Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The House Sale That Wasn't

I got a call from our real estate agent this afternoon. He said he had really bad news. What could be bad? Everything was moving along. Even the new house was getting the foundation repaired. Well, the buyer of this house had preapproval for financing, but apparently has had some life event that has made him unable to actually get financing for this house. So, the deal is off. He can't buy our house, so we can't buy the other house.

Nobody is really happy about this right now. We have a lot of our stuff that is already packed in boxes in a storage shed that we are renting to make the move easier. One problem is that I have some things that I really don't want in a shed during the hot summer. It was OK when it was only for 2 weeks. So, we have to go through and find those boxes and get them back in our basement. I was so excited that I didn't have to keep the house super-clean any more! The good news is that since we've packed a lot more stuff, it's easier to keep clean. The kids are thrilled that all the school books are packed. I was planning to do school through the summer, but now everything is so confused and I don't even know where the books are!! I figure we can do unit studies on swimming, house cleaning, laundry, and front porch swings!

So, I am again hanging tight to Phillipians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I have another raging migraine tonight. We have had a couple of weather fronts come through, and I have a couple of other known triggers going on. Of course, the house sale not going through didn't help.

There are other interesting things happening, though. I am experimenting with the bread recipe that was given to me by a friend. I tried it today with milk and butter instead of water and oil. My family much prefers it this way. The texture and taste are both a little different. I'm going to try this for a while and see if I can try adding whole wheat in a couple of months.

Some other friends gave me some venison to try, which has also been a success. Everyone except C loved the grilled tenderloin. C probably would have liked it if it was closer to done than to rare. He loves steak medium well, while the rest of us eat ours medium rare. I also made meatloaf patties from some ground venison. That was a great success. I had an interesting time making them. The venison is so lean that it feels almost like tofu when I started mixing it with the eggs and bread crumbs. The final product was pretty successful according to the family.

P enjoys archery for sport, but is interested in trying some hunting with friends. We'll see how things go. I certainly wouldn't argue with having a freezerful of venison come fall.

P went out and got DQ milk shakes. Chocolate is required for a night like tonight.

Chaotic morning

If I was under any illusion that the SAHM thing was going to be calm and relaxing, today shot that down. This morning, I had plumbers doing inpections while we were trying to wrangle cats into one room so they didn't escape. The kitchen that I cleaned early this am is again a disaster from bread baking and breakfasting. The kids both had Ramen at 10am - Why? I have no idea - I just looked up to see L making a package of Ramen. C came over to ask if he could have Mountain Dew offered by the landscapers next door (we know them) but C then fell apart when I told him that he had to share it with L. While C was crying about the Mountain Dew, W (a missionary friend serving in Venezuela) called to tell me that he had just cut his wrist on razor wire and he thinks he cut a vein because of the profuse bleeding. The good news is that since I stocked their first aid cabinet last year, I have a good idea of what all they have in the way of supplies, so I was able to tell him what to do. Hopefully, it will quit bleeding and not require sutures. W doesn't deal so well with the health care system in a developed country, much the less in a developing country!

OK. Breathe. Relaxation exercises. Well, the bread is done and is some of the prettiest that I've ever done. This is good because I'm taking it to the office (I've had this cold/congestion for 24 days now, so I'm actually going to seek medical attention from someone besides myself!). The plumbers are gone and assure me that they will get the right papers to the right people on time for closing (crossing my fingers and saying a prayer on that one). C got the Mountain Dew and willingly split it with L and everyone was pleased. I haven't yet heard back from W about his bleeding wrist. I'll pray about that. I'll also pray about my kitchen. Maybe God will do a miracle. In the meantime, a nap is in order.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday Evening

This next three weeks is going to be pretty stressful, I think. We got the basement thing straightened out. The owner has a company hired to come in and fix it and is starting on Tuesday. We are having the first of our home's inspections done on Tuesday. Next weekend is L's dance recitals. Three shows in two days! Enough to drive any family crazy! And, I haven't figured out what to do with C, yet. Last year, he was in two of the three shows. This year, I could not get him to even take a hip-hop class. The two weeks after that should be moving in earnest.

One of my most recent reads was Branded by Alisa Quart. The book is about the buying and selling of American teens and tweens. It is a real eye opener and should be at least glanced at, if not read, by all parents (even if your kids aren't yet tweens). Most of us are aware of the advertising that is done to our kids overtly. The book opened my eyes to the increase in advertising that goes on in schools these days. However, lest I get on my high horse about how I would never let my precious angels set foot in such an evil place as a public school classroom, she pointed out that advertising is getting ever more subtle and that many of us who partake of such things as McDonalds (even on just a week moment) will find that our children are getting more than just the fast food advertising. Fast food advertising is melding with movie advertising is melding with clothing advertising, ad nauseum. While I keep a hawk-like eye on my kids' computer usage to make sure that they are not inappropriately solicited, I am noticing that Neopets website is using games from cereal brands. The layers of advertising are deep.

