Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Anniversary Mr. Clean

I cannot imagine being married to anyone else.
You are amazing; thanks for a wonderful 12 years!





Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here Comes Santa Claus?

Four score and 7 years ago... no, hang on, it was just 7 years ago.... okay, closer to 8 years ago, Mr. Clean and I gave birth to our first child, K.Z. We decided that there was not going to be any Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, yada, yada, yada, around our kids.

Fast forward to the present and we have three kids, Santa, and two out of the three "yadas" present and accounted for in this family (sorry Bunny, you were never included). Lately I have been more and more convicted that the man in the red suit with the fat bum needs to get up and get out. I love the story of St. Nicholas and the historical aspect of it, but that is not the man who rules modern culture now. It is the classic "Coca-Cola Santa".

My kids love the thought of Santa. They also love Christ The King and know that Christmas is the celebration of His birth. But is there room for both? I am not so sure anymore.

I grew up with Santa as did Mr. Clean and we did not suffer any great harm from it, but our focus for those first few formative years most certainly was not on Christ, but on tradition and what Santa would be bringing. That's just not good enough for my kids. I want their focus firmly on Christ. For that matter, I want my focus firmly on Christ and I know how hard that is as an adult who knows the importance. Forget being young, starry eyed and caught up in the magic of Mr. Claus and knowing how crucial it is to put Christ first.

Mr. Clean and I have talked before about "killing Santa" (as he refers to it) and we might just do it this year (no fear, we will not traumatize the children with tales of Santa falling out of the sleigh in flight or the like). We will gently tell them the truth and explain why.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Where do you fall in the whole Santa debate?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Humbled A Bit

I was running behind for an appointment today and I was stuck behind a driver going a tad slow. Okay, let me rephrase that. They were driving the actual speed limit. I did not tailgate nor gesture to them to speed up, but inside my head I was bouncing up and down, whining, "C'monnnnnnnn!!"

On the way home I was behind another slower driver. This time I was not in a huge hurry and decided to stick behind them even though I could have easily gone around. I was probably still a little sheepish about my internal behavior earlier.

So, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it still make a sound? Well duh... of course it does. If a 33 year old mother of three yells at someone in her head yet remains perfectly civil outwardly, is it still a sin? Of course it is.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Matt 22:36-40 (NKJ)
Even if they have the audacity to follow the posted speed limits.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Hymn?

This is my favorite Christmas song. Albeit not written for Christmas, isn't this what Christmas is really about? I love the classics like "Oh Holy Night" and "Silent Night" that sing of Christ's birth, but we tend to forget why he was born. Ultimately to die. For our sins.



"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Potty Mouth

My sweet, loving, charming three year old turned four recently and has been channeling a drunken sailor lately when she is frustrated; at least in the best way her four year old mind can.

This morning my angry little princess was apparently mad about some injustice her siblings had bestowed on her. So in as loud a voice and with as much indignation as she could muster, she angrily spat, "Stupid brother and big sister poop!" Complete with a raspberry for emphasis.

For the record, I just want to say that Mr. Clean and I keep a tidy mouth. We have never really been ones to curse nor does anyone we hang out with. "Poop" has become the most recent giggle word in our house apparently and whenever one of the kids say it, the other two break into fits of laughter while their parental units frown and scold them for using such silly language outside of the lavatory. It's interesting to see it used now in anger. Kind of goes back to that old saying, "It's not what you say, but how you say it".

It's going to be a looong year.

Walking In A Winter Wonderland...

THIS is where we will be spending Christmas this year when we head to the Adirondacks to see my in-laws.

Picturesque, no? I cannot wait to sip a "cuppa" tea, hot chocolate, plain water, anything, watching the snow.

We are really blessed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Momma Aduladi' and the Hop Along Kid

Every once in a while a momma needs a minute. Far far away from any children, her own or others and to be able to think about anything but home and hearth. For me, I can grab that minute at our library. It is in our neighborhood, easy to walk (who am I kidding, it's cold here) drive to and can offer hours of escape or mere minutes based on the need and time restraint.

I needed a few minutes last night and Mr. Clean graciously allowed me to escape for a bit while he held down the fort. Until about ten minutes later when he raced into the library himself to track me down. Sans kids. All three kidlets were in the car and I was fortunately right by the entrance so Mr. Clean did not have to go far to find me. K.Z. had been "skating" in his socks on our foyer floor when he tripped and lacerated his toe pretty badly on the edge of a tile. Due to the amount of blood and the "ick" factor we thought it best to take him to the ER (I will spare you the details of the laceration itself, except to say it was super icky). Mr. Clean had bandaged him up at home (way to go Super Dad) so I never even had to see the cut until later at the hospital.

So... at 18:02 we registered at the ER, got our little beeper (think "Outback Steak House", but without free appetizers while you wait) and both settled down for a long winters nap. At 23:05, FIVE hours later we left with the world's most expensive band-aid. The laceration was on the verge on needing a stitch or two, but the doctor felt it would be alright to forgo that option, probably due to the panic that was caused simply by applying iodine to cleanse the wound.

The doc ordered an x-ray or two to make sure no damage had been done to the toe (um... except the huge cut?) and more than likely to make us feel like this visit was simply "not for naught" (I have always wanted to use that expression, but it felt too haughty... hey, there's another one!). I would have felt better if he had at least thrown in some Dermabond or a butterfly bandage, but he didn't. So home we went with a mummy wrapped foot and instructions to see our pediatrician within 2-4 days.

I need a momma minute. Maybe a trip to the library?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home "School Picture" Time!

