Monday, March 31, 2008


God is evident. He is not a removed, dispassionate Creator who started the universe spinning only to wander off to observe us on occasion from the sidelines. This morning I was sending out the latest update on Ralph Adler who remains hospitalized far from home today. Two of Ralph's daughters are part of the Operation: Prayer SURGE! team (We are headed for Poland in six weeks to pray!). I was wondering as I sent the e-mail if people were seriously praying for Ralph and his family or if I was simply sending out e-mails that "kept people in the loop". It was not a particularly encouraging moment. I proceeded to pray for Ralph, but today I decided to type my prayer into an e-mail to send to Shelley. I sent the e-mail, and my inbox gave a "ding" to indicate an incoming message at the same time.
I have incorporated Shelley's e-mail recipients from an early e-mail regarding her Dad's health into the updates that I send out on the family's status. In my inbox was a message from "Amy" who is a total stranger to me, but a friend of Shelley's who stated that she has been praying for Ralph, Shelley, and the whole family throughout their ordeal. I thought that was pretty cool, so I proceeded to e-mail several other people to share how quickly God had bolstered my waning commitment and encouraged me to continue serving in a communication capacity as part of the prayer chain lifting up the Adler family. As I sent that message, the inbox went ping yet again. This time, the message was from a woman who attends our former church home, but who I have not met in person, saying simply that she is praying with us.
I love it when God shows his hand so clearly upon us. The real wonder came hours later. I was at church when my phone rang. I saw that it was Don, and I answered hoping that he was not calling with bad news about Ralph's condition. Ha! Well, me of little faith! Don was calling to tell me that my inbox had again signalled a new message. This one was of the wonderful news that Ralph's body temperature is normal and the family is waiting for a doctor's report to give more information on his amazing rally from this morning's low with a resistant staph infection that had him wrapped in warming blankets because his body temperature was only 94 degrees or the previous report of a sky-rocketing temperature over 103! Whatever news comes next, I am thankful for a hands-on, involved God who truly knows every hair on my head and Ralph's.


We live in a bubble. While the appearance of great wealth and insatiable consumer consumption continues in our area, there are subtle differences. Prior to 2000, there actually was what felt like a limitless expansion of local industry. The crash at the turn of the millenium saw a decrease in babies born and, around 9/11 and the tech bust, people even stopped (gasp) shopping momentarily. What's underneath the surface veneer of shiny new cars, super-sized homes, impeccably dressed toddlers, and take-out meals?
Even before the housing and lending "credit crisis" we were a country that was in debt. Our government is in debt. Our students are mortgaging their future to credit card lenders. Families and individuals are hobbled by debt from a few hundred dollars to staggering amounts with multiple digits on either side of the comma. Minimum payments are not going to make the problem go away anytime soon.
Our personal household debt grew for well over a decade. Unsecured debt feeds on itself with the help of creditors offering small payments that may or may not cover the interest being charged on money already spent even as limits on spending spiral higher allowing the foolish consumer (that would be us) to dig the hole a little deeper each month. It was "too depressing" to actually tally up the total of our credit card debt. Making the monthly payments ate our disposable income so that necessities like diapers went on plastic with a promise to pay.
Our monumental acts of financial mayhem included having a card paid off, only to run it back up. The greatest act of sheer foolishness was the acceptance of an offer to "consolidate" our smaller debts into a lump sum so we only had to pay the one creditor instead of many, and the one would give us a better interest rate. That would have been great if we had closed the accounts that we transferred. We didn't. We ran the existing accounts back up until we were gasping for air and drowning in minimum payments that threatened to exceed our monthly income. Two years ago, we finally reached our breaking point, and decided that no matter what we would climb out of this pit.
Last week we reached a threshhold. On our 14th wedding anniversary, our debt repayment plan began to "snowball". The first account was paid off. The monthly payment from that account is now added to the monthly payment on another account. When the balance on that account reaches $0, the money used for that payment will be added to the current amount allocated for another account. The first payment has crested the seemingly insurmounatable heights of our debt with the pay-off and elimination of the first account. Eventually, the little snowball that started rolling last week will grow as it makes the downhill journey toward financial freedom from the bondage of unsecured credit.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Give It Away

Recently I read an article on YAHOO! regarding a study that showed happiness was linked not to income, but to giving. I was not terribly surprised by the study results that indicated that people who gave to others generally reported feeling happier and more satisfied than those who did not. In talking with the kids about giving, I asked each of them to bring me three things they were willing to give away. Erin offered three of her beloved Magic Tree House books. Evan brought me three dollars and promised to get his birthday "Thank You" notes written. Katie appeared with a sparkly silver purse, a paperback book, and a Bible. Erin was also keen to clear all canned goods from our pantry to take to hungry people. When I asked where we would find the people who needed these items, Erin had a bright idea. She ran to the computer to search "".

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I received an impromptu explanation of circulatory health from Bella's vet yesterday that shed a bit of light on some of the difficulties confronting Ralph Adler ("Dad" to five including Shelley of "Shelley In Poland"). Bella's OD yesterday caused her blood pressure to drop extremely low--- not unlike Ralph's crazy-low blood pressure at the time of his hospital admission Wednesday morning. For Bella, lots of fluids given by I.V. increased her "blood volume" so that there was more fluid for her heart to pump as it moved through her kitty veins. This was important because low blood pressure meant poor ciculation of blood. (Blood is how oxygen gets to organs like kidneys.) For Ralph, the kidneys needed to clear waste from his body and to help medication remove the excess fluid from around his heart and lungs. Bella's heart is in prime condition, and, once the drug she sampled cleared her system, she was fine this morning. Ralph's heart was not fine to begin with, and this ordeal has taxed his system further. A machine breathes for Ralph's body tonight, his family is at his side, and the body of believers continually circulates updates and prayer requests. In a nutshell, we wait and hope.

