Archive for October, 2007

“Does anybody really know what time it is?”

I do now, but I didn’t Sunday morning.

As usual, with my recent sluggardliness and pneumonia recovery, I slept till about 7:45 AM.  I lay there for a few minutes, thinking how difficult such a late start would make my day – it was going to be hard to get the laundry going before leaving for church.  Suddenly a light of relief dawned in my crusty brain:  it was Daylight Savings Time day, and I had forgotten to set the clocks back the previous evening.  That meant that it wasn’t really 7:50 AM at all; it was actually 6:50 AM, which meant that I could get caught up, and everyone else could sleep for another hour.  What joy!

So I pulled on my bathrobe and stumbled down the hall to re-set the boys’ clocks and urge them to return to bed.  I set Andrew’s and he climbed back in.  I set Josiah’s and he fell back in.  Coming out of his room, I met Jessica coming down the stairs from the attic, where she had just finished her morning shower.  Uh-oh.  She could have slept an hour, but didn’t know it.  I would clearly be in hot water.

I announced the news to her and she was most gracious.  Scott was still out praying, and I figured he was a big boy and responsbile for his own clock(s).  I returned to the Little Girls Room to catch up on some Bible reading.  When that was done, I’d hit the laundry.  My, what a glorious day it would be!

Sitting on the throne, Bible in hand, I was starled a few minutes later to hear Jessica through the vent.  (The air duct that feeds our bathroom also has vents through the living room wall.  By crouching down and putting one’s mouth to the floor in the living room, one can talk to whoever happens to be in our bathroom.)

“Mom, I think there may be a problem.  My calendar says NEXT Sunday is Daylight Savings Time.”

“That can’t be true.  I’m pretty sure it’s today.  I remember seeing on my calendar that it changes the Sunday before Halloween.”

“Well. . . I don’t know, but MY calendar says it’s next Sunday.”

Hmmm. . . this could be a problem.  By now it was 7:10  (or 8:10?) AM, and we had to leave for church no later than 9:00 AM.   I hadn’t showered, the laundry wasn’t started, who knew when Scott would be back, a big breakfast would need to be cooked and cleaned up, and the boys were back in bed.

Throwing the robe around myself again, I tore out of the bathroom and into the office, where I met Jessica.  Sure enough, I was vindicated.  My calendar clearly said, “Sunday October 28 – Daylight Savings Time Ends.”  However, Jessica insisted that hers said it ended next week.  How could these things be?  What to do?

Jessica suggested googling it, and sure enough, her calendar was right and mine was wrong.  The race was on.  I hollered at the boys that I had been wrong and that we had to get it in high gear to get to church on time.

We made it, and so did the rest of the congregation – who clearly have Jessica’s calendar and not mine hanging on their office walls.

I score 50% from the post below.

In school, 50% is failing, but I am choosing not to see it that way.

I not only decided what to cook for supper; I cooked it, and it was pretty tasty.  I tried a “blue ribbon” soup recipe from Taste of Home magazine, and Andrew and I liked it.  Josiah said it would have been okay without, “the green stringy stuff” (kale).

I removed the old maps from the dining room table and thoroughly cleaned the tablecloth.  I have yet to clean the table itself – who knows how maps under plastic stuck to the wood and left parts of themselves there? – pick out new maps, and duct tape it all back together.

I have not done a shred of desk work, but it’s just the boys and I and the evening is young.

I feel a burst of energy coming on

And I think I’m going to direct it in three areas.

1.  I will clear a lot of paperwork from my desk.

2.  I will switch out the maps on the dining room table

3.  I will decide what to cook for supper.

When you haven’t exercised in a month, and when you’ve spent the past five days dealing with fever, cough, fatigue, and the Big D, awaking free from all four gives you a (relatively speaking) burst of energy, which could wane at any moment and must not be wasted.

I’m off to tackle the above in reverse order.

