Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I Have a Friend! And He's funny!

I have my first virtual friend on Flickr. Kinda cool. I'm assuming of course that he likes my photos . . . I've pretty much confirmed he's not some weirdo stalker. OK, please don't ask me to explain how, I just know these things.

Anyway, he evidently has a funny sense of humor. Check out his collection of funny signs . Stephen and I laughed so hard we woke Josh up.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gracie the Grinch

Can you see me?

Here I am!!! Don't come too close! I'm waiting for you.

Move over Grinch! Our silly cat is determined to ruin Christmas. When we set up our Christmas tree, she claimed it. She climbed up in it until we broke that habit with a spray bottle! Still she's determined. In the last few days she has:
  • knocked a small tree in our entryway off the shelf . . . multiple times!
  • removing ornaments from the tree to play with
  • "helping" wrap presents by laying down in the open end of the paper while I work on the other end.
  • slashed into presents with her present-opening-claws
  • taken again to climbing up the inside of the tree . . . all the way . . . to the top! Then she plays with the ornaments!
  • ripping down the garland hanging in the stairwell

On top of that, we're dog-sitting, so we have THREE dogs right now, and I'm constantly heading off dogfights.

All we need is the toddler. Uh . . . no thanks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

When you're done with the job, don't forget to hide the shovels!

Yesterday I had an eighteen-inch deep hole in my yard. Today I have a two and a half foot hole, and I almost had a five-foot trench!
The two younger boys spent most of the day digging in the back yard. They had planned a moat, until I stopped them and asked that they not tear up all my grass digging! So now we just have a really deep hole and a lot of dirt! Maybe some day they really will reach China!

An Obituary

We are sad to report that our beloved guinea pig, Nibs, died yesterday. I actually began to suspect a week ago that something was wrong--he was just acting a little off--but then we changed the cage litter and he seemed OK. Josh found him yesterday morning when he went to feed the little guy. Everybody was upset about it. I tried to think of a way out of being the one to bury the piggy, but finally I realized it was just one of those things a mom has to do. The younger boys dug a two-foot hole, we had a grave-side service, and put the box with the piggy in the hole and buried him. So far, no dogs have tried to dig him up. There's a little cross that Andrew made out by the grave.

Nibs leaves behind most of a bale of litter (just bought the stinkin' stuff!), a pound of food, a brand new bowl, a really cool little guinea pig house, a well-used cage, and a kitty who had just discovered his "company." Oh yeah, and three boys who did really love him, even if they had kind of forgotten it lately.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Once Again Tasting the Goodness of God

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!
Psalms 34:8 (NLT)

I'm not sure why I still struggle so with doubts about God's goodness and willingness to take care of me. More than five years ago I really laid it on the line with Him and told Him if He wanted me to homeschool He would have to provide for me to do it. In that time, we have experienced times when things seemed very tight, and times when we have had abundance. Now we are facing a time when things are very tight financially, and I have found myself having to work hard not to worry and be afraid. It has been so tempting to "do what makes sense" and to begin applying for jobs.

It is a good place to be, this place of doubt. It forces me to my knees in prayer more, a discipline I am not to faithful at practicing when I have enough. It forces me to recognize that I can't really do anything without God. But it is still a scary place . . . and I'm not sure why. I began really praying last month that God would show me what to do. Do I look for work? Do I give up homeschooling? Again and again He seemed to say so clearly from His Word, "Wait on Me. Let Me provide. Do the word I've already given you to do." But as the bills come in the mail and I see all the things around the house that need fixing or replacement, as the boys need more and more dental work, and as the teen years begin to make demands on the bank account . . . surely waiting is not what He is really saying. Is it?

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Mal 3:10 (NIV)

Again I hear God say,"Give! Then trust me." What do I have to give? This month I have been allowed to give childcare to a friend who was sick, a gift to a needy child (Stephen and I did this together), work to a friend who had a short-term need in her business, a listening ear here, counsel there . . . and so much more. Maybe I don't have an abundance of money or stuff to give from (although in studying geography with the boys, we have a lot of that too), but I am determined that whatever God asks of me, I will give it.

Admittedly some of my worry and anxiety has been caused by my own foolish sin. I have spent a little foolishly this month, but some of my expenses have also been sacrifices for others. So like the widow that Elijah bid help from, I give of what I have left, trusting that the God who provided an unending supply of flour and oil for her can provide for me also, maybe even in ways I don't expect . . . so that I'll be reminded that He is behind it, not me.

I am working a wedding for a friend this weekend. I gave her a great deal for the job. She's a very dear friend and I would have done it for free. Tonight she told me that she is paying me even more than I asked. And once again, on the way home from her rehearsal, I found myself asking God, "Why do I doubt You?"

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart. He will
gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
Isaiah 40:11 (NLT)

This is the kind of God I worship and serve. He has not changed in all of eternity, and although I don't deserve His compassion, I know that I will get it anyway. Isn't it exciting to think of the story I will have to tell about Him in the coming months and years?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eternity in Literature

I am awed and amazed at scripture--how God can weave the themes of redemption and promise, of hope and truth through them. I am astonished as I see again and again the rich complexity of the Bible, how the same story of the Gospel is revealed again and again in story after story, right from the beginning.

I am also astonished when I see this happen in literature apart from the Bible. I have very dear friends who have a wonderful family tradition. Each holiday, they have a favorite series of movies that they watch over that holiday. They only watch them at this time of year, so that their favorites, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Star Wars saga, and so on, are guaranteed to be watched annually, but are never "worn out" by overviewing. Their kids, ranging from ages two to twelve, wait for these movies each year like some kids wait for Santa Claus.

Over Thanksgiving week I watched part of The Lord of the Rings with them. I have to admit, we've watched itnumerous times in my house, but usually I'm beat and I doze through it. This time, I have watched most of it--the extended addition with all the scenes deleted in the theaters, and I've been amazed again at the biblical themes in it. There are so many quotes and concepts that mirror those in scripture, that it also amazes me that Tolkein and Peter Jackson (who directed and helped write the movie version) didn't necessarily intend to present.

I am reading a book by Peter Leithart called A House for My Name, which is a survey of the Old Testament to be read aloud with your family, but it's not just kid's stuff. In it he has shown how the concept of east and west were symbolic of God's will. When men in scripture moved east, they were generally moving away from God's will. When they moved west they were moving into it. In Tolkein's story, Mordor was in the east, and was they heart of all that was evil and desired to conquer and destroy the world. Those fighting him were from the west, fighting for all that was good and decent and right. Coincidence? I think not, since I believe that God is sovreign, alive and active and influencing even literature.

Many of my favorite quotes from LOTR also capture the Gospel story:

Frodo: I cannot do this alone.
Galadriel: You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone. [pulls out her hand]
Galadriel: This is Nenya, the Ring of Adament. And I am it's keeper. This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will.
Frodo: I know what I must do, it's just that... I'm afraid to do it.
Galadriel: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

Sam: I made a promise, Mr Frodo— promise. "Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee." And I don't mean to. I don't mean to.

Galadriel: The power of the enemy is growing. Sauron will use his puppet Saruman to destroy the people of Rohan. Isengard has been unleashed. The Eye of Sauron now turns to Gondor, the last free kingdom of men. His war on this country will come swiftly. He senses the Ring is close. The strength of the Ringbearer is failing. In his heart, Frodo begins to understand. The quest will claim his life. You know this. You have foreseen it. It is the risk we all took. In the gathering dark, the will of the Ring grows strong. It works hard now to find its way back into the hands of men—men, who are so easily seduced by its power. The young captain of Gondor has butto extend his hand, take the Ring for his own and the world will fall. It is close now, so close to achieving its goal. For Sauron will have dominion over all life on this Earth, even unto the ending of the world. The time of the elves is over. Do we leave Middle-Earth to its fate? Do we let them stand alone?

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Sam: [about the ring on the slopes of Mount Doom] Then let us be rid of it... once and for all... Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you! Come on!

Eowyn: The city has fallen silent. There is no warmth left in the sun.
Faramir: [approaching her] It is only the damp of the first spring rain. [Eowyn looks up at him]
Faramir: I do not believe this darkness will endure.

