Monday, December 28, 2009

Morning Musings

Countless analogies run through my head and wake me at 3 a.m.

Either that, or it was something I ate.

Still, a quiet house gives birth to quiet reflection. It has been such a wonderful week.

When my children were newborns and infants, my jaws ached continually. It wasn't some odd postpartum symptom that wasn't listed in the pregnancy books. Rather, I was so overwhelmed with the love that I had for my children that I had to clench my teeth in order to keep myself from squeezing them too hard!

I have felt that way this week. My jaws don't ache, but I feel like I'm so . . . full . . . that I don't think I can contain it any longer. Something is about to burst! Whatever it may be, I am full to the brim. I'm thankful that Glenna is such a hugger and cuddler. I can grab her just about any time and whirl her about the room or simply wrap my arms around her.

Thankfully, she's not so fragile anymore. I can squeeze as hard as I want. It's much easier on the jaw.

As far as being up at 3 a.m. goes; seriously, I need to watch what I eat.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's All Good

When I would visit my grandparents as a young girl, my grandmother would offer treat after treat for our enjoyment. Most often, I'd be full as a tick and couldn't possibly eat another bite. At this point, when Grandma offered yet another slice of home made key lime pie, I'd wave her off with the phrase every kid in my generation clearly understood; "That's OK."

Grandma was always gently instructing me in the ways of a politer society. One day she finally asked, "What do you mean by that, J? It's OK and you want some more or it's OK and you don't want any? Have you thought about just saying 'Yes, please' or 'No, thank you' so you would be more clear?"

While I didn't agree with Grandma on all of her instructions (like the thought at the time that I should be reading more of the newspaper than simply the comics), this made good sense.

With my own children, I have taught them to say "No thank you" or "Yes, please." It makes it even more amusing, therefore, when our student from China uses a particular American slang and seems so proud when he does.

Junting, would you like some more potatoes?

Oh . . . I'm good.

Kelly hides her smile.

We wonder who taught him this? Dude, if someone offers you something and you don't want it, just say I'm good. That's how they do it here.

He speaks English so well and understands us so clearly, so it took me by surprise the first time I heard him say it. He's here studying for his Ph.d in Chemistry, uses articulate speech, and then he comes out with I'm good.

Should we tell him? =)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Three sleepy heads
Upstairs in beds
(plus one guest more
put Kelly on the floor)

The sun is bright
My world is right
Himself is here
I'm so glad he is near

Our student's great
We easily relate
The house is clean
The tree is still green

And now my Friends
must dry my head
I'll write real soon
When not in a rhyming mood.

Because, let's face it; that's pretty cheesy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

With Days Like These

True story.

I had just finished putting flea medicine on the dogs and wanted to wash my hands. I grabbed the glass oil/vinegar bottle that we keep our dish soap in, just like I do a thousand times per day.

This time, I must have knocked the edge of it on the sink because soap sloshed all over the sink, counter, and my shirt. I quickly dug around the cupboard under the sink for a container to hold the soap and found an old water bottle. Once the soap was contained, I cleaned off the counters.

I knew I didn't want to toss my shirt full of soap into the laundry. Glenna was upstairs in the shower, and no one else was home. I quickly took off my shirt and started to rinse it in the sink.

That's when the UPS man pulled up.

That's when I noticed a few windows were opened to let in the breeze.

I did the only thing I could do. I hit the deck! I squat-walked over to my sweater in the dining room and threw it on, then ran into my bedroom.

Fortunately, the UPS man was for next door.

I am way too tempted to go back to bed for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All Rite

I put it off as long as I could.

I knew that once I made this step, there'd be no turning back.

I argued with myself for half a year, weighing the pros and cons. I'd lived without it for this long, and surely I could continue to live without it! It just seemed that my pro list was growing larger than my con list.

I found myself searching for it, deliberately, in stores. Today, I picked it up and put it in my shopping cart.

That wasn't so scary. Still, life was about to change forever. The line was about to be crossed. Maybe I could just keep it to myself for a while and no one would know. This resolve was forgotten, however, when Glenna starting to unload the grocery bag.

Mom? What in the world?!? A shower cap????

Monday, December 14, 2009

Too Much?

Glenna, on Christmas lights:

Some of these houses look nice. Some of them look like a kindergarten glitter project.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book It

There are so many blog pages I want to read or linger over. I quickly hit the "bookmark" button and there it goes, right into my favorites.

Now I only need to set a day aside to read all the sites I've saved! Maybe one per morning?

Kelly and I were talking about personality differences. I'm fine with doing a little at a time, whereas Himself is more of a "right now or not at all" type of person. This can be frustrating at times, but I have also seen this used to great advantage in his life.

Says Kelly, "Yep, there's not a gradual bone in Daddy's body."

We received a phone call from our son this morning. Another day, another A. Way to finish out the diesel module, Ty!

We've also heard that his new roommates have arrived. Gone are the John Deere tractor sheets and loud commentary (his new roommate has plain black sheets, thank you very much). Jury is still out, but there's hopeful optimism that these two boys from the mountains in Virginia will work out just fine.

Lastly, I am hoping Florida will make up its mind on the weather. We go from sweaters to AC, often on the same day. Today the windows are open and we had a pleasant rain . . . who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

What a belly laugh this brought to me this morning!

Mrs. R, it looks like your writing classes have paid off once again, even down to the clever title. Thank you!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Playing School

Hands in soapy water, I field one question after another from my daughters as they work on their school tasks. A spelling question, a historical fact, a question of logic; all of these flow freely back and forth in a natural dialogue. This is the learning lifestyle I had longed for 12 years ago when we first began our home school journey.

Of course, I don't always have the answers. This leads to some questions of my own:

I don't know. How could we find out?

Where would you look for that information?

What do you think?

Is the dictionary nearby? What about the thesaurus?

Learning by osmosis keeps a level of anticipated discovery in all of us. When we go to the encyclopedia to look up a fact, we can't help but read a few tidbits surrounding our quest. I love when I hear, "Hey, Mom! Did you know that . . . " or "Hey, Mom! Check out what this says!" or "Hey, Mom! This says one thing, but I'm pretty sure the other book said another thing. Do you remember?" This would be missed if we simply hit up Google or wikipedia! They only display one fact at a time!

So what if my encyclopedias are dated 1988. As long as we're not looking for current events . . .

This same principle applies to map work. Any time spent looking at a map will teach volumes more than a textbook with a workbook. At the R Zoo, they have a map placed under the glass of their dining room table. Perfect! I can't tell you the pleasure we've all had at their home, pouring over countries and continents. I can't tell you the stories of travels and peoples that come up in conversation because of it.

The part I hate about home schooling is how quickly I become the enemy. Unfortunately, I must also ask questions such as "Have you finished your science?" and "Did you do your vocabulary?" and "Have you started your math?" I have been reassured countless times that they're not mad at me, per se, but they're angry at the fact that they have slacked off and have fallen behind - again.

My favorite part of home schooling, however, comes when God shows me a glimpse of the work He is doing in the lives of my children. I am privilege to watch Diligence triumph over Laziness. I am a witness to Selfishness dying to Service. I watch intense spiritual battles turn into spiritual victory, and I want to sink to my knees in thankfulness. (I may have to do this one time, just for effect!)

