Archive for September, 2007

1st China post (From the land of many people, Sat AM 9/29/07)

There are more people in two apartment buildings here than in all of Walnut Shade. The people I have met are the kindest, most honoring folks. The treat us like royalty. Everything is different – the housing, the food, the bed, the shower, the language, the traffic. However, I have noted one similarity. It rains at home and it rains here. = ) We are about to begin CE, and one friend has arrived with food to prepare for lunch. It should be another great day!

“It was a really cute wedding.”

So said Jessica upon the return of our Big Three plus A, yesterday.  They all had a grand time and they were able to help with a lot of errands, set-up and miscellaneous prep.  They also got to enjoy seeing Andrew and Jenny’s first kiss.  It must have really been something!

Today was rugged all around.  Katie leaves tomorrow for the East Coast Mission Trip, and she had loads of stuff to do.   She and Jessica also spent about 3 hours working at the AIM office.   Josiah was in a foul mood most of the day and I don’t know why.  Andrew would NOT do what he was told, so we kept piling on the consequences, in a calm and loving way, as my “Love and Logic” cassette reminds me to do.

I am tired of preparing, and I will be glad when the day finally comes to DO this marriage seminar and then be done with it.  = )

I don’t have anything creative to say, so I will stop.  Tomorrow will come early and be another full day.

Beat-HAH-vunz 9th

One of Andrew’s pieces to practice this week is two lines (one line the right hand plays and the next the left plays) of simple melody from Beethoven’s 9th symphony.  I have explained to him over and over how to pronounce the man’s name, but we still get the above.

In other pronunciation faux pas. . . I borrowed a video for Andrew from the library of a US gymnastics competition some 12 years ago.  One of the competitors in it – OUTSTANDING on the floor exercise, by the way – is named Dominique Dawes.  She was 15 at the time.  For the first three times he watched it (and yes, he has seen this flick five or six times this week), he consistently referred to her as duh-MON-ih-cue.

These kinds of things always make me remember fondly his older sibling who at about the same age called one of our former presidents James BUCK-uh-non.  = )

Answers in Genesis

I only wish the big kids had been here to hear Mr. Riddle speak.  What a presentation!  Actually we heard two:  one this morning on the age of the earth and one this evening on cloning, stem cells, and abortion.  Then we were able to go out to eat with Mr. and Mrs. Riddle, which was very nice.  They seem like super people.

We ordered the 4-CD set from this weekend and also bought a six-pack of DVDs which I hope to have all our kids watch.  I am still kind of in awe by it all.

If anybody from Answers in Genesis is in your area, please take advantage of the opportunity.

News Briefs

Thursday afternoon, our bigs kids plus their friend, A, successfully drove to Tulsa, spent the night with friends in Broken Arrow, flew to San Diego and landed, where they called us from the runway. That’s the last time we heard from them, but we’re sure they’re fine. Our children have never been “separation challenged,” and they don’t tend to call home a lot. They are in San Diego to attend Andrew (big, not ours!) and Jenny’s wedding on Sunday. Andrew and Jenny were both leaders in AIM and have been wonderful mentors to our kids.

Friday afternoon, Andrew’s friend, JM, came over. They played on the trampoline, rode bikes, and went swimming in the creek. It was a total boy event.

After taking JM home, it was on to gymnastics class, where Andrew climbed the rope halfway to the gym ceiling! He also did a back bend from a standing position (on the trampoline) and did 22 sideways leg kicks while supporting himself on the side of a balance beam. He was called down for misbehavior (“Andrew, give me five push-ups”) three times, which for him is an improvement.

This morning, Scott took Andrew on a much-anticipated “date” to the ANPAC car show, and it was a smashing success. They got to see lots an lots of shiny vintage and sports cars, and Andrew came home with a goody bag so stuffed it was about to break. They also got to eat lunch out, and somehow Scott got it for free.  Andrew told Scott, “I had a blast! It was the best time I’ve ever had.” Can’t beat that for a response when you invest 4.5 hours in something.

