The View from the Porch Swing

Sit a spell, kick your shoes off...we'll chat about life and love and God and all the things that matter most.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Ouch.

My toothache is back. It seems like it's growing in intensity as the night goes on. I hope I can hang in there till Monday when I can call the dentist.

New Way of Life

Tim's been around a lot during the evenings this week because he's between projects at work. It's been nice. Nicer still that we've had a couple of evenings where it was just the two of us for dinner and a while afterward. It's given us a chance to have long conversations....something he's often too exhausted for.

Last night's conversation turned to our finances and how out of control they are. We aren't in trouble or anything. We're just living very materialistically. The kids, especially Megan, are always doing things costing money. Free things do not satisfy. The way we do things has got to change.

Matthew is planning to attend Pittsburgh Technical Institute after graduation. We don't know the final financial details, but we do know that our income is high enough to disqualify him from all but one tiny state grant. Even if he takes out two student loans there will still be a large shortfall of funding that has to made up in the form of huge monthly payments or a loan of our own. We don't want to take out a 20-30 year loan. We'd rather tough it out for two years and be done with it. We're talking about $50,000. Something has to change for that to happen. There is also the graduation party for Matt and the trip to Chincoteague we said we do so he and his friends can afford a week at the beach. We also want to do some work on the house.

Basically, our plan is to tighten the belt, live more simply, and definitely more frugally. Tim's going to work lots of overtime. Dinners out are going to have to be greatly reduced if not non-existant. We have to try to cut our utility bills. Impulse shopping has got to stop. Meals are going to have to be from scratch. Entertainment is going to have to be free or close to it. I'm going to be devoting a lot of time to researching ways to live more simply. Tim's going to be a tough one to convert even though he knows in his mind what needs done and agrees...it's hard to break old habits. Matt will be okay with the changes because he knows what he wants and is willing to work for it. Megan will be the toughest. She gets something into her head to do and there is no telling her no. Well, we tell her no, but she makes our lives a living hell when she doesn't get what she wants. If it is important, we hold our ground, but giving her another $5 to go to the pool (or whatever) usually seems better than disrupting the whole family. Curbing her will be the most painful part for all of us.

Anyway, today is day one. We'll get through today. Then we'll get through tomorrow. That's all we can do. Well, that and pray.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

DUCK!

Actually, it's robins. I went out to give the kitties their breakfast this morning and only two of the little ankle-biters emerged from among the potted plants to completely ignore me. Given recent history, a missing kitten results in full scale panic and a land (yard), sea (the neighbor's pool) and air (trees) search. Especially when it's Megan's kitten that's missing.

While peering over the neighbor's fence to see if Tigger had decided to see if he could walk on water, I became aware of a great commotion overhead in the pussywillows. Being the sharp tack that I am, I looked up. No more missing kitten. Tigger was peeking out between the leaves at me, meowing pitifully and greatly annoying a family of robins, who evidently reside in the tree.

As I stood there looking up and pondering just how I was going to get a naughty kitten down out of the tree, Junior Robin took that inopportune moment to try his wings. In a great leap of faith he took off from the nest and in a manner only slightly more graceful that a full-out plummet, reached the ground. That succeeded in solving my cat problem. His eye trained on Junior, Tigger threw himself into reverse and scooted down the tree in record time. I snagged him in mid-air just as he lept from the trunk. Ma and Pa Robin arrived on the scene at about the same time and we all narrowly missed a head on collision.

I ran for the deck and Ma and Pa turned their attention to encouraging Junior to try those wings again to get back to the (relative) safety of the nest. As I stood there watching their efforts and holding tightly to Tigger, a soft grey blur streaked by me and pounced on Junior. Oops. Seems Ma and Pa's squawking caught the attention of another of our would-be carnivores. Clutch, fearless jungle cat that he thinks he is, was giving it his best effort, but Ma and Pa grew ever more vicious in their dive bombing, screeching and flapping efforts. Have you ever seen a robin with all of its feathers standing up on end? By now even Blizzard, who is completely deaf, had been drawn into things and was doing his best to catch Ma and/or Pa while Clutch went after Junior. I have to give Ma and Pa credit. They managed to stay alive and keep Junior that way, too, at least for as long as I stayed to watch. The battle finally reached such a pitch that I let Tigger go and ran into the house rather than risk being impaled by a pissed off robin. That would be a really crappy way to start the day.

I took a peek a few minutes ago and all is quiet out there. Clutch and Tigger were napping in the sun. Blizzard was no where to be seen, nor were any members of the robin family. All I saw was a feather or two and those could have been dropped during all the fuss.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Good for another year.

Just got back from having my annual physical, that barring any unforseen abnormalities (Dan, don't say anything), enables me to keep my commercial driver's license for another year. Everything checked out okie dokie and I'm a happy camper. The scale they used last night at First Place said I was 10 pounds heavier than the one I use at home says. So according to that scale I not only regained the weight I'd lost, but tossed on a few more for good measure. I sure didn't see how that could be right, so I was anxious to see what my weight was during my physical. I'm happy because it said only two pounds more than my scale. I think the First Place scale is out of whack.

