Archive for July, 2014

Something new and different

Scott and I are sitting at the dining room table, side by side, on our laptops.  = )  It is very quiet in the house, because this week, Andrew and our nephew, Christian, are gone to camp.  What a concept.  Home alone, two.  We are both pretty sure that the last time we were at home for a whole week with no children at all would have been the week before Katie was born!

We are sure the guys are having fun, being a blessing, and being ministered to by God and his people.  We will be glad to see them again, come Saturday.  I will be glad to do fewer clean-ups, trash chores, etc.  The feeling of peace, freedom, and flexibility is almost exactly the same feeling I had the very first time I drove away from the house and left all the kids (9, 7, 5, 0) there.  That time, some fifteen years ago, it only lasted some 45 minutes.  This time, it’s lasting 8,370 minutes.  Times have changed.

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Seen in the dining room

Hanging on a chair:  Scott’s fleece, zip-up JACKET!  Evidently he was wearing it this morning when he was out praying.  He gets up earlier than I do, but when I looked at the thermometer at about 7:00 AM, it read “50 degrees.”  That, in southwest Missouri on July 29!!!  We are so, so, SO very blessed weather-wise this year.

A whole new experience

Yesterday, Scott took Andrew and Christian to camp at Kids Across America.

Christian, a mere ten days younger than Andrew, is our nephew from North Carolina.  Scott’s sister adopted him last year, and their family is even more unique than ours:  single, white, 40-something mom in wheelchair parenting 15-year-old black son!  There have been challenges, but they are making it work, and I am proud of them both and excited about what God is doing in their lives.

Anyway, Scott had the brilliant idea that it would neat for the two cousins to go to camp together, so Christian flew here last week.  He had never flown before, and he had not only a flight change but an airline and terminal change during a fairly short layover at O’Hare!  He handled it all fine.  = )

Kids Across America (KAA) is a one-week Christian camp, an off-shoot of Kanakuk, specifically designed to minister to urban youth.  It’s about an hour from here, and our guys are in the 15-18 age group.  When Scott got home from dropping them off, he said it’s going to be a novel experience for Andrew, and that it was the first time he had ever remembered Andrew being a bit nervous.

There were some 200 kids there, and Scott didn’t see a white one in the bunch.  Aspects of KAA that will possibly be “interesting” for Andrew include the following.

1.  Although his skin is brown, he’s been raised in a white family, in virtually all-white churches, in a virtually all-white community.  This is probably the first time he’s ever been around more than a couple black people at a time.  Hopefully, it’s culture shock in a good way.

2.  Andrew has lived his whole life in a semi-rural setting near a very small tourist town, 30 minutes from a relatively small city.  The kids at the camp are probably all city kids.

3.  The vast majority of people he’s been around are Christians.  Not all the kids at this camp are.  Yet.

4.  I don’t think he knows much, if anything, about “black” lingo, hair, music, or culture.  His cousin was trying to explain to him what terms like “pick” and “nappy” mean.  Pretty funny.  I knew them (from 16 years at a mixed-race church in Little Rock), but Andrew didn’t.

5.  He’s never done (because he wasn’t interested in) team sports.  He can, however, turn an infinite number of sequential back handsprings.

6.  Andrew has always been homeschooled, so the idea of being required to stand in long lines (for something other than a popular ride at Silver Dollar City) is kind of foreign to him.  In fact, all the public school “normalities” are foreign to him.

7.  At least 75% of the kids at camp came with their church or school group, so they are with a number of folks they know.  Our guys know no one there but each other.

I am sure Christian will do fine and have a great time, and I think once Andrew gets his “sea legs” he will, too.  It’s important to him to fit in with a group, so I am praying for him to hold firm to what he’s been taught (2 Timothy 3:14-15 is one of our memory verses) and connect himself to some solid kids.  We gave him our standard admonition to be a blessing, be an example, and have fun.

Last evening, Scott and I were talking about it all, and we realized we had both been thinking the same thing:  the last time we had a whole week at home without any kids was about 24 years ago!  It’s kind of a weird feeling, but so far, so good.

Magic phone

I am adjusting well to my new smart phone, and as much as I hate to admit it, I really do like it.  = )  It is sleek and can do a lot of things that may eventually prove helpful and even essential.  Right now, I am limiting myself to making and receiving phone calls, checking voicemail (hmm. . . do I even remember how to check voicemail?), and sending and receiving texts.  I have ordered a case for the phone and a travel charger, all for a total of $12.  When they arrive, I will find out whether or not  I only got what I paid for.

In other phone-related news, although I have set water drinking alarms on my new phone and turned my old phone off and stashed it in my desk, it still makes aquatic sounds every hour on the hour.  I am not sure how it can do that!  With the new one, I need to turn it off whenever I’m not using is, so that it will stay charged all day, but with the old one, I just left it on all day and connected it to the charger at night.  I thought I would have to take the battery out of it to get it to shut up, but it’s such a creative (but not smart) phone that I figured that even with the battery gone, it would probably find a way to remind me to drink water.  So. . . I turned it on, silenced it, and turned it back off, and voila!  No water alarms from the desk drawer.  It is gratifying to know that I am still smarter than my phone – at least my old one.

