Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blog Renovations

So the whole idea of SheSpeaks coming up so soon got me thinking about getting ready. I've been working on the piece I want to submit to my peer-editing group, thinking about what I'm going to wear (Hey! I'm a girl! I think about these things), and trying to decide whether it would be pretentious or professional to have "business" cards.

Can they be called "business cards" if you don't have a business?

I think I've finally decided it would be a good idea to have at least a few. Which leads to the whole question of "What is it going to look like?" followed closely by "Where do I order them?" and "What's it going to cost?"

The most fun question, of course, is about the look. My blog is a basic Blogger template since I haven't gotten around to shelling out the money for a custom template. A basic Blogger template doesn't lend itself well to "branding". That's a marketing term for having a standard look and feel to all of your company's output so that customers build recognition. Like how you can recognize a Target or Apple commercial without ever seeing the company name. Of course, I don't exactly have a company, product, or commercials, but it simply makes sense that my card would match my blog.

This afternoon I took the girls to paint some pottery and ended up painting a bowl with a pattern I loved and decided would make a fabulous "brand" for my blog. The best part? I could make a banner using that idea all by myself. A few minutes with the laptop and I put my idea into electronic format. Then came the hard part, so I called in the big guns.

"Dear? Do you think you could make this into a banner for my blog?"

Happily, Mr. at Home was so incredibly accommodating and got the graphic up as a banner. I love that man.

Then we went out with some other couples for dinner, during which one of the guys there complemented my "website", so that little affirmation kept me thinking about what else I could do. So I came home and redid the graphic so that I loved it even more.

"Dear? Do you think you could change my banner to this version?"

Between my endless love of change and Mr. at Home's L33T technical skills, the look of this blog will probably be in flux for a day or two. Keep checking back and let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Looking Forward to SheSpeaks

3 weeks. Is that all? Surely I'm miscalculating and it's more know...3 months.

But no, it's 3 weeks.

3 weeks until I walk into a room with 500 other women. I'll be carrying a bag with my laptop, a notebook, and all my writing dreams, quaking in my business casual attire, and thinking that every other women has it far more together than I do. Every other woman will have goal, a plan, a beautifully written proposal, and a dozen contract offers and they will all know just by looking at me that I still don't know what I want to write about. I will intellectually know that, of course, it isn't true, but I'll still feel that way.

It's like those dreams when you show up to a big meeting wearing your slip and no skirt or the one where you forgot about a college class until the day you have to take the final. Wait, maybe those did really happen...

In spite of my glaring insecurities, I am very much looking forward to the conference. I don't know a soul who will be there except a couple of the P31 people, so I'll have plenty of time to take notes and soak it all in. My goal for the conference is to catch a vision for what I need to do, to be inspired by the speakers and by the people I meet, to meet with God and seek His direction, and to come home and do something about it.

So for everyone visiting from Lysa's blog, I look forward to meeting you in 3 weeks!

1 week ago yesterday

Late last Wednesday night I came across a post on the Dillon China forum about Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter, Maria. I scoured the internet for news, learning that she and some of her siblings had been playing in the front yard when her brother backed the SUV out of the garage. Just one small moment when their sight was blocked, their attention fixed on something else, and tragedy occurred. A short time later, the happy little girl of five was home with her Father in heaven and the rest of the Chapman family was left with their questions and their grief.

I didn't post anything here about the tragedy as it suddenly seemed too close, too personal. Last Friday, our family loaded up the van and headed to Memphis, TN, where we me up with 8 other families who traveled to China with us in 2005 to adopt our own tiny daughters. Over the weekend, not a word was said about the Chapman family among those of use who shared his passion for adoption. It was never far from my mind, though, especially as we watched the children swim and play, constantly counting heads and checking for any sign of danger. The what ifs were unspoken, but deafening.

Today found me growing frustrated with my daughters - the oldest who constantly asks for expensive entertainment and the youngest who has recently regressed to potty accidents, baby talk, and whining. I had simply reached the end of my rope and took myself and my computer upstairs for a time out. As the sound of my daughters' laughter drifts through my open door (of course, they're happy now), I come across this blog entry by SCC's manager. It is a sobering reminder of the tragedy and the long-lasting effects on all involved.

Please remember to keep the Chapman family in your prayers through the weeks and months ahead. Put a reminder somewhere and help to pray them through this valley that no one can walk alone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A few words that say a WHOLE lot

My favorite magazine is Reader's Digest.

Show of hands: How many people does this really surprise?

I love reading all the stories and articles and jokes. There's lots of information about neat new gadgets and scientific advancements.