I spent those 4.5 hours preparing my notes for a marriage workshop Scott and I will be leading soon. I had prayed for God to really help me get a lot done during that window of time, and He was faithful. Now I have pages and pages of things all wives should know and do. I’m somewhat convicted; now that I know, I’d better make sure I do!

At least we have no chandeliers

So it’s the end of a Wednesday night Bible study. Pastor Jef asks us to stand for a closing prayer. We are seated on the left side of the center aisle, halfway back. Scott requires an aisle seat and I am beside him. To my immediate left is Josiah, then Katie. Jessica is working in the preschool class and Andrew is in Kidz Church.

Our sanctuary is roughly rectangular. If you draw a rectangle as most children would, the pulpit is near the top center and the chairs are arranged in long rows left to right with a few “top-to-bottom” aisles. The room is bigger left-to-right than it is front-to-back. The main entrances are in the back, but there are also two entrances (windowless double doors) at the “top” corners of the room. The left front entrance leads across a hall to the Kidz Church room, and the right front entrance leads back to the administrative offices.

As we bow our heads, out of the corner my eye I see the left front door burst open, and my son – the one I love, the brown one – joyfully cartwheels (on one hand, no less, because he’s carrying his Bible) into the sanctuary!!! I am mortified and torn between wanting to wring his neck and wanting to act like I have never seen him before in my life. From across the room, I shoot him the evil “get over here right now! what the heck do you think you are doing cartwheeling in church?” eye, and he, appearing confused and totally unaware that he has committed any sin, walks over to us while Pastor Jef prays. I give his shoulder a gentle rendition of the Vulcan neck pinch, lest he invert himself again.

After “amen,” I try to ascertain what exactly was going on. It seems that “they said service was over, Mom.” Well, maybe “they” did, but #1) “they” were wrong, and #2) it’s not considered socially acceptable to turn cartwheels in church even when the service IS over – especially at the front of the church. I guess our well-known and frequently called-upon family rule about no running in church needs to be amended with the following clause: Additionally, cartwheels are NEVER okay in big church, and furthermore, you are not to leave the Kidz Church room until someone with your own last name comes to get you.

Who’d da thunk?

But it was a beautiful cartwheel.

O Where, O Where Has My Little Brain Gone?

I left house at 6:45 AM and returned at 9:15 PM.

I took Josiah to see the social worker, got him a snack at 10:00 AM, drove partway back to Springfield, napped in a church parking lot, went to the library to sort essays, ate lunch at Cici’s, had a mammogram, did the Sam’s shopping, tried to visit a friend who’s in critical condition in the neuro trauma ICU,  met the kids back at the library, had supper at Wendy’s, went to church, and went home.

The brain issue came on the second library jaunt.  When I got home tonight, I realized that I left my “Route 66” bag at the library, full of books, papers, and the first draft of Katie’s book, which I was 1/3 through proofing!!!  There were some other things in the bag I’d hate to lose, as well.  I will call in the morning and see if the library staff picked it up for me.  I sure hope they did, because to have to re-proof those five chapters would be very discouraging.

How is it that a relatively intelligent and sane person can lose and forget so many things?  It’s almost as if my brain (wherever it might be) has decided that remembering things is just too much work.

I have a written note to call the library.  Tomorrow we’ll see if the brain is up to that task.

Speed Queen

This morning I arrived at Wal-Mart in Ozark at 7:00 AM so I’d be first in line for an oil change.  I was first.  While they changed my oil, I looked for (and found or didn’t find) the following:  black pants for Katie (no), hand towels (yes), carry-on suitcase for me (no), small bobby pins for Katie (yes), large bobby pins for Katie (no), goods for Jessica (yes), athlete’s foot med for Scott (no), two big hair clips for Jessica (yes), sport cap water bottles (yes and no), click pens (yes), AA and C batteries (yes), write-on, non-erasable divider tabs for Katie (no), toilet tissue, trash bags, and Palmolive (yes), hair clippers (yes).