Bakugan and Birthday

The boys brought a card game I have not seen before for Evan's party last night. This one involves magnetic cards. Two cards are placed end-to-end and these little balls are rolled (one by each player) across the "board". If the ball rolls across the card and the magnet imbedded in the ball catches, then the ball pops open to reveal some sort of character inside that is then "standing" on that spot. Each time a ball is rolled across the original cards, another card is added to the field of play. When two of the ball-creatures "stand" on the same card, the card is turned over to reveal game point information and a "battle" ensues.
The lack of carpet in our house allows for a really big playing field. I am sure the manufacturer of Bakugan (pronounced "bah-KOO-gahn") loves their enthusiasm, and will work to provide them with a great variety of cards and magnetized ball-thingies that can stretch out endlessly--- so long as the boys continue to pay, pay, pay for new, new, new gamepieces.
The card play, video game play, cake, plastic sword and light saber practice at our local park, and a round of High School Musical sing-along (to which none of them will ever actually admit althugh it as primarily a kindness to our youngest daughter), and eventually a few hours of forced sleep see us to the end of the party. The parents will be arriving to retrieve their boys-to-men (none of whom called me "Evan's Mom", but all of whom used the "Mrs." form of address which ensures their invitation to return again) in about twenty minutes.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just Say No

Bella appears to have ingested a people pill. (The photo is from last week--- not today.) Don found a prescription bottle belonging to our son overturned with one mangled pill on the floor this morning around 9:00. He commented that he hoped none of the animals had gotten into the pills. The furballs all seemed fine when we headed out to the grocery store to stock up on food for the Boy's overnight.
At noon, Bella was not fine. She was yowling and purring. (A sick or frightened kitty will purr to comfort itself... Purring not just a contented kitty noise.) Bad Bella was also badly off balance and her eyes looked weird. We called the vet with our suspicions, and then made the drive over to the office with Bella howling down the moon over the car ride.
We are hoping Bella ingested less than a whole capsule because one capsule of that medication will be fatal to a 7.75 pound cat. She is holding her own right now with an I.V. to keep her blood pressure up. If she survives this misadventure, the boy will likely be read the riot act on being VERY, VERY careful to always close the lid on his meds securely. If she doesn't survive, we will be doing everything possible to avoid the topic of exactly what made Bella "sick".


There have been a rash of serious illnesses and deaths this week. I feel off kilter, and I find myself grieving for the losses others fear or are enduring. Each new report of yet another loss beginning with a young family we know from our previous church home to Don's boss's sister-in-law and Katie's favorite teacher's sister. The reports keep coming. The serious illnesses faced by loved ones and those closest to them are daunting--- from upcoming polysyllabic back surgery for one friend's father to cancers and heart trouble. I keep praying, and I keep hoping. I am feeling a little battered right now, but our little immediate family is not facing the trials confronting so many others so I can better devote myself to prayers for those who need to be lifted up.

Despite the craziness, we have a batch of Evan's buddies coming for an overnight as a belated celebration of Evan's 13th birthday. I am having difficulty giving the planned party the necessary attention when there are so many difficult situations confronting those we love. I'm not feeling 100% either thanks to damp weather that plays mean games with my joints and a cough that won't go away.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

For the Best

The news just keeps coming, and precious little has been what I would label good. Tonight I pray for time. I pray for safe travel. I pray for arrested disease and healing. I know the twin specters of worry and fear, but I am thankful for hope that can banish them both. Whatever tomorrow may bring, God is in control. No detail is outside His understanding. I do not have to understand His purposes, but I can appeal to Him. My prayers will be heard. The answers are not guaranteed to suit me, but I will trust that no trial, temptation, or pain is beyond God's ability to uphold His people. He sometimes uses our worst circumstances in order to draw us close to receive His best.
Buckle up, OPS Team. We're in for a wild ride if this week can be taken as an indicator of the level of spiritual warfare we face.

A bit much

Don and I really do everything together. We have now taken our codependency to a whole new level. On April 7th I am getting a root canal and crown build-up while he gets a crown. I could happily take a pass on sharing that particular experience. Our His and Hers dental appointments seem like a bit too much togetherness even for us. I guess the goal of growing old together does have to include our teeth.


Sooo. I typed yesterday's blog post before hearing of all the challenges being faced by a couple of my OPS teammates. I am doubly glad to have focused on the blessings of my own family so I could be well-prepared to pray for theirs. It was a weird day. I'm not too sure what God is telling us right now. It's time to purchase plane tickets, but I cannot separate my own self-interest (i.e. I want to go, and I want to go with my buddy. I'm a big fan of the buddy system.) sufficiently to offer any counsel to my travel partner who is facing situations at home that could preclude her going.

I wish I was a big enough person to be wholly able to turn away from my own hopes and to focus only on the need of my friend at this time. I continue to pray for the family situations that are outstanding while also praying that God will give us very clear direction on when we should proceed with the purchase of our airline tickets as the prices rise and flights with few stops are still available.

