Friday, June 29, 2007


After praying for our mission team that is leaving for the Czech Republic today I was thinking about the vast field of mission work. Since Mr. Clean has always desired to go into full time missions, but is more of a technical guy who prefers to be in the background, I decided to use the web to explore what kind of opportunities may be out there.

Had I been thinking clearly, I would have never typed in the words "missionary positions" into Google. It's been a looong day already. You can just imagine what the search results were.

Alert the Authorities

I have done the unthinkable. The cardinal sin of modern mothers. I made a pitcher of Kool-Aid. To date I have never made Kool-Aid for my kids. I am sure they have had it in their lives, but I have never actually gone through the motions of mixing the little packet of colorful powder with evil white sugar and tap water (horrors!) to make the sweet elixir of the 70's.

Several months ago (or years, I have no idea of the actual time frame) I got a free sample packet of Kool-Aid in the mail. I immediately thought, "I would NEVER let my children drink this", yet being too thrifty to actually throw anything in the trash, I threw it on the pantry shelf (this line of thinking has no actual logic, but it is the way I think some days). There it sat.

Something came over me today and I decided that the kids deserved a little bit of nostalgia in the form of pure sugar. Just a taste of summer from my childhood, so I whipped up a batch. They happily lapped it up like dogs to antifreeze. Red mustaches, goofy grins and pleads of "more red juice" solidified the crime. The kids got hooked.

So is it really so bad? After all, we grew up into normal happy people and we drank Kool-Aid right? So what if our generation now has more cases of diabetes, increased obesity and hyperactivity.
The 70's rocked!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Off They Go!

Last year Mr. Clean and I went to the Czech Republic on missions and I fell in love with the country. Due to the amount of traveling we did last year sans the kids we decided it was best to stay local this year and spend the summer season as a family and not join the team on this year's trip.

Tomorrow the Czech team will fly out, so please pray for their safe travels. I saw a cool clock on Princess Ruby's blog that I wanted to snag to remind me to pray for the Czech team and the friends (Petr and Lauren and Jimmie and Hulda) we have living in different parts of the Czech Republic on full time missions.

Just a Note

I am slowing moving posts from my old blog over, so if you have my site linked to an RSS feed you may see a ton of "new" posts that are from last year. They will appear out of date order on the feed but will be in the right spot on my blog. Feel free to read them, just know they are older!

If I Were a Rich (Wo)Man?

If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.

After two weeks of swimming lessons at our community pool (I caved and became one of those mom) I have decided what I would do if the Lord decided that we should be rich. I would buy cans and cans of aerosol sunscreen by the case. I don't even want to hear a gasp nor mere mention of the ozone layer or environment. I am sick of sunscreen.

For a whopping $8.00 I have two choices. I can buy a can of aerosol sunscreen which will last exactly 2 applications for a family of five (I learned that lesson in Myrtle Beach last month) or the old fashioned kind of lotion that my kids whine is sticky, I whine is sticky and I hate applying, but will last weeks. I refuse to compromise my childrens' skin health and risk melanoma and I am a miser, so I have to stick with option two. But I still hate it.

So if you see me suddenly buying truckloads of aerosol sunscreen you will know that I have struck it rich or check the newspapers for a suspicious looking homeschooler slinking out of the local savings and loan after a big heist.

What would you do with a windfall of cash (and don't dare tell me something wise and practical)?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Seven Dollar Praise

It has occurred to me lately that I have not praised my Lord enough for the little things, even though He is providing them everyday. The majority of the time they slip by completely unnoticed. Not today.

Way back in May when I went to the CHAP convention I was able to purchase pretty much my entire curriculum for the new school year, which in my house starts July 9th. I happily grabbed Singapore Math, Story of the World and lots of other things. In my overzealous joy, I goofed a little. Once I got home I discovered that I had purchased two of the same Earlybird Kindergarten (Singapore) books (there are 4 in the series for the year). Therefore I had "1A", "2A" and two "2Bs", but not a "1B" in sight. For those of you with a command of the English alphabet you are aware that after "1A" comes "1B". So, just buck up, stop my whining and buy the one I forgot right? Well, okay.

