Archive for April, 2008

Plants, planters, and planting

The Tupperware beach towel combo saved all my plants except one puny tomato that was probably on the way out anyway.  We did have a full frost, but all is well in the gardening realm.  So good, in fact, that today I planted more flowers (mostly impatiens in the big shady bed), more tomatoes, AND I repotted two horridly root-bound houseplants, separating each into threee smaller versions of itself.  It was a full afternoon of gardening joy.  Now I am just hoping most of those plants recover from the shock of being torn apart, shoved into new dirt, and given a cold bath.

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Fashion tomatoes

So I planted the tomatoes and flower seeds a week after the average date of last frost, when it was 75 and sunny, and the 10-day forecast showed nothing below mid-40s.

Tonight there is a widespread freeze warning for lands to our north and a widespread “hard frost” warning for lands to our south.  We straddle the line betwixt the two.  What’s a gardener to do?

The old bedsheet that I usually have on hand to cover plants has gone AWOL, so I pulled out all the beach towels and used them.  Each whiskey barrel is ceremoniously draped with its own colorful towel (not unlike a coffin, and that’s probably apropos, as all but two of the tomato plants seem to have gone to their reward, compliments of our most recent deluge), the mailbox bed sports three mismatched towels, nicely overlapped, and the big bed has only one beach towel but is tastefully accessorized with two upended Tupperwares, each covering one of my beloved trailing verbenas – kind of like pheasant under glass.

A couple mornings ago, there was clear evidence of critters having visited the big bed overnight.  (Can’t blame ’em; I visit a big bed EVERY night.)  I wonder what the armadillos will think of the new decor?

The frost/freeze warnings expire at 9:00 AM.  Until then, all the folks going to work will have something – ummm – dazzling(?) to brighten their morning as they zip by.

Feeling kind of dumb (or “Lost in a remote wilderness”)

It was almost 10:15 PM. Everyone was in bed and I was headed that way, but first I needed to go down, take the finished bread out of the machine and lock up. Once down there, I grabbed a snack, and while I stood there munching, it occurred to me that I could watch the weather, the sports, and then maybe a few minutes of M*A*S*H before retiring for the night.

I moseyed into the living room and pressed the power button on the TV. So far, so good. I went to the remote basket and picked up one of the four, selecting it purely because it was the shortest. We only have one TV, so I have never been quite sure why we have four remotes, but I can’t get rid of any of them because I don’t know what any of them do.

I punched the top right button repeatedly until the screen changed from static to AV1 to AV2 to Svideo. That stands for Scott’s Video and it’s the one that lets you watch TV. Only tonight it didn’t. Normally, when you get to Svideo, you wait a moment and KY3 (the local NBC affiliate) comes on. Tonight, the screen just stayed solid white and there was no sound.

I guess I could have pulled out another remote and started punching buttons, but in so doing I may have messed things up badly enough that no one would ever be able to watch TV again. It wasn’t THAT important for me to see M*A*S*H. (By now, the weather was over and sports was probably half gone, as well.)

I pressed the power button for the Dish Network box, and when that didn’t make anything happen, I just stood there, staring stupidly at the blank screen, and thinking, “we pay all this money for Dish Network, and it lets us access something like 100 channels, but I – with a college degree, mind you – can’t even figure out how to turn on my own TV.”

It was a depressing moment. Of course, I could have wakened a child and asked him/her to turn the TV on for me, but I didn’t. I just ate a peanut butter cup and went to bed.

* Mental note for tomorrow: ask a son how to turn on the TV

Little known fact:

There are actually TWO ways to cause a protracted frog-strangling rain.  Of course we all know that washing your car causes rain within 24 hours, but another sure-fire precipitation producer is to plant all the seeds in both your flower beds on a day when the precipitation probability is 10-20%.  Even better yet, follow my example:  get a wash and THEN plant all your seeds.  It will rain for hours and hours, so hard that you can’t see to drive with your wipers set on “frantic.”

OLD NEWS

Today I will totally mess up my blog chronology. It occurred to me that my old blog was still sitting over at homeschoolblogger.com, and that I hadn’t posted on it in about a year. Assuming that after a year of inactivity, homeschoolblogger.com would vaporize it, I went to check. It is still there, and the final post was made on April 23, 2007. Pretty close to a year!

So, since I don’t know how to insert those posts back at the beginning of this blog, and since I don’t want to lose them forever, I am inserting them here. This is mainly just for my sake – no need for any of you to read old news.

And now, with no further ado, I present (in reverse Polish notation order) THE ANCIENT POSTS.

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My blog has a new address

Posted at 8:16 PM on April 23, 2007
Katie has worked long and hard to get this blog looking the way I want it to. I really appreciate all her work, and I love the look. However, homeschoolblogger.com has been VERY tedious to work with. I have been too frustrated with it for too long, so I have moved my blog.Please come visit me at my new address: https://walnutshademom.wordpress.com/

Thanks.

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List and Laundry

Posted at 6:22 PM on April 15, 2007

One of my challenges is to try to stay on top of all the paperwork-ish stuff in my life, and today it seems like I have an extra lot of it.

* Ministry newsletter is due to go out and Scott wants me to plan the layout.

* Ministry staff meeting tommorrow night and prep discussions we need to have prior.

* Family newsletter stuffed, but I found that I am almost out of stamps. How did I ever let THAT happen?!?!

* Homeschool hours need to be recorded, back into February (sigh).

* Ministry thank yous need to be written.

* I need to figure out how to help Jessica study for her College Algebra CLEP.

* Bank deposit receipts need to be filed.

* New memory verse for boys must be chosen, printed, and entered in MemLok.

* Books the boys have read need to be collected and recorded.

I think I need one whole day ALONE at my desk, and then I will be able to make some progress on each of the above. Anybody want to give me a day? = )

In addition, I REALLY want to spend some more time re-sizing my photos and uploading them to Flickr. However, I am keeping that as my reward. I work for a while, and then I can recreate with Flickr.

Now it’s supper time (actually past supper time) and we will have Broccoli Soup which is in the crock-pot. Scott is on the phone with ministry business, and as soon as he finishes that, I will collect the kids and we will eat.

One more question. . . could someone please invent a machine into which I can dump all our clean clothes and have them come out folded? I’m thinking along the lines of those bank machines that you dump change into and out come rolls of each kind of coin. No thought and only a few seconds of time required. It would revolutionize home design! Laundry rooms would be bigger and contain three pieces of equipment: a washer, a dryer, and a folder.

If you have any design ideas for such an item, please send them my way.

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We have a winner!

Posted at 9:26 PM on April 14, 2007

Breaking news…. Katie was entered in an essay contest sponsored by our local electric cooperative. The co-op covers a five-county area, and all the schools in those counties were invited to participate. The seven best essays were invited to compete orally tonight at a banquet. The three top scorers overall (essay, oral presentation, knowledge of rural electrical co-op trivia) would each win an all-expense paid trip to Washington DC in June.

Katie had been told she should have her essay memorized, although she could use note cards if needed. She spent QUITE a bit of time in the past couple weeks memorizing her four-page essay; it was 10 minutes long.

Fifteen minutes before we left the house to go to the competition, Katie came into my office looking just a tiny bit flustered. “Mom, I feel really dumb, but I just re-read the competition rules and found out that I only have three minutes to present my essay. Could you help me figure out what to cut?” Fun, fun, fun.

I advised her, and she began scratching off note cards. While it was easy to take paragraphs out, it was hard to get the thing to “flow” with so many omiussions. In the car, she practiced while Scott timed her.

Katie was the fifth of the seven to do her thing, and she really shone. Even though I am her mom, I can honestly say that her delivery was much, much better than the other students’. She only glanced down at her notes once. She used emotion, had great eye contact, varied her intonation, spoke clearly, and was a delight to listen to. Even though she stumbled briefly over a quite which she couldn’t remember, she simply smiled, said apologetically, “Oh well, I forgot it,” and kept right on going. We were all SO proud of her!

After each presentation, the judges asked the student one question. Katie’s essay had to do with the discovery of penicillin, so the question she received from judge Stan Bess, VP of the Vacation Channel, was (more or less) “What do you think is the most important medical challenge facing humanity today?” Katie thought a moment and said, “Medicine is not really my field of expertise; history is, but I would say finding a cure for cancer…” People laughed and Mr. Bess commented on what a great job she had done.

I breathed a sigh of relief that she had not only gotten through it with so many last minute changes, but that she had done so well. There was one really interesting thing. Of the seven finalists, five attend public school and two are homeschooled. Katie’s essay dealt with penicillin, and Aaron’s (the other homeschooler) was about Benedict Arnold. ALL FIVE of the other essays dealt with blacks and women. In fact, several of them said the same things in the same ways – even using the same wording. It let me see what is being emphasized to public school students.

When the winners were anounced – in no particular order, which drove Scott nuts – Katie was one of the three! She will be traveling to Washington, DC with some 80 other students from Missouri. There will be a total of some 1300 students on this trip nationwide. We are quite excited for her. Thanks especially to all who prayed for her speech memorization.

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Couldn’t leave well enough alone

Posted at 5:07 PM on April 13, 2007

I really like blogging, but I must confess that homeschoolblogger.com is a PAIN to use! I hate that. It’s free, and I guess I get what I am paying for.

In any case, when I looked at that Georgetown picture at 500 pixels wide, it just looked too “glittery” to me. I decided I need to re-size them to 700 pixels wide for better resolution.

Here’s a picture of Josiah, demonstrating how to carry skis and poles. Scott is walking toward him, and Andrew (red cap) has his skis on and is itching to hit the lift. This was the first day of skiing at Loveland Basin. Isn’t the weather gorgeous?

I think this resolution is better, so I’ve made myself a note to stick with 700 pixels wide for Flickr.

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First vacation picture

Posted at 4:17 PM on April 13, 2007

I am trying to teach myself how to use Flickr to catalogue my photos. Doing that requires resizing them and learning how to work with Flickr. Then, getting them onto here, the world’s SLOWEST-loading site, is another big step. I am trying one today and hoping I can get a lot faster at this soon.

This a picture of Georgetown, taken from Guanella Pass Road. It’s a quaint, historical town of about 1,608 residents, located in the mining district of Clear Creek County. South Clear Creek flows down out of the mountains and forms Georgetown Lake (seen in background). Our condo was near the lake.

I can see that I re-sized this one too small. Hmmm… After 20 minutes of work, I think I will leave it alone and just make a note to re-size them larger in the future.

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Home from a SUPER vacation!

Posted at 5:31 PM on April 11, 2007
We got home Sunday night from a grand vacation in Colorado. No time to post now, but I will make every attempt to note the high points in the next few days. The long and short of it for me would be,” I love mountains and I love snow. The two together just can’t be beat!”

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Ready or not, snow, here we come!

Posted at 2:35 PM on March 31, 2007
Once again, since the snow passed us by this year, we are going to go look for it. We will be skiing at Loveland and staying in Georgetown, which is supposedly only about 20 minutes from the slopes. This means most of the family can be taken to the ski resort and, once they are all outfitted, gear is stowed, and plans are communicated, they can spend the day skiing to their hearts’ content and I can do whatever I want to do – frequently alone. Ahhhh.Some day(s), Katie will probably not ski, but she and I are two of the few people who can be alone together for a couple hours, say not one word to each other, and be perfectly happy.

I am hoping to drive around a lot, walk around a lot, explore the Georgetown area, and take loads of pictures. I have also heard that there is a narrow gauge train at Georgetown. I don’t know if the family will be available or if the budget will allow riding it, but I think that would be terrifically fun.

I’d rather look at snowy mountains than just about any other landscape, so I am really expecting this trip to be relaxing and refreshing.

One more trip to the post office, one more load of laundry, one more pick-up-and-clean-up of the house, and I still need to pack my backpack. Other than that, I think I’m ready to hit the road. Our goal is to actually depart before 5:00 AM.

