whom others set their clocks is likely to be an ISTJ."
- ISTJ Profile (TypeLogic)

"ISTJs are very loyal, faithful, and dependable. They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are "good citizens" who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun - especially at family or work-related gatherings."
- Portrait of an ISTJ (The Personality Page)

"...characterized by decisiveness in practical affairs, are the guardians of institutions, and if only one adjective could be selected, "super dependable" would best describe them."
- The Portrait of the Inspector Guardian (Keirsey) "...private, does not appreciate strangeness, not adventurous, not spontaneous, follows the rules..."
- Jung Type Descriptions (ISTJ) (

"At work, ISTJs get things done on a timely basis. They honor deadlines, and they believe in thoroughness. A half-finished joy is not a job well done. They established procedures and schedules, and are uncomfortable with those who do not do the same. ISTJs put duty before pleasure. As long as they can fulfil their responsibilities, they feel useful and thereby satisfied. Their work does not have to be fun, but it has to count toward something productive. ISTJs believe that vacations are something that one takes only when work has been accomplished; thus, at times they do not take vacations even when they could and should."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


OK, I've got seven articles to write, 3,240 workbook pages to tear out and file for #2's teacher, and eight days to plan and pack for a scrapbooking retreat. Oh, and I found out today that I'm the Room Mom for #2, which explains how I got suckered into the slave labor job above. Normally when I'm stressed I cut my hair, but I actually got a decent haircut last month so I'm going to control myself. Instead, I'll just run a little something about myself.

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:

1. We had just moved into our house, so we were trying to unpack boxes.
2. I also remember spending many a Saturday furniture shopping.
3. We also had NO WINDOW COVERINGS, so I vaguely remember trying to be modest enough so as not to offend the new neighbors.
4. School had already started, so I was sweating like a pig in my classroom that had constantly malfunctioning AC.
3. I recall inviting the school's administration to spend a day in my classroom and enjoy the sweltering heat and humidity for just a few hours. They never accepted the invitation, the wimps.

5 Things on My To-Do List Tomorrow

1. Finish tearing and filing the remaining 3,240 workbook pages.
2. Deliver the 6,480 pages, neatly sorted and labeled, to school.
3. Take the kids to a birthday party at Pump It Up, one of those inflatable wonderlands. Hey, it's free dinner.
4. Finish writing my article about The Forbidden City in Beijing.
5. Attempt to finish cleaning up the disaster in the dining room.

5 Snacks I Enjoy

1. Hot Tamales. I could eat those all day!
2. Peaches, nectarines, mangoes, or any other mellow summer fruit.
3. Just about any kind of cookie or chocolate candy, as long as it doesn't contain any form of peanut butter.
4. Goat cheese with diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, a little olive oil, and pita chips. More a meal than a snack, but it's dang good.
5. Starbucks Iced Mochas (the low sugar kind), Diet Dr Pepper, or Coke Zero. Those aren't exactly snacks, but I'm fully addicted.

5 Songs I Know the Lyrics To

1. Every Rich Mullins song ever recorded.
2. Every Chris Tomlin song ever recorded.
3. Every Howard Jones song ever recorded.
4. An embarrassing number of B-52s songs, especially "Love Shack" and "Rock Lobster."
5. Honestly, I know the lyrics to the majority of mainstream 80s songs. My brain just works that way.

5 Things I Would Do If I Were a Millionaire

1. Buy a house with a bigger laundry room and a craft room.
2. Buy a minivan with automatic doors, a DVD player, and a retractable limousine partition to drown out the kids.
3. Take Kevin to Italy.
4. Save a bunch.
5. Give as God leads without feeling like I need to stick to our "giving budget."

5 Bad Habits

1. I sleep too late.
2. I watch too much TV. (But if you want a laugh, watch "Flipping Out" on Bravo. The guy actually took his cat for acupuncture. The show's both hilarious and disturbing since I'm related to people just like this guy.)
3. I tend to ignore my family in favor of reading.
4. I'm addicted to caffeine and computer games.
5. I'm a chronic procrastinator.

5 Things I'd Never Wear Again

1. Suntan colored nylons.
2. Maternity clothes, thanks to the fabulous Dr. Case.
3. The color purple. I had to wear it almost every day in high school. It's a horrible color on me and accentuates the lovely undereye circles I can't seem to cover up.
4. An unpadded bra. It's so unfair what three years of nursing does to a girl.
5. Tapered jeans. Praise God from whom all bootcuts flow.

5 Things I Should Be Doing Right Now

1. Writing.
2. Cleaning the house.
3. Paying attention to my hubby.
4. Getting ready for bed so I won't be up until midnight, again.
5. Reading something worthwhile instead of the incredibly propaganda-ish book I'm stuck in right now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...

Just in case you need to know what the absolute worst thing is to have spilled all over your pantry floor, I know the answer: a Costco-sized bottle of good balsamic vinegar.

Let me say, I am a connoisseur of pantry spillage. Once Kendra dumped a five-pound bag of flour on her head. It made for funny photos and super-easy clean up with a Hepa-filtered vacuum. A couple years ago, I accidentally broke (of course; who would do this on purpose?) a pint-sized bottle of olive oil on the pantry floor. Messy, for sure, but fairly easily contained with loads of paper towels and a bucket of soapy water.

Today's episode, however, came on the heels of my Mover of Stuff diatribe below. I was trying to move the waffle iron from the appliance cabinet to the a spot in the pantry next to the waffle mix. I was sliding the bottles of condiments over a little when, in super slow-mo, I saw the liter of balsamic vinegar fall off the shelf and crash onto the already-chipped tile below. The almost-black liquid started oozing faster than the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. Within 20 seconds, the entire 3-by-6 foot pantry floor was covered in a pool of acrid-smelling viscosity. I had dozens of boxes, bins, and food-stuffs on the floor, all of which were now soaked with vinegar. To my credit, all I said was, "Oh, no." I am particularly proud of my verbal restraint.