Here's the thing. Unlike some curriculum, you cannot simply waltz into the nearest bookstore and purchase it like you can at a homeschool convention. You have to order it and pay shipping. This is only an $8.00 workbook. Paying shipping will annoy me to no end (for those of you who know me well, know that I am notoriously cheap and constantly looking for any way to save a buck; it's genetic). What is a girl to do?

I called Rainbow Resource, the Mega-mart of homeschooling, that I bought the duplicate workbook from in the first place, pleaded my case and asked if there was any way possible to buy the correct one without paying shipping. After all, I had just paid for quite a bit of curriculum from them at the convention. The woman, while very nice, had no clue how to handle my request and asked if she could look into it and call me back. A month later, I have not heard back.

I looked into Amazon, since I could certainly get some other needs at that site totaling $25.00 and get free shipping, hence killing a couple birds with one stone. Nope. They don't sell it directly. Another door closed.

Just for kicks I hit e-bay, but as most homeschoolers know, e-bay can be a feeding frenzy when it comes to finding what you need at a bargain, curriculum wise. Most times people wind up paying more than buying their item elsewhere after the bidding has died down and shipping is paid. The thrill of the bid can take control. But, what the heck? I could at least look.

There it was, in all of it's shiny colorful paged glory. A brand spankin' new "1B" and there was only one listed. There were also no bids on it. Could it be a mirage? A siren's song? Would I get lost in a bidding war in the last minutes of the auction and wind up paying $20.00 just for the thrill of an e-bay victory? I cautiously placed my bid with baited breath.

Four days later and many page visits to check on my rare treasure there were still no bids. Could this be real? Would the Lord of the Universe really drop a Singapore Math book in my lap for just $7.00 after shipping costs? He could and He did. After praying about trying to be more fiscally conservative and less "caught up in the thrill of the purchase", He rewarded my prayers and provided my need. Doesn't He always? Why do we usually fail to notice?

My newest goal is to try and be more aware of the little things that He provides. They happen every day. Enjoy your day and praise your King!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not for this American Girl

I know that we have come a long way from our pioneer settlers' style corn cob dolls, toys and games. I know that people place different importance levels on toys and games. I also know the thrill of my daughters falling in love with a doll that they can dress up, play "momma" to and just adore.

A while ago my generation of mothers started getting obsessed with American Girl Dolls. No biggie, there is always some retail item that captures a generation and they go a little nuts. I never got into the whole thing, I usually don't and after finding out that one of these dolls would set me back about $70.00 a piece, I really had no interest. But here's what has gotten under my skin. A while ago, American Girl partnered up with Girls Inc., an organization that promotes "girl power" and started selling "I Can" bracelets and donating 70% of the proceeds to Girls Inc., along with an additional 50K. Unfortunately, Girls Inc. also support abortion, homosexuality and other agendas I absolutely cannot allow my hard earned money to support (see Pro-Life Action League link).

Then I ran across this blog with a story about the American Girl store in Manhattan that made me even more glad that I do not support this company and their "customer service". Apparently this is a very exclusive club and if you are not willing to join the "club" (buy the overpriced plastic doll made by Mattel), the store and it's services are simply not for you. You will not believe this story (granted, I do not know the authenticity of this story, but who in the world would make this up?).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"I am both Muslim and Christian"

All I can say is, "Uh, what?!" It is a little lengthy but you have got to read this article...

Article by Seattle Times religion reporter Janet I. Tu (all added emphasis and remarks, sarcastic or otherwise, mine)

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim? (they can't)

But it has drawn other reactions too. Friends generally say they support her, while religious scholars are mixed: Some say that, depending on how one interprets the tenets of the two faiths, it is, indeed, possible to be both. Others consider the two faiths mutually exclusive.

"There are tenets of the faiths that are very, very different," said Kurt Fredrickson, director of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "The most basic would be: What do you do with Jesus?" (oh, right! Him...)

Christianity has historically regarded Jesus as the son of God and God incarnate, both fully human and fully divine. Muslims, though they regard Jesus as a great prophet, do not see him as divine and do not consider him the son of God.

"I don't think it's possible" to be both, Fredrickson said, just like "you can't be a Republican and a Democrat."