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Katie scores big

Posted at 8:17 PM on March 30, 2007

We had an interesting time at the VFW meeting. Actually, our family had never been to such a place, so it was a learning experience. They served us a great fried chicken dinner (yum, yum) and then presented Katie with her award checks: $175 from the local post for winning first place in the post, $175 from the district (made up of 18 posts) for winning first place in the district, and – are you ready? – $1250 from the state (made up of 18 districts) for winning second place in the state!!! There were 4400 entries statewide. Then Katie read her essay, and they all stood up and clapped loud and long. Her essay was entitled “Freedom’s Challenge,” and it was, if I say so myself, excellent.

Pictures were taken, Jessica recorded it all on video, numerous folks congratulated her and us, and several vets told us their varied stories. After hearing that Katie (Anna to them) was homeschooled, one gentleman told us that he thought homeschoolers were the very best kids. He had seen a group of homeschoolers do a mime presentation last year at the county seat’s 4th of July celebration, and it moved him to tears; he said he doesn’t cry. He has been a veteran for 40 years, and he said he has NEVER seen a presentation that better honored vets. Of course, we told him that Katie, Jessica, and Josiah were part of that very presentation!

Overall, we were deeply honored, and we are all very proud of Katie’s success. To God be the glory!

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Off to the VFW dinner

Posted at 5:28 PM on March 30, 2007
Katie entered an essay contest through the local VFW chapter. Her essay won first place in the district and went on to do well at state (can’t remember if she won first or second there). Tonight our whole family will attend the local VFW dinner where she will receive her awards from district and state. I am pretty excited. Now I just have to make sure that Andrew can say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem.

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More success on packing!

Posted at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2007
My suitcase is packed! The train case is packed! The “kitchen” is packed! My books, magazines, knitting stuff, coloring book and colored pencils are packed! I am feeling quite successful!Now I must finish the sweeping – a bigger job since our vacuum cleaner died – do the boys’ laundry and figure out how to get their clothes packed. Then, I will sleep sweetly and long, because tomorrow is OFF DAY!!!

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Who am I blogging for?

Posted at 10:29 AM on March 28, 2007
I am getting quite excited about keeping my blog up to date. My only regret is that no one other than me is reading it. I need some ideas of how to get people interested in coming to my blog. Maybe I need to have more pictures. Maybe I need to write about something different, or at least specific. Hmmmm. . . Maybe I should decide who this blog is really for – me (as a supplement to my journal) or friends and family. Good question, huh?

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The family today

Posted at 4:53 PM on March 27, 2007
Andrew: pretty slow on breakfast clean up due to other members being late to eat; cleaned stairs & hall, took out all trash; practice on multiplication facts (0, 1, 2, 5); other normal academics; playing at neighbor’s houseJosiah: late getting up due to too much READING after Boy Scout meeting last night; good attitude all morning (even when I lost my cool with the boys’ messy rooms); worked well on all academics; swept porch and walk; filled med boxes; 40 minutes of Crusader on Jessica’s computer; playing at neighbor’s house

Jessica: no math this week!!!!; did academics on her own; volunteered to do Katie’s ironing; watched Left Behind while ironing; helped me find numerous lost items; vegging in room

Katie: slept in (fighting cold/fever thing that we want her to kick without passing around); worked on academics (only she knows which ones)

Patty: haircut; pharmacy; oversaw boys; made white chili; about to go make supper

Scott: language lesson at 7:30 AM; breakfast; work (for pay!) at his desk

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Lots of cooking

Posted at 4:06 PM on March 27, 2007
We are planning a ski trip to Colorado soon, and since I don’t really consider cooking a vacation activity, I decided that we would make full use of the crockpot. Hence, I am cooking ahead and freezing in ziplocs. The plan is that at bedtime, we will pull out the next day’s supper to thaw, put it in the crockpot before leaving in the morning, and have supper piping hot when we return.So far, I have prepared chili (probably for use as chili cheese potatoes), broccoli soup, and white chili. I also am taking a pot roast, so we should have meals for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. Friday night – and Saturday night, if we are still there – we’ll eat the leftovers.

I still have to figure out breakfasts, clothes, games, etc., etc., etc., but I think I’m making good progress.

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One of my favorite flower pictures

Posted at 6:01 PM on March 26, 2007

Aren’t these beautiful? Andrew (now 7) grew them from seeds last summer. They were planted in a window box that we set out on our front sidewalk. I wish I could remember what they are called, because they are really nice and tall and would be perfect for my “red, white, and blue” flowerbed around the mailbox this year.

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CLEP

Posted at 4:18 PM on March 26, 2007
Today, Katie took her third CLEP test. She had already taken Biology and College Algebra, but when she looked at the topics to be covered on the Chemistry test, she realized that she had only covered about 1/4 of them in her high school chemistry course. After cramming like crazy (some 16 hours), she took the practice test and received a 40.Not so bad as you might think. The scores range from 20 to 80, with many schools offering credit for a score over 50. Her principal, teacher, guidance counselor, and career adviser (all both of us) met with her last night to help her decide whether on not to take the actual test – scheduled in Springfield for 10:00 AM this morning. She decided to go for it, and she scored a 51. We think she made a good choice to proceed with the test.

Now I need to schedule a time for her to take American History 1 and Jessica to take College Algebra, hopefully in conjunction with their next ortho appointments.

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Question of the day

Posted at 8:01 PM on March 25, 2007
Scott (while digging in the freezer at bedtime, looking for something yummy to eat): “Why do we have a phone in the freezer?”I don’t really know why. It was actually Andrew’s play cell phone. One would not think that a child would tend to lose his phone in the freezer, but in our family, anything is possible. Many things that are not possible also happen.

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“The 64 Million Dollar Tomato”

Posted at 9:09 PM on March 24, 2007
I saw this book title and immediately added it to my wish list. It is supposed to be a funny book about how much we spend to create “homegrown” tomatoes. Kind of like the fisherman who spends thousands of dollars on boat, license, tackle, bait, and so on – just to catch a fish.Today we prepared two whiskey half barrels to receive tomato plants, as soon as our schedule allows. The soil in our garden plot has developed some death-to-tomatoes fungus, and after several years of gardening next to the woods, I was tired of fighting the rabbits, deer, and armadillos.

Scott had the nifty idea to set the barrels on top of the two round green plastic covers for our graywater tank. It required creative use of cinder blocks, lumber, and bricks, but we did it. I also bought too much potting soil, but Scott forgave me. I used some of the leftover dirt to upgrade the front flower beds and planted a wide variety of seeds in them.

I won’t tell you how much all this has cost. So far, it’s still less than $64 million.

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Reaching my goal

Posted at 4:22 PM on March 23, 2007
On Fridays, Katie and I often treat ourselves to a game of online Scrabble. She always wins. I am a good Scrabble player, but Katie usually wins by at least 100 points.Recently, I have set a personal goal to lose by less than 100 points, and last week, after MONTHS of effort, I finally achieved that goal.

This week, I attempted to lose by less than 75 points, and the Research Consultant only beat me by 54 points. She did have the Q, Z, and X, so I am choosing to rejoice.

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New record!

Posted at 10:15 PM on March 22, 2007
I don’t think we have every turned the air conditioning on this early. It’s March 22, was in the mid-80s most of the day today, and the house is so hot that we cannot sleep. I guess I will have to face the fact that snow is not likely.

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A fairly typical wild Wednesday

Posted at 10:01 PM on March 21, 2007
To Branson. . .* Wal-Mart
* Staples
* Country Mart
* The bank
* Taneyhills Library
* Library thrift shop

Home for an hour and fifteen minutes, to unload the above, eat lunch, and change out the van seats

To Springfield. . .

* Aldi
* Goodwill thrift store
* Sam’s Club
* Ski Shack
* The Library Center
* Wendy’s
* Church

Home to unload the above, type this blog, and go to bed

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Rain!

Posted at 10:02 PM on March 20, 2007
It was a glorious morning for the first day of Spring, with a gentle steady rain and temps around 62 degrees. Ahhhh! Finally the creek is up, the ground is wet, the grass is green, and that means it will soon need to be mowed. Uggghhh!The riding mower’s battery is dead. We borrowed a battery charger from a neighbor, but after charging the beast all night, the rider still wouldn’t start. Rain is forecast off and on all week, so soon this grass will be terribly high. I’ve pushed the first (read “way too high”) mow of the season, and I swore to never do that again. I am letting my men deal with that, though.

Then yesterday Josiah was vacuuming the porch. I guess that sounds funny. Our front porch is covered with that lovely classic green indoor/outdoor carpeting, and Josiah is responsible to make its greenness visible again each week. We have birds’ nests build on the tops of the porch’s support pillars, and the nesting material tends to blow down all over the porch. Likewise with miscellaneous leaves and those little helicopter thingies that come off our boxelder trees.

Anyway, he was vacuuming away, when our aged vacuuming cleaner made a whining, groaning noise and then exploded with a BANG! I think I’d better put brooms on our Wal-Mart list. = )

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Christmas wish list

Posted at 9:29 PM on March 19, 2007
I guess Andrew is starting his early this year. He walked into my office (on the second floor) while he was doing the breakfast clean up (on the first floor) – go figure – and said, “Mom, do you know what I want for Christmas more than anything else? A pet squirrel!”Now there’s an idea I had not thought of.

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Amazing Grace

Posted at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2007
Our kids have never been to a regular movie. They have been to a few IMAX films, but those are only about 40 minutes long. They have seen a few movies on video or DVD, but we have never gone as a family to a movie theater to watch a movie.We went to see “Amazing Grace,” about the life of William Wilberforce and his fight against the British slave trade. It ended up being an outstanding movie, generating some good discussion among our family members, but the MOST amazing thing was what happened before the movie started.

It was a tiny theater, capable of seating maybe 100 folks. It was mostly empty, but on the front row, when we walked in, there sat Alice Russum! You may be wondering, “Who is Alice Russum?”

John and Alice were members of our small church some nine years ago, before his work moved them out of state. He works for an oil company, and they are currently living in Vietnam. Scott had been overseas on business until just a few days ago.

So, when we walked into this tiny theater in our town of 6000 people and saw Alice and friends sitting there, Scott said, “ALICE RUSSUM! What are youyou doing here?!?! Scott, you’re supposed to be overseas!!!” We all had a great laugh, hugs around, and then met for lunch today after church. doing here?!?! You’re supposed to be in Vietnam!!!” at the very moment that Alice was saying, “SCOTT AND PATTY! What are

It really is a small world, and you really should go see “Amazing Grace.”

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This I cannot believe!

Posted at 12:32 PM on March 15, 2007
Scott has mild asthma and when it gets bad, he sometimes has to use an albuterol inhaler (prescription drug) to open things up. Since he doesn’t use it regularly, we just keep a couple inhalers stashed away for use in emergencies.We got something in the mail from Scott’s insurance company. I wouldn’t want to name names, but this would be the company that we love to hate; the four-word one that starts with “blue” and ends with “shield.” They were writing to inform him that because the traditional albuterol inhaler uses a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant, and because CFCs “reduce the amount of ozone in the ozone layer that protects the earth from the sun’s harmful rays,” the Food and Drug Administration has decreed that no CFC inhalers will be produced or sold after December 31, 2008.

In addition, the new inhalers, which use a hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellant, are more expensive than the CFC inhalers, so we have been forewarned that our albuterol prescription cost is expected to rise.

Whether or not CFCs deplete the ozone layer (and whether or not such depletion matters) is a can of worms I will not open here. My beef with the FDA is this: unlike aerosol cans of things like hair spray and insect repellent, which do shoot into the air, albuterol is “shot” only into one’s mouth, the lips of which are instructed to be tightly closed around the mouthpiece. The stuff only goes into one’s mouth, NOT into the atmosphere at all!!!