One of the few (very few) things I thought I would miss about not having my kids in "brick and mortar" school was the annual school picture. I am sure you remember the one to which I am referring. The funny picture in which your hair has been combed with that funky plastic comb seconds before, your eyes may possibly have been crossed and you have a fake plastic smile plastered on your face, all in front of that hypnotic blue background. Yet your mother gushed over it. Or cried from sheer embarrassment.

I had no need whatsoever to try and replace those things. Especially since the lowest priced package usually started at about $14,259.99. So when our homeschool group offered them, I initially had no interest. Then I got talked into it by some well meaning fellow homeschooler. So I reluctantly agreed and wrote my check.

To say that I was pleased with the results would be an understatement. I have decided that when I strike it rich, this photographer will be my personal press secretary and will follow my children around with her camera documenting their every move. Or at least take their school pictures next year...


Vacation!

Our semester has officially finished for the 2007 year and we are now on a three week vacation from school. Today was going to be one of those days that I would float around my beautifully clean home and stop to kiss my shiny clean children on the foreheads as I straighten the fresh flowers on the clutter free kitchen table. Then I woke up.

On Friday my house was fairly close to immaculate (except for my room, but that does not count 10 days before Christmas). My parents were coming into town for our Christmas celebration with them and I thought it would be nice to get it all done. Two days later you would never know it.

It absolutely blows me away that within 48 hours a house can implode. So I suppose it is time to start again. So that is what this week will have to be about. No floating and flowers and shiny children. Just vacuums and dusters and trash bags. Sigh...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Like A Good Neighbor...

Recently our anti-virus/anti-spyware/anti-wrinkle/anti-terrorist/yada-yada software expired. I knew it would happen, but when you buy it you rarely think about the next year when you will have to buy it again. So, it surprised me when it expired.

Frankly I have no desire to drop another $60 to replace it and have been grumbling about doing it for over a week now. Here's the cool part of the story...


Last year around tax time I was Googling coupon codes for
Turbo Tax since I am ridiculously cheap and constantly try to find a way to save a buck, when I happened upon a tip in a Yahoo chat room. State Farm clients got to use turbo Tax for free. I was in heaven.

I followed the link and happily filed my return for nothing.
I went back this year to see if they had posted the updated link to start my taxes (I have a problem, I know) and found that not only do they offer tax prep to their customers, they offer free McAfee anti-virus/anti-spyware. Cha-ching! Life is good; better when it's free!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Your Will, Not Mine

Yesterday was bitter sweet. In the mail we officially received our license and welcome packet from the county officially declaring us foster parents with dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s. Soon after we received two phone calls within two hours of one another from our case worker with placements.

The first was for three siblings, which we simply cannot transport as our "mom-mobile" only seats seven and there are five of us already. We had to say no. Again. The next call was for four siblings that they had to break up as they could not find a family with enough approved room for all four (in our county there can only be a total of six children in the household, natural or foster). They asked us if we could take two sisters from the group.

We talked about it for as long as we could since time was of the essence, but a myriad of obstacles stood in the way. Mostly timing. We will be leaving in a week to go out of state for Christmas and that would have to be approved by either the natural parents or court ordered. It would also mean that we would miss an important court date for the girls.

Also, to call our Christmas hosts and say, "oh by the way we are bringing two more children with us", would have been alright and we could have adjusted, but would it have been fair (we did call and they were willing)?

These travel plans would have also rattled the girls a little more than necessary. "Here, meet the family you will be living with, adjust for a week and then they will whisk you far away from your state, city and family. Merry Christmas."

We said no. Again. It is heartbreaking, but I know that the timing is not up to us, it is all in the Lord's hands.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Belated Happy Hanukkah

I meant to post this on the 4th, but it slipped my mind. This is my favorite of the three Hanukkah songs Adam Sandler wrote. Enjoy!


What Makes a Family?

The other day my mother made the comment, "You're just an aunt, I am the grandmother".

The comment was not meant maliciously in anyway, it was in reference to a conversation we were having, but it struck a chord in my anyway. Personally I think titles are bogus. As a kid one of the biggest influences in my life and one of the people I loved the most was my mother's sister, my Aunt Sue. She never forgot a birthday, always made me feel special and I would spend various weekends and then weeks in the summer with her family. She was never the "warm and fuzzy" kind, but she was very transparent and you knew how she felt about you. I knew, and it made me feel warm and fuzzy.

I spent the majority of my life living very close to my extended family. When we moved to Pennsylvania 4 years ago I was thrust into an environment where I knew no one. The family I had grown so accustomed to seeing regularly were now over two hours away at the bare minimum. I had to make some new "family".

In the past few years I am blessed to say I have more "family" here than I ever had back home (not number wise, as I come from a huge extended family, but relationally). The people that have embraced me here I would desperately miss if we ever left. My family is now here.

So that brings me back to the original question. What makes a family? It is cliche-ish, I know, but since we have started this process of becoming foster parents it is more prominent in my mind. We may never be "mom and dad" to our foster kids, or we may be more of a mom and dad than we ever could imagine. But do those titles really matter? Or is the relationship what counts? I think it is the latter.

By the way, thanks Aunt Sue. I love you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Tossmas

Xenaism

In the car today Xena announced that she needed a Band-aid because she is bleeding. Since all she had been doing for the past ten minutes was riding in the car strapped into a booster seat, I asked her what in the world happened.

"I scratched my hand and made a hole in it", she replied.

"Yeah! She did", confirmed K.Z.

"But you will not be able to see it Mom because it is tiny. I will show you where it is because I can see it 'cause I have tiny eyes."

Hmmm. If that logic were true, you'd think with my "big eyes" I would finally be able to see the big picture once and a while!

Bah Humbug...

I have no idea why, but the Scrooge bug has bitten lately. I have been in a funk these past few days with no real reason. You know when you get that "deep pit of your stomach feeling"? I've got it and I have no clue as to what the reason may be.