Aragorn: Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you *stand, Men of the West!*

Aragorn: [to the four small hobbits as they bow to the newly crowned king] My friends, you bow to no one. [The whole kingdom, including the king, bow to the hobbits that saved Middle Earth.]

Frodo: [voiceover] And thus it was. A fourth age of middle-earth began. And the fellowship of the ring... though eternally bound by friendship and love... was ended. Thirteen months to the day since Gandalf sent us on our long journey... we found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are somethings that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold. Bilbo once told me his part in this tale would end... that each of us must come and go in the telling. Bilbo's story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him... save one. My dear Sam, you cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mite We Be Stuck With These Forever?

Mites. Ear mites. I hate them. They are like sins, they make me feel like a failure. Natey has earmites . . . again. He had them when we brought him home from the shelter. Unknown to us, he also had terrible allergies. Lately the allergies have flared up, and yesterday we noticed that his ears were cruddy. So I talked to my best friend who knows everything (and is VERY modest about it), and surfed the Internet. I determined that one of his ears was so bad it was very swollen, the other was having some problems, but not too bad. I didn't think he could wait until even Monday for the vet, and I can't afford emergency vet care, so after some research, I put together my own concoctions.

They worked!!! Today the ear is no longer red and swollen, and the junk from the mites is finally coming out. He's still itching them, but not shaking his head as bad, and he started acting more like himself. Here's what I used:

First an earwash of green tea. I used the kind with some chamomile in it. I brewed it a little strong, and just squirted it in the ear with a syringe and then cleaned the ear out with cotton balls and q-tips (but very carefully with the q-tips so I didn't push anything further in or stick them in far enough to damage inner ear parts).
I followed that by rubbing fresh aloe in the ear, with a cotton swab as far down as I dared go, and all around the outer ear with my fingers. After this, I left him alone a while so he could shake all the wash out.

Later I mixed Purell hand sanitizer with aloe and Vitamin E oil (squeezed from capsules) at about a 2:8 ratio. I mixed it then squirted it in the ear with a syringe and rubbed some all around the outer ear.

Yesterday I completed one full treatment, and I have done two today. I read about other ways to treat it, but some of them were a little too "chemical" for me, and some I just didn't completely trust. I had planned on using garlic oil, but read that garlic oil is too strong for dogs' ears, and I also was careful because I read that dogs' ear cannals go much deeper than humans' or cats', so you must be careful.

My biggest concern with him is that he's acting like a shelter dog again--all skittish and nervous and doesn't want to come even when I offer him food. I don't know how to assure him that I'm not trying to torture him, I just need to make him better. Poor guy. I feel badly that I let it get this far. Needless to say, he's still going to the vet this week, and I'll be getting him some medicine for the rest of his itchies.

I've realized that I have an AKC registerd Shepherd who cost us all of $200 (yes, we got a deal), but even if she had cost more, she's been in perfect health and that's all she'd have cost. The "free" cat, and the "cheap" shelter dog have already needed a fortune in medical care and time. Fortunately they're worth it, and I hope the kids will learn that when living things cost you a lot, you don't just abandon them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Dog's Defense

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
It's hard to be a watch dog when you have so many other responsibilities. All the work we're expected to do? Leaves a body doggone tired!

Who needs those ole' dogs?

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
We dare you to try to help yourself to a bottle of water at our house!!!


Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
Yes, Gracie, there is a reason we keep doing all this crazy stuff to you. We are hoping to see you featured on the website stuffonmycat.com. Why? Because we think you are as funny as any ot those other cats! So get used to have weird things done to you . . . . 'cause we're looking for fame, baby!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Reformation Day!

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
Celebrating the day that Luther propelled into motion needed reforms of the church. It is worthy that we reclaim for Christ what the enemy intends as a celebration of evil! Every day should be God's day!!! Celebrate what He is doing, in spite of us!

You can tell a lot about a guy . . .

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
One of the things I started doing a few years ago was only allowing the boys to hoard a limited amount of candy that they bring home. It prevents problems with one bringing home ten pounds (like AJ did tonight), and one only bringing home one pound. I let them pick out their favorites, then the rest goes into a community jar or pile. Once they finish their own stash, they can eat from the community stores. (Now I know what you're thinking. NO, it is NOT a way for me to get at some of their candy. Just works out kind of conveniently that way.)

Stephen sorts his candy into lots of little piles (still not exactly sure how they were organized!). Then he chooses which piles to keep. Weird, I know.

. . . by the way he sorts his candy!

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
AJ chose candy that was fruity or chewy. He loved gum and Twizzlers. I thought it was almost criminal that he left the chocolate . . . until I realized that meant more for me!!! Good job AJ!

Josh on the other hand, chose all the chocolate he could pack away. Betcha can't guess who he gets the chocolate gene from!

More Pumpkins

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
Isn't he cute! Some days I love having a teenager. Other days, it's just plain scary.

And the winner is . . .

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
this one! AJ chose this one. This is his first year to carve his OWN pumpkin. (Before, he's always gotten a little one to draw on with Sharpie markers.) Yeah, that's right, look out. AJ's on the loose with a knife.

The Pumpkin Patch

Originally uploaded by cmphotomommy
We promised to take Jennifer, the little girl we keep to the pumpkin patch one day. I was finally able to do it last Friday. She loved it, and the boys loved it too. They clowned and ran, as you can see here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

If You Give a Mom a Camera . . .

If you give a mom a camera, she'll want to take pictures of her babies.
If she takes pictures, she'll want to share them.
When she shares them, she will want to tell about them.
So she'll start a blog, post pictures and write about them.
While she's on the blog, she'll decide to check out other blogs.
On another blog site, she will notice a Flickr badge.
When she clicks on the Flickr badge, she'll discover thatshe can have a Flickr account!
After she opens her Flickr account she will add pictures to her account.
While she's adding pictures, she will play around with all the really cool features Flickr has.
When she's exploring Flickr, she'll run across a "Do More with Your Pictures" link.
When she clicks on that link, she'll see something called Blurb.
As she checks out Blurb, she will discover that she can print her blogs into one very nice, bound book.
She will want to download the Booksmart software, just to play with!
Once she plays with it, she will want to make a book.
When she finishes her first blog book, she will want to make another.
As she works on her blog book, she'll realize how many events and occurances are missing from her stories.
She will want to write more stories.
If she writes more stories, she will want to add more pictures.
In order to take more pictures, she will have to find her camera.

News flash: Lisa finds new obsession--making blog books. News at Eleven.

Copyright 2007
Lisa A. Baker

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just a Reminder . . .

. . . that I have two blogs. My homeschool blog has been updated recently. In fact, God has given me some deep, special things to think about, and I have reflected on them there. Also watch as we travel the world. I'll keep our travels up to date there!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Camping Photos

From our recent trip:

No PS2. No WII. No TV. No bike or inline skates. What's a boy to do?

...Plenty!!! (I never heard "I'm bored!" the entire weekend!)

The boys made boats for a rain-gutter regata.

AJ didn't quite get the whole "don't use your hands" thing.

I was feelin' a might skeered when I saw this.
(For you Yankees, that's quite frightened!)

Getting ready to shoot arrows.

What else is there in life?

Monday, October 01, 2007

National Lampoon's Cub Scout Adventure

I spent Friday night and a very LONG Saturday at Cuboree, an annual Cub Scout camping event. It was fun. Yeah. I can't wait to go next year. And I'm SO relieved that next year is still a year away.

As usual, all my plans for getting out of the house early went to pot. Somehow I always feel like my life operates according to Murphy's Law. I awoke Friday morning feeling a little under the weather--like I was coming down with a bug. A very dear friend had agreed to take my boys along with her on a co-op field trip, so I had most of the day to get stuff done, but instead I started the morning taking a needed nap. I wouldn't have, except I knew the boys would be very disappointed if I couldn't take them camping. When I got up, I had an extended quiet time with the Lord, then I had to get my five hours of chores done in about one. Not a great start.

I managed to pull together most of our camping stuff, but even after I picked the boys up and got them home, I kept thinking of so many things I needed to do before I left, that we left much later than planned. We finally arrived at the camp ground at about 7 pm. It was hot and very muggy, and I was already sweaty, tired and crabby from the hectic packing and leaving. With very generous help from the dads on the trip, I managed to get set up pretty quickly, and the evening was pretty laid back--mostly just playing around the campsite and toasting white fuel. (I've decided that I need to just reset my thinking and call marshmallows what they are--fuel.) Of course, it was laid back after I made the trip home to get some important things I forgot (like the pump to blow up the air mattress).

