Wednesday, January 31, 2007


A couple of weeks ago, Joy, my small group leader asked me to join her for lunch after Bible study. I was thrilled. A first date with a girlfriend here in Georgia.

I'm inclined to be a loner. When I get an opportunity to get some time to myself, my first choice is to go off somewhere with a favorite book and spend some quiet time alone. So, I don't naturally plan to get together with other ladies. And I SHOULD! I need friends, but I rely too much on my faithful long-distance friends, and neglect possible friendships here.

So, Joy opened the door for me and we had lunch together today. What a treat. We talked and got to know each other more. I've always appreciated her for being a woman who seeks after God and I'm thrilled to get to know someone who encourages me to do the same. We went to a restaurant right off the town square. We both had chicken fried steak, green beans and fried green tomatoes. That was my first time trying fried green tomatoes -- they were DELICIOUS! I was just wondering, Mom, Grandma, do we have ANY Southern blood in our family because it sure did taste homey.

Anyway, it got me to thinking that now I can make the effort to initiate dates with girlfriends. It can be done! It's fun! And it's important. I'll report on my progress. : )

Now, I've got to get to work on my Bible study for tonight. Being sick has put a real damper on getting ANYTHING done around here. I'm not sure what the boys are going to wear to go to church tonight because I'm so behind on laundry.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The "IT" Factor

Here is a picture of my kitchen counter next to the sink, and all of the clean dishes that still need to be put away. (See Item # 5 below.)

My cold isn't much better today. After getting dressed, getting Keva on the bus and eating a nice breakfast, I plopped myself down on the couch in the family room and watched mind numbing TV until about 10:00 AM. That's when I suddenly remembered about smuggled white chocolate macadamia nut cookies in the refrigerator in the garage. I literally jumped up, then non-chalantly meandered out of the family room into the garage and quickly back into my room to eat two of the yummiest cookies on the face of the planet. All washed down with some cherry cola. Yup.

And I'm wondering why I don't lose weight or get over this yucky cold.

I'm also of the mindset today that if I ignore IT, whatever IT is, it will go away. Here's a list of IT:

1) The poop accident in the dining room. (I did say to someone that Kody's been AWFULLY good these days about not doing his doody in the house.) Sigh. Kathleen took the poop away, but I still have to clean up the residue with the steam cleaner.

2) Kids' school. School? What school?!

3) Bills.

4) Associated with bills -- filing. I had a horrible time finding paperwork for taxes this year.

5) The washed pots, pans and plastics that sit on the counter waiting to be put away.

6) My weight.

7) And the usual laundry and dishes.

I just took a little turn around the house, and guess what! All of the above items . . . still there!
Actually, I'm just preparing for a good TV night tonight. There's American Idol, of course -- my foremost guilty pleasure. And then, following AI, House. I love that show. I was shocked to hear Hough Laurie, the guy who plays House, accept an award last week and talk in his normal British accent. The guy does the show in an accent not his own. Amazing.

So, I'll sit tonight, hopefully with some of my list above crossed off, and (if I don't feel exhausted from the cold) I may pull out a crochet project.

On Keith's job -- I was feeling the stress of knowing that we wouldn't be getting a regular pay-check coming in starting next week, when Keith came home from work last night. It was simply terrific to have him home for dinner. We had make-your-own-tacos (a house favorite). The tacos were completely cleaned out. I started off with one, having gobbled up "a few" of the aforementioned cookies on the way home from the grocery store) and when I came back for just one more, every ingredient had been nearly inhaled by the rest of the family.

Then, Keith mentioned to me, lightheartedly, "You know, someone at work was saying that I should just do overtime now. I could work until about 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening and make even more than what I was making at my other job."

I simply stared at him for a moment. This was, of course, my idea way back when. When we were trying to make ends meet before he took the second job. But, at the time, working so many hours at Delta seemed so infeasible, so LONG, so BORING! But, now, on the other side of six months at a truck dock working like a dog and getting four to five hours of sleep a night, it doesn't seem so bad!

"Well, okay, then," I said, after a moment of blank shock.

One of our worries before about doing overtime for Delta was the lack of overtime hours. Apparently, this isn't the case currently. Another huge advantage to working at Delta for overtime pay is that he'll be getting paid OVERTIME. Also, lately, he's been working in a different building problem-solving issues for Delta's on-line services. So, when he works overtime, he'll be working at the phones in a different area. It won't be the same old thing for hours and hours on end.

I'm thankful beyond words for this current development. It will be hard to have him away in the evenings again, but he'll be getting home earlier and he won't have to do the tough physical labor.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Kylie gets a package!

Everybody loves a package!

Grandma Waynel sends a gift of Polly Pockets for Kylie to restore some of the ones she lost when Kody chewed them up. Thank you, Grandma!

One down, five to go!

Keri Lynn without braces! So pretty! She's learning how to talk with her retainers. It brings back memories! Now, we have one set of braces down, and only five to go!

Kylie watches The End of the Spear on her TV.

The boys show their sweet smiles and their sore need of a barber. Note Konner's new scrape on his face.

Kathleen teaches Kody a trick.

Kody will do anything for a Special Treat.

Kade loses his first tooth!

He's just too cute for words. "Sewiously, Mom!"