Ms. Quart also evaluate the level of consumption that goes on in some areas of this country. In some places, the parties to go along with coming of age religious rites have become excessive. But, this has not gone unnoticed. At that same time, there are groups of teens that are making an attempt to rid their schools of advertising and to divest themselves of the corporate world. While some of their gestures may be impractical and unfounded, they have seen through our twenty first century materialism and are standing against it. If you get a chance, you should read this book. I hope it opens your eyes to the logical end of atheistic materialism. Our country's prosperity can only exist without crushing itself by our learning to live by the moral precepts of Christianity. (I suppose I should back that last sentence up with some evidence, but it's getting too late. You'll just have to believe me or send me an email to ask me later.)

Well, I guess that's enough of my critique of twenty first century American culture. I'm tired and my head hurts (why I haven't been blogging lately). Off to bed for me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Buying and Selling Homes - More Difficult Than I Thought

I did not realize all the work that went into buying and selling homes. Call me naive, I suppose. The last two times that P and I went through this process, we were buying new homes and selling almost-new homes. I was also getting started in a new job both times, so P handled most of the real estate and moving issues. Now the shoe is on the other foot. I'm not sure it fits so well.

Yesterday was spent getting papers to the bank to get the financing approved. Today I spent the morning with the inspector at the home we are buying (interrupted by a trip to the library to keep the kids somewhat entertained). Unfortunately, there are some basement issues, so I have to make some calls tomorrow to have the basement checked out more thoroughly. Sounds like fun.

It was nice to be in the house again and to see where I want furniture to be, etc. The kids started planning which rooms they want (they agree, thankfully!) and how they want to arrange things. I picked up boxes from a friend this afternoon. Tonight, another friend came over and we packed 12 boxes of books and another 4 of puzzles. June 16 is coming fast.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Baseball and Bullies

C had his first "practice" baseball game today. The "real" games start in 2 weeks. He was so excited to get out there on the field to try to catch balls and then get up to the plate to try to hit. The boy lives and breathes baseball. We watch baseball on WGN - he loves the Cubs and the White Sox! He prefers the White Sox these days since they have a better chance of winning.

While C's team was batting today, I looked over in the dugout and saw C telling another boy (from a team that wasn't even playing that game!) who was much larger, "That's not funny, that's not funny!" I asked C after the game what that was all about. I assumed that the bully was picking on C. C told me, though, that another boy (who had been sitting on the bench near them) had been hit near the p*nis with the ball while playing catcher and the bully was making fun of him. C got really upset because "That really hurts, Mom! They shouldn't make fun of him!" During another inning, the same bully took another kid's hat and C stood up to the bully and told him to give the first kid's hat back.

C is not exactly a big kid. He's really kind of scrawny compared to this bully kid. But, he stood right up to him. In the car, he told me, "Mom, that kid from *** Team is just mean!" I am really proud of my kid. It's one thing to stand up for yourself, but to stand up to a bully for other kids is pretty impressive. C may not be a good reader yet, but he's developing some character.

The closing date on our house in June 16 - EEK! The good news is that the person in the house that we are moving into is willing to let us move in there early if he can find another place to move into. In the meantime, though, we have less than 30 days to get all the inspections, financing, and moving done. Today, I got a lot of the arrangements made. I have to get the house clean tomorrow. This headache thing is a real bummer. I can't just work 16 hours and get a ton of stuff done. I really have to pace myself, even with mental effort, or the headaches really get bad. Even tonight, I'm working on one.

I have had lots of offers to help pack and move. Later this week, I'll be doing more packing. I probably won't be able to do much moving till 2 weeks from now. L's dance recital is in 2 weeks which is a big deal, too. The good news is that we don't have much to do except for taking her to practices and then the weekend of the recital.

So, it is really happening. I have started to mourn my house. P and I picked out all the appliances, carpet, tile, everything that is in this house. I have become rather attached to it. I keep trying to focus the kids on the positive aspects of the new house. I need to focus myself on it. I know I can make any house a home - and we will. But, I'm giving myself a few minutes here and there to miss my whirlpool tub (which was so nice when I was pregnant) and my double ovens (wonderful for holiday baking - of course, I had so little time for baking) and our lovely deck.

The kids are happy that I have suspended school until we are settled in the new house. I haven't told them, but when we do start back, I am going to do 1 weeks of work over 2 weeks until fall. P has my cold. I'm finally not sneezing every 5 minutes, but he is coughing and congested. He needs lots of prayer. He has to be at work and ready to saw lots of pieces of metal at 7am.

Well, I finished reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. It is an excellent book. It is a romance set in the late 19th century in upper class New York society. At times, the writing is stilted and over-done, but that captures the essence of that society. Newland Archer is the main character and his relationships between May Welland and Ellen Olenska provide the major plotline. I read this book in high school and wasn't impressed, but now, as an adult, I was able to embrace the emotions of the characters. I highly recommend this book, but mostly for adults, because it may be dry for teens. I got the video from the library and I'm going to watch that tonight.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

We sold the house!!

OK, we didn't exactly sell it yet. But, the person who looked at it on Tuesday made an offer today which we are going to accept!! So, now it is just lots of inspections, paperwork, and time. We drove by the new house tonight just to see it again. P and I are very happy with our choice. We think we can be very happy in that home. The house and yard are smaller and it has and one car detached garage, but it is cute from the outside and very nice inside. Now I'm all excited about moving!!

