Archive for November, 2010


One of the really nice things I am remembering about Jessica- now that she’s home for a while – is that she notices things and comments positively on them.  She noticed that I organized the recipes, and she thanked me!  She saw a gift I had made for someone and commented, “Oh, Mom, it’s BEAUTIFUL!”

Now, it’s not that the guys aren’t nice.  They are.  Very nice, actually.  but it’s just different having a fellow female in the house.

Thanks, for coming home, Jessica.


I’m usually an okay waiter, meaning that I can usually endure delays (as long as they don’t cause me to be late, which is a whole ‘nother story) pretty patiently.  Tonight we are enduring patiently while United moves Jessica’s flight home from Chicago later and later.  The most recent estimate is that she will land around 11:55 PM, so we are sitting around the house, frequently refreshing the United flight status page, and waiting till it’s time to leave.

It will be great to see Jessica, and no matter how sleepy we get while we wait, we can’t be as tired as she is, having been in transit now for some 25 and a half hours, with probably another three or four till she’s home.  That’s one L-O-N-G day, and – smart girl – she stayed awake all but two hours on the plane to maximize her chances of sleeping tonight.  She’s a stronger woman than I am!


Katie will be home for Thanksgiving in less than a week, and I have her on my mind and in my heart.  With a nod to her successful completion of four semesters of college Latin and her present role as teacher of Latin to two young homeschoolers,we provide the above exclamation of joy relative to Josiah’s Sonlight Core 100 (American History in Depth):  It is finished!

That’s right, sports fans and geeks far and wide.  Josiah has FINISHED Core 100, including all the writing assignments (weekly assignments, current events reports, and two research papers) and all the history and literature reading assignments.  In addition to reading a 10-volume lower-level treatise on U.S. history and a 200+ page poetry book, he read some 50 additional books, including biographies, historical fictions, non-fictions, and other miscellaneous fictions.

Of course, it is to be remembered that his older sisters both did likewise – and, I might add, with significantly less (that is to say, no) input from their mother, but they did not face the same constellation of challenges in so doing that Josiah did.  While it is true that he pulled a great deal of his hair over the past year, only a small fraction of it actually came out.  And, while I certainly possess more gray hairs than I did when we started this wonderful core on December 2, 2009, Josiah and I still generally like each other.

So, mission accomplished, and by the way, he received for his efforts an A in US history, an A in American Literature, and an A in Composition.  Next task on the agenda:  complete Saxon Algebra 2 before Thanksgiving break.

Over three HOURS?!?!?

Today’s question is, “Why, in the name of all that is holy, would it take me three hours and ten minutes to do one week’s worth of ironing?”  Especially when it was only Scott’s work/church clothes (read: four shirts max) and Josiah’s work clothes (read: two pairs of pants and two shirts).

Well, there was also the issue of Andrew’s approaching his major growth spurt.  He played in a piano recital at a nursing home on Sunday, and I noticed as we walked in to the place that, although his jacket fit him well (it was missing a button, but no one had told me that and there was nothing I could do about it anyway), his pants were about an inch too short.  Sigh.  That was a little embarrassing, but again, nothing could be done, so the show went on.  He looked dashing and played as well.

On Monday, as I began tackling the ironing, I remembered Andrew’s short pants and went into the playroom to see if by chance we had any 14 slims stashed away.  Eureka!!!  We had one pair each of khaki, navy, and black!  The navy was brand new and had glue residue from the tag down one hip, and it was missing a button (is that a theme for me this week?), so I tossed them in the laundry basket, but I did iron the other two.  BTW, Andrew now has to buy all his clothes out of his twice-a-month disbursement, so he should be REALLY happy about that find.

However, even when you add in two pairs of pants for Andrew, it shouldn’t have taken all THAT long to do the ironing.  It turns out that the real issue was the overgrowth from Josiah’s room.  You see, he tends to leave clothes (clean, dirty, or unknown) piled in and around baskets on his bedroom floor, and we all know what happens when you leave two of anything alone together overnight.

By Monday morning, there had appeared on the hanging bar in the laundry room – where I require things to be in order for me to iron them – no fewere than SIX shirts of Josiah’s plus a pair of his pants.  Well.  My extended excursion at the ironing board was beginning to make some sense.  Evidently the Llama had not brought down anything to be ironed the week before, then left his couple of shirts that did need ironing, shall we say, injudiciously positioned on his bedroom floor, and when he collected them for transport to the laundry room, they had indeed multiplied.

Oy.  But there is good news for Ye Ole Chinese Washerwoman:  maybe this means that next week there will be NOTHING of Josiah’s to iron. . . and the following week it will be Jessica’s turn to iron.  Daughter in view.  Oh, the joy!

Just a little fire

Saturday was the big leaf-raking-tarping-dragging-burning party here at the home place.  Scott invited a subset of the Browns to come help, and the Fringer kids were found raking, too, which is why we had nine folks here at lunch time.