Redding, who will begin teaching the New Testament as a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University this fall, has a different analogy: "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both." (another school my kids will not attend)

Redding doesn't feel she has to resolve all the contradictions. People within one religion can't even agree on all the details, she said. "So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam? (again, "uh, what?!)

"At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need." (really? I missed that in Comparative Religion 101)

She says she felt an inexplicable call to become Muslim, and to surrender to God — the meaning of the word "Islam."

"It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.

"I could not not be a Muslim."

Redding's situation is highly unusual. Officials at the national Episcopal Church headquarters said they are not aware of any other instance in which a priest has also been a believer in another faith. They said it's up to the local bishop to decide whether such a priest could continue in that role.

Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese's newspaper, hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said. (is he insane?)

Some local Muslim leaders are perplexed. (ya think?!)

Being both Muslim and Christian — "I don't know how that works," said Hisham Farajallah, president of the Islamic Center of Washington. (ME EITHER!)

But Redding has been embraced by leaders at the Al-Islam Center of Seattle, the Muslim group she prays with.

"Islam doesn't say if you're a Christian, you're not a Muslim," said programming director Ayesha Anderson. "Islam doesn't lay it out like that." (well, Christianity does...)

Redding believes telling her story can help ease religious tensions, and she hopes it can be a step toward her dream of creating an institute to study Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

"I think this thing that's happened to me can be a sign of hope," she said.

Redding is 55 and single, with deep brown eyes, dreadlocks and a voice that becomes easily impassioned when talking about faith. She's also a classically trained singer, and has sung at jazz nights at St. Mark's.

The oldest of three girls, Redding grew up in Pennsylvania in a high-achieving, intellectual family. Her father was one of the lawyers who argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that desegregated the nation's public schools. Her mother was in the first class of Fulbright scholars.

Though her parents weren't particularly religious, they had her baptized and sent her to an Episcopal Sunday school. She has always sensed that God existed and God loved her, even when things got bleak — which they did.

She experienced racism in schools, was sexually abused and, by the time she was a young adult, was struggling with alcohol addiction; she's been in recovery for 20 years.

Despite those difficulties, she graduated from Brown University, earned master's degrees from two seminaries and received her Ph.D. in New Testament from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She felt called to the priesthood and was ordained in 1984.

As much as she loves her church, she has always challenged it. She calls Christianity the "world religion of privilege." She has never believed in original sin. And for years she struggled with the nature of Jesus' divinity. (and yet, she is a priest..)

She found a good fit at St. Mark's, coming to the flagship of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington in 2001. She was in charge of programs to form and deepen people's faith (wait, didn't it just say she struggled with her own? Great choice to lead others) until March this year when she was one of three employees laid off for budget reasons. The dean of the cathedral said Redding's exploration of Islam had nothing to do with her layoff.

Ironically, it was at St. Mark's that she first became drawn to Islam.

In fall 2005, a local Muslim leader gave a talk at the cathedral, then prayed before those attending. Redding was moved. As he dropped to his knees and stretched forward against the floor, it seemed to her that his whole body was involved in surrendering to God.

Then in the spring, at a St. Mark's interfaith class (umm, why?), another Muslim leader taught a chanted prayer and led a meditation on opening one's heart. The chanting appealed to the singer in Redding; the meditation spoke to her heart. She began saying the prayer daily.

Around that time, her mother died, and then "I was in a situation that I could not handle by any other means, other than a total surrender to God," she said.

She still doesn't know why that meant she had to become a Muslim. All she knows is "when God gives you an invitation, you don't turn it down." (and just how do you know it was God?)

In March 2006, she said her shahada — the profession of faith — testifying that there is only one God and that Mohammed is his messenger. She became a Muslim.

Before she took the shahada, she read a lot about Islam. Afterward, she learned from local Muslim leaders, including those in Islam's largest denomination — Sunni — and those in the Sufi mystical tradition of Islam. She began praying with the Al-Islam Center, a Sunni group that is predominantly African-American.

There were moments when practicing Islam seemed like coming home.

In Seattle's Episcopal circles, Redding had mixed largely with white people. "To walk into Al-Islam and be reminded that there are more people of color in the world than white people, that in itself is a relief," she said.