How much I would have missed if my stubborn will had not given in to home schooling.

I had no idea it would be like this.

I had no idea it COULD be like this.

It has, unequivocally, been worth it.

I laugh with my fellow home school moms and count down to the day I will be finished with all of this and free from the tyranny of schedules and grades (four and a half years left, to any who are wondering). Still, there's a stronger voice telling me how precious and sweet this is. I'm not to wish it away or count it down, for just as that 9 pound, downy-soft infant became a 6ft tall man too soon, so this will end.

Too soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Pain of Loyalty

Becoming a rabid college football fan can be extremely painful!

When I lived in California, we rarely paid attention to college teams. We had so many professional teams to enjoy! I will ever be a Chargers, Padres, and Lakers fan. Forever!

Since moving to Florida, we have caught the passion that comes with being the fan of a college team. There are three sides to choose - Miami (bleh), Florida State (meh), or University of Florida (roaring crowd noise here!). We have pretty much become Gator fans!

For tonight's game, Himself went to a friend's house to watch while I stayed with one-who-needed-to-finish-school-on-a-Saturday. About the third quarter, I decided to see if I could catch the game live on line.

I was in luck, but I didn't like what I saw. Gators were behind!

I knew I needed to hit the shower, so I thought I'd be super clever and put the laptop in the bathroom and take a tub bath. I had everything safely away from the water and tilted at just the right angle. I hopped into the tub and looked triumphantly up at the screen on the bathroom counter.

I couldn't see a thing.

I definitely can't see any distance without my glasses! Since I was already in the tub and my mother's warnings through the ages were ringing in my head, I did NOT try to move the laptop closer. Instead, I fumbled around for my glasses and decided to wash my face last.

I'm sure everyone reading this knows what happened next.

Yes, after 10 minutes, the screen saver came on. [sigh] Fortunately, I could still HEAR the game. UNfortunately, the Gators did not come through with a win. By the time I got out of the tub, I was fighting tears along with our quarterback.

Thank you, Tim Tebow . . . for everything.

I hope we see MANY MORE just like you.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Oh Lord . . .

Dear Lord,

This has been a great week! I don't hate anyone, I don't blame anyone for the trials of life, and the house isn't overwhelming me.

But, Lord, I know the hormones are coming around again soon. Would you please protect my mind, my family, and my friends?

Thank You.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Well, What Do You Know?

After we stood in line in the third world country to buy our raw milk, I was curious to see if I could skim the cream and make butter.

It worked!

I put it in a Tupperware container used to mix protein shakes and shook it for all it was worth. I'm not sure how long it took, but my arms certainly got a workout! The end result was enough butter to put in my butter bell.

Now I know why the man who invented the butter churn, on a rocker, was popular. During the entire shaking process, I was trying to think of easier ways to make the butter. After all, I'm a modern woman living in modern times!

I also wonder what on earth families did with all that milk when they milked a cow daily.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

It's been a while since we've heard from Jess at Making Home.

I like the attitude adjustment she gave this morning! Moment by moment, we can choose the way we think of others.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Musings

What a sweet holiday. I loved eating at the R's! They made it so fun (and full) for all of us.

I hopped on the scale at Publix today. My cell phone must weigh a ton because it was in my pocket and my weight was more than it should be. Maybe I should go for a slim phone? [yuk]

Ty had a horrible cold, and now his sisters have the same horrible cold! We're so thankful that he made the long drive to be with us. On the way home there was so much traffic, it took him 13 hours to make the 10.5 hour drive! I'm glad he didn't stay for church but got an early start.

We don't have a working camera right now, so no pictures!

On Sunday evening Glenna, Himself, and I went to pick up some raw milk. After reading Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck, we're convinced that raw milk is the way to go. Himself says it was like a weird, third world experience as we stood in line in someone's driveway, waiting to buy milk. At least we had an adorable boxer with a deflated soccer ball to entertain us! She would take turns bringing the ball to people in line so they could kick it for her.

We came home and did the taste test of the raw whole milk vs. the store bought whole milk. The raw milk was definitely richer, while the store milk has a watery after-taste. Still, for what we pay for it, it's almost used for medicinal purposes only. Raw milk = white gold. I wish Florida would make it legal to sell raw milk as other states have done. Then maybe we wouldn't have to stand in a driveway to buy some.

I've started my Christmas shopping. Going to be a light year, but I know it won't be light in the area of God's blessings! Already, He has done so much for us to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I looked out my kitchen window this morning as I do every morning.

This time, a white Blazer was parked in its usual spot.


All of my chicks are back in the nest until Sunday! The hugs I received from my son were so precious. Gladly, I'm wading through his piles of laundry. (I insisted he bring his laundry. Isn't it a tradition when a child comes home from college?)

I'm determined NOT to be on the computer much, so I won't be blogging until Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Table Talk

I made a hearty minestrone soup and placed it before my family.

Himself: Whenever I eat something like this, I feel like I'm in a Louis L'Amour novel. I'm one of the cowboys sitting around eating the stew that's thick and good.

Kelly: Really? When I eat something like this, I feel like I'm a sailor. I've come into the galley for a bite before going back on deck. I put on my thick, itchy sweater because it's the only one I own.

Glenna: When I eat something like this, I feel like an orphan.


My son comes home tomorrow! I've not seen him since Labor Day weekend. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My head was relaxing in the shampoo bowl as Ruthie began to pull the foil strips off. I've been looking forward to this shampoo for so long! Suddenly, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket.

I wait. If it's a text message, it will only vibrate twice. This, however, continues vibrating in an urgent manner. I dig under towel and cape and pocket to retrieve the phone and see that it's Kelly.

"I'd better take this, Ruthie." I knew that Kelly wouldn't interrupt my singular alone time for a trivial matter.


"Yes, Kelly!"



"Mom! I've just been accepted at CC College! They just called on the phone!"

"What????!!!!??" I sit bolt upright and leave Ruthie scrambling for towels. I ask her to repeat it, and the poor girl is understandably "freaking out" with the news. We both start screaming.

Then we tell Ruthie, and Ruthie starts screaming along with us!

Just like that, my life is changed. Again.

My daughter is going to college. Not just any college, but the college her heart has been set on since her Junior year of high school!

We can't stop smiling!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Poem

A Poem, by Kelly W.

I hate doing dishes
I hate them a lot
Next time I do them
I'll die on the spot

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

I know I post from this gal often, but you have to see this.

I would love to be able to reduce my grocery bill to what she pays, but the truth is, I wouldn't even know what to DO with half of the items she purchases!

And if I were doing all those things, where would be the time for my selfishness and sin nature?

Maybe that's the point?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh No She Didn't!

This amateur real-food advocate did NOT feed her husband Top Ramen with cocktail weenies.

Oh no she didn't!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Strange things that I find in my inbox:

Today is Domestic Duty Day, then Missions Conference begins tonight!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

Our pastor has been talking about this for a couple of weeks now, and over at Jenny Hope she posted this video to put us in our place. This, my friends, is perspective!

You're welcome. =)

Monday, November 09, 2009

More of This, Less o f That

Something that made me smile this weekend.