In the June 2008 issue, there's a little story about a scientific study with this quote.

"As a general rule, science that bolsters sexist cliches should be shunned" (p. 82)

So if science proves something that you don't personally agree with, then you stick your fingers in your ears, squeeze your eyes closed, and sing "LALALALA!!" at the top of your lungs.

Because that's the only mature way to react. Scientifically speaking. It is a sad, sad commentary on our culture.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WFMW: Hairbows anyone can make

(Note: All pictures are small because there are so many! Just click on a picture to make it larger.)
Today it finally got hot and I had to take the girls shopping for summer clothes. We picked up this shirt off the clearance rack at Old Navy.

Isn't it darling? Isn't it just crying out for a matching bow? Unfortunately, they didn't *have* any matching bows at Old Navy, so it looks like I'm going to have to make it myself. But don't worry, I have a foolproof, easy, quick technique for making hairbows that will amaze your friends and help you gain legendary status as a master crafter.

Step 1: Gather your materials.

Ribbon in colors and designs that will match the shirt (I pulled all these out of my stash of remnants)
Upholstery thread (a good strong thread is very important)
Glue gun (with glue. Plug it in and let it heat up.)
Hair clip
I had included some other stuff, but I didn't end up using it.

Step 2: Cut your ribbon.

You build the bow with wider ribbon in back, narrower in front. I have 2 ~7" sections of the wide purple ribbon, 2 slightly shorter sections of the olive and white, a 1 even shorter alphabet ribbon.

Step 3: Make loops.

This is where you put those sewing skills to the test. And trust me, you don't have to have much in the way of "skills".

Thread your needle with an arm's length piece of upholstery thread and tie the ends in a knot. Overlap the edges of the ribbon by about half an inch and sew a seam into it. It doesn't have to be pretty as no one will ever see the thread. You do, however, have to sew it, as hot glue will make the seam too thick and stiff and I'll tell you why that's bad in a couple of steps.

Make all of your ribbons into loops.

Step 4: Put the loops together.

Grab one of the big ribbon loops and pinch it in the middle so that it forms a bow shape.

Put one stitch in the middle to hold it together and leave the needle dangling.

Place the second big ribbon loop over the first one so that it forms an X and put another stitch through both ribbons.

Continue the process with the rest of the ribbons and leave the needle dangling at the end.

Step 5: Finish off the bow.

Remember how I said you need to sew the ribbon instead of using hot glue? This step is why. You've got a nice looking stack of ribbon loops there, but you need to have a gathered look to the center to give it dimension.

Take the dangling needle and thread and wrap it around the center of your bow, drawing it into a tight knot. That's why you need that extra strong upholstery thread because the regular stuff will snap right off. Go around it a second time, drawing the knot even tighter.

Put in a couple of extra stitches to hold the center thread and snip off the thread (yea! you're done with the sewing!). Pull the loops straighter and make it look all neat and balanced.

Step 6: Attach the bow to the hair clip.

Put a line of hot glue across the top of the clip and secure it straight across the back of the bow.

Glue one end of a short piece of ribbon to the inside of the hair clip.

Wrap the ribbon around the front of the bow and back to the underside, securing it again with the hot glue. Trim off any excess ribbon.


One completely cute, completely easy hairbow! And trust me, it took me a whole lot longer to write this post than to make the bow!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We're in Memphis!

Nine families of our adoption travel group is meeting for our 3rd reunion at a hotel in Memphis this weekend and we are having a ball!

Some of us arrived yesterday afternoon and we quickly filled the pool with kids. A noisy dinner of "Chinese" take-out in the breakfast area earned us some looks from the hotel staff so we corralled the kids outside in a little courtyard. Gated, thank goodness, so the kids could run, jump, flip, and get out all the pent-up energy from a long drive here without us worrying whether Sarah (our resident escape artist) had run off down the street.

A late bedtime, an early breakfast, and we were off to the children's museum where we spent most of the time chasing our respective little ones. Back to the hotel and a thunderstorm has trapped us back in the breakfast area. Thankfully, the kids are more subdued today and L and her orphanage-mate, Addy Grace, are sitting quietly playing with paper and stickers. It's been so neat to see them play together. They were very close in the orphanage and they've kinda gravitated to each other this time at the reunion. Probably because they're close in age.

So enjoy the pictures and try not to feel too envious of our fun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just in case you were wondering...

...why yes, I *did* have nightmares last night.