Getting ready for bed was a little tricky. While the scout camp ground was equipped with enough Port-O-Potties, there wasn't much in the way of other facilities. I suppose other people had had a rough evening too, but there wasn't much excuse for the guy who kept heckling us while we (three of us!) used the bathroom to do our end-of-the-evening business (the kind even boys can't do in the woods!) and clean up. I finally told the guy in no uncertain terms that there was a line INSIDE the bathroom just like there was one outside!

Then we headed back to our tent and the boys headed inside while I washed my filthy feet (bright idea wearing my imitation Crock sandals in Florida dirt). As I was trying to clean myself up, the boys found a guest in our tent--the kind with wings and a large brown body, and a cute Mexican song named for him. They kept panicking over him, while I kept telling them to just pick him up and throw him out--after all, it is better to catch him than to have him crawl over you in the middle of the night! (Ugghh! Gives me the heebie jeebies all over again!) But he got away. So I searched all over (didn't want him crawling on ME in the night) and finally freed him from the constraints of our tent.

At last we laid our sweaty bodies down in the stuffy tent. (Sadly, I had to sleep on the real hard ground. The pump made it but the nozel to fit into the mattress didn't.) The boys complained that they'd never be able to fall asleep, and I had just enough time to threaten their lives if they touched me before I heard them snoring. It only took me another two hours to start dozing. But dozing was all I did for a long while. First the heat kept me awake. Then one of my boys started talking in his sleep. Then I heard another boy in another tent crying for mommy. Night noises. Woodsy noises. My other boy sitting up and talking. Finally I dozed off, almost asleep. It was probably about 2:30 am. At about 3:30 I was jarred awake by the sound of wheezing--an all-too-familiar sound of someone (a dad, not a kid) having an asthma attack. My heart raced as I wondered what to do. Finally I got up and stepped out of the tent. By that time, he had evidently found an inhaler and the gasping had turned to just coughing, and was settling down. But of course my heart was racing and my adrenaline pumping. I was wide awake now. And hey! It was cool outside! But I got back into my tent and decided to read and pray for a while. Then I went back to sleep for a few more hours.

Morning came too soon, but I got up, got the boys fed and we headed to the flag ceremony. The day was filled with activities for the boys, as I ran back and forth to camp to pack things up, break down the tent and lug stuff to the car (we weren't allowed to take the parked cars back into the camp sites on Saturday). After lunch, I left for a while to head home (just a couple miles away) and check on the dogs and at that time I did the smartest thing of the day--I unloaded most of our stuff. I spent the rest of the day walking and either looking for our pack or watching the boys.

While I know this sounds like a terrible trip, and it WAS hot and exhausting, I actually found many things for which to be thankful. Last year every single camping trip we had planned was cancelled by inclement weather or something else. All year I never felt the group blended well. But this weekend I was able to get to know and really enjoy the other dads and boys. It was really fun to be around guys talking about air conditioning units and football teams--I don't get to do that much. It was also fun to see the boys really enjoying other boys, and running around without hinderance. The activities were fun for them, and the men there really pitched in and watched my boys or helped me with things so I could juggle everything.

I was also thankful that Saturday we had overcast weather and a little rain, but it never poured. It was nice weather for outdoors activities. We also came home to a fairly clean house, and although I still have all the stuff to go through, I always feel good when I do something so out of my element like camping. One of the experienced dads teased me as a couple of newer dads helped me set up that I was actually more experienced than anyone there. It was fun going and kind of knowing what I was doing. And even though it was hot, and I clearly saw again how out of shape I am physically, I survived, got much needed exercise, and slept VERY well last night. I also really appreciate all the little luxuries God has given us that I usually take for granted (like air conditioning and hot showers).

So the next camping trip? Well, I think we could go.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Life With Kitty

OK. The boys can come up with wonderful names . . . I know they can. They've come up with great names for their Webkinz! AJ has three named Root Beer Bandit, Chocolate Chip, and Cookies N Cream. Josh has a monkey named Pernix (Latin for agile) and a bear named Mini-Me (he was a bear in the play, remember). So why in the world do we have a cat named Kitty? Actually her name is Kitty Pryde--it's a super hero thing. I've decided I hate it. I wasn't crazy about Chewy when we thought she was a he, but at least he had a real name. There's just a part of me that wants to call her something, and I feel like I'm not really calling her anything when I call "Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!" Everybody calls their cat with that!!! I may have to take this whole thing into my own hands and name the poor animal!

Other than the goofy name, life with Kitty is fun. I AM her mama. In fact, every now and then she just wants to see my face, so she grabs on to one of my legs with her small little claws and scales me like a tree. Yeah, I know. Cute now . . . not so much when she's ten pounds. Our favorite times of day are when she goes into what Josh has labelled "loopy mode." She races around attacking anything that moves and acts all goofy and funny. She's a little rough on the hands in loopy mode (and face, and toes, and arms . . . ), but we are definitely enjoying playing with her. OK, so maybe we're enjoying her a little too much, but we'll get school and those chores done eventually! Of course we also love the mood she's in when she just wakes up. She purrs and purrs and loves us back. The boys really like having an animal that will snuggle with you and let you carry it like a baby. Not that we don't love the dogs anymore, we just like the different dynamics of having a cat.

I'm not so fond of the litter box (which is in my bathroom, getting litter all over my floor--a real joy when you have wet feet!), and loopy mode gets a bit exhausting when she decides to go into it at 5 am (with my face!), and she's only just starting to get the message that counters and tables are not fair game for her curiosity. But none of those things are as dreadful as I had been programmed to remember (by the cat hater in our family!), and I'm quickly deciding that they are worth the inconvenience to have the fun of a kitty . . . er Kitty. Only, now I have to go, 'cause she's sitting on my desk and she thinks the keyboard is a fun place to walk. So vdsfnapfh aewfrawfywae fhafaehf . . . .

Monday, September 24, 2007

If You're Askin' What That Noise Is . . .

. . . scroll down to the bottom!!! I've figured out how to link to video feed. Only, I can't figure out how to get it into the middle of my blog yet. But LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND!!! (OK, Eva. Never mind. You won't watch it anyway. . . . But I LOVE you!!!)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We're Still Treading Water

OK, I haven't fallen off the planet. I have either been:

a) busy (School and kids are killing me!)
b) playing Webkinz (sorry, I know I'm a grown-up, but it's how I unwind)
c) just not feeling like blogging (yeah, I know--what? Me not blog?)
d) playing with the kitten (oh yeah. Did I mention we now have a kitten?)

Guess I have a lot to catch you up on. I'll try to do some this weekend.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

God Covers All My Ducks

I've known for a while that all my ducks weren't in a row. Financially, I'm a goofball. No, really, I am. One of the things I've known for a while that I should do is make a list of everything in my wallet . . . you know, just in case it went missing. Didn't do it, but I should have.

Today the two younger boys and I went to the library in Gainesville. We do this monthly, so it's not an unusual thing. Before we left, we stopped at Sonic for a quick bite to eat (I do love that place!), so of course I had to use the . . . ehh hem . . . ladies room while we were there. I went back to the business of roaming around one of my favorite places in the world, picking out more books than we will ever read (but gosh! I could roll in them and be happy!). Unexpectedly, I was called to the circulation desk. I wondered what it was about--had they discovered fifteen books I forgot to bring back? Quick, where are the kids? So I went to grab my purse . . . only to find . . . no purse.

And yes, that was it. When I got to the desk, someone had turned in my purse, which I had left sitting on the shelf behind me in the restroom stall. Quickly I unzipped it to find that my wallet and a small change purse had been stolen. So the boys and I sat around the library for a couple hours waiting for a police officer so I could report my wallet missing. Meanwhile, my overactive brain was trying to recall what billions of cards I was carrying in those two wallets.