While I'm mentioning First Place, can I just say again how much I appreciate the ladies in my group? They are such a blessing to me and have helped me heal some of the hurts inflicted at my old church as much as anything, maybe more than most things. They are giving me a good example of healthy Christianity in practice and they've freed me to take off the mask of perfection I had to wear at the old church and really delve into my relationship with God in an honest way. They allow me to struggle with things and admit to their own struggles. It is just so awesome.

Tim will be home anytime now. He, Matt and I are heading off to Pastor Carl's funeral.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Soggy Tuesday

It's wet on the porch swing today. We are smack dab in the middle of what's predicted to be a three-day rain. I actually kind of like rainy days in the summer. They give us a chance to hole up in the house for a while and spend time with each other. It's a great time to play board games, bake cookies, read a good book or watch favorite movies. The kids don't ask to go anywhere and no one comes knocking on our door.

So, Megan is 12. Her party was Saturday. Sunday was her actual birthday. Monday I took her out for the day as our gift to her. We went to my hair salon and she got her hair trimmed and shaped as well as streaks of blondish highlights. I was nervous about it, but it looks very nice, very natural....as if she's spent hours and hours in the sun. It was off to the mall after that for lunch a bit of shopping. What an eye-opening experience. Megan's taste in clothing runs to the "punk" side of things, though everything she picked out is pink. Right down to the fishnet gloves she bought herself. Yeah, you read that right. I can't say I'm thrilled about the gloves, but I can allow her those. I won on a few more important items. It's really hard to explain to a 12-yr-old tomboyish girl why certain articles of clothing are inappropriate without getting into more detail than I want to.

Matt went along with us. He did some shopping for himself and generously bought his sister the new Montgomery Gentry CD. She's recently become a fan and is pulling him into it as well...though I doubt he'd admit it outside of this house.

Tim just finished up a project at work so he was home early last night. That was really the cherry on the top of a perfect day.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Losing a good man.

This afternoon I ran into the interim pastor from our old church. He told me that Pastor Charles Carl, a former pastor of the church and the man who married Tim and I and saw us through my father's illness and death (in spite of his own illness), was released from the hospital yesterday and is in hospice care. His children have all come home and his death is expected any time now.

The news weighs heavy on my heart, but I know that the world's loss is heaven's gain and that Pastor Carl will be glad to be with God.

Please pray for the family.

UPDATE: At some time on Sunday, Pastor Carl went home to be with the Lord he loved and served so well.

Whew!

Megan's party was a great success. About 20 family members and a few friends turned out to wish her a happy 12th birthday. The princess was in her glory...all smiles and happiness. I love the rare moments like that. She loved all her gifts. There was a definite trend. Jewelry, make-up, clothes, shopping trips with Grandma and me, movies, CD's. Very teenager-ish.

We actually enjoyed the time with Tim's family. It almost felt like pre-rift times. Even my mom was in a good mood and pleasant. Everyone lingered and visited and our friends, Helen and Dave stayed until 10:30. We lit the torches and sat out on the deck enjoying the night...cool and clear. Their daughter, Danielle, is staying the night. She's between Matt and Megan in age and has a bit of a crush on Matt. She's going along tomorrow to our family reunion (a collection of distant cousins, mainly of my dad's generation that we see only at the reunion) and the 80th birthday party for Tim's great aunt. Lucky her. We'd all love to find a way to get out of both.

All in all a good day.

Friday, July 23, 2004

T.G.I.F.

Feeling much better this morning. When Tim got home last night he helped me do some major rearranging in the livingroom and that seemed to knock me out of my funk. It also generated a lot more stuff for the garage sale I'm still planning to have this summer. I cleared the video cabinet of movies we never, ever, watch and filled three plastic garbage bags! I'm going to try selling them first, but if they don't go, the library is in for a huge donation to its video collection.

Megan turns 12 this Sunday. Not quite a teenager, but you'd never know it. She's been acting like one since she was 10. Actually, she's at that funny age where one minute she's a snotty, know-it-all teenager, whose life is being ruined by none other than moi, the very one that endured hours of agony to bring her into the world....and the next she is a sweet and cuddly thing wanting only to be held by her mama. Oh, the mood swings! Perhaps I could have myself put on valium or some other "happy" pill until we emerge on the other side of this, because there are days when I'm just not sure we're both going to make it out alive!

Today I'm cleaning the house and getting ready for the birthday party we must have tomorrow, because Sunday is already filled with my family reunion and the 80th birthday of Tim's great aunt. No cooking to do, at least. Yea! Megan has requested Jioio's pizza and I ordered the cake from Wal-Mart's bakery. It's either going to look like the beach, complete with leaping dolphins, or have rainbows and Carebears. I will give her our gift next week on Monday or Tuesday. I will take her to my hair stylist to have the long desired streaks of lighter color put in her hair, have lunch with her anywhere she wants, and then take her to the mall and allow her to choose an outfit or two for school. A very grown-up day.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Blah....

That is me today. Blah. I'm in a funk. Have been the last couple of days. Vacation let down?

Blah.

Blah.

Blah.

More Get to Know Me Stuff

Borrowed from Amy.