Laid Off

Keith went to work on Friday with two jobs and came home with one. He was laid off from his second job, the dock job, along with four other part-time guys, because there isn't enough work for everyone right now. So that means part-timers get the ax first. He gets to keep his work ID and will likely be called back in July when work starts to pick up again. In the meantime, July is -- um -- SIX MONTHS AWAY!

The positive part of Keith not working that second job is that for now we'll get to see him again throughout the week. He's missed not being with his family and we have missed not having husband and daddy around.

Today, Keri Lynn and I are suffering from colds again. Keri Lynn has been sick since returning from California. And I've been sick on again/off again for the last few weeks. I've got a big of a headache and I'm all stuffed up. I announced clean-up time for a half hour after lunch and have holed up in my warm bedroom to play on the computer for a while. Meanwhile, the mess still sits stubbornly all around the house, refusing to disappear all by itself.

It's been COLD this week. Most days, it's been in the 30s and 40s. Our house keeps bedrooms toasty warm, but the big common rooms get chilly.

We're going to have a family picture done by Olan Mills this weekend as part of our church's pictorial directory. I'm just imagining how very pathetic we're all going to look if we don't start feeling better. I've got to get on the ball, too, and cut hair. I haven't cut boys' hair in a long time. Kristofer is hoping that I'll forget, since he likes his long curly locks, but he's in for a rude surprise. Kade looks okay, but needs a little trim. It's Konner that still looks awful from a horrendous haircut Keith gave him a few months ago.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy birthday, Grandma!

For those of you who've never met my Grandmother, let me describe her to you. She is a petite woman, slim and highly energetic. She can out-talk anyone. She has three children, eight grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

Some of my earliest memories are going up the path through the ivy to visit Grandma and Grandaddy. Their house was always warm and inviting. Warm yellows and browns. Lots of pictures. A chalkboard in the hall. Carpet everywhere.

From Grandma, I learned the fine points of table manners and place settings. She often cooked us Chicken Divan served with buttered sourdough toast. I made this meal often when I was first married and I still serve it regularly today.

She often mended things for my family while I was growing up. She also had clothes that she'd get from people who were getting rid of their old things and we'd go through those to see what we could use. She taught us how to put outfits together. For instance, when you're going to go buy something, you need to ask yourself if there are other things that go with it. Make sure that you can make at least three different outfits with one article of clothing. She sewed and enjoyed crafty things and home decor.

I think that's why I like crochet so much.

When she sold her home after Granddaddy died, she moved to her condo and decorated it in blue and rose. Those were my favorite colors for years and years. A lot of how I decorate my home today is because of Grandma.

When I came over for a few days, I'd be tucked into the hide-a-bed in the living room and Grandma would do what she'd done all my life whenever I slept over. She'd talked to me until it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Oh, how she'd talk! She'd talk about the people that she knew, past and present, about church and missionaries and ministry, about books she'd read, and about God. Always about God. And then she'd pray for me and I'd go gratefully to sleep!

Grandma is 90 now. She lives in a retirement center where she has downsized to a room, alcove area, bathroom and a big closet. She has long since given up driving, but her computer keeps humming while she works on her memoirs. She emails everybody every day. She holds a Bible study and has many visitors. Because she has a hole in her heart, a problem that she's had since birth, she now rides the halls to the dining hall in her motorized "car".

My college days weren't too long ago. It wasn't too long ago when she was driving me from Biola to downtown Los Angeles, where I worked at a Korean church. She gave up her Sunday mornings at her own beloved church to take me to teach Sunday School to Korean kids. She zipped around in her car just like she walks -- FAST! And she'd attend the Korean service for the adults while I worked with the kids and then we'd zip on back to Biola. We took those times to pray together and catch up with what was going on.

I introduced her to my boyfriend at that time and held my breath while they talked together. Keith is a talker and Grandma is a talker. Right away, they had some pretty serious theology discussions. They both survived them and Keith got the stamp of approval from Grandma. I married him three years later.

Grandma has always been involved in some kind of ministry for the Kingdom. She has always talked about the Lord's return. May it come quickly. Although there are many times when I would think, "Lord, maybe not THAT quickly," like when I was about to get married, or when I was going to have a baby, or when we were about to buy our new house! Grandma, a dyed in the wool, pre-trib rapture believer! Still, I can't fault her for her yearning to some day see the Lord face to face. I imagine that even a new husband, baby or house could even remotely compare to THAT!

She has always been involved in some kind of ministry. She was saved as a young wife and mother. Granddaddy went to jail once a week to minister to the people there. Grandma was involved in Bible study and helping missionaries. One day, her oldest daughter, my mother, became a missionary in Central America and eventually I came on the scene as a MK. Grandma and Granddaddy came for visits to Guatemala and Honduras and we would come home on furlough to freeways, houses with carpeted floors, fast food, English, and Grandma and Granddaddy's house!

She became involved in women's Bible study, and then later, when she became a widow, helped other widows. She also counseled women in their marriages. Her Bible is tattered from use. She's always clipping articles and putting them together in care packages for her loved ones. Every once in a while, even way off in Georgia, I'll get a pile of recipes, articles, puzzles, etc. from Grandma. She got us a subscription for Citizen Magazine for Christmas.