The Scripture that I've been meditating on recently is Phillipians 4:6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." NIV I've been trying to work out what "peace" really is. In my reading I have found that in the Old Testatment, peace referred to "completeness, soundness, and well-being of the total person." (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers). The traditional Jewish greeting, "shalom" means peace. Peace could also refer to prosperity or the absence of war. In the New Testament, Jesus said that he gives us peace and to not be afraid - it sounds like peace and courage go together (John 14:27). In Galatians 5, peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Then, in Phillipians, peace is given in conjunction with prayer. So, my conclusion (which is not theologically all that new or earth shattering) is that peace is something that comes from the Holy Spirit and that comes to us more as we pray more. As we get closer to God (through prayer and Bible study and worship), God reminds us more and more that He is in control of our circumstances and we have no need for anxiety or worry. That's my theology for the day.

How does the whole Philippians 4:6-7 relate to me? I am a bundle of anxiety. I have a terrible time not worrying. P has been so calm about everything lately while I keep worrying that we're going to starve. I have been meditating on this Scripture to help remind me Who is in charge (and that it's not me) and that He does offer peace. I have also taken prayer much more seriously lately. There have been more things lately to pray about - a friend with a newly diagnosed chronic illness, another friend's grandbaby was born very prematurely, another friend with cancer. I can pray for them, and be thankful that my illness is not terminal, just painful.

I'm still reading Why Christianity Must Change or Die by Bishop John Shelby Spong. In the part that I'm on now, he is writing about how he believes the stories of Jesus began to be told and embellished through the years after Jesus' death. Of course, he says, none of them actually happened, people just made them up and developed this new system of faith and beliefs. In reality, though, Jesus and his teaching were so radically different than anyone who had ever come before that it is extremely highly improbable that any group of people would have come up with these "stories" on their own. In an age when the pseudo-messiahs of the day were preaching war and throwing off the yoke of Roman rule, Jesus' coming and talking about loving your neighbor and forgiving your enemies was just crazy. And that's what makes the Gospels so believable. Why would anyone make this stuff up and then die for it?

L has been studying Mongolia the last 2 weeks. She and C decided 2 nights ago to build yerts (portable felt tents that some Mongolians still use as homes out on the Steppes of Asia). They took all 4 barstools downstairs and a bucket of sand (I never figured out what the sand was about). After a couple of hours, they finally gave up and decided that our basement would never double for the Mongolian steppes. But, they wanted to sleep in the craft room, which was fine with me. Although, L went upstairs by 9pm and C ended up sleeping in the living room with me (had a migraine).

Muffin update - to anyone who has considered trying to double the milk in their muffin recipe - don't! I did that this week, and the muffins didn't rise and were very dense. Of course, my kids loved them, so I may make them that way all the time, but it's not how they were intended. Now, I don't know how much milk I used to make them so nice and moist but not mushed and heavy. I'll keep working.

More later. It's late, but I'm up with another migraine. It's been a bad week on the headache front. But, the house is sold. One more step forward.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


So, my head still hurts, but not as bad, despite a full 10 hours of sleep. The kids and I are taking a break from the schoolwork and housework (They've been laundry elves today). I looked out the window to see them running down the hill into the other lot outside playing some game that they've made up. I really can't bring myself to call them inside to sit down and do reading and grammar. I know how important those subjects are, but they have to wait until later because my kids are playing and that won't wait.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I really hate migraines.

I really hate migraines. I like to think that I am an organized person, but migraines completely disrupt any order in my life. I woke up at 6am with a migraine. I took my meds and fell asleep on the sofa. I woke up when the kids were up and got them some cinnamon toast and chocolate milk and took more meds. I made up their cards of school assignments but only put on work that could be done independently or semi-independently. I slept off and on until 1:30 while the kids did schoolwork and had lunch. I didn't get started on the laundry until well after 2 (and there's lots to be done after this weekend!) and the kids schoolwork now has to be reorganized for the rest of the week.

But, our lives are not really organized right now anyway. Monday night, P and I were sitting on the sofa at about 9:15pm. He was working on the laptop and I was reading my book and had taken meds for a moderately bad migraine. A few minutes later, C came downstairs saying that he was unable to sleep. This has become a pretty common issue with him; either he is scared of the dark or he is having bad dreams. We usually let him sleep in our room (or downstairs with me if I have a headache). Then, L came downstairs because she couldn't sleep, although hers was more just insomnia. P went upstairs to bed since he has to be up so early in the am. I had both kids lie down to try to sleep. Around 10pm, I took some other meds and had a little cup of ice cream with them. L remembered that she hadn't eaten dinner and was still hungry (although she had managed to remember dessert). We had tacos for dinner, though, and I didn't want her having tacos at 10pm, so she found some cheese and frozen corn (she eats the corn right out of the freezer - still frozen - rather strange, if you ask me). C decided he was hungry too, so he had a graham cracker. 10pm, and we're up eating!! After our little (not quite) midnight snack, we tried sleeping again. C fell asleep quickly, L couldn't get comfortable on the floor and went back to her room. I was up reading and tending my headache until around midnight when I finally was able to sleep. I ended up sleeping late Tuesday am because of going to sleep so late.