She found the discipline of praying five times a day — one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims are supposed to follow — gave her the deep sense of connection with God that she yearned for.

It came from "knowing at all times I'm in between prayers." She likens it to being in love, constantly looking forward to having "all these dates with God. ... Living a life where you're remembering God intentionally, consciously, just changes everything." (yeah, cause Christianity does not promote this attitude, right? HELLO!)

Friends who didn't know she was practicing Islam told her she glowed.

Aside from the established sets of prayers she recites in Arabic fives times each day, Redding says her prayers are neither uniquely Islamic nor Christian. They're simply her private talks with God or Allah — she uses both names interchangeably. "It's the same person, praying to the same God." (Not even close)

In many ways, she says, "coming to Islam was like coming into a family with whom I'd been estranged. We have not only the same God, but the same ancestor with Abraham."

Indeed, Islam, Christianity and Judaism trace their roots to Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism who is also considered the spiritual father of all three faiths. They share a common belief in one God, and there are certain similar stories in their holy texts.

But there are many significant differences, too.

Muslims regard the Quran as the unadulterated word of God, delivered through the angel Gabriel to Mohammed. While they believe the Torah and the Gospels include revelations from God, they believe those revelations have been misinterpreted or mishandled by humans.

Most significantly, Muslims and Christians disagree over the divinity of Jesus.

Muslims generally believe in Jesus' virgin birth, that he was a messenger of God, that he ascended to heaven alive and that he will come back at the end of time to destroy evil. They do not believe in the Trinity, in the divinity of Jesus or in his death and resurrection.

For Christians, belief in Jesus' divinity, and that he died on the cross and was resurrected, lie at the heart of the faith, as does the belief that there is one God who consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (It is the faith!)

Redding's views, even before she embraced Islam, were more interpretive than literal.

She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.

She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.

She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans. (I am now tearing my hair out)

What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that out of all humans, he most embodied being filled with God and identifying completely with God's will.

She does believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, and acknowledges those beliefs conflict with the teachings of the Quran. "That's something I'll find a challenge the rest of my life," she said. (That is why you cannot walk the fence...)

She considers Jesus her savior. At times of despair, because she knows Jesus suffered and overcame suffering, "he has connected me with God," she said.

That's not to say she couldn't develop as deep a relationship with Mohammed. "I'm still getting to know him," she said.

Some religious scholars understand Redding's thinking.

While the popular Christian view is that Jesus is God (the popular view? More like biblical truth...) and that he came to Earth and took on a human body, other Christians believe his divinity means that he embodied the spirit of God in his life and work, said Eugene Webb, professor emeritus of comparative religion at the University of Washington. (oh really?)

Webb says it's possible to be both Muslim and Christian: "It's a matter of interpretation. But a lot of people on both sides do not believe in interpretation. "

Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, agrees with Webb, and adds that Islam tends to be a little more flexible. Muslims can have faith in Jesus, he said, as long as they believe in Mohammed's message. (Oh, well then all is right with the world...)

Other scholars are skeptical. (No... you're kidding...)

"The theological beliefs are irreconcilable," said Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. Islam holds that God is one, unique, indivisible. "For Muslims to say Jesus is God would be blasphemy."

Frank Spina, an Episcopal priest and also a professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Seattle Pacific University, puts it bluntly.

"I just do not think this sort of thing works," he said. "I think you have to give up what is essential to Christianity to make the moves that she has done. (give this man a cookie!)

"The essence of Christianity was not that Jesus was a great rabbi or even a great prophet, but that he is the very incarnation of the God that created the world.... Christianity stands or falls on who Jesus is."

Spina also says that as priests, he and Redding have taken vows of commitment to the doctrines of the church. "That means none of us get to work out what we think all by ourselves."

Redding knows there are many Christians and Muslims who will not accept her as both.

"I don't care," she says. "They can't take away my baptism." (we are not the final Authority my dear, you should not worry about what we can do) And as she understands it, once she's made her profession of faith to become a Muslim, no one can say she isn't that, either.