This is clearly a case of government regulation on steroids! Remind me to buy a lifetime supply of old-fashioned albuterol inhalers over the next 18 months.

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SO not ready for spring

Posted at 9:10 PM on March 12, 2007
There is ample evidence that spring is here:1. The daffodils are blooming.
2. The tulips are pushing up.
3. The birds are singing cheerfully at 6:15 AM.
4. The spring peepers are peeping.
5. The grass is turning green and will soon need to be mowed.
6. It was 75 degrees here today and the boys are wearing shorts.

But I am not READY for spring. I have not yet had winter. The past few years, I have agonized over this same terrible situation. We don’t get any snow (just a light dusting a time or two), and while I am still daily, eagerly, with bated breath anticipating our first serious snowfall, spring comes!

Is it a sign of my increasing age that the seasons rush by much faster than they used to? For goodness’ sake; when I was a kid, summer lasted forever, and winter was eternal. Granted, spring and fall did move along, but all four of them managed to last a good three months at least.

Now each season is only three weeks long. It was just Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, wasn’t it? In any case, it is clearly MUCH too soon to be spring, all peepers to the contrary.

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How hard is it to stay in bed. . . really?

Posted at 9:55 PM on March 11, 2007
Andrew was in bed at 8:42; 12 minutes past his “lights out” time, but not too bad considering we sprung ahead today. He was clearly told to stay in his room, in his bed, with the light off and the door closed.So far, he has re-appeared to:

1. ask me a question that COULDN’T wait till tomorrow (I told him 5 times that it WILL wait)
2. let me know that the kids all forgot to take their fluoride pills
3. inform me that the smokehouse light is on
4. tell me that he simply cannot fall asleep, and it might be because his legs hurt really bad

All this by 9:50.

I get in bed, read for a few minutes, and fall sound asleep. This is true no matter what time of day or night it may be. It doesn’t really require much effort at all, and I can’t even remember the last time I felt compelled to stand up when I was supposed to be asleep.

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Pets

Posted at 4:30 PM on March 10, 2007
Josiah and Jessica have taken on a dog-and-cat-sitting job for a week. It will pay very well, but it’s kind of involved. That, added to the fact that neither of them has ever owned or cared for even one pet, much less three, AND Jessica being out of town for the first three days, meant that I went down the road with Josiah last night at 8:00 PM and this morning at 7:00 AM to help him. I think this will be my normal routine till Jessica gets home.It’s pretty much standard pet stuff: dry food and water at night (in three locations), wet food and water in the morning (in three locations), dog in for the night, out for the day, cats switched (one has free reign of the house while the other is locked in the master bedroom; then they swap places every 12 hours – I think this is for contraceptive purposes?), one cat given amoxicillin twice a day, litter boxes cleaned nightly, treats as needed (how do I know if a dog or cat “needs” a treat?), and please water the plants if needed.

The only down side for me is the time – it takes Josiah about 30 minutes to do it all – and the fact that I am severely allergic to cats; as in, my face starts itching and eyes watering after 10 minutes in the house. I have to come home and shower in order to stop the reaction.

Now I know why we don’t have pets. We get to enjoy the neighbor’s enormous dog and two cats vicariously, without paying the food and vet bills.

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Deskwork and keys

Posted at 6:39 PM on March 9, 2007
Last night was rugged. I was up at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 AM, I guess because I was afraid I’d oversleep and miss taking Jessica to meet the AIM gang for their trip to Kentucky. Then I ended up sleeping almost till noon, but that was okay, because it’s OFF DAY!I did accomplish quite a bit today: paid all the bills and updated all the various accounts in Quicken and QuickBooks, wrote and mailed all the giving checks (a blessing to Josiah, who usually does it for handwriting practice), and wrote 7 ministry thank you notes.

Josiah will need to let himself back in tomorrow after his Boy Scout event, so I sent him out to make sure the key was there. It wasn’t. Since he was the last one who used it, but now can’t remember what he did with it, I took him to town (he paid gas) to have a new key made (which he paid for), and he now owes me 10 tokens for my inconvenience.

I love parenting boys. = )

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Still alive and kicking

Posted at 11:30 PM on March 8, 2007
It’s been a week since I posted, and that after I PROMISED myself to post something daily.Katie’s History Day paper on the Russian Revolution made it to finals at the regional level of our state competition. Hers was one of three selected out of 37. If she’s first or second (of those three) at region she moves on to State. We’ll find out in two days.

Jessica is off to the Kentucky Drama Festival with AIM before dawn cracks tomorrow. She’ll be gone the weekend and is VERY excited.

Josiah is deep into the Redwall books and only comes up to breathe occasionally. Today he came home from AIM practice but forgot to get out of the car. He stayed in there reading for an HOUR!

Andrew made Baked Apples tonight to go with our Broccoli Chicken Fettucine. Yum, yum!

Scott and I are both doing well – sleeping on opposite shifts. = ) Speaking of which, I need to change the clocks on Saturday afternoon. Ugh.

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More computer stuff

Posted at 8:53 PM on March 2, 2007
Today I learned something new: you CAN order a static IP address, but it will cost you.Our foreign language software (Rosetta Stone) wouldn’t work today. I did the things I usually do to fix it, and they didn’t fix it.

I called RS support, and they talked me through the exact same steps, only to find that my IP address had changed twice in rapid succession. It changes all the time, but not usually in less than a minute! That guy told me it would be wise to set my router to a static IP address.

I chatted router (Linksys) support to figure out how to do that. He stepped me through a few gyrations and then I was left with four row of empty boxes. When I asked what to put in them, he said I would have to get those values from my ISP.

I chatted ISP support (CenturyTel) who told me that even though the Linksys set-up page now said, “static IP,” the IP address listed therein was in fact not static, but dynamic. I should call a certain number at CenturyTel to request a static IP address.

I called CenturyTel to request the static IP address, and the very nice southern lady who answered asked me how many static IP addresses I wanted. I told her I had no earthly idea. Would that determination be based on property value? number of children? what time I got up today??? She didn’t know (she just ordered them), but I should contact CenturyTel tech service and ask them how many static IP addresses I needed. Wait! I was still chatting with CenturyTel tech service!

I laid the nice lady down on the desk (I hunt and peck, and I can’t even do that with a phone shoved between my shoulder and my ear) and typed back to the mystery guy to find out how many static IP addresses I needed. His reply: “Usually none.” Thanks a lot! I then explained to him what I wanted to do and why, and he said he thought one should be sufficient.

So I told the nice lady that the techhie guy said I only needed one. She said that was fine, but she did need to tell me that there would be a $20 charge per static IP address per month. No way! I told her that would never fly with my husband and that we’d just let the IP addresses keep changing at whim for a while.

An hour out of my life with nothing to show for it, except a little more knowledge about things I didn’t want to know, and frankly, never knew existed! I think when I grow up I’m gonna be a computer tech.

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DSL is a good thing. . . until the modem dies

Posted at 9:13 PM on March 1, 2007
Ours has been dying slowly for months, and Scott bought us a new one right before he left on a trip. The final death throes occurred on Wednesday morning, and Wednesday afternoon we also lost all our phone service.Today, once the phones were working again, I spent about three and a half HOURS trying to get all our ducks in a row and get online. Actually, Katie wired everything up for me, and all I had to do was run a software CD. How hard could that possibly be?!?!

Turns out – pretty hard. Those ducks did not want to stand in a line.

I talked to three different DSL tech support people at CenturyTel. I chatted online with a router tech support person at Linksys. I almost cried twice, but that may have also had something to do with the time of month. . . or maybe the time of life!

I now know much more about phone lines, Ethernet cables, USB ports and their cables, routers, modems, bridging a modem, the back of my computer, LAN IP settings, and cloning my PC’s MAC (is that an oxymoron?) than I ever wanted to know or even dreamed possible.

Since you are reading this, I must have done something right.

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According to Tennyson,

Posted at 12:27 PM on February 28, 2007
In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” but in the Ozarks in late February, a young skunk’s pathway surely turns to 65.I had to go to Ozark this morning to get an oil change and tire rotation at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter there. It’s twenty minutes from home, which, after you subtract the four minutes on our own road means I was on Highway 65 for about 16 miles. In that distance, I saw not one, not two, but FOUR dead skunks.

What is it about the last week of February that issues such siren calls for skunks to travel east and west? Do they also travel north and south? How far afield do they roam in search of their true loves? What percentage of skunks actually make it home before March? Has the widening of the highway in the past decade caused a significant decline in the local skunk population? Where do skunks sleep, anyway (when they’re not dead on the shoulder)?

These are the ponderings of a woman who got up at 5:30 in order to have a face and hair and be at the Tire and Lube Express exactly at 7:00 AM. These are the thoughts of that same woman while she waited in front of the locked garage door until a gruff-looking gentleman opened it at 7:10.

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My daughters saved the day!

Posted at 10:33 PM on February 27, 2007
I was having a tough time with Josiah today. By holding him accountable for his actions – forcing him to take responsibility for his chores and academics that weren’t done to even minimal standards – I had caused him to be VERY angry and VERY depressed.He was convinced that he couldn’t do his math right, so he might as well zip through it quickly and get more than half of them wrong.

He knew that he could NEVER wash a dish correctly, so he swished several of them through some water can called them clean.

It wasn’t possible to vacuum or sweep his bedroom floor clean, so he sat in the bed and stared at the wall, doing nothing and just thinking about how angry he was at me.

I couldn’t get Scott’s advice, so I called in the girls. I told them the situation (probably in triplicate), and they listened patiently. Then they spoke, and I think they were quite wise. Katie, the Quiet One, did most of the talking, and then Jessica did most of the implementation. She listened to Josiah, got him to laugh, pulled him up emotionally, helped him get the floor of his room clean, and then helped him do over 30 math corrections! I think she worked with him for the better part of two hours!

By the time Scott called, when he asked Josiah how things were going, Josiah said cheerfully, “Everything’s really going well.” My mouth hung open. Two hours ago, he had been wishing he was dead, and now, thanks to the girls, he was great. What wonderful girls!

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We’re all feeling CRUMMY

Posted at 6:51 PM on February 26, 2007
Actually, that would be CRUMBY. Last night Jessica made us a crumb cake, and boy, is it ever yummy.You know those wonderful coffee cakes that have loads of crumbs on top? Everyone knows that the crumb part is much better than the cake part, right? Well, we have a recipe that fills a jelly roll pan and has a very thin layer of cake and a very thick layer of crumbs.

It was really for breakfast, but we really couldn’t justify making another dessert when the crumb cake was still sitting on the counter. So, we had crumb cake for dessert tonight, too, and there still some for breakfast tomorrow. Well, right now there is. By breakfast time. . . I don’t know.

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Boo hoo! We’ve done something wrong and I’m sad about it.

Posted at 4:36 PM on February 26, 2007
We are the proud parents of the only two boys west of the Mississippi who have to be REQUIRED to go outside. Even then, one of them asks why and the other frinks, whines, and cries.We have clearly created two monsters. I would think that after they have been inside all morning and part of the afternoon doing chores and academics, they would LOVE to go outside (it’s in the 50s and sunny) and be boyish. They insist there is nothing to do outside, but we have a trampoline, a big sandbox, a treehouse, a big grassy yard, adjacent woods, gravel roads, neighbor kids, a creek nearby with a mile-long dirt/gravel road along it. . . what more could two boys want?!?!?

Josiah wants to read, and Andrew wants to play with his cars on his car mat. Now, reading and car mats are both great things, but something is clearly wrong with this picture. I confess that I am a bit discouraged by it. Mostly, I just want to know how to change it.

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Parenting never lets up

Posted at 9:04 PM on February 25, 2007
Today (a Sunday), I had one kid who refused to get up on time, one kid who lost its Bible, one kid who left for church without even brushing its teeth, one kid who left a Bible at church (I made the kid go find it before we left for home), one kid who left its coat on the “pew,” and one kid who lost a Bible after we got back home. And we only have four kids!!!I am trying to be consistent with each of them and help each of them develop the habits of obedience, diligence, and responsibility.