This is not what I pictured parenting to be. I figured I would be one of those strict parents who doesn't put up with any of this nonsense about not wanting to sleep at night. But, with the selling the house, and planning to move, and Mom not working, and Dad starting to work, we're figuring C's entitled to a little neediness. And, there is something kind of "bonding" about being with my kids at these odd hours. Maybe it's kind of an affirmation that we're always together.

Why do I sleep downstairs when I get a headache? I have more pain when I lie flat when I have a migraine. I have to sleep propped up on pillows, and I haven't found a way to do that well in bed. It works best on the sofa. I haven't heard many other people say this about their headaches. So, maybe it's just me.

What a disorganized and roundabout post this is! Probably doesn't help that my head still hurts and I'm trying to get dinner on the table. More later.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I spent Friday night and Saturday at camp with my daughter and the AWANA group from our church. The camp we go to is up north about 3 hours and is also where we go for family camp, so it is very familiar for us. They had some snow on the ground from earlier in the week and there were still patches in the woods - snow in mid May!!

It was a rainy Friday night, so our "campfire" was in the dining hall around the fireplace. Saturday was intermittently rainy, but not bad. We did a hike in the woods and played a game. L and I were on the last trail ride of the day. We ended up being very thankful for that because we were dry!! I'm still a little sore from the riding, but it's not too bad.

There was only person who came by the open house, and she was not very interested. But, we have a showing tomorrow. We are still hopeful.

The selling of the house is only partially for financial reasons. This whole disability/headache/quitting work thing was a real wake-up for me and P about life. We don't want the big house any more. We really want to simplify our lives with a smaller home, less stuff, and more time for each other. If the insurance money comes through, a lot of money problems ease up. If the headaches get better (it could happen!) I still don't want to go back to full-time work anytime soon. I'm enjoying being home with my kids - I think I'll stick with it for a while.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Burn the Ships

I woke up yesterday (Friday, May 12) with a wicked migraine. I wasn't too surprised since the weather was crummy for the second day in a row. I was distressed, though, because I was supposed to be cleaning the house for our open house on Saturday. I took my meds and got the kitchen straightened up. C got up and helped me make some muffins with chocolate chips - it was my bribe to get the kids to help me clean. I was so "out of it" that I messed up the recipe and put twice as much milk in as I was supposed to, but the muffins actually turned out better with more milk. Hurray! We have a new muffin recipe!

I took more meds and had the kids put on a movie while I took a nap. When I got up, I felt better, so we did some of the cleaning then. L and I still had to pack for AWANA activity camp. It was just an overnight thing, so it only took a little while to pack, but the packing disrupted the cleaning. I finally sat down and wrote up a comprehensive list of what cleaning needed to be done since I obviously wasn't going to get much more done. P was in a meeting at work and still wasn't home by 3:30, and I was getting worried. He called at 4pm, so I had him stop and the grocery store for a couple of things while I made some mac and cheese (one of my emergency "migraine meals") and got my and L's packing finished. L and I were still not quite ready to go a little after 5 when my friend got here to pick us up, but we managed to find the last few items we needed without making everyone too terribly late. Unfortunately, I left P with a long cleaning list to be done before the open house on Saturday.

Friday's migraine was pretty clearly triggered by weather. But, it wasn't helped by the fact that the open house was coming up. The open house is one of the most tangible steps toward really selling this house that we've taken; and selling the house is the next big step in this new "domestic adventure". Yes, the house is on the market and all that, but the open house is opening it up for anyone to come in and look, whether or not they're with a realtor. It's saying, "Yes, we're serious about selling. Come, take a look. Please buy this house."

When we moved into this town 9 years ago, we had this house built for us with all the little details done just the way we wanted. I told P that I wanted to die in this house - not in some morbid way - I just didn't want to ever have to move again. I love the music room with the french doors. I love the whirlpool tub. I love the plant shelf. I really love the deck. But, God has other plans for us right now. And, they don't include this house. Steven Curtis Chapman has a wonderful song about following God and not looking back.

Burn the ships Luke 09:62; Phil. 3:12-14; Jn. 10:10
In the spring of 1519 a Spanish fleet set sail
Cortez told his sailors this mission must not fail
On the eastern shore of Mexico they landed with great dreams
But the hardships of the new world made them restless and weak

Quietly they whispered, lets sail back to the life we knew
But the one who led them there was saying

Burn the ships, we're here to stay
There's no way we could go back
Now that we've come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we've past the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn

In the spring of new beginnings a searching heart set sail
Looking for a new life and a love that would not fail
On the shores of grace and mercy we landed with great joy
But an enemy was waiting to steal, kill and destroy
And quietly he whispers, go back to the life you knew
But the one who led us here is saying

Burn the ships, we're here to stay
There's no way we could go back
Now that we've come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we've past the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn

Nobody said it would be easy
But the one who brought us here
Is never gonna leave us alone