FIRSTS:

First Job: Babysitting.
First Screen Name: Gamemasterdh.
First Self-purchased CD: I have no idea.
First Tape Cassette Purchased: Again, no idea.
First Record Purchased: I am loathed to admit it, but I think it was Shaun Cassidy.
First Piercing/tattoo: One in each ear at age 10 with parental blessing. I've gotten two more in the left ear since then and I keep debating on a tatoo.
First True Love: Greg.
First Enemy: Maggie.

LASTS:
Last Big Car Ride: Coming home from Chincoteague on Monday...7 1/2 hours.
Last Kiss: This morning.
Last library book checked out: I can't remember, but I'm sure it was a mystery.
Last Movie Seen: At the theater? I think it was Rundown.
Last Beverage Drank: Pepsi.
Last Food Consumed: Pancakes.
Last Phone Call: From Tim asking me about some dates he needed for work.
Last CD Played: Maroon 5.
Last Annoyance: Waiting for my computer to grind through each process.
Last Pop Drank: Pepsi.
Last Ice Cream Eaten: Chocolate cone last Saturday while we were mini golfing.
Last Time Scolded: Last Sunday by Tim, who was in a cranky mood.
Last Shirt Worn: My red Camp Sonrise Mt. t-shirt.

I...

I Am: feeling bored, which explains why I'm doing this.
I Want: Chinese food.
I Have: not done anything productive since making the kids pancakes for breakfast.
I Wish: I was back at the beach.
I Hate: Sweating.
I Fear: Snakes.
I Hear: The air conditioner.
I Searched: For the kittens this morning.
I Wonder: If Tim will work late again tonight.
I Regret: Nothing. Everything has helped shape me into who I am.
I Love: God, my husband and my kids.
I Always: Check my email.
I Am Not: Very outgoing.
I Dance: With Megan and the dog.
I Sing: Only at home and in front of no one but my husband and kids.
I Cry: Over sappy movies and when I get very nervous.

YES or NO:

You Keep a Diary: Two plus a blog.
You Like to Cook: Yes, but it's tough to get motivated when we aren't usually all here for dinner.
You Have a Secret You Have Not Shared with Anyone: Yes.

DO YOU...?

Get Motion Sickness: Now and then on amusement rides.
You're a Health Freak: You've got to be kidding.
Current Hair Color: Dark brown with a few stubborn grays at the temple.
Eye color: Brown.
Birthplace: Erie, Pennsylvania.

FAVORITES

Number: 9.
Color: I kinda like the whole spice palate....amber, orange, cinnamon, brown, etc.
Day: Sunday and Friday.
Month: October.
Songs: Piano Man.
Season: Fall.
Drink: Pepsi.
Alcohol: Don't drink enough to have a favorite. Just a glass of wine here and there.

PREFERENCES

Chocolate milk or hot chocolate: Chocolate milk.
Milk, dark, or white chocolate: White chocolate.
Vanilla or chocolate: Chocolate.

IN THE LAST 24 HRS, HAVE YOU...

Cried: No.
Helped Someone: Yes, my husband and my kids several times.
Bought Something: Drinks when I took the kids to swim at the state park yesterday.
Gotten Sick: No.
Gone to the Movies: No.
Said 'I Love You": Yes, to my hubby and kids.
Written a Real Letter: No.
Written in a Journal: Yes, both of them and my blog.
Had a Serious Talk: Sort of, if Instant Messenger conversations count.
Missed Someone: No.
Hugged Someone: Yep, hubby and kids again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

It's too noisy!

BAM! BAM! CLANG! THUNK!

That's the sound of the peace and quiet of the porch swing being shattered this morning. How am I supposed to do my Bible study with all that racket going on? Does my neighbor really need a new roof? Well, with all this rain we've been having I suppose he does. Back into the house in search of a quiet spot.

The kitchen. BAM! BAM!

The livingroom. BAM! BAM!

The bedroom. CLANG! CLANG! THUNK!

The bathroom? BAM! BAM! CLANG! @%#&$%! THUNK!

I finally settled on the livingroom where I can still hear the tearing up of old shingles and the gentle tossing of those same shingles into a dump truck driven up my driveway and across part of my lawn for just for the purpose of being a giant garbage can. At least in the livingroom the sounds are somewhat muffled and I can't quite make out the expletives.

Basically, my hunt for a peaceful place to spend time with God this morning was one big object lesson for me. Thanks, God.

My bible study this morning was about peace. Peace. Everybody wants it. We all look for it. Few of us seem to find it. Why? We're looking in all the wrong places. We look for peace in the things of this world and every now and then we might find a brief moment of peace, but the world's peace is conditional and fleeting. For long-lasting, eternal peace, the kind of peace that roots itself down deep in your soul, we have to look to God.

The bible tells us over and over that peace comes from God, that God wants to give us his peace, that he will give it to those who are faithful and trust in him. We can rest in the knowledge that Jesus overcame the troubles of this world for us. We can trust that this is our heritage. When we lack peace, we need only to turn to him.