Now, for how God covered my ducks, even though I had not:

  • I only carry one credit card and one debit card. They are on the same account, so I had them cancelled in about ten minutes.
  • My bank was able to quickly lock my account with a password.
  • Most of my money had been left in my car, so they only got about ten bucks.
  • My car was running literally on fumes, but because I had left my money in the car, I had money to get gas.
  • Whoever stole my wallet left behind my checkbook and car keys.
  • My kids were safe.
  • No weapons were involved.
  • Everyone from the people at the circulation desk to the policeman that responded was very nice.
  • I never broke down in tears.
  • I only really have to replace my driver's license and wallet. The other cards will be easy to replace . . . if I remember all of them.
  • I didn't lose either of my library cards . . . well, I did lose my Clay County one, but I never use it anyway! My Jax and Alachau ones are safe and sound, and we were still able to check out all our books today!

As my best friend Eva told me, I had my cell phone, keys and library cards! How bad could it be?

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Kitty Tail . . . Er . . . Tale

Last week as we were leaving church the boys kept saying, "Mom, Mom! There's a cat back there [behind a shed] about the size of the guinea pig!"

Finally I checked it out. It was NOT a cat. It was a teeny new kitten. His eyes were still closed, and he was lying in the mud screeching! So I picked him up! I took him into the kitchen and got a towel to wrap him in, then took him home.

Once home, I gave him a little milk and started to warm him up. I got on the Internet, to see what to do for him, only to read "Do not give cow's milk!"


I put him in a bin with a heating pad, and run to the pet store to get kitten formula. Now I'm committed. Come home, feed him. For about two days, I worried that he wasn't eating enough, worried that he would dehydrate from diareaha . . . . worried about this teeny, helpless little thing.

But he's a scrappy little fighter. Over the week he has gained two ounces or more, and is SO CUTE! The boys and I are in love. We named him Chewbacca--Chewie for short. Yeah, I know. It's all over when you name them.

We are not keeping him. Yeah. Right.

All in a Week

So much has happened in the last week that I hardly know where to start. So here's the gist:

  • Sunday: found kitten less than a week old, older boys left for a week for camp, AJ went with his dad for the day, I start around the clock rotations to feed the kitten
  • Monday: watched kids for the day, kept feeding kitten, took AJ to see Transformers
  • Tuesday: more kids, still feeding kitten every four to five hours, AJ has friend over for the day, then goes to friend's house to spend the night, I have dinner with a friend
  • Wednesday: I have lunch with a friend, AJ at his friend's until after lunch, I take AJ and his friend to Chuck E. Cheese, AJ supposed to spend the night with his Pawpaw, but it was delayed
  • Thursday: AJ leaves to spend a couple of days with Pawpaw, I run errands, afternoon brings a call from a weepy AJ who misses me, spend evening with my dearest friend and her kids
  • Friday: AJ decides to come home early, I RUSH to get SOMETHING done before he does, boys come home from camp late that evening . . . . and yes, I am STILL feeding the kitten every four to six hours. I'm tired.
  • Saturday: boys and mom sleep in, get a few things done in the afternoon, talk about boys' week, run out to get groceries

There you have it. Our week in a nutshell . . . or maybe that's our week in a nut house.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Poll Results Are In

If you suddenly found you had time to do whatever you wanted, how would you spend that time?

Well, my first poll results are in, and the books have it. Of course, only seven people voted, so it's not exactly official. The results?

57% would prefer to read a book
28% would prefer to hang out with a friend
14% would prefer to play on the computer

I'm trying to think of my next question, so stay tuned. It'll be up soon.

Things Moms Must Know About Boys

These are 'specially important to know if you didn't grow up with brothers.

  • Boys do not wear panties. They wear underwear, boxers, briefs, skivvies, but not panties.
  • Boys do not have slumber parties. They are called sleepovers, and they require LOTS of food, at least two video game systems, and DVDs with lots of combat and goofy humor.
  • Boys do not play with dolls. They are called action figures.
  • Boys do not play dress up. They wear the uniform for the current battle. Usually that battle is related to whatever battle DVD they are watching or just watched.
  • Boy movies do not have to make sense or have a logical plot. They just have to have several weapons, body noises, and senseless humor. No kissing or happy endings, thank you. They're fine if everyone dies at the end.
  • Do not call boys sweetie, honey, dear, or sugar. You can use buddy, big guy, or dude if you like.
  • If you call a girl "boy" or "dude" she'll look at you like you have three heads. Then she'll shrug and walk off, thinking you're crazy. But if you call a boy "girl" or "princess" or something like that, he'll begin arming for war. Them's fightin' words!
  • Boys automatically speak a second language. It includes belches, farts, armpit noises, and all kinds of other body noises.
  • Boys need sound effects. They come prewired to make noises of explosions, shooting, and machine gun fire. Some girls will never figure out how to make these noises correctly.
  • Boys insult each other the way dogs sniff each other's tails. It's just not as offensive to them as it is to us girls.

This isn't an exhaustive list, just tips to get you started.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Some Random Things

  • There are SEVEN boys downstairs right now. They are playing video games, eating (of course!), and making LOTS of noise. All but one are sleeping over. I expect it will be a late night.
  • I got a new grill in April. I finally made perfect hamburgers and hot dogs on it tonight (not burned). It's not me. The grill runs very hot. Really. Anyway, I'm feeling very proud of myself.
  • There are no hamburgers left . . . and I made more than there were people. But I still have hot dogs!
  • I have twelve books of my own that I'm trying to read, but for some reason, I have spent the last three days reading one of Josh's (one I'm pre-reading, so he can read it). I wish he'd get off my back.
  • I'm trying to figure out why I clean house before the boys have friends over. This time, I didn't do much, and I'm feeling OK about it.
  • On Sunday my older boys go to camp. I'm trying to figure out what to do with the youngest. If he stays with me, I'm trying to figure out who he can talk to.
  • My back hurts. I went to the chiropractor today and he said my sacroilliac is out of place. He put it back in place, but it doesn't seem to want to stay where it belongs. I'm wondering if I can just buy a new one.
  • My oldest son acts weird when he's around friends. Is that normal?
  • I really like my sons' friends. They are a lot of fun. Is it normal for teen boys to like their friends' parents?
  • We only have exactly thirteen days until we start school. I'm sooooo not ready.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Yes, Thank You, I Am A Fool

Fool used because I can't use the term I would really like to use for myself right now.

The boys and I have been really into dinosaur movies lately. More specifically, we have gotten caught up in the Jurassic Park movies. We have seen the third a couple times, and just watched it again as well as the first. Tonight we saw the second. I should have considered there was something wrong with it when I realized we were rooting for the dinosaurs!!! The older boys were fine with it--they love all that scary, eat-the-bad-guy stuff.

But as I sit here typing, Andrew is asleep in my bed (because I couldn't tear him off of me after the movie ended) whimpering to himself. What WAS I thinking? Duhhhh . . . hope the dino eats the bad guy . . . .

Please take away my mommy license.

OK. He's in my lap now. Kind of hard to type. Need to go to bed. Hoping he won't cling to me ALL NIGHT. Yes, I am one of those . . . well, you know.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Check Out My Sidebar!

Ok, now that Blogger makes blogging SOOOO easy, I'm really having more fun with it. All of the sudden, I'm not just writing posts, I can add lists about us, advertise, and sponsor polls. Please vote on my poll when you come. It means absolutely nothing, just for fun, but I'll post the results and let you know. I'll extend the ending of the first one for those of you who haven't noticed it before. So come on! Vote now!

Movie Review: Alex Rider, Operation Stormbreaker

Where did this movie come from? Why didn't I hear more about it when it came out in theaters? This was one of the best kids' action movies I've seen in a long time! Imagine James Bond before puberty (or just after, but before all the girlie stuff). James Bond minus all the hormones--that's what you have in Alex Rider. Alex Rider, Operation Stormbreaker is all the things boys love--action, danger, gadgets, bad guys, and skulking around trying not to be noticed. It's also got some things parents love . . . or rather, it's missing some things parents dislike--immodesty (or anything "romantic", for that matter), cursing (I didn't notice any, and neither did the boys), excessive violence, disrespect for adults (except the bad guy, of course!).

Alex Rider is thrust into spy work after his uncle dies and he discovers he has actually been groomed especially for the business. He is a reluctant hero, but a hero indeed. He carries cool gadgets to help him with his spying (but nothing lethal, interestingly enough). While there IS a girl, it is nothing overtly romantic, and she is called upon to help Alex in the final chase scene. Yes, there is some shooting, and yes, there are one or two deaths, but the deaths are cartoonish or implied (not shown), and the shooting never seems to actually hit its target. I never saw any blood.