On the subject of my "wants", I am amused because Don and I drove out to look at the Barbie Dream House again yesterday morning after breakfast. (He thought it would be fun to go dream-a-little-dream as we marked our anniversary. I'm going wherever he is headed.) We walked through the cavernous 2,300 square feet of pure possibility and wondered again if we were crazy to not pursue it. A few hours later we picked up our copies of the latest church-wide Bible study. It is dealing with materialism. Hee. I wonder if our house hopes are an example of greed, or if we are reasonably hoping for more space for our family?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I was impressed that Ben Franklin decided he was ready to retire once he had "enough". Not the "had enough" that leads one to foolishly walk off a job, but the "had enough" that implies his belly was not empty, he was not thirsty, there were clothes on his back, and a roof over his head. This is the "enough" that seems to be the real challenge.
The line between "need" and "want" should be a simple enough thing. "Need" is requires for survival. Physical need assail us with signals for water, food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Emotional needs cry out to be loved and to be part of a community. Spiritual needs tend to not crop up while our physical or emotional needs are unmet. If one's belly is empty, there is unlikely to be a strong desire for contemplation of philosophy or theology.


As we celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary today, my thoughts are scattered. I'm glad we're one year closer to our ultimate goal of growing old together. Only yesterday we heard that one of our contemporaries passed away. It was shocking in the way that something which should be expected as an unavoidable eventuality always seems to be stunning when it actually occurs. I also spent a bit of time talking about just how shocking it was with another mom (who is currently in the trenches of parenting very young children) as we marveled at the horrifying idea of being widowed and having to unexpectedly become single parents. That started my thoughts off down the track of how good our life is right now.
Today I am rather thankful for the current blessings I see in our marriage. I'm glad to wake each morning to a bed vacated by my husband who has probably already made coffee, and even more glad to return to said bed for a good night's rest at the end of each day. Our kids have all reached the point where they can feed, clothe, toilet, and entertain themselves. They can even cook, do laundry, and usually remember to flush the toilet. (Better still, our kids have attained this level of independence before our parents are old enough to begin losing it.) All three children can be disciplined with logic. We have reached the point of the ultimate in parental freedom--- we can drive away from our house while the kids are inside without having to either arrange a babysitter or face possible prosecution. We're progressing rather nicely toward not being indebted. God has blessed us so richly, that we can give to others. We have great friends. Life is good.
Here's to the past fourteen years and the one just beginning to unfold.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Mmmmm, coffee... Last night it was coffee at La Madeleine with three ladies from our Life Group. This morning it's coffee at La Madeleine with an OPS travel companion-to-be after the current cup of Joe at home with Don is gone. Tomorrow, Don and I are going out for breakfast to mark our 14th wedding anniversary, and there will be coffee. Thursday morning will find me at Starbucks for coffee to meet a previous mentor who I have not seen since Fall.
I wonder sometimes if it is the coffee I like, or all the good company that seems to go along with it? I do notice that my favorite meals (breakfast and dessert) both seem tailor-made for coffee. (That might be influencing me a bit.) Or it could be the ghosts of Vacation Bible School and Women's Bible Studies past complete with Sylvia or Denise appearing with Frappucinos. It might go back even farther than that though.
My parents had no specific age at which coffee became a beverage option. They did set a single expectation: Drink it black, or you don't really want it. I think fourteen was likely the magic age, but it could have been fifteen. I know we were living in Midland because I can just picture my Dad sitting at the kitchen table in that house with the white on white cabinets and counters and miles of pastel wall paper. He would sit at that table with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. I can remember being less-than-impressed with the coffee, but liking sitting with my Dad during his morning ritual so I held my cup and tried to drink the stuff without actually tasting it.
Don and I wasted many nights during our high school years sitting in Carrow's (similar to a Denny's but with Strawberry Pie every Spring). We wasted so many nights sitting in the back swilling mediocre coffee, that they gave me a job on weekend nights my senior year in high school. The first time we ran into each other after high school, we swung by Carrow's for coffee to catch up.
Flashing forward to the year after Evan was born, I would get off the night shift at the hospital early on Saturday morning. With only eight hours available to snatch sleep, a meal, and a shower before my next 16-hour shift was due to start, I would make my way to Mom and Dad's house to share a cup of coffee with Dad before racing home to fall into bed. As our children arrived, Don and I would find ourselves with a child-free night thanks to grandparental visits. Those nights often found us with a travel Scrabble game spread out on the table at an IHOP or Denny's fueled by the caffeine and a desire to just spend a little child-free time together. Jumping forward another dozen years, on a trip to visit Mom and Dad on their mountain in the woods, 4:30 a.m. would find Dad and I with our dogs sitting on the screened porch listening to the sounds of the woods around us, talking about nothing, and enjoying the morning's coffee.

Monday, March 24, 2008


A sixth person has signed on today for Operation: Prayer Surge! The team flying from the U.S. now numbers six. I had the pleasure of talking with our newest addition, Barbara, on the phone this morning after several e-mails. I was not particularly helpful. I wanted to be, but I am fairly clueless about what we are doing. Fortunately, Barbara was able to connect with Shelley so the proper arrangements could be made to expand our number. Whoo-hoo!