Funny thing, as I sat working on my bible study, the outside sounds faded away and all I was aware of was his truth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mixed Blessings

Got a letter from the middle school today. Seems Megan is eligible for up to $500 in federal grant money to reimburse us for a math tutor. All I have to do is apply on-line. Woo-hoo! She really needs the help (she flunked 6th grade math). Meg qualifies for this little windfall because of her painfully low scores on the PSSA test she took this past Spring. I hope the tutoring helps her get to a point where she feels more confident rather than seeing it as more confirmation of her "dumbness."

Vacation Tales

Got home around 5:30 last night. Today feels like the day after Christmas. You know, the let down after all the build up and hoopla of the big event. I had the house pretty much in order when we left and I kept all our laundry done while we were gone so there isn't a lot that has to be done today. The kids and I are just hanging out reading, checking email and playing with the doggies and kitties, who are very glad to see us.

The week was awesome! We spent a lot of time at the beach. I'm not big on actually going in the ocean, but Tim and the kids had a great time riding the waves on the body boards we bought the first day there. We took long walks in search of shells and other treasures (Matt found two shark teeth!). Sandcastles were built and kites flown. I even managed to find time to read.

Fishing was a big hit. On Wednesday we went out on a charted boat with an excellent captain. He even baited our hooks and took the fish off the line! Mostly we caught Croaker, which makes a deep croaking noise when pulled out of the water. We also caught a few Flounder but they were too small. Megan had a big day with the biggest Croakers, a Bluefish and very nearly a Stingray (it got away right as she got it near the surface). We did a good bit of crabbing, too, and got pretty good at it. On Thursday we managed to snag 17 that were at least 7-inches across (legal size is 5-inches). We cooked them ourselves along with the fish we'd caught the day before. Mm-mmm!

The Back Bay Expedition was everyone's favorite part. Captain Barry was very knowledgable and part entertainer. He took us out to a sandbar in the middle of the bay during low tide and let us walk on it. It was still under 6 inches of water, so it must have been a real sight from the shore to see us out there walking around in the middle of the bay! Capt. Barry showed us a lot of marine life up close and told us all about it. We pulled crab pots, collected shells, learned local history, touched a huge jellyfish, learned a lot about the industry surrounding the sea (you wouldn't believe what they do with horseshoe crabs), collected fresh oysters and got to try some Asian oysters a local is experimenting with to see if they'd be viable to raise in the bay. Matt even stepped on a Stingray in one of the out-of-the-way places we went, so got to see one up close.

We had great times together as a family doing all that stuff and even just sitting around at the house playing games when it rained. We're rested and refreshed....and already planning to go back next year.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Bon Voyage!

This is it for a while. We hit the road tomorrow at 5:00am (groans from throughout the household). The antibiotics seem to be working a little bit. There is still pressure and chewing is tricky, but there's no pain. If it doesn't get any better than that, I can survive the week as long as it doesn't get any worse. Still have a couple loads of laundry to do and the last of the packing so I'm off.
See you next week!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The 100 Top Grossing Movies of All Time

How to play: Italics the ones you've seen. Link via Rachel.

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824 *
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459 *
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224 *
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855 *
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866 *
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) $165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252

Prayer Request

Two days till our vacation. We have planned and dreamed about this for months. I'm afraid I'm going to mess it all up.

I need some dental work done. I've been putting it off. I'm just a bit of a chicken when it comes to having my teeth worked on. But, knowing it was a necessity, I'd planned on getting started on it when we got back (we're talking a couple of root canals).

Yesterday, I developed a toothache. My first ever. I managed to catch the dentist before she left for the weekend and she agreed to stay open to see me. She looked at the x-rays of the tooth that was hurting and said she'd put a temporary filling in it, but that when I get back it will require going to a specialist. Ok. Just get me through vacation and I'm all yours. She also prescribed an antibiotic for me to take if I felt I needed it...ie., if I still had discomfort after the numbness wore off.

I chose not to have the prescription filled last night. Bad choice. At some point last evening, roughly two minutes after all pharmacies everywhere closed, two teeth on the opposite side of my mouth started to hurt. It grew worse through the night and kept me up half the night. When I woke up this morning I was pain-free and thinking everything was good. Hah! We set off to run errands that were a good hour from home. The toothaches came back. We found a Walmart and got my prescription filled and I took one dose. I managed to drink the required water with it, but I can't eat anything. Not even soup. Tim says the pain is most likely caused by an infection and that the antibiotics should help. They haven't so far, but maybe a second dose will help.

A search through the yellow pages and several calls turned up no dentists that would see me before Monday. We need to leave around 5:00 Monday morning in order to make the check-in time for the house we rented.

So, to make a long story short, would you all please pray that the antibiotics kick in and relieve the pain so I can manage until we get back from vacation? I'd really appreciate it as I don't want to mess up everyone's vacation.

Friday, July 09, 2004

New Reads

Three days till vacation. Not much time to blog so here's some new sites to check out.

Under the Rug. Written by Steve who's a government employee. Funny.

Go Ahead: Read My Mind. Melodee's a pastor's wife willing to give a peek into her life.

Joe Missionary. Joe shares his wit and wisdom from the mission field.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Morning Peace.