This movie is based on the first in a series of books by Anthony Horowitz. While I did find at least one book listed at the library that sounded like it had supernatural undertones, I didn't see any of that in the movie. We've placed the first two books on hold so I'll let you know how they are once I read the first one.

This is definitely a movie worth seeing, especially if you have a boy. Just be prepared for them to pull out all the spy gadgets and dark clothing, and to hit and kick things (maybe each other?) a lot for a few days. (Are we the only ones who dress according to the latest movies we've seen?) It'd be perfect around my house if they'd talk with the Brittish accent Alex Rider has . . . . almost like living with a cleaned-up version of James Bond.

Update: I read the book and loved it. There is one minor cuss word in it, a British one (bli**y), and LOTS of action violence. But . . . one of the things I really liked is that Alex is not even expected to carry a gun. He's trained to handle all those kinds of circumstances, but the adults in charge don't feel right about him having a gun. Cool. The only thing that kind of bothered me is that Alex is a spy under duress (he's blackmailed), and he doesn't really want to be one. Horowitz stresses that while spies used to work from patriotism or loyalty, now they are mostly just used. While it bothers me, it is, I think, an accurate picture of our times. "Operation Stormrider" was very true to the Stormrider book.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Book Instead of Seeing a Movie

10) The movie is sold out . . . becuase all the stinkin' daycares have come for the free movie, leaving NO tickets for the rest of us!

9) For the price of a movie with your family, you can buy FOUR different books (unless the movie was free . . . and even then, if you get food . . . well, you know what I mean!).

8) You can read a book over and over, enjoying it again and again.

7) Nobody complains if you talk in the middle of the story.

6) You get to bring the book home with you!

5) You can pick from hundreds, or even thousands of books at any one time, buy only a couple dozen movies (and for some of us the choices are even fewer)!

4) Your other books will have new friends to play with!

3) Your kids will actually WANT to keep talking about their books!

2) You can drag the excitement out for days . . . or weeks . . . of for readers like me for years!

1) You get to see the excitement on your kids' faces over a new book, and suddenly feel like you might be doing something right!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Technological Hyperventilation

You don't realize how necessary . . . dependent . . . addicted you are to modern technology until it is ripped against your will from your clutching, clinging white knuckles. That happened to me today. I have two computers with Internet access. I got a new one last year for ME, and moved my other one downstairs for the boys to use for school and for me to use for school record keeping and such. Some time ago, I started having problems with it . . . long story . . . I let my anti-virus lapse for a very short time, and I thought something got on it. Now I think it was just spyware that slipped past my system. Anyway, when I upgraded to Internet Explorer 7 the whole Internet thing went kaplooie, and I lost Internet Explorer. Can't access it at all. Couldn't even get it back by doing a system restore and going back to IE6. But no worry, I still had my beloved America Online. Problems kept continuing to develop--nothing serious, just annoying little things that I'm too technologically impaired to figure out how to fix, and then after one of my ignoramous fix-it attempts, I deleted something important from the AOL file, and you guessed it! No AOL. Ugh.

So for months now, I've been meaning to backup files and take the stupid computer to my dear friends' computer genius father-in-law (are ya confused yet?), to get it cleaned up, fixed, whatever. But of course, it's the kids' computer, and I still have mine, so no rush. Right? Well very early in the wee hours of the morning I got on my precious, only to discover an error message about the system back-up battery. So this morning I spent ALL morning on the phone with Dell working on figuring out what is wrong. And guess what. It needs a new battery. Which I can't change. So I have to wait for a special technician to come out and change it. Which will take a few days. And we "drained the battery power" to discover this is the problem, so my precious won't even boot up and stay on. Do you see the problem here? I have NO INTERNET!!!

No, I'm not at the library blogging right now. No, I'm not at a friend's house either. I finally got some motivation to reinstall the AOL software on the downstairs computer so now it works!!! Hooray! But only after I had a major withdrawl panic attack, wondering how I would live without blogs for a few days, and whether I had put my Webkins to sleep and how the little virtual pet would fare without me to check on him each day, and what the hootie I would do without a computer to play with and talk to for as many as THREE days!!! Yes, I did near hyperventilate.

I'm embarrassed to say that I also said all of these goofball things to my bestest friend, who just laughed at me (not with me, 'cause I was having a breakdown, not laughing). Oddly enough this was the same best friend who I was discussing the excesses in material things that plagues America and how shameful we are in our greed and spending while so many people in the world are starving . . . .

Is there a computer patch . . . or gum or something ? 'Cause I think I need it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sometimes They're Just No Fun

Why why why do boys have to ALWAYS one-up each other? Why?

I ate my ice cream.
I ate my ice cream faster.
I ate my ice cream faster, got a brain freeze, and still ate it fast.
I ate my ice cream faster, got a brain freeze, but I ate it faster.

I was here first.
I was here before you even came downstairs.
I stood here all night, so I was here first.
I was born right on this very spot, and haven't moved since except to go to the bathroom, so I got here first!

Then there's the one-up that makes no sense to me whatever.

I have five guns.
I have twelve guns.
I have twenty guns, three bombs and a tank.
I have a nuclear weapon.

"MOM!!! Josh said he can use any eight powers he wants, but I only get to use two of mine, and they can't include super-strength or heat vision! Mom! Tell him to let me use my powers!"

Uuuugggghhhh! Quit it already! There are NO mountains in Florida, so ya can't be king of it!

OK, here's the twist in my house. I do sometimes like to play "one-up," but I'd really like it to be a little more fun. 'Cause here's how it goes at my house:

I'm hungry.
I'm hungry too.
I'm hungrier than you. I could eat a cow.

(Ok, at this point, I'm looking for an animal a little bigger, until we get to something like the Great Blue Whale and run out of big animals. What do I get?)

I'm hungry infinity times to heaven and back. (Game over.)

Guess there's no point even trying to cook for that appetite. Why can't we just have fun imagining what we could eat?????

Makes a Mother Proud . . . .

Tonight, AJ was inventing a new computer. Something about it was small enough to fit on your wrist . . . I don't know, I didn't get it all. (After all, I don't invent computers! I can hardly use them!) Meanwhile, his brother Stephen was programming another computer with a new language . . . or ability . . . or something like that (once again . . . me and the computer . . . enough said).

All at once, AJ decided he wanted to use FOUR of his powers (never was really sure exactly what they were, but I caught something about stretchy, strong, and fire), but the problem with this was that in whatever contract they signed, Josh got to use double the powers of AJ . . . or more of them . . . so that meant Josh got to go to EIGHT of his. Somehow Stephen got short-changed in the deal, 'cause no matter what, he only got to use one power at a time. But . . . he had his computer!

Exactly how many powers do you need to fight off bad guys?

And if you have super powers, why on earth do you need computers?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hard Lesson

The Lord and I have been going round and round about me slipping into a serious night-owl habit. I have just had a hard time sleeping, and it's become extreme. It is complicated by the fact that I don't have to be up early, so the boys and I are staying up very late, and getting up quite late in the morning. (Yes, alas. I'm passing on this wonderful character quality to my children.) I'm always prone to this, but with summer, it has been even harder to discipline myself to go to bed. The last few days my time in the Word has really convicted me of the need to work on this, so I've been asking God for help, knowing I just can't overcome this on my own. We all know we should be careful what we ask for, right?

This morning the Lord did indeed wake me up earlier . . . to the sound of the dog yacking amidst dueling alarm clocks. Oh goody! Won't describe it here for those of you who are weak-stomached (I used to be one of you. Then I had children.), but let's just say there was't much since she hadn't eaten all night. So I raced through the house, down the stairs and through the kitchen to let her out before she did it again (her favorite place to lose it is in the tracks of the sliding glass door--a fun clean-up, let me tell you). I made it in the nick of time.

So my eyes are sooo droopy right now, and I feel like going back to bed, but I'm not . . . cause I don't want another lesson.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Million Dollar . . . DOG!!!