While she doesn't rule out that one day she may choose one or the other, it's more likely "that I'm going to be 100 percent Christian and 100 percent Muslim when I die." (Oye!)

These days, Redding usually carries a headscarf with her wherever she goes so she can pray five times a day. (you can do that as a Christian!!!)

On Fridays, she prays with about 20 others at the Al-Islam Center. On Sundays, she prays in church, usually at St. Clement's of Rome in the Mount Baker neighborhood.

One thing she prays for every day: "I pray not to cause scandal or bring shame upon either of my traditions."

Being Muslim has given her insights into Christianity, she said. For instance, because Islam regards Jesus as human, not divine, it reinforces for her that "we can be like Jesus. There are no excuses."

Doug Thorpe, who served on St. Mark's faith-formation committee with Redding, said he's trying to understand all the dimensions of her faith choices. But he saw how it deepened her spirituality. And it spurred him to read the Quran and think more deeply about his own faith.

He believes Redding is being called. She is, "by her very presence, a bridge person," Thorpe said. "And we desperately need those bridge persons." (there is only one "bridge" to the Father)

In Redding's car, she has hung up a cross she made of clear crystal beads. Next to it, she has dangled a heart-shaped leather object etched with the Arabic symbol for Allah.

"For me, that symbolizes who I am," Redding said. "I look through Jesus and I see Allah."


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


When Mr. Clean and I were in the Czech Republic last summer we ate like the Czechs ate and we loved every bite. I had secretly stashed 15 Luna bars having no idea what to expect and came home with almost all of them. Czech food is amazing. But we are in America.

I LOVE my country and it's food, but I have been craving, BIG TIME, Czech food. I am now on a mission to try and make it, so if any of you know any authentic Czech recipes (think lots of dumplings and sauerkraut, which in the Czech Republic is prepared so differently than here) send them along!! Or better yet, if someone would like to come and cook authentic Czech food for me, bring it!!

Our hotel in Malenovice, Frydlant

Another C'sa Observation

You can always count on C'sa to state the obvious. Today Xena was excitedly talking about all the great benefits of water and how healthy it was for you. C'sa looked up from her picture book and replied, "It makes you pee."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just in case you did not know....

At the pool today, C'sa came up to me and completely out of the blue and said, "Butterflies can poop on you".

Beware today and watch out for butterflies.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


You rock, Big Daddy! My life would not be the same without you and the kids definitely benefit from you being their Dad. Thanks for all the hard work you do and for allowing me to do what I love, hang out with my babies and teach them at every step of the way. Your influence on them is so crucial and so appreciated. You are my hero!

Happy Father's Day Mr. Clean!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Homeschool Requirement

I had a massage this weekend and I am addicted. I have never had one and resisted the thought until my mother called and forced me into it (okay, technically she offered to make an appointment for me and pay for it). It was heaven. I was trying to figure out after I left which kid I would sell to be able to afford going at least once a week.

I think this should be a mandatory state requirement (that they fund of course, although it would actually be my money anyway since I pay so many taxes, but that's a rant for later) for every homeschool mother. After all, since I live in the most demanding homeschool state in the U.S. when it comes to requirements and reporting, shouldn't there be a cherry on top?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Once A Nerd, Always A Nerd

I miss school. I don't mean my experiences with school, I am glad to be all grown up and done with all that, I mean our school. Now that the year has ended (and you know it's official when you change your "active year" in Homeschool Tracker), I miss the everyday routine that K.Z. and I had during the school year. I feel kind of lost.

Our "summer holiday" will not last long. July 9th will mark the beginning of the new year and K.Z.'s march into 2nd grade along with Xena's official start of Kindergarten. Although I have my curriculum, I have yet cracked open a book or made a game plan so you would think that I would not be so anxious. But I am. I always have been.

When I was in school I was "gifted" (read: "nerd"). I was always anxious for the new school year to begin. Even in high school. The first day of school I would be up early since I went to a communication arts magnet school, so I was up very early for the bus ride). I would tease up my Lisa Lisa hair (I may have been a nerd, but I was a stylin' nerd and yes, I had that hair style) and be out while the sun was still coming up. The first few weeks of school held a certain magic that would inevitably fade away, but it was really cool while it lasted.