Some would say I wasted an afternoon

I don’t think that’s really true. What happened is that after we got home from taking the big kids to AIM, and after we finished lunch at 1:00 PM, Andrew and I made a deal. If he did ALL the rest of the clean up, I would wash the dishes. So he cleared the table, put food away, and took out trash, while I ran a sink of hot soapy water. Then I had to wait for him to “empty the dishwasher” (put away the dry breakfast dishes from the dish drainer), before I could start washing. I hate washing with nowhere to go.

While I waited, I went to the piano and played around a bit. I have really been wanting to learn a jazzy arrangement of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” one of my favorite Christmas songs, but I couldn’t find a free one online, and I am too lazy and/or cheap to go to Springfield and pay for one. Of course, I have the standard four-part version in the hymnal, but I wanted something more harmonic with some chromatics and mood.

As I sat there, it occurred to me that I could write my own arrangement. Now, there’s a thought. I’m sure the last time I wrote any music had to be about 30 years ago. I had printed out some blank sheet music paper the night before, so I took a page and started trying to put down how I imagined such an animal would sound. Andrew took a sheet and started writing music, too!

That was about 1:10 PM, and at 6:00 PM, the Hark arrangement was finished. I think I even like it. However, it’s pretty hard to read, so I’m probably going to need to re-copy it. Ugh. After that, I’ll try to learn to play it well. It has a lot of accidentals, which mess me up a bit, and I’m not at all sure I have the stems going the right way(s).

The most amazing thing was that Andrew stayed right next to me at the piano all afternoon. He was writing is own songs, playing what he had written, and then copying a bunch of short songs he’s already learned to play from his piano book(s) to these sheets of blank staff paper. He didn’t complain at all! Maybe the guy really has some musical talent. I can just see it now: “the musical cooking gymnast of Walnut Shade.”

Survey says. . . pneumonia!

Which is both bad and good. Bad that I have pneumonia, but good that there is an identifiable cause for the way I have been feeling for the past five days.

The doc said it was good that I came in when I did. Evidently in a few more days, I would have been quite ill. She assures me that the antibiotics (samples, PTL!) she gave me will kill the infection, but that I may continue to cough for two to three weeks. May it not be so! The cough, I mean.

I am off to take a hot bath, plug in the vaporizer, and get a good night’s sleep while My Hero watches his beloved Red Sox totally smoke the Colorado Rockies in Game 1 of the World Series.

Jessica will make a super mom someday

For the past two days, while I have been either in bed sweating and coughing, in the tub trying in vain to get warm, inhaling various prescription drugs to open my lungs, sleeping in a stupor, or taking Josiah to his doctor appointment 1.5 hours away, Jessica has single-handedly run the show, and she has done it with aplomb!

She has dealt with Andrew, and that alone merits at least an Olympic bronze – I guess the event would be brother-bossing – and they are both alive. He even has some academics and piano practice to show for it. Even with all the challenges he brought to the scene, she managed to . . .

» do science with Josiah

» cook supper two nights in a row, including a new dessert recipe last night and a new main dish recipe tonight – yum, yum, yum

» keep her own academics going

» rehearse with Josiah for AIM

» finish the family ironing

» do her own piano practicing

» send out the AIM announcements

» and many other things about which I would be impressed if I were aware of them

WHAT a wife and mom she will be! But let’s not be getting any ideas, gentlemen.  There’s a time for everything, and now is NOT the time.

Things that are different in China

1.  The weather:  it was cloudy for 11 days straight.

2.  There are so MANY people!

3.  The food:  everything is bought raw and cooked fresh.

4.  The toilets:  you flush by pulling up, rather than pressing down.

5.  The floors:  no carpet, and the wood and tile stay clean because no one wears his shoes in the house.

6.  The cars:  narrower than ours

7.  There are a LOT of people walking on the downtown streets at all hours of the day and night

8.  No clothes dryers:  all laundry is hung out one’s apartment (“house”) window on metal bars mounted there for that purpose.