Hence, the lack of posts. Frankly, I have not had much to say and my brain has too much spinning around in it to sit down and type something coherent. Kind of like today.

A bit of good news however! Our PA clearances have come back proving we are not hardened criminals (just soft ones... kidding, of course!) so now the county can dot all the "i"s and cross the "t"s on our approval for the foster system. Last night I had a dream we got a ten month old placement. Probably spurned on by the fact that I was privileged to rock the sweet, but colicky baby of our Czech missionaries (home for Christmas) to sleep last night and give his mom a break.

So now, I will carry on with my day in my Eeyore like state. I think I need some serious time with the Lord and get my head back on straight!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Arlington National Cemetery

These are not my pictures, I snagged them from an e-mail floating around, but they made my heart stop for the briefest of moments.


Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Poll-itics"

I have no horse in the political race yet, but I am liking Ron Paul more and more everyday. That is why this article made me laugh and annoyed all at the same time...

"The San Francisco Republican Party straw poll was canceled Tuesday, after a majority of attendants showed up to vote for Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

The San Francisco Republican Alliance hosted the event at the Holiday Inn on Fisherman’s Wharf with featured speaker, Republican State Senator Sam Aanest (CA 4th SD).

Aanest reportedly discussed his support for former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, before a flood of Paul supporters, paying the late comer $5 non-banquet fee, entered the room to join those supporters already in attendance.

Event organizer, Gail Neira, then canceled the poll citing issues of fairness..."

Pardon me? Fairness? Oh right... because your candidate was not the majority vote represented? Got it. Give me a break.

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Different Kind of Sad

We got our first call today as foster parents. Three brothers currently in a foster home are being transferred to the adoption unit and the county wants to place them in a "legal risk home", which simply means a home that they will probably stay in permanently if their parents rights are terminated. We are considered a legal risk home.

The brothers are 6 years old, 4 years old and 19 months and have been in the system for about 6 months. These boys need a good forever home. Sadly, it cannot be ours. After talking about it and mulling over the obvious things like the fact that our van does not have enough seats for 6 children and the debatable facts, as in, "can we handle doubling the amount of children we have, all under the age of 8?", Mr. Clean and I agreed we would have to say no.

I know that this is par for the course and that the Lord will provide a home for these young boys, but it pains me to have to say, "no". I would take in all 800 children in this county that needed a home if that was realistic and not an absurd thought. My heart hurts for the things they have dealt with.

We will continue to pray for these young guys and that the right placement for our family will come along in the Lord's timing. It's still sad to have to say no, even if it is the right thing to do.

Tuesday Child Is Full Of.....

Since the colder weather has been thrust upon us, I have gotten a little lax in the "keeping 'em smooth" category.

After all, my gams are hidden under denim most of the time and the
lazy economical thing to do is to conserve razor blades since Mr. Clean uses up so many keeping his chrome dome in top shape.

So today, my ridiculously observant 7 year-old son, noticing my fabulously insulated legs peeking out from under my pajamas says, "I thought that when Moms grew fur they were supposed to get rid of it."


I am off to find a razor. Sharp, dull, meant for scraping wall-paper, whatever.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Get Out of the Pot

You know that old analogy about how a frog in a tepid bath will never notice when the water slowly gets hot (hence boiling to its death), yet a frog that jumps into boiling water will surely jump right back out, and how it pertains to Christians? I am sure you are familiar with it.

I just read an article at Slice of Laodicea about our declining girl culture. Remember the "little girl"? She almost no longer exists.

"I grieve for the painted little girls of Sodom today. Their mothers and fathers have not protected them but have thrown them into the dangerous stream of popular culture. They will be destroyed by that stream—pulled under by the powerful currents of lust and greed and hedonism that wait beneath the glittering surface."

This is an excellent article to read in its entirety. I felt the sudden burn of the hot pot that I had probably dangled my feet into when it had just been tepid. As the mother of two daughters I think it may be time to rethink some of the worldly things I may have previously allowed (and we are fairly strict). They are such precious commodities.

Train Up A Child?

Recently I was given two recipes that are so basic and wonderful that they can be used often (one I was given and one I swiped off of a website).

The first recipe was for amazing sweet ice tea that Susie gave me and the other was a mashed potato recipe I swiped from Ree over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks (don't laugh, before this recipe I too thought that mashed potatoes were just... well, mashed potatoes with some milk and butter thrown in... boy I was all wrong).

Since I love these two recipes so much, I figured I would want to have them daily at a minimum, so I decided that my children must become proficient in their preparation. I am probably breaking at least a dozen child labor laws, but it is sooo worth it...


Here is Xena diligently mashing potatoes under my strict authority.

Oh... and that salad in the background?

Yep, she made it too...

The recipes you ask? Well, the ice tea recipe is a well guarded secret that Susie found on the internet (the secret is to add about 1/8 tsp of baking soda to the hot water before adding the tea bags to steep, which will take away that bitter tea taste you can get ... shh, don't tell), and the other?

Oh, the other. The amazing mashed potato recipe. When I read it, I was turned off due to one key ingredient but Ree assured her readers that if tough cowboys loved these potatoes despite that one aforementioned ingredient, we would as well. I will let you check out the recipe for yourself. If you make them, expect me directly.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Out From Under My Rock!

Ahhh Sunday! The day of the week to lazily snooze in a patch of sun with your favorite chew toy. Or something like that.

The end of another week! It has been a great week with my in-laws coming into town on Wednesday and hanging out until yesterday. Both K.Z and I hit the eye doctor's, him for brand spankin' new specs and me for new contacts and "morning glasses", as Xena calls them since she only sees me wear them for a brief time in the morning when I stumble out of my room.