I like for Andrew to stand on my back when we are practicing his spelling words. Weird, I know. The other day, he was standing there when he said with a sound of horror, “MOM! You have some white hairs on your head! I can see one, two, three, four, five, six!!! They are so WHITE! Oh, there’s even more; six more, so that makes twelve.”

That sounds about right: two for each of the “kids” mentioned above, or maybe just an average of three for each of our children.

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I’m not a DAR, but

Posted at 7:51 PM on February 24, 2007

thanks to Katie (in red above), I got to attend a very fancy luncheon with her on the 22nd floor of a building downtown. It was the local DAR chapter meeting, and they were honoring the several local winners in an essay contest about Christopher Columbus. Katie’s essay was written from the viewpoint of Queen Isabella, and it won 1st place for 11th grade.
The lunch was quite nice, and at two-and-a-half hours, it gets points for being THE longest luncheon I have ever attended in my life! It was quite an honor. We both feel very honored.

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Klondike

Posted at 8:26 PM on February 23, 2007
Every year in February, Josiah’s scout troop does a weekend campout called the Klondike. Last year it snowed and the forecast this weekend is as follows:Friday – highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s, breezy
Saturday – highs in the 50s, lows in the 30s, 90% chance of heavy rain, winds 20-30 mph, possible hail
Sunday – highs in the 40s, lows in the upper 20s, sun and clouds, breezy

Josiah can be a bit of a space cadet. He was supposed to be packing this afternoon, but until I mentioned them, forgot things like toothbrush, deodorant, tarp, tent, and extra socks. He has a cheap poncho, but we all know they aren’t a lot of use in windy rain. I suggested his ski bibs for both warmth and dryness, but of course, he has totally outgrown them since he bought them to go skiing a year ago. He took his dad’s, without asking him (Dad is out of pocket right now) and promised that nothing untoward would happen to them. May he prove correct!

About forty minutes before his ride was expected, Josiah came in and said, “the tent’s gone.” I have decided to let his problems be his problems, and since he knew about this camping trip a month ago, the fact that he waited till an hour before departure to collect his equipment was emphatically NOT my problem. I asked if he had looked in the camper (yes), the shop (yes) and the playroom (yes). I told him I guessed he’d have to share a tent with someone else, and left it at that.

Twenty minutes later, I see him out in the back yard swinging a rope over his head. I went out, walked into the shop, saw a small tent that I don’t even recognize in the middle of the floor and the usual tent right where it belonged under the workbench. I pointed these two tents out to him.

He was supposed to eat supper before he left, but he forgot to eat anything. That means he couldn’t take his supper meds, and that is not good for him, his co-campers, or us when he gets home.

(Sigh) Here is what I know: Josiah will be a fine, godly, responsible young man, who will marry a wonderful lady, have a bunch of great kids, and provide well for his family. He will get up on time for work, he will remember to put on deodorant, and, when necessary, he will be able to find his tent.

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Choices and consequences

Posted at 3:58 PM on February 19, 2007
We’re using a token economy for the boys. In Andrew’s case, an hour of obeying right away and not whining gets him a token. Sadly, the thing that he hasn’t yet learned with money (to save some!), he has equally well not learned with tokens. Therefore, he always immediately spends the tokens he earns, and by definition, never has any in reserve.Two tokens buys a piece of candy out of the jar. Five tokens buys the right to play with the neighbor boys. Completing the breakfast clean up in 30 minutes yields THREE bonus tokens, BUT if the clean up is not done in an hour, he must pay one token. If it’s not done 30 minutes after that, he pays two more. If it’s not done 30 minutes after THAT, he pays three more, etc.

Breakfast clean up starts at 8:30. Today, after much whining, lots of fit-pitching, excessive screaming, and an undisclosed number of resulting swats, he finally announced at 11:15 AM that he was done with the breakfast clean up. I thanked him for a job well done (it really was a nice job) and pointed to the chart on the wall that clearly said “If clean up is done before 11:30, Andrew owes Mom 15 tokens.” He frinked.

We then started in on the rest of the chores and academics. While he was reading Judges, we heard the sound of a lawn mower outside the window. It was warm and sunny out, but I knew there wasn’t yet any grass anywhere to mow. We looked out and saw the neighbor boys and their dad. These are Andrew’s new friends; the ones he loves to play with, and the ones who have promised him that the very next time their dad is available, they want him to come with them to ride the go-carts. (He’s never ridden a go-cart, so he has been eagerly awaiting this day for six weeks!) Dad was on his four-wheeler, and each boy was in a go-cart.

Andrew was instantly ready to go. I told him that as soon as his chores and academics were done, he could pay me the five tokens necessary and go play with the boys. He began crying, then sobbing, as he realized that – due to his own poor choice – he would have to pay a debt of 15 before he could earn the five to go play. To add insult to injury, the phone rang just then, and it was one of the boys, asking if he could come out and play! He had to explain that he had a debt he would have to pay first.

Please remind me that SOME day this child will finally learn that if you make bad choices, you must live with the resulting bad consequences.

Meanwhile, he’s finally done with his work and is playing outside, but not allowed to go to the neighbors’ house. . . or ride their go-carts.

Signed,
The Wicked Mom of the Walnuts

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The birthday boy

Posted at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2007
As I may have mentioned, Josiah can be a bit . . . ummm. . . blonde. One night, he forgot to confirm his ride to a Boy Scout meeting, which required us to drive him there at the last minute. Scott was not pleased by this and said that we needed to get the kid a notebook and pen to keep in his pocket and write down what he needs to do.I, who spend much of each day with the Boy Wonder, said that that wouldn’t work for two reasons:
a) most of his shorts and sweats don’t have pockets
b) once he wrote something in the notebook, he wouldn’t remember to look back at it

Instead, I suggested we get him a voice recorder with a belt clip. He could talk into it, and then play it back. He would use it because it is of the electronic genre. He cannot resist anything electronic. So, we got him one and gave it to him last night. He likes this gadget a lot, but so far, he has taken to recording our conversations (when we don’t want him to) and playing them back either at high speed (like chipmunks) or v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y (like a basso profundo). Tomorrow is Monday, we will be back to a regular routine, and we will see how it works.

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Bridge at last!

Posted at 8:59 PM on February 17, 2007
Josiah is finally learning how to play Bridge. Tonight (his 13th birthday) he chose to play Bridge with Scott, Jessica, and me – the boys against the girls. He did pretty well and seems to be getting a rudimentary understanding of the game. I, on the other hand, am still handicapped by my evident inability to understand the concept of a finesse. Maybe one of these days it will click in my brain. I’m much too young for senior moments. . . hmmm. . . I wonder if I can schedule brain clicks.

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I thrive on accomplishment

Posted at 6:19 PM on February 17, 2007
and it doesn’t take much. Yesterday, I finally got my act together to write our family newsletter. It was done in a little over an hour, is now printed, and ready to fold. I feel like a conqueror!Today, I wrote two skits that we are going to videotape to promote a parenting seminar at our church. I feel like a conqueror!

Now, I just need to keep accomplishing at least one little thing each day, and I can be a conqueror ongoing.

It’s time to celebrate Josiah’s birthday. He turned 13 today, but until a few days ago, had forgotten that his birthday was coming up. He can be clueless at times.

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I used to answer the phone

Posted at 1:08 PM on February 15, 2007
Our admittedly odd house contains an odd assortment of phones.Scott has a cell phone, I have a cell phone, and there’s a cell phone that the kids share when needed.

In our second floor office, Scott has a speaker phone on his desk, and cordless phone hanging next to my desk.

In the third floor, Katie has a hard-wired desk phone. I don’t think it’s on her desk, though; maybe on the floor. . .

In the kitchen, we have the base unit for the other cordless phone, but the phone usually stays in Jessica’s room, rather than in the kitchen.

In the old days, when the phone rang, I answered it. Answering the phone went along with opening the mail and maintaining the family calendar. Now, Andrew brings in the mail, strewing it who-knows-where along the way, I still keep the calendar, and one of the girls (usually Jessica) answers the phone. I like it that way. Jessica serves as my free caller ID and secretary all in one.

A few minutes ago, the phone rang and I said to Scott (knowing the answer – NO!), “Do I really want to answer that phone?” But there was no need to worry. After the second ring, it stopped, and a minute later, Jessica IM’d me, “Mom? Can we take Amy home after the meeting tonight?” I IM’d back, “Yes,” and thought, “Wow! This is the way bigwigs function. They NEVER have to deal with the phone when they don’t want to.”

Last year, I answered the phone, but now I am a bigwig.

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Good morning, Andrew

Posted at 4:40 PM on February 14, 2007
A few days ago Andrew greeted me first thing when I entered his room with these words, “Mom, I can’t WAIT till I get to be 24 or 26!”Mom: Why’s that?
Andrew: Well, I had this dreeeeeeeam that I got maaaaaaaarried, and it was so wonderful. Her name was (pause, dreamy look, deep contented sigh) Cinnnnnnndy.
Mom: Wow!
Andrew: I just can’t WAIT to feel someone’s lips on mine.
Mom: Hmmmm

Right. My seven year old is dreaming of marriage and kissing. Oh, boy.

Then last night, out of the blue, he came into our office and asked, “how do you start your life?” Now, I am experienced enough to ask for clarification before trying to answer a question like that, so I said, “what do you mean?” He replied, “Well, how do you get money? Like, money to buy your house. You know, when you get out of college. I mean, how do you get started?”

I thought after the first three I had pretty much faced everything a kid could dish up, but this one has me flummoxed. Scott said, “at least he’s thinking ahead.” = )

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Using QuickBooks slowly

Posted at 8:46 PM on February 13, 2007
Progress is being made. I think we have finally successfully converted the ministry bookkeeping from Excel spreadsheets to QuickBooks. The money part was not too hard, but figuring out a way to keep up with who has received a thank you note was a bit more challenging.There may be some pre-defined way to do it, but I couldn’t figure out how, so, instead, I spent 45 minutes poking around and trying to design an appropriate report. I just finished writing my eighth and final thank you note of the evening and recorded it in QuickBooks. I feel like a champion.

I was able to stay home all day today and I will get to be home again tomorrow from 10:00 AM till 5:45 PM, so I should be able to get lots and lots of stuff done, right? Stay tuned.

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Somebody party with me!

Posted at 9:20 PM on February 12, 2007
I got Katie’s homeschool hours all caught up!!! This is a major accomplishment, because I had over four months of them to do.In our state, we are only required to keep a record of hours from ages 6 to 17. So, in a mere three months and nine days, we will be DONE recording homeschool hours for Katie FOREVER!

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Back (in the passenger) seat driver

Posted at 3:45 PM on February 12, 2007
I am back in the passenger seat for the better part of this year.Jessica has her permit, so we are having her drive the van as much as possible. She has to get in 40 hours behind the wheel, and 10 of those must be at night. She actually drives very well. I have no qualms about her ability, or her attentiveness. She just needs to work on keeping a steady speed (her biggest challenge thus far) and staying centered in the lane (greatly helped by proper tire inflation).

I was so thrilled when Katie got her license – even though in our state licenses are now graduated till age 19. . . UGH. . . don’t get me started – and I know it will be even nicer when Jessica has hers. We recently purchased my mom’s old car. Actually, we were basically given the car, considering the low price they wanted for it. It is an ’86 Toyota Camry (I know a lady who named her now-two-year-old daughter Camry after this car!), burgundy, four-door, four-cylinder (though Scott says he thinks it may be three) and in EXCELLENT condition with something around 90,000 miles, I think.

Katie is going to buy it from us, or maybe the girls will buy it jointly. In any case, that is the car that Katie drives when she’s home, and it will probably be the car Jessica drives, too. It will be really nice to have two “extra” drivers in the family. That way when one girl is gone on a mission trip (I do see a pattern developing) the other can still get around – without me!!!

