Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas blessings!

We've had a great Christmas break so far, especially given the fact that we haven't had any extra money to do "Christmas" the way we used to do it. Careful budgeting has meant no Christmas presents, no tree, no special holiday treats, no time to rest . . . or at least that was what it was supposed to be. Instead, God blessed us anyway.

One of the Sunday School classes from our church gave us a Publix gift card to buy a pre-cooked holiday Christmas dinner. So we got some wonderful food and invited a family (whose father/husband is off in Iraq) to join us in eating in on Christmas Eve. It was a lovely time. It was also handy in that we scrubbed the house relatively clean because company was coming. Keith even cleaned off the tops of the kitchen cabinets which had been cluttery for literally YEARS! This made me very happy!

Then, Christmas morning, we opened up gifts. We had gifts from our a group in our own Sunday School class, gifts from an organization that works in conjunction with Keva's school, and gifts from Keri Lynn who makes enough money from babysitting to feed a third world country. On top of that, Kathleen and Kylie got some extra-special gifts from Erin's family -- I'll post pictures soon and you can see for yourselves.

One of the volunteers that delivered the gifts from Keva's school also came with nice "gently" used clothing for all of us, plus a whole box of meat that kept our grocery bill down considerably! We've seriously enjoyed pork chops, ground beef and chicken breasts. And turkey. We got a turkey from the church for Thanksgiving, a turkey breast from our Sunday School class group, and a turkey from the lady who brought us the other meat. This has made Keith obsessively happy!

I was heartily surprised by a gift from Keith -- a camera to replace the camera that was stolen this summer in California. I have taken a hundred pictures at least already and will post pictures on the blog and on Facebook ad naseum as soon as Keith gets the camera software going on the computer.

Late into Christmas Day, one of the men from our church came by with a gift card for Wal-Mart. Keith nearly immediately marched Kristofer on down to buy him a Sunday suit, belts, dress shoes, etc. Kristofer used to be the "orphan" child on Sundays, but now he's looking might fine! And Keith just doesn't understand why women actually enjoy shopping for clothes!

Oh, and I can't forget last Sunday when I was sitting in our Sunday School class. Someone sitting next to me says, "Here, have this gift card for Kroger. I had this deal where I could get $30 at a time onto the card for free, but I hate going to Kroger." I said, Great!" (thinking it was about $30). Well, then, she goes on to say, "I get a little compulsive about this kind of stuff -- there's $330 on it.) Gulp. All I could say was, "Wow! Thanks!"

So much to be thankful for. Not the least of which is that I am back on the job again in January when school starts up again. I got the subbing job extended at least through January. The steady pay through December was VERY helpful. It's going to be a bit of a stretch going through the nearly three weeks of Christmas break, but all of the above blessings have made it a lot easier!

Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings and for Your servants who bless in such incredible ways! We are humbled.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Straight No Chaser - Sitcom Medley

Have I watched too much TV over the course of my life? YES! That's why this is so fun to watch!

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is it Monday?

I'm not sure which end is up these days. Is it Monday? I think it is because I went to work today. I've been working at a local middle school for the past few weeks and enjoying the steady hours very much. It's just nice to go to the same place every day and interact with the same people! This stint is done by Thursday when school lets out for Christmas break, and then hopefully I'll find something through the holidays. I haven't been looking very hard because of everything going on with the kids' schedules.

Just this weekend, I went to a jewelry party on Friday night, cleaned house Saturday day, then Keith and I went to our Sunday School Christmas party Saturday night, church Sunday morning followed by the high school choir fundraiser luncheon (in which I helped with cooking and cleaning), then the Christmas cantata Saturday night (involving Keri Lynn, Kristofer and Kathleen), then a choir covered dish dinner to finish off the weekend.

It's not surprising that I've now got a raging headache that just doesn't want to go away. I'm not getting enough sleep. But I'm going to take care of that right away! We've just finished dinner. I'm about to put Keva down. Keith has just left with the three cantata kids for their second and final performance tonight. The rest of us are going to bed! Whoo-hoo! I'm so excited! I'm just not a party girl, I guess!