Yes, that is what I've adopted. Not only is he crazy. . . not only does he destroy everything he finds near the floor . . . but now? He has allergies! I had noticed him chewing on his feet a lot and saw that the hair was thinning and that they were a little red. Since I've found a more or less inexpensive vet, I figured I should get it checked out. So we took Nate yesterday and he has a yeast infection combined with a bacterial skin infection and yeast in his ears resulting from allergies!!! Fortunately Walmart now offers $4 perscriptions, even if the meds are for a dog! My poor pup has to be bathed twice a week, have drops in his ears two to three times a day, have his feet wiped with special medicated pads two to three times a day, and has a med given in the morning and two at night. Or maybe I should say poor mom has to wash the dog twice a week, wipe down doggie paws several times a day, put drops in the ears, and trick him into taking pills in the morning and night all for allergies. Sorry buddy, but I'm not spendin' much more on ya. You'll just have to scratch!

Maybe I should consider contributing to Social Security in his name. Then in a few years, we could afford his medical care. And if the government argues with me? I'll tell them that Walmart took a prescription for him!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

So Many Libraries, So Little Time

Yes, we have joined yet another library. You know you have a bit of a problem with books when you have three different cards from three different library systems in your wallet, and there's books on all of them. (Ok, I'm not quite that bad; I only have books on two of them.) Actually the rationale goes like this: I have a card at the library system in the nearby college town. In this library there are no limits, no late fees, you get the books for a month and can renew them twice, and the library we go to is HUGE!!! The new card is from the next county, which is a large county with lots of branches and has a very efficient system for transferring books and placing holds. Plus the library we went to had a tremendous amout of books on tape and video recordings to pick from, AND they have downloads available online for check-out. Also the nearest libraray isn't over an hour away, a definite perk. Since we started our monthly trek to college town to visit the library there, the boys have become ravenous readers, and can barely keep up with what we check out.

So there you have it. We could literally borrow hundreds of books at a time. It's almost as good as getting new books to own!

Yes. We Adopted a Crazy Dog.

Nathan has taken lately to barking at himself. Why you ask? Late at night, he sees his reflection in the glass door and goes crazy. A couple nights ago, he barked at himself for over an hour.
Until I put him in the crate.
I didn't want to but it had gotten late.
I told him, "Please stop. Don't bark, Nate!"
For a half hour I tried to wait!

OK, enough!!! No more Dr. Suess! Sorry.

Anyway, he's also still chewing up EVERYTHING!!! He ruined a brand new pair of sandals the other day. I've found countless pencils, marbles, legoes, plastic animals, other shoes and socks, and everything else in his mouth. And he just thinks he owns everything, including me I think. He has claimed my bed, my pillow, my lap, my couch, anything he can lay on or defend, he does it. Nevertheless, he does still love Princess, and he's so stinkin' cute, so we put up with a lot and love him anyway.

I have yet to find anything that makes me regret the decision to adopt him. He is just a bundle of boundless energy and curiosity . . . kinda like his owner.

Sorry. We're Currently Unavailable . . .

. . . we're out of this world. Instead we are visiting the Webkins world. My deepest appreciation for the very thoughtful woman at church who thought she was giving us something nice when she gave each of my boys a Webkins animal. While it was a very thoughtful gift (because I could see how hard it was for her to part with the Webkins she let me choose from for the boys), she inadvertantly spread her addiction. We now spend an inordinate amount of hours on the computer each day feeding, dressing, bathing, and earning money to buy stuff for our virtual pets!!! OK, yeah. The real ones (dogs) haven't been played with for days (weeks?). And chores here? To care for the REAL people who live in THIS house? Ummm . . . no.

Never fear. Mom didn't get a Webkins, so she's safe. Right? Wrong. I Webkins-sit. For my children. Whether they want me to or not.

"Hey! Get off the computer so I can earn fake money to buy fake stuff and fake food for a fake pet that isn't even mine!!!"

Why can't I come up with some kind of goofball idea that people will pursue with a frenzy so I can make millions? Of course, in order to do that, I have to log off the Webkins world. Isn't happening anytime soon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Hidden Mission Field

Right now I am at a homeschool convention (blogging on my phone--how cool is that?), and I just had a very overwhelmed-looking mom ask me how to start [homeschooling]. I tried in about two seconds to recall all the things I wished I had kown when I got started, asked her some "diagnostic" questions, and quickly rattled off some suggestions. We were interrupted for a moment, and the Lord used it to prompt my heart. When she came back, I asked her if she was coming from a faith base, an she hastily told me not at all. Suddenly I realized I needed to counsel her differently. I also began praying. I prayed to know what to share. I prayed God would give them he opportunity to homeschool (there are some difficulties that might be obstacles). Most of all, I prayed God would use homeschooling andthis convention to confront them with what Jesus did for them. The interesting thing is that God has really laid on my heart to concentrate on world geography and misions with the boys this year. Here was a mission field where I least expected it--at a homeschool convention where I take for granted that everyone has similar beliefs to mine. Makes me wonder what else I have missed because of wrong assumptions.

Note: Blogging from my phone was actually a complete disaster. I couldn't figure out how to send it, and even when I did, the message had to be so brief that I hardly got my first thought out. I probably won't use it again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Movie Review: The Last Sin Eater

Just as the boys have eagerly awaited the release of Spiderman 3, I have been counting the months and days until The Last Sin Eater finally came out on DVD. I tried to see this movie in the theater, but it only ran a week, and I didn’t get the chance to go until the second week after it was released. I was DYING to see it, since I had read the book and really loved it.

The story is a wonderful account of a young girls battle with guilt. Living in the Appalachian Mountains, isolated from much of the rest of the world, the Welsh immigrants in her community have carried on a tradition brought with them from Wales when they emigrated. Having a strong understanding of sin and guilt, they follow a twisted tradition based on Holy Communion and the use of a scapegoat who takes the guilt of their sins after they die. Chosen from among them, the Sin Eater is an outcast, yet he plays an important role in the community, absolving those deceased of their sins by taking them on himself. But when young Cadi Forbes struggles with guilt over her sisters death, she longs for the Sin Eater to take her sins immediately so she won’t have to live her life with them. What will happen if the Sin Eater is unsuccessful? How can she ever be free of her burdens?

The movie did not disappoint me. In fact, it was one of the best adaptations of a book I’ve seen in a long time. I couldn’t even tell you off the top of my head what they changed. The acting was superb. No big names, but I thought that kept the characters from being overshadowed by the actors playing them. The message of faith and redemption is strong in this movie, which I loved. There is nothing inappropriate, perhaps a few intense moments and some implied violence, but I let the boys watch it with me. There is also a great scene that reinforces the idea of boys being the protectors of girls, and all the children are respectful of their elders, even when it is undeserved. I applaud director Michael Landon, Jr. and Fox Faith Films for producing such a wholesome movie. Next time, keep it in the theaters a little longer.

Worst Mother of the Year Award?

Anyone else in the running? You have stiff competition here.

Josh asked me a question today. Seemed simple enough. Can't imagine how I forgot the answer. He asked,
"Isn't tomorrow Stephen's birthday?"

Ummmmm ... yeah. According to the calendar anyway. I have nothing . . . or at least . . . I had nothing. Until I went running to Walmart about an hour and a half ago. There I was, standing in line . . . at midnight . . . with my son's birthday presents.

Now I just have to clean house (sort of) for friends coming tomorrow for lunch, wrap presents, decorate a little so Stephen can tell it's a birthday. And tomorrow morning I get to get up and make breakfast.

It's really not my fault. Darn kid had to be born at the end of May, you know? When school gets out and everything is helter skelter. Guess Christmas was booked. I can't wait until this weekend. I get to sleep.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Help! I'm Raising Milli Vanilli!

This past Sunday, for Mother's Day, our children's choir performed two songs. Our children's choir has been done a bit differently this year. The instruction has been superb, but the performances have been added one at a time. So just after Easter, we got a postcard letting us know that choir would continue meeting to prepare for the Mother's Day performance. Now the boys and I have had Spring Fever since . . . oh . . . about January! So we were ready to call choir quits. I told the kids we were done, they didn't have to do choir anymore.