Most of all, I can't remember a time I have not gone for a visit and not been introduced to anyone in the vicinity by a proud Grandma. "So-and-so (it didn't matter who it was -- pastor -- janitor -- neighbor -- stranger off the street), this is my OLDEST granddaughter . . . " and then would follow a list of my latest accomplishments, however embellished by a proud grandparent they were. I'd nod and smile with the full knowledge of family pride and hope that the person at the other end understood that I was truly a regular human being and that my Grandmother was proud of me!

And so I nearly burst with pride myself when I see my Grandmother take Keri Lynn by the arm to thrust her proudly before whoever happens to be around, "So-and-so, I'd like you to meet my GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER . . . "

So, Grandma, this is for you. Thank you for the loving Christian heritage you've given to me and my family. Thank you for your support over so many years. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for teaching me through example. If I can be half as tech-savvy, half as well-dressed, half as hard-working as you when and if I should reach 90, then I'll be a happy woman. May God bless you as you enter into another
decade! Happy birthday!


Chills and Fever

Oh, boy! Had some fun yesterday.

Wednesday afternoon, I started feeling like I was starting to catch a cold. By evening, I was feeling feverish and having trouble getting to sleep. So I wasn't surprised when I woke up Thursday morning feeling completely exhausted, cold and weak. I decided to work through the yuckiness and see if it was just early morning I-don't-want-to-wake-up feelings, or if I was really sick. So I put Keva on the bus, read the local paper (This takes about 15 minutes), listened to the kids rustle around the kitchen getting their breakfast, and then went on back to bed where I stayed wrapped up in my comforter for nearly four hours.

I woke up hungry and hot. Not feverish, just hot, as in I've-just-woken-up-in-the-middle-of-the-day hot. Normal. What a relief! I was still tired, but not sick and weak. I made myself some breakfast while the kids rummaged around the kitchen finding food for lunch. I was so relieved to have the big kids back to help the little kids while I took care of myself.

We all got comfortable in the family room and watched one of our Netflix movies The End of the Spear. If you haven't gotten a chance to see this movie in theaters or as a rental, I highly recommend it. It's based on the book Through Gates of Splendor. I had to fast forward through some of the more violent parts for the sake of the little kids, and then when they left to go play outside, the rest of us watched the whole thing again. I cried through it twice. There's a particularly sweet scene where one of the tribe members who escaped the violence of her people to live with the missionaries boldly tells her murderous brother the truths of John 3:16 using the imagery of their culture. There's no getting around the grace of Jesus, even for a murderous tribesman.

I ordered pizza for dinner. Thank you, Dominos, for returning the 5-5-5 deal! Two pepperoni, one sausage/olive, one ham/pineapple. Since the kids had essentially fed themselves all day, they were STARVING by dinner time. Kade was doing his impression of The Starving Boy by clenching his empty stomach and moaning. This irritates me so much! Especially since he's got these big meaty arms and chubby rosy cheeks. It didn't help that Dominos was taking an hour and 45 minutes to deliver the pizza. And it was no surprise that the pizza came a little on the cold side. Frankly, I didn't care, because I didn't have to cook! The pizza guy got a nice tip and we commenced eating.

Dinner became a contest. Who could eat the most pizza slices. And then there were arguments about who ate more than the other. Kristofer, for example, ate five slices but didn't eat the crusts. Konner ate two slices in, I'm pretty sure, 30 seconds. Kade ate the crusts, declaring, with his mouth full, "I LOVE the crusts, Mom!" Kathleen was trying to eat demurely, but told Kristofer that, since he wasn't eating the crusts, he wasn't eating as much as she was.
I served the pizza on our "fancy plates". Fancy plates are paper towel strips. No fuss. No mess. (Have I mentioned how much I love pizza?) The big family joke is that everyone needs to take good care of the fancy plates. When company comes over and we're having pizza or sandwiches or hot dogs -- whatever strictly doesn't need a plate -- we break out the fancy plates and tell our company to be careful with them.

Well, this time, Konner TORE his fancy plate. Kristofer and Kathleen set up a court session to determine Konner's guilt or innocence. (This is how I can call this rather pathetic day a school day!) We had the defendant, the judge, the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney, and a witness. Then, of course, because the American legal system is just, Konner was declared guilty and sent off for a tickle torture. They all thought the court great fun and proceeded to run about a dozen trials right there at the table.

Once the younger kids were down, Keri Lynn and Kristofer joined me for another movie. We watched the first of three discs of Dune. It's the most recent version of Dune that has William Hurt in it. Anyway, I spent most of the movie time worrying about whether or not Keri Lynn and Kristofer should watch it with me. Kristofer thought it was the best movie ever since it has all kinds of great special effects and fight scenes and mammoth worms. Kristofer was ready to go right off to the post office to put the disc back in the mail so that we can get the next one that much quicker. Good grief!

I'm not sure how this day is going to turn out. It' 9:26, and I haven't seen The Big Three up yet. Kathleen is probably sick with the thing that took me down yesterday. When I woke her up to take the dog out, she said it was too cold to get up. So I let her sleep. If they others are down with the same thing, I may need to keep us all home from the homeschool park day that we attend every other Friday. I hate to miss it. Today, Keri Lynn is supposed to meet with another homeschooled 15-year-old girl, but I don't think the girl is going to appreciate a little flu bug.

Ah, the joys of a large family.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Return of the Big Three

I've been a little off all week. The Big Three (Keri Lynn, Kristofer and Kathleen) have been off to California since Sunday, and the rest of us chickens have been basically sitting around "taking it easy." I've been off in my own little world, reading and/or watching TV while the little kids raise havoc.