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Old dog, new trick?

Posted at 10:00 PM on February 11, 2007
For years, we have kept our ministry records in a set of Excel Spreadsheets and Quicken. When Scott had to do the year-end receipts recently, he said it was a nightmare. In addition, our system for keeping up with all the names, addresses, and emails is quite cumbersome, requiring the same thing(s) to be entered in up to five locations. Scott decided to buy QuickBooks for non-profits to help with this situation.I am slowly learning how to use QuickBooks. The problem is that I don’t know it well or understand it at all, so I don’t know how it’s going to work out long-term. Therefore, I am still doing all the stuff I used to do AND entering everything in QuickBooks. I will need to do this (for my own sanity) until I am totally comfortable with QuickBooks alone. Scott does not like that fact.

Then we found out that QuickBooks will not total year-end giving! That means that I am now doing extra work, and it looks like the tool we bought to simplify year-end reporting won’t help in that regard. (Sigh) Tonight I spent about 45 minutes enterting stuff in QuickBooks that I could have done in 10 minutes – and DID do for 10 minutes the old way.

Somebody tell me to GOI (Get Over It) and that it’s time for this old dog to learn a new trick!

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Absolute value

Posted at 8:21 PM on February 10, 2007
In the spirit of maintaining a habit of Family Night, we played 500 Rummy. The boys made so much noise that Jessica and I were both ready to scream, “BE QUIET!” We held our peace while they made car noises, miscellaneous motor noises, toots, burps, hums, whistles, giggles, and loud laughs. They also kept forgetting to take their turns, so we started skipping them.In many games, 500 Rummy included, you try to get as high a score as possible. However, if you are playing poorly and/or against Scott, you can go into the negative column. This does not bother me greatly, because I am not nearly as competitive as those genetic Robertses. To keep a cheerful attitude, I have decided to view myself as victorious when I have the highest absolute value.

Last night, I did not win (no matter how you score it), but neither did I lose. I am not discouraged. Eventually, I will vanquish all contenders – or at least get the highest absolute value!

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I drive too much

Posted at 5:08 PM on February 9, 2007
I calculated that yesterday I drove a little over 140 miles. It was all for a good cause.The first run was to the gas station to teach Jessica how to air up the tires. That was only 4 miles.

The second run was to a church-related luncheon meeting in Springfield. The other folks at the meeting seemed glad that I was there. That was 75 miles.

The third and fourth runs were to take Jessica to do some volunteer ministry work. She was a blessing to the organization, and she got in quite a bit of microsoft Excel practice. Those trips were 34 miles round trip each.

The good thing about the runs with Jessica is that she has her permit and drives well. The law requires that I be in the front seat with her, but it does not requires that I be awake, so I took the opportunity to doze while she drove. We go the same places so often that I can usually correct her (rarely needed now) in my sleep.

I was gone from home for a total of four hours and forty-five minutes yesterday. Hmmm… I think I drive too much!

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Betcha didn’t know. . .

Posted at 9:28 PM on February 6, 2007
. . . that the background music at The Olive Garden plays the instrumental version of “Larry’s High Silk Hat.” It really did on Sunday night, and we were laughing out loud and singing along! That was the first time in a long time that we didn’t have to wait for a table there. They only had three wait staff working, and I think there were only about six tables occupied in the whole place. It may have had something to do with a football game that night. Town was pretty deserted, too.

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A great meeting (is that an oxymoron?)

Posted at 7:29 PM on February 3, 2007
I generally hate meetings, preferring to do something rather than sitting around talking about it. However, we had a great board meeting last night.Our ministry is set up to require an annual board meeting and it always hits in early February. Several of our board members are local, and one is out of state. We started with him on our land line speaker phone, but since that line is fuzzy at best (a cellar story for another day), we had to switch to the speaker on Scott’s cell phone. We could hear him, but he had a hard time hearing us. Well, I’m sure he could hear ME, because I tend to be a loud-mouth, but some of the other guys are very soft-spoken. Therefore, every time someone talked, we had to pass the phone around the table.

The meeting lasted forever (over four hours), but we dealt with tough issues and some great ideas came up. I am SOOOOO appreciative of my husband and the three other gentlemen God has brought together to help lead this ministry. They are exactly the kind of men you want in board members and we are greatly blessed by their service to this work of God and to us.

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“. . . and where she stops, nobody knows.”

Posted at 9:04 PM on January 31, 2007
Andrew’s long-awaited dental appointment was at 3:00 PM today. At 12:20 PM, it started snowing. Having waited a week to get these teeth “covered,” I wasn’t about to let a little snow cause us to miss the appointment. Now we are back home, the teeth are fixed and dandy, and the whole heavenly host should get overtime pay for its work today.On the way there, the highway was lightly snow-covered, but it was no big deal – there were tracks. However, the side streets to the house of dentistry were completely snow-covered. I was not unduly concerned until, while easing slowly down a hill in low gear, I gently tried the brakes and got no result. We began sliding sideways, gaining speed, toward a dumpster that was positioned right at the curb. There was no way to avoid it, so I braced myself for a collision. Instead, we slammed hard into the curb, bounced back into the center of the road, and spun a bit.

I was eventually able to ease into the dentist’s parking lot, but had to leave the van right there in the entrance.

When we came out an hour later, conditions were worse. I tried to go home a different way, but in trying to climb a different side street, we began sliding backwards. The van spun about 135 degrees counter-clockwise and we slammed into and up onto a curb, with the bottom of the van scraping the curb and eventually stopping us.

I tried reverse, slid out into the street and again slammed myself up onto the curb. My under-carriage was really complaining about this rough treatment. When I again tried to disentangle the van from the curb, we again spun backwards wildly, but this time slid into a parking lot where, as Andrew said, “we landed on a patch of dry land.”

It was snowing hard, Scott was in Springfield, and I was stuck. There were a few more details, but eventually (after I had watched two SUVs slip-slide backwards down that same hill) , a man came creeping along and askedif I needed help. He advised trying to exit the parking lot, making a hard left, gunning it up over a small rise, then creeping down to the main drag. The right turn onto the main drag would be blind, because there is a high retaining wall there that keeps you from seeing the main drag traffic virtually until you have turned into it.

I did as the man said and at the top of the rise, began honking continually. Down the rise, I swerved right, and thankfully entered the main drag between two cars (instead of into either of them). From there, we inched out way to the highway and toward home. Traffic was heavy and moving slowly, but we made it to our exit. Our road is a winding, two-lane affair, and it’s about a mile downhill and then a mile of flat to our house. I was appalled to see that at the top of the downhill, there was only one set of car tracks! We would have to share them with any traffic coming up the hill! Thankfully, it got better a little further down, and we made it home fine.

We were supposed to leave at 6:00 for a meeting and Bible study at church, but in light of the road conditions, we chose to stay home.

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2nd try on a picture

Posted at 9:12 PM on January 30, 2007
Still playing around with this.

Here we are, being silly girls.

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Maybe a picture?

Posted at 8:59 PM on January 30, 2007
I am trying hard to figure out how to put a picture in this blog. It’s a definite brain sweat.


I think I did it, but boy, was that ever painful.

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Only 24 weeks to go!

Posted at 4:52 PM on January 30, 2007
I am up to mid-December on Katie’s homeschool hours. This is a HUGE accomplishment, but pales in view of the MONTHS I am behind on Jessica’s, Josiah’s and Andrew’s. My brain is just dead on homeschool hours right now, so I am stopping for today.Scott had a man come by to look at the boys’ shower today. It leaks. Badly. We have had it “repaired” several times, but to no avail. Now we are looking at probably having to take out walls, and rebuild the thing completely. We already have one estimate on it, and although at the time I told Scott I thought we should go for it, he has not gone for it yet. This gentleman goes to our church, although we do not know him personally. He was recommended by a close friend. I am always leery of dealing with church folks. Just call me skeptical. Sometimes it works out really well, but other times relationships can really get strained. We will see what kind of recommendation and estimate he gives us.

Still no word from Katie. Not a single word.

Still no braces on Jessica’s teeth, and she says the positioner hurts.

Andrew wouldn’t do his work in a timely manner today, so he is now in debt to the tune of 15 tokens. Since it takes an solid hour of obeying right away to earn a token, there will be no candy and no friends to play with for this boy for a while. I think he may finally be learning that some walls don’t move.

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Free at last!

Posted at 7:59 PM on January 29, 2007
Jessica drove to Springfield and back today for one very important purpose: to get her braces off!!!! She is now continually smiling and running her tongue over her smooth, huge teeth. It was a pleasant way to spend a morning – at least for me.After leaving Jessica at the ortho for an hour, I took Scott his cell phone, got a free car wash (one of those really deluxe places where they actually vacuum it all out and clean your windows, too) and stocked up on pasta and canned goods at Aldi. On the way home, we stopped at Wal-Mart for chewy candy in bulk.

I tried to sleep after that, but could not quite drift off. We have driven that road SO MANY times that I know every curve, rise, and fall intimately. Even with my eyes closed, I would mumble things like, “this curve is tricky,”; or “you’ll need more gas on this uphill.”

The house was still here and the boys were alove when we arrived. They had actually done a fair job on their chores and academics, so I couldn’t complain. Now I am trying to catch up on recording homeschool hours; a task that is only a little more fun than cleaning the bathroom. Well, actually, I think I’d rather clean the bathroom. Ours, that is. Not the boys’.

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Club Members

Posted at 7:10 PM on January 28, 2007
We had lunch today with Pastor Jeff, his wife, Marty, and two of their children. They are a neat family and it was a fun time. They had not brought their three-year old son Andrew, (a true bundle of energy), to the lunch but sent him home with his grandma, because they said he is not “restaurant-friendly” right now. = ) I was surprised to learn that that he was adopted, too. So we both have adopted Andrews who are somewhat challenging and five to six years younger than their nearest siblings. It’s an elite club.I am mailing my first letter to Katie tomorrow, including a note that I hope she had to sing something significant to get it. She is away on an AIM mission trip, and whenever they receive mail, they have to sing something silly or do something else crazy in order to get their mail. Katie’s not much for “on-stage,” so it will be interesting to see what they require her to do. I may send her mail at EVERY stop – just a little parental torture.

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Heaven Will Be Paperless

Posted at 7:06 PM on January 26, 2007
After sleeping till 11:00 AM (it was off day), I spent almost three hours working on family and ministry financial stuff. I weeded through LOTS Of paper and eventually was able to discard a lot of it. I wrote ministry donation thank yous (made of paper). I prepared next month’s greeting cards (more paper). I weeded through my desk pile, looking for the ministry’s VISA bill, which should have come but hasn’t, encountering and discarding paper as I went.All that and I still have an approximately four inch thick pile of paper remaining on my desk!

Oh! That doesn’t include all the piles of checklists that have to be recorded into homeschool hours. Every time I get the homeschool hours caught up, I PROMISE myself that I will never again get behind; that I will do it EVERY Tuesday morning, no matter what. And every Tuesday morning, I seem to have a very good reason why it can’t possibly be done that day. So, it piles up and then I have even more – you guessed it – paper to deal with.

However, I am absolutely certain that heaven will be paperless.

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A Funny Place for a Seatbelt

Posted at 8:08 PM on January 25, 2007
So, we’re coming home from our big Katie’s-Going-Away-Pigout at Golden Corral, and the boys are being pretty noisy and rowdy in the back seat of the van. The volume escalates, the van sways, and the rest of us are fat and happy and just trying to tune it out.Some six miles from home, in a crescendo of hollering, I begin to hear screams and sobs. Josiah shrieks, “Oh, no! Andrew, I didn’t mean to do THAT!” And the blood pours from Andrew’s face.

They both sobbed all the way home, and the girls passed back wads of Kleenex to staunch the flow.