Maybe that is what I am anxious for. Regardless, someone please remind me of this when I am ready to quit in November?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This Just Makes It Worse

We have been to the Land of the Mouse many times. The majority of the trips were without the kids and one was for a wedding that K.Z. was asked to be in, so we took him for a long weekend. A couple of years ago Mr. Clean and I read a book about the inner workings of Disney that made my stomach turn; I really wish I could remember the title. This latest turn of Disney events just makes me shake my head even harder. Disney has long had a reputation of celebrating and supporting gay causes, but this "takes the cake".

The article below I copied from
Focus On the Family who currently does not support a Disney Boycott (read their official position here), but I am wondering if my own little enterprise here should start turning from the "Magic". I was excited when Michael Eisner left and Bob Iger stepped in, but I have not seen too much fruit from that appointment (save The Chronicles of Narnia).

I wonder what Walt would think?

Disney, Famous for Fairy Tales, now offers Make-Believe Weddings for Gays

by Kim Trobee

The Walt Disney Company will include same-sex commitment ceremonies in its wedding program, even though most of the couples will go home to states that ban the practice.

Walt Disney execs decided to include gay commitment ceremonies under their wedding packages after a same-sex couple complained they were refused the service. Spokesperson for Disney Parks and Resorts, Donn Walker, says the theme park giant is just trying to be ‘inclusive’ and make every guest feel ‘welcome and respected.’

“We certainly are very aware that not everyone is going to agree with this. We’re not trying to change anyone’s mind here, and we don’t believe that it’s our place to make judgments about people, or guests, or groups of guests.”

For years, the Christian Action Network has worked to expose Disney’s Gay Days, which take place in June. Media director for the group, Jason Campbell, says the latest development is just the icing on the cake.

“It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s blatantly targeting kids and it’s blatantly targeting families.”

According to Campbell, stock holders are appalled by the decision. So are customers. Mona Passignano and her husband, Mike, were planning to spend their wedding anniversary at one of the parks, but cancelled when they heard the news.

“I’m not trying to say that homosexuals can’t go to Disney World, but that is a marriage ceremony. As a country, for the most part, we’ve decided that we want marriage, traditional marriage to be protected.”

No word on whether other Christians will boycott.

Monday, June 11, 2007

If You Are Going To Be A Crook, Use Grammar Check!

I get spam on occasion and it never fails to amaze me what dolts spammers can be. I especially like the ones designed to look like they are from E-bay or a bank. I usually never even open them, but today someone hit the nail on the head and "spammed" me with one from my own bank. Assuming it was spam, but curious nonetheless, I had to take a look. This was the message I received, very cleverly designed to look like a bank e-mail...

Your Online Banking is Blocked

Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account. So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security. Please click on sign in to Online Banking to continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security. Thank you. and visit the customer service section.

Now I appreciate the work it must have taken to try and pull this off, but couldn't they have humored me and others by either employing a retired English teacher or at the very least, someone who has completed the fourth grade? There are a lot of them running around now all summer with nothing to do.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Out of the Mouth of My Babe

C'sa is the comedienne in the house and she is so deadpan most of the time its hard to tell if she is doing it on purpose. Today however, she was absolutely serious when talking to her sister about a roller coaster Xena rode at Busch Gardens. Although anxious and excited to try at the time, Xena commented that she never wanted to ride "The Big Bad Wolf" again because it scared her.

With utmost concern, C'sa replied, "Xena, you can ride 'The Little Good Wolf"!


As they went to bed there was a thunderstorm brewing. Neither girl is very fond of them and C'sa called out from her room most distressed, "Mom, the thunderstorm is nervousing me!"

If the Shoe Fits... WEAR IT!

It is Sunday morning at 09:41 and I am sitting on my computer. What is wrong with this picture? Everyone else I know and love is at church, including my husband and two beautiful daughters. The boy, however is in his room and I am here.

For some reason K.Z. has gotten some strange obsession with shoes and not in the healthy Imelda Marcos kind of way. If they do not feel perfect he wigs out. It started with socks. He would complain that his socks hurt. Assuming they were too small I bought him bigger socks. Nope. The bigger ones were too big. So we bought him different style socks in the correct size. Nope. They hurt where the seams came together at the toe. I can certainly appreciate a nice feeling pair of socks and grab up really good ones when the budget allows and they are on sale, but this was getting a little silly.