The vinegar had splattered onto my feet, flip-flops (which were thankfully a dark-brown color already), and lower legs. As I walked across the kitchen to get the paper towels, I left brown footprints all over the floor. The scenario kept getting worse as I starting mopping up the sticky goo and cut my fingers on the shards of glass. Now we've got vinegar and blood forever staining the grout.

(Now that I think of it, there was already some residual olive oil in the grout from before. Now the grout houses a little oil-and-vinegar salad dressing.)

I spent the next two hours mopping, Floor-Mating, sponging, rinsing, and wiping down everything in a 10-foot radius from the initial impact. The grout is indeed a much darker color, but we're in the process of picking out new tile for the kitchen anyway. God's timing was good here. Also, the balsamic-stained grout nicely offsets the crayon-stained grout on the other side of the kitchen. When Kendra was 2, she took a red crayon and a blue crayon and literally scrubbed them into the kitchen grout. I can say with authority that it is impossible to remove crayon from grout, even if it has been sealed. We have a rather patriotic looking section of grout.

On a disgusting side note, I once came down with the flu an hour or so after eating spinach salad with balsamic dressing. As I was getting sick, that distinctive taste and smell of balsamic made that particular bout of flu so much worse. It was years before I could handle the smell of balsamic vinegar. After tonight's episode, I'm thinking I may never buy another bottle of the stuff again.

Mover of Stuff

I think instead of putting "Homemaker" or "Self-Employed" on next year's tax return, I'm going to list my job title as "Mover of Stuff."

Think about it. On any given day, that's what I spend the majority of my time doing. I go to the grocery store, where I move the merchandise from the shelves to the cart, from the cart to the checkout stand, from the stand to a bag. Then the bags go back into the cart, where they are moved again to the back of my car. Once I get home, I move the bags inside to the counter, I move the stuff inside the bags into the pantry or fridge, and then I haul everything out again when I need to cook. And that's just food prep.

It's the same with laundry, dishwashing, and general housecleaning. And I know that's the purpose of of having so much scrapbooking stuff. It's just so I can move it around and organize it and never actually have a chance to use it, right?

Someone, please tell me there's more to life than being a Mover of Stuff, because I'm getting rather depressed by the repetition and pointlessness of it all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Rational Person

A rational person would not attempt to unbunk the girls' beds by herself. A rational person would have waited for her much-stronger and usually-willing husband to have come home, when she would have sweetly asked him to please help her unbunk the beds and completely rearrange the room. Never mind the fact that we just bunked the beds and rearranged the room a mere two months ago. A rational person would not obsess about how the the girls' room does not live up to HGTV standards. A rational person would stop watching HGTV so much. A rational person I am not.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

School's about to resume, summer's almost over, and it's time for me to actually start cooking again. I've been horribly lazy about not serving real meals lately, so I'm joining in on the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Hopefully I'll be motivated to plan out meals rather than throw together something random at the last minute.

Monday: COTF (Clean Out the Fridge). I could just call these leftovers, but this is such a hodgepodge of food that I'm calling it what it really is. Just call me Templeton.
Tuesday: Ziti with Meatballs (courtesy of Costco -- I'm just not ready to cook yet), salad, sourdough bread.
Wednesday: Tortellini with Grandma's Homemade Pesto, steamed carrots
Thursday: Not sure yet. Probably whatever the HEB Meal Deal is for the week.
Friday: Papa John's Pizza, served picnic style on the floor while watching High School Musical 2 with the kids.
Saturday: Chicken and Dumplings with Leeks and Tarragon, salad
Sunday: Souper Salad! The kids are 99 cents, and I have a BOGO coupon for Kevin and me. We'll feed the whole family for about $12, including drinks and tip.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2007 Reading List

I haven't done a great job keeping up with my reading list. I know I've read some books that haven't made the list, but here's what I remember reading this year. The list is in chronological order, so scroll down to see my most recent reads.

The Novelist by Angela Hunt.
All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin. I liked it and will probably read another Austin book this year.
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. The humor is targeted more toward adult comprehension, and this one sure made me chuckle.
Strider by Beverly Cleary. The sequel to Dear Mr. Henshaw. I didn't love it as much, but Cleary is still one of my favorite children's authors.
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky. This was on the Sonlight recommended reading list. I don't think my kids are going to love this book.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. A modern classic. I forked over the cash to have a hardcover copy, and it's worth every penny.
The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements. Like all of Clements' books, this one is irreverently funny.
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes. I really thought I would like this one better, but it dragged for me. I'm not going to read this to my kids anytime soon.
Shopgirl by Steve Martin. NOT recommended. Highly offensive at times.
Ramona and her Mother by Beverly Cleary. A classic.
Proof by Bill Bright. A truly great novel. It was suspenseful, interesting, and encouraged me to pray more.
The List by Robert Ludlow. Whitlow is accurately described as a cross between Frank Peretti and John Grisham. A good novel, but I enjoyed the Grisham-like parts much more than the supernatural parts.
Forever by Karen Kingsbury. Completely forgettable, but I needed a light read.
Fire by Bill Bright. An excellent entry into the series. I love good historical fiction.
Fury by Bill Bright. My least favorite in the series, mostly because villainous characters seem to outnumber the righteous.
Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. I saw the movie first, but I enjoyed the book also.
Love's Abiding Joy by Janette Oke. Undecided.
Love's Enduring Promise by Janette Oke. I never thought I'd say this, but the movie is better than the book.
Love's Long Journey by Janette Oke. The series is getting a little old for me. I'll need to take a break before I continue on.
Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury. Predictable and cheesy.
Honeymoon by James Patterson. Highly NOT recommended, unless you actually like novels about psychopath female killers. This was my second and last Patterson novel.
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. This is the same author of the fabulous One Hundred Dresses, which I read as a child. I absolutely adored this novel. It ranks right up there with The Penderwicks as one of my favorite children's novels.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. I had to re-read this one just before the Deathly Hallows came out. I didn't remember many of the major plot points. Could Harry have been more brooding in this one?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. Again, a re-read just before the #7 release. My least favorite book in terms of action and interest, but some of those dry dialogue scenes are important to get the whole history of Harry.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. Truly wasn't what I expected, but I was really happy with Harry's last hurrah. The book reads like a movie script in many areas.
Life Support by Robert Whitlow. Highly suspenseful with a great cliffhanger.
Life Everlasting by Robert Whitlow. The sequel to Life Support. It gets a little rushed toward the end as if Whitlow was running out of steam, but it's a worthy and necessary sequel.
Jimmy by Robert Whitlow. Do not attempt reading this one without a box of tissues nearby. My favorite Whitlow novel so far, despite some spotty editing mistakes.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bear Bear's gone Bye Bye