It seems that Andrew laid the buckle for the middle (extra) seatbelt on Josiah’s leg. Josiah threw it back at him, hitting him in the mouth, splitting his lower lip, and breaking off two of Andrew’s lower, permanent teeth. So Andrew was screaming in pain, and Josiah was screaming in horror at the fact that he had broken off his brother’s teeth.

There’s a lot more to the story, but I will cut to the amazing part. The next morning, we were sent to see a prosthodontist. He noted, and I clearly saw, a “pink dot” in the center of one tooth – the exposed root. For that reason, Andrew would need to have root canals done, ceramic posts implanted, and the teeth artificially reconstructed. These “teeth” would need to be re-done every 3-5 years. Around age 18, the ceramic posts would be replaced with titanium ones, and the teeth would be crowned. I don’t want to think about the price of crowns in ten years, but the immediate root canals and initial tooth-rebuilds would cost enough to buy a more than adequate used car. Because of some details related to Andrew’s age and tooth root development, the prosthodontist wanted the root canals done by an even more special specialist. He recommended a good endodontist. That was yesterday.

Today we saw the endodontist. She was amazed that Andrew was not in pain (even without Ibuprofen) and noted that it looked like the teeth had been broken off high enough that there was some enamel still covering the pulp – that is, possibly the roots were not exposed. She also said that there was no “pink dot” in the middle of either tooth. I told her there had been one yesterday, and that that was why the prosthodontist wanted the root canals done in the first place. We both looked closely – I with my ACME bifocals, and she with her super-duper, glasses-mounted magnifiers, and there was NO PINK DOT. It was there yesterday, but it wasn’t there today. I’m not super-spiritual, but I am telling you that I had chills looking into the kid’s mouth. The teeth just looked tooth-colored. God certainly did something amazing in there between yesterday and today!

So, the endodontist decided not to do any root canals now. She wants to see x-rays again in a month and periodically after that. We will go to our regular dentist next week to get “fillings” put on over the remaining “stumps,” and those will hopefully last a good long while. As a young man, he will eventually have to have those teeth crowned, but for now, it looks like God has supernaturally delivered him out of what was going to be a very difficult and costly series of treatments.

And we will have no more discussions between seat belts and teeth.

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t’s been a good day

Posted at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2007
Even though I stayed up too late last night to finish stuffing ministry newsletters. . . and then couldn’t fall asleep. . . and then had nightmares. . . and then overslept, I have been determined to make this a good day.Here’s the proof:

1. Andrew has not frinked all day.
2. Josiah has worked well on his chores and academics.
3. I have not lost my cool with either boy.
4. I walked with Jessica and with Andrew (on his bike) to the low-water bridge and back
5. I finished licking all the newsletters.
6. I dealt with a bunch of emails.
7. I was involved with both boys’ academics.
8. The library lists are printed.
9. I am still a happy mommy.

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My mom and my mom and my dad

Posted at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2007
We have had a super visit with Scott’s mom. She arrived on December 28 and just left yesterday. Although we were all sick with colds while she was here (yuck!), we did manage to take her to SDC to see the lights, ran a number of errands with her, and played LOTS of Bridge! We also tried out a new card game that she received for Christmas called Swap. It is very easy and fun for a large group of various ages.Scott’s mom loves to cook, and since I avoid cooking whenever possible, it was a good fit. She treated us to Beef Steak Stir-Fry; Pork Roast with Twice-Baked Potatoes, Apple Salad, and Cinnamon Apple Sauce; Turkey, Creamy Cheese Potatoes, Carrots, Green Bean Casserole, and Chef’s Salad. All that, plus loads of Christmas cookies and ice cream for dessert – no lack of great food when Mom is here!

My parents visited us for three days, ending just after Scott’s mom arrived, so for a couple hours, both of my moms were here. My folks came the day after Christmas, and it was great to get to spend some relaxing time with them. We did a lot of talking and not much else, which was fun for me and the kids. Scott was working his paying job and doing ministry work off and on while the various parents were here, but he was able to visit, too. He is a man of many abilities and flexibility.

Throughout the season, I have been trying to lose weight. My doctor has me on a new med that is helping a lot. So far, I have lost ten pounds since November 25, and I am really motivated to continue the downward spiral.

Maybe instead of eating, I should update my blog!

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Mom! Guess what was in my shorts drawer!!!

Posted at 5:32 PM on September 29, 2006

We had spent quite a bit of time wandering up and down Coffee Road staring into the gravel, looking for my lost wedding ring. It had fallen off while Scott and I were out walking a few nights ago. I had given up on ever seeing it again, and I figured someday we’d have to spend the bucks to buy another one – since I feel naked and judged without it. I was not terribly upset as this lost ring had simply been a replacement for the original one; the one I had “outgrown” after gaining way too much weight during three pregnancies. Mainly, I hated the thought of having to spend money on such a silly thing. I even told the kids I would give $20 to anyone who found my ring – knowing full well that would never happen.

Yesterday, Josiah was about to leave for AIM. He had on a pair of shorts that I thought were a bit too short. (AIM has very conservative modest dress requirments.) When I mentioned that, he assured me that they were fine, so I let it drop. A few minutes later, he ran back upstairs. When I hollered, “Why?” he said he needed to change shorts. Beats me. Maybe Katie (in AIM leadership) told him he needed to change. Maybe it was God.

Josiah came thundering down the stairs hollering like crazy, “Mom! Mom! Mom! GUESS what was in my shorts drawer!!!”

The first thing that went through my mind was, “a dead mouse,” but what I said was, “Do I really WANT to know what was in your shorts drawer?”

“You do, Mom. You really do, and you won’t believe it!”

(Wearily) “OK, Josiah. What was in your shorts drawer?”

“Look!!!” He held up my wedding ring.

I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say, and I am rarely at a loss for words. No one knows how it got in there. He said it was in the bottom of his drawer and when he dug around for a different pair of shorts, he saw something shiny. At first he ignored it, being in a hurry to leave, but when he looked more closely, he saw it was a ring – my wedding ring.

Josiah is happy. He has $20.

I am happy. I have a ring on my finger and it only cost $20.

I wonder what else might be lurking in his shorts drawer. . .

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Jessica leaves in the morning

Posted at 9:49 PM on September 27, 2006

I think I’m gonna cry.

We are all really excited about this mission trip for Jessica. We know it will be great for the kingdom of God and great for her. However, I’m really going to miss her – her smiles, her encouragement, her help with everything imaginable. Just walking past her empty room all the time is going to be a challenge for me.

Maybe I need as much prayer support as she does.

I wish Scott were here. He could either keep me from crying or tell me it’s okay to cry. However, he is playing basketball. He plays on Wednesday nights from 9:00 -11:00 PM. Six weeks ago, he jammed his finger, and it’s been swollen, and he still can’t get his wedding ring off. We were walking on Coffee Road the other night, when I suddenly realized that my wedding ring was gone. I think it fell off while we were walking. We have all looked for it, and it will either show up, or someday we’ll get another one. I didn’t cry about that, but Jessica’s leaving in the morning for SIX WEEKS!

I think I’ll go brush my teeth and go to bed. I need to be up at 5:30 in the morning to take her to town.

We’re going to make it a great six weeks!

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Tickets – such minor details

Posted at 5:30 PM on August 19, 2006

Scott and Andrew flew to his (Scott’s) mom’s place yesterday. Andrew will stay there for two weeks while Scott is away on other business. This morning, Mom and Andrew accompanied Scott on the subway to the airport, where they dropped him off, and they went on to see the sights about town. It’s a big town. Alone at the airport, Scott called me.

We talked about various family and business matters and said “I love you” bunches of times. Then he mentioned to me that no arrangements had been made for the logistics of his picking up Andrew on the way home. Yikes! He only has two hours in that airport (if his flight’s on time), which is not a lot of time these days. The conversation went something like this:

My Hero: Mom and I didn’t talk about how I’m going to get Andrew

Me:

My Hero: So, you’ll need to call her and tell her. . .

Me: OK, what should I tell her?

My Hero: I’ll meet them at the security check.

Me: Can she just walk him up to the security checkpoint and put him in line? Usually if there’s a little kid in line (Andrew is 7), the other adult passengers will be helpful to him, right?

My Hero: Well, I’ll be coming in to the international terminal and going through customs. Then I’ll have to go over to that terminal and I think I’ll have to go through security to get in there.

Me: So should they meet you at the security check, but not put him in line until you get there?

My Hero: I don’t have much time in that city. If my flight in is late. . . Hmmm. . . No, tell them to meet me at the United ticket counter.

Me: OK. Does Mom have Andrew’s ticket or e-ticket or whatever she needs to check him in, or do you have that?

My Hero: No.

Me: What do you mean? Who has it?

My Hero: Neither of us.

Me:

My Hero: It’s in that email I sent you. Remember? It’s on your computer. Send it to my sister and have her print it and give it to Mom.

Me: All right. I’ll email it to your sister and ask her to give it to Mom. Then Mom and Andrew should wait for you at the United ticket counter, right?

My Hero: Yes. And remind Mom, or whoever takes Andrew to the airport, to take Mom’s cell phone, so we can connect. Mom’s cell is the only contact number I’ll have with me.

This is fairly normal for us. I’m sure Andrew will have fun with his grandma, Grandma will not be bored, and Scott’s work will go well. I guess the worst that could happen is that Scott could come in late and Andrew’s luggage would get home ahead of them, but I’m sure we can deal with that. As long as there’s no toothpaste in his backpack!

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Go to the ant

Posted at 10:34 PM on August 18, 2006

I am one proud momma tonight!

After getting up at 4:15 AM to take Scott and Andrew to the airport this morning (and it was Off Day morning, on which I usually sleep till 9:30 AM and actually stand up around 11:00), we stopped at Krispy Kreme for a treat on the way home. I made it home, but was so tired that I climbed back into bed – fully clothed and with my tennis shoes on – and fell asleep until 11:15 AM.

While I was a slug, my kids got up and did what needed to be done, because they had planned to get together with some of the AIM team at our house from 1:30 – 3:30. There had been some last-minute changes to their upcoming presentation, and they had to come up with and practice to perfection EIGHT mime skits, each of which was based on a designated character trait, and could only be 30 seconds long.

Our kids used their own gas money to go pick up all the other kids and bring them to our house (and later take them back home). They didn’t complain about that one little bit. The meeting took longer than expected and they ended up working for four hours to design and practice the skits.

Although Josiah did become somewhat annoying over time, they all worked together well. In fact, when they were working the hardest, there was total silence in the living room. = )

When the “work” was done, they fixed a dinner mac and cheese for the gang and played around for a while.

I am just so very proud that they chose to spend half their Off Day and a chunk of change to do this. We have some truly wonderful kids!

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Twas the night before flying and all through the house…

Posted at 8:50 PM on August 17, 2006

The young child is in bed, the spouse is packing, and we are looking forward to arising at 4:15 AM tomorrow to leave for the airport at 5:00, to get to the airport at 5:50 for a flight shortly thereafter.

I, of course, must go, because 1) I am the designated driver, and 2) I wouldn’t miss being there to see Andrew off. He is alternately exicted and hestitant. He will be staying with his Grandma while Scott is traveling. We are praying for Grandma.

Katie, whose preferred time for arising any day and especially on Off Day is about 11:00 AM, will stay home, as will Josiah, who has not been sleeping well, claims to have been awake last night till 4:00 AM, and is “exhausted.”

Jessica, the chipper, energetic, and enthusiastic one, says she will get up to accompany us. It will be an early start to a grand adventure.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Promise Keepers played tonight (nothing like cramming one more activity into an already packed day), but sadly did not win. That may be due to the fact that they were short one player and the opposing team took advantage by pounding them in the outfield.

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Sunday was a very long day

Posted at 12:39 PM on August 14, 2006

Here’s how to NOT feel rested and refreshed.