Imagine my surprise when Josh informed me that when he went to get AJ from class, AJ was with the choir, ready to perform!!! When I got to the sanctuary, I just sat down to enjoy the show. He was so funny. He kind of knew the first song, so he tried to sing along. But I could tell he was lip sync-ing. The second song? Didn't know it at all. He tried to figure out where the other kids were, but hey. That song doesn't even sound familiar! I laughed. Not just at him, but at all the people around me giving me adoring looks and admiring how well my son was performing. Little did they know!!!

After church, the choir director came up to me and told me how glad she was that AJ had decided to sing. She said she asked him when he wanted to go with them, "Do you know the songs?"

AJ said, "Oh yeah. I know the songs . . . . What songs?"

Hmmm . . . we call that a clue.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Are You Related to Toy Story's Sid?

We're convinced our new dog Nathan is. I take stuff out of his mouth all the time: marbles, wood, shredded papers, a bath scrunchie, a straw, legoes, shoes!, etc. But toys? They are a favorite!

Princess isn't taking any chances.

Use Caution When Choosing a Movie at My House

I started watching Rocky Balboa yesterday, and decided it was a great movie for the boys. (And I wasn't wrong.) But here's what happened at my house tonight:

TV viewing for us is not passive. It is definitely interactive. Anyone who doesn't believe that all the problems we are seeing in society are much the result of the media kids are exposed to . . . needs to come spend some time at my house.

And yes, AJ has already come to me crying because he lost a fight. He did get hurt a little, but he was mostly upset that he didn't win the $6 in prize money offered to the champion. 'Course that's what you get when you let your opponent be the ring judge.

The Dangers of My Love for Technology

OK. So I'm noticing this trend in my passion for technology. I noticed it today as I irritatedly tried to get video feed transferred from my camera to something!!! See, my dad gave me this really great video camera about four years ago. Stephen and I were going to Mexico, and so of course we needed it. It was an early generation DVR camera--really cool at the time. When I got my computer I thought it would be a piece of cake to transfer video footage to make DVD's. Transferring was easy, but there was no way to burn DVD's with the software I had pre-installed.

So I finally purchased Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. I LOVED Photoshop, but to my irritation, Premiere would not work with my CPU processor. About a year ago, I got a new computer, which I made SURE I could use Premiere on. Premiere loaded and worked fine, but my stupid camera--only accepts a USB 1 cord or Firewire, and of course my new computer has only USB jacks and Premiere only accepts USB 2 feed. I could use Premiere to make really great photo slide shows, but no video footage. Aaaarrrrgggghhh! Do you see where this is going?

Now about Christmas time, we were given money for the family. Our DVD player had been acting up, so finally! I had the solution! I would buy a DVD-R, so I could transfer video to a disk, then load the disk to my computer and Premiere. With Josh having been in this play, I finally had a real motivation to get it working, so we rushed home Friday night to play the video on our TV. But the cord that is supposed to transfer video from the camera to the other thingy you want to play it on? USB of course . . . which my TV and DVD-R have no receptor for, and my computer won't accept because it's USB 1!!!! (I'm feeling like and Abbot and Costello routine right now.)

There was one hope. My camera had Four output holes--USB, S-video, Firewire, and a little round yellow hole. The little round hole was my last hope, so I stopped at Radio Shack today to see if I could get a cord that worked. Mr. Knows-Everything-About-Electronics at Radio Shack looked at me like I was mentally challenged and handed me the correct TWENTY-FIVE DOLLAR cord. But hey! At this point I have about a fortune invested in being able to make these videos, so what's another 25 bucks? I drove home with images in my head of what I would do with that cord if I got home and it didn't work either (they did involve Mr. Knows-Everything). Got home . . . plugged in the cord to my camera . . . plugged the cord into my TV set . . . and . . . we have video! And sound!

I spent Mother's Day copying an hour and a half of video to a DVD, transferring it to my computer, importing it to Premiere, and editing video to my heart's content.

I think it would have been cheaper and easier to just buy a new camera. And oh yeah, Photoshop and Premiere now have a newer version out . . . and they do more stuff. Bet they don't take video footage from my cool little Radio Shack cord.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'm Much Too In Love With Technology

So months ago, I changed to a new cell phone carrier to save money. Ha! The new carrier offers all kinds of things the old one didn't have . . . like Internet service . . . and messaging . . . not to mention my new phone has a camera . . . and pictures count as messages.

So why am I paying for all this extra technology? Is it to make my business more effective. right. To improve communication with important people in my life? There are three of them . . . and none have cell phones. To keep up with my technologically advanced friends? When have I ever tried to keep up?

No. I have technology so I can message myself reminders and pictures.

Best of all? I just found out Blogger has mobile blogging! And I have just signed up for it. Now I can take pictures while were out . . . and blog about it!!!


Josh at small group Playing football. Whose kid is this?

Better Bear Photos

I love the second (and later nights) of a performance. The cast and crew are really starting to bond, and have lost just a little of their nervousness so that they are beginning to really have fun with the play. The kids were so much fun tonight, and my young assistant Richard and I captured it all on film (OK, digital) and video. Maybe we'll make a U-Tube video to post someday.

Josh really enjoyed himself tonight. The real treat was that his dad and grandparents came, and I was so glad and hoped it made him feel really special. His mic was working better tonight so all his "bear sounds" were projected better, which made him funnier.

By the way, did I mention that Josh was wearing red and white high-top tennis shoes before the play. So I asked him if he had other shoes, but he didn't. I asked if he was wearing socks, and he said the ones he had on were white. So I told him . . . ready? . . .

. . . . guess you'll have to wear your bear feet! Get it? Bear? Bare? Bwaaaa haaa haaa!

Yeah, I just got eye-rolling and a "Mommmm!" from Josh too.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Josh's Theater Debut

Josh was in the play "The Magician's Nephew" tonight. He played a talking bear, and I was so very proud of him. We discovered he has a love for acting last year when he was in a Middle School drama/musical. This play was produced by the private school that our church has, and Josh got in on it when we inquired whether he could be involved in their drama elective program. Here are some photos of the evening:

They perform again tomorrow night, so I'll try to take more photos.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Movie Review: Spiderman 3

This is the movie of the month. (Although it does disturb me a little at the amount of money it brought in at the box office last week. Then again, some of that money was mine.) The boys have been counting the months and days until this movie was out since . . . well . . . I think since we got Spiderman 2 on DVD. So last week on a whim, I told them I'd take them to see it at the midnight show on Thursday night. They were SOOO excited. They counted hours and minutes all week. Of course I felt like a real goofball when we were at the theater at 7 o'clock for a MIDNIGHT movie!!! (We were the ONLY ones at the theater at 7 o'clock, but I wouldn't have stayed home with that much energy for anything!) We ended up going with a whole herd of boys and another mom (as crazy as me!). And of course since I knew the movie wasn't going to be over until 2 am (try actually 2:40--but we were home by 3:30!), I offered to let all those crazy boys sleep over (the beauty of homeschooling!). But actually it was really fun. I have however determined that I am NOT young anymore, and cannot go all night without sleep. What part of me goes next?

Boys at the theater, and the reason I LOVE having a camera phone!

So what'd I like about this movie:

  • Amazing special effects and CG animation. You felt as if you were right there swinging along with Spiderman. Even I thought it was cool.
  • The message that hatred and revenge are dangerous, and forgiveness is the best choice for our well-being.
  • This Spiderman didn't have any wet-dress, upside down sensual kiss scenes in it. (Thanks for wrecking the first, and my favorite of the three films with that!) It did allude to the scene in the first movie, but I was not as uncomfortable with my pre-teen boy seeing it.
  • The relationship between Peter and MaryJane Watson moved into greater maturity as Peter began to understand what it means to love someone unselfishly (he didn't throughout the movie, but was learning about it).
  • Aunt Mae's very wise cousel on marriage and vengeance.
  • Compassion and understanding when someone did very wrong things without justifying or excusing those wrong choices.
  • Mostly action violence, although there was a LOT of it, and the Venom villian at the end was very creepy and scary.
What bothered me about this movie:

  • The message repeated several times that a man's choices make him the person he becomes and that we can always choose what is right. While I agree that choices affect the person we become, I think God's Word is clear that our choices actually reflect the person we already are at our core. We cannot choose to do anything apart from who we are (sinners), unless God has transformed us (into new creations).
  • Having said this, I did appreciate that there was a strong caution to consider your choices wisely, and the indication that there are things that are clearly right and wrong.
  • Some rather out-of-character scenes for Peter Parker where he flirts and does a very suggestive dance with a female character.
  • Certain references to religion in an irreverent way.
  • The characters were more shallow than in the previous movies, in part because there were so many characters.
  • Lots of destructive battles, even though it was all in comic-book fashion, and there was no blood. Younger children could be influenced by all of this. Guess bigger ones can too. (Fortunately, much of this was too intense for my youngest, and he hid his eyes from it!
The short of it is, this is a great boys' flick (and girls might like it too!), but I'd be careful about showing it to young children. My seven-year-old was kind of at the edge of being OK with it, and I actually thought at one point, "Oh no. I spent $6 for him to hide his eyes all the way through!" This movie DOES offer lots to converse with your kids about as far as good and evil, and our choices. And even though the black Spidey suit represents the "bad Spidey," it's still pretty cool! (I CAN'T believe I just said that!)