Ok, maybe not really *nightmares*, but everytime I drifted off to sleep, I'd dream that my friends were turning into zombies and the rest of us were trying to find hiding places before it got dark. I also laid there and analyzed why didn't the zombies attack each other? What happened to the kids? How did the zombie person control the zombie dogs? How could the zombies be smart enough to recreate the doctor's trap, but stupid enough not to figure out where he lived? How did the deer and lions survive? Why were the zombies afraid of the light if it didn't seem to hurt them in the last scene? How long did it take the scientists at the compound to isolate the cure and how would they deliver it to zombies? Would it provide an on-going immunity or would they have to be re-medicated every time they caught the virus? Deep, world-changing questions.

This was not exactly conducive to sound sleeping, so it was a very long night. No more horror movies for me. Especially since I really need sleep because tomorrow's to do list is very long. There's always so much to get done before heading out of town, even for a quick trip where we'll be staying in a hotel in a city and hanging out the whole time with 8 other families from our adoption travel group. I'm so excited about seeing the other girls, being amazed at how much they've grown, chatting with the other parents, and catching up on stories and lives.

An exciting weekend with people I like is much more fun to think about than zombies.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Horror movies and nighmares

Tonight Mr. at Home watched I Am Legend. Thankfully, I had some craft stuff that needed my attention so I only listened to it and watched the screen during short breaks between thread, ribbons, and hot glue.

You see, horror movies give me nightmares, which means that I swore off of them after I got talked in watching Pet Semetary in high school. And I had heard/read enough about I Am Legend to know that it pretty much fell into the category of horror movie, but I also still kinda wanted to see it. I know, conflicting. It's just who I am.

I already knew that the dog got infected and died and I knew that the doctor died in the end. After all, it's hard to be a LEGEND if you're still alive. So those scenes didn't do me in. But it's anyone's guess as to whether I have nightmares tonight from all this. I'll keep you posted.

But I discovered today that you don't have to watch horror movies to have nightmares. After an exhausting day yesterday, I didn't sleep well last night and ended up having one of those vivid, disturbing dreams that you just can't shake even after you wake up.

I dreamed that half of our friends from church were getting divorced.

It was a nightmare.

People dumping and getting dumped and no one seemed to see a problem with this. I tried to talk and express my shock and sorrow at the situation , but I couldn't find anyone to talk TO because everyone was in the middle of it. In the dream, my friend Karen was getting married within just a short time of divorcing her first husband and we were supposed to be going to the wedding, but I couldn't stop crying over the whole thing long enough to go inside. At the end, I was looking for our Bible Study teacher, who is a very wise, educated, Godly man and a great champion of marriage. I knew he would understand.

Do you want to know the most nightmarish part of the dream?

Statistically, the divorce rate within the church is the same as outside the church. I've heard it's 50%. Can you imagine? Half the couples you know right now won't be couples for much longer. We have *3* friends who are going through this now. I don't even want to think about who's next. It's a seemingly incurable virus that spreads without warning and devastates those who are anywhere near the infection.

That virus in I Am Legend is a puny weakling compared to divorce.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The day in which we worked like field hands

Early this morning, the girls and I loaded up the van and headed out for a morning of charity work. We drove over dirt roads and grassy pastures where we parked, put on our rubber boots and got to picking.

In 3 hours, six people of ages 4 to 74 picked about 40 gallons of strawberries. Big beautiful red juicy strawberries. Gorgeous sweet amazing strawberries on enormous breath-taking dark green plants.

The girls were amazing - picking berries, carrying full buckets back and bringing us empty ones, tallying the number of buckets. They were happy and working hard for 3 solid hours and declared it all as "Fun!" and "When can we do this again?!" In the end, we had picked enough strawberries for over 1000 servings and I got asked to be a Head Gleaner for future outings.

The group we worked for today generally gets to go into a field to pick whatever the harvesters left. The place we got to work in today is a agricultural research center so we were the only ones picking after the scientists had gotten their samples (they're trying to see which varieties grow best and produce longest in our soil and climate). These berries were going to a local Meals on Wheels group to be included with tomorrow's deliveries. In general, the food goes to a variety of food banks, shelters, churches, even to designated residents in low-income areas who then distribute it to their neighbors. Food banks specialize in non-perishable food items, but people need fresh food, also, in order to stay healthy.