C'sa got her third small birthday celebration of the week since Nan and Pop were in town and wanted to share in the fun of her big "O-Four".


The Christmas tree made it's annual pilgrimage out of the basement and into the living room (which actually is now our "office" and school room) and it is adorned with lights and decorations. Now we are working on the rest of the house and wanting to just kick back and enjoy it. Maybe in January?

No, my boy is not really that tall... he is standing on the couch!

It has been a long and good week, but a tiring one and it does not seem like the next few weeks will be any slower. One homeschool perk however? In two weeks we are on a three week sabbatical from school work! Hurry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We're Done!

Our case worker Karla came this morning to finalize our foster home study and do our home inspection. Officially we are finished! We are now just waiting for the great Commonwealth of PA to get our state police clearances back (they are backlogged and about 8 weeks behind) and then we are considered licensed foster parents, once all the "t"s are crossed and "i"s are dotted.

It is amazing to me how calm my nerves have been during this whole process. I am the kind of gal who will go nuts cleaning when guests are coming and panic at the sight of a dirty pair of socks left on the floor. Not this time. I did clean up yesterday for Karla's visit, but the panic and stress was just not there.

We decided from the beginning to put this entire process in the Lord's hands. If we were going to be foster parents, it was going to be because it was His plan, not because we were going to try and impress some agency of our great parenting skills and hide all of our flaws. They would have to take us, dirty socks and all. So far it appears that this is still the path the Lord has for us and we are really excited. Nervous, but excited.

Due to the fact we are going to be in New York for Christmas we might be on hold as far as a placement, but that too is in the Lord's hands. We would not be able to take a foster child out of the state without the parent's permission so it may work out better if we did not have all our "ducks in a row", clearance wise, until the New Year. From this point on it is just a waiting game. Maybe I will go make sure there are no dirty socks laying around. My in-laws are coming into town today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Stand Corrected...

I just have to say publicly that the post I wrote regarding my pending trip to the land of the Social Security Administration was off base. Pleasantly, way off base.

Exactly one week after applying for my corrected SS cards, they arrived in the mailbox.
And, I have to add that I only waited for an hour while there, not the predicted and aforementioned "eternity". Granted the waiting room did remind me of the waiting room scene in Beetlejuice, but what can you expect from government decor?

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Perfect Spot For Me

There are some days that I wish I was a little more equipped when it came to standing up for the Truth. While I believe we all should be ready to defend holy scripture and the Gospel, I am certainly glad the Lord has deemed a certain unique gift for all of us.

Last night I watched "Luther" (great movie by the way), and went to look up a certain actor in IMDB after it was finished. Being that I am usually not content to just look up one thing and then call it a night, since I suffer from LNIA (Late Night Internet Addiction), I browsed a bit. Then I went where no man/woman should go... the message board about the movie.

It started out innocent enough. Posts engaging people to chat about the cinematography, whether or not the movie had enough content, etc. Then there was that post. And I dared click my mouse on it, knowing full well I should just head to bed. The title of the post was, "Do any of you know Jesus?". I was doomed.

I am what is called a "lurker" in internet lingo, which is basically an internet wallflower. I love to read blogs, message boards, etc. and glean what I can, but I rarely put my two cents in on either. I read the hundreds of post; most were exchanges between the same two or three posters and it made my head spin. I wanted sooo badly to type something... anything. But I simply did not feel equipped in the knowledge I needed to form a coherent thought without stuttering and typing something intelligent like, "I know you are, but what am I?".

I am confident in my faith and the majority of the time I am a fairly good orator, but put me in a situation where I have not had the time to prepare and I usually clam up. Either I cannot remember exactly where in scripture a passage is or I have blanked out on a creative way to illustrate my point. Five minutes after the conversation has ended I turn into a brilliant debater. After the fact, once the "show is over", so to speak.

As I pondered all the many posts that either made no sense, would do with clarification or would begin a great debate, my brain began to swim aimlessly in my head. I could spend more time looking everything up that I wanted to convey and make brilliant points in research or I could just remain a lurker and then go to bed.

That is when that quiet voice said to me that it was okay that I was not the person I so envied. The one who could pull scripture and relevance out of thin air effortlessly. It was not my gift. My charge in life right now is to raise His children and make them His servants and enjoy seeing the gifts He has hidden in their hearts to be explored. It's time for contentment and maybe a tad more quiet time with the Lord.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOVE!

My Sweet C'sa

You are the unexpected gift the Lord had planned for us and we could not have been more thrilled to welcome you into our family four years ago!
I simply cannot imagine my world without you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sisters

When I was a kid, I wanted lots and lots of children. I had them all named and numbered and I knew exactly in what birth order each brother and sister would be born. Then, "poof", I was no longer nine years old and hit reality.

Once I was married I thought the ideal number would be three. Two boys and then a girl. I had various reasons for this and when it turned out that I would actually have one boy and then two girls, I was not sure how all my pre-conceived (no pun intended) ideas would play out. After all, I had the entire dynamic played out in my brain, the relationships and quirks decided and it all fit well in my head.

I am glad that the Lord had His own plans as I would have missed out on this exchange between my girls in the truck on the way to my mother's for Thankgiving...

"Are you tired?" Xena softly asked C'sa, seeing her resting her head on the side of her carseat.

"Hmm-hmm", was the sleepy reply from a thumb sucking C'sa.

"Aww, just go to sleep." Xena whispered as she stroked C'sa cheek and kissed her on the forehead.

It took everything I had not to gush out loud and ruin this small intimate exchange between two small sisters. What I would have missed had "my way" played out. Boy am I glad I am not in control.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The "Eyes" Have It!

My son has joined the fine family tradition passed down from my father to me of needing glasses in and/or about the second grade.