We're in Houston for the weekend, and the unthinkable has happened. Bear Bear got left at home and David is without his best friend for three long nights.

All my kids have had one of the Lovies. They have the head and arms like a stuffed animal and the body is a blanket. All my kids have needed to sleep with Lovie. Kendra's was a pink lamb and it got so dilapidated that we had to buy her a replacement at age 2. She never accepted the new one and her mangled old lambie is still in use. She doesn't need it to fall asleep anymore, but her lambie still holds a place of honor at the foot of her bed. When Caelyn came along, we wised up and bought her two bunnies from the start. Of course, being a child, she knows the difference between "good bunny" and "the other bunny." Good Bunny doesn't have a shred of satin left on her. Once I asked Caelyn what she would do when Bunny completely fell apart, and Caelyn sweetly answered, "Just keep on loving her."

David has not one, not two, but three Bear Bears. Like Caelyn, he had designated one of them "the other Bear Bear." That one is sitting on a lonely shelf in his closet. But the other two Bear Bears are equally worn and equally dirty and equally loved. We keep them in rotation so I can sneak one into the washing machine when it gets too filthy. Having two is also helpful for those rare but horrible nights when David's gotten sick and befouled his beloved friend. David loves his Bear Bear so much that we just had pictures taken at Target with David holding his stuffed buddy.

Yesterday Bear Bear was all packed and ready to go. David took him out of the suitcase and put him in the car "in case he wanted to take a nap" on the drive. Then David brought Bear Bear back inside because "he needed snuggle time." I looped the blanket part of Bear through the handle on David's suitcase and told David to leave him alone, but apparently he disobeyed. Kevin came home, we frantically packed up the car, and hit the road for a three-hour-drive that took four hours this time.

Bedtime came and we realized Bear Bear was MIA. We searched the car and the suitcases, but our fears were confirmed. David remembered leaving Bear Bear in the shopping cart in the kitchen.

David went to bed without a fight, but he was far from sleepy. Part of the problem is that David only sucks his thumb when he's holding Bear Bear. That's a plus in my book, because when it comes time for him to stop thumb-sucking, we'll only have to take away his Bear Bear. But the little guy is only three and I'm not worried about that yet.

At 9:45 I heard rustling from David's room. I opened the door and found him sitting in the dark on the floor going through his little red suitcase. He was rummaging through everything as if Bear Bear would magically reappear. When he saw me, David started crying about how he "just wants Bear Bear when it gets late." David does not cry often and it just broke my heart to see him sobbing over his best friend. I put him back into bed, prayed over him, and told him what a big boy he was. He sniffled and eventually feel asleep around 10:30, we think. He was up at 3 a.m. and up again at 6, this time for good.

Today we've been to Home Depot (love their crafts on the first Saturday -- the kids each made a wooden art caddy), the park, the pool, and we're about to head out to a restaurant. I'm hoping and praying that tonight he'll be so exhausted that he'll drift off more easily. If not, we'll catch up on sleep starting Monday night when David is gloriously reunited with Bear Bear. In the meantime, pray for him!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Rain, It Grows Tiresome

I don't have exact statistics on this, but I'm going to guess that it has rained 45 of the last 60 days. What is this, Seattle? Today at 4 o'clock it was so dark outside that we had to turn on the lights to see our jigsaw puzzle, even though we were sitting two feet from a westward facing window.

Usually I think that rain is wonderful. It's soothing to listen to, it makes things grow, it makes everything smell clean again. After two months of rain, though, it gets old. We can't even get the mail without being attacked by mosquitoes. Our afternoon trips to the pool are often cut short or cancelled altogether. Our roof is still not fixed and I keep waiting for the ceiling in our closet to come crashing in. Kevin's commute was over an hour tonight due to road closures, high-water rescues, and poor visibility.

I know God promised to never flood the earth again, but He seems to be pushing the envelope a little bit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Seventh Deadly Sin

When I was in college, I took a course called Biblical Themes in Literature. The professor taught us the acronym PEWSLAG, which was a way to memorize the seven deadly sins of Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Lust, Avarice, and Gluttony.

I have long since experienced the first six of the seven sins. Monday night, I committed the seventh -- Gluttony.

After a long, horrible week of Kevin being gone every single night, and after 9 long months of Kevin serving on a high-maintenance committee at church, we were going out to celebrate. The church had finally chosen a new worship pastor, and Kevin was free. Plus, I had scored an upscale mystery shop at a local steak and seafood restaurant. We had a $200 expense limit, and we wanted to use as much as possible.