Good night, everybody!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

onetimeblind - I'm Here

Move over Thanksgiving, it's Christmas time!

I am now employed, at least for the month of December, at the middle school where I worked for several weeks telling stories to Eli. Remember Eli and his froggy stories? I was so pleased to see him on Monday when I went in to work. I'll be working in that class until school lets out December 18. If I had gotten that job at Target, I wouldn't have been able to work steadily as a sub for the month. Fewer hours. Higher pay. And the joy of working with special kids. Not bad!

Today, I'm supposed to be at work as well, but Kylie got me up late last night complaining of a bad ear ache. She had been bopped in the head by a boy who had run into her during PE, and I think it must have exacerbated her ear infection. Her doctor told her that he hated to tell her this, but it wasn't the boy who had caused the ear infection, but that she should stay away from boys anyway.

Then, we went through McDonald's drive-thru and got ourselves a "we're sick" lunch, and then made our way over to go vote in the Chambliss/Martin run-off. Hopefully, by the end of the evening, we'll have one more Republican back in the senate.

One of the really great things about not having a TV is that we've missed a ton of political ads. We get them on the radio, still, but I sure don't miss them on the TV! If people don't know who to vote for by now, then my opinion is that they should STAY HOME! Argh!

Keith put the lights up on our house this weekend. Actually, most of them were already up from last year, but he added a few that were still down in the basement and put them around the garage and then put additional lights inside in the windows. Christmas lights are so cheery! We don't have any of our Christmas decorations up yet. That is still waiting for a quick all-out group effort to clean up the house a bit more. No one wants dust and Kody hair around when putting up Christmas decorations, or at least I don't want dust and Kody hair around!

Yesterday, going back to work/school after a full week Thanksgiving holiday was HARD! The alarm did indeed come very early. But I figured I'd just work through the day, trudge back home, get groceries (that I had put off over the weekend), pick up some Little Cesar's pizzas for dinner, and then crawl into bed.

But, nooooooo-ooooooooo . . . .

I did trudge back home, as planned, and even sat in the van working on the grocery list, when one of the kids spotted me and came running over, "Mom, Mom, Konner has his Christmas play tonight! Can Dominik come?"

"What?"

"The Christmas play, it's TONIGHT!" This from Kade who is all about the drama of everything.

"But I thought it was in a few weeks!"

Sure enough, I was wrong. I had missed the date of the Christmas play all together. Fortunately, I had already put aside Konner's black pants and blue shirt that he needed to be a toy soldier. (Kade was a toy soldier last year, too, in his First Grade Christmas Play.) I ironed his clothes, fussed about trying to decide if I had enough time to cut his hair (because he looks like an orphan), and then finally decided that watering down his hair would have to suffice. I talked to Dominik's mother and before we knew it, we were off. Keri Lynn, Kristofer, and Keva all stayed home, not wanting to go run off to see Konner in a play that Kade was in just last year! Keith was not going to be home in time either! Oh, the sorrows of being the baby of a family of seven! Konner didn't seem to mind, though, because he had a group to join him in his stage adventures.

We did end up picking up Little Cesar's pizza on the way to the program. Three of them. I figured there'd be plenty for lunches for tomorrow that way. Boy, was I wrong. Somehow, between me and five kids, 2 1/2 pizzas were consumed. And I only ate two pieces!

We got there, bellies temporarily assuaged, and found seats and sat through another First Grade production. Do I sound a little jaded? It's because I am! I had contemplated bringing a crochet project, but then I thought it might look a little tacky crocheting while other parents avidly videotaped their kids on stage. I did bring my camera, of course, but more to blog about it than to capture the memories!

Konner did fine, though. His toy soldier hat kept falling into his face and he really needed a belt for his black pants -- a fact that I didn't know until he was up on stage. He sang and he blew his trumpet at the appropriate song, and all went well. Whew!

Then, we went home. I offered the last few measly pieces of pizza to Kristofer and Keri Lynn, and then went to bed! Today, I get to catch up on some business since I'm home with Kylie. Kylie does indeed have an ear infection and is ready for her round of antibiotics that I'll get when I go get groceries later on this afternoon. Or at least that's the plan. : )

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We are fat turkeys . . .