At first, things were going pretty well. I thought, "Wow, isn't it sweet just to have the little kids. They're playing together SO NICELY! Ahhh, they want to sleep in the same bedroom tonight because they miss the big kids. Isn't that precious!"

I go off to my room to do some work on the computer . . .

I return to (I'm not making ANY of this stuff up!) Kody chewing on yet another discarded used diaper from the trash, Kylie having broken one of the lights in the hanging light fixture by throwing a ball, Kade STANDING on the mantle, Konner hanging off the TV stand, the TV up to deafening volume . . .

All I needed were a few monkeys screeching and hanging from the aforementioned light fixture.


Needless to say, I've pretty much abandoned the computer for the rest of the week except for when the kids have been asleep and the dog safely locked in his crate.

I'm gathering up Kylie, Kade and Konner to take them the airport to pick up the Big Three in 26 minutes. I'm not counting down. Really, I'm not.

While we're near the airport, I'm to deliver a belt to Keith's work. He apparently is going to get some co-workers back in order? Actually, he just forgot to pack it with his clothes for his second job.

Then, hopefully, the kids will be able to get off the plane and meet me in baggage claim without me having to take the rest of the crew off to the gate to meet them there. Keri Lynn has my cell phone number in case there's any trouble. Thank God for cell phones.

Then, we'll probably swing by Taco Bell, as is tradition after a flight, to feed the starving minions and, God willing, be back in time to get Keva from the bus.

That is probably the ONE thing I didn't miss about having the Big Three gone. I didn't have to feed the equivalent of a small country. In fact, cooking was a breeze this week. I made macaroni and cheese and nobody complained. Last night, we had pork and beans . . . .mmmmmm. But tonight, it will be back to serious food. No mamby-pandying around. MEAT. Rice AND potatoes. And a few veggies to make the health-nuts feel better about themselves.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Good-bye, HGTV

Does anyone else think January is flying by? It's all I can do to get used to writing "January", let alone "2007".

I'm taking a quick break before I go crack the whip to get our house back in order. The carpet needs to be majorly attacked by the steam cleaner. There are funky smells emanating from just about every corner. However, I'm in a hum-drum lazy mood. I really need to get back on my game.

At least this morning we got a few things done. We all went to JC Penney's and got a nice white blouse for Keri Lynn to wear to choir festival. It had the kind of cute sleeves and collar that she likes. She was very disconcerted to get the medium instead of the small. She said, "Why can't they make a size in between small and medium? This shirt is just a little too big!" Oh, the trials of teenage life! I felt really sorry for her . . . I did!

It turns out that Kristofer had a white shirt already. I just about fell over when I realized that he did. No stains, no rips . . . and it even fit. He also packed this morning instead of waiting the 15 minutes before we walked out the door. What is becoming of this world?

We got gas for $1.96 a gallon.

Then, it was off to downsize our cable. I've been meaning to get just the basic channels and save us about $34 a month, but to do so meant to disconnect the digital box and connection cable and to physically get the equipment to the office myself. And, not wanting to part with my HGTV, Discovery Channel and TLC, I was finding one excuse after another to postpone the trip. Today became the day. Now we have a mere 20 channels for our viewing pleasure. In reality, we'll probably find a lot more time in our day than we had before. I've found that I really don't watch that much TV these days anyway.

However, it was still emotionally difficult to say good-bye to some 200 other channels. So I took us all off to Taco Bell for lunch and we all felt better. : )

Now, I've got to figure out how to get Kylie to a doctor's appointment at 3:00 -- I think she has pink eye. I need to stop by an ATM to get money for the two going to festival. I've got to drop off Keri Lynn and Kristofer at 4:00 and simultaneously pick up Keva from the bus at 4:00 back at home. Um. Think I'm going to have to rework the schedule. That, and Keri Lynn really needs to get her learner's permit so that she can be on her way to driving her own car. Won't THAT be weird!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Playing Catch-up

I will attempt to make this short. Having a three-day weekend can really mess up a school week. I'm still playing catch-up today. Thursdays are typically difficult anyway, as we are all recuperating from Wednesdays (our busiest day of the week).

First of all, last weekend was a lot of fun. We had Kent and Kradan and their kids, Jordan and Logan, over on Saturday. They live a little north of Atlanta -- a good hour's drive from Newnan. We provided lunch and they brought a delicious dinner. In between time we played about a hundred rounds of Ponce -- a card game that can best be described as Group Solitaire. We hadn't played it in a long time, so it was a lot of fun. The first game involved nearly all of our kids. We all crammed around the table and slammed cards down left and right. Then, we shooed the kids away and played just the adults. By the time we were done, my head was swimming with dancing cards.

Meanwhile, Kathleen and Jordan, thick as thieves, plotted a sleepover. We invited Jordan to sleep over here and Kade and Konner got to go sleep over at Logan's house. Hmm. Who got the better bargain? Let's just say it was A LOT quieter at our house than it may have been at Kent and Kradan's. Jordan went to church with us and fit in nicely in the general chaos of our household. Kathleen and Jordan TRIED to arrange yet another flip sleep over, where Kathleen stayed with Jordan and Logan stayed with us, but -- ALAS! -- the adults all felt that we were done. The girls have decided to write to each other in the meantime.