That was the mentality that led to my stomach's downfall.

I ate crab cakes with remoulade sauce, a spectacular asian pear salad, red snapper topped with scallops and crab and a scrumptious cream sauce, some asparagus, a roll, and a few bites of both tiramisu and a molten chocolate cake. Oh, and four raspberries. Top that off with a Cape Cod cocktail, several glasses of iced tea, and two cups of coffee. Everything tasted so flipping wonderful and I just couldn't stop eating.

I was fine, albeit stuffed, when we left the restaurant. By the time we got home, I could tell that my stomach was feeling a little too stretched. Later I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep, so I drank some Mylanta and read a book.

The next morning? Nope, still not hungry. I drank three sips of OJ and decided that was enough. Lunch time came and went and I still couldn't handle the thought of eating again. I finally got hungry around 4 p.m, which was good since we had another dinner mystery shop. This time I only ate half my entree and brought the leftovers home.

I'm quite sure I'll commit those first six deadly sins again. After all, it's pretty hard to overcome pride, jealousy, anger, laziness, lust, and greed. I can say with confidence that I won't commit gluttony anytime soon. Then again, we are eating at the Plaza Club on Wednesday night...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dishwashing and other Marital Issues

It's official... I've become the world's laziest housekeeper. There's just something about not having to be anywhere at any given time, not actually having to cook because Kevin is at church every single night for meetings, and not having the emotional and physical energy to do squat.

Case in point: I've started throwing everything except the good cutlery into the dishwasher. Now Kevin and I have had many a dishwasher discussion in our 11.5 years of marriage. He's a fan of handwashing, but he succumbs and puts dishes, glasses, and silverware in the machine. If I have put a mixing bowl with raw eggs into the dishwasher, Kevin actually takes it out and handwashes it "to make room for more stuff." We've literally had to discuss this issue in both our small group and in marriage counseling.

At one point I decided that I'd rather be married than be right, but this summer I've changed my tune. Consumer Reports says that it only costs 7 cents to run a dishwasher cycle. Good grief, 7 measly pennies? I'm sure I was spending more than 7 cents in hot water and Dawn to handwash the bowls and platters and other large items. So I'm a dishwashing convert and throw it all in now. (And here's another dirty little secret -- sometimes I run it without it being totally full! But I do it during the daytime so Kevin won't see. And since he never reads my blog, he won't hear about it either.)

Gotta run, I've got a sinkload of dishes to deal with.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Want An Easy 5 Bucks?

I'm all about the rebates. I clip coupons, take advantage of the the Walgreens EasySaver program, and use Ebates to buy everything online. If you don't know about Ebates, it's brilliant. Before you buy ANYTHING online, login at Scroll through the list of hundreds of stores, and click on the store you want. You'll be transferred to that company's site along with a tracking number. You buy what you want in the normal fashion, but the tracking number keeps a log of your purchases. A percentage of your purchase price is added to your Ebates account, and every few months you get a big fat check in the mail. It's a no-brainer, really. Free money for buying what you already would. I've saved money at Amazon, Kohl's, Office Depot, etc. I've also gotten 25% back on my magazine subscriptions. Truly a great program.

If you click on the link below, you can sign up and use me as a referral. We'll both get $5 in our Ebates accounts if you sign up and use my email as a referral. In case the link doesn't work, my email is "".

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nehemiah 8:10

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Today began ugly. I've been struggling with my eldest, and this morning was no different. On a good day, she and I merely butt heads. On a bad day, like today, I am often reduced to tears after I've lost it and screamed at her. It's a tough relationship, and this morning I questioned God's wisdom in giving me this child when I'm clearly not training her well or meeting her emotional needs.

Later, though, I listened to a CD on child training called "Starting Over." The message was clear -- I can't train my child unless I have a great relationship with her, and that won't happen unless I'm daily investing time with her and praising her. The speaker said that if I have 150 interactions with my child a day, 145 of them need to be lavish praise. Five of them can be correction, but they need to be blanketed in so much love that my child would want to please me by obeying. My praise-to-discipline ratio has been reversed lately.

The speaker also reminded me to find joy in my children, to laugh at their antics, to bring them alongside me during my day, and to be love their childishness. I was strongly convicted, because just an hour before I had barked at my kids to please leave me alone so I could have a few minutes of quiet while I wasted time on my computer. I'm hardly demonstrating love when I'm sending my children out of the room.

So tonight I'm claiming Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." I'm praying that he'll enable me to find joy in my children and to find joy in Him, so that all my parental weaknesses might become strengths. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bedtime Prayers

Tonight during bedtime prayers I asked the kids to thank God for at least one thing. Kendra and Caelyn thanked him for a house to live in, for getting to see Curious George (for free) in the movie theater today, and for our family. All good things to be thankful for.

Then came David's turn. He's three and a half and is still quite shy about praying aloud. He whispered something incoherent and then grinned at me from ear to ear. I asked him what he thanked God for. David's said, "For going to heaven when we die." His vocabulary is limited and his grammar is error-prone, but David's prayer was perfect. And for that, I thanked God for my son, his tender heart, and his three-year-old understanding of Christ's work on the cross.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

So... Very... Tired

Eight days in Orlando followed by a week of VBS followed by a spontaneous sleepover. Sunday's forecast? Cloudy with afternoon naps.

I have a new favorite job for VBS: Preschool Assembly. The Amys and I sang, danced, and puppeteered. According to Amy M., I have a knack for puppet voices. And Amy T. and Amy S. and I had a blast leading songs and doing the little dance moves and hand motions. My greatest joy was watching all the preschoolers jump around with huge smiles on their faces, although my own son played shy and wouldn't dance with us.