Craving Ordinary

Our weekend was crazy. Our last two weeks have been fairly crazy. Some of the lunacy is purely circumstantial based on how dates
including Easter and Spring Break fall on this year's calendar. The flu hit the female population of our household hard, only to be followed by infusion day and the advent of Spring allergies. The kids have been to Houston, and the Arkansas grandparents have been here. Zach and Katie have been near inseparable on the days Katie was in town. Evan and his pals have trekked up and down the street between our house, Leo's, and the park over and over. Erin has trailed her siblings, visited her own friends, created her blog, and had holes poked in her head. Our beat-up, worn-out bedroom floor and car have both been replaced. Evan has reached the teen years with the arrival of his thirteenth birthday last night at a quarter to ten o'clock. I admit to a feeling of relief that the birthdays, holidays, and visits are behind us as we move into an almost typical week. I love ordinary.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dressing Up

Easter Sunday. Last night I was imitating the sort of conversation we were likely to have while getting ready this morning. I was giving my stellar performance in the hair care aisle of Wal-Mart. I know it was stellar because another Mom (who was also attempting to pick out hair accessories to match both her daughters' tastes and their Easter dresses) laughed and commented that our house sounded like hers. The mental images being drawn were of tears and recriminations, dresses in need of ironing, complaints about tights, and audible eye rolling. Sure enough, our morning preparations for church this morning involved the usual wrangling of children, errant hair, tight schedules, and wardrobe malfunctions. I had a mini-war with the surplice neckline of my dress. I eventually triumphed over gaping necklines by bringing in the big guns--- a safety pin and scotch tape.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Underneath our labrador-scented master bedroom carpet is the backyard. We wrongly blamed erosion for the quantity of earth we had to haul last year before putting down sod. Turns out the dirt that was once in the back yard was tracked inside and deposited beneath the only remaining carpet in the entire house. At least that was true this morning. It has now all been swept up and deposited in the trash bin as Don tore out the carpet and pad to reveal the cement slab. As I type, Don is removing the carpet tacks from around the edge of the bedroom.
He discovered today that Lowe's is offering a 10% discount on flooring through March 26th. So when I joked about our icky carpet to a friend on the phone this afternoon, he shot out of the bedroom to show me the ad. Half an hour later, we checked out with enough flooring to replace our super-icky bedroom carpet. We fed everyone an early dinner, and started to clear the bedroom of furnishings. Hopefully, the new floor will be done by tomorrow night.


2008 is a year I will either remember as rushed, or it will have flown by so quickly that I won't remember squat. We're in the thick of a crazy season right now. Spring Break from March 15-23. Palm Sunday on the 16th, and St. Patrick's Day on the 17th. Today is Good Friday. Easter and Evan's thirteenth birthday coincide on Sunday. Don and I mark our fourteenth anniversary next Wednesday. All of that plus visits with Grandparents, the exciting news of our niece or nephew who is due on Erin's eight birthday, and the actualities of daily living.
Our house seems to be in on the overkill plan. It has needed plumbing, roofing, extermination (Acrobat Ants only sound cute. Yuck.), painting, weeding, fertilizing, and is now coming up on regrouting, flooring, and glass replacement. The excitement just never ends around here. (Our house is coming up on 20 years old, and it entered into a suicide pact about 7 years ago with Chris and Sylvia's house in a nearby suburb. If one of us needs a a garage door opener, the other one does, too. If the oven goes blooey at her house, I had best start shopping for one, too. It allowed us to form a support system to deal with the sticker-shock associated with home repair and improvement costs.) Eventually, it seems like we will have to reach the point where we have replaced everything in this house. That will likely be the point where whatever went blooey first goes kaput again.
Adding to the feel of time somehow flying, I am zipping through scrapbooks. Having reached the photos and memorabilia from Erin's birth, I am now trying to work on the family album and her baby book simultaneously. Erin found the photos showing a rapt Katie smiling at her a bit confusing. She is used to the more hormonal current version of Big Sister 10.0. The original has a simpler interface.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Infusion Day

Infusion day comes every four weeks. Today's the day. I am given the IVIG (Immunoglobulin) for CVID (Common Variable Immunodeficiency). Loosely defined, CVID means my immune system is a weenie. I get infections and am more susceptible to certain cancers. There is no cure, but the IVIG is a good treatment if not particularly pleasant or convenient.

Nurse Kathy comes to our house. The IVIG is a blood product, but it comes in a powdered form that has to be dissolved in sterile saline. It can't be stirred, so this can take a long time. This morning it took two hours to dissolve the medication, and it will take about four hours to run the medication through the I.V. Instead of a pole, I carry my pouch of medicine and the I.V. pump around in a bag.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I don't have any qualms with my children wanting to have piercings--- as long as any piercings are done in a clean environment and the resulting hole is properly cared for by the kid in question. (This discussion only applies to holes in ears.) They also have to ask. (I can see the benefit of getting the momentary pain of piercing over with when they are babies.) I just figure that if they want holes in their heads, they can decide to get holes poked. If they do not want holes poked in their heads, and I get their ears pierced before they can even speak, then it's too late.
Katie wanted her ears pierced at two. She also attempted to flee into the mall while screaming after only one ear was done. (The piercing lady was trying to let her settle down in between ears. The lady didn't get it. Just get it over with so we can leave.) Katie's response to piercing helped me to develop a more thorough set of questions to determine readiness for piercing. All Katie was asked was, "Do you want to wear earrings?" (The flaw in that question speaks for itself.)

Erin began asking about wearing earrings about six months ago. In the time since, we have experimented with stickers, magnetic, and clip earrings to avoid that hole-poking thing. (They all fall off.) My questions regarding desire and preparedness were broader in scope and more explicit for Erin than Katie. Here's a partial list of questions that had to be answered to my satisfaction. (My satisfaction just means she actually answered. Erin frequently just walked off after acknowledging that she heard my question.)
  • You want someone to poke holes in your head?

  • Do you know it hurts when someone pokes holes in your head?

  • If the first ear hurts, you have to sit there and get the second one done anyway. Can you do that?