K.Z. can read but has been struggling with it since the start and would rather kiss his sisters than pick up a book for fun. He loves math but can easily get frustrated with something he did quite easily the day before. Both of these traits can easily be attributed to his age and inherited testosterone, but since I am a bibliophile and a numbers junkie, I simply had to get to the heart of the matter with my keen detective skills. No offspring of mine could dislike reading!

It also helped that he told us things seem "fuzzy" sometimes.

So off we went to the ophthalmologist today and the verdict is in... my boy needs glasses. All the time. His vision is not horrid, like his "blind as a bat" mother, it is just about 20/40, but he is farsighted with a touch of nearsightedness. He looked a little downtrodden at the diagnosis.

Until...

We got to the fun part of picking out frames. This is when my mild mannered little man turned into Mr. GQ. He found a pair he loved and checked himself out in the mirror. After that, there was no going back. I found several more that I liked and he looked great in, but he was hooked on the original frames on which he had set his grasps.

Once he found out that he would have to wait a whole 7 days or so for his glasses, he was sad. The boy that mere minutes before looked as if someone had stolen his Halloween candy when he found out he needed glasses, is now bugging me every 2.7 seconds as to how many days are left until he get them.

I will post the "before" and "after" shots once K.Z. gets his beloved spectacles.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Good Morning?

Several weeks ago I was awakened at 7 am by the door bell and my two barking dogs. On the other side of the door was an older gentleman who apparently had sold a used washer to one of my neighbors and was coming to deliver it. He had forgotten the address and thought it was my house. I assured him, as politely as I could at 7 am, that it was not my house he was looking for and tried to direct him based on his description of the neighbor a good 5 houses down. No big deal, mistakes happen!

At 7:30 this morning the doorbell rang again. Guess who? Yep, the same old fella. This time I told the kids not to go near the door, and I was in no mood to do so myself with my bed head and fabulous stained pajamas. I watched from an upstairs bedroom as he questioned my neighbor across the street and my neighbor motioned toward the same "other" house 5 houses down.


I think I might go and buy this guy a notebook and a pen, lest he show up again at 7 ish. Or maybe I should simply make him coffee. Nah, I will just go back to bed instead.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What A Week!

I just realized that I have not blogged since Wednesday. Someone should smack me around a bit. I have faithful readers to amuse and amaze (okay, maybe just three and they are only amused and amazed when they remember to check my blog; did I mention that my sister has not read it since August? I guess I am down to two faithful readers...)

It has been a long crazy week, but it seems to be settling down. Tonight, four out of the six ladies in our small group (we have six families total) met for a "girls' night out" and went out for dinner. It was such a nice relaxing time with no rushing, kids meals or whining and we even got to stay for coffee and hot chocolate. I think we should do this at least once a week day.

Tomorrow I have to venture out to the land of "The Social Security Administration", as I need a copy of C'sa's SS card and need to get mine corrected after almost 12 years. The SSA issued my SS card after I got married and they combined my middle name and maiden name into one long name when they added my brand new wifely last name. What did I care? It was just a "little mistake" and would not bother much. Apparently I was wrong. The lady at the SS office told me that it, in fact, could cause the beloved IRS to audit me since the name on the card does not match the name on my tax return to the letter (or in my case, to the space) and it was a big deal. Fabulous! Off to wait in line for hours to convince some clerk that I want the name on my social security card to match my passport. Oh, and I forgot to add that the lovely Commonwealth of PA did the EXACT same thing on my driver's license. I think they are in cahoots with the SSA.

Fortunately we do not have much of anything to do in school this week, it is just a "catch up week" and we pretty much are on target and I convinced a friend to let my kids come over while I do this. I don't think she realizes that I may never return. After all, it is the Social Security Administration. I have heard stories of people going into the offices, never to be heard from again. Pray for me people.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Almost There

I am on the missions committee at our church and have always had a heart for missions. I would imagine myself off in a foreign land helping to teach or acting in a support capacity; cleaning, helping little ones with scrapes and bruises, cooking, field work, whatever.

When we were in the Czech Republic last year we had a week of manual labor, as some of the team did construction and the other half did "punch out work", preparing a newly remodeled residence for missionaries to move into. It was hard work, but fulfilling and such a blessing, of which I got to be a part.

As a member of the missions committee, I get an advanced glimpse and a hand in helping to plan future short term missions trips and it makes my heart sing at the thought. Except for one sobering reality. I more than likely will not be able to go again. The Lord has a different "mission" for me.

Last night our county case worker came by for part two of three different home visits which will make up our foster home study. We are well on our way to becoming licensed foster care parents for our county and it is coming up fast. There is a possibility we could have a placement within several weeks. This fact certainly puts a damper on any international travel plans I may have for a while.

Granted, I can ask for respite care for my foster child and have them placed in another licensed home and have my own children head to the grandparents' house while we head out on short term missions, but would that really be serving Him? I certainly do not think so.

I see a long term mission in my future right here in my house and it is one I would have never anticipated. Pray for the little ones that the Lord will place with us as their lives will be turned upside down. Pray for us that we will be able to offer a safe and loving home for them. Pray that the ones who need a "forever family" will find it here with us. We know that the Lord will put the exact children in our house that He intends.

Help me remember that this is the mission that the Lord has decided I should be on. The one that will have me teach, clean, help little ones with scrapes and bruises, cook, field work, whatever... And I am glad to be called to do it. Even state-side.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gotta Love Them Canadians, Eh?