It was so nice to have Keith home for a three-day weekend. As it turns out, he was able to get time off from both of his jobs for MLK. We mostly just took it easy on Monday. Keith worked out in the backyard a little and I tried to get a jump start on the laundry. Ha! You'd never know it by the way the whole house looks today.

Keri Lynn finished Algebra I this week. She's started in on finishing her science course. She's trying very hard to finish the last of her curriculum for ninth grade and then will jump into tenth grade work -- hopefully by March. We're always playing catch-up, it seems. But this year has been a turn-around for us in that we've completed more of the school work for the year than we ever have before. Working on one or two subjects at a time works well for us, I think. And A Beka continues to be good steady curriculum.

Today, we'll make our weekly trek to the library. Our favorite librarian always works the counter and lovingly gives us a hard time about the number of items we check out. I always try to get some kids' books for history that corresponds with wherever we are in our group history session. Then, Kylie gets the latest American Girl book. Kathleen gets a couple of those books written like diaries of various girls in various historical eras. (She'll talk you to death about whatever book she's reading.) Keri Lynn is reading a lot of historical romances right now in the Christan genre. Kristofer likes books about dragons and adventures, of which there appears to be a lot, but it's still tricky to find appropriate ones. After a lot of urging from me, he finally got into the book Hans and the Silver Skates where there are absolutely no dragons. He absolutely loved it and said, "Mom, you always know which books to pick out for me!" Kade and Konner get books about motorcycles, jets, tractors, etc. then they go play games on the library computers.

Connie, one of the ladies that watched Keva on Wednesday nights last year, but then went on to work with Junior High kids was telling me how much she likes Kristofer. She said, "I think I just might have a little crush on that boy . . . " and then proceeded to tell me how sweet he was. She just joined the Bible study that I rejoined on Wednesday nights. It will be a good opportunity to get to know her better.

Kristofer reported after Impact, the Wednesday night youth group, that he has been nicknamed "Trigger". He has been learning the ropes as part of the tech team, but has itchy fingers when it comes to flipping the slides and turning on/off lights. So the youth pastor renamed him "Trigger" for "trigger-happy." Kristofer was pleased beyond measure and was grinning about it again this morning.

Tomorrow, Keri Lynn and Kristofer head off to McDonough, Georgia for a choir festival. They'll return on Saturday in time to attend a meeting to get to know the new youth pastor candidate. Sunday morning, they'll be off again, along with Kathleen to go to California to 1) celebrate their Great-Grandma's 90th birthday and 2) for Keri Lynn to get her braces off! A very exciting trip all the way around. They're scheduled to return home on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Time to get going!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream

" . . . not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Wow!
It's worth listening to this powerful speech again.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Grocery Event

I don't usually blog twice in one day, but I wanted to jot down a little tidbit about my trip to the grocery store.

Each trip to the grocery store is an event. These days, I go once a week. I spend about $150 to $250 each visit, depending on whether it's a week that we're low on the high budget items like laundry detergent, shampoos, diapers, etc.

EVERY time I go to the grocery store, I always get some kind of comment, like, "Wow! How long is this all going to last," or "Someone sure is hungry!" or something like that.

This week, I came up to the check-out with a full grocery cart. The guy who bags at the end gaped at me with a dropped jaw, "That's ALL yours?"

A checker happened to be walking by and said, "Oh, that's NOTHING! She usually gets more than that."
"That's right," I said, "I'm coming to leave this cart here and grab a second cart."

The bagger was clearly stunned, and I was wondering if there were not other people in all the world that got enough groceries to fill one cart, or was I the only one?

When I came back with my second cart some 30 minutes later, the checker at the line that I was pointing my second cart mimed, "Go to THAT line. Please, go to THAT line," and pointed desperately to the other open lane.

I mouthed back, "You're MEAN!"

He just grinned.

When I returned to retrieve my second cart, the mean checker eagerly came to help me push the second cart into the other line.

I then said, "Why, THANK YOU, so much. You are so kind!"

He laughed at that one.

Have I mentioned how old I feel when I go to the grocery store? Each visit, I feel older and older, particularly when I go on a Friday night when the grocery store employs all of their low-seniority employees. The high school students and fresh-out-of-high-school kids who need to work whenever they can get the hours. They were out in force tonight and all wondering why a woman would buy so many pickin' groceries!

The bagger in the second line asked me, "Will all of this last you for a month?!"

"A week."

"No way!"

"Yep. I just make a big pile and I get my big shovel and just shovel it in," and I then demonstrated my technique with pantomime.

"You must have pigs at home," he commented. This comment, when I relayed it to the kids later on, insulted them to no end.

However, I answered, "Feels like it sometimes."

Then, when all of the items were at last scanned, we all stood around the register monitor and watched agog as the grocery card was scanned and all of the Kroger discounts were ticked off of the grand total. It was a bigger total than usual.

"Thank you, ma'am," says the 19 year old checker, "You've saved $69.23 by using your Kroger card. Thank you for shopping at Kroger."

My groceries didn't fit into the two original carts. Apparently, once they were bagged, they expanded and had to be put in three carts. I got the usual help hauling my loot to my van.

And thus ended yet another grocery visit. Thank goodness!

Teen Dating

Happy birthday to my sister Beth! I hope your day today was extra special! I've been thinking about you.