Since this is a relatively new issue, we figured that maybe it wasn't the sock and more likely the shoe, his tennis shoes were probably getting a little tight. After all he is a growing boy. Determined to have him just get through the summer with his sandals or flip flops, I staved off the urge to buy him new shoes (I have the healthy kind of shoe obsession referenced above), since we all know something magically happens to a boy and he grows three feet and two shoes sizes in the summer months.

Yesterday he was in tears about his shoes so I decided enough was enough and we would buy new ones. I even asked K.Z. to pray on the way to the store that we would find the perfect pair and they would fit comfortably. Within two minutes we had and they were on sale! The birds were singing and butterflies were dancing on the wind as we left the store. All was right with the world. Excitedly, K.Z. declared to me, "Mom, I promise I will not complain about my shoes tomorrow." He wore them all day and was happy.

Fast forward to today. Five minutes and counting until the Mommy Mobile pulls out of the driveway to head for church. Time to put on shoes...

...once again, his socks and shoes are not right. They hurt. I am about to hang this boy from his ankles on the chandelier. The only solution I can come up with is to buy silk worms, have them spin silk for me, weave it together myself and carefully knit socks with no possible seams. Or sell this child to the circus and have a cup of tea. Maybe Gold Toe for kids? Anyone have a couple hundred I can invest in socks?

So, here I sit on a Sunday missing worship and fellowship after I hastily threatened that he either put on his shoes or Dad and the girls were going without him (K.Z. loves going to church). He didn't and I had to stand my ground. We normally do not let missing church be a punishment for any infraction since I believe it to be crucial to "gather together" with our church family, but my mouth was talking faster than my brain was thinking.

So tomorrow morning if you hear some strange sound off in the distance, it more than likely will be the anguished cry of a mother pulling her hair out trying to get her son to wear his socks and shoes.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Lazy Days...

I need to change my way of thinking. I had a deep down gut feeling about how I should raise my kids that I firmly believed in but I have gotten soft lately. It's effecting my kids and not in a great way.

I am a "if/then" kind of gal. "If" you choose to do this, "then" you will expect this consequence (good or bad). No negotiating, no whimpering, that's just the way it is. I used to be diligent and predictable. Firm but very loving and my children were for the most part very obedient and happy kids. Recently I have doubted my abilities, gotten lazy and soft in my resolve and I can see the change. They are getting grumpy and disobedient and have started to talk back a bit. I have started getting louder and more annoyed. The combination is disastrous. My three year old has learned the art of righteous indignation as she stomps up the stairs. Something my now 7 year old would have NEVER done nor gotten away with at that age. Whining and temper tantrums were unacceptable and rare, now they are getting more frequent from all three.

So pray for me as I reevaluate and get back to the basics that I know were designed for me directly from the Creator. My kids are the ones getting gypped in the long run if I don't.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Label Snob

I am a food label snob. I have caviar tastes on a tuna fish budget (okay, eww, maybe not caviar). It's all my mother's fault.

When I was a child and we went to the grocery store it was cool. We loaded up the cart with what we needed and bought it. No calculator, no mental addition, just buy what you need. I can vividly remember some trips that were close to the $200.00 range. Now, my parents' income was about double what ours is, as both my mother and stepfather were very well paid professionals, so they could afford it, but it set me up to be quite the grocery snob.

When we moved to Pennsylvania I discovered a small store that we did not have in Maryland called Aldi. There was no way I was going to shop there. Mr. Clean and I walked in once to check out this curious little store we had never heard of, unaware that we needed a quarter to use a shopping cart (the nerve, even if it was returned) and we would have to bag our things ourselves... how uncouth! I assumed this must be some discount, second hand grocery store and I wanted no part of it. There were no shiny floors (clean, but not shiny), bright florescent lighting nor Muzak playing. I would and do gladly shop at Goodwill and consignment shops and bask in the glory of my great finds, but this was crossing the line.