I left Ozark only ten minutes behind schedule.  I wanted to be home at 8:45 to push Andrew through his clean up and on to piano practice.  I knew I would also have to go to Branson that day.

Things did not turn out as planned.  I decided to go ahead to Branson while I was out, and that made all the difference.  Target (where I found my suitcase on sale), Walgreens (one prescription and Katie’s large bobby pins), Tess’ house (to drop off Katie’s National Merit application), Walgreens again (wrapping paper for Jenny’s wedding gift), Wal-Mart (jeans for Jo and Katie’s pants), and the bank were all slightly headache-inducing stops.

I arrived home at 11:25, with lots of stuff to put away and and Andrew who had NOT done the chores I had told him to do.  Ah, well, we will make a good day!

Boys and their clothes

It didn’t seem so hard to me. I had Andrew lay out his Sunday clothes last night. He picked his navy pants and a brightly colored striped shirt.

This morning, he was digging around in his drawer looking for his “other shoe” (penny loafer). I told him to look in the Saturday box (already did) or his closet (not there either). I told him to wear his black lace-up church shoes, but he complained, “but I’m wearing blue pants, MOM!” I told him to wear any church shoes that matched.

Meanwhile, as I washed breakfast dishes, Josiah came into the kitchen at 8:40 – we leave at 9:00 – still not dressed. “I can’t find my black pants anywhere!” I chose not to respond. “Mom, have you seen my black pants?” (Note that although I suggested he buy two pair at the time, he refused and so has only one pair of black dress pants that must do for both church and AIM presentations. The big kids would be leaving for a presentation at 3:00 PM.)

I suggested he look on the stairs – where someone had left some ironed clothes for almost a week – or in Dad’s closet. Jo’s pants are almost as long as Scott’s and sometimes they get mixed up. No go in either of those locations, so I told him to wear jeans. “To CHURCH?!?!?!?!?” “Sure. Lots of people wear jeans to church.” He stomped off to find Jessica, our best finder-of-things-lost.

Ten minutes later, Jessica announced that the black pants had been found in Josiah’s dirty clothes. She started ironing them, but I told her he’d have to wear them wrinkled. I told him that and he said okay, but next thing I knew he had thrown his black pants in with my dark laundry and re-started the load. He wore jeans to church.

When I was their age, I know I didn’t lose things like shoes and clothes. At least not on such a regular basis. Is it a gender thing? I don’t think Scott lost all his clothes and footwear growing up. Actually, one of our girls did tend to lose shoes. . . it must just be poor parenting.

I’ll never win the trophy.

That would be the mahogany mountain goat for nimble-footedness.

We took a three night trip to Mt. Nebo to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  We have fond memories from numerous visits there through the years.  There was the time we watched the hang gliders off Sunrise Point, and the time we took the singles group on a long slog of a hike on the  Summit Park Trail, and my (as yet unbroken) vow to NEVER again hike the Nebo Steps Trail, and the night we camped alone on the mountain in a tornado.

This time, we just biked and hiked, and relaxed in the jacuzzi and did a lot of nothing.  Well, we did do some major college and financial planning stuff, but other than that. . .

The trophy loss came on Sunday, when My Hero and I decided to take a bike ride around the top of the mountain. The mountain looks like it has been whacked off flat a third of the way down; the side elevation yields a rough trapezoid effect.  In the 1890s there were 100-room hotels, dozens of homes, a bowling alley, a post office, and a normal school up there.  Today there are numerous private homes, a state park visitor center, cabins, a campground, a swimming pool, and tennis courts up top.  There are also a LOT of deer.  Scott saw twelve at a time one morning.  So, the mountaintop is more or less flat.  A little more less than more.   And we were going to ride around it.