I love watching The Amazing Race. Himself and I would never be able to do it. I would try to take over and he would get stubborn and one of us would be buried in a cornfield with the travel gnome.

I gave Jack a haircut this weekend. He actually looks really good! This time, I put him on a table so he was at my level. I figured out the right angle for the clippers, and he even let me do his ears. He has been much less miserable since his haircut and bath. However, that leads me to -

I've been up since 3 a.m.

While giving Jack a haircut, night came and mosquitoes arrived. My feet and ankles are so bitten that I can hardly sleep.

Welcome to Florida.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Little Engine that Could . . .

. . . should!

Praying for a certain small engine to START today! Go Ty!

Feeling pretty good about some things, pretty cruddy about others. I'm having an "I quit!" season where I just want to check out of everything and stay in my room and read. I know the best thing for that is to get out and DO, so here goes!

Looking forward to a Beautiful Girlhood evening with my Glenna!

God Bless Texas.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Overheard and Overseen

The tanned and burly landscaper on his phone, "Ok, so you'll wear the tights? Let's do it!"

Outside my kitchen window:

The recycle truck pulls up. The muscled laborer in his coveralls dumps the recyclables, places the containers back on the lawn, then does several fantastic dance moves (including a spin and booty shake) on the way to the other side of the truck. With a double toot on the horn, they were off.

I love when God sends me smiles like these!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Back in the Day . . . .

. . . people ate beef stew or beans.

And they liked it.

Now, if I don't have a menu plan printed and posted on the fridge, I'm less likely to make something other than leftovers.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009


Today is the day Kelly's scheduled to register for her classes. We researched classes and professors and we're ready to go as soon as the clock says 4 pm! Even though she's considered a "returning student," she still had to wait. Trusting God for her classes.

Sending in applications for college and scholarships for NEXT year is a new territory for us. Prayerfully, she'll be attending a Christian college about 2 hours from here.

I don't know how we're going to pay for it at this point.

Everywhere else, it seems, people go into debt up to their eyeballs for college. At my church, it seems everyone is able to go debt-free. How do they do this? I know they earn state scholarships, but where are these magical grants everyone talks about?

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I thought I would want to stay home at for at least the first six months. When they put that newborn in my arms, however, I knew there was no way on earth I was leaving him. Himself and I made the decision to live without so many things so I could be home with the children. We drove clunker cars, didn't go out to movies, didn't take expensive vacations, wore our clothes until they fell off (or bought some on clearance or at the thrift store), and made myriad other sacrifices in order for me to stay home.

When we decided to home school, this decision was even more relevant. It was sacrificial, but we wanted to be the ones to train our children and give them a biblical world view. The reward has been that we really like our kids. Honestly, we'd rather hang out with our kids more than anyone! They're so fun and so easy to talk to. We laugh like crazy, but we can have deep, serious discussions as well.

Now is when the true financial implication of me staying home is most evident. We have no money for college! Himself and I never went to college, but we certainly hope our children will be able to go. Ty's doing well in Tennessee, but he'll now have student loans to pay once he graduates. Kelly will have to enter the work study program . . . I pray she'll be able to keep up with her school, her work, AND have time to enjoy the activities of her college family.

So much to pray for.

So little time.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Mom: All right, we're passing out candy tonight. Only give them ONE EACH. Last year we ran out, remember?

Kelly: Yeah, that was embarrassing.

Glenna: I'm not passing the candy out. Everyone asks me why I'm not out trick or treating.

Himself: Just tell them it's because it's a pagan holiday and you don't want to burn in hell. Oh, but tell them that it's all right for THEM.

Mom: No one is burning in hell! Now remember, ONE EACH.

Glenna: Daddy can pass them out!

Ding Dong!

Mom: Daddy, remember . . .

Himself: I've got it, I've got it.

Door opens revealing cute little kids in costumes

Himself: Wow! Look at YOU GUYS!

Cute Little Kids: Trick or Treat!

Himself: Here you go, honey. Here; have two . . .

W Girls all shake heads

Mom: Daddy, WHAT did I say?

Himself: Oh come on! Did you SEE them? The cute little wings and the Storm Trooper . . .

We are so going to run out of candy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wednesday Night at AWANA

. . . we made sculptures from oreo cookies.


Do you have a better idea?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yes, Mother

I have driven back and forth from California to New Mexico many, many times.

I have done this with just my husband and myself. I have done this with my husband and small children. I have done this by myself, but with a friend along for support.

I have driven to Arizona from California, found my friend's house, and slept there overnight. I then drove home.

I have driven with my husband from southern California to northern California. We even made this drive with a toddler once.

I have driven for six days from California to Florida in a small pickup truck with one of my children beside me and my husband following in a moving van with our other two children and the dog.

I have flown by myself, navigated airports and shuttle buses, and arrived safely at each destination.

I have homeschooled my children for the past 12 years. This means that I alone chose their books, courses of study, and (if any) outside teachers.

I have taught English classes from my home, and I have taught AWANA JV for nine years.

I have been married to Himself for 23 years. I have three children, one of whom is 20 and going to school in Tennessee, and another who is looking at colleges for the fall of 2010.

I have gray hair. Lots and lots of gray hair.


When I told my mother that I would fly into Albuquerque, borrow a car from my uncle, then drive to her home, here was her response:

"I don't know, honey. Are you sure? You can't miss that turn at Reserve. Maybe I could meet you in Socorro."

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you - Reserve, NM.

Population 387 in the year 2000. County seat for Cotham County.

It has one turn.

Mom, I've got it, though I do love you for still thinking of me as a baby. ;-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Better Mouse Trap

Caution! This post is not P E T A friendly.

When I was visiting my mother in the Gila (pronounced HEE-la) wilderness in New Mexico, we learned that almost everyone was having trouble with rodents.

Mom trapped one in the kitchen, then bought more traps at The Walmarts. When she and my brother went to get a load of hay, however, they stumbled across this ingenious trap that worked beautifully for one rancher.

Here's what it looks like:

Take a 5 gallon bucket and run a wire from one end to the other, stringing a soda can along the wire. Fill the bucket half-way with water. Put peanut butter on the can, and leave some kind of ramp leading up to the top of the bucket.

Mouse smells peanut butter.
Mouse runs up the ramp.
Mouse jumps onto can to eat peanut butter.
Can spins, plopping mouse into the water.
Mouse swims . . . until it can't swim anymore . . . then it stops swimming. For good.

We were so eager to try this, but we didn't have true 5 gallon buckets.

With a true 5 gallon bucket, this works incredibly well.

Ask Mom!

**Note: I feel the need to make a clarification from my last two posts. Jeff was my step-dad, and not the one who visited here at Christmas. Still, he was in my life from the time I was three years old. When he married my Mom, I began to refer to him as Dad.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Farrier . . . conclusion

There, beneath the saddle blanket, was Dad's shoeing box. My eyes filled with tears immediately.

Grief hits people in different ways and at different times, but grief must run its course. Driving to the funeral home to pick up Dad's remains was difficult but not unexpected. When I saw the box, however, the loss hit me fully.

He wasn't coming back.

He wasn't just on another part of the ranch or watching rodeo or baseball in the house.

He was gone.