Burn the ships, we're here to stay
There's no way we could go back
Now that we've come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we've past the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn
So let the ships burn
Let them burn
Let the ships burn

Written by Steven Curtis Chapman & James Isaac Elliottc1994 Sparrow Song (a div. of The Sparrow Corp.)/Peach Hill Songs (BMI)/Cabinetmaker Music (admin. by Integrated Copyright Services, Inc.) (ASCAP)

Every time I hear this song, I am reminded that God is with our family in every step of this adventure that we call life. Every day, we trust God more and give him more of our lives, even the house. So, burn the ships! Why would we want to go back to a life with more stuff but less God? I'm OK without this house. Let's have an open house and find the right family for this house. God, I'll move on with You. "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

P.S. Only one person came to the open house, and she wasn't very interested.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I woke up with a migraine this morning. Thankfully the medications have been pretty effective, so I have been able to do most of the things I wanted to do. One of the most frustrating things about dealing with these headaches has been having to interact with the rest of the world. People ask "Have they figured out what is causing the headaches?" No. They are migraines. Other people assume that if my head hurts, there must be a tumor or something wrong inside my cranium, but there's really not. It is a genetic illness that is modified by my own body's serotonin system, etc. - or at least that's the current theory. Maybe I'm just crazy!

Other people tell me, "My brother/sister/cousin/uncle/(insert your favorite family member or friend here) tried acupuncture/reflexology/chiropractic/(insert your favorite therapy here) and his/her headaches completely went away." Then they expect that I am going to drop everything and try that therapy. I don't think they understand that I have spent the last 6 years and tons of time and a fair amount of money trying all kinds of treatment (including chiropractic and acupuncture and Botox [$1200 worth]) and that the medications that I'm on are the best so far. I'm really pretty tired of going to doctors and trying treatments at this point. Believe it or not, daily headaches that don't require meds until after 5pm and migraines several times a week, but that respond to medicines really is a pretty good situation for me. After the house sells and things calm down in life, then I'll see what else I can try. I'm not thrilled about the amount of money that my meds cost and about the side effects. And I don't like that L and C don't get much schoolwork done on days like today. But, it's where God has brought us, and it's where I'll stay until He says otherwise.

Today's migraine was also triggered by awful weather. A strong cold front came through which is a major trigger for me. In addition to this, two of our windows started leaking, and we have been putting towels down to catch the water all day. In eight years, the window has leaked twice - once about 4 years ago (about which we had forgotten - and it was one doozy of a storm) and today. I hope we got the towels down before any damage was done to the window sills. I also baked bread and I hope the weather didn't make my bread turn out heavy. It looks good so far.

I did figure out how to put links on the side of the blog. One is to Christianity Today. I always check them out every day. I very much enjoy their evaluation of world events from a Christian perspective. The other is Knitty. They are my favorite knitting site. I have learned so much from the knitting how-to links. I have only used one of the patterns so far, but I have several that I am just waiting to use. If you are a knitter, check it out!

Bad weather, fun swimming

The weather here today is perfectly awful, so I have a migraine - naturally. Unfortunately, L had a bad headache last night, too. Hers went away with a good dose of ibuprofen and some promethazine. She can't take pills, so I crush 1/2 of a 25mg promethazine and mix it with chocolate sauce. It helps with her nausea and then helps her sleep. My headache started last night, but has responded well to meds, so I think I'll be able to do some things that I need to.

L finished learning her multiplication tables last week, so I told her I would take her and her best friend (J) swimming. We couldn't make it work last weekend, so I took the girls last night. They had a blast. L even jumped off the diving board into the 10 foot water. I think watching J do it and have so much fun was pretty motivating for her.

I have been trying to get my "lead disability insurance benefits specialist" to talk to me this week. She said that she should have all of the info together about my claim (finally - 7 weeks after I left my job). She usually calls me the day after I call her, but not this week. I'm not sure what's up.

I have been very impatient about the insurance this week. It occurred to me last night, though, that the insurance money should not change our lifestyle at all. We are committed to a new, simpler life. Our family is committed to getting beyond materialism and living our lives completely committed to Jesus. So, what should the disability insurance change in the short-term? The plan is for the insurance money to pay for student loans, to help us get through this time while we are living in our current home, to invest, and to support missions. We have a plan to get through the short-term even without the insurance money. Getting a positive answer from the insurance company does not mean that I am going to go out and buy anything, really.

God is teaching me more to trust Him. The disability insurance issue is just one more way. I was reading in John and was reminded of John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in Me, you may have peace; In this world, you will have trouble; but take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world."

Well, I suppose I'd better start cleaning for our open house on Saturday. Maybe even try to teach the children a thing or two. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Good friends and Crazy Cats

Our realtor scheduled an Open House on Saturday. I'm hoping that the right person will see the house that day. L and I will be going on and AWANA overnight trip. She managed to rope me into chaperoning this year. I love the camp that we are going to (the same place we go to family camp), but this time it is with a whole bunch of 8-12 year olds - EEK! I'm sure we'll have a total blast! P and C will be batching it here at home - lots of testosterone and speaking in one syllable words! C gets to join his dad at Men's Breakfast at church and then they are planning on going bowling.