  • Can you sit still while someone pokes holes in you?

  • Are you going to be okay with a stranger touching you and likely saying things like "It won't hurt" when you know it will?

  • Are you going to be okay if it hurts for just a second on each side?

  • You don't get to wear dangly earrings, are you willing to wear the pair you first pick out for six weeks... and maybe longer. You know Katie didn't wear hers long enough. (Katie joins in here. If she can't derail Erin, then nothing will prevent the piercing.)

I don't think we could have been any more prepared. Erin sat and waited with minimal fidgeting while fixating on the sparkly flower earrings she chose. (It's good to be the baby. Mom made Katie get the plain silver ball earrings. Erin gets the fancy crystal flowers.) The reality of the piercing took only moments. Tears welled between ear one and two, but a reminder that one must stay put (and a lady smart enough to just get on with it) helped Erin stay her course. By the time I paid for the earrings and cleaning solution, Erin was dancing around the store clowning and sticking out her lollipop green-tinted tongue.

Evan Interview 3

Q: So, What kind of sandwich are you according to the Blogthings quiz?
Evan: Uhh, peanut butter and jelly sandwich... pb&j

Q: What has been the best part of Spring Break?
Evan: So far? Ummm, probably going to Gram and Papa'a house so far.

Q. Anything specific stand out?
Evan: Probably going to Chuck E. Cheese's. We didn't have lunch, but it was still fun.

Q: What are you going to do today?
Evan: Go down to Leo's house to play... probably stay home most of the rest of the day after that.

Q: Any other big plans for the remainder of Spring Break or for Easter?

Evan: Grandma and Granddad are coming Saturday and Sunday because it's Easter and my birthday on Sunday. So I guess I do have some big stuff to look forward to with my birthday and Easter on the same day.

Q: Any other big news you want to share?
Evan: Wellllll... the week after I am having my birthday party.

Quiz Show

Blogthings are an excellent waste of time. Today's offering asks if you can pass 8th Grade science. I am relieved to say that, yes, I can. I scored 8/8--- give it a whirl.

Should you cruise the site and find yourself taking the "What Kind of Sandwich Are You?" quiz, I am looking for a ham sandwich because it's supposed to be the match for my turkey. (I took it twice in case my second-choice answers could affect my sandwich alter ego.) If you are tuna fish... you are my new nemesis. In fact, let me make it easy for you:

EDIT: There. That's the link for the Sandwich Quiz.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

October 2000

We took too many pictures in October, 2000. I am so close to the all-too-wonderful date of November 15, 2000 in my scrapbooking. I am probably not fully appreciating Katie and Evan painting pumpkins or riding ponies at the school carnival. I think I did give reasonable "Awwww" to Dylan in his first little puppy dog Halloween costume. (He was really, really cute. The boy had some serious cheeks.) I also had a chuckle at the pictures where Sylvia was bringing Dylan over to our house to visit so I could see why it was so important to honor my doctor's orders to stay on bedrest. (It worked. He was that cute.) I am not discounting those days in October. I just want to get past soccer season and pee-wee ballerinas dancing at Harvestfest downtown on the Square. It's mildly reminiscent of the final weeks of the actual pregnancy.

The task would probably be quicker if Bella would quit "helping". The cat is an absolute menace.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Interesting what sits in my overly full e-mail inbox just waiting for me to get around to cleaning it out. In the first couple of dozen messages I discovered an e-mail from a friend who I genuinely intended to meet for breakfast in February, and another where we were thinking sometime in March. (I followed up on that one in hopes of seeing her before April.) Another e-mail had a different friend's response to a prayer request I sent in late January. I was rather pleased to now know the answer to that prayer: a combination of "yes" and "not-so-much". I quickly sent off a response detailing the answer.
I reread the progression of e-mails where I sought prayer requests for the GCM long-term missionaries in Poland. I saw the responses beginning with Lisa (roommate for May, current Tuesday a.m. breakfast buddy, and sister of Shelley in Poland) filling me in on the needs she knew of for Shelley and copying Shelley. Shelley soon responded. Prayer circulated via e-mail, and the congregation in Poznan discovered that their God was big enough to have prayers for Poles from an unknown American. God used the wonder of the Polish believers regarding one American's prayers to bring about the idea of many prayers being sent via e-mail to be read to the congregation. Out of that flurry of e-mails came an invitation. The missionaries invited a team to pray for Poland--- in Poland.
I just didn't want to delete that series of e-mails. I dumped them into a file in Outlook so I can reread them when my personal outlook needs an adjustment. Today is St. Patrick's Day. It's the day the kids visit the Houston Rodeo. Those are not likely to be the reasons why I mark this day in my mind and heart. Today marks the ticker in my head where we move to less than two months until departure for Operation: Prayer Surge. I'm still floored by the idea that God would offer such an adventure.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

No-cal Chocolate

Seriously. No calorie chocolate syrup. This is a truly brilliant use of chemistry. Don and I discovered Walden Farms alternative to traditional chocolate syrup in the ice cream aisle where we were preparing to indulge ourselves with a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. (It's a special kind of irony. It works for us.) We decided to give the stuff touted as being "sugar free, gluten free, calorie free, and fat free" chocolate syrup a whirl.
It's pretty good stuff. We also saw jars of caramel, chocolate, and marshmallow dip that were calorie-free marketed by the same geniuses. Now we can splurge on a sundae for the same calories found in our ce cream. It's a bonus.