I love this song and the video is even full of more impact. Enjoy this tribute by Terry Kelly and remember that the flag and uniform may be different, but the sentiment is the same.
Besides, the artist is from Newfoundland, not too far from my mother-in-law's native Nova Scotia!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank You

To the many men and women who have served, are serving and will serve in the future, I salute you. A special thanks to my grandfathers, father, step-father, uncles, sister, brother-in-law, cousins and dear friends who have served and are serving. You are the true American heroes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Desperately Seeking Science

I am not a huge science fan, but I know that my boy is and that I really do need to teach them something in that arena. The first year, I used Sonlight Science which was a great curriculum, but I just did not get through it all and did not have that much enthusiasm for it.

So I tried it again the next year with even more dismal results.
This year I was going basic (and cheap) and bought Rod and Staff Science. That lasted about two weeks, it just did not hold my interest nor that of my kids. So I am on the hunt again.

I usually stick out a curriculum until the year is out, but I have not been faithful in the science department so I am ready to start yet another curriculum.
Any thoughts?

Ideally, I want something that can be used with a kindergartener and a second grader, takes not much prep and is actually fun while being informative. Did I mention it should be cheap? Does it actually exist? Help!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Forgive the Rant, I Just Can't Take it Anymore

Let me start by saying that I adore my family and cherish my friends. But if I get one more e-mail that promises me "blessings" if I say the prescribed prayer and then pray for 12 people while I forward the e-mail to them, I just might scream.

I usually get these from people I have not seen in years or distant family members. People who have not picked up a phone or sent me a personal e-mail in X number of years. Why bother? I know that there is that sappy "forward" going around claiming that getting forwards are a way of someone saying, "I'm thinking if you". Can't fool me, it's just a forward.

I don't mind getting the forward e-mails as much as I mind the content. It is what I would call, "Christianity Lite" (if you can even call it Christianity at all, which usually you cannot). Someone knows that I am a believer so they send me anything that they have been sent that has the words, "God" or "Jesus" or "love" or "angels". What bothers me the most is the name of the Most Holy being thrown around so casually. The name of our King has power and I am seeing it and someone's rendition of His earthly image sent around in e-mails that sometimes are adorned with cutsie teddy bears and an animated "Jesus".

Where do we draw the line? When are these things simply blasphemy?

I have gotten to where I do a quick scan of the e-mail and if I pass 52 forwards I automatically delete it without even reading it. If I actually see content, I scan it for anything cutsie and then delete it. If I actually read the content, the minute it says anything like, "Remember God loves you and sent His angels to watch over you today", I hit delete faster than I would jump over my couch to rescue the last piece of chocolate from one of my children's grubby hands.

How can we have the audacity to proclaim to know anything that God the Father is doing for us today if we have not even stopped to consult Him? Does it say in scripture that sending eight e-mails in the next ten minutes will get me a blessing? Nothing remotely close in my Bible.

I am getting so sick of "dumbed down religion". Forgive me for ranting, but I just had to get it off my chest. Just once, I would like to see someone e-mail me with something "hermeneutical" and with some meat if we are going to "talk turkey". Anyone up for a discussion of Jan Hus or John Wycliffe and their contributions to the planet? How about just the Gospel? Not watered down, but biblically accurate? I have a feeling I may never be e-mailed again after this.

Again, excuse my rant, I really do welcome e-mails of almost any caliber, just nothing with teddy bears please....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Strainers? Strainers? We Dun Need No Stinkin' Strainers!

Excuse me while I pat myself on the back. I am a city gal who loves the thought of being a homesteader, but my husband seems to laugh and snort milk out of his nose in hysterics every time I mention anything about it.

Every year since we have moved to Pennsylvania I have wanted to do the magical "go-to-the-orchard-and-get-tons-of-apples-and-make-them-into-various-homey-recipes" thing. This year I actually bought the apples and they sat in a huge bag on the floor of my kitchen for a week and a half. I figured it was time to get on with it.

I decided that I would make a small batch of applesauce since I had no forethought to borrow more than my own one large pot. No matter, it was the first time I had made cooked applesauce anyway and I figured I should start small. When my kids were little I would make them raw applesauce lest they lose and nutrients in the cooking process, but all that took was some cut apples and a blender. Not a lot of skill or "know how" there!

So I snagged a recipe online and I was off. I washed and cored and cut my apples and set them to cook on the stove. Off for the next step. Use a food mill. Um, a what? I have a lot of kitchen appliances as I love to cook, but a food mill. Quite sure I don't have one of those... well now. Hmmm.

After they had sufficiently cooked I mashed away and the result was lovely applesauce complete with lumps of skin. Not so attractive, I had not actually thought this all the way through. I knew quite well that the skins would not simply vanish on their own, so in the absence of a "food mill" I had to think of some way to extricate the skins.

That's when my brilliance shone through. I grabbed my handy dandy plastic colander and strained it that way. And it looked cool and tasted good and is almost gone. Why did I do this again?

The next project... apple butter and apple bread. This time I just might read the recipes all the way through first.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Just Another Night's Sleep Perhaps?

Lumiere:
"Ha ha, oui, my friends.
The day we have waited for may be at hand!"

Mrs. Potts:
"Oh, only if that were true,
Lumiere!"

Lumiere:
"Aaah...human again"

Mrs. Potts:
"Human again"

Lumiere:
"Yes, think of what that means!"

I have not officially lost my mind (or I have, but that is besides the point), I was humming this tune in the shower this morning as I was trying desperately to convince myself that, after 4 days of suffering from a fever and strep throat, I was up to the task of parenting. For some reason, it gave me a chuckle.

Either that or I have not had enough mourning time for Jerry Orbach (did you know he was the voice of Lumiere?). Or I have officially lost my mind. Tomayto, tomahto...