Last Saturday we were incredibly blessed to have 4 families from one of the small groups in our church come to help get some stuff done in and around our house that we have been unable to do or unable to get around to doing. In 2 hours, they got an amazing amount of work done and had fun at the same time. Meanwhile, the kids played in the back yard.

I am also trying to get the house clean for Saturday, but it appears to be a hopeless task. I have felt rotten the last 2 days because of either cold or allergies. You would think that a doctor would be able to figure things like this out, but it's really tough. The symptoms are more allergy-like, but the allergy meds aren't working. And, the symptoms came on all of the sudden, like a cold. Anyway, tomorrow through Friday has to be dedicated to doing a little bit of cleaning at a time. The house stays pretty clean, but we need to do the sinks, etc.

Two of our three cats were sitting in an open window and S3 decided to start slapping S2 (all three cats have S names) so I had to get a picture! S1 and S2 were our first two cats. S1 was the dominant cat at first, but after 1 1/2 years, S2 became dominant (I didn't know that could happen, but it definitely did here!). When S3 came in last fall, she was only 12 weeks old and was a pretty calm little kitten, so we figured she would fit right in the pecking order. Not so! She is pretty clearly the dominant cat! Not that the other 2 don't fight back - there are some pretty interesting cat fights around here sometimes. This afternoon, S2 started chasing S1 downstairs and S1 made a hissing/screeching (not really bad, don't worry) sound. Well, S3 hears it and starts running down the stairs like she's thinking "Ooo, can I play, too!" It had to be the funniest thing we had seen in a week!"

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dishwashing as Therapy

We are handwashing out dishes to save energy (and to get used to the fact that we will be handwashing dishes when we move to the other house). We have something of a routine now: the dirty dishes get put in a sink or container of soapy water; when the container is full, or after a meal, someone (usually me), washes the dishes and puts them on the drying rack; later in the day or first thing in the morning, the dishes get put back in the cabinet.

With the dishwasher, we put the dishes in the dishwasher, close the door, listen to a lot of noise, then put the dishes away. Now that we wash by hand, we actually get in there and feel the dirty dishes and the soapy water (usually not a bad feeling unless the water sits too long and gets cold), then get to rinse under nice warm water, and then get to see the nice shiny, clean dishes. There is also a window so we can look outside into the nice green (or brown, or white, depending on the season) back yard. After all is clean, we pull the plug out of the sink where the dirty water is (this is the yuckiest part since there may be little food bits there) and the dirty water runs down the sink. But, the very last thing to run out the sink is the soap bubbles, and they make the shape of a butterfly.

Even though handwashing takes more time, it's time well spent. I can interact with whichever child is helping me. Or it is time that I can ponder the intricacies of life that get us from dirty dishes to soap bubble butterflies.

Friday, May 05, 2006

May 5

Today was my first time going to the homeschool group meeting as a "real" homeschooling mom. Every other time that I've gone, I've kind of tagged along with P when he was schooling the kids. It was pretty good today. It helped that there were only two women that I didn't know. It also helped that I've been taking the kids to play practice, so I've been around a lot of the kids and moms in the last 6 weeks. They had a used book sale today, but I didn't buy anything because of budget constraints. I do love books, though, and was quite tempted by a number of them.

After lunch, the kids and I drove into "town", the nearest medium sized city, to go to Sams Club. After the bread-making issues yesterday, I needed to stock back up on flour, and the rest of my list was starting to grow. I had forgotten how big that store gets - my feet are sore. Before we left the house, I gave the kids (my 2 plus another) the usual lecture on begging for anything. I also reminded them that there was to be nothing that might make someone think that they should call social services on me (you know - "Mom, I'm STARVING, Mom I haven't eaten all day" - those kinds of things). So, the kids were trying to be very good. They decided that they were going to be helpful to the store employees and make sure that all the items on the shelves were turned the correct direction and in straight lines, etc. Well, they got a little too into their game, I think. I turned down an aisle to hear C say (with some authority), "This is unacceptable," as he reached down to turn bottles of juice so that the labels all faced the front. It was pretty funny, but I told the kids that they might want to be a little quieter in their game. I'm not sure what a store manager might think of the 8 year old taking over!

Over the last several days, a number of people have commented on P transition to the workplace. When the decision was made for me to quit work, P just moved right on with looking for work. A friend of ours commented that P has not had anything negative to say about the circumstances, nor has been bitter or angry about it. He just said "This is where God is taking us, so I'd better find work." He also was willing to take whatever work God gave him. If he had to work as a cashier to put food on our table, he was going to do that. More than one person has commented on his positive attitude about the whole thing. Even at home and in private, he has been far less anxious and more gracious than I have been. P really made the case for me to quit working. He pointed out that I was barely getting my part-time hours done, and I was coming home with nothing left for my family. Then, when the decision was made, P went out to find work. Now that he has a job, he is giving it everything he has. I am fretting far more than he is about the financial end of things, but P is calm and has faith that God is still in control. I am truly blessed to have such a husband.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bread, Bread, Bread!!