Everything was as he had left it. The metal box had various handles sticking out of the front and other handles in their special holders on the sides. The top had two compartments filled with horseshoe nails. Neatly rolled, soft leather chaps were tucked on top of the files, rasps, assorted clippers, and hammer.

How many times had I watched him perform that task?

The chaps were the first to go on and the last to be put away. Several times per day he'd lift that heavy anvil from his truck to its stand (that he had made himself) and fire up his stove. When my brothers and I were younger, Dad would pay us twenty-five cents for each horse we held. We knew we would be earning our money, too, because he never needed anyone to hold the gentle ones.

With lead ropes in our hands and dire warnings to pay attention, we'd watch Dad remove old shoes, clip overgrown toenails (and toss them to the waiting ranch dogs who loved him for that), file everything smooth, measure the shoe, heat it in the stove, pound it with the hammer to shape it perfectly, then nail it onto the hoof. After clipping the horseshoe nails shorter he'd use a special tool to bend them down, then he'd hammer them in so nothing stuck out. More filing and neatening, then he'd be finished.

One by one he would put his tools back where they belonged. We'd be thankful when the anvil went back into the truck, but when he reached down to unbuckle the chaps, we knew we were moments away from our reward: a soda and a candy-bar.

The last time my girls and I saw him, I was thrilled when he carefully watched them ride, calling out instructions in a calm voice, just as he had with me. I had no fear for them because he was there and I knew he would stop that horse.

He also tossed horseshoes with them and gave them a roping lesson.

I loved it.

I think Dad could do the math and realized it was unlikely we'd see him again this side of heaven. He made a point of connecting with his granddaughters (Ty wasn't with us) and recording the visit with photos. I'm so thankful that he did.

My life with Dad can be summed up with some words from a song by Reba McEntyre, though not all of them fit (her song is a little harsher than it needs to be for my situation). I've included her lyrics in italics, but the end was changed by me.

The greatest man I never knew . . .

Lived just down the hall . . .

And every day we'd say hello . . .

But never touch at all.

He was in his paper,

I was in my room.

How was he to know I thought he hung the moon?

James J. Dutton
January 31, 1921 - October 3, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Farrier

I was doing fine until I found the shoeing box.

Mom, my brothers, Jenny, and I were cleaning up to make a dump run.

It started with Dad's broken recliner, comically (because Mom got stuck behind it) shoved into a walk-in closet in order to make room for his hospital bed. My brothers quickly agreed to haul it to the dump so Mom wouldn't have to deal with it.

Might as well fill up the truck, right?

The chair was soon joined by a broken chest of drawers, now holding nothing but rodent droppings. The old, bottomless burn barrel could go, and we needed a box for the shovels of broken glass it left behind. Where could we find one?

Off to Dad's shop. A box was indeed found, but then began a series of events much like the ones recorded in the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" story. One thing continually led to another!

Might as well get the trash off the tool bench. . .

I could clean out this area . . .

Soon, all five of us were tossing out bucket after bucket of odds and ends; cut pipes, scrap wood, scraps of carpeting, and anything else we didn't think Mom could use, give away, or sell.

My 23 years with Himself made me a poor judge of what was valuable and what needed to be tossed; I left that to Mom and my brothers because I would have tossed entire boxes instead of going through them. We did end up filling two truckloads and hauling it off.

Some treasures we found were the various tools that Dad would make for himself.

He'd need something for a one-time purpose, make it from a piece of metal or horse shoes, or horseshoe nails, baling wire, foam, wood, whatever, then he'd keep the tool "just in case" he needed it again.

We had more fun trying to figure out what he needed it for, though sometimes Mom could give us a clue!

See the ropes? This was just three of many hooks holding stacks of ropes. A cowboy can never have enough ropes.

Or horseshoes.

When a cat wandered into his shop and had kittens, Dad built this threshold to keep them from wandering out and becoming coyote chow.

He really was a softie when it came to animals. He couldn't stand to see an animal starve. Many times I'd watch him sneak food to a malnourished dog that lived next door to us. It was as natural to him as feeding our own animals and simply became part of his feeding routine.

Everything was stored in coffee cans and labeled, but he'd have three cans for the same thing.

Cans and cups were screwed directly to the wall.

Long nails were hammered into the end of the tool bench, then bent to make a holder for a screwdriver, or hammer, or pliers.

Overwhelmed with the monumental task, I finally used the same method I used for the children's bedrooms. I grabbed a broom and began in one spot along the wall. I'd throw out the trash, then I'd shove everything else to the center of the room for Mom and my brothers to sort. I worked my way around the shop and then headed out to the covered area where the trucks were parked. Using the same method. I worked my way down the line of tools, tanks, saddles, and ropes.

When my hand moved a saddle blanket tossed on a chair, I froze.

(To Be Continued . . . )

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Brothers are people who may not be in contact for months or even years. But when they come around . . .

. . . it's as if they never left.

My brothers are mine, and I love them. Having a brother is one of the most important gifts God could give a gal. Just ask my daughters!

My brothers are as different as different can be.

This one kept his cowboy roots:

He loves to swing a rope, ride horses, cowboy, tickle his daughter, cherish his wife, and is a working machine who never stops until sundown.

This one rides a horse of a different color:

He was a BMX champion, loves to ride motocross, fearlessly tries the craziest stunts, drives trucks with 18 wheels, and is a hard and meticulous worker.

Brothers don't care if you haven't worked in a salon for 20 years. They'll still ask for haircuts.

They're also not as picky as they were when you were fresh out of cosmetology school. They just want it short.

Brothers also help their mother with a beautiful but difficult task, staying with it until it looks just right.

They sit at a table with their mother's friend while their mother sneaks off with the camera to capture the moment.

Time can't erase a most crucial fact about my brothers:

When I need them, they'll be there.

God bless brothers!
(But especially, please bless mine.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh No She Didn't!

This is JP (short for Jack Pot):

JP is the dog that did not get hit by the skunk spray when I foolishly flipped the black container.

This is Trevor and his owner, Jenny:

Trevor is the dog that did get hit by the skunk spray when I foolishly flipped the black container.

Here, Trevor is receiving the first of his four baths:

Bath 1 - tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce (don't laugh! It's all we had!).
Bath 2 - Feminine hygiene product.
Bath 3 - Vinegar
Bath 4 - Dawn dish washing liquid.

Any questions?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

This post from Laura at 10,000 miles really spoke to me today. Actually, she posted on Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.

Enjoy and ponder, people!

PS Everyone pray for the traveling L's today. You can do it, BA!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hi Mom

Here's a taste of what's to come:

See? I told you we didn't need a flash.

I miss you.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bit o'Break

Headed to New Mexico to be with my Mother and Brothers. Won't be blogging for a while!

Thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. It means everything.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

And the Rest

Yesterday, I received this photo:

Today, I received these two:

Himself's sisters, Julie and Mary Ann.

Prince Robert, Heir to the Throne

All five siblings in the same place again. This hasn't happened for years!

I can guarantee there's a LOT of laughter happening. Oh, and the noise decibels have certainly risen to ear-damaging proportions.

(Not to worry; the guys all have damaged hearing anyway.)