By the way, I have officially done every job in VBS except crafts, but I've done crafts in MOPS so I think I've covered it all. I've done crew guide, hospitality (food), drama, games/activites, and assembly. The only job I haven't done and never want to do is coordinator. I'll let my good buddy Nancy keep that job -- she's doing a stellar job.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Elevator Dancing

See, I would have gotten in the elevator.
Little known fact: My kids and I often dance in public bathrooms. If I'm going to be dragged to every store and restaurant bathroom in town, I might as well make it fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Updates and Happenings

Last Thursday: Caelyn graduated from kindergarten. Yes, it's silly how many graduation ceremonies kids have to go through, but this one was adorable. The kindergarten teachers narrated a story about the week of Creation while the kids took turns creating the set on the stage. Every single child had a role to perform whether it be speaking a line into the microphone or carrying trees and gigantic animals onto the stage. I loved how every child was involved. Caelyn had a speaking part and did it well.

Our school also does a fantastic job coaching the kids to pause for a moment and smile at the crowd when they received their diplomas. Principal Paden shook their tiny hands, handed them a scroll, and reminded them to turn and smile. All the parents were appreciative of the staged and often hilarious photo ops. Many of the kids overperformed and turned out hysterically cheesy grins. In all, a great ceremony.

Last Friday: Caelyn's last day of school. The moms from two of the kinder classes joined forces for an all-out class party. One of the moms owns a commercial sno-cone machine and popcorn maker, so we took turns churning out snacks. Other moms set up art centers and games. The kids took turns rotating through all the stations. The party was only supposed to last for 45 minutes, but we were having a blast and finally called it at two hours. I'm so sad that Caelyn's teacher is moving to Dallas this summer. Mrs. Hill was a perfect match for Caelyn and one of the truly great teachers out there. (Of course, I'd say the same about Kendra's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gordon. We'll be requesting her for David when it's his turn.)

Saturday: Spent the day at Sea World with the kids. My opinion of theme parks hasn't changed.

The day was redeemed when we watched the Spurs trounce upon Utah. I'll reiterate my previous prediction and state that the Spurs will win it all. After surviving the series with the Suns, the rest of the playoffs should be cake. OK, not cake, but they can definitely win another championship. Unfortunately, the Finals start on June 7 which is the same day we leave for Orlando. Kevin and I have already agreed that our days at Disney will have to revolve around the games. Yes, our priorities are not always normal, but I know that Amy understands.

We also managed to paint the girls' bedroom and bathroom this weekend. The color was supposed to be a soothing celery, but it turned out quite a bit brighter than I'd anticipated. It's growing on me but we definitely need to repaint the bathroom. The color makes us look queasy in the mirror.

Monday: Went to the opthalmologist again. She says I'm seeing 20/20. I've noticed a definite improvement in my sight in the last week, especially with nearsighted reading. My eyes still struggle to work together but it's getting better. My depth perception has greatly improved and I no longer feel like the floor is moving when I walk. The only real problem I'm experiencing is dryness, especially late at night and first thing in the morning. Basically I have to stumble out of bed, walk directly to the mirror, pry my eyes open and insert drops. I'm OK after a few minutes, but it's a little annoying to do that every morning.

Wednesday: Took Caelyn to the doctor for her 6-year-check up. She's 75th percentile in weight and 45th percentile in height, which is far shorter than the other two kids. Caelyn still has that sweet toddler look to her even though she's 6. Her legs are still short for her body and she'd got some definite pudge that I think is adorable.

The poor girl has several warts on her fingers, and the doctor applied a gel to them with the instructions to take off the band-aids and wash the gel off in four hours. We did, and Caelyn promptly started crying hysterically about how much her fingers stung. Two hours later and Caelyn had ENORMOUS blisters where the gel had been applied. Before bed I lanced the blisters while Caelyn shrieked at the top of her lungs. I tried to distract her by having her look at the Webkinz animals online while I was performing home surgery, but she wasn't having any of that. My ears are still ringing and an exhausted Caelyn is now asleep with fully bandaged hands. Next time she has warts I'm going to try the duct tape method instead.

We also had a late afternoon birthday party at Incredible Pizza. What a fun place! The food is far superior to Mr. Gatti's and Chuck E. Cheese. Even better, today was Wacky Wednesday so the game cards were unlimited play. I'm a skeeball fanatic, and the kids played just about every game they could. Caelyn even won a decent wristwatch in one of her games! I also tried my hand at the hunting game and shot myself half a dozen deer. That was surprisingly satisfying even though I'm not a fan of hunting. By the way, what I love most about Incredible Pizza is that it is Christian-owned and the prizes include tons of Christian themed selections. Christian jewelry abounds, and there are also Hello Kitty prizes and other benign options. Not a Sponge Bob to be found, hallelujah!

Thursday: Technically, this is tomorrow, but this is Kendra's last official day of first grade. The kids have had a week of pure fun. Today was pajama day and the kids got to clean our their desks. Tomorrow they go in the morning until 10 a.m., at which point we'll all caravan up to Spring Branch for the class party. One of the families has some acreage and they've rented one of those huge waterslides for the kids. I'll have the other two kids in tow, and I'm sure they'll all have a blast running around with water squirters. And on the way back into town we're going to stop by a store and let the kids pick out their Webkinz as a beginning-of-summer treat.