I successfully made bread today! It took three tries and a smoking mixer, but I eventually got it right. I got the recipe from a friend of mine and I was really excited because it is a recipe that doesn't have a lot of steps - basically, you put the stuff in the mixing bowl, start the mixer, add flour, let it knead in the mixer, then put it in pans, let it rise, then bake it. Mucho easy! Well, not quite that easy.

I started with the recipe for three loaves. The first time, the dough kept "climbing" the dough hook. I turned away for a minute or so, and the dough got up so high that it got above the collar of the hook and into some of the grease in the hook mechanism. So, I had grease streaking through the dough. Out went that dough. I didn't even take a picture to document.

For the second try, I looked up my mixer model online to see how to avoid the dough "climbing" problem. The instructions suggested that I might need more flour in my dough. I was concerned about this since the friend who gave me the recipe said to err on the side of too little flour. So, I started again, and I added extra flour. Things seemed to be going OK, although the dough was definitely harder and the mixer was working harder. After a few minutes, C asked what that smell was. I thought he was talking about the bread smell, at first. But, then, he said, "Mom, there's smoke!" Indeed, there was smoke coming from my beautiful Kitchen Aid's motor. I stopped the mixer and finished the kneading by hand. The problem was that I wasn't quite sure when I had done enough kneading! I'm still new at this. But, I did my best and produced three tolerable loaves of bread:

These first three loaves didn't look as pretty as they should have and they were rather dense. They also didn't rise as much as they should have.

So, then I tried for a third time. This time it was 4 in the afternoon and I was glad I had lots of flour and yeast! I decided to take pity on my poor Kitchen Aid, though, and only try 2 loaves. I made all the calculations for the recipe and jumped right in. This time things went well right from the start. The dough tried to "climb" the dough hook a few times, but then went right back down on its own. And, there was NO smoke involved. It was easy to make nice, neat loaves. They doubled in size just like they were supposed to, and then baked up nicely. The only problem was that the towel stuck to the top of one of them so the top doesn't look quite perfect, but I think that's God way of dealing with my perfectionistic tendencies. They bread tastes just delicious - almost as good as that of the friend who gave me the recipe - and is almost a perfect texture.

Aren't they lovely? Can you believe anyone can go on for so long about 5 loaves of bread?! But, I am proud of them.

More on L and the dreaded paragraph writing. First thing this morning, I had her sit down with her idea web and told her to just start writing whatever was in her idea web, even if she didn't have her beginning and closing sentences decided. Well, the child wrote almost an entire paper, with very nice organization (but poor spelling and punctuation - that's another topic). Her question was "Should Professor Dumbledore have trusted Severus Snape?" This is a Harry Potter topic for those of you that don't recognize it. L has read all the books several times, so she got very in depth with reasons that Dumbledore should and shouldn't have trusted Snape and then ended with her own opinion. Tonight I have to deal with the spelling and punctuation and then she has to rewrite. She hates rewrites, so I think we need more prayer! It is so frustrating to have to work so hard to get her started on something that she ends up being so good at. She dislikes writing so much, but she is quite good.

On that note, I am off to read before bed. I am still reading Eats Shoots and Leaves and Why Christianity Must Change or Die, but I have added The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I'm enjoying it immensely so far. I'm still knitting some socks for a friend of L and a tie for P, but I'm enjoying the chance to read now that I don't work outside the home. It's almost a novelty for me still. Ah, well. More later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May 3

Woke up today at 6 with a migraine. It pretty much took up my entire day. P left for work at 7 and the kids got up about 8. They got their own breakfast and I was able to get them doing most of their schoolwork on their own. By 10, the headache was up to a 7 (out of 10 in intensity), so I took more meds and laid down with an icepack on my head. I slept until about noon. After lunch, I had to help get the kids' schoolwork finished, but the headache wasn't too bad by then.

I napped off and on during the afternoon. My biggest issue this afternoon was trying to get L (age 10) to start writing a paragraph. She was really happy yesterday when I had her get started by idea webbing (the artists' version of outlining) and I gave her a topic from Harry Potter (her current passion - don't worry, she's not casting any spells). Today, though, when it came time to write down sentences to make a rough draft, she fell completely apart. It was mid-afternoon, though, and she was crying, and I was getting close, so I told her we'll try again in the morning. I think I have to get her to write down anything, even if it's wrong. She's such a perfectionist that she doesn't want to write a sentence unless it's correct. EEK! Tomorrow's going to be tough, I think.

The headache is pretty much gone, now. The trouble tonight will be going to sleep. My sleep during the day has been fragmented and shallow, so I do need a good night's sleep. We'll see what happens. Of course, the laundry and baking that I had planned for today didn't happen.

I am making my first attempt at bread baking tomorrow. I've baked bread before by hand, but a friend gave me her recipe using a large mixer (my Kitchen Aid) for the kneading. Not only is it something domestic that intrigues me, but it is much cheaper than buying bread from the store. I have been baking bread from frozen store-bought dough, and the kids have loved that so much more than regular bread. They will eat just bread and butter for breakfast sometimes. We'll see how the completely from scratch bread goes.