Whatever the case, pray for my offspring. Mr. Clean is off hanging out with Laverne and Shirley on Lake Michigan in a training class in Milwaukee. So maybe Laverne and Shirley were not really there to greet him as he got off the plane, but my point is, he is not here with us. He nursed me through the worst of it (ain't it cool when your devoted hubby has the kids come up and ask you if you need anything? What a sweetie!) and then fled like a bank robber this morning, lest he catch any of my infected cooties.

I think I have begun to babble now, so I will spare you any more of my ramblings. But, boy would this have sounded so much better if Lumiere sang it...










Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's Over.. Whoo Hoo!

I am not a huge fan of Halloween. I was as a kid and I think the kids look cute all dressed up, but the constant begging beforehand if they can dress up and the constant nagging after for candy drives me batty.

But I am a good ol' American soccer mom so I am obligated to post cute pictures of my offspring all dressed up. And since they really do love dressing up and eating candy, I guess in a little way, I love it too. Just don't tell anyone...

This is why Spiderman was not invited to join the Justice League;
he hangs out with Princesses (notice Cinderella's mismatched socks?)

Princess Anneliese and Cinderella looking regal!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jessica

Imagine this was your pet; and here Mr. Clean will not consent to another cat!




Thanks Mom for sharing this!

Why Now That's Purdy!

Pink Dyson Vaccuum Giveaway by the Domestic Diva


It seems to be the week for contests and I could not, would not, pass up on this one! So go to Domestic Diva's site and enter for yourself. Or wait... don't, it will ruin my chances. Oh, okay, go ahead, but if you win I will be coming over for visitation once a week. Maybe you can sucker me into vacuuming your carpets. But just once. I cannot be unfaithful too often to my own floors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Type A's and Such...

Remember the old Bing Crosby tune...

Would you like to swing on a star
carry moonbeams home in a jar
and be better off than you are
or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
he kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
he's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
and by the way if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule


I was humming that today and thinking just how stubborn my little "mule" can be some days. Now, K.Z. is nowhere near stupid or with a weak brain, but he can be as stubborn as that mule sometimes. It made me stop and think today about his personality.

K.Z. is a typical first born child. He is a perfectionist and no way will he get anything wrong or embarrass himself by looking dumb. His entire life I have been trying to get him to relax a bit and understand that I don't care if he messes up as long as he is trying his hardest and while he really tries to maintain that attitude, I think he is doing it just to please me, not because he really believes it himself.

This was demonstrated today. I wanted him to write a letter. Just a two liner or so, something to get the feel of freestyle writing. To date the boy has never written anything that was not assigned as copy work or was not in a workbook. Knowing his regimented brain, I thought it may implode if I told him to "just write".

So we sat down to write a letter. I did not care about spelling nor punctuation, I just wanted him to write so I could see what he might do and so he could start learning about proper form in correspondence. I knew he would not let me go far, so I sat next to him to encourage him. I could see the agony of trying to come up with something to say in his letter all across his face, even as I prompted him with some short opening lines. This child is bound to be an accountant or an engineer (with a respectful nod to my father-in-law), did I mention that the boy is a whiz at Legos and his math workbook?

He wrote his letter, but asked me every 20 seconds if something he had spelled was correct. I was not falling into that trap and never really answered, "yes" or "no", I just kept saying things like, "looks great, let's do your next word."

All I wanted was for the boy to think it through and not stress over misspellings and the like (which he would majorly stress over and then give up). Afterward he reread it three times and found a mistake on his own anyway.

It made me think about how much I love the "type A's" in my life (I would classify myself as a "type A-"). K.Z. is as perfectly and wonderfully made as the rest of them and I love him for every aspect of his personality. I just have to stay clear when that mule starts kicking!


Monday, October 29, 2007

Oops!

I pulled out the kids' math workbooks today and flipped through to see what lesson we had left off with. K.Z.'s still had a pencil in the book making it easy to find. Xena's however, left me a bit befuddled. There was nothing written in it and I know we had been working in it for a while.

Both kids are using Singapore Math, but different levels. Xena is working on Earlybird Kindergarten, which she loves and in which, is doing very well. The thing that throws me about the Kindergarten Singapore math workbooks are that there are 4 of them for the year. Singapore Math breaks the higher grades up by 1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, corresponding to the grade level. You get the picture. Not Kindergarten. There are books 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B.

This makes perfect sense since some Kindergarteners do not need to start with the most basic book and can start in a later workbook, but I wanted Xena to start from square one and bought all four books. She zoomed through the first one and we were on to the second fairly quickly and had gotten half way through it already. Yet, nothing was written in it. It was like the Twilight Zone.

Then I had a "DOH" moment and looked for the other workbooks. Apparently I had completely goofed up and skipped the second book (1B) and started her right in on the third book (2A). The cool part is that she is doing so well in math that neither one of us noticed the hiccup in the lessons.

I guess she will be done with math either very early in the year or I will start the 1st grade workbook with her a bit sooner than I had planned (like in 1st grade!). Perhaps I should slow her down a bit!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Because Grandparents Just Eat This Stuff Up...

Before bed we were treated to a "show" from the girls as they sang various songs from the "ABC song" to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Mr. Clean grabbed his camera and recorded some of the show and I thought I would post a bit here. I will refrain from posting the parts where they sang and danced, since watching two little whirling dervishes is enough to make the strongest stomach sea sick.