Leave the house at 9:00 AM for church (10:00 AM – noonish). Proceed from there to a home for the final meeting of your small group. Arrive there at 12:50, and begin eating at 1:00 PM. Start your teaching time at 1:30.

Have in your notes three times the amount of material you can possibly cover in one session – but you can’t have another session, because the church leadership says all groups are to end on a certain week. Add to that a fair amount of discussion and a wife who talks too much.

Race to finish presenting your material and succeed, sort-of, stopping abruptly at 4:15 PM. Leave the host home and go back to church to attend your pastor’s mentoring group (limited to 12 guys, don’t miss, and don’t be late).

Leave your wife to finish up yoru small group by having the members fill out a feedback qeustionnaire and do prayer groups. The men do thsi quickly, but the women. . . oh, well.

Arrive home at 7:15 PM, assuming that your wife will have been home for a couple hours. No, she talks too much, so she just got home at 6:30 PM!

Bake two frozen pizzas, call them dinner, and call it a day. Sundays are not suppose to be quite that long. However, church was good and the two groups were also good. Good things just take time.

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Four and a half hours at the ball field

Posted at 11:54 PM on August 10, 2006

Tonight was the final night of Scott’s church softball league post-season tournament. By winning last week, we earned the right to play The Sanctuary at 6:30. Scott got an in-the-park grand slam in the first inning! It was a not too severe of a challenge; the game was called when we were up by 10 after 5 innings.

We had about an hour and fifteen minutes off to wander and talk. We mainly sat in the car with the AC running, as it was over 90 degrees.

Our 8:30 game was against Tri-Lakes Christian, a better team. It was more of a challenge, but again we won!

Then we moved to the other field to face the #1 team in the league: Forsyth Baptist White. (That church is huge and fields four softball teams, so they are known by color.) We started off with a few runs, but they quickly caught and passed us. At one point, I think we were down by about ten runs. Our guys were just not catching their extremely well-hit, well-placed balls.

We began a come-back, but it ended up being too little too late. With about three minutes left, we began to see lightning. Afraid that the umps would call the game, everyone really picked up the pace. Our guys were fielding better and hitting really well. However, Forsyth White took first place: 19 to 16.

For second, we got a really tall green and gold trophy, and I took a picture of the guys with it. It was a long, but very fun night at the ball park. The team will be playing fall ball, as well, and due to a number of summer league games being rained out (and therefore played subsequent weeks), fall ball starts next Thursday. So, there will be no break in the action for our family. = )

for the fall, we don’t play in a church league, but in the men’s recreational league, which is a bit more competitive, and can involve slightly more colorful language from the members of other teams. I’m hoping next Thursday’s game is early. Parts of our family have to catch a flight an hour from here at 6:00 the next morning, and with today’s terrorist stuff in London, etc., we may have to have them to the airport by 5:00 AM. Ugh!

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We are having a male-less day

Posted at 3:18 PM on August 7, 2006

Scott’s at work, and Josiah and Andrew at are their friends’ house for the day. It is VERY, VERY quiet here.

I have not told ANYone to do ANYthing all day.

I haven’t told anyone to stop fighting.

I haven’t reminded anyone to do his chores, or academics, or put on his deodorant, or clean his room, or make his bed, or eat, or take meds, or stop fighting.

It is peaceful, calm, tranquil, and relaxing.

The house is quiet. I had forgotten what quiet sounds like.

We watched Jeopardy at lunch and could hear the whole show.

I didn’t have to tell anyone to eat, or finish eating, or stop fighting.

No one in the house has hit anyone else all day.

No one is fighting.

There have been no boy noises made in our home since yesterday.

The menfolk will be home at 5:30. I have 2 hours and 6 minutes before I have to tell anyone to do anything, to stop fighting, to change clothes, to put on deodorant, to eat, to do the supper clean-up, to bring home Scout papers, to stop fighting.

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Thank you, Jack Sample

Posted at 7:19 PM on July 25, 2006

Katie is studying chemistry, not because she wants to, but because we require her to. She dislikes it strongly. The textbook she is using is written for homeschoolers and has 16 modules. She used texts by the same author for general science (which Jessica and Josiah are now using) and biology.

She did the general science on her own and did well with it – but she hated it.

Biology was a lot tougher, and we decided that I should lecture her, because she seemed to understand the material better that way. I didn’t particularly want to go through biology again – having studied both biology and advanced biology in high school (ask me about the fruit flies) – but I did it. I read each module, decided what to say, and used a marker board to try to clarify things. I think she hated biology in general and the lectures in particular, but I did try to make them fun. I drew goofy pictures, and I’m sure she will never forget “cytoplasmic streaming.” Something must have clicked, because she did quite well on her biology CLEP test.

Katie did the first six modules of chemistry on her own, but it seemed like a struggle. I offered to lecture her, and she took me up on it. I lectured a module on atomic structure, which she is just finishing up, and I have just (in the last few minutes) finished reading and taking notes on 31 pages about molecular structure.

Here’s the amazing thing. I actually remember this stuff!!! Mr. Jack Sample taught my high school chemistry class, and at the time, it was really hard and I didn’t think I was learning much. That was 29 years ago, and Mr. Sample, who was not a spring chicken then, is probably starting to get old. BUT, all this periodic table stuff and ionic and covalent bonds and electron configurations and chemcial formulas – they are like old friends! I’m reading this chapter and thinking, “Hey! I could actually do this for a grade and do pretty well!”

There’s one big difference between chemistry now and chemistry when I was in school. Calculators were not allowed on our school property, at all, period. I did all my chemistry computations with . . . are you ready? . . . A SLIDE RULE!!! And I saved it. It’s buried in our office somewhere, just so that someday I can show my kids how it works – if I can remember.

Right now my brain is happily full of Lewis diagrams. I guess I’ll call it a night.

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In heaven, I’m hiring a cook!

Posted at 6:52 PM on July 24, 2006

Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate to cook. I have gone through various stages to reach my current location on this journey.

There was the My-Mom-Tried-to-Teach-Me-to-Cook-But-I-Refused-to Learn phase, which lasted a few years and ended abruptly when I left for college.

That, of course, was followed directly by the Mystery-Meat-in-the-Cafeteria phase, which was four years of yuck, but at least it was four years during which I didn’t have to cook anything.

I rented a small house for a while after college, during which time I subsisted in the Tuna-Salad-on-Saltine-Crackers phase. Moving back home and working multiple part-time jobs landed me squarely in the Sack-Lunch-also-known-as-Bologna-and-Swiss-Cheese-Sandwich phase.

I didn’t know (or want to learn) how to cook when I got married. It just seemed like such a glorious waste of good time. Scott was very patient, while we ate spaghetti night after night after night. I did learn that you should never bake a chicken with all that junk on the inside. There’s also a good story about the chicken on the faucet, and somewhere we have a picture of Scott in a lacy apron dealing with that chicken. . . I did gradually learn to cook, but only with a recipe.

Children came and my skills and repertoire grew. I went through a Plan-a-Month-of-Meals-at-a-Time phase, several times over several years. That worked well, but it was an awful lot of work.

More recently, I have been in my Freezer-Pleaser phase, in which I make a double batch of something, we eat one batch tonight and feed the other batch to the freezer. On occasion – when sanity in is short supply – I have even been known to prepare up to six meals in one day. The freezer is always eagerly panting to receive five extra meals at once.

However, I now find myself solidly in the (pre-menopasual?) Cook-as-Little-as-You-Can-Possibly-Get-By-With phase. It looks like this:

Sunday: No one cooks because we are either gone to group (eat there) or at home doing nothing (eat left-overs).

Monday: I cook, hopefully one for us and one for the freezer.

Tuesday: Jessica cooks. She needs to learn, right?

Wednesday: No one cooks because it’s either library week (eat at Wendy’s or Cici’s), or it’s not library week (eat mac and cheese at home before church).

Thursday: I have to cook again (sigh).

Friday: No one cooks because it’s off day and either we go out on a date (restaurant staff cooks) or we don’t (eat leftovers).

Saturday: Katie cooks. She hates to cook, too. Maybe I should bequeath her 975 gallons of spaghetti sauce.

So, it’s not all that bad. All I really have to do is motivate myself to prepare something wonderful in a double batch twice a week, but now I have a new problem. For some strange reason my (pre-menopausal?) brain, which has managed to function somewhat normally for most of my life, cannot – even with the help of lists – seem to keep the house stocked with the basics.

For example, I was going to make crock-pot pizza. We always have the ingredients on hand, but once I got the sausage thawing, I discovered that even though I KNEW we had three cans of spaghetti sauce on the shelf, and I only needed one, we actually didn’t have any. And neither did the convenience store next door.

Or take the Tex-Mex salad I was going to make for group. It calls for 8 oz. Ranch dressing. We have a (16 oz.) bottle and a half, so it should be no problem; except that when I go to get out the Ranch dressing, there’s only a third of a bottle in there.

And today, being Monday, you know, I was determined to make something really good. Pork chops, mashed potatoes, maybe some green beans, and a salad. Yum. I thaw the pork chops and start collecting the stuff to make the mashed potatoes. 10 potatoes are needed, but I only have six! And one of those is soft!!!

So, tonight it’s – you guessed it – spaghetti. I hate to cook.

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Redefining hot

Posted at 4:41 PM on July 20, 2006

Today is a hot day. Now, I have experienced hot before. After all, I lived in Arkansas (the queen of partly cloudy, hot and humid) for 25 years. I know sweat and I know hot. However, today may just take the cake on all my previous experiences of hot.

It is now 4:43 PM and a few minutes ago, Scott looked out the office window at the big, round thermometer mounted on the smokehouse and said, “You might want to go out and take a picture of that.” So, I gathered ye old digital camera and headed into Sweatsville to obtain several photos of said thermometer, in the shade (and it had been in the shade for several hours) that registered 106 degrees.

I’m not sure I have personally witnessed that sight before today.

We are inside, and the first floor is a quite comfortable 80 degrees. No one is down there. Up here in the office, it is probably 87 or so. I don’t even want to think how hot it must be up in Katie’s room on the third floor, but she is gone to AIM all afternoon and so doesn’t care.

Scott has a ball game tonight. Last week, his game was cancelled, because the regional finals of the Little League World Series were being held at Stockstill Park. While we are honored that many 11 and 12 year old boys came from surrounding states to visit our fair park, we were all very disappointed that Scott didn’t get to play.

We have been eagerly awaiting tonight’s game, but I am wondering how well the guys will be able to play in this heat. His game is at 8:30, so that will help a bit. We will take plenty of water (to drink or wear) and I am forgoing makeup in honor of the heat wave.

Nothing will stop the valiant Roberts team. Play ball!

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A brief touchdown

Posted at 8:25 PM on July 16, 2006

Josiah spent last week (Sunday – Saturday) at Boy Scout camp. It was relatively quiet around here. There was a lot less food on the dining room floor. I didn’t have to drag him out of bed. We didn’t have meltdowns or sky-high insanity. I only had to think for one-and-a-half of us: part of Andrew and me.

Josiah got home around noon on Saturday. Mr. Bill and Mr. Rick had remembered to give him his meds – God bless them! – and he was really talkative, but very respectful. He showered (a VERY good thing), unloaded all his stuff (and actually put it away), started his laundry, and mowed the yard without complaining.

Today was another story. From the moment we got home from church until now (8:30 PM), he has either been high as a kite, improperly hyper-focused, in trouble, screaming with or at Andrew, or heading south. Big sigh.

However, all we have left tonight is to get him packed for Camp Lookout, and I can get him in bed. He should be pretty chipper in the AM, because he really likes Camp Lookout. He will be there Monday – Friday. Not too shabby: two weeks back to back with no academics, few chores, and lots of fun. I want him to enjoy it all, but I want us to enjoy his being home, too.

Maybe things will be smoother next weekend. I am full of hope!