For a more thorough review I'd recommend PluggedIn Online.

How Do You Keep a Good Dog Down?

Our dog Princess just had "the operation" a few days ago. In her recovery orders, I am supposed to keep her resting for 10 days!!! It was easy the first day when she was still sedated. My oh my, what a calm dog she was. (I think I want MORE of that med!) Yesterday she was back to her perky, spazzy self, but it was easy to keep her resting. We just spent the day trading her and Nathan in and out of the downstairs crate. But I realized what a chore I have ahead of me this next week. Today she thinks she can just do anything. She wants to be outside with the boys and with Nathan. I think she may be a little relieved that Nate is not being allowed to bite on her heels, but she does want to play. And if the gates are up, she is still jumping over them. How do you explain to a five-year-old German Shepherd that they have to take it easy or they will hurt themselves? Aaaarrrgggghhh!

It's easier to deal with boys who have to be still. At least they'll play PS2 and watch movies.

Movie Review:The Pursuit of Happyness

I loved this film. I wasn’t sure if I would love it at first, but I did. Will Smith plays a father who is determined to be a father to his son. Unfortunately he made a bad investment that is costing him his marriage and dragging him down financially. But instead of running out, he continues to dream about finding “happiness” in doing something he loves and is good at, and in being able to provide security for his family. When the opportunity to intern as a stock broker for Dean Whittier presents itself, he seizes the opportunity to change his life, but you don’t know until the end if it will finally bring him to ruin or turn out to be the answer to his prayers.

In a day when dads are constantly portrayed as unnecessary or bumbling idiots, this film was like a breath of fresh air. Will Smith is tender but tough, troubled but hopeful. Although there are a few objectionable elements, like a few strong words, some very sad images, and mature themes, I let my two oldest boys watch this because I felt it was important for them to see a dad who rejected the failings of his father and determined to be different by putting his family first. I also wanted them to realize that as difficult as things sometimes seem for us, God has been very gentle on us. I want them to have compassion on the plight of others, and movies like this are one way I feel I can expose them to some of the extreme difficulties others face, while still protecting their innocence to some degree. Even though the story could have been very sad and discouraging, Smith’s constant determination, enthusiasm, and the extreme, sacrificial love for his son are inspiring.

I’m an easy target for movies that are able to capture the feelings of being a single parent with all its demands and frustrations, and this movie did an excellent job of that. But I also loved the strong themes of family commitment, of pressing on under humbling circumstances, and of pursuing happiness not in money, but in doing your best and being all God created you to be.

For a more thorough review I would suggest you check out PluggedIn Online.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Movie Review: Night at the Museum

Our family really loves silly movies. Unfortunately, since I have three boys, we have a hard time agreeing on what is silly and what is stupid. The boys love . . . welll . . . boy humor. You know, lots of body noises and ridiculous stuff, falling down, getting hurt. I can only take so much of that. But Night at the Museum, starring Ben Stiller satisfied us all. Stiller is one I can usually only take so much of before he starts getting on my nerves, but this role was perfect for him. As a divorced dad who aspires to do something great he instead finds constant failure. Because this results in steady unemployment and frequent evictions, the most recent eviction puts pressure on him to find a job or face temporary separation from his son. So he takes a job as a night security guard at a museum, not realizing that there is something magical afoot. The first night at the museum is full of surprises and the movie is about how he comes up with ways to manage the zany events that occur nightly. The film is graced with cameo appearances by Robin Williams, Dick VanDyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs, whose combined comic genius absolutely makes the film in my opinion.

The boys loved the silly stuff--dinosaur chases, teeny little guys fighting each other and the "giant" (Stiller), talking statues, and more. I liked the message that eventually you have to just grow up, especially when you have someone you love depending on you to provide stability and security for them. However, I also liked the idea that "growing up" and being responsible doesn't always mean leaving your dreams behind. I was a little uncomfortable with the image that divorce can result in a happy, satisfying life for everyone, becuase I just don't think that's so. There is also some potty humor which the boys love, but which still bothers me some. But nothing in it made me so uncomfortable as to cause me to question my judgement in letting the boys watch it. All in all, the film is accurately rated PG, making it a great family film if you like something a bit silly, but still exciting.

For a more detailed review, I recommend you check out PluggedIn Online.

Monday, April 30, 2007

What I Didn't Take Pictures Of

This weekend was a busy one, but I didn't take any pictures. Surprising, I know, since with the cool digital camera, I usually take about a hundred pictures of the boys watching TV, or the dogs playing, or some other routine thing like that.

But Friday I didn't take a picture of Josh going to his first dance. I figured it would be an uncool mommy thing to do, and I don't want to put any more strain on the mom/teenager relationship, so I didn't make a big deal of it, and I didn't take pictures. Plus he pretty much told me he didn't want me to. So I didn't. But now? I'm really wishing I had a pic or two. Even if he would have been scowling at me. He had a blast at the dance. I didn't get much out of him about who he danced with, but he liked the line dances and being with his friends. It is so funny . . . and weird . . . watching him begin to really act like a teenage boy. Why oh why do they have to grow up?

Saturday was our week-long awaited event. The boys counted their money all week and counted down the days until the annual Mission's Auction at our church. The auction pays for much of the summer short-term missions trips for the year, so it is an important event for our church. Everybody really gets into it, donating goods and services for others to bid on, and shopping at the silent auction and then again at the live one. The thrill of my heart this year was when my two little ones began looking around for things to donate to the auction. They they took their own money and bid and bought things. I'm sure AJ will eventually regret buying four necklaces (for himself, nonetheless!), and three pairs of earrings (two for me, one for a little girl he's friends with), but I let him spend his own money. He also bid on and won a soft Christmas throw pillow. Stephen bought one of Mrs. Vera Mae's coconut cream pies, and got in a bidding war with one of the older ladies over a cherry cheese cake. He won the bid on the pie, and the lady finally admitted to him that she really just wanted the plate the cheesecake was on, so she would give him the cheesecake if he would let her have the plate, and she'd pay for it. It was too good a deal for Stevie to pass up, and I think she got a good deal too since he revealed to her that he had over $40 with him (and I think he'd have gone all the way to that!).

So what did I do? Well I had way too much fun! I helped out a little with the sweet treats, and I bought a couch with a fold-out bed (hopefully to replace a well-worn loveseat in my living room). Hooray! No more arguing over who will have to sleep on the floor when the boys sleep downstairs! I sat with my small group at the live auction and we had agreed together to bid on some things (a hot dog dinner with the pastor--really fun when we did it last year, and an ice cream social put on by one of our church leader's groups) My best friend and I bought a quilt and pillow for our very generous friend who is expecting her fourth baby and second boy. I think just being together was a lot of fun. We giggled and laughed and bid on things, and I'm not so sure they will let us sit together next year. (Except the chairman of the missions board is in our small group, so we're probably safe!) And I didn't take pictures of all that fun . . . because sometimes . . . well, it's just more fun to be cameraless.

Of course the last thing I thought of doing was taking pictures of me at two, and three, and four o'clock in the morning working on a project and on my Sunday school lesson. Yes, I did way-over-committ myself this week. I was tired, so no. No pictures of that.

So you see, it was a very fun, eventful weekend. But I didn't take any pictures. So I guess you'll have to "see" with your imagination. Please imagine me 60 pounds lighter. Thanks.