. . . fat turkeys, fat turkeys.
We are fat turkeys.
Fat turkeys are we.

We're not here for living,
We're here for Thanksgiving!
We are fat turkeys.
Fat turkeys are we.

I have been soaking up Thanksgiving week. Sleeping in. Doing the odd chore around the house.Crocheting while watching favorite movies. And cooking! Lots and lots of cooking. I'm NOT talking chef here. No, no. It's me! I don't bake pies, specialty cookies or gourmet anything. I just cook to feed the starving minions.


When the kids are at school, I only cook dinner. They fend for themselves for breakfast, and most of them then also eat breakfast at school, lunch at school and then come home and raid the refrigerator for sustenance to hold them until dinner. But when they are home, I cook. And it's not like the old days especially when they were younger and everyone was home all the time. They are all out and about at friend's houses, or biking or running or doing some church activity. That means that there is a lot more grazing than there used to be. So I make sandwiches, guard chips and other snack food (so they are not consumed in the first two hours of being brought home from the grocery store), cook single servings of Top Ramen (a crowd favorite), and make several bowls of popcorn at a time.

There's also a lot more cooking for group activities. Two Sundays ago, I cooked breakfast for our adult Sunday School class. Last Sunday, I cooked dinner for Keri Lynn and Kristofer's choir group. And now there's Thanksgiving looming. However, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that I really do enjoy the preparation involved.  Maybe it's because the food is different. After all, I don't make yams or green bean casserole or turkey or even bother to peel potatoes, for that matter, except for Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas. But even Christmas dinner is a scaled-back version of Thanksgiving!

And I've become a lot more set in my ways. I like Thanksgiving done a certain way. I always bag my turkey when I cook it. (We never do ham -- Keith's preference). I always peel my potatoes and make fresh mashed potatoes -- with a masher, NEVER a blender (Keith's influence), and with real butter, not margarine. I cook green bean casserole with plenty of those French's Dried Onions. I cook yams with brown sugar and marshmallows. I make gravy from the turkey drippings and no longer worry about back-up gravy mix in case I mess up the gravy. I have jellied (never chunky -- ewww!) cranberry sauce, sweet pickles, green olives, and black olives. I make what I think of as my sister Beth's Jello Salad. A mix of a favorite jello, cottage cheese, pineapple chunks and Cool Whip. And pies. Pumpkin pie is a must for Keith. Then I pick a pie that I like. This year -- Key Lime. Yum. I never make my own pies. Like I said, I'm not a 
chef. And then there are the rolls. My Mom makes the best yeast rolls ever. We miss those rolls every Thanksgiving that we're away from California. The first two year, I attempted to make them myself, but they simply did not compare. So I found a yeast roll that you buy and throw frozen in the oven. They are very good. They're not Mom's, but they'll do, and they save me the hassle of worrying over the rolls for the two days it takes to prepare them!

We are so very blessed to have so much bounty. Even in economic troubles, here we will sit tomorrow and eat to bursting. We'll laugh about how full we are. We'll think of God and all of His many blessings.

Monday, November 24, 2008

She shoots, she SCOOOOORES!!!

I PASSED! I passed the GACE Pedagogy test! The one that I knew would take a miracle to pass. Do I think that God might have intervened? Oh, yes, I do! I'm thrilled beyond measure and excited to continue in my goal to become a teacher.

The next step is to take the Special Education test and, if I can put it into the schedule, the Social Studies test, to keep as many options open as possible. Everyone keeps telling me that I will have no problem finding a job in Special Ed. So, we'll see.

The kids are all off the entire Thanksgiving week. We've had a fine start to our vacation. The house, while perhaps not passing Martha Stewart's standards, does at least not look like a tornado went through it. I've organized both Kathleen and Kylie's clothes for the cold weather. Their summer clothes are packed away for the next four or five months. I also went through the jackets and coats, saying good-bye to the ones that are too small and can no longer be handed down to the next person. The boys cleaned their room (no small feat), and all the kids pitched in with chores. Keith cleaned out all of the humidifiers and set them up in everyone's rooms. He also replaced air filters for the central heating. Kathleen put yeast in all of the toilets to treat the septic tank. Aren't you all glad to hear all of these interesting details? It's just that I feel very accomplished today!