The kiddies are gone to Gram and Papa's house this weekend. They will all have a ball, and we'll enjoy something of a break. Don and I used to immediately launch into a whirlwind of activity when the kids left town. We raced about trying to cram in couple time and complete some sort of home improvement project. Not so much this time.
Since I woke up without a fever (I've been running up to 102 the last couple of days.), I went along with Don to drop off the kids. This used to be our crazy day of driving to deliver the children durng a lunch with Gram & Papa followed by a rushed date night where we decided our home project followed by cleaning and laundry catch-up. I had the kids catch up the laundry Friday night, and required their rooms to be clean before they left town. We do projects around the house on a fairly regular basis, and we have quite a bit of time alone together (Yay! Oxymoron...) with the three kiddies all gone to school during the day. Since neither Don nor I feel the old pressure to create a romantic rendezvous, and we don't have a home project waiting in the wings, we're free to enjoy a quiet weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2008


This morning I saw an utterly idiotic "news" story about how corn is contributing to obesity. Corn is not the problem. Processed foods consumed without ever reading the label are a problem, and corn products happen to be the villain of the hour out of the combined ingredients found on many labels. Processed foods have all sorts of things in them in addition to or other than corn.
At home, I process sliced apples by soaking them in a combination of pineapple juice and lemon juice. My purpose in doing this is to maintain the crisp texture and white color of the flesh. Guess what?! The processed apples have more calories than freshly cut apple slices because the fruit juices used to preserve the fruit's appearance have calories. I know this, but I am not going to obsess over figuring out the calorie count or post a sign on my fruit tray stating that the apples contain "hidden" ingredients! If I were to sell those same apples, I would be required to include the fruit juices on the food label just like the packages of processed foods found in my local market do.
Rather than blaming corn for American obesity, why don't we look at the quantities of food consumed and exercise performed? Diane Sawyer also brought up the idea of linking diabetes to corn, but the gentleman they interviewed in an attempt to suggest an unsubstantiated link between corn and diabetes claimed both a family history of diabetes and states that he consumes sugar-loaded sodas daily. (Those sodas specified high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, and that same ingredient is a sugar, but it's not new or fun to vilify sugar this week.)
I get tired of the so-called news stories that are purposefully inflammatory. I don't happen to share the victim mentality that the media seems to paint. If I eat corn, it's unlikely to make me fat or cause diabetes. If I overeat processed foods, I am far more likely to be overweight or obese and in time to develop diabetes as well as other health problems. This is hardly a newsflash. I did not particularly appreciate the attempt on ABC's part to feed me a line of bull with only a kernel of truth this morning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Ugh. I don't have the flu. I don't have Strep. I just have some miscellaneous super-icky infection. I spent this afternoon ad evening with a temperaure while Don raced around getting kids from school, to an orthodontist appointment, guitar lesson, and picked up from a friends house.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Baby Book!

Progress! Erin's baby book has all sorts of things in it now. I finally reached the magical month of September, 2000 so I could put the photos and invitations from her baby showers into our family album and into her baby book. She's been after me for a couple of years to get to work on that baby book. It really bothers her that there are a big pile of family albums in which she is yet to be featured. Miss Erin has been very patient all things considered. So, what was her response to the dozen completed pages that chronicle her baby shower, birth, homecoming, and the assorted growth, firsts, and medical info?
It was a mixed bag. She objected to my writing in cursive. She was thoroughly grossed out by her initial appearance. She was impressed by the pictures of Dylan R. from the baby shower. She especially liked hearing about how she kicked so hard when I held Dylan that he bounced off my belly. She thought that was pretty funny.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The girls still have the flu. Katie went to a slumber party where she was exposed to pink eye, the flu, and Strep. Both girls have the flu, and everyone but Evan is taking Tamiflu. (We haven't had any issues with side effects, but we didn't want Evan on a preventative dose just in case he might be more susceptible than others to the psych side effects seen in some kids.) The girls are camped out in the living room reading, playing video games, watching t.v. and slurping Sprite Zero and Gatorade. They'll feel okay, then pretty good... only to return to feeling really awful with high temperatures again. It's not fun to be them.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Igpay Atinlay

If you are somehow miraculously uninitiated ito the world of Pig Latin, the first letter or sound in a word is dropped to the end of the word and the sound "-ay" is tacked on to that as seen in the post's title meaning "Pig Latin". My children failed to anticipate the possibility that Mom and Dad might be familiar with their nifty secret language. They also made the error of putting their messages in writing. I was not pleased to discover in writing a message stating that, "Rinea sia ckyia" which translates to "Erin is icky." There was some serious back-pedalling to attempt to clarify that what was meant was that Erin is sick because she has the flu.

Almost New

We got a deal. According to the internet, we got a pretty good deal. If we had gotten the kind of deal I was hoping for, the salesman would've had to go into hiding. (No such luck.) We bought a nearly new car today to replace Don's Honda Civic (which hasn't been new in a decade). We finally decided that we would take on the dreaded car payment we have so carefully avoided for the past six years. We borrowed a Ford Escape from our local dealership over the weekend to decide if we liked it enough to buy it. Don prefers the "tighter" feel of a small Japanese car, but we have a few too many kids and dogs for one of those to accommodate everyone. I love my giant, gas-hog Expedition, and it has plenty of room for us, our critters, and whatever stuff or guests we feel the desire to haul around; however, we need to have one vehicle that is not quite so thirsty at the fuel pump. There was just something I really liked about the look of this vehicle...