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What’s in a name?

Posted at 7:23 PM on July 8, 2006

Today was Andrew’s turn to pick our activity for family night (which we are doing in the afternoon, because Scott is leading a church service in China – from home – on Saturday nights). However, while we were playing cuppers during Saturday’s “stuff with Dad” time, Andrew refused to obey right away and therefore lost his turn at picking the family night activity.

Josiah was next in line and he chose swimming. It didn’t matter that we spent most of teh day at White Water on Thursday, or that three of the kids went swimming yesterday with the AIM girls; swimming it was.

So we drove down to the swimming hole, where many other folks had also gathered. While we were swimming, the kids began using their “water” names for each other. I thought they were quite funny and descriptive.

Andrew: The Greatest Man in the World

Katie: The Fierce Lady

Jessica: The Underminer

Josiah: The Sea Monster

Scott and I don’t have official names yet, but it was really fun to hear cries like, “Look out Fierce Lady; the Sea Monster is after you!”

Scott also threw Andrew in the air to turn back flips and front flips. His best back flip scored 9.8 with with a 2.0 degree of difficulty, and his best front flip rated only a 9.3, but it had a 2.3 degree of difficulty.

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“Close the door!”

Posted at 5:08 PM on July 3, 2006

It’s a cry often heard in our dining room. The door from the dining room to the breezeway doesn’t close all the way, unless you pull it very carefully shut and then twist the knob a bit. After that, you must still check to see that the latch caught and that the door is indeed closed. Usually it’s not, and that’s why someone is almost always hollering, “CLOSE THE DOOR.”

I have even been known to sing that command, to the tune the French National Anthem. “Close the door, close the door of my DIE—-ning room; close the door of (pause) liberty!” It is sung with great passion and much vibrato, but even then, the door is usually left slightly ajar.

I looked at the door a few weeks ago and thought, “what we need is one of those nifty gizmos that you put on a screen door to pull it shut.” I turned to my husband and said, “what we need is one of those nifty gizmos that you put on a screen door to pull it shut.” He didn’t say much.

The dining room door is solid wood (except for the large pane of ancient “wavy” glass in its top half) and weighs much more than any screen door I’ve ever seen. It also drags on the carpet. Why people put carpet in dining rooms is beyond me, but that’s another issue entirely.

We went to Home Depot. There is a new one just seven miles from home, which is about three miles and many construction delays closer than Lowe’s (our former home improvement center of choice). There we located a “door closer” that was good for doors up to 170 pounds. We brought that puppy home and my husband installed it. It really works! Now, the dining room door automatically slams (if the outer door is also open) or fwumps (if the outer door is closed) shut, all by its little lonesome, and we NEVER have to say – or hear, or sing – “close the door!”

Post Script: We have lived in our version of “This Old House” for ten years. Why two reasonably intelligent adults took a decade to consider a door closer is remains a mystery.

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Take Me out to the Ball Game, Part 1

Posted at 5:35 PM on June 15, 2006

Last week, like every other week in the summer, the family went to Scott’s softball game, and as always, Andrew and Josiah rode bikes, Jessica roller-bladed, Katie and I watched the game, and Scott played ball like a wild man.

The problems never happen during the game. It’s after the game that all the fun begins. One week, Scott left his sweats in the dugout. We got all the way to the car – quite a little walk – before he discovered it. He borrowed Andrew’s bike and coasted (a very funny sight) back down into the park. The sweats were gone.

Another night, the game ended and five of us congregated at the cars. We usually take two vehicles to ball games. Josiah was no where. I asked Jessica to blade around looking for him, and she did, but she found no Jo. Then Scott took off on foot with a cell phone in hand. Stockstill Park is built in a narrow valley along Roark Creek. There are two ball fields (one at each end) and a ball-field-sized space in between them, containing a large playground, restrooms (with doors and TT!), and concessions.

The parking lot, where we were assembled as Scott headed down to look for Josiah, is at the near end of the valley. There is a 1/2 mile paved walking trail that surrounds the whole complex, which is where the boys bike and Jessica blades. Part of the walking trail runs right next to the creek, which is why Josiah is often quite damp – well, actually soaked – after ball games. = )

Recently, the city of Branson added an extension to the paved walking trail. It takes off from behind the center field fence of the farthest ball field and runs away from the main loop, off into the woods at the far end of the valley. I’m not sure how long that trail is, because we have only walked a short part of it, but we think it goes all the way through to the auxiliary parking lot for Skaggs Hospital over on Highway 65.

Jessica had already looked for Josiah on the main loop, so Scott was planning to head out into the boonies on the new trail to try to find him. Meanwhile, he suggested that I go look over in the tennis court area, which is at the opposite end of the parking lot from the ball field complex.

I walked to the end of the parking lot, saw two tennis matches in progress under the lights, noted alll the (empty) well-illuminated benches around those tennis courts, scanned the sidewalks around the tennis courts (no pedestrians or cyclists), and called Scott to tell him that Josiah was NOT at the tennis courts.

Scott went pretty far down the new path, probably hollering. I had told the girls and Andrew to stay at the van, because Scott and I had the only two phones, and I didn’t want to lose yet another child in the search for #3.

Supper’s ready. . . To be continued!

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Sometimes Bridge stinks

Posted at 9:10 PM on May 25, 2006

Stink #1: Scott’s ball game was cancelled. I really enjoy watching his team play. Last week, they went into (2!) extra innings and won against one of the better teams in the league, 18 to 17. That game ended at 11:30 PM. It rained a little bit here around 6:45 PM and I guess it rained more in Branson, or maybe they cancelled it because of lightning. I don’t know.

Stink #2: Scott asked us to play Bridge, which is usually fun. However, tonight Jessica and I just didn’t get any points. I had two points in the final hand and the whole rubber was over in less than 45 minutes. Ugh.

Of course, there are many greater aromas. Here’s a small one: with no ball game, I will be able to get a full night’s sleep tonight, and that will be luxurious!

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And then there were three; licensed drivers, that is

Posted at 9:11 PM on May 23, 2006

I spent almost three hours at the license bureau today. They don’t take appointments.

After waiting almost two hours, Katie got to take her driving test, which she passed with a score of 88. And yes, she parallel parked like a pro.

Katie was the final testee of the day, and the tester said she was the best of the whole day. We both got some kudos when the tester told us that I had obviously had her behind the wheel a lot and that she was “thinking like a driver.”

It’s a fact that Katie doesn’t like to drive, but now that she has her license, I can legally force to her run errands – except from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM.

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What a group!

Posted at 11:08 PM on May 21, 2006

We had our small group tonight (Proactive Parenting) and the topic was spiritual training. Scott totally outdid himself. His lesson was smooth as silk; like a finely-crafted sermon. As usual, we went long, too long. However, most of the people were eating it up. We gave them lots of ideas and a lot of hand-outs with resources: memory verse lists, Bible reading lists, questionnaire, etc.

Our next and final meeting will be in three weeks, on June 11. That is mainly because Scott wants to go camping on June 18, which was to be our last meeting, and because he thinks we should wrap up this group.

Not counting us, there are six couples and one single in the group. Of those six couples, four of them have significant (and that is putting it graciously) marriage problems. Those issues make it really hard for some of the spouses to implement the parenting suggestions we are presenting.

I think we are making a posistive difference in some of the families. Scott’s lesson was so good tonight that I wish it had been taped!

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How to help Andrew?

Posted at 10:22 PM on May 17, 2006

Tonight I got a bad report on Andrew’s behavior in Kidz Church, from some weeks ago. It seems he always sits with his two girl friends (not to be confused with girlfriends) and often has to be told to stop talking or leave them alone. I am inclined to make him sit with us in big church, but I also don’t want to be too hard on the guy.

He already has challenges with bed-wetting, finger-sucking, virtually constant disobedience, and a frequent nasty attitude. I really want to help him, not hinder him, but I don’t know what to do.

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I swept the driveway today

Posted at 5:43 PM on May 17, 2006

Our two neighbors share a driveway. It merges with the foot of ours at the bottom of their hill. Their gravel has washed down, across our driveway, down the shoulder of the highway and into my little flower bed around the mailbox. This angers me, so I have spent parts of two days sweeping (with a regular corn broom!) their gravel back onto theri driveway(s).

Enough sweating. Now I get to enjoy writing.

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I went to Lowe’s

These are words that probably cause heart palpitations for my husband.  I really like Lowe’s, and you will soon be able to tell by our VISA charges.  Actually, it wasn’t all that bad.  It’s spring, and I am READY to do some gardening tasks.  While I have accumulated some of the necessary supplies here, a trips to Lowe’s was in order.

It would be nicer if Lowe’s were a little less than 12 miles from home.  However, living where we do, everything is at least seven miles away.  A Home Depot went in at Branson Hills Parkway, and that’s only eight miles, but I just do not like Home Depot nearly as much as Lowe’s.

When we lived in Little Rock, we fought a monumental battle with Planning and Zoning to prevent a Lowe’s from going in against our back property line.  Instead, it became a Best Buy, and all things considered, I’d probably rather had Lowe’s.

I gave a lot of thought and planning to my purchases today.  There are three distinct projects underway in our yard.

First, I want to enlarge the flower bed around the tree in the front yard.  This required additional terra cotta looking edging stone stuff, and more garden soil.

Second, I am enlarging the mailbox flower bed and putting a firm front edge on it.  Some of the garden soil will go for that, and I bought some nice little $0.38 pavement stones that will run right along the pavement.  Right now the soil of the bed just runs flush with the pavement, and that means lots of little bits of gravel and miscellaneous gradu are thrown into the bed.  For the curved side, I am using more stones from our property.  We have no lack of stones.  This morning I pulled quite a few out of the drainage ditch, but I don’t have enough yet.  I must make it a priority to get the rest out before the poison ivy starts growing in the ditch.

Third, I will plant tomatoes in our barrels again, and for that I needed potting soil and $3.48 worth of tomatoes.

To top it all off (literally) I bought a bag of mulch.  I think it will take about five more bags of mulch to do the whole job, but I want to sell Scott on how nice it looks first.

Recycling

No, I don’t claim to be green in any sense of the word. My dad says it isn’t easy being green. Actually, out here in the sticks, we don’t recycle anything. BUT, I had a brilliant idea the other day and it’s actually working pretty well.

I could say a lot of funny things about the playroom, but I need to get the Saucy Cheesy Bake in the oven, so those historical (and possibly hysterical) comments will either wait till another day or never be said. What you really need to know about the playroom is that it is filled with air – and a lot of other stuff – and that that air can wax humid. Some months ago, Scott bought a dehumidifier to take care of that problem. Th dehumidifier has to be emptied twice a week. Maybe more often in the summer.

We have been running a vaporizer in our bedroom all winter. It keeps Scott from having asthma problems and me from having skin problems. It uses about 1.5 gallons of water per night. Buying, hauling, and storing that much distilled water is a pain. We use tap water. Our tap water is so calcium-ridden that it can be sliced. We like it that way.

I have to disassemble the vaporizer each week and vinegar soak all the parts. It takes a whole day and it’s tedious. It’s a pain.

We iron men’s clothes. The iron calls for tap water, but we have to use distilled water because the vinegar soaking the iron is a pain, and even after you do it, the iron still spits little white pebbles onto the clothes.

One day I found myself walking around with a light bulb suspended from a skyhook over my head. “Hey, Josiah. Next time you empty the dehumidifier, instead of pitching the water out the back door, pour it into this empty milk jug.” We buy six or seven gallons of milk a week, so there is always a superfluity of jugs around.

We ran the “air water” through the vaporizer and, lo and behold, NO CALCIUM BUILD-UP! We ran the “air water” through the iron, and lo and behold, NO WHITE PEBBLES on Scott’s shirt collars!

So, we don’t recycle plastic or cardboard or glass, but now we do recycle a little bit of humidity.