Dumb phone – again

I am now the proud owner of a brand new smart phone.  It’s really, really smart.  It will do lots and lot of things that I have never wanted or needed a phone to do, and I think that it’s all these features that make it think it’s super intelligent.  However, I have news for my phone:  it’s not quite as bright as it thinks it is.

My old phone – no, sadly NOT my Nokia, but my more recent version, a Samsung Evergreen – could make a nice watery noise every hour on the hour to remind me to drink water; said drinking is very important for my health and weight loss.  As I said, my old phone could do that, but this smart phone cannot.

For that reason, my Technological Support Expert (Andrew) offered to download for me an app that will do this.  I said OK, mainly because I was an ignorant first-time smart phone user.  I naively thought that downloading an app would take a minute or two, but no.  We have been laboring – and yes, it’s been almost as frustrating as giving birth – for about 40 minutes now.

I am choosing not to get frustrated.  I have plenty of other more significant things upon which to focus my attention, so I am staying calm, cool, and collected while Andrew and I wrangle with this thing.  In fact, I am actually keeping calm and Spinneying on.  = )

But the insanity of this phone on this one point is extreme.  In order to download the (free) alarm app, I have to have an Apple account.  In order to get one of those, I have to have a username.  This is OK.  I have dozens of other accounts in cyberspace and so I keep a list of my usernames and passwords.  I have a handful of each that I use, simply because I know them and can remember them.  ALL of my tried-and-true usernames are already in use by someone else!!!  And it won’t tell you that that is the case until you have jumped through numerous hoops!  How idiotic is that?!?  So I laboriously click and type all this stuff over and over and over and over again, only to learn that I can’t use it.  The reason it’s so laborious is that I can’t just use a normal password.  I must use one of at least eight characters, including both upper and lower case letters and numbers.  And I have to type it twice.  And on a keyboard where I don’t know where the various letters and numbers are.  So I do it slowly, and about the eighth or ninth try, when it looked like we finally had a username that was acceptable, when I got to the end of the process, it said my session had timed out and to please try again!!!

I gave the phone to the guys and came to my desk.  At my desk, I have a VERY old-fashioned computer with an exceedingly cheap (but ergonomically perfect for me) external keyboard.  My computer works.  My keyboard works.  The alarm to remind me to drink water was a luxury feature, but even without it, I can go even more seriously Old School and look at the clock on the wall every thirty minutes.  Or maybe I could construct a sun dial.

I refuse to let my life be controlled by the frustrations of modern technology.

And I love my smart phone.  I love my smart phone.  I love my smart phone. . .

Suppan word of the day

Die-hard Cardinals fans will surely remember pitcher Jeff Suppan from the 2006-ish era; (era not, of course to be confused with his 4.12 ERA that year) and his now-infamous “word of the day” tradition.  I, too like to learn new words.  I already know quite a few words, and since I am not actually seeking out fresh ones each day and since I’m not reading erudite tomes regularly – or ever! – it’s not all that often that I come across unfamiliar vocabulary.

Today I did.  I receive a daily email devotional – and by the way, let me just go on record as saying that I heartily disapprove of pretending that adjectives (“devotional,” “chiropractic,” etc.) are nouns – which I usually don’t make time to read in the morning when it arrives.  Instead, I glance at it, and if the topic interests or convicts me, I save it labeled “READ ME” and leave it in my in-box.  Then, every week or so, I work from the bottom up and read them, oldest first.  That explains why the one I read today was dated June 30.

Anyway, the title of that devotional was “Prevenient Pursuit and Grace,” and I had never before seen or heard the word “prevenient.”  I assumed it was a typo, but no, and I didn’t even need to look it up because in the third paragraph of his treatise, the author defined it for me:  “The word prevenient means “to come before.””  Ah, yes!  That would make sense (and it would remind me that, sad to say, I never did use those Rummy Roots cards with any of our kids; a small regret in my homeschooling journey).  This word is obviously of Latin derivation, with the “pre” meaning “before” and the root “veni” being some form (first person singular?) of a verb that means “to come.”  That then reminded me that my dad used to quote somebody famous – maybe Julius Caesar? – who said, “Veni, vidi, vici:”  “I came, I saw, I conquered.”  That, NOT the fact that I studied Latin for three trimesters in my freshman year of college, is why I know what “veni” means.  = )  Of course, that may be one of the only two Latin sentences my dad knows, but when I was a kid, he used to occasionally throw out some phrase or term from his education, which, at the time, made me think he was brilliant (and he is!), and which now makes me smile (a beneficial activity, for sure!).  Another one he’d say was “Amo, amas, amat,” which I think is the. . . hmm, what would it be?. . . oh, Katie, correct me if I’m wrong. . . singular Latin conjugation of the verb “to love?”  “I love, you (singular) love, he, she or it loves?”

So, prevenient.  To use it in a sentence, “I suppose the eggshell post was prevenient to this one.”  Furthermore, I am officially entitled to feel smart tonight, because the several red squigglies in the previous paragraph indicate that even the Well-Informed WordPress doesn’t know what prevenient means, but I do!

Egg shell answer

Katie was closest, but even she was fairly far off.  The answer is that to obtain a heaping two cups of crushed egg shells one must crack SIXTY eggs!  Pretty amazing, eh?  But I have good news:  we are picking big, beautiful, delicious red ripe tomatoes with no blossom end rot in sight.


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