Saturday, March 8, 2008


That would be "Locks of Love", not "laugh out loud". Katie exchanged ten inches of her hair for a free haircut. The ponytail she lost will be sent to Locks of Love. The organizaton will use Miss Katie's donation to create a wig for someone who has lost their own hair fighting cancer. Katie was a little nervous about having so much hair cut off because she still cringes everytime she sees pictures of herself with the bad bob of her early elementary years. Her hair looks cute, and it is not as short as she feared. She has already decided it will be much easier to take care of and style her newly cropped locks.

Winning Ticket

"You're a winner!" the paper proclaimed. Erin won something with her latest acquisition of "The Littlest Pet Shop" plastic bobble-headed critters. Erin has built quite a collection of these creatures. Her latest allowance-eating set came with the winning ticket inside. This was presented to me while I was indisposed in the powder room. The child wildly waving this little slip of paper was surprised that I was not immediately enthusiastic about examining the winning ticket from my throne.
A few minutes later, I pulled up the web site listed for prize claims. I signed Erin up on the website as a minor with my junk e-mail address. As we read the site, we discovered the possible prizes could include tickets to an Ally & AJ concert for four! (Katie asks as we read, "So, what's Evan going to do while we are gone?") Katie is horrified and Erin thrilled at the idea of the first prize bedroom make-over featuring every possible product that could ever have one of these big-head and goggle-eyed creatures appliqued, painted, or molded onto it. The second prize is simply more Littlest Pet Shop Toys. Whoo-hoo--- more critters to give funny voices while scattering them all over the house! (Erin's toys always have whispery high-pitched voices. Erin's toys creep me out sometimes.)
We enter in Erin's winning code with images of super-nifty prizes whirling in our heads. The site then pulls up the prize that corresponds to Erin's code. Guess what?! Erin won one of many third prizes... a digital poster. She was given a choice of four different Littlest Pet Shop posters featuring the creatures with little check boxes to mark off the ones a child owns. Needless to say, we were all three a bit disappointed, and a lot disgusted, with this so-called "prize". Erin somewhat grudgingly picked #2 of 4 from the available choices to download. Normally, I would not allow the kids to print anything that was a full sheet of photographic images because it would just chew through too much toner, but... this was her prize. Even though it was a dumb prize, she still won it. So I let her print it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Snow Day No 2

More of that wacky Texas weather! These photos were taken only hours apart. Here's to variety.


That was fast. Fresh from the John study with the thoughts tumbling around in my head of what God has been doing in my life over the past seven weeks, I discover an e-mail from Shelley. She sent prayer triggers for the team in preparation for our trip.

Operation: Prayer SURGE!
Prayer Triggers
When you see: Pray for:
1. Fruit/Veggies Spiritual fruit in Poland
2. Clothing stores Poles to be clothed in righteousness
3. Schools Knowledge of God’s Truth to spread
4. Statues Tearing down spiritual strongholds

I have printed out multiple copies. I'll be sticking these up in the places I will see often like the computer desk, the fruit basket, the bathroom mirror, and my truck. Even if I do not necessarily see many statues, I will be thinking of these prayer needs. How exciting to think of our team (and that includes you!) praying together in the coming days from many locations for the Poles and our own communities to see the spread of the gospel. That's just nifty.

I needed a lift this morning. I was giving myself grief over my crummy mood yesterday. Guilt really has no place in my life. I love the way that I was reminded of the peace and freedom that are mine through Christ even while receiving requests for others who need that very thing! God's timing is always just exactly right.

Letters Part II

Yay! The first response to the Poland OPS support letters came in yesterday! Thanks. You know who you are, and I will get a more formal thank you sent out. Finding that envelope tucked in among the junk mail and bills was definitely the high point of yesterday's otherwise unpleasant afternoon. Actually, it would have been equally exciting on any day, but my mood was considerably lifted by receiving it yesterday.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Texas Weather

Our weather is seriously out of whack. So far today we have had rain, sleet, and snow. We're under a winter storm warning, but we will have to get out in the yuckiness no matter what this afternoon to pick the kiddies up from school. Evan is likely to be in a mood because his Super Friends club is cancelled for today, althought the awesome club sponsor has already planned a lunch meeting for tomorrow with treats and the club activity to for her charges. Tomorrow night Evan is signed up for the middle school boys' retreat at our church which is supposed to camping outdoors overnight and paintball on Saturday. I foresee the weather being an issue. As stated previously, the boy is likely to be in a grand funk.
One hour later:
Evan called asking us to pick him up an hour and a half before school was due to be dismissed from the special needs room. I can just imagine the fun if all the Autistic kiddies discovered the weather outside. Our street was icy enough to cause me to slide a couple of times so we went ahead to pick up our girls from elementary. It took over half an hour to pick up three kids from two schools that are a maybe three-quarters of a mile apart because many other parents were doing the same thing. I dropped DOn and the kids off at home before heading back out after some basic groceries just in case tomorrow is as inhospitable outside as today. Typical Texas weather--- yesterday I was wearing short sleeves! Today I am bundled up in a heavy sweater and sweatpnats to ward off the cold!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I am scrapbooking feverishly. Erin is still waiting patiently for me to do her baby book. (I'm only seven and a half years behind.) I'm chronologically two months and one week from her birthday. In the photos I am as big as a house. I have tried pointing out that she is in the pictures... that she is the gigantic belly. That answer fails to satisfy Little Bit.