The whole gleaning thing is a fabulous experience and something anyone can do. There are going to be regular pickings every Tuesday all summer if you live near Charlotte or Salisbury, NC, and would like to join us. Just think, it'll give the kids something to do when they start whining "We're bored" "What else is there to do" "Take us somewhere". I'll try to post it here whenever we go so YOU can plan to com, too!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The earthquake and how we can help the most vulnerable

I found the website of another adoptive family today that posted the daily update from the Half the Sky Foundation. That's an organization that works with orphanages in China to provide needed supplies and services. They are putting daily updates on the website with news of what is happening and what is needed at each associated orphanage in the earthquake zone. Many of the children are living in tents and supplies are desperately needed. Many more children have been brought to the orphanage because they have lost their families. Wonderfully, many many Chinese families have already applied to adopt children these earthquake orphans.

Here is today's update reposted, but you can visit the Half the Sky website for more information and to keep abreast of the news coming from the affected areas.


Half the Sky Earthquake Update - May 17

May 17th, 2008

Dear Friends,

It is mid-weekend now in China so we are not getting a daily call from the ministry. But I do have further information to share with you.

First, children in the institutions are all still well. We have now reached reached every affected institution, with the exception of Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture where the orphanage is said to house 52 children. We will let you know as soon as we make contact.

It turns out the Mianzhu SWI, which we’d had trouble reaching, was leveled in the quake. There was one fatality, an elderly resident. Thankfully, all of the children were in community foster care and all are fine.

As of today (Saturday) there were 28,881 people confirmed dead. There were a very small number of live rescues, but the teams have not given up hope. Cities like Mianyang have become refugee centers. 20,000 homeless who have come on foot from nearby towns are living in the local stadium; many more thousands have no place to go. 4.7 million homes have been destroyed. 169,000 people are injured.

Ma Lang tells us that although the rescue resources keeping coming in, one concern is the uneven distribution of much needed goods. “Counties and townships that have been the focus in media coverage receive more resources (sometimes more than enough); while in some other areas, there is little. In Qingchuan, people are surviving on one bottle of water and two cookies per day.”

In the schools that did not collapse (almost 7,000 classrooms were destroyed) the education bureaus are working to care for displaced children. They need tents, blankets, masks, rice, noodles, oil, flashlights, disposable underwear and antiseptic wipes. Many of those items and the items are are requested by the welfare institutions are no longer available in Chengdu.
With the funds you have donated, HTS has a team of volunteer shoppers scouring Chengdu and we have a network of staff and volunteers seeking out needed items throughout China.

Today, with your help, we purchased 100 large refugee tents to house children who are in need of shelter. We have arranged to purchase more later this week but want to be sure we can properly distribute first. It is not easy to find goods now or to get them where they need to go. But everyone is working together to help the children.

As you have heard, this tragic event has both killed children and created orphans. A group of new orphans has been transported to Chengdu. We expect to have more information soon.

Meanwhile, the orphanage in Chengdu experienced a magnitude 5.9 aftershock yesterday (there have been 23 major aftershocks ranging from 5-6.9 on the Richter Scale!) and is preparing, if necessary, to move the children completely out of what was considered to be the most solid building. They have requested tents, which we are providing immediately.

Here are answers to some of your questions, the best we can offer right

How can one donate goods?
We do not have the means to facilitate bringing goods into the country or distributing them where they are needed. If you are in China and have access to the following items and have means to deliver them to the Chengdu airport, please contact me: folding cots & cribs, 100 or more blankets, 100 or more pairs of children’s shoes, 100 or more large tarpaulins, 2 cases or more of children’s antibiotics (Zithromax, Amoxycillin, Penicillin, Klarithromycin, Erythromycin, Augmentin), 2 cases or more of anti-diarrheal meds (Charcoal Tablets, Kaolin), 2 cases or more of children’s anti-cold and cough meds (Dimetapp, Actifed, Robitussin) and/or 4 cases or more of rehydration salts/liquids (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Gastrolyte, ORS, Pocari Sweat). Please understand, we appreciate your wish to send items but we are not a relief agency (though we’re starting to feel like one!) and we just don’t have the mechanism or means to move your goods where they will do good. The very best way to help is to donate funds.

How many children will we help?
We can’t yet know. There are not yet statistics that separate affected children from adults. There are not yet statistics regarding the numbers of new orphans, numbers of affected orphans, numbers of displaced children who will eventually be reunited with their families. We will provide when we can.

How can one adopt newly orphaned children?
It is too early to know how many orphans have been created by the disaster. There is also much desire among the Chinese people to provide loving homes for the children who’ve lost their parents. The government’s first priority is to take care of the children’s urgent needs – to provide them with shelter, food, medical care and a nurturing environment. Half the Sky is doing its best to support this process. There will then be efforts to reunite children with relatives. Eventually, if parents or relatives can’t be located, the children will be placed for adoption.
Several hundred Chinese citizens have already submitted applications to the Sichuan Civil Affairs Bureau!