Josiah was manning the ditch (a.k.a. fire), armed with a rake, a garden hose, and the ever-useful shop vac.  It looked like he was having a grand time.

I come from a heritage of “always thoroughly douse a fire with water before you walk away from it,” but I married into the “if you spread the coals and it looks like it’s out, it’s fine,” mindset.  This has always bothered me, sometimes to the point of insomnia, but I have learned to leave areas outside my control alone.  Besides, even though there’s a fire going in the fireplace at bedtime, the house hasn’t burned down yet, so . . .

So I assumed that the guys had the fire in the ditch out (or as out as it’s likely to be put) by dark on Saturday night.  Actually, I never gave it another thought.  Then Sunday at lunch, we were sitting there eating, and Andrew was doing his usual thing in the dining room:  looking out the window to see if the neighbor kids were about, when he exclaimed, “what’s that smoke?”  Hmmmm.  Good question.  There was a bit of a smoky cloud out there.

The guys immediately tore out of the house – Josiah barefoot, of course – and next thing I knew, I saw Josiah racing back past the window and subsequently dragging the garden hose across behind the playroom and toward the ditch.  There were flames, low ones only a few inches high, burning in the dry leaves on the driveway.  Wow.  It was a windy day, and the live coals in the ditch had evidently caught and then climbed up out of the ditch and partway across the driveway, aiming for the old two-car garage.

Our menfolk quickly doused the flames and then spent quite a bit of time hosing down the ashes and dumping buckets of water (why had all the buckets been hanging in the sandbox tree?) on any areas that still appeared to be smoldering.

It was hard to say nothing, and I confess that I did say to Scott, “note that I am standing here saying nothing.”  To which he made no response, but I think the whole thing gave us all a big enough scare that fires will be better doused in the future.  We collectively shudder to think what would have happened if we had not been home at the time.

The mercy of God.

Loose ends

Scott was kind enough to carve me out some time today and I have used it to get a lot of little odds and ends done.  I am proud and happy that the master bedroom and bathroom are clean and the sheets are changed.  I have also worked on ministry scheduling, answered a bunch of emails, planned out Andrew’s math for the foreseeable future, prepared lunch for nine, got the Christmas wish list ball rolling, figured out what I’m going to make for group tomorrow, and learned how to use Quicken to balance my personal checking and savings accounts.  They hadn’t been balanced for the past four months, and although I could only put my hands on three of the four statements,  I’ll have you know I earned $0.48 interest!  That, for all you big investors, would be an average gain of $0.12 a month.  Wow.


The great debit card mystery

Until a few weeks ago, I had never used a debit card in my life.  That was a good thing.  Debit cards and I don’t get along very well.  I know people who are lactose intolerant, and I am pretty certain that I am debit card intolerant.

One of our ministry bank accounts has a debit card.  Actually, since Scott and I are both signers on the account, we each have a debit card.  I never wanted a debit card – they don’t earn miles or hotel stays, they require a PIN, I’d rather use a credit card, etc. – but I have one.  Therefore I had to learn how to use it, and I debuted that process a few weeks ago at Staples.

We had set the PIN for the debit cards to a certain four-digit number that’s easy for us to remember.  We assumed that when we set that PIN, it was set for that account, period, end of discussion.  So when I went to pay for our ministry purchases at Staples, I was shocked and slightly embarrassed to have the little screen tell me that I had entered an invalid PIN.   I knew that PIN as well as my middle name.  It simply could not be invalid!

I faltered there at the checkstand, not knowing what to do to pay for my order, and of course, there were people in line behind me.  The cashier told me to try again, which I did, with exactly the same result.  Then he told me to just run it as credit, rather than debit.  I did, and I guessed that the bill was paid.  However, I was skeptical, so I immediately called the bank to find out if I would be sent a credit card bill for that transaction.  NO!  It turns out that that even by running it through as credit, it had already come out of our account.

Well, that made my lightning fast mind think, “Why use the debit feature at all?”  I came home and told Scott that the PIN was wrong.  He subsequently called the bank and was told that he’d have to come in personally to re-set the PIN.  Which he did, and we thought all was well.

All was not well.  We gave my card to one of our helpers, so that he could purchase some stuff for the ministry.  Lo, and behold, he had the same problem – invalid PIN – AFTER Scott had supposedly re-set the PIN.  I told him to run it as credit, and he did.   I called then called the bank to tell them that evidently the stupid PIN was wrong and to please re-set it to the four digit number of our choice, but my “Personal Banker” told me that the bank didn’t have any record of the PIN (really?!??) and that I would have to bring the card in personally to re-set it.  Sigh.  Life got busy, and I totally forgot about the problem – probably because I never use debit cards. . .

Then today, our helper was making a ministry purchase with the debit card, and he called to say that (of course) the PIN claimed to be invalid, but the store where he was shopping required the card to be run as a debit, not as a credit.  He had held up other people in line trying to deal with this.  How frustrating.   I asked him to pay for the supplies, and the ministry will reimburse him, but I was MIGHTILY fed up with the stupid debit card / PIN situation.