Scott decided to stop at the waterfall trailhead, so that we could hike down to the falls.  It had been raining off and on the whole time we were there, so everything was wet, muddy, and slippery.  Loyal readers may remember the concussion that resulted the last time I put foot to wet rock, so I was not too keen on hiking down to the falls.  Besides, hiking down meant we would have to come back up, and I had already spent the past two days sweating every time I was outside.  I wanted to forgo th falls and bike on, but it was not to be.

I’ll spare you the details of Scott’s crossing the rivulet to get a better picture.  That was the part of the story that would involve recounting his scramble around a little tree to get to a slab of rock that was jutting out into thin air just above the falls on the far side of the stream.  Just seeing him walk next to that slab raised my blood pressure.  Then he stepped onto it and walked out to the very edge of it.  I called to him that I could not stand to look, and I turned away.  He’s still with us, and so is my camera – that he had the audacity to hold while leaping across the freshet.

Anyway, the trail along our side of the waterfall went down along a series of switchbacks.   Maybe twenty-five feet of slightly downward sloping mud, followed by a steep turn with rocks wedged in to form rough steps.  More mud, more steps, etc.  Scott was, of course, way out in front (where he always lives) when I stepped carefully down one of the rock steps.  Poor physical condition combined with bifocals and wet rocks necessitates very cautious progress.  I stepped very cautiously.  Somehow, I fell.  I cried out “HELP!  PLEASE HELP ME!” as I fell, and Scott said he turned and watched in horror as I did a pike with a half twist and fell down the boulder-strewn hillside.  The whole thing was quite unnerving.

One’s mind does go into slo-mo at such times, and as I fell, I found myself thinking, “Hmmm… there’s nothing on this hillside but rocks.  In fact, this whole thing is basically an ancient rockslide.  How far will I fall before something stops me?  How can I minimize my injuries and keep from breaking something.”

About that time, I slammed into a tree, my right thigh taking the brunt of the impact.  The tree stopped me, the wind was knocked out of me, everything hurt, Scott was there, and I wasn’t sure how to get up.  For a few moments I just lay there, trying to breathe and surveying the situation.  Fingers move? Check.   Toes wiggle?  Check.  Good.  At least I didn’t have a major spinal injury.  And I hadn’t hit my head.  That was a blessing.  Scott helped me s-l-o-w-l-y to my feet.  He apologized for being so far ahead.  My left arm was bleeding, as was my left shin, but my right thigh was where all the pain was centered.  What the heck had I (or the tree) done to my thigh?

Scott was saying over and over how glad he was that I was okay, and I was trying not to think about how much worse it could have been.  We stumbled back up to the trail and then did the obvious Roberts thing:  we continued on down the trail to the bottom of the falls!

Down was definitely easier than up, and I was hoping I could rinse of my bleeding arm in the cold running water.  No such luck, but we did get some other folks to take our picture back under the falls.  I;m not sure I even want to download that one.  Then it was time to head up.  It was a slow process, to say the least, but I was determined not to let a little fall ruin my day.

It’s an interesting question of physics as to how the trail up was so very much longer than the trail down had been, but we made it, and then I had to try to get back on my bike. Actually, getting on the bike wasn’t the problem; it was what happened each time my left foot went down as I pedaled.  It has something to do with the way a bike is designed that the left foot going down causes the right leg to bend.  That bending actually involves some flexing of the thigh muscle and mine was in severe rebellion.  I grunted and kept on  pedaling.

We inched our way around the mountain, but our planning was poor; we ended up going around the wrong way – the way that is uphill all the way.  We did still have fun, though, and when we stopped at the visitor center, I was able to scrub the my various cuts and scrapes vigorously with soap, something I now do with religious fervor, ever since my little staph-infection-in-the-scraped-knees event a couple summers ago.

The bruise has become something of a blue badge of courage,  measuring a whopping 12″ x 5″ (or 31 x 13 cm for those on the metric system).  It is hideous to behold, but the pain is virtually gone now, and I am quite fine, as long as I don’t roll onto my side while asleep.

But I don’t think I’m EVER gonna win that mahogany mountain goat.   = (

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