Sitting here with my Coke C2, not sugar-free, but half the calories, half the carbs and way better taste than diet. Scooby is napping on my toes. Country music videos are playing on the television no one bothered to turn off. Megan and my niece, Ariel, are outside building hammocks for the kittens from beach towels and hangers suspended from the frame of the porch swing. Blizzard, Tigger and Clutch are not impressed but tolerating it all with mildly good humor. Matthew is in the kitchen reading while he eats breakfast. Life is pretty good and I am enjoying these moments of peace.

Soon enough the day's pace will change. Ariel must go back to my sister-in-law's house today. The girls know this, but will fight me just the same (they already have to some degree). When they realize the futility they will start in on me about Megan staying there tonight (already have to some degree). Today I have to stand firm in the face of pouting, girls for we are just four days from our vacation. It is time to get serious about this and start pulling things together and packing. Since we are renting a house, we will need to take a lot of things beyond our clothes and beach toys. I need to make lists of groceries we'll need and household supplies and go and shop for what we'll need. We need to decide on what games and other diversions to take along for down times at the house. I also need to get things in order here. There's mail to stop, bills to pay, pet arrangements to make, a vehicle to service, grass to mow, and a house to clean (it's so much nicer to come home to a clean house). There is also the fact (and I'm not proud of myself for feeling this way) that I can't wait to get Ariel out of here. She is a pretty unpleasant house guest. She is greedy...a real pig (we got a 30-cut pizza last night and there were only 3 pieces left for Tim when he got home and that after I said to eat no more). She is arrogant. No matter what Megan does or has, Ariel's always done or got better or is about to get better. And let's talk lazy. Good grief, my kids are not real go-getters when it comes to chores. They complain and drag their feet and don't do the best work they can, but Ariel does nothing and is quite proud of it telling me she doesn't do it at home either. She is also the queen of sneakiness. She does a lot of stuff she knows is wrong and then tries to blame it on Megan. Why Megan wants her around is beyond me.

Sigh....it's time to get up from here and get on with the day. The peace was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

He's baaaaack!

Cujo the kitten-killing, people-biting hound of Hades reappeared in my yard just a little while ago. This time he was after chicken. Sitting in the house watching Lion King 1 1/2 (really cute movie, by the way) with Matt, Megan and my niece, Ariel, when I heard what sounded like a big dog going nuts and some other noise I couldn't identify. It took me about half a beat to think of that dog and the kittens and go flying out the door. It was him alright and the kitties were in plain sight so I guess I'm glad he was preoccupied with the chickens. He was just flinging himself against the coop for all he was worth trying to get in. The noise I couldn't identify was the sound of terrified chickens. I screamed at him to try and scare him and the big dope loped over and rolled over on my feet grinning like an idiot. I grabbed his collar and told Matt, who had come out when he heard me screaming, to get a leash because I was taking the dog home and talking to the owners myself. Matt decided to go with me since the dog was so hard to control on the leash...friendly enough, just pulling...and I think he was worried about it getting cranky on me. Anyway, I took the dog to where I thought he belonged. Turns out it was the wrong house, but the man there knew the owners (who were conveniently not home) and took the dog over and put it in their house. He apologized and said he's been telling them to get rid of it. I told him to tell the owners that I was the one whose kitten got killed and now had to worry about my chickens and children as well. I said that knowing the dog can get out of their yard by jumping the fence and that it has killed other pets in the neighborhood as well as biting people the very least they could do is chain the dog up. How much intelligence does that take to figure out?! I also told him to let the owners know that if I ever see him in my yard again I will not bring him back. I will load him up and take him to a shelter other than our useless local one and that they could consider it a kindness if I do because the rest of the neighbors are threatening to shoot it on sight! I called Tim and told him about it and he is livid that they would be so irresponsible as to not chain the dog up and said if he gets home in time he is going to go down and talk to them. He is worried about the kids, of course, but when that dog hurt his baby girl's kitten it really ticked him off.

Surprise, surprise!

I sure wasn't expecting it when I got on the scales at my First Place meeting last night, but there it was in big ol' black numbers....I LOST 4 POUNDS THIS WEEK! Woo-hoo!! This has got to be a freebie from God because I have been so wrapped up in the bible study and the issues it's been forcing me to deal with that I just haven't been giving the diet part of the program much attention lately and then throw in all the eating over the holiday.....

Wow. Now imagine what I could do if I was actually following the plan.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Found this over at Jen Speaks, like her, I like a good either/or meme.