Please give what you can to help the children who survive go on with their lives.

If you would like to donate to Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund, it would be great if you would do so at Global Giving as (even though they take 10% for processing and we do not (100% to the kids but at cost to our
programs) it allows HTS staff to focus on relief efforts while keeping our programs going.

If you prefer to donate directly to Half the Sky, of course that’s fine.
Here are the various ways: You can donate by calling Half the Sky (+1 510
525 3377) or on our website:’s+Earthquake+Fund

I am told that many companies (was specifically informed about Microsoft and Citibank) will match employee gifts for earthquake relief. Please check to see if your company will double your gift!

If you would like a Canadian tax receipt, please donate at

If you would like a Hong Kong tax receipt, please call us at +852 2520
5266 or online at

Your donations to support relief efforts for the children have been so generous. It is deeply moving to see how many people care.

with love,

Apartment People

Our apartment complex has been undergoing some extensive cosmetic remodeling - new paint, newly refurbished pool and gameroom, new blinds, etc. Today the office threw a big pool party to celebrate their new level of coolness, so we decided to join the fun.

After observing the people who joined us at the pool, I've decided there are 5 types of people who live in apartments.

1. The young single professional - These are the skinny/wannabe skinny people who dress in string bikinis and think it's appropriate to untie their swimsuit tops at a family event. After all, they would simply DIE if they got a tan line across their back. They do, however, tie it back up occasionally so they can sit up and have a smoke and a beer.

2. The wannabe young single professional, but really old as dirt - These are the middle-aged people who try to be just as deeply tanned and inappropriately dressed as their younger version and they come with the same required beer and cigarettes. They just don't have youth as an excuse anymore.

3. The wannabe young single professional, but really old as dirt and had to bring the kids - These are the middle-aged people who are trying to relive the "before I got married and had kids" glory days. They are deeply tanned, inappropriately dressed, have the required cigarettes and beer, have the trophy boyfriend/girlfriend in the chair beside them, and let the kids run wild.

4. The old folks - These are the older men and women who gave up the house for the lesser upkeep of an apartment. They are fully dressed and sitting around the pool chatting with the other older residents and just enjoying the companionship.

5. The young families who are in transition from one house to another - These are the couples with young children who are waiting for a house to be built or they've moved into the area from another part of the country so they've waited to get here before buying a house. These stay for about 6 months, then disappear inside of a big moving truck.

And then there's us. And we don't really fit in any of those categories. We're the "Tired of being house poor, mowing a huge lawn that's a big hill that we can't really use, cleaning a huge house when we don't need that much space, shelling out the big bucks every time something breaks or a big job needs to be done with specialized equipment we don't own, so we decided to chuck it all and move into an apartment so we can get back to being debt-free and not feel like our house owns us" people.

There aren't many of us out there, but there should be. Cause we like it just fine. Especially the pool.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Going all crunchy eco-friendly mama

Not full-fledged "granola mom", cause that'd just totally be..ummm.. not me.

BUT I did fill that tank of my minivan yesterday and gaped with astonished disbelief as the price display stopped at sixty-freakin'-dollars. For a mini-van! So I immediately decided to be smarter about driving.

As in Don't Drive!

As in Leave That Car Parked! Don't Even Look At It!

Today I was planning to meet some friends for a playdate. My friend wanted to meet at the shopping center near our house, so I loaded the girls on their bikes and we got there by foot power. Then we walked over to the grocery store where I got a bagful of food in a nice reuseable bag with handles and we walked/biked back home.

I've done my little part to save gas, gotten some good exercise, and wore the girls out (score!)

Summer vacation is a learned skill

Last Thursday we officially finished school.

By Monday morning, the girls were asking what we were going to do now?

By Tuesday morning, the girls were asking if they could please go ahead and start school again.

By Thursday morning, they seem to have gotten the hang of this thing called "summer vacation". We hang out all morning in our pajamas, do some crafts, do some housework, check our schedule to see if we've got a playdate or dentist appointment, and just generally slow down and let them *be kids*.

As much as the girls resisted the idea, they really need the unstructured time. Time to figure out their own games and activities. Time to spend with friends hanging out at the pool or the park. Of course, the cool weather moved back in this week and we haven't been able to go to the pool since Saturday. But we're meeting friends today at the grassy area of our local shopping center so the kids can just run around and the moms can talk.