Keith went into work this afternoon and is still there. He usually has Mondays off, but he has a lot of work to catch up on before the end of the month. The joys of being in management. Then, he works through Wednesday, but will have all the way through next Monday off after that.

We started a new chore system. The kids have their usual weekly assigned chore, but now they earn "chore bucks" for doing them. Each night, I pass out Monopoly money. (I printed the stash from the Internet.) They can earn more chore bucks for extra jobs, like taking Kody out in the early morning hours or cleaning out the car or other such exciting jobs. They can also lose chore bucks when they leave their shoes or anything else out, or even have a bad attitude. So far, the chore bucks have been working their magic. It has been especially good for those repetitive infractions -- leaving dishes at the table, leaving out food prep things, not taking a backpack to their room, etc.

Now the key is what they can buy with their chore bucks. For seven bucks, they can have a friend sleep over, or they can go sleep over at a friend's house. For ten bucks, they can have a chore free day. (No one has gone for this one yet, preferring to hoard their bucks for other things.) For two bucks, they can buy a candy. We're still working on other rewards and tweaking the chore buck system as we go.  
Tonight, Kylie has a friend over and Kristofer has a friend over.

I had a shocker the other day when Kathleen suddenly exclaimed, "I'm taller than Keva! This is so weird!" I looked at the two of them standing together and was amazed at their height difference. Keva has always been just a little taller than Kathleen all of their lives, but Kathleen has gone through a growth spurt and shot past Keva by at least two inches! It wasn't something that we were looking for and Kathleen had just noticed it herself when she found that she was looking down at Keva instead of looking up!

Then, I had to do a height test with other significant growing people in the family. Keri Lynn is still just a millimeter taller than Kristofer and Keri Lynn and I are virtually the same height. But Kristofer has been steadily gaining on us both. It won't bother me when he's taller than us, but it sure is going to bother Keri Lynn! She does not want to be shorter than her little brother! His voice continues to change, too. It has all been very gradual for him.

Now it's time for me to go plop myself on the couch and crochet while Keri Lynn and I watch Pride and Prejudice. Soon the younger kids will all be down and we'll watch the second in the Matrix trilogy. Then, we're all planning on sleeping in tomorrow . . . bliss.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two of my girls


Keri Lynn and Keva

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One Saturday morning

The back of our house from the back yard.  We still need more grass back there!


Our dead tree at last falls in a graceful slump.

Girls:  Mom!  We're going to put up a sweet tea stand!
Mom:  Uh, sweet tea?  Today?
Girls:  Erin's mom looked at us funny like that, too!
Mom:  Well, it is a little cold.
Girls:  We'll serve cake with it.
Mom:  Okay.
They made $3.

Heart songs

I was feeling a little harried yesterday evening as we piled into our van to head off to the craziness that is Wednesday night. I had put off a lot of my responsibilities for GAs (Girls in Action). 1) All the girls should have brought in stuff for Christmas Shoeboxes, but I'd only made a few late calls last week so we missed the deadline. 2) I should have called more parents about permission slips for an outing that we were going to that very night, but I'd put off most of those calls, too! No one should put me in charge of administration. I am too much of a last-minute person!

By the time we'd gathered the girls together, I was amazed to find out that by some miracle, each girl had a permission slip!

We managed to fit all of 10 GAs into my van and Amy, the other adult helper in the group, sat in the front with me. (Only two girls had to double-buckle . . . Shhhhhhhh!) They were all super excited to go in my van, which cracked me up. I told them that if they were going to go, they'd have to promise to pretend that the van was clean!

We practiced the songs we were going to sing and the order we were going to do them in, as we drove. Actually, two of the more "administrative" girls took over. I just drove! : ) Amy and I were not to sure how it would all pan out.