Friday: Our first official day of summer break, punctuated by a visit from my mom. The kids are thrilled to see their Grammy and have made a long list of what they want to do during the three-day visit. A visit to Stride Rite is a certainty. Kendra is already wearing a size 4 shoe. Yup, that's right, she's on the cusp of being able to shop in the women's department. And she's 7. The skinny mini can't wear anything above a 6x, and even those require adjustable waists. But the poor girl inherited my ginormous feet and she's doomed to a life of searching for cute shoes that fit and don't cost a fortune. We've already searched Payless and Target for summer sandals, but they either don't come in her size, don't fit, or look like hoochie mama shoes with stacked heels. Nope, not gonna. Stride Rite is pricey but conservative and cute. And Grammy will undoubtedly buy, God bless her.

So that's it, the week in review. Add to that a dozen loads of laundry, general housecleaning and cooking, preparing a summer schedule and gathering curriculum (did I mention that my pint-sized brainiacs want me to homeschool them this summer?), plus several trips to the grocery store, Target and the post office. Is it any wonder that I don't have time to sleep more than six hours a night?

Monday, May 14, 2007

LASIK update...

It's 12:44 in the morning and I'm watching the Survivor finale on TiVo. I just thought to myself, "I should really go take out my contacts." And then I realized, I'm not wearing contacts. Yet I can see the TV. And almost clearly see my computer screen. I'm a little more impressed with the Lasik technology at this moment.

Friday, May 11, 2007

For Those Who Are Considering LASIK

About 48 hours ago I had LASIK done on both eyes. For those of you who have ever considered the procedure, I thought I'd give you a play-by-play and my post-op thoughts. It might help you make a decision for or against it.

First of all, I chose to use my opthalmologist that I've been seeing for a decade. She's one of the best doctors in the city and she's been doing the procedure for as long as I can remember. Also she has always invested in top-of-the-line equipment. She's not the cheapest in town by a long shot, but I trust her and I trust her equipment. It pains me to write this in print, but I paid $2400 per eye, which covers all the pre-op and post-op care for an entire year.

I met with my doctor a couple weeks ago for the pre-surgery consultation. She needed to run some tests to see if I was still a candidate for Lasik. She said she could do Lasik on my left eye but wasn't confident that it was safe for my right eye. She said the cornea might be too thin to cut the flap of cornea. She said we would re-check using a different scanner on the day of my surgery. She also recommended PRK as an option. PRK corrects the vision by using a laser through the surface of cornea. However, after reading all the materials I decided against PRK. It has a higher risk for scar tissue forming, plus the pain level and recovery time are greatly increased. I wouldn't be able to drive for at least three days after PRK, and that just isn't an option for a mom of three kids.

So PRK was out, but I was still willing to just have my left eye corrected if I could. The vision in my left eye is -4.00, but the vision in my right eye is only -1.00. Since I'm right eye dominant, I've been using my right eye to see distance for the last 20 years anyway.

My doctor also gave me a large packet of papers that I needed to read through and sign. I had to initials a couple dozen times and write out statements such as, "I understand that I may need to wear corrective lenses even after the Lasik procedure" and "I understand that Lasik can cause partial and full blindness." I'm sure all doctors need to protect themselves from lawsuits since this is a voluntary, partially cosmetic procedure. Lasik is FDA approved and is much safer now that they don't use blades to cut the cornea, but it's hardly risk-free. The greatest risk is from infection, but I'd be getting antibiotic drops to prevent that.

On the morning of the procedure I arrived at the LASIK facility, which is actually on the 12th floor of a bank building. There were warning signs on the front door that people with any form of cologne or perfume could not enter. In addition, I was not allowed to have on any makeup, hairspray, or anything else "scented." I couldn't wear makeup for two days prior and I can't wear makeup for another four days after the procedure. A whole week without under-eye concealer is not a pretty sight.

The assistant took me back and performed an OrbScan, which measures the thickness of the cornea. Thankfully, the OrbScan confirmed that I could safely have the procedure. The machine provides a colorfully cool printout that shows the detailed view of any astigmatism and the overall shape of your eye.

Then the assistant used a different machine to measure my level of myopia. This took a while but basically it confirmed that yes, I can't see well. All that information was put onto a memory stick.

My doctor met with me and double-checked the computer's suggestion for my level of refraction. She did the old-fashioned, "Which is better, one or two?" with the refractive lenses. In the end, she confirmed that the computer was accurate and she would just do what it had suggested. She numbed my eyes and drew on the whites with a blue pen. She said this would help the laser line up the eye perfectly.

My doctor gave me some Valium (bless her!) and verbally explained what would happen during the procedure. I wish she'd told me a little bit more, because a few things surprised me. However, here's what happened.

With my hair in a lovely blue hairnet, I laid down on a dentist's type chair. The nice doctor gave me a teddy bear to hold and reminded me for the 20th time that I just needed to relax and think about relaxing thoughts. Yeah, that didn't really work for me in labor, either. Anyway, first they put a whole bunch of numbing drops in my eye. Then they shoved this plastic speculum in my eye to hold it open, and then they placed a suction ring on the cornea to hold it in place. They turned on the suction and I felt a ton of pressure on my eye. My vision quickly blacked out due to the pressure. My doctor counted down as the laser cut the flap of the cornea. They released the suction, which was actually a little painful and startling, and then they repeated the procedure on my other eye. They had some trouble getting that enormous plastic speculum in my left eye, and that didn't exactly help me relax. And the suction ring broke blood vessels in my left eye, so now I have a bright red arc across my cornea. My doctor calls it an eye hickey and says it will go away.

After they cut the flaps, they swung the chair around so I'd be under the second laser. They used tape (somewhere between a surgical tape and duct tape based on how much it hurt when they pulled it off) to keep my upper and lower lids WIDE open. The doctor told me to keep focusing on the blinking light above me, which was a little difficult since it moved aorund a bit. She lifted up the flap of cornea and everything got fuzzy. I kept staring at that blinking light and the laser zap zap zapped my eye. I didn't really feel anything but I could smell something burning. Uh huh, that would be the smell of my own eyeball on fire. OK, not that bad. But definitely a slight burning smell.