So I called the bank and was told (again) that I would need to bring the card in personally to re-set the PIN.  Why on earth a perfectly good PIN had to be re-set to what it already was made no sense to me, and a trip to the bank was not what I had planned today, but whatever.

I went to the bank.  I sat waiting for 15 minutes till “My Personal Banker,” “K,” appeared.  This lady is not my favorite person in the world.  We have dealt with her on numerous issues over the past couple of years, and about 63% of the time, she messes something up.  I was really fervently hoping to get the other personal banker, “S,” who is very professional and handles things well, but it was not to be.

Sitting at “S’s” desk, I calmly explained the problem and my frustration.  I handed her Scott’s debit card for that account and told her that I wanted to re-set the PIN.  (I did not mention to her that the PIN was already exactly what we wanted it to be and that why it would have to be re-set to itself was far beyond the reasoning powers of my 50-year-old brain.)  She asked why I wanted to re-set Scott’s PIN and I told her that someone else had my card.  She was okay with that.  She pulled up all the blurb on the screen and then announced that this debit card did not pull funds from the aforementioned ministry account, but from a different account we have!

At that point, I was dangerously close to losing my cool.  I called Scott and explained that I was his frustrated wife at the bank, that “K” said the debit card from our ministry account was actually pulling funds from a different account, and would he please speak to “K”  directly.  He would and he did.  She insisted it was a different account, but after a few minutes on the phone with My Hero, she realized, admitted, and apologized for her error.  It DID pull from that ministry account.

She then further explained to Scott the missing link that solved the great debit card mystery:  debit card PINs are tied to cards, not to accounts.  Golly Gee Whillilkers, as Gomer Pyle would say.  That cleared things up considerably.  If Scott had indeed re-set his PIN a few weeks ago (back to what it had always been), then his card should have worked fine, but mine – which our helper had – would not necessarily work.  It, of course, still had the initial correct PIN, which had never been re-set to the correct PIN.

I then re-set the PINs on both cards, and “K” walked me outside to the ATM, where we tried Scott’s card, and it worked.  I then called our helper and asked him to take his (my) debit card to his local bank branch and try it, which he did, and that card worked, too.  Hallelujah!!!

The only outstanding question is this:  Now that both cards have the correct PIN(s), (which are, uh. . .  the same PIN(s) they have had all along), how can we know if either card will work the next time we try to make a purchase?  And, of course, there is this corollary question:  When will one or the other of the cards decide that in order to function, it needs its PIN re-set to what it already is?

I love a parade

This morning at 11:00, the boys and I gathered with hundreds (thousands?) of other lovers of God and country to celebrate Veteran’s Day at the annual parade in downtown Branson.  Our friends Tammy, Cole, and Nikayla joined us, and we all waved flags, hollered “Thank you!” to the vets, and scrambled for candy.

It was a beautiful, sunny, balmy 70-degree day; so warm that those in sweatshirts were sweating.  The bands marched and played smartly, the pristine mustangs and corvettes ahh-OOH-gah-ed competitively, the veterans waved proudly, and the crowd oogled, clapped, and hollered appreciatively.  I so enjoy the Veteran’s Day parade.  It’s a highlight of my year.

Like the past 18,301 days of my life, it was a great day to be an American.

Impossible for me

1.  Getting the boys academics flipped by 3:00 PM.

2.  Keeping my mouth closed while applying mascara.

3.  Doing menu planning more than one week in a row.

4.  Being satisfied with a flowerless front yard.

5.  Practicing piano 30 minutes a day.

6.  Working when I’d rather be blogging.

Glad to have My Hero home

I’ve been holding down the fort in “just the three of us” mode recently, but today Scott arrived home.  He had made a very quick, very long trip overseas, and now he’s back in full gear and ready to keep us all hopping again.  Don’t tell him, but we did kick back and relax a little while he was gone.  Shhhh!

I justified my bit of laziness, because I was also fairly productive in his absence.  I buzzed two boys’ heads, organized and completed some family bookkeeping tasks, power-cleaned the attic (with the boys’ help), dealt with getting the outside plants moved in for the winter, handled a myriad of ministry-related details and challenges (though not nearly as well as Scott would have), kept all the normal household activities going, supervised the changing and repair of a flat tire(!), AND I am now holding in my possession – on November 8th, mind you – a fresh, homegrown tomato to slice onto his sandwich for lunch tomorrow!

Admittedly, I couldn’t produce an edible tomato on August 9 for love or money, but a couple of my 100+ small green ones have actually ripened, and the rest of them are strategically positioned for (hopefully) staggered ripening in one of three locations:  lined up on the windowsill, lined up on the spare desk , or loosely layered with newspaper in a cardboard box (also on the spare desk).

It we plan this right, we may have homegrown tomatoes into DECEMBER!

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