1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Mr. Kelly
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? The Sun Also Rises
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? The Duke
4. Cats or dogs? Both. We have 2 dogs and 3 cats.
5. Matisse or Picasso? Matisse
6. Yeats or Eliot? Elliot
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Not really a fan of either.
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike? O'Connor
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? Pollock
11. The Who or the Stones? The Stones!
12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath? Neither
13. Trollope or Dickens? Dickens
14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Holiday
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? Tolstoy
16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? No idea
17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? No idea
18. Hot dogs or hamburgers? Hamburgers. Do you know what they make hotdogs out of?
19. Letterman or Leno? Letterman
20. Wilco or Cat Power? What?
21. Verdi or Wagner? Wagner
22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Grace Kelly
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? Johnny Cash
24. Kingsley or Martin Amis? No clue
25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? Mitchum
26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Tharp
27. Vermeer or Rembrandt? Rembrandt
28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Tchaikovsky
29. Red wine or white? Red
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Wilde
31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? Grosse Pointe Blank
32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev? No clue
33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? That's tough. I guess Baryshnikov.
34. Constable or Turner? Huh?
35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? The Searchers
36. Comedy or tragedy? Comedy
37. Fall or spring? Fall
38. Manet or Monet? Monet
39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons? The Simpsons
40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? Gershwins
41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James? James
42. Sunset or sunrise? Sunrise
43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? Porter
44. Mac or PC? PC
45. New York or Los Angeles? NYC
46. Partisan Review or Horizon? Huh?
47. Stax or Motown? Motown
48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? Van Gogh
49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? Elvis
50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? Blog
51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Olivier
52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers? Only the Lonely
53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? Don't know
54. Ghost World or Election? Don't know
55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Neither
56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? Bugs
57. Modernism or postmodernism? Modernism, I guess
58. Batman or Spider-Man? Spidey's the man!
59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams? Emmylou
60. Johnson or Boswell? Huh?
61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Austen
62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Honeymooners
63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? Eames chair
64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? Double Indemnity
65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni? Marriage of Figaro
66. Blue or green? blue
67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It? As You Like It
68. Ballet or opera? Ballet
69. Film or live theater? Film
70. Acoustic or electric? Electric
71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? Vertigo
72. Sargent or Whistler? Whistler
73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera? No clue
74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? Oklahoma
75. Sushi, yes or no? Not no way, not no how.
76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? Don't read it
77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Williams
78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove? Never read either
79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? No clue
80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? I like both, but maybe Wright a bit more.
81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? Don't know
82. Watercolor or pastel? watercolor
83. Bus or subway? subway
84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg? no clue
85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smoooooth
86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser? No clue
87. Schubert or Mozart? Mozart
88. The Fifties or the Twenties? 50s
89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick? Huck Finn
90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce? Joyce
91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? No clue
92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman? Whitman
93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Lincoln
94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Don't know
95. Italian or French cooking? Italian
96. Bach on piano or harpsichord? Piano
97. Anchovies, yes or no? Never ever.
98. Short novels or long ones? If they're well written I like them long because I don't want them to end.
99. Swing or bebop? Swing
100. "The Last Judgment" or "The Last Supper"? Don't know.

From picnics to kittens and bad dogs...

Hi! Hope everyone had a great time celebrating the Fourth with family and friends. We got together with Tim's family on Sunday. There are about 30 of us in the immediate family and all were in the area for the holiday with the exception of one nephew. Tim's youngest sister hosted the picnic. Wow, the food! We had all the normal things like hotdogs and hamburgers, but Peggy and Ed, newly transplanted from the Delaware shore to central Pennsylvania, put their own touch on things with bushels of steamed whole crabs and shrimp. Mmm-mmm! We played volleyball, horseshoes and cards and set off fireworks after dark.

Yesterday Megan and I met up with Tim's sisters and all the nieces for "girls' day out." We had lunch and shopped (what else are 15 women going to do when they get together?). Then last night we were invited up on the ridge to John's house. He and my mom are living in his house for the summer months. Another big meal of barbecued ribs. Ugh. I do not need to eat again any time soon. Any-whoo, we had a really nice time. Tim didn't get home in time but I took my grandmother along and for once Mom was in a good mood and didn't spend the whole time criticizing the kids and me. John took both kids out to the field and let them target shoot with a .22 (he is a card-carry, convention-attending member of the NRA).

Today began with Tim calling asking me to bring some boxes of computer equipment he'd left in the shed down to the job site. The kids had to go with me because I needed Matt to help me lift the things and Megan couldn't stay here alone. That took us about half of the day. When we went out to feed the chickens we found our little black kitten dead near our neighbor's garden. I thought he'd probably been run over as there is a right away through the back and people drive through to access their backyards. Megan was crushed and couldn't be consoled. In desperation I asked her if she'd like to get another kitten. We had driven past a place with a "Free Kittens" sign last night so I said if she wanted to we could go look. Well, of course she wanted to go look. Matt said he'd go if I let him drive. The people had three kittens left. Matt and Megan each picked up one and each thought the one they held was the best one, so........ You can see where this is going can't you? Yep, we came home with two kittens. Tigger and Clutch. As in the auto part. It was either that or Brake Pad.

So we were getting the kitties settled when one of the neighbors spots them and asks about them. I tell them the sad story of Midnight's demise. And they proceeded to tell me that he didn't get hit. The stray dog that's been roaming the neighborhood the last couple of days killed him. Another neighbor had tried to beat the dog off with a broom. They had found out who the dog belonged to so I headed down the road to talk to the owners, but found the dog chained up in yet another neighbor's yard. He chained it because it bit him on the leg! He had called the authorities and told them all about it. They were supposed to be on the way. He told them they had until 4:00 or they could just come get the carcass. It's 5:30. I don't know how it turned out. All I know is that dog better not be running around the neighborhood anymore.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Simple Purpose

Well, I've got a bit of time right now. Megan's outside having a water balloon fight with the neighbor's grandkids, Matt's at work, Tim isn't home yet and I have a double batch of peanut butter brownies in the oven (recipe at the end of the post). So, having nothing better to do at the moment or at least nothing else I want to do, I thought I'd go ahead and explain about God showing me what it is I'm supposed to be doing with myself.