When we got there, Amy gave each girl flowers to give to the couple. They went right in, hugged them and gave them flowers and we all got settled around their living room. That's when the fun began.

The plan was to say our GA motto, sing our GA verse and then sing two Christmas carols. After that, we were just going to wing it. By the time we got through the first few notes, those girls were well on their way to singing their hearts out. The couple was so pleased to hear their voices, both having been in the church choir themselves. The girls would finish a song, then huddle around for the next one, and then sing another song. They sang all of the Christmas carols they knew, all of the choir songs they knew, all of the school choir songs they knew and even some songs that they didn't quite know! There were solos, duets, trios and whole group songs. There were songs that made you cry and songs that made you laugh. There were Thanksgiving songs and Christmas songs.

Next thing I knew, I looked down at my watch and it was 7:31. We were supposed to be back at the church by 7:30! So we got in a circle holding hands. I asked for two volunteers to pray for the couple and two readily volunteered and then we gave hugs and ran out the door. Amy found out that the couple has been married for 63 years! Amazing and lovely.

Amy and I were the last two out the door, and the girls were swarming around the van waiting to climb in. They saw us and came running to us, "Thank you! Thank you!" But we were the ones so thankful for them and for their hearts. They sang all the way back to the church. And that evening turned into a huge blessing, not only for the shut-in couple, but for me! And also, I think, for God.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Things list

Two names you go by:
1.) Jackie
2.) Mo-om!

Two things you're wearing right now:
1.) Jacket
2.) Scarf (Yes, even in the house -- It's cold!
And I'm whiny about it today!)

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1.) Warm sleep
2.) A full-time job

Who are two people who will fill this out:
1.) Mom
2.) Danny (if he's in a boring meeting)

Two things you did yesterday:
1.) Subbed in a special ed class
2.) Went for CT scan, out to eat and College Night with Keri Lynn

Two things you ate yesterday:
1.) Boring bologna sandwich for lunch
2.) 1/2 order of Nachos for dinner (mmmm-mmmm)

Two people you last talked with:
1.) Keith about a fun GAs night tonight
2.) Keri Lynn and Kathleen about a fun GAs group tonight!


Two things you're doing today (or did today?):
1.) Took the 4th Grade GAs to visit with an elderly shut-in couple.
(They've been married for 63 years!)
2.) Finished reading a book.


Two longest car rides:
1.) When we moved from LA to ATL (Club Wagon and a huge Penske truck)
2.) LA to Colorado on vacation with my family when I was 12

Two favorite beverages:
1.) Coke
2.) Ginger Ale and orange juice together on ice

If you want to answer these questions yourself, go ahead and copy it and put it in comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Errand day

I didn't get a call to sub today, but it was just as well. Kathleen yelled, "BUS!!!" at the top of her lungs as she ran out the door after her brothers. A few minutes later, I heard the tell-tale sound of the girls' bathroom door opening and closing, and Kylie strolling down the hallway, completely oblivious that the bus had come and gone.

So, because Keith had been working on his truck in the garage, I had to do some serious defrosting of the huge ice burg in the driveway that was our van, and took the little pixie girl to school myself.

I got home, got a few loads of laundry done before Keith rolled out of bed. (Sundays and Mondays are his days off.) And we went off to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. This will be our last outing of this sort for quite some time until we get our finances back in order. It was yummy and the company was nice.

We left in our separate cars to run our various errands. I got a lot done today. I got a haircut. Then I went to Michaels to get yarn for Christmas projects. Then I was off to Linens N Things where I got a turkey platter, ice cube trays and a grocery bag dispenser for $3 (because they're closing and things are on sale and I got to use a gift card!) Then, I did my round of stops to get groceries for the next two weeks. First to Dollar Tree for shampoos, conditioners and toothpaste. Second to BJs (like Costco) for bulk goods. Third to Kroger for the rest of the groceries. While shopping, I got everything we'll need for Thanksgiving. Yes, I did. I quite possibly broke my record for early preparation! (Which wasn't hard, seeing as I almost always get Thanksgiving stuff the day before and sometimes even the day of Thanksgiving.)