9.  Most people do not own cars – they walk or take buses or taxis.

10.  You have to pay to send your child to school.  You can pick the school.  You pay for books, uniform, and transportation.  High school meets six days a week (M-F 7:30 – 6:00, Sat 8:00 – 4:00) with 90 minutes off for lunch.

11.  Most stores are small and sell only one type of product.

12.  Bread comes in a package of about 6 or 8 slices.

8th China post: (8:50 AM Fri 10/5/07)

“Dear Jessica,

Thank you so very much for keeping our friends updated on the various situations here.  .  .

We had a grand adventure today.  Jackie picked us up in Sun Peng’s car and drove us a couple hours to the mountain.  We traveled right along the coast (and I do mean RIGHT along the coast) with high mountains on the left and ocean on the right.  The scenery was gorgeous and the sun did eventually come out for a while.  Today was the first time I have ever seen blue sky in China.

We drove through many “villages,” some very, very smelly and dumpy, and others very, very luxurious with new, high-rise apartment buildings – the former and latter often side by side.  The traffic was truly unbelievable, especially because it is the national holiday.  Jackie is a very good driver, but as you know, lines on roads mean nothing, turn signals are never used, and no matter how many lanes there are, the traffic just weaves around like so many pieces of spaghetti!

Pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, buses, taxis, and cars all dart in and out continually.  There were lots of hairpin turns with no guardrails and no way to see the oncoming traffic.  Jackie just honked and kept going, either in our lane or on the other side of the yellow line.  = )

We passed the zip line thing and went a good ways past that.

We finally arrived at the parking lot (a rarely seen item in this part of the world) for the cable car.  Across the lot was the “toilet” and I got my first experience with a squatty potty.  What fun.  Thankfully G handed me a small pack of Kleenex as we headed in, so I was armed and dangerous.  Then we walked up a long driveway thing to the cable car place.

It was just like a ski lift – very smooth and comfortable and the view – oh, my!!!  We had convinced St and S to both go, so it was them, us, N, G, and Jackie.  It took maybe 7 or 8 minutes (?) to get to the top.  The top of the lift was not the top of the mountain, however.  There was a stone walkway with a zillion steps that I think probably went all the way to heaven.  We started up.

Now you know how I am on steep uphill hikes.  Remember Buffalo Point?   = )   Well, I think this was 10 times harder than that!  I could go up about one flight of stairs, then had to pause to let my heart slow down a bit.  After maybe 20 minutes of this, we arrived at a cave.  In order to go forward, we would have to go through the cave.  Well, the man there explained to us that the cave was pitch black and climbed up maybe another 100 feet or so.  It was low, so you would be crawling on hands and knees for some of it, and it was narrrow in places, so that you would have to lay on your side.  In addition, there were a lot of people there, and the line through the cave was moving slowly.  This meant that you could be stuck on your side, on your hands and knees, in the dark, for an unknown length of time.

I urged the others to go on and I would wait for them to return, but it was a one-way cave (“notice: only going forward is allowed”).  We decided to return to the cable car exit station and hike a different direction.  Back down the zillion steps.

The new course involved the same kind of path, and of course, all the steps were going up.  = )  Someone coming down told us it was 30 minutes to the top and there would be a flat place up there.  We hoped to have our picnic lunch there. However, after 45 minutes, because of my slow progress, we were only half way, and the guys were starving.  We had had a huge canteloupe for a snack about 30 minutes before – which had significantly lightened the lunch load in the backpack – but it was now way past lunch time.

We finally found a sloping rock (think Elephant Rocks) where we spread out our picnic:  bread, PB & J, ham, hardboiled eggs, oranges, dates.  After a fine meal, we headed back down  the zillion steps to the cable car station.  We rode down to the halfway point and got off there, where we did more hiking.  This time it was not quite as vertical, and we climbed to the top of a point called Lion Mountain.  The view from there was breathtaking – mountains, gorges, the ocean, beach, etc.  I took a lot of pics that will come home when Dad brings my camera.