Himself comes home today! Can't wait to hear stories, tales, and fables. =)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I Didn't Think I Wanted to Be There

I was doing fine with Himself in California and me at home until I received this photo:

This is my brother-in-love, Dan.

I wanted to cry when I saw this! I miss him so badly. He lived with us for 18 months (until Kelly was 3 months old) and he and Himself were in business together for so long with Poppa, then just the two of them. They worked together beautifully and made such a great team!

I love you and miss you, Uncle Dan! Give my love to Becky!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Mexico Video at last!

It made me so happy to watch this video!

Whoever thinks a trip to a Mexico mission trip is a vacation needs to watch this. These students work HARD.

Thank you to all of you who made this trip possible for Kelly and the rest of the team.

It's so neat to watch and see familiar faces at the brickyard. We can almost do a collage of how the children have grown. I think it's so great that they're able to go back to the same place each year and keep those relationships growing.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Someone's Up Early

And he sent me this photo:

Hello, Desert Beautiful. Take care of my fella.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

Though my kids are grown and no longer need me THIS much, they still need me.

I still need, too.

Hop over and read this beautiful reminder!

I will, Elise!

(Requests for me to sing the Mickey Mouse Guest Star song always considered!)

Monday, September 28, 2009


On Sundays, I become determined that THIS WEEK I will:

Read my Bible first thing
Keep the house tidy
Eat well
Serve my family better

Then, Monday arrives. Maybe it was the late night, but what I've DONE so far:

Wash dishes from yesterday
Read the first four verses of Romans 1
Fought like crazy not to go back to bed
Told one of my kids to stop talking to me because I'm WRITING by golly

Why am I so tired? Thankfully, this week's sermon was so timely. Galatians 5:16 through 18 have assured me that this is normal.

Whew. I thought I was going crazy for a while there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Off to the Epcot House of the Mouse
He paid for me, but not my spouse.

Does it seem just kind of cruel
to leave my children, doing school?

(I didn't think so, either!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yet, I Do

Jessie recently blogged about the rationale we'll give ourselves when in the midst of a headache.

I have one right now.

During the headache, probably at its peak, I vow to once again cut all the foods that I know lead to migraines. I don't care if I've already tested them and discovered some that don't affect me, I vow to cut them out and eat nothing but lettuce and chicken.

The other side of me, the side delirious, reasons that since I already have a headache it doesn't matter what I eat now.

Somehow, I've managed to remain strong when it comes to chocolate. What I want is cheese.

Lots of cheese.

It's ridiculous.

Speaking of ridiculous, today's my Mother-in-love's birthday and she still looks amazing! Happy Birthday, Mom! Himself will be flying out next week to see his parents and siblings, all gathering for Pop's 70th birthday. I hope they give Mom a little sugar while they're there for HER birthday! We love you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home Again

I am home and almost caught up on my sleep. It was such a great Women's Retreat! I feel like I need to unpack not only my clothing and items, but I need to just as carefully unpack all the things I learned from the sessions. Just as purposely, I want to make sure they're placed where I will use them daily and not tossed into a corner somewhere.

Being the emcee was fun! I only made a few blunders (like calling Beverly Tyree by the last name O'Fee. Beverly O'Fee was my friend in California). I also have blisters on my feet for walking two hours on the beach, barefoot. Those were some pretty determined steps I was taking.

Now I am content to be back home and facing my daily life. God is good.

PS: Please pray for Dad today if you think of it. He's facing a medical decision that would help him tremendously if he chooses to do it, but so far he's refusing. Today he receives a second opinion and it will hopefully convince him.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Did They Say?

My children have a language all their own. It's hilarious.

The fact that we don't watch television is directly responsible for this. We are not continually bombarded with noise or visual stimuli, so the things we do watch on TV are more apt to stick in our minds.

We love watching movies.

We have our favorite actors and genres, and when we watch a movie we thoroughly enjoy engaging in the story. Sharing this experience as a family gives us common ground. The result is, my children speak to each other in cinema. Cinematology? Cinema-ish?

All Kelly has to do is mumble a movie line under her breath, and her siblings either crack up or instantly gain understanding of a situation. It helps that Kelly is an excellent mimic and can usually nail an accent or voice impersonation on the head.

For example, someone does something nice to another person. Kelly's squeaky voice says, "You're a good person." -the prawn in Shark Tales

One of us are facing a potentially scary situation. Another one of us says, "Stay alive! I'll find you! Just stay alive!" -The Last of the Mohicans

All of us know what the other is talking about, but people who aren't rabid movie fans are sometimes clueless. In fact, the M family often has no idea what Tyler and Kelly are talking about as they go back and forth in this coded dialogue that has the both of them grinning and laughing.

What are they even saying?

The other day, our brown-eyed girl was over and happened to throw out a movie line.

It was a proud moment for us all. She's going to do just fine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm Having a Thought, Here

It's exciting and frustrating to be on the verge of a thought. Does that sound like something Winnie the Pooh would say?

I feel like God is about to reveal something "great and wondrous that you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3) I have these niggling thoughts, then an affirmation of that thought, but there's nothing I can completely wrap my brain around yet. That's the frustrating part! All I know is that when things like this have happened in the past, it means a godly change in my life. That's the exciting part!

I was telling a friend at Dinner A'Fare (hey Lisa!) that I feel God has made my school year so much easier this year because everything else in my life is so crazy. I'm so, so thankful for that. I'm so thankful for a God who is sovereign over my life and knows exactly what I need. Not only that, but He actually cares enough to be actively involved in my life. He could let me continue as I am, but that's not His nature. Thanks be to God.

Other things I'm thankful for today:

*Himself upstairs, practicing drums for worship on Sunday.

*A brother and sister in conversation on the phone, not letting the miles separate them.

*Said brother and sister hanging up with "I love you"'s!

*Older sister wanting younger sister to go with her to the mall tonight.

*A brown-eyed gal able to join the sisters for adventure and loving it.

*A sweet comment left by Himself for Myself. What a day maker.

Life with the Lord really IS good. Isn't it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Here, Friends. Something sweet and soothing to drink.

Don't miss a word.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Still Love this Picture

The team gave a presentation of their trip last Sunday. It was so great! I can't wait until Josh gets the video together.

Lately, I've been thinking of American materialism. I try so hard not to want or to buy, but America makes it so easy! Anything I want or need can be had at a price. I tell myself it's all right because I don't want or need "big ticket items" or luxury items.

Why do I hold on to so much stuff?

Every time I try to purge my books, it doesn't seem as if any have left. Why am I truly holding on to them? There are many favorites that I'd like to keep, but what about the others? What about the informational, non-fiction books that I have never read again?

Hmmmm . . . and how many blankets do I actually need? IN FLORIDA? I'm not talking about the ones on our beds or the ones that my mother made, I'm talking about the ones in the closets "just in case."

I read an article today (I think it was on the Empowered Traditionalist blog) about how women would dress in the 1940s and 1950s. They would have only a few outfits and one very nice dress, and they would treat them all with extreme care. They would only buy fabrics suited to their body types and immediately have things tailored to fit properly.

My closet is full of mediocre clothing that I rarely wear for one reason or the other. I actually practice the "only a few outfits" philosophy, but I have a full closet! Hmmmm . . .

I'm in a rut. I can tell.