I am now addicted to Aldi. And boy was I wrong. My friend Eva who emigrated from Germany filled me in on the company (and her American hubby works for one of those big shiny American grocery stores nonetheless). Apparently in Germany, it is a superstore, equivalent to Wal-Mart and has the world's best deals. She told me that people would line up outside of the store waiting for it to open to get the deals. My ears perked up at this. Prestige? Superstore? DEALS?

So I grabbed my quarter and really checked it out. I was amazed at the quality of the food. They have their own label that they have a 100% guarantee on. You don't like something? They replace the item for you AND give you your money back. I have never had an issue. They even carry organic soy milk and it's the best I have ever tried. I started slowly, just buying things that I found that were cheaper than the grocery store (and I mean MUCH cheaper; where can you buy a box of cereal, even generic, for $1.69?) and found that I was going more and more often since I really liked their brand better than the name brand (gasp!). On the plus side, they even carry some name brand items, although I usually bypass them for the Aldi's brand, all of which have a catchy name relevant to the item.

Anyway, I suppose I should stop sounding like the Aldi spokeswoman since I am not seeing one red cent from this shining endorsement, but I was inspired as I cooked spaghetti for dinner and marveled at the perfectly pink, very fresh ground beef that I was using purchased there.

Maybe next time, they will float me a quarter for my loyalty...

The Boy is an Internet Genius!

My kids have almost zero online experience. They have played a few games online before under my eagle eye, lest they wander off by accident to some smut filled site lurking around the corner, but for the most part they are clueless to the wonderful world of the Internet.

So I had to chuckle today when K.Z. says to me in reference to something he had heard on television (shhh... don't tell anyone that my kids have watched t.v.), "Mom, all you have to do is go to and you will see it."

I asked him that address again, just to verify it amidst my chuckling and again he assured me that was correct. Although I am sure that was not the site he intended, I had to go see what, if anything would happen if I entered, knowing full well I might just blow a hole in the time/space continuum or at least send the world off it axis.

It is actually a website. Ladies and gentlemen, I have discovered the very beginning of the Internet. Or so it tells me and we all know, if it's on the Web, it must be true!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I Hate Puzzles...

Okay, not really. I don't hate the kind they sell for people over 3 feet tall and I could sit for hours piecing one together. I hate kid puzzles. There, I have said it and now I will be forever known as the worst homeschooling mother in the face of the planet. And I don't really care.

Xena and C'sa share the best room in the house. Literally. Their room is larger than the master bedroom, has a nice closet, cool architecture (think "barn shaped") and is decked out nicely. It is also the room I abhor the most. These two have no concept of what it means to "pick up and put away". Therefore, said room usually looks like a storm hit.

I have decided that enough is enough and they are getting a clean sweep. At least 50% of their toys are heading out to our local thrift shop, if not straight to the curb! Today I have been diligently pursuing this dream of a tidy and simplified room for my two peanuts and it involves every nook and cranny of that room. Can you guess what recurring theme keeps popping up in every nook and cranny? You got it... puzzle pieces.

I have found about 50 thousand (give or take a few) puzzle pieces all over the place. Big ones, little ones, plastic, cardboard and wooden, all various shapes. Do you think any of them go to the same puzzle? Not a chance. Now a good mother would collect them all into a Ziplock bag or the like and save them to sort later with her perfectly coiffed and clean children diligently helping her piece the masterpieces back together. Not this Mom.

My plan? Pitch all the puzzles and their pieces and say, "Good riddance!" There are time for puzzles when you are an adult. Kids should be outside anyway where they cannot mess up their rooms...

Friday, June 1, 2007

No Longer a "Pain"

Mr. Clean and I listen to a radio show on a regular basis that we love. The host, Todd Friel is hysterical, fun to listen and biblically dead on. The show is "The Way of the Master Radio". For any of you who have ever watched the Way of The Master show (either on television or dvd) you are familiar with Ray Comfort and know that former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron is now a devout believer and partner in The Way of the Master. has posted a great article about him that can be seen here which is amazing to see since is completely secular and sometimes can post "news articles" that could be called questionable at best (there is a video, but I could not load it since apparently it will not be released until 13:00 PST today. Let me know if you can watch it!).