I'm loving the chance to catch up on all those home administration tasks that get pushed to the back-burner during the school year. Like backing up photo files and going through all the video camera tapes, pulling off the good stuff, and getting all of the tapes ready to be recorded over during summer vacation. Like introducing the girls to the deliciousness of carrots dipped in peanut butter, which caused some strange looks, but K is now eating a PB&shredded carrot sandwich and L is eating a deconstructed version. Because running a carrot over the cheese grater obviously makes it much cooler.

See? More time to do the important stuff in life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WFMW: Figuring out those pesky electronics

This morning I am going through a crash course in shooting video.


1. Because today is Video Day at L's dance class where we doting moms get to actually go into the dance room and video their recital dances so our little aspiring ballerinas and show girls can "practice at home". These girls are 4. You can imagine how much practicing at home is going on. At least we'll have their "boogie woogie" move as great blackmail fodder for future dating years.

2. Because we so rarely *use* the video camera that it took 30 minutes of searching this morning before I finally found it in a box labeled "electronics" that we haven't opened since we moved last summer. I'm glad I got motivated to look for it fairly early this morning so it has plenty of time to charge.

3. Because I have stayed loyal to my still camera and early on turned the job of videographer over to Mr. at Home. So I have never officially *used* our snazzy little video camera and I totally forgot to ask for Mr. at Home's help in the 3 weeks I've known about the upcoming Video Day.

I called Mr. at Home twice this morning about the video camera (honey? where is it? where are the cords? which tape can I use?). He seemed a little cranky (well, he was at work and, you know, working) so I finally accepted my fate and set about figuring out this thing on my own.

Making full advantage of my higher learning, I determined that I needed to plug the thing in to charge first. Thankfully, the appropriate cord was in the bag with the camera. I plugged it in and the little red light started blinking.

Ummm, does that mean it's charging? Maybe it's a warning and means I need to do something else?

So I did what any former technical writer does. I went to our files and looked for the manual. Now, I am a bit obsessive about manuals. I keep them all filed under Important Documents. So I flipped through ancient receipts and manuals for things we haven't owned in years, but there was NO video camera manual. Sheesh! Can't I catch a break?!?

So I did what any computer savvy former technical writer does. I cracked open my laptop, went to the JVC website, clicked on Support, and found the product manuals. And there it was! The manual for my camera! In PDF! I scrolled through the first few pages and learned that the blinking light did indeed indicate that the battery is charging. I even learned that when the light goes out, charging is complete, and I need to set the switch to A when I want to record. Folks, modern technology is a miracle.

You can find almost *any* product manual on the internet these day. Did you buy a sewing machine at a garage sale? Inherit your big brother's old camera? Forget until the last minute that you need to know how to use your video camera? Never fear! Just go to the company website and look for support and/or product manuals. You will find a treasure chest full of valuable information.

For more Works-For-Me Wednesday posts, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother/Daughter Night at the Baseball Game

This season, K has been playing catcher for her softball team. In the interest of getting a handle on all the jobs a catcher has, I've been wanting to take her to the watch the local minor league team, but their schedule and ours just hasn't meshed.

So last night, I left a sick Mr. at Home and the little L at home and took K to the game. Where we had a blast. Monday nights at the AAA game just aren't very crowded and K could stand up the whole game without anyone complaining that they couldn't see. We stayed for the whole game and a man handed K a game ball before we left. I treated her to a new Knights cap, then we raced out to wait for the players so we could get some signatures.

Unfortunately, there was all kinds of confusion about who comes out which door. We were told to go to the loading dock, where the guy said the *other* team would be coming out. The Knights used the front entrance, so we headed back up there. And there was no one. We finally stopped a staff guy who said the players ate dinner after the game, but they'd be out in a few minutes and that the Knights used both the front and loading dock doors. So we ran back to the loading dock where we got 3 signatures. From the other team. But one of them was Dontrelle Willis, a major league pitcher on a rehab assignment. That was cool.