I struggled through the first couple weeks of the First Place bible studies, all of the Purpose-Driven Life lessons and pretty much my whole Christian life trying to figure out what my purpose is. Basically, I was feeling pretty stupid for not being able to figure it out....like being almost 40 and still not knowing what you want to be when you grow up.

Then one morning earlier this week it came to me during my quiet time. Right now, at this point in my life, my purpose is to live a life as much like the woman described in Proverbs 31 as I possibly can. My "job" is to love, nurture and care for my family. I'm to be a godly example and build them up in Christ. I am to provide for their needs with a clean, comfortable home, nutritious food and all that goes with it.

Hmmmph! It didn't sound like very exciting or important stuff to me but God had me read I Corinthians 12. There Paul talks aaabout how individual parts of the body make up the whole, how each has a place and function that is vital to the whole and that if any one part suffers, the whole body suffers. So what does that have to do with me and my family? Well, if I fail to send them out into the world refreshed, rested, well fed and capable then their poor performance affects the whole body of Christ. It's a ripple effect that reaches the farthest reaches of the body. That sure makes picking up that stinky sock or filling up the ice tray for the millionth time seem a lot more important.

I also have come to realize that I'm not being fair to Tim nor fulfilling my purpose by always letting Tim know how unhappy I am about his long hours at work (he is a classic workaholic). For starters, I shouldn't be depending on him to meet my emotional needs. I should be depending on God. He should be enough. Anything I receive from Tim is an added blessing in life. Knowing I have no control over Tim's actions, I should be concentrating on my own. The godly woman of Proverbs 31 would not rant or cry or beg. She would not shut down in depression because her husband is so rarely home. She would get up off her butt and do her best to provide and maintain a comfortable home-hoping all the while that her actions would influence her husband and the decisions he makes. She would make home such a pleasant place that her husband would desire to be there.

That's where I am. Lots of lessons heard.....now to put them into practice.

PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES

6 eggs
3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 cups unsifted flour
1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Combine eggs, sugar, peanut butter, shortening and vanilla. Thoroughly blend. Add dry ingredients and mix only until mixture is smooth. Stir in peanuts. Spead dough into two lightly greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1-inch pans or three 13 x 9 x 2-inch pans. Bake for 25 minutes.

Attitude of Submission

It's a pretty slow Saturday morning around here. Megan had a friend spend the night and they are still sprawled on the air mattress watching cartoons and eating s'mores (I did make them eat a real breakfast first). Matt woke up earlier than he wanted to (grumpy) and cleaned his room so he could head to a friend's. They've discovered a small shop in the neighborhood (well kept secret) that is able to sell things very cheaply because the packaging was damaged. He's got money and it's burning a hole in his pocket. I'm not saying anything today. He got his first pay from the new job and can enjoy it before reality has to set in. Yesterday he surprised me with a George Foreman grill because he heard me say that meat cooked on one is considered fat-free on the diet plan. Wow.

My First Place bible study was about having an attitude of submission (you know, that thing I'm having trouble with). An attitude of submission means you say, "God, I'm ready to do whatever you want me to do." Then your faith is confirmed by action or obedience.

Do I tell God I'm ready to do anything and everything he asks of me? In theory, yes, I do, but then I got to thinking some more. Maybe I'm not always ready because I don't always realize God's asking something of me. Like this whole diet business. I never thought about the fact that God wants me to lose weight and be healthier...which would in turn make it easier for me to live his purposes. In this light, my failure to follow the diet or exercise is disobedience. Yikes! Not a comfortable thought at all, but (lol) I guess that's the point. I wonder what other areas I'm being disobedient in because I don't realize it's God telling me to do it rather than my own idea?

For encouragement this morning, God led me to Psalms 5 and from it I got these things:

*Pray to God (and only God) every morning and make my requests known...actually, He already knows them, but He wants me to bring them to Him and trust Him to take care of them.

*Because of His unfailing love, I can enter His house.

*I can worship Him in His own house.

*I must ask and then allow Him to lead me, tell me what to do, show me which way to go...

*I can take refuge in Him.

*I should joyfully sing His praises.

*He will give me joy.

*He surrounds the godly with His favor.

Talk about happy thoughts to start the day! I love how spending time with God first thing sets the tone for my day. When I don't get to it really makes a difference.

I also looked back over some recent journal entries this morning and was marveling at the things God's been teaching me lately. I don't think I've mentioned it, but He's made it clear what my purpose is these days. I will share about that later.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Monkeyshines, Tom-foolery and Shenanigans

Feeling a wee bit silly today, so......

Led Zeppelin
Classic rock! Without you the other genres
wouldn't exist! You are the raw and original
sound of rock! Other genres may try to imitate
your rawness, but they can never be like you!


What genre of rock are you?
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phoenix
Phoenix:
Phoenixes are litterally birds of fire. They are
brave and majestic and have the ability to be
reborn from their own ashes. You are strog
willed an confident- a true leader. Although
you can get down in the dumps occasionaly you
are never there for long. Many people flock
around you and like you as a friend.