Keith did boring stuff like get pine straw for the yard, oil and other fluids for both of the cars, and Thanksgiving decorations for some work event. Fun, fun, fun for him.

As we continue to make the changes necessary to get our finances under control, I've been very happy with one particular change. The TV change. This has been a big one. Even though we're only saving $12 a month, it's already changed a lot of how I do things. I'm making dinner on time. The kids are more on top of their chores and homework. I've been reading like crazy. I've been talking with Keith and the kids. I've been getting to bed earlier. I've been catching up with laundry. The only thing that has suffered has been crochet projects, because I'm not in front of the TV for hours at a time while occasionally crocheting.

Keith brought me home a box of my favorite candy -- cherry cordials -- a la Dollar Tree. Kade wanted to know how much it cost. I told him that it's not polite to ask how much a gift costs.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, "but you know Mom, I don't do tea parties. I play football with my friends!"

"Uh-hu."

That's my boy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cutbacks

We've started paring down our stuff for the working budget. It's things that we've talked about but haven't been willing to do until now. Still, in the long run, I think we'll be glad we did it:

1) Good-bye cell phones, except for Keith's because he needs it for work. This means we're going to have to communicate better about where we are during the day, particularly me with all of the schools I go to. This also means that kids can't call me on my cell phone with their after-school horror stories, "Mom, there's nothing to eat!" "Mom, Kylie hit me!" "Mom, I'm stuck on my homework." They usually have to wait a whole 45 minutes before I get home. Poor dears.

2) Good-bye TV. Yes, it's true. For the first time in 14 years, we will be TV-free. This will be a very good thing. Keith and I watch way too much senseless TV. We were down to just regular channels anyway and still had to pay $12/month for them. It's not going to be a huge savings in money, but will be a HUMONGOUS savings in precious time.

3) Good-bye Netflix. We had to face it. $17 a month is just too much right now. I'm hoping we'll get this little item back, though. I love me my Netflix movies! We've been so busy, though, that we haven't really even watched anything lately. We've had the same movies for weeks. What a waste!

4) And the Big Kahuna, the Mighty Dog of All Things Expensive, Good-bye to fast food. Not completely and utterly, mind you, but mostly good-bye to burgers, burritos, pizza and all things delicious. I'm feeling shaky just thinking of it. However, once again, I think we can save literally thousands of dollars a year on this item alone. Seriously! We are terrible fast food junkies! I got a Burger King combo just today in memorial. Sniff. And yes, I know, it will be a good for our health, too. Yada, yada, yada.

Keith and I did decide that we will use Keith's rewards card (a Visa gift card that he earns money on monthly) for occasional dinners out together. I don't know if we'll be able to do our usual weekly date. Hal, our financial counselor, told us that picnicking is a "marvelous" way to go out without spending a lot of money. Keith and I both tried not to look green around the gills. Cutting out our dinners out together is a hard pill to swallow.

When we met with our financial counselor last night, he gave us Quicken. Last time we'd met, he actually told us, "Well, in the time that I've been doing this, I've never done this for anyone, but I'm going to buy you Quicken. I think you can really use it." He's been counseling for 20 years! Um, we were a little blown away by his kindness to us, and also a little anxious because he knows more than anyone else what we need to do to climb out of our money pit!

So now we're supposed to save all of our receipts and continue to track our expenditures as we create a working budget. I'm so very thankful that we have the accountability of a financial counselor. It's made a big difference for us. We've been encouraged.

Tomorrow, I'll be babysitting Molly, a neighbor friend's daughter. This is the first time I've babysat in a very long time! Oh, wait! I'm a substitute teacher! That is DEFINITELY babysitting! (Parenting does not count at all. It just makes you a lot more impatient with other people's kids!) So really, this is the first time I will have babysat a pre-schooler in a very long time! And it will be just me and Molly because the kids will be in school. I think we'll take a trip to Target and to Dollar Tree. I have errands to do!

I filled up the entire van gas tank for $63 today! I am still walking around on clouds because of that experience. A few years ago, I would have never imagined being so excited to pay $1.94 per gallon for gas. What are you all paying?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Euclidean what?