We then took the cable car back down to the foot of the mountain, and drove home a different, but equally scenic way.

We went to Jusco – what a wild place!  We traveled some by city bus – another fun experience.  We ate supper at Pizza Hut, then walked home.  Although we chose typical Pizza Hut food, we could have had several types of soup, pasta with shrimp in seafood sauce, or escargots (snails, I think)! I had my first glass of ice water – heavy on the ice – since getting off the plane.  It tasted SOOOO good.

It looks like there will be about 15 dunked tomorrow, which should be quite exciting.  Dad just asked me to share a bit in the morning time.  I have some idea what to share – but not sure how it will go over.  I am not like J or Mr. G, you know, so you can pray for me as I do that.

It is so very hard to explain this place in a way our friends can actually understand.  Even the words I use tend to conjure up pictures of what it would be like in our home country, and that picture is not at all correct.

What I know of our schedule (although that word simply doesn’t seem to apply here):

Sat morning – talking time

Sat afternoon – swimming time

Sat evening – dinner at NG’s house

Sun morning – other talks

Sun lunch – maybe with Jeff (S’s brother) and family

Sun afternoon – basketball for Dad?

Sun evening – maybe eat at a South China type place?

Mon – start home

I can’t believe about the water heater part.  You know if Dad were there, he’d make them give back the $11 if it wasn’t there by Wednesday!  Trusting that His grace is enough on that.  And on the boys.  I will whip them into shape when I get home, I promise.

Has Jo’s BSA trip been re-scheduled?  If so, make sure it doesn’t conflict w/ AIM events.

On the bowling $, if there is enough in the gray box, you can just give it to her.  Or you can write a check from my account. Just make sure you record the check in my register, please.  = )

When we saw the note that you were going to Celebration City, I said to Dad, “Hmmm…  I know it’s open into October, but only on the weekends.  Today is Thursday there and I thought it would be closed.  However, I’m SURE they wouldn’t go without checking, so I guess it’s open Thurs-Sun these weekends.”  I’m sorry!  You should go again with Grandma.  Just punt the schoolwork and go!  Now we know where Dad gets his great bowling ability.  = )

What on earth happened with the van?  Headlights left on and battery dead?  Something else?  How was it fixed????  Something I should know about?

I’ve been typing almost an hour on this and will stop now.

Not much longer till I come to relieve you!!!

Love to each of you,


7th China post: (8:00 AM Fri, 10/5/07)

“Dear Jessica,

. . . As to the training, it wrapped up VERY well, all thanks to the Boss. We believe that these ten or so marriages will be positively impacted for the long run, Please thank our friends for all their prayers. We could very clearly sense their support; especially on the final day when Dad decided we should share some very personal examples that were not in our notes. These were the things that ended up being most helpful to the people.

Now we are off to the (literal) mountain and will be with Jack and Esther, NG, and St. Should be a fun time.

How are things there? Did the part for the water heater come? Dad is anxious to know the status of that.

How are the boys doing? Did you have fun at CC?

Did you ever get the Rosetta Stone/IP thing worked out?

Anything else we should know or pray about?

We love you ALL very much. Looking forward to seeing you Monday


My eyes are bleary

Thursday night, I went to bed at about 1:00 AM and slept till almost noon.  It was heavenly, but it meant that last night (Friday night), I could not fall asleep.  I walked, I prayed, I read, I cried, I shivered, but try as I might, from 12:45 AM till 4:30 AM, I slept not at all.

4:30 AM till 8:00 AM was quite nice, but then it was time to get up and face the day, the kids, the errands, the paperwork, etc.

It is now 10:14 PM, and I have willed myself to stay awake all day today – no napping allowed.  Every so often I had to go dance through the house and sing to stay awake – sorry, no video or stills were taken – but now my eyes are bleary.

I am praying, Scott is praying, the MTC1 students are praying, and my kids are praying that tonight is the night I whip this insane jet lag.

And to all a good night.

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