Can you?

Don't answer that.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Someone . . .

has senior pictures up!

You guys, go check them out! There's a senior blog photo contest and we could win stuff! The blog with the most comments, wins!

Kelly had so much fun doing her senior portraits. Michelle is so great!

Go and post, all!

You May have Noticed

My blogs have been sorely lacking in photos lately. I'm sorry about that.

My camera has decided not to operate well. It will turn on, focus, and turn off.

I hope we find a solution soon.

Meanwhile, life keeps happening. Ty's job has some pretty terrific hours, almost better than bankers' hours!

Kelly took the ACTs today, specifically to improver her math score. When she was ready for the math part she discovered her calculator didn't work. We're so disappointed! I'll have to sign her up once again.

We heard there was a Farmers' Market in Longwood, so we went to check it out. It wasn't there. We ended up touring around for a while and that was nice.

Glenna found the Rocket Summer CD and is dancing around the house while the dogs chase her. At last, something to smile about!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sometimes I Just Forget

I am convinced that God created hormones in order to keep women dependent on Him.

Let's face it; women are pretty competent creatures! Once per month, however, I know that it takes God's strength to get me through each day. (Actually, once per month is a misnomer. It's more like a week.)

When I draw on God's strength, I'm able to get out of bed.

On my own strength, I don't turn around and make it up.

In fact, my day looks like a checklist of successes and failures, each showing where I pushed God out of the way and took over:

Made dinner for the family. [Ding!]

Didn't bother with vegetables. [Fail.]

Took a shower and dried my hair. [Ding!]

Didn't bother with makeup. [Fail.]

Attacked the overflowing mess in the kitchen. [Ding!]

Corrected a child with anger instead of gentleness. [Fail.]

Made a healthful lunch, and fixed the evening's salad while I was at it. [Ding!]

Ate too much. [Fail.]

It reminds me of the book my children loved by Mercer Mayer, titled I Just Forgot. The little boy would remember some things but forget others. For example, he would remember to put his dishes in the sink, but he would forget to put the milk away. He would remember to take a bath, but he would forget to turn the water off.

As for me, I hope to do more remembering (drawing on the strength of the Lord) than forgetting (depending on myself). One empowers, the other drains, and both are deliberate choices. Moment by moment, right?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

El Bonito

Glenna had to make a monster for Spanish class. Click to make larger!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Gun Fight at the Not OK Corral

The family decided to take a walk to Blockbuster on a surprisingly mild evening. Himself usually sets off at a brisk pace, but lately he's realized that his step is much wider than ours and we are usually hustling to keep up. Because he's such an all or nothing kind of guy, he began to over-compensate by walking at a snail's pace.

Man, I love that guy.

We were finally figuring things out when suddenly, there was a woman traveling in her car on the busy street in front of our neighborhood. She was honking her horn, looking at us with panic on her face, and screaming out, "Don't do it! Don't go!"

Did she know something about Blockbuster that we didn't?

"I'm sorry! Don't go!"

We started to look at each other in confusion. What did she ever do to us?

The answer was soon obvious when we heard a loud, "Excuse me, please" behind us. Stepping to one side, we made room for an angry and determined man on a bicycle. It looked as if he was leaving for good with his possessions in a large, black trash bag. Clutched in the same hand as the bag was a construction helmet. He had another bag in his other hand, the one steering the bike, and he was fighting for balance.

"Don't go! I'm sorry! Don't go!"

Ahhhh . . . now it's making sense.

He pedaled on down the road and she was able to follow through the green light. We all looked at each other with confusion and then continued our journey. Just under the overpass, Kelly spotted them.

"Oh no, Mom! They're right there." Sure enough, she had managed to swing her car around, park on the street, and run over to grab the handlebars of his bicycle. As much as we wanted to give them privacy, they were directly in the path and we had no choice but to go around.


Have you ever tried to NOT listen to a conversation? It's not so easy to do.

"Don't go! I said I was sorry. What am I supposed to do without you? . . . "

I was praying and praying that a cussing storm wouldn't break out before I could get my girls away from there. We all kind of chuckled when we got away (I think she neglected to bring her teeth to the negotiations) and pondered the incident all the way into Blockbuster. After making our selections, we headed home.

"Mom, they're still there!"

The argument was continuing and we would have to walk past them again. She was still standing over the front tire with both hands firmly grasping the handlebars. This time, it was his turn.

"What do I have to do in order for you to take me seriously? Huh? I'm sick of this cr**. I'm just sick of it. Maybe NOW you'll take me seriously . . . "


It gave us more fuel for conversation on the walk home and oddly enough, some teaching moments for our girls. How could this have been avoided? How far was he going to get on that bicycle, anyway? Did she lose all dignity by chasing him in the car and screaming for him to stay? What do you think led up to that moment? Good thing he took his hardhat so he'd be ready for work!

The next day, Kelly and I stopped at McD's for some soft serve (don't judge us). Kelly grabbed my arm and whispered, "Mom, it's them! Our neighbors!"

It looked like all was well in paradise as the happily reunited couple stopped for lunch.

She was buying, of course.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Normally Not

The New Normal actually isn't new, and it isn't normal.

Many of us have had to live for a time separated from a loved one. Having to say goodbye to Ty again, even though it's such a good thing that he's going to school, has brought back some conflicting memories. I confess I could be handling it better.

As a child, I was forever saying hello and goodbye to my dad. It was so strange to go to his home for a visit - so much had happened in my absence and I wasn't a part of it. Sometimes there'd be a new furniture arrangement, sometimes my dad would have built something or finished a project. It was so strange to see photographs of their daily lives or special events and know nothing about them.

I would return home to discover the same phenomenon had occurred there as well. Once, my mom and my grandpa painted my room in my absence (loved it!). Another time, my bedroom was completely moved into another room. Often, mom would clean my messy room as a surprise or have a treat waiting for me on my bed.

Always, there was a period of adjustment upon reentry. No matter which place I came "home" to, it took a few days to stop feeling like a visitor or a stranger. There were stories and events to catch up on; there were questions about whether I was in attendance during certain events or not ("Were you here when we did this?"), and there were routines and tasks to relearn since both homes were different.

Strangely, I never felt like a visitor when I went to see my family in New Mexico. Perhaps it is that the furniture was never rearranged or replaced. Perhaps it is that the state itself stays largely unchanged.

After high school graduation, Himself moved to the desert and started a year and a half, long-distance relationship with me that ended on our wedding day. No easy task, it was made more difficult by our own selfishness. His weekend visits could have gone better if we had made our expectations clearer and each worked to serve the other. What a mess that was!

Our first years of marriage were spent traveling and visiting various relatives. Since my parents were divorced and his parents were divorced (and none of them lived in the same town but 2 hours apart), we had to learn to budget our visits between friends and family members. We scheduled our holidays, trying to spread ourselves evenly among our parents and loved ones.

It was exhausting.

Again, the only visits that weren't exhausting were the ones we made to New Mexico. Maybe this is why, though I have never physically lived there, New Mexico has always felt like home to me? I know I long for it even more than I long for California!