After a few autographs, we headed back to the front to see if we could find anyone. We got one signature, then we were walking to the car when a whole group of guys came out. K's hat brim was almost full, but she still didn't have the catcher's autograph. Everyone told us he never comes out and does autographs, but we figured it wouldn't hurt to wait. I had finally told K we could wait 2 more minutes, then we had to go, so we prayed that God would give us a hand here. Just as the 2 minutes were up, a guy who had been watching us play a goofy game of catch while we waited came out and offered to take the ball inside for an autograph. We handed him the hat instead and asked that he please ask Paul Phillips, the catcher, to sign it since we had been watching him, cheering for him, and waiting for him all night. The guy came back a couple minutes later with Paul's autograph in the front and center place of honor on K's hat brim. We were so excited. We didn't get to meet him, but God answered our silly little prayer in His own way.
So we were out way too late last night, but we had a grand adventure and K has a fabulous new lucky hat. Of course, the team K's playing tonight is a monster with a perfect record and a ridiculous number of runs scored (155 while only allowing 35. ALL SEASON), so we're going to need all the "luck" we can get!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A prayer for family

Tim Challies posted this on his blog and I wanted to repost it here. It's such a powerful example of how we should pray for our family.

Thou art the Creator-Father of all men, for thou hast made and dost support them;
Thou art the special Father of those who know, love and honour thee,
who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,
thy work honourable,
thy commandments glorious.
But how little thy undeserved goodness has affected me!
how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!
how negligent have I been in doing good to others!
I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,
have mercy on me,
and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.
Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive,
fall short of heaven at last;
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience,
soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

Did you catch that?

" how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!" May I take full advantage of the opportunities I have been given to learn and grow in Christ.

"devoted to thy glory" May all my family be devoted to showing God's glory.

"my house may be a nursery for heaven" May my children grow up with a full, saving knowledge of Christ.

" Let not those of my family...fall short of heaven at last" May no one miss this chance to accept Christ's sacrifice for us all so that we spend eternity together with Christ in Heaven.


Happy Mother's Day!

Today I

- received 2 cards as soon as I went downstairs

- received one spa gift certificate and a dinner gift certificate is on the way

- received 2 pieces of artwork from L that she made in class

- was praised by Mr. at Home to our friends

- have been told "Happy Mother's Day" by my girls over and over

- was told to go upstairs and take the afternoon completely and absolutely off

- lit a wonderful smelling candle and got comfy

- ate lunch upstairs that was delivered by Mr. at Home and K

- chatted with my brother over messenger without interruptions

- am going to take nap while Mr. at Home and the girls make lasagna

- will enjoy my favorite dinner with my 3 favorite people

- will feel absolutely blessed beyond measure!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like summer vacation

Summer vacation has been going on for....

1 day.

But we're totally diving in headfirst.

Thursday was all school books and papers scattered everywhere, but this is what we see today.

The cooler and the bag of pool toys lying in the middle of the floor.

Two new fish floaties have appeared in the floor of K's closet.

The fridge is suddenly overpopulated with small fruit flavored drinks specially designed to fit in the above cooler without spilling.

But the last and most important thing?

My koozie. The one with my initial embroidered on it and tied with a ribbon. Isn't it cute? And it's the absolute perfect thing for keeping Mom supplied with delicious ice cold beverages while she makes the sacrifice of taking her kids to the pool, spending hours in the blazing heat and never taking her eyes off her bathing beauties. Especially since one had such a difficult time learning water safety and I don't want a repeat of all that. Thankfully, that experience seared itself a permanent place in her memory (as well as all the other moms, kids, firefighters, ambulance personnel, doctors, nurses, and parents involved) and L is *very, very* cautious now.

Yep, you know it's summer when the koozie comes out.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My laundry room floor is really, really clean

Did you remember that we have company coming for dinner tonight? And I had planned to clean today? And cook? And I even promised my kids that somewhere in the middle of all the fun we could run down to the pool for a little bit.

Why, yes, I am an over-achiever.

In spite of a late night last night due to a softball game, the girls were up and screaming at each other before 7:20am. Happy, happy, joy, joy! I sent them off with threats and orders to get baths and went back to bed. Hey, it's my first day of summer vacation and I wanted to sleep late.

After awhile, I got downstairs and started cleaning. I went to start the very last load of laundry and the washer was acting weird. Hummm, maybe it just needs to run a load and it'll get back on track. So I loaded up the whites and watched it as it filled and started agitating. So far, so good. So I headed off to clean the bathroom next to it. A couple minutes later I walked back into the laundry room only to find the floor covered in almost an inch of bleach and water.

Did I ever mention that we live in a second floor apartment?

After using up all the clean towels and waiting on maintenance, we decided to take our lunch to the pool and relax before trying again on the whole housecleaning thing. We're now back home, dinner is already in the oven, and the girls' rooms are clean, so we're not too far behind, in spite of the drama.

On the plus side, our laundry room is sparkling clean.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


School's out for the summer here at 3:14 Academy (aka Kitchen Table Homeschool) and are we ever excited!