What Mythological Creature Are You (Many Results and Beautiful Pics)
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sandals
Sandals- peaceful, daydreamy, and thoughtful, you
often find yourself staring into space. When
you aren't out helping others you are often
just dreaming away. You enjoy the company of
friends sometimes but enjoy peace and quiet.
People turn to you for advice, and admire the
peace you seem to have found. [please vote!
thank you! :)]


What Kind of Shoe Are You?(new and updated results!!)
brought to you by Quizilla


HASH(0x861c550)
You are CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL. She is a rad
chick with absolutely no fashion sense. If you
are a guy and chose this... you are gay.


Which old school Nickelodeon show are you?
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And just in case that wasn't enough for you...

100 THINGS ABOUT ME

1. I was born on my mom's birthday (Aug. 15).
2. I was born in the Chinese year of the dragon.
3. My middle name is Lynn.
4. I like peanut butter, but loathe peanuts (or any nut for that matter).
5. My hair is some shade of dark brown (depends on what box of L'Oreal I pick up).
6. I live in the suburbs.
7. I wish I lived on a farm.
8. I have chickens and rabbits anyway.
9. I had a goat, but the neighbors didn't like it.
10. I got married when I was 20.
11. I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this year (now you know how old I am).
12. I accepted Christ when I was 28.
13. I have a mole on my left big toe (in case you have to identify the body).
14. My left ear is pierced 3 times.
15. My right ear is pierced once.
16. I have lots of freckles.
17. I studied journalism in college.
18. The only degree I got was my MRS.
19. I give everyone (including pets) nicknames.
20. Tim calls me "Ace."
21. My dad called me "Sam."
22. I saw Jaws when I was 12.
23. I am terrified of sharks.
24. I won't go in the ocean because sharks might get me.
25. I'm going to the beach for vacation.
26. Snakes scare me more than sharks.
27. I can't sing worth a lick.
28. I like organizing big events.
29. I read 2 or 3 books at a time.
30. I read an average of 10 books a month.
31. I don't watch much television.
32. Fall is my favorite season.
33. I collect old books and first editions.
34. Macintosh is my favorite candle scent.
35. Banana Nut Bread is a close second.
36. I was once approved to begin studies to become a lay pastor in the Churches of God, General Conference.
37. I wear a toe ring.
38. Canada is the only foreign country I've been to.
39. I'm an only child.
40. I can trace my family on my mom's side back to John and Priscilla Alden (you know, the Mayflower).
41. My other ancestors were Scotch, Irish, and Swiss Mennonites.
42. I have always been interested in Native American history and culture.
43. I have been on two mission trips to the Navajo reservation.
44. I've always kept a journal.
45. Right now I have 2 journals plus my blog.
46. Shrimp Scampi is my favorite food.
47. Chinese greenbeans with chicken is nearly tied.
48. 9 is my favorite number.
49. I like taking quizzes.
50. I am a Pepsiholic.
51. I am shy (anything else is just an act).
52. My sense of humor is warped.
53. I once shook hands with Bill Clinton (ewwwwwwww!).
54. I was never a Girl Scout.
55. I was in Civil Air Patrol.
56. I lived on a wildlife preserve when I was a kid.
57. I like gardening.
58. I like to cook.
59. I hate washing dishes.
60. I'm a slob at heart.
61. I actually like John Denver's music.
62. I like Bobby Vinton, too (thanks for that Mom).
63. Cheesy comedies are my favorite kind of movies.
64. Dirty Dancing is my all-time favorite movie.
65. I like to sit on the porch during a storm.
66. I once made an alcoholic punch (college days) that is still believed to have disolved the ladle.
67. My dream car is a classic red Mustang convertible.
68. I belong to a sorority-Kappa Delta.
69. I don't like to sweat.
70. Salty snacks are my downfall.
71. I live next to my mom.
72. I don't like working with elementary kids.
73. I get along really well with people older than me.
74. My eyes are brown.
75. I'm very good at trivia games (a veritable fount of useless facts).
76. I've never had a broken bone.
77. I hate public speaking.
78. Sappy movies make me cry.
79. The Pittsburgh Steelers are my favorite football team.
80. I've been to the studio where Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood was filmed.
81. I've met Mr. McFeely, Joe Negri and Purple Panda.
82. I lived in Orlando for 2 years.
83. I'd rather go to Universal Studios than Disney World.
84. I put up more decorations for Fall than for Christmas.
85. I love parades.
86. I can't fold a fitted sheet worth a darn.
87. I'm willing to act like a total moron in the interest of youth ministry.
88. Talk radio puts me to sleep.
89. I listen to (and like) most of the same music as my kids.
90. I bite my nails.
91. I can't see a thing without my glasses.
92. My checks have Peanuts characters on them.
93. I hate secrets.
94. Trading Spaces is my favorite show.
95. I sponsor a child thru Compassion International.
96. I enjoy garage sales, flea markets, auctions and thrift shops.
97. I don't like coffee.
98. I do like cappucino.
99. I actually like our poodle (my family tends to think this makes me certifiable).
100. I function best under pressure.