Thursday, August 31, 2006

Is he wise, or cynical?

A couple of weeks ago I bought these two bottles of coffee flavoring syrups at Sam's Club. I'd been wanting to try syrups forever, and at $4 a bottle, it seemed like a good time. So I picked out Kahlua flavored, and raspberry flavored.

One evening, as I was pouring some raspberry syrup into my coffee, I noticed something on the label. I turned to Hubby. "Look, " I said, "they have all sorts of recommendations on here. You can put this on ice cream, in tea - ooo, that would be good, raspberry tea. Oh, and there are recipes on their website!"

He looked at me. "Uh huh. You know, they probably wouldn't mind if you just drank it straight from the bottle."

And standing there, holding that $4 bottle of syrup, I had to admit he was probably right.

I'm still going to try it in tea though. Just once.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I was not a joiner

WBW this week is supposed to be pictures of us in organizations like 4H or Girl Scouts. Well, I was never a joiner when I was a kid. I lived in my own little fantasy world and I let other people into my club. Hmm, much like today. In elementary school, I found some friends who thought the same way I did and we formed our own little club. We were buddies all the way through graduation. These were people who stood by me no matter what, even when I was not always the best friend they could have had.
I'm the one on the bottom left. We called ourselves The Fun Bunch, which is what that sign says. We didn't have a uniform or a secret handshake or anything. The only requirement to being in The Fun Bunch was that you had to be at least as nuts as we were. There was one other member who isn't in this picture, but this was pretty much the whole group. Yes, we were very picky about letting people in. Let's just say we weren't the popular kids and leave it at that, okay?

Over the years I have been in and out of touch with them. Just the other day, I decided to email Michele, who I would say was my best friend in high school. I've had her work email address for ages, and just hadn't gotten around to getting in touch with her again. Well, she still works for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and I'm hoping we'll be able to get together for lunch soon. How cool is that? (I gave her this blog address, too - so, if you're reading this, Hi, Michele!)

Nowadays I'm much more of a joiner. You should see my Patch the Pirate Club uniform.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

That wasn't so bad

Our first day went really, really well. The boys actually got out of bed when they were supposed to, ate breakfast, and went right to the school room. We worked together for about two hours, then had lunch, and then I did math with each of the older boys individually. I didn't get any arguments, any complaining, any whining - it was amazing! We were finished by 2. If the rest of the week goes like that, I'll be highly encouraged!

Now all I need to do is figure out how to keep the baby occupied while we're working. He kept coming in wanting drinks, snacks, and attention. I have a box of toys he hasn't played with all summer, so maybe that will hold his attention. But overall, I was very happy with how the day went.

Monday, August 28, 2006

First day of school!

As we begin another new school year here at my house, I once again look forward to all the new and exciting things my sons and I are going to study together, and at the same time question my own sanity for doing this. My oldest is in fifth grade this year, my second is now in 2nd grade, and my third son will be learning preschoolish stuff like letters and numbers, plus participating in art projects with his brothers. The baby will most likely just be screaming for attention.

The comment I get most often from moms who don't homeschool is, "I just wouldn't have the patience for that," or some variation thereof. Let me let you all in on a little secret. I don't have the patience for that either! I can guarantee you that at least once a week I will threaten one of the boys by saying something like, "If you do that again, I'm driving you to the nearest school and throwing you through the front doors and they can deal with you!" I've actually been on the phone calling the local school district a couple of times. But I always stop.

Why do I stop? Sometimes I'm not sure. But I do know one thing: No one in any school anywhere is going to give my boys the time and attention that I can give them. When I hear about kids who spend all day at school and then they still have three hours of homework at night, I just feel so bad for them. When do they have time to be kids? When my kids are done for the day, they're done! I know they're happy that way.

Being a mom is all about sacrifice. Sure, I'm sacrificing my own free time, the ability to have a spotless house, the mornings of leisurely sipping coffee and watching Regis & Kelly. But that's okay. I'm gaining so much.

I know homeschooling is not for everyone. And certainly if you go into it thinking you're going to fail, there's no point in trying. But I also think that if you're willing to really try and make it work, you will be amazed at what you find you can do. I know I have been.

Friday, August 25, 2006

How to eat a jelly sandwich

I am just not in the mood to do SPF today, so instead I give you this.

My 20 month old wanted a jelly sandwich last night. I spread jelly on one piece of bread and folded it in half. Then I went to do other stuff while he ate it. When I returned to the kitchen, this is what I found:Yes, that's him face-down in jelly. He was literally just plunging his whole face right into it. When I said his name, I got this look:"You talkin' to me?" Then he went right back to "eating."