We had planned to finish tomorrow, but L had only 1 page left in her Big Preschool Workbook for today, which totally made K jealous, so she decided that *she* was going to finish today as well. So we worked all afternoon and finished her last test - reading - just after 3pm.

Do you want to know what the last spelling word for second grade was?


Can you imagine? How many ADULTS can spell acquaintance?

But anyway, we finished and got the last of the tests packed up and ready to mail back to A Beka tomorrow.

So the next question is...what are we going to do to celebrate?

Clean house!! And cook!!

Because we have friends coming over for dinner tomorrow and we've got some more work to do on the house. Yep, it's all fun and games here at our house.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Awesome, Fabulous, Must Read Books

I love books.

Guess that doesn't surprise anyone who knows me at all. Ask any member of my family to describe me and "she always has her nose stuck in a book" comes out within the first 30 seconds.

Recently, I have come across two new authors and 4 amazing books. Wait, make that 5.

The first author is Liz Curtis Higgs. I read the first 3 books in her Leana and Rose series and LOVED them! It sets the Leah and Rachel story in Scotland..oh, a couple of centuries or so ago. It was an amazing experience, rich in detail and dialogue. The titles are Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince. There's still one more in the series that I'm looking forward to reading, Grace in Thine Eyes.

So I then went out and bought her book, Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, which is a study that includes the stories of Leah and Rachel. It is also amazing. Liz has such an fabulous, personal style that is fun to read.

And then Marybeth did a review of a book entitled, Blue Heart Blessed by Susan L. Meissner. I tried to win a copy of the book, but I didn't. However, I was so taken by her recommendation and the interview with Susan, that I went out and bought the book. And I am so glad I did! It was an awesome book and I loved it so much I packed it up to ship to Mom for Mother's Day (shhhh, don't tell her. And Mom, when you read this, just forget I said anything. Or twiddle your thumbs in impatience. Whatever works for you.)

So if you're looking for something new to read, something to take to the mountains or the beach this summer, go get these books!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rubber Duckie Birthday Cake

A friend of mine mentioned that she wants to do a duckie-themed party for her daughter's first birthday. And, what do you know, I have the perfect cake!

Several years ago, I found directions for this cake in a magazine and I made it for Lydia's second birthday.

Here's how to make it. You will need to start *well* in advance of the party since it will take hours for the jello to set and the cake to cool.

1. Mix up a batch of blue jello. Go ahead and make the big package or 2 small packages, so that you have plenty. You can always eat the extra later. Put it in the fridge to set and go to step 2.

2. Bake a white sheet cake. Allow the cake to cool completely or your jello will melt.

3. Using a wire cheese slicer, slice off the top yellow crust of the cake, revealing the white inside. (This will keep the jello from looking green.)

4. Once your jello is set, take a large spoon and stir it up so that it gets chunky and easy to work with.

5. Spoon the jello gently over the top of the cake to look like water.

6. Make the bathtub outline around the edges using white icing. (I used a store-bought squeeze tube with the flat line tip.)

7. The magazine picture had a faucet made of gray icing and corncob holders in the shape of old-fashioned hot and cold handles. I did not happen to have any of those, so we made do with some duckie cake decorations around the edges.

8. Plop a couple of small rubber ducks (after you've run them through the dishwasher, of course) in the middle of the "water" and you've got a birthday cake masterpiece that will amaze your family and friends.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


When you do this in the afternoon

This is what you look like when you fall asleep...with all 52 of your stuffed friends taking up your bed so that there's no room for your weary limbs.
At least they're pretty comfy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Burrito Baby

Homeschool Coolness

Have I mentioned lately how cool it is that I can chat with my brother in Iraq? I very, very rarely talked to him on the phone (and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how I really don't like the phone), so it's been nice to reconnect. Maybe by next week, the shine will have worn off and I won't be mentioning it every post.

This morning I opened my laptop to look up something very quickly while I was trying to get schoolwork going and Aaron popped up and started texting. So after a few minutes of back and forth, I got a brilliant idea.

How cool would it be for K to type her spelling list for her dear Uncle Sarge? In Iraq?

Aaron agreed and K spent the next 10 minutes (hey, she's 7) typing all her word as I called them out. He then "graded" her and told her how to spell the four she missed (not bad considering she only got the list yesterday and she was copying it in the dealership waiting room - we had to get the brakes fixed - in between games on "The Price is Right"). We promised Uncle Sarge a Spelling Medal of Honor for his courageous duty of correctly spelling words off a 2nd grade spelling list.

Yep, it's coolness like that that makes me glad we homeschool.