This song they made up on the spot. Notice C'sa is trying to sing along to a song she has never heard before. Not quite American Idol material, but a fun glimpse at the girls nonetheless. Maybe they should have been singing, "The Hairbrush Song"?


video


Afterward K.Z. wanted to tickle the ivories a bit. His newest assignment is "Away in a Manger", but he was too nervous to play it. So, back to the beginning of "Ode to Joy". Mr. Clean had the camera running long before I realized it and boy do I sound like some crazy stage mom. Ugh! I swear that is the farthest from my personality you can get. Besides, you don't actually see me on camera so maybe I could just say it wasn't me... Yeah, that's the ticket. It was that other lady, you know, the one who looks like me...


video

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sittin' On the Fence

I had to take K.Z. to the pediatrician today for... brace yourself, I am not making this up... an infected belly button. How in the world you can get a cut or abrasion in your belly button is beyond me. The infection part? That's easy, he is seven, and a boy, and thinks showers are for making shampoo mohawks and singing goofy songs.

So we pop in for a 12 second visit which wound up costing me a $15.00 co-pay and then $25.00 for "anti-belly button funk" creme. And she popped the dreaded question, "While you are here should I give him a flu shot?"


Now for many of you this may not be so dreaded and I am not bringing up this topic to ruffle any feathers, but lately I have had a heavy heart when it comes to the influenza immunization. I just don't know. I have no trouble inoculating my kids
once against polio, lockjaw, cooties, whatever; but to shoot 'em up again and again, year after year just makes my stomach knot. I have reasons that make me want to stay far far away, but I am not going to go into them since I am a layman when it comes to medical science. I am, however, an expert when it comes to the Mr. Clean family offspring and my keen "momma instinct". Most days anyway.

The dilemma I face however is saying "no thanks" when the doctor wants to give my kids the shot. Last winter I avoided the problem and just did not take Xena and K.Z to the doctor, as they never had a need and by the time their annual check ups came around, it was spring and I was in the clear. My baby, however is another subject. She was born smack dab in the middle of flu season and has her annual check-up; say it with me now... "smack dab in the middle of flu season". What's a gal to do?


I caved and let them do it last year for C'sa, even after I told them we were using a homeopathic influenza serum and they told me that would do pretty much the same thing (just without the mercury). I still had that "oh so guilty, bad mom" shame at questioning the doctor, even though I am the mom and have the right to refuse the shot and question the doctor (for the record, I really like the doc that gave C'sa the flu shot last year, so this has no bearing on him whatsoever).


So back to today's excursion. I politely said (lied), "that's okay, I will make an appointment for all of them together."


The doctor K.Z. saw today looked at me as if I had three heads. "Does he have asthma?" she asked. "Because if not, he can have the spray", more than likely assuming my objection was to the needle.


"Nope", I assured her. More blank stares from the doctor as I gathered up my purse and energetically said, "Okay K.Z., lets go and fill your prescription!"

I never looked back. I can only assume that she was still sitting there dumb-founded at the fact that a mom with such amazing fashion sense (I wore the jeans
without stains and frayed hems) and such a killer vehicle (the soccer-mom goober mobile) could be such an idiot.

So where do you fall on the "flu shot topic"? I am sitting up on the fence and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Christmas in October?

Thanks to Jamie, I have found out that Kim at "Life in a Shoe" is having a contest that could bring me $150.00 worth of merchandise from one of my all time favorite catalogs, Vision Forum! Thankfully my catalog arrived earlier this week and I have already pined my way through it.

So here is my wish list:

Passionate Housewives: Desperate for God $16
Ten Peas in a Pod $20
Wise Woman's Guide $16
Bible Lesson's For Manhood $25
Raising Maidens of Virtue $20
Teach Them To Your Children $17
How To Think Like a Christian $10
Homemaking $20

Any or all of these resources to glean from: PRICELESS!

I am not holding my breath, but boy would I whoop and holler if I were to win! Check it out!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Am Turning Into My Mother... Only a Little

Although my mother is a great lady and anyone would be honored to be like her, I reserve the right to retain my own identity. However, glimpses of my mom have been peeking through lately and they manifested last night in one fell swoop as I, "just could not take it anymore!"

Recently my house has smelled "dusty" to me. You know the smell, I assume (please tell me you know the smell or I just may have to jump off the roof!)? The not so clean, just needs a good scrubbing, kind of smell? All of my friends kindly assured me that I was crazy and my house did not smell, but I knew. And then
it happened. I asked Mr. Clean.

This is a man who can only really smell "man style" smells. An electrical fire, a wood fire, bacon, cookies or a Miami Dolphins player anywhere within a 30 mile radius. His olfactory system is simply overloaded with testosterone. Regardless of knowing this fact about my beloved, I asked him if he thought the house smelled dusty. He said yes! Yikes! It was time to sell the house and move away from the problem.


My first reaction (after selling) was to bring in the hose and spray down everything. Then I came back to reality and pulled out the next best thing. My trusty carpet cleaner that probably sees action once every 2.3 years. After all, if the dust is not on the visible surfaces, it must be hiding in the funky fibers we call a carpet. And since I have been walking around for two weeks now sniffing various places in my house, I know that it cannot be any other culprit.


My house is only 6 years old. When we bought it almost 4 years ago, the carpeting in our family room was not in the best of shape thanks to the previous owner, but was not
that bad. Three kids and two dogs later, it is, shall we say, a petri dish? I have cleaned it before but it just did not seem to satisfy my need for clean. Mr. Clean and I have discussed ripping up the carpeting in that room and running the Pergo that adorns the kitchen floor into the room, but time, cash and a general desire to be lazy in the evenings have prevented this project from happening. So back to the carpet cleaner.

I found a bottle of
Hoover carpet spray a.k.a. "Miracle in a Bottle" (no, not Excedrin) and went to town pre-treating every stain I could find before I started. An hour and a half later (I am a little anal about the way I steam clean and go really slow), I was done and went to bed.

This morning, I do believe I heard the hallelujah chorus from the heavens as I walked into my family room. The carpet looks almost brand new. I had to resist the urge to lay down on it and make "carpet angels". I was that excited. I am my mother.