Today, we went to the park to meet with some homeschool families. That was a very nice treat. I miss the homeschool community in California very much. I guess I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and get us enrolled in some of the activities at the homeschool group here. I've enjoyed the freedom of less responsibility in not being involved in a co-op, but I'm missing the camaraderie.

I got a chance to talk to one of the moms at the park about how they handle teen dating. Essentially, their 15-year-old daughter will not date while they have the care of her. She can go out in a group setting, but no one-on-one dating. This is essentially what we do with Keri Lynn. She is not allowed to date. In fact, we are encouraging her to wait to date anyone until she and the young man are ready for marriage. This means that even through college, she needs to be concentrating on school, getting through those studies, before she gets involved with a guy. We also want to be a big part of getting to know said young man and his family.

She is the only one that we know of in her youth group with such strict rules. The youth group is packed with dating kids, from junior high through high school. There are two couples joined at the hip, and there's a lot of general looseness as far as what the kids wear and how they act around each other that is disheartening, to say the least. Keri Lynn and I both wonder, as we talk about these issues, if we're the only ones that feel so strongly about maintaining purity at this important stage of life.

It is my heart's prayer that our Christian youth will experience a renewal of their love for Christ, and in so doing, change a lot of their behaviors that so easily pull them away from obedience to God. It may have to start with the adults. Gulp.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January Tornados

Keith called me from home late afternoon Sunday as I was coming home from picking up Keri Lynn from choir practice.

"Umm, how far away are you?"

"On my way home. Why?"

"Weather's not good. Make your way home as soon as you can."

I looked out the window and just saw a lot of murky weather. Everything was calm and quiet, but warmer than it should have been for that time of evening, which started making me feel a little nervous. Still, we got home just fine and tuned into the weather channel. The front was coming our way.

We're too far from town to hear any tornado warning sirens, but the local news and weather channel was extremely accurate about when to take ourselves down to the basement. It turns out that there was a F-2 tornado that touched down for about four minutes somewhere northeast of us. It was enough time to completely demolish one house and tear down lots of trees, sheds, detached garages and such.

I'd still pick tornadoes over earthquakes any day. At least there's a little warning. Maybe not too much at all in some cases, but some.

We hung out in our basement under the staircase and decided we should probably get a first-aid kit packed down there, along with blankets and water, and maybe some chairs to make us all a little more comfortable. We went down to the basement twice for about 15 minutes at a time before the storm blew over.

The kids were kind of jittery, but we explained to them that we were just being careful. Kody thought it was all great fun that we were all joining him in the basement where he ends up being placed at mealtimes.

Now that the storm has passed, the weather has turned a lot colder. All of a sudden, we're all wearing jackets again. The kids are going outside with long pants and shoes instead of shorts and bare feet (except Konner, of course). It's been so warm for the last two weeks that the flowers were starting to bloom and people were getting hay fever. Now, maybe plants and trees will close up again as we go back to winter.

A good freeze would be nice, too, to keep down the mosquito population in the summer. But only for a week. We'll see.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Birthday Letter to Konner

A birthday letter to my son, Konner . . .

Dear Konner,

Today you are six years old. My baby is getting bigger, taller, faster every day.
Let me make a list of your current ailments:

1) You've got a yucky cough. I'm going to need to take you to the doctor tomorrow because your ears are starting to bother you. Today, I gave you Tylenol twice, bubblegum chewables, four instead of three because you're six now. Your nose is very goopy.

2) Your middle toe on your left foot hurts sometimes. You dislocated it last month. How does someone dislocate a middle toe? I don't know, but you figured out how.

3) The side of your face is scabbed over from a burn you received from fireworks from New Year's Eve. You were walking past Keri Lynn's sparkler and burning ash fell on your face. I think you'll heal just fine, but you look like you had an argument with the mean side of some asphalt and the asphalt won.

4) You've got some more scabs on your hand from a fall.

5) Dirt is forever swirling around you -- like Pig Pen in the Peanuts comic strip.

In short, you look like an orphan.

When I tease you about it, you roll your eyes and say, "Mo-om!"

But you really do look like an orphan. You didn't wear underwear for most of the day because it was too much of a bother to find some. Thank goodness modesty has kicked in so that you at least had pants on! I'm lucky if I can get shoes on you before you go play outside. It could be near freezing, and there you are barefoot playing in the mud in the back, snot stuck all around your face along with all of the dirt, scabs and bruises all over your body. A true boy.

Konner, you are such a sweet boy. I have always been able to count on you for the sweetest kisses on both my cheeks, snot and all. I can even get you to sit on my lap and cuddle, but I've noticed that it's a little less as the weeks and months go by. Too soon those precious little boy times will be over, but I'll have to get used to that because that means that you're growing up to be the man you're supposed to be.

You are a loner. You are independent. If you want to do something your way, you'll go ahead and do it no matter what anyone else says. If someone can't hear you, you get REALLY loud. Otherwise, you don't say much of anything at all. Kade does enough talking for the both of you, and that's fine with you, as long as you go along with it.

We have a joke, you and I. When everyone piles into the car, I count heads. When I get to you, I say, "Is Konner here?"

And you say, "I'm not here! I'm in the house watching TV!" or you'll come up with some other activity, "I'm not here! I'm playing in the back!"

We both think it's so funny!

You are the only one left in our family who has not made a formal commitment to the Lord, but you're young yet. It will come in due time. But when you pray, your heart seeks the Lord. You pray for "the whole wide world" so that you don't forget anything.