Well, I'm off to read and knit (not at the same time, of course). If I can find anything interesting on our few basic cable channels, then I'll knit. Otherwise, I'll be reading. More later.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

10:10 and the dishes are done.

The definition of a perfect domestic day, I think, is to finish with the children educated and clean, and the dishes washed and the counters clean. The kids and I went to the library yesterday, so I picked up some books for late night perusing. One of them, Why Christianity Must Die or Change by John Shelby Spong has been very interesting, and I'm only on the first chapter. So far, he has gone through the Apostles' Creed and dismissed ever point as being beyond his (or any thinking person's) ability to believe. Well, he is certainly free to have that interpretation. However, he is (or was - he may be retired now) a bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US. I was under the impression that the Episcopal Church had some adherence to Scripture as the Word of God. I'll have more thoughts on this book later, I'm sure. Right now, my vote is that it's a well written piece of rubbish (sorry Mr. Spong). I, however, am firmly in the camp of those who can repeat the Apostle's Creed without apology or concern for my own credibility.

Another book that I'm reading, though, is quite entertaining, and I would encourage any of the 3 people that read this blog to get a copy and take a look. It is called Eats, Shoots and Leaves and is written by Lynne Truss, a Brit with a wonderful sense of humor. Believe it or not, this book is about punctuation. Being a homeschool mom, one might think that I would be crazy enough to read a book about punctuation. But, even as a homeschool mom, one would be hard pressed to think that I would frequently laugh out loud while reading it. Ms. Truss' approach to punctuation, grammar, and life itself is very entertaining. She manages to walk the fine line between taking punctuation too seriously and being downright silly and manages to come out at the end with the reader actually learning something about punctuation. The book is highly readable, as well: an important characteristic, I think.

Well, the kids and I have an exciting day of learning about China ahead of us tomorrow. Not to mention all the papers on my desk that have to be filed. So, more later.

Wants/Needs - Praying vs. Seeking God

So, I'm reading along on one of my favorite websites (Christianity Today) and I come up on a reminder that we are to seek God (Matthew 6:33), not just pray for stuff. Wow. That hit hard. I've been so concerned lately about all the things that need to happen - the house selling, my disability insurance coming through, etc. - that I've almost forgotten to just be with God. We're told to seek God, but we don't have to look hard. He comes looking for us and is in love with us (John 3:16). So, the moral of this story is to spend more time just being with God and meditating on His love and studying Scripture before I get to the asking for what I want/need. I know He's interested in answering prayer. But, my anxiety level will be much better with more time spent in God's presence.

Monday, May 01, 2006

We've had 2 showings of our house in 2 days, but neither person was interested. We have to sell this house for financial reasons, but we have an offer on a really cute one that's not too far away. This is quite frustrating for me. I want to find these people and grab them and yell: "What's wrong with the house? Isn't it clean enough?? Do you want use to repaint or change light fixtures??" But, there are plenty of other homes for sale, so I guess this just isn't the one for them.

The kids and I did very little useful today. We went to the library and then to piano lessons. My ds hadn't practiced all week, so he just did sight-reading (which is pretty limited when you are still learning notes!). My dd had a better lesson. She loves to play and practices without being asked. But the rest of the afternoon was spent making cupcakes for ds to take to AWANA. My dh was sweet and went to the grocery store to get frosting for the cupcakes. After being up till midnight Saturday night making frosting for his birthday cake, I just wasn't up to doing it again!! So, I sent him to AWANA with all but 2 cupcakes. But, I left the 2 cupcakes on the counter while I was upstairs walking on the treadmill (thinking they would be safe - the cats don't bother the bread when it is cooling). Well, I came down after my walk to find that some creature had helped itself to the tops of both of the cupcakes. Hmmm. Who could it have been. We have had our older cats, Silver and Sassy for 3 years, and, while they do like to sleep on the counters, they only get into cups of milk. They leave the food alone. But, Sophie, the kitten, who came to live with us in October, is another story. She still hasn't learned to leave the people food alone. I'm betting the she attacked the cupcakes. Well, she will feel the wrath of ds and dd this evening.

See what a mischievous kitten she looks like. This picture was taken in the laundry room the other day. Ah, well. She gets away with a lot because she is so cute!!

My headaches have actually been OK for a couple of days. What a blessing that has been. It is kind of depressing, though, to tell people that they really aren't any different since I've quit work. We all kind of had this expectation that quitting work would magically make my head stop hurting, but it didn't. The one thing that quitting work helped was giving me the freedom (for the most part) to stop what I'm doing when I get a migraine to get the migraine under control. It is a little interesting at times to see what happens in our house on a migraine day. Very little housework gets done. L (my dd) gets a lot of her schoolwork done (she's 10), but C (my ds) only gets done what he can do with a computer or with his sister. Often, if the headache is in the morning, I'll feel better by noon, and then we get stuff done (and the kids get upset because they thought they were going to get the rest of the day off!!).

I suppose I'd better get the dishes done and make some attempt to clean house and hope to get more showings. I'll keep praying for the right person to buy this house to come along very soon. I'm having a little bit of a hard time trusting God for this right now. But, I'll pray some more.