When the laser finished doing its thing, the next five minutes were highly uncomfortable. They irrigated my eye incessantly with saline. That is an extremely frustrating sensation when your instinct is to blink but you can't. They put in a half-dozen other drops that were antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Then the doctor gently put the flap back down and used some kind of spatula to smooth it back into place. That part reminded me of smoothing the bubbles out of wallpaper. She did this for a minute and I could see that spatula keep coming toward my eye. It was a little disconcerting but it didn't hurt. What did hurt was when they finally removed the tape. I imagined all my lashes coming off with the tape, but I still have some left. I happily closed my eye and tried to mentally prepare myself for the next eye.

In all, the entire office visit took just over an hour. I donned some dark sunglasses and Kevin drove me home. I put on the obligatory protective goggles and slept for nearly four hours, thanks to the Valium which had finally kicked in. My eyes stung when I went to sleep but they didn't hurt at all when I woke up. My eyes felt itchy the first day and the next day, but today they feel normal.

After my nap, I had to put a series of drops in my eye every hour on the hour. One was just a lubricant, and one was a steroid to help reduce inflammation and promote healing of the cornea. I also had a prescription antibiotic and another prescription for a steroid that supposedly helps me make more tears. I faithfully put those drops in every hour and then slept again that night with the goggles on.

Yesterday I went back to the doctor for a follow-up. She tested my vision and said that I could see 20/20 out of my right eye and about 20/25 out of my left. It doesn't feel like I can see 20/20, though. My distance vision is amazingly better, but I can't read my computer screen. (So if there are tons of typos, I'll correct them later. I'm typing this with my eyes closed because I have a headache.) I drove yesterday afternoon and today with no problems. I am seeing well but not as clearly as I had hoped. My doctor says it will improve a little bit every day, so I'll report back in a couple weeks and let you know what I think. Right now, I'm wondering a little if this was worth it. If I have to wear reading glasses, then I didn't reach my goal.

My left eye is also extremely tired today. For the last 20 years I've depended mainly on my right eye to see when I didn't have my contacts or glasses on. Now I'm having to use both eyes together and I'm realizing how weak my left eye is.

I haven't been able to wear contacts very often for the last couple years because of chronic dry eye and frequent infections. That was the major reason I wanted Lasik. Wearing glasses is not extremely convenient, especially during the summer months when I'm in and out of the pool all the time. I also wanted to be able to swim laps without hitting the wall. I'm hoping that the frequent flare-ups in my left eye, which looked like pink eye but wasn't, will stop. Time will tell whether that condition continues.

I'll let you know how my vision improves over the next week. But right now, the jury's out on whether I think I made the right decision.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I love this game!


Is there really anything else to say after looking at Steve Nash's battered face? The colliison gave Tony Parker a sizable contusion on the forehead, but his boo-boo is nothing compared to the gash on Nash that required six stitches.

I love this game. I love that Mark Cuban's beloved Mavericks got knocked out in the first round by the Number 8 seed. (And I also loved seeing Cuban's face when his team lost the final game, but that's just being petty.) I love watching the Spurs and Suns duke it out in this round, because whoever wins this series will probably win it all. I love it when Ginobili makes a no-look pass to Duncan who banks it in. I love it when Parker's flying feet take him down the lane, in between two defenders, to make the layup. I love seeing Robert Horry and Michael Finley hit multiple three-pointers in clutch time. I really, really love this game.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

30-Day Organizational Challenge

It got a little stressful toward the end, but I did it! I cleaned out, cleaned up, and deep-cleaned our study. It was all part of The 30-Day Organizational Challenged, hosted by I'm An Organizing Junkie. She asked us to answer a few questions, so I'll do that before we take the photo tour.

1. The hardest part was figuring out what to DO with all that stuff! It took a while, but I started with boxes and sorted things into a Sell Box, a Give Away box, and a Trash Bag. (More detail in #3.)

2. I've had to adopt a few new habits in order to keep the room looking this nice. First of all, this has become a no-kids zone. I love my kids but I need to have one place in the house that is free of toys, crayons, papers, etc. The kids have permission to come in here and read, but they cannot bring in a bunch of paraphernalia and junk it up.

Also, I've realized that I have WAY too many books. I need to get rid of some of them, so I stayed up late one night listing books on Amazon and So far I've managed to sell or trade two dozen books.

I'm also not buying any new books unless there is actually space for them. That's a hard one!

Finally, I came to realize that giving things away is extremely freeing. Often I try to sell things on Ebay, but the hassle is not always worth the few dollars I make. So I finally gave way two big boxes of clothes that I had planned on selling. The feeling of having that stuff out of my life is far better than the feeling of having a little extra cash.

3. So what happened to all the stuff? I'm a big fan of recycling, so I tried to do that. One big box of books went to the public library. Three big boxes are ready to be posted on Ebay. Two huge Hefty bags got placed on the curb. And the rest of it got sorted, containerized, filed, or shelved.

4. The biggest lesson I learned is that I'm a terrible housekeeper! No, wait. I'm actually a pretty good housekeeper when it comes to deep-cleaning. But when I'm bogged down with clutter, I tend to get depressed and then I can't function. Having the study this clean makes me really, really happy and motivated to keep it this way.