I've been studying the book of Daniel lately, so my prayer for you, Konner, is that the Lord will see you, like Daniel, as "a man of high esteem." What better commendation could there be than for God Almighty to think highly of His servant. May the Lord look on you, Konner, as you learn and grow, and see a man of high esteem.

With Love,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Sad Day

This afternoon, I was working on-line with The Dreaded Bills, when I heard Kylie wailing a death song.

Kody, Black Death, came and chewed up all of her Polly Pockets, most of which she had just received for Christmas. There were little arms and legs scattered everywhere. Polly Pocket Holocaust.

Later, Kathleen told me that they took the beloved pieces out to the backyard for burial. Fellow Polly Pocket owners came to support their friends in the loss. They buried the torsos in one place and the arms and legs in another. They were very sad, and Kody was not on the Most Favorite Dog List today.

Coughs and Bills

I took myself off to the doctor this morning because my blood pressure is still too high (not terrible, but not controlled either) and I've been battling a wicked little cough. The combination is wiping me out. So the doctor whisked into the room and out in about five minutes. I've learned to spit out my complaints quickly and ask questions in between breaths! I like this doctor, but he's got too many patients, I guess.

So now I'm home with antibiotics and cough relief meds of some kind AND another blood pressure medication. I used to take three blood pressure meds, all low doses, but spread throughout the day for better medication. I was doing so well early last year, that the doctor took me off one of them. Now, I think, over time and because I've probably (gulp) gained some weight back, I need that third medication again. Sigh. Once my cough is better, it will be nose to the grindstone again for me! Time to put my Get Health Plan into action!

Meanwhile, we're all enjoying the last day of Christmas vacation. We'll start back to school tomorrow. The bus will come for Keva at the wee hours of the morning and we'll get back to regular business.

Our tree is still up, although Keva has depleted most of its bulbs. It looks like we just took down all the decorations and left the lights on, but actually it's just that Keva broke most of the bulbs. I think we'll take it down this weekend and turn it in to a facility in downtown Newnan. It's called "Take one for the Chipper." : )

I started a load of laundry to put a dent in the mountain in the laundry room. My main motivation is to have clean clothes for Keva to wear to school!

I also need to pay a bunch of bills. I wish I could hire my own accountant! I hate to pay bills. I think it has something to do with adding up all the stuff we have to pay out and make it equal to or even less (ha!) than the stuff we take in!

Konner's burn on his cheek is looking much better. Thank God! It's now a couple of scabs on his cheek. It looks like his face met the pavement in one of his many accidents. That kid will be lucky to make it to adulthood. He's on his way, though! Tomorrow, my baby will be SIX! I feel like I've got to go hug him and smooch him now while I still can!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The demise of the Christmas tree

Mom: And what is this mess in the dining room? More bulbs broken! Keva! Kody!"

What is left of the Christmas tree decorations. Pretty pathetic.

Keva, taking on an innocent posture, chewing on a dining room napkin. Hmmmm.

Happy 2007!

Happy New Year! Wow! 2007! How did that happen?!?

I've always enjoyed Mondays for a new start, so I really enjoy the new year. When I was a girl, I always started my diary first thing on New Year's morning. I was telling my own kids how much I enjoyed keeping a diary when I was a kid. So, Keri Lynn and Kathleen were both writing down their dearest thoughts while we all sat around the family room watching football and Biggest Looser marathon. I got to thinking that I still like to write in my diary, but now it's called a BLOG!

May I say at this moment that I love to watch The Biggest Looser, but I hate to miss episodes and not know the people involved. So I'd rather watch it in one big swipe. And that's exactly what I (mostly) did. Nearly 13 hours straight of Biggest Looser, only interrupted (ironically) when Keith took me to lunch for ribs! We also stopped by Michaels for yarn that I needed and hhgreggs to check out the new dishwashers on sale.

Since Ginny's visit last week, I've been busy working on crochet projects, too. She always inspires me to get back into crochet, so there I was, sitting on the couch, crocheting the cutest capelette and matching hat (two sets) and watching people lose hundreds of thousands of pounds while I digested ribs!

It did have an impact on me, though. I am going to lose weight this year. My habits needs some tweaking! More on that later . . .

Christmas went by in a bit of a blur.

Just to illustrate how much of a procrastinator I am, I'll tell you all about what happened two days before Christmas.

I went Christmas shopping.

I had already bought and sent gifts to family in California, but I had not gotten a thing for any of my kids yet. Part of the reason of why I waited was that I thought Keith might want to go with me to get the gifts, but when the day came when we had both money and time at the same time, he was wiped out. So I took myself off to Target and then to Michaels TWO days before Christmas. I've always been a procrastinator before, and sometimes it causes pain, but other times it's not so bad. This time, fortunately, it wasn't too bad.

I got some things that were the last things available -- the last two laser guns for the little boys, the very last remote control car for Kristofer, and a lot of things on sale. So I greedily held on to the cart while traveling around Target in quick fashion. Halfway through, I had to go to the bathroom VERY BADLY. But I couldn't chance someone taking my cart of toys that I had so carefully picked out. So I waited until I got to Michaels, a few stores down.