I am up to a fatal... er, fateful weekend in September, 2000. I am putting together a rather odd scrapbook entry of a wedding with as little of the bride as possible. I have cut her out of every most photos. My brother's ill-fated marriage to the female referred to within the family by many unflattering terms was a weekend when our family gathered. Many photos were taken. Evan and Katie were the ring bearer and flower girl. Don and my cousin Kirk were in the wedding party. I want to enjoy the photos of our family, but I am trying to work around the soul-sucking Evil Empress. (Not that Jim is perfect. I just love him better.) I'll be glad to finish up with those photos so I can move on along to the wonder of our Erin Elizabeth's arrival to complete our family. (That's my assumption. We will happily raise any kids that happen to be left on our doorstep. It just hasn't happened thus far.)

Lucky Bella

Bella should be thankful that I named her. Don came up with a cat name last night that he just loved. "Nikitty"... which is pronounced "nuh-kitty".This horror-show of a cat name came from him as we were starting to watch the first season of the show La Femme Nikita that ran on USA back in the late 90's. It's a spy show. We watch it at least once every year or two in it's entirety. We blow through seasons 1-5 on DVD. (There was a fairly rabid fan community online when the show was on the air, but we missed out on that so we are our own little rabid fan community.) The program featured cutting edge technology and fashion that in many cases still holds up a decade later. I was a little sad to see that it is beginning to date itself, but we still enjoyed watching the show play out the familiar actions and dialogues last night. Things blow up on the show. Lots of things blow up. Think Alias, but darker and with waaaaaay cooler spies.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Delay, Part II

Instead of driving carpools to school, this is what I did this morning... Don and I did make it safely over to the dermatologist's office despite the kids' late school start. We both have our first completely benign biopsy reports. Hooray! I don't have to go back for a whole year, and Don gets to wait six months before his next visit.


There is snow on the ground this morning. Our street is icy. Don and I are supposed to go to the dermatologist this morning at 8:30 to get our biopsy results. I also made plans to meet a good friend for coffee after the appointment. The kids would ordinarily all be in school by 8:10, but not today. Our school district has posted a two-hour delay to the start of the school day.
That puts a kink in our plans. Don is out walking the dogs in the cold. The children are all snuggled in their beds oblivious to their reprieve. I am going to take advantage of the unusual quiet at this time of morning to do my study before the clock demands that I begin making phone calls to let those who expect us know that we will be delayed.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Today I am working on an idea. Our church offers training and support for Christian artists. I make spreadsheets for the ministry. I noticed while making those spreadsheets that there seemed to be little available for teaching young children to worship. Now I am in the process if creating a proposal of sorts for my fearless leader (who also happens to be the mama of a couple of oh-so-charming preschool darlings) to peruse regarding the introduction of worship to the pre-K set. I like the name "Wee Worship" and pulled a tidbit from Psalms for a memory verse. I'm loving the image of a herd of little people making their own drums to bang on while singing praise songs and reciting their memory verse. How cute is that?!
Seriously, if we are going to support and train artists in the church, then don't we need to be growing up little artists from the earliest ages? The mighty mites have no preconceived notions of whether or not they are artists. Every 2-year-old is an artist. Ask their mothers. All we have to do is channel their artistry into worship.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Krakow Apartments
These are the apartments where our team will stay on our day trip to Krakow. I anticipate that being a day when the word "oppression" takes on a new meaning for sheltered, suburban me. It seems strange to contemplate sleeping in the charming location pictured in the photos while setting foot in the notorious Nazi death camp within the same day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

In January, 2007, we made the move to our current church home. After spending over nine solid years at the first church Don and I attended together, it was time to move on to a new place. It was strange and scary to contemplate going into an unfamiliar church. We had the opportunity to navigate all the newcomers' obstacles in a place that was reminiscent of the place we had called "home" for so long while being wholly different.
Don plays bass with a different worship team. Evan jumps at every middle school student opportunity, and serves in the technical arts. Katie is involved in a transitional class for fifth graders to confront the issues that swirl around "children" who are becoming "youth" by equipping the kids with scripture and strong personal investment in them by the children's pastor. Katie serves in the nursery. Erin is not yet a Christian, but she is growing and loves to sing in the children's choir.
Our household was chugging along with everyone plugged in as 2008 dawned. Everyone except me. I was doing a bit of administrative this and that for a friend from our small group, but really not tapping any particular skills. I was effectively a pew sitter. (That does not mean I was asleep at the wheel. Ministry happens without specific tasks any time a believer ministers to someone.) I wanted to find a place to formally serve within our church home because, while the newness has worn off after a year, I still felt like a visitor as I walked the halls many Sundays.
Don and I headed to the church for a Worship Arts ministry general meeting Thursday night. We entered the sanctuary of the church to be greeted with several off-hand waves--- not the full-throttle welcome given to guests or visitors, but the casual acknowledgement of greeting for those who are well-known. We wandered amongst the gathering group and talked with friends--- not acquaintances. I sat watching people enter while mentally running through the "What's New with Whom List" in my head: the couple who live down the street, and like us, are getting a new roof, the team recently returned from a mission trip to Thailand, the couple who just learned their third child is another daughter when their eldest child was really hoping for a brother, and the couple whispering to end a private spat while in a public place.
After the formal meeting is concluded, I find myself sitting with a couple of ladies. We talk about the details of our lives since we last saw one another. The couple expecting daughter number three approaches, and we get to hear their little one's name for the first time. I excitedly tell the group that support-raising for the Poland trip is finally underway, but one of the ladies is a step ahead already. They have been trying to plan a fundraiser, but sonograms, sick kids, and jobs have kept them from moving forward this week. I vaguely hear Don's bass from the stage as the band commences rehearsal for weekend service. This is it. I recognize this feeling: belonging. We are home.