5. How will having a clean, organized study impact my life? First of all, I now have a designated place to do my Bible Study. That's huge. All the papers got filed, all the receipts got shredded or filed alphabetically by store, and all the books got organized. In other words, I'll be able to find what I need when I need it. Finally, and this is minor, I now have a designated bookshelf for books that I want to read. Once I've read them, I'll either shelve them or give them away. I think I'll get more reading done now!

OK, now for the tour. Here's the wide-angle shot of the study BEFORE...

And here's the wide-angle shot AFTER...

Here's the BEFORE shot of my favorite chair (it reclines!). I never sat in it because it was always covered with junk.

And here's what my chair looks like AFTER. Now I keep my Bible and Bible study stuff in the side table so I can actually use the chair as a place for a quiet time.

Here's the awful corner where I used to dump stuff that I wanted to Ebay or just didn't have a home for. It was so bad that I couldn't even get to the cabinets on the right...

And how here's what that corner looks like now. Two wooden boxes (which are empty!) and my kitty's bed. I couldn't get a picture of the cabinet, but I completely organized that, too. Top shelf is computer and camera equipment. Bottom shelf is binders, school supplies, and pads of paper...

So how about that desk area and the bookshelves? Here's the BEFORE picture...

And here's a more detailed look at the wall unit now. First, desk area. I organized the top shelf to hold photo albums and older boxes of photos. The bottom shelf has resource books and current photo boxes so they're more accessible.

The desk area was a disaster. I've filed everything I needed and tossed the rest. The shredder has gotten a good workout! It's hard to see in the photo, but there's a three-tiered wire basket that my hubby and I use for receipts and other mail. That system hasn't changed but we've caught up on all the papers.

Here's proof that the files are under control...

And look! I organized the drawers. This one's for batteries...

Now to explain how I organized the bookshelves. The top shelves on the left are for Christian fiction and non-fiction. The bottom shelves are organized by type, too. This is where I created the "to-be-read" shelf, which includes magazines.

I even found my old Yoda collection and decided to display it...

Finally, the shelves on the right. The top two shelves (not pictured) are books that I've listed on As soon as those get cleared out, I'll have room to buy more books! The bottom two shelves are for the kids. They have an insanely large collection of workbooks and puzzle books, so I've made those accessible just in time for summer. My goal is to have them do a few worksheets a day so we can actually use and get rid of some of those workbooks that my mother keeps sending.

That's it! Now I'm going to take a nap on that comfy leather couch.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Parenting Question...

Is there any way to train your child to become more compassionate, or is that just a God-given trait? My 7-year-old has apparently inherited my lack of mercy, and it's affecting all our family relationships plus several of her friendships at school and church.

Case in point: We were talking about compassion, and I asked, "When you see someone who is upset or hurt, what do you do?"

Her answer: "I just walk away."

Her hard heart is breaking my heart. Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Anti-Consumer Challenge

On Tuesday night I was attemping to tidy up our study, and I ended up spending an hour going through our receipts folder and shredding any and all unnecessary and outdated receipts. I filled up two grocery bags with shredded receipts, some of which dated back to '04.

Skip ahead to Wednesday when I was searching for a rubber stamp to loan to a friend and realized that I can't find anything in my craft area because I've apparently bought half of Hobby Lobby without ever using any of it.

Fast forward to today, where I spend several hours going through the front hall closet and realized that, collectively, our family of five owns 26 jackets and coats, which is especially ridiculous considering we're in South Texas.

And finally tonight, I discovered that my son and his friend destroyed the brand new Spurs trashcan that I had just bought yesterday. I found myself extremely angry over a $12.99 metal trashcan that the boys had apparently sat on or jumped on several times until it was flattened.

Even though I've never liked the gross level of materialism in America, I've become one of it's major consumers. I can't remember the last time I ever asked myself whether I really needed what I was buying. Scrapbook paper is on sale? Great, I'll stock up. Not in the mood for a sandwich at home? No problem -- I can grab something at Taco Cabana. And I won't even admit how many pairs of shoes I have. I get so excited when I actually find a pair of shoes in my size that I tend to snatch them up whether or not I actually need yet another pair of summer sandals.

So here's my plan. I've decided to go on a fast from consumerism. Starting tomorrow morning, I'm only going to purchase the basic necessities for my family. Groceries, but only the minimal basics and only from a list based on a definite menu plan. (I'm also going to challenge myself to get creative and use up the stash in my pantry and freezer.) There will be no drive-thru meals (unless I'm using a freebie coupon). There will be no impulse buys just because it's on sale or tempting. There will be no decoration purchases, clothing purchases, or scrapbooking or craft purchases. No books. No CDs. Basically, no stuff.

I'm not going to give myself a timeline, partly because I'm just curious to see how long I can last. Also, I don't want to beat myself up too badly if I don't last a week.

Here's the tough part -- I work as a mystery shopper. Even worse, tomorrow I have to go to Target for a job. I'm required to spend $50 in cash, so I'm going to keep myself accountable by only bringing $60 to the store. And I know we need a new cordless phone so that will be the bulk or entirety of the purchase. If the phone is less than $50, I'm going to do my darndest to find an actual necessity, such as supplies for Caelyn's upcoming birthday party.

Also, I have to bend the eating-out rules just a little bit since I have several restaurant mystery shops in the next couple weeks. Sometimes the shop only covers two adult entrees, but we often need to take our kids and would like to feed them, too. So, I'm going to allow meals for the kids when I'm doing a mystery shop, but we're going to try and share meals and limit the food waste.

I can't even begin to imagine how hard this is going to be for me and the kids. Tune in for further reflection after I last a few days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Really? I'd always pictured myself as a Snickerdoodle...
sweet, spicy, and a little cracked on top

You Are a Jam Cookie

On the outside, you project a straight-laced, innocent vibe.
But on the inside, you're complex, exotic, and full of flavor.