I subbed for a teacher at Newnan High School today -- Euclidean Geometry. I am always reminded about how much I DON'T remember from high school when I sub in these classes. Sigh.

Keri Lynn was in the first block class. The whole day went as smooth as silk. Easiest day I've ever had subbing. They did review worksheets, textbook work and two additional worksheets. "Busy work," Keri Lynn called it when I wrote the assignment on the board. What surprised me the most was that each of the classes broke up into groups and worked diligently on their assignments the whole class period. I was shocked! Usually I have to go around shushing and cajoling and often threatening. By the end of a class period, I've got riddles ready to keep the wolves at bay before they head out the door. None of that was needed today!

I wrote a note to the teacher stating how well everyone did, and put in a special note about how wonderful a certain Keri Lynn J. is in first block. : )

Tonight, right after dinner, Keith and I will go for our third meeting with Hal, our financial counselor through Crown Ministries. We've been needing help in this area for quite some time now, and at last we bit the bullet and started the very long road to financial recovery.

Now it's time to go make dinner before I run out of time!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Fall colors


Good-bye flip-flops, hello slip-on Keds

Give us this day our weekly bread


One of the many blessings of having a large family is that people often give you things. We always have plenty of clothes for the kids. And this year, we started getting left-over bread from a neighbor who works at a grocery store. TONS of bread, doughnuts, cakes, pizza crusts and muffins. What a blessing it is to us! We call it "Quendin Delivery" after the neighbor's son who brings it to us every Wednesday night.

This is what it has come to . . .


On my nightstand: one alarm clock, two stuffed animals (Mother's Day gifts), one lamp, one nasal spray, one anti-snoring snuff-stuff, one booklight, and THREE sets of reading glasses.

Note to self: Make that eye appointment before the end of the year!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How my voting went

I ran out the door at a quarter to 10:00 this morning, a bag strapped to my shoulder full of things to do while waiting in line. As I drove closer to the fire station that is my polling place, I saw cars lined up at least a half mile down the road.

"Uh-oh," I said to myself, "Maybe my master plan of voting on Election Day while most everyone else voted early did not work!"

Still, I drove bravely on, right on up to the fire station parking lot where THREE parking spaces were available! Whoo-hoo! I then got in line at exactly 10:00 am, pulled out a book and read until a friend from church joined me and we chatted the entire hour it took to get to the voting booths.

The line was like a line at Disneyland. Just when you think you're nearly there, relieved to be INSIDE the building, you discover that there are still hundreds of people in front of you winding this way and that through out a huge warehouse of space. But the line moved quickly and I waved to at least eight people I knew. I even got to apologize to a neighbor ahead of me in line who had left a message last week on my answering machine to find out if Keri Lynn could babysit. I had not gotten around to calling her back. Sorry Sandy! At least I was able to make amends!

I finally got to the voting booth, voted straight down the Republican ticket and voted against all proposals that would raise taxes, and got my "I'm a Georgia voter" peach sticker. I was done at 11:07. One hour and seven minutes. Not bad.

Civic duty done. Now all that remains is to await the outcome.

I think I'll be doing a lot of nervous crocheting tonight while watching polling results.

Keith will be voting after work. He gets home at about 4:30 or 5:00 and will probably have a two or three hour wait. It will be interesting to see what happens for him. Hope he finds a buddy to talk with while waiting. Makes the time go by faster.

VOTE McCain/Palin for 2008!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween humbug

I hate to be a Halloween humbug. I really do. I know it makes most of my friends uncomfortable. So I don't say anything about Halloween unless someone asks. But my blog post is a whole different matter! That's when I get to climb up onto my soapbox and pontificate to my heart's content.

Let me say also that I understand the fun behind Halloween. I understand the cultural enjoyment. I know that it's supposed to be nice clean fun for the kids and an opportunity even for adults to let loose. I've also heard the many voices speaking about how church "Fall Festival" events bring in the unchurched. That it is the biggest outreach of the entire year. And besides all of that, what is the harm? Isn't it better to take something that