Did I ever mention I have weird kids?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Feeling guilty

Hubby left this morning at 5 a.m. for a two day trip to Akron, Ohio. He gets all the fun. But as we all know, when the cat's away, the mice will play. As soon as he left, I indulged in one of my favorite things, something I can't really do when he's here. I slept in. Ahh, the luxury! The baby didn't wake up until 9:30, as though God knew I needed that extra pillow time. I feel guilty now, like I did something I shouldn't have done! Still, I'll probably do it again tomorrow, hehehe!

School starts Monday in our house. Not looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

WBW - Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Well, I decided to bite the bullet and take pictures of my pictures. The lovely TKW has asked for any transportation-themed photos we have in our archives. These are the ones I found.

When I graduated from high school (1988), my grandmother offered to take me on a trip anywhere I wanted to go. I chose Spain because I'd just finished four years of Spanish and thought I should use it. Little did I know that high school Spanish and actual Spanish bear little resemblance. Still, it was an amazing trip. Here I am on the tour bus in Madrid. If you've read the first chapter of my novel (Spanish Summer - link on the left), you might recognize the woman in front of me there as Jill. Yes, the character is definitely based on her.
On the same tour, we took a day trip to Morocco. The king of somewhere or other was traveling by yacht that day, so we were not allowed to travel by boat from Gibraltar to Morocco. Instead we got to fly on this tiny little plane. Dig my cute short set with suspenders! That was a very fun vacation. I'd love to take Hubby back there some day.

So I finally played! Did you?

This may be my last post, as I'm about to throw the computer out the window

Not really, but good grief! I just spent 53 minutes trying to get this scanner to work, downloading drivers, installing, re-installing. All so I could play WBW, which now I can't play. Grr! Why does everything have to be so ridiculous!

Last night, Hubby and I were up in our bedroom and the boys were down in the basement. Then my oldest shows up with some sort of crystalline substance all over his fingers. "What's that, and don't get any on my bed!" I said.

"It's sugar. My brothers took advantage of the fact that I was hypnotized to spread salt and sugar all over the basement." How many problems can you find in that statement?

So, at 10 at night, I was downstairs, cleaning the basement floor. It was everywhere. Oh, what fun! I'm sure all the ants are very disappointed that I managed to clean things up, but I guess they'll just have to live on what the dog pulls out of the trashcan.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A trip into my subconscious

Did you ever have that dream where you're back in high school and you have a big project due? And then at lunchtime in the cafeteria, they have a pig roast, only the pig isn't actually dead and he's really not happy that people are carving him up? So he starts eating people's projects? And then when you try to rescue your project from the large, blackened pig, it turns and attacks you? But then you manage to get it away from him and turn it in after a long, epic battle? And to top the whole thing off, you miss the bus home?

Me neither.

Hey, don't forget the Trivial Pursuit showdown at 9 p.m. eastern tonight. Just come here and use my IM Jana widget to the right to participate!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Isn't he sweet?

We were at Sam's Club yesterday, and when I chose a checkout line, Hubby asked why I picked that particular one.

"It's the shortest," I said.

"I always pick the one with the best-looking checkout person," he said.

"Okay," I said, wondering why he was telling me this.

"That's why I like to go to the self-checkout aisle."

He meant that when we are together at the self-checkout, I am the prettiest checkout girl in the store. You thought he was talking about himself? Yeah, me too. It was still funny, though.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Stuff Portrait Friday

This week is pretty random. Kristine is stuck for ideas, so if anyone can help her out, pop on over. In the meantime, here are my pics.

My supplies:
This is just some of the stuff I use when teaching my kids. We have paints, art stuff, clay, text books, and an electric pencil sharpener, and that's just the stuff in this picture. School at home can get to be pricey.

My mailbox:Trust me, it's down there, almost dead center in the picture behind that giant shrub at the end of the driveway. Yeah, I send the kids to get the mail.

My bag:
Nothing special to look at, but it's special to me. This is the first purse I've had since my second son was a baby and I realized it was silly to carry both a purse and a diaper bag. I've been keeping my wallet in the diaper bag since then. I just got this for Christmas from my grandmother and am rediscovering the joys of having a purse. Look, it holds my cell phone!

So, did you play? Oh, and don't forget to sign up for my Trivial Pursuit challenge! See Monday's post, Meebo Me, for details. It's going to be this Tuesday night. Who's game?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

You might have PMS if... get all teary-eyed watching America's Got Talent. What's up with that? That is about the least tear-inducing show I can think of.

Did you watch this? The boys and I started watching it back during the auditions, and they got such a big kick out of it that they wanted to see it every week. They especially liked the guy in the cow suit. There have been several acts I've been very impressed with. But I'm not sure why they let professionals in to the competition. I can see if you perform in competitions, or if you just locally perform on the weekends, but there are at least two groups in the finals who have been professionally performing their acts for the last 15 years or more. Some of the other finalists aren't even 15 years old! Does that seem fair?

And if there's no rule against being professionals, why isn't Rockapella in this competition? Let me tell you, if you think At Last (the guy a cappella group on the show) is any good, you must run out and buy a Rockapella album immediately. Even on their worst day, they are a million times better than At Last. Seriously, if you've searched on "At Last" and ended up on my site, go NOW to Rockapella's website and get yourself a really good group to listen to.

Anyway, my pick for the winner would be the jugglers, Passing Zone. I know, I know, they're jugglers. And they're professionals. But they are both talented and hilarious, and that always gets my vote. Of course, the little girl, Bianca Ryan, was fantastic too. But she doesn't have a family to support. Now I've got to watch tonight to see who won.

I'm going to have the tissues ready.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WBW - Water water everywhere!

It feels like I haven't played WBW in forever! I finally decided to move my scanner to my laptop, and voila! Now I can scan and play to my heart's content.

Now at first glance, you're going to say, "What does this picture have to do with water?" Well, I'll tell you.When I was little, I used to amuse myself for hours on end by making up commercials for a miracle spray cleaner. This stuff could clean anything. Wood, plastic, metal, appliances, mirrors, you name it. So here I sit in my footy pajamas cleaning my mom's cabinet fronts for her. (Luckily this photo is in B&W so you don't have to be assaulted by the avocado green appliances.) I don't think this bothered my mom at all. In fact, she probably handed me the bottle from time to time and pointed me towards the nearest dirty surface. I don't remember.

So what was this miracle product, this wonderful cleaner that no home can be without? You guessed it: water.

Did you play?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In the mood for a novel?

Ever since NaNoWriMo last November, I have been working sporadically on revising my novel. I've submitted it for criticism on Critique Circle, and I've revised some more. One thing I've noticed is that other people tend to see things that the author misses. So now I'm submitting it to you. Chapter one of my novel is located here. Just click on the title, Spanish Summer Chapter One. Now, for some reason I lost all the formatting when I copied it, but other than that, if anything is wrong let me know. Likewise, if you like it, let me know! I'm particularly interested in what you think of the characters at this point, and if you're able to see the things I'm describing. I always have trouble with description.

I'm going to put a link to my portfolio in the sidebar, too, so in case you don't get a chance to read it today, you can find it easily.

So go, read! Then come back here and tell me what you think! Thanks!

In the middle of difficulty

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity .”
~ Albert Einstein~

My favorite verse for many years has been Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. I have found these words to be true over and over again in my own life, and in others' as well.

Two weeks ago, my sons attended Good News Camp, run by the local Child Evangelism Fellowship office. It's a beautiful location, on several acres, with a pond and a stream, an outdoor chapel, and everything boys and girls need for a fun day at camp. But the camp might never have had the opportunity to use that property if not for a great tragedy.

The doctor and his wife had four boys. One day, they were all outside, riding their bikes, and the little one, only 3, was riding his tricycle. Not realizing that the driveway ended, he continued riding out into the road. He was hit by a car and killed. I cannot imagine the heartache and pain that his family went through in the weeks and months that followed. I've met the doctor, and he still has a sadness in his eyes when he sees a little boy about his son's age. What a horrible, horrible thing.

And yet, God used it for good. Soon after the little boy's death, the doctor became aware of a need for a good location for Good News Camp. He had been privileged to lead his little boy to Christ several weeks before his death, and immediately he realized the importance of CEF's ministry. How wonderful it would be if many more little boys and girls could come and hear the Good News! So he opened up his property. They built a chapel in memory of his son, and they tell this story every week of camp to the campers who've come to play and learn. Because of one family's tragedy, many thousands of children have come to know Christ.

Sometimes it can be so hard to imagine what God's reason could be in letting things happen to us. I've come across so many blogs in which people have given up on God because they think He's given up on them. We have to remember that God doesn't live in time like we do. He can see the whole picture, beginning to end. In every difficulty, He gives us the opportunity to trust and rely on Him. When difficulty comes, take the opportunity to thank God for it, and look for the opportunity He's provided to make all things work together for good.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Meebo Me!

Some of you may have noticed the little widget over on the right, which says "IM Jana." It's a cool little thing I came across somewhere or other which allows people to IM me right on my blog. But it doesn't stop there. Meebo also keeps track of IMs I get from MSN, Yahoo, and AOL and sends them all to one place. No more signing in to multiple IMs to get messages! It's very neat. So if you ever see the little green bubble that says I'm online, drop me an IM - let's chat!

Now what would be a fun thing to do with my Meebo? Well, of course - we'll have a Trivial Pursuit challenge! I know several people have commented that they're good at trivia and no one really wants to play The Game with them anymore (including me). So here's what I propose: we meet here for a Trivial Pursuit game! If you're interested either email me or leave a comment. Or Meebo me! I'm thinking a Tuesday night would be good (but not this week - I want to give people a chance to sign up). The only rule is no googling! The winner will receive a cool button for his or her blog. I'll take the first six people who sign up!

Friday, August 11, 2006

SPF - Titles

This week, Kristine has challenged us to come up with a photo that represents a song title, one that is a movie title, and one that is a book title. So here goes.

Song: Turkey in the Straw

These are some wild turkey that were wandering through our yard one day. This morning, we saw a deer out in our pasture. I like living in the country.

Movie title: Baby's Day OutI took this picture of my baby when we were at the park one day. He stood there like that for the longest time, watching a bunch of kids playing, and I just thought it was so cute!

Book Title: Prose of the Victorian Era
This is how I feel just reading the title of that book.

So, did you play?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

For women only

I'm warning you right now, if you're a man you probably don't want to read this post. Seriously. I'm going to be talking about b*r*a*s. Then again, maybe every man on the internet will want to read this post. Anyway...

Continuing my image series, how do you choose the right brassiere for you? We've all seen women whose chests touch their waistband. And none of us wants to be that woman, right? Here are my favorite tips.
  • Get yourself professionally measured. Go someplace like VS or a department store and ask them to measure you. Many, many women out there are wearing the wrong size because they've never done this one simple thing.
  • Buy a new set of b*r*a*s every three months, just like your toothbrush. Buy enough that you can have some in the wash and have at least one clean one.
  • Why every three months? The materials of the garment are meant to support. Any material, no matter how nice, is going to stretch and break down over time. After three months, it's just not doing its job as well as it should be anymore.
  • The more support you have, the better. The tissue in your b*r*e*a*s*t*s is going to break down over time, causing that dreaded sagging. Good support will slow that process.
  • Get a nice, supportive and comfortable sports bra or something like that to sleep in. Again, the more you can do to slow the breakdown of tissue, the better.
  • While wearing your b*r*a, the b*r*e*a*s*t*s should peak halfway between the shoulder and the elbow. If not, you need a new one.
  • We all change size if we gain or lose weight. If you're using the set of hooks which are farthest out, it's time for the next larger size, even if the one you're wearing seems to fit.
Okay, I think that's all. Sorry for all the *s, but I do want to avoid some measure of perverts searching for such words! Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Woe is me Wednesday

I wanted to play Way Back Wednesday today, but my scanner is not working. Actually, I think it's a communication issue, because the scanner itself is working fine. The computer just won't admit it.

So, what shall I talk about instead? We have a tenant who just moved out, so I need to start interviewing people who want the place. Obviously, I'll run background checks and all, but what happens when I have two or more equally good candidates? I hate that. Then I have to make a judgment call. I'm not really much good at judgment calls. I tend to look at things emotionally instead of logically.

Let me pose this question to you: if you were applying to rent a house, and there weren't any reason financially or a criminal record or something for you to be turned down, how would you want to be told that you didn't get the house?

Last time, I just never called them back. I don't like confrontations. But that's not very professional, or polite for that matter. Aren't I awful?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mystery of the universe

Can anyone explain to me why a 19 month old who doesn't even call his parents Mama and Dada on a consistent basis can pick up one of Thomas the Tank's friends and clear as a bell say, "Gordon!" ???

Put your hand in mine

“Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.
That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.”
~ Emily Kimbrough ~

My senior year of college I remember feeling so discouraged. My fiance was in Texas and I was in Virginia. I had chosen to go to a women's liberal arts college, and after spending the last half of my junior year abroad, I returned to find that my only real Christian friend had not come back to school. I called her godparents, who lived there in town, and they told me she'd gone back home to Jamaica. But they would still be glad to give me a ride to church.

On the way there, Mr. Clark told me about a new Sunday School class for college age and under-30 folks. He showed me which building to go to, and I walked in, feeling very out-of-place. The youth pastor I'd gotten to know over the last few years had left, and I really didn't know anyone in the class.

By the end of Sunday school time, I knew I'd found my new support group. We were all laughing and joking and making plans to get together on Friday night for a prayer meeting. This wonderful group of friends were my lifeline throughout that year. If I ever felt down, I'd call one of them. One guy, Scott, was like a little brother. He was a brand-new Christian who constantly challenged me to find the joy in my salvation. Another guy, Ken, took me to my spring dance, just because he owned a tux. And every week we met to pray for each other.

I don't even want to think about how much harder that year would have been if I hadn't gone into that Sunday school class, if God hadn't sent those people to hold my hands. I will always be thankful for them.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Can you hear the Hallelujah Chorus?

I can hardly believe it, but it seems my four year old is finally potty trained! It's been many days since his last accident, and he actually stops playing and runs to the bathroom when he needs to!

I was seriously beginning to think he'd be seven or eight before he decided it wasn't cool to wear diapers anymore. And I definitely thought the baby would end up potty trained before he did. I'm so happy to be wrong!

Major props go to my sister-in-law, who watched out for him at camp this past week and made sure he went to the bathroom when he needed to. He would not have been successfully trained yet if it weren't for her.

Three down, one to go! We've been buying diapers for over ten years now. I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Friday, August 04, 2006

And it's over!

I just got home from the last day of camp for this year. I must say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. But I'm also glad I didn't have to stay all day in the heat. Next year, who knows - maybe I'll stay all day. Or maybe I'll send Hubby off with all four boys and enjoy a week alone! Hehe.

On Tuesday I went swimming after I got home and the baby was down for his nap. I can't even remember the last time I got to go swimming alone! I almost wasn't sure what to do in the pool when I didn't have a little one to hold or bigger ones yelling, "Watch this, Mommy!" It was nice. I just floated around for about an hour.

I might do that today, too, since it's the last day of camp. Anybody want to come over for a pool party?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Other people's kids

Working at camp all week with other people's kids really makes you appreciate your own. That's all I have to say about that.

Random quotes from other people's kids:

"I have a dog! He's a black lab! No, a dachsund!" (I can see how you'd mix those up).

When asked if they have any brothers or sisters, "My brother has one me!"

Quoting the Bible verse "Righteousness exalts a nation," one little boy said, "Righteousness insults a nation." (Well, in this country, that's almost true sometimes).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Caught white-handed

I was painting our upstairs bathroom the other day when my 4 year old walked in. "Don't touch the walls," I cautioned, "the paint is still wet."

"Okay," he said.

I turned away to apply more paint to the far wall of the room. Then I heard him ask, "What is this stuff all over my hands?" Without looking I asked, "Did you touch the wall?"

"No." A pause. "It looks like paint."

I turned around. Sure enough, it was paint. "Did you touch the paint?" I asked, motioning to the tray I was using with my roller.


"Well, that's probably where the paint on your hands came from."

He looked at me like I was the wisest person who ever lived. "Oh, yeah!"

We washed his hands and he went on his merry way.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In "Other" Words - 8/1

"There are two kinds of people:
those who
say to God, 'Thy will be done,'
and those to whom God says,
'All right, then, have it your way.'"

~ C.S. Lewis ~

I heard a wonderful message a few years back entitled "The Three Kings," by Mark Gorman. In it, he says that many people make the mistake of thinking that if you're not on Satan's side, you must be on God's side. But this isn't true. There is a third possible "king" in your life, and that king is you! God has given us free will, and we are free to use it. And because of our sin nature, we are not always going to choose the best thing. And God says, "All right, then, have it your way."

At the time I heard this message, we had recently found a church we liked after moving to a new area. We attended Sunday mornings, usually. Many mornings, we got such a late start that we just didn't go. And we never went on Sunday or Wednesday evenings. Now, there is no commandment in the Bible to attend every church service your church schedules. I didn't feel particularly guilty about missing so many of them. But then I heard this message and I realized I wasn't making God the King of this decision. It was me. And it shouldn't have been. I knew if God were making the decision for me, He'd like me to be there.

Since that time, we've regularly attended all three of our church's regular services. We've also become involved in the music ministry and helping out with Patch the Pirate Club. And believe me when I say that it would be much easier not to do those things. But again, I let God make that decision for me.

I'm not saying it's always easy, or that King Me doesn't still make some of the choices around here, but it's always the right choice to say, "Okay, Lord, you take this one. Whatever you decide is fine by me."

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to camp we go!

This week, the older boys are in day camp and I have been going in the mornings to help out. This morning we were all running pretty late. As I rushed around getting clothes and socks and lunches for everyone, I kept thinking, "Is this what it would be like to have kids in school? Every morning?" Not pleasant! Tomorrow, I'm going to have to start earlier.