I got into Michaels with the express purpose of finding a restroom AND QUICK. I knew where the restrooms were at other Michaels stores, and essentially traversed the whole store twice before I finally found an employee to ask, "Please TELL. ME. WHERE. THE. RESTROOM. IS!" Never have I been so relieved (so to speak!)

Once I was back to relative sanity, I went back to the task at hand and got cross-stitch projects for Keri Lynn and Kathleen, a neat book on making your own machines for Kristofer . . . and then I was on to much more "important" things. Crochet projects for ME! Yippee! The total time I took looking through crochet books, studying yarns, picking out yarns, putting yarns back, etc. easily exceeded the time actually spent Christmas shopping for the kids. (Sad, very sad.) I wanted to make an afghan, but couldn't find one that was perfect, and -- in the long run -- finally decided I really didn't have the time to make one anyway. There were only a few days of actual vacation left!

So anyway, I got home late, and went to bed even later. This only began a vicious cycle.

"Very late to bed, semi-late to rise makes a homemaker . . . grumpy!"

Christmas Eve evening, I came home from getting much needed groceries, and Keith came home from helping in the Christmas Eve service (which the rest of us stayed home from because we were tired), and we opened up Grandpa Stan's Christmas present to all of us -- two new Veggie Tale videos and The Pirates of Caribbean 2. Once the kids were in bed, Keith watched the Pirates while I wrapped presents. Wrapping ALWAYS takes so much longer than I anticipate. You'd think I'd learn to give it more time! So it was another late night.

Christmas Day, Keith and I awoke to seven giddy kids. We took pictures and prolonged the agony as much as possible -- that's the job of the parent, you know, to prolong agony. We opened up gifts from family and the kids opened up the gifts we'd gotten them. It was a lot of fun. Even Kody got a couple of presents this year! Thank you so much to Mom and Rich, Dan and Jessica, Stan, Alice -- for adding an extra special bit of Christmas for us! Keri Lynn bought presents for her brothers and sisters with her own babysitting money. She gave Keith and I cold hard cash for a date night -- isn't that sweet! Hmm. Who are we going to get to babysit?
Later that evening, we broke out the Monopoly Here and Now version that Grandma Alice gave us. That was fun. There are airports instead of railroads. You get two million dollars instead of two hundred dollars for passing "Go". The tokens that go around the board are things like a cell phone or laptop.

By then, I was EXHAUSTED. This vacation time can be really tiring!

The day after Christmas became a mad rush to put things in order for house guests. I steam cleaned the chairs and carpets. Kids cleaned up rooms.

Ginny came with her kids on Tuesday and stayed through Saturday morning. The kids completely entertained themselves. We all got to bed late every single night, but also got to sleep in a bit, too.

We pretty much stayed close to home except for a trip to the dollar theater in Fayeteville where we went to go see Facing the Giants. Our family had not gone to see it yet, but Ginny and kids had seen in a couple of times at least. I'm planning to get it when it comes out on DVD. It was a very powerful movie and I highly recommend it.

Ginny and I also went out a few times shopping at Michaels and Goodwill. We also had dinner at Panera Bread. Ginny had been there before, but I hadn't. WOW! Talk about flavor. Panera Bread specializes in bread -- shocking, huh! -- but it also has some amazing salads, sandwiches, soups and baked goods. It's an Italian Bistro of sorts with Wii connectors and other yuppy-type delights. I felt very chic eating there and knew I would never be able to get Keith to set foot in such a place! But it is perfect for girlfriends. So we sat and gabbed and ate food bursting with flavor.

At home, we ate pretty well, too. We made a couple of batches of that easy fudge and then I tried to make some divinity. The divinity was tricky because you really need a candy thermometer to make it come out just right. I don't think I let the sugar dissolve enough, though, so it was a little on the gooey side. Ginny taught me how to make fried cheese toast, and I will never think of cheese and bread in the same way again -- Mmmmm-mmmmm!
All in all, it was a successful time together. The kids are already planning the next get-together. We think we're going to have the Kings over again for a few days in the summer, then make a kid swap where Ginny takes the girls back to her house and I'll keep the boys. Then, we'll come down to Florida to visit with them for a few more days and swap back kids again.
We don't start back to school until this Thursday. I'm thankful for a little longer reprieve as we adjust back to real life. Eating too much, watching too much TV, not exercising, going to bed too late and getting up too late can be REALLY EXHAUSTING!

Next on the agenda is Konner's birthday. He turns SIX on January 4. He's really excited.
Keith shot off fireworks for the New Year, and Konner had a encounter with one of them. But it wasn't one of the big bad fireworks that got him, but the kind that you hold like sparklers. The burning ash got on his cheek and took off a layer of skin. We hope he doesn't scar. It hurt him initially, but it hasn't bothered him much since except for itching. It's kind of like getting sunburned, I think. We'll have to keep an eye on it.

I have not gotten even close to sending out our Christmas letters. This is a BAD sign for me. If I don't even have the letter ready to be printed out after the New Year, it usually doesn't get done at all. My biggest motivation, though, is to get people to go to my blog and find out about how we're doing that way. By next year, I may be at the point where I'm just sending out postcards saying "Go to blog" and just be done with it. However, there are still plenty of people on my Christmas letter list that don't have much to do with computers, so I don't know if I'll really do that or if perhaps I'll just curtail the list. I really enjoy the letters that I get from everyone else, but that's been dwindling, too, with the onset of digital pictures and web pages.