Except for the Snow White blanket on his bed (it's the only one I could find!), I hope things were pretty much the same for Ty as they were before he left. We're certainly still dealing with the antics of the dogs, issues of the house, and busyness of life! I hope he won't be spread too thin on his visits home. This first time, I was busy with a wedding, church, and after-church activities. We tried going out to lunch (but didn't get to sit all together) and when I made dinner, one family member had already gone off to another activity.

I don't want to make too much of a demand on his time. I guess I'm trying to figure out what my expectations were and what reality will be and hope they're somewhat even.

Well, they weren't this time. Next time, I'll be more prepared. The one advantage we have is an easier ability to communicate, so the only thing he'll miss out on is physically being here. I certainly don't want him to feel like a stranger or visitor when he comes home!

You see, Ty? That's why I left the mess on the coffee table. I'm just trying to do my part for you, Son.

Friday, September 04, 2009

See You Tuesday!

Hey, All!

My son is due to arrive tonight and I won't be blogging while he's here.

(Unless he does something hilarious, and that's a high probability.)

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

The Dance of the Shopping Cart

All I wanted was some soy sauce.

Why in the world was the ethnic aisle suddenly the most popular aisle in the store? It wasn't even the entire aisle, it was just the Mexican/Asian section that was crammed with 5 shopping carts.

One dear elderly gentleman was trying to get out of the way, so he carefully lifted his cart and placed it to the side - right in front of the soy sauce. His elderly wife was trying to make up her mind on which teriyaki to purchase, and mister, she was taking her sweet time. I was content to wait it out, but now I had two more carts trying to enter the aisle behind me.

Don't you people have other aisles to peruse?

I decided to do a duck-and-grab for the soy sauce and get out of there. I successfully turned my cart around and was immediately boxed in. In the exact middle of this was the sweetie with the sauce.

Remember those little sliding tile games from birthday parties and gumball machines? The ones with one empty space, and you must slide the tiles in combination until they're lined up numerically?

"Ok, you move your cart there, and you slide your cart there. I'll slide over here, and you'll have to slide over to the right." It was almost a dance, but we were all clumsy as partners. Oblivious to the drama around her, Elderly Wife finally looked up from her teriyaki scrutiny and held up two choices to her husband.

"Which one? Is this the one you didn't like? I don't want to buy the wrong one again."

Elderly Husband was in a near panic at the clog they were creating. Fortunately, all were in good spirits and smiling as we slid, stepped, and slid our way around her.

Rock on, Sauce Sister. When I grow up, I want to be just like you.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Curiosity Killed the Cat . . .

. . . but satisfaction brought it back.

Many have asked about Kelly's math paragraph. Here it is in all its glory! Mrs. R, she says it's not great according to your standards. =) Not enough variation on sentence openers.

She was shown a picture of a hallway and told to describe it in a paragraph.

The hallway is a cold collection of angles and planes. Angles are formed systematically at the dozens of points where the planes meet in a perpendicular fashion. This pattern of intersecting planes creates a hall that has a series of inlets creating line segments that stop and start. This style contradicts the common hall of two parallel lines. The arrangement of collinear lights in the ceiling are circular; this means a math teacher may require her students to find the measurement of an arc encrypted in the lights' circumferences. From my perspective, there is one ray. It begins in an inlet and seems to continue into eternity. Not to be forgotten are the many vertexes hidden in each corner of every angle, also just longing to be measured. As it turns out the hallway isn’t cold, it just takes some work to find its personality.

Monday, August 31, 2009

So Far, So Wonderful

So far, there are many things I like about the new school year. For one thing, I seem to have much more time at home! Wednesdays are still crazy driving days, but thanks to the generosity of Joyce I. and Angel T., I'm home before 12.

Secondly, the fact that the girls have on line classes means I'm on the computer much less! I have actually been cleaning my home and doing domestic chores . . . and liking it. A lot! (Yes, Raquel. I know it's a banned word.) So far I have swept and mopped floors, scrubbed the shower, wiped down the kitchen cabinets, made vegetable soup, organized the Tupperware cabinet, and completely caught up on laundry and ironing.


I've started lesson planning for AWANA and graded papers as they have been finished.

Lord, I feel so on top of my game. Please let me stay here!

This week, Kelly begins her classes at the community college. This means she'll have the car and I'll be forced to stay home two days a week. I'm certainly not complaining about that.

I'm teaching only one class this year, plus Trek (AWANA JV). I do miss having a co-op and seeing those kids (and moms) regularly, but it has freed up my time even more. I'm excited about pursuing domestics!

Last week was only the second week, but it has gone much more smoothly than the first. I'm learning to schedule appointments during the months that I don't have the carpool so I don't have to take time away from a school day. This is our 12th year of home schooling and it feels fantastic! (Ha! Raquel, I bet you thought I'd say GOOD.)

Meanwhile, the report in Tennessee is that Ty's doing well in school. Please pray he finds a job soon! For those who don't know, Ty started a blog!

Yes, the one who mocked his mother has now joined her. Heh, heh.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Inspector

Yesterday's post inspired me to clean the house. We have terrazzo floors, so this involves a lot of sweeping and mopping. It also involves great comedy.

For some reason, Missy (Glenna's dog) watches me closely while I sweep. I don't mean that she stays on her blanket and watches, I mean that she stays within two feet of my broom and tracks every movement.

I have no idea why.

I wonder if she thinks I'm going to unearth something interesting or delicious?

While sweeping the family room yesterday, I noticed that Jack (our schnauzer) had also placed himself within two feet of the broom. This meant that the dogs were continually in my way, dodging the broom, trying to anticipate my moves so they could maneuver accordingly, and sneezing repeatedly from the dust.

What's the deal here?

Finally, I broke out the swiffer and dragged it under Red Mammoth, our massive red couch. As I pulled the swiffer towards me, two balls and one chew toy came out with them.

Mystery solved! Jack pounced on everything he could and a battle with Missy ensued. I was glad to have them out of my hair.

When I broke out the mop, however, Missy was back.

This time, she stood a respectable distance from the mop and watched the action like a tennis match. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. I began to lose track of her and concentrate on the mopping.

It wasn't until I finished the rooms and started to put the furniture back that I noticed it: each room I mopped had fresh paw prints.

The Inspector checked every inch and corner to make sure I did a proper job. I've got the prints to prove it.

Note to self: Put Missy in crate when mopping.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Slaying of Discontent

"Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands." - Proverbs 14:1

Our move to Florida 11 years ago made me realize what a discontent person I had become. In fact, I cannot wait until this year's retreat to hear BA's mom speak on contentment! I have learned so much, but there's so much more I need to learn.

As a newlywed and later a new mother, there were many things I did to destroy contentment. The biggest wound, however, came from being ungrateful. When did I stop being thankful for the things I had and continually long for the things I didn't have?

When we moved to Florida and were forced to do without so many things, I began to see material goods in the light of their true value. I was amazed at what I could live without, and my eyes were opened to all the STUFF I had - so much that I couldn't even care for it - and yet I still thought I needed more.

The things I did to feed my discontent were:

Pour over catalogs
Subscribe to magazines
Tour model homes
Get decorating books from the library
Watch television
Go window shopping
Read romance novels (even "Christian" romance!)

By pouring over catalogs, I was convincing myself that I needed the items on the pages.

By subscribing magazines showcasing beautiful homes, I began to see my home as shabby and ugly. This led to constant rearrangements of furniture, an endless search for home decorating items that only collected dust and eventually looked dated, and no attempts to beautify my home with the items I currently had.

Do I even have to talk about touring model homes? Both in the desert and here in Florida, I would walk through and dream of the "some day" when that gorgeous home would be mine with everything perfectly placed. I became an expert at room function and could even look at them with a critical eye; my home would have this, but never that.

Watching television made me lethargic and irritable. Still does, when I watch an occasional show on line.

Window shopping taught me that my clothes were ugly and outdated, and that I needed to feel badly about my appearance. Window shopping at a furniture store made my couch extra lumpy/bony/dirty.

I'm glad I caught the destruction of romance novels early on. Because the men in the books were so romantic, I was unable to see even the smallest efforts Himself was making. No wonder he gave up!

If I think back to my childhood, the homes I enjoyed the most never changed. I loved them because I was welcomed with open arms, the mom was cheerful and loved to do things with the children, and people spoke to each other with kindness.

I know that God is sovereign, but I also pray I have not damaged my children with my discontent. I hope they have seen me as a sinner saved by grace, and a woman who is continually learning and growing in the Lord. I have stopped doing the things listed above, or at least read magazines that are helpful (I love Real Simple!) and not feeding discontent. I pray I can make efforts to further embrace my role as housewife and mother; I want home making to become my craft and profession, and not just a stop until the kids are grown and gone. I feel fortunate that Himself loves and encourages me in my roles. In fact, when the kids are grown and gone he hopes to become even more of a "kept man" than he is now! With the 20 years he's put in as sole provider, I think maybe he's earned it.

He once asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A grandmother."

"Right on!"

Back off ladies. He's mine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Telling You (Because No One Told Me)

I love being a Mom, and it's definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. I guess the harder the task, the greater the reward!

I am the type of person who will read every book I can find on a subject, and parenthood was no exception. Himself would see the stack of books next to my bed and ask me to simply highlight the things I thought he needed to know. I am so thankful that God not only led me to excellent books and wisdom, but He gave me the fortitude to apply the things I'd learned with enthusiasm and consistency.

I discovered a wealth of information on:

Cloth vs. Disposable diapers (I've used both)
Baby Foods (grind up and mash what you're eating without seasonings)
Consistent Discipline (No means no!)
Schedules and Routines
Crafts and Games
Reading Books early and often (we still devour them!)
Consciously Enjoy Every Moment (I'm so, SO thankful I did this!)
Ditch the TV as much as possible, and NO TVs in the bedrooms!
Lots of Love and Lots of Laughter

Those things took thought and effort and were immensely worth it. Watching the scene in Marley and Me, however, brought up memories of the areas where there was no teaching. Or, if there was, it was a side-note or brief mention.

There are so many things I can now clearly see that would have made a world of difference. Watching the woman in the movie explode with anger and frustration made it even more clear. In no particular order, here's what I hope God allows me to teach and disciple to other women!

1. The discipline of prayer. Face it - it all starts here. I've read books here and there on the subject, but I would have loved a person to ask me when I was complaining about my frustrations, "Did you pray for your children today? Did you start there?" and then hold me to it.

2. How to truly help and respect my husband, and how much personal fulfillment it brings. I've since attended some terrific seminars at my church on this subject, wishing I had this information 23 years ago!

3. The secret of contentment is thankfulness. It took me 11 years and 2500 miles away from home to learn this. (More on this later.)

4. Dying to self = new life, not death. As the woman in the movie said, she had to give up so much of what made her who she was. Yes, but only so a new person could be born! It's not bad, it's not wrong, it's just new and different.

5. Homemaking is a job and a priority; a craft to learn and pursue with excellence as one would a professional trade.

6. Especially with small children, do not take their sin personally. As I began to recognize that my children were struggling with their sin natures and not necessarily me, I was amazed at how easy it was to remain calm and NOT be angry. I still have a default reaction that I have to fight in order to get to this point (it slips once in a while!), but it is becoming more and more a way of life.

Next, I'd like to explore the things I've done that directly sabotaged all of those lessons.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bad Dogs and Good Conversations

There are, wonderfully, lots of new mommies at our church right now! I love watching them with their newborns. I love holding their babies even more!

Strangely, none of this has given me the desire to have more children. It has given me the desire for my friends to have more children, and as I write this, my friend Julie is obliging by being in labor! Praying for Julie and baby #8!**

The other night we finally broke down and watched the movie, Marly and Me. What I liked about the movie was that it started with a couple on their wedding day. We don't know whether they lived together first, and I loved that! They progressed into a nuclear family with a bad dog. The woman decided that home was where she needed to be, so she left her high speed, much applauded career and stayed home with her children.

I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Some of the new mommies in our church are forced to go back to work and my heart aches for them. One situation is ideal, where the Dad can be there if the mother can't. The other situation is good (grandma watches baby) but less ideal. This mother's heart is breaking to leave her little one, and my heart is breaking along with hers. The fact that some of these mommies are working just so they'll have medical insurance makes me burn, but it still doesn't make me want socialized medicine! Anyway . . .

One scene in the movie was particularly hard to watch. Surprisingly, it wasn't the end of the movie (which I won't give away in case we aren't the last people on the planet who haven't seen the movie). The scene that hit me hardest is when the mom has a baby and a toddler and she finally gets them both to take a nap. She's resting on her bed with the bad dog, when the dog suddenly hears the garbage truck approaching. Despite her urgent pleading to the dog to stay and be quiet, he bounds off the bed, barking, and proceeds to destroy the window blinds and wake the babies.

The mother's exhaustion and frustration were so vivid to me. She screamed at her husband to get rid of that dog immediately, and preferably through a painful death. He tries to calmly reassure her by saying she might have post-partum depression and she fires back, "I'm not depressed, I'm exhausted!"

It's the same exhaustion and frustration that caused me to march out of my house and confront a gang member living across the street (with bullet holes in his car, no less!) and read him the riot act. In other words, it's an exhaustion and frustration that causes a mom to say and do irrational things.

Fortunately, a moment of sanity returns and the mom told the husband to bring the dog back. (For me, the Holy Spirit convicted me to go and apologize, and I soon had a relationship of mutual respect with the gang member.) What she said next sparked a conversation and a thought process that may take a few days to work through.

"I just get overwhelmed. No one tells you how hard this is going to be."

"Which part?"

"All of it. Marriage, being a parent; it's the hardest job in the world and no one prepares you for it. No one told you how much you'd have to give up."

"They do tell you, but you don't listen and you get miserable."

"I've given up so much of what made me who I am. But I can't say that, because I'm a very bad person if I say that. But I did make a choice. I made a choice and even if it's the harder than I thought, I don't regret it."

It was painful to watch her pain as a mommy. I know that for me, so much of this is true! I especially have thought about not having anyone really tell me how hard it's going to be. The warnings I received were done in a mocking and condescending way and not meant to help or disciple. Rather, they sparked a rebellious "I'll show YOU" attitude that really didn't help matters.

I have more thoughts on this and will share them soon.

**Update: Julie had a Baby Girl! Welcome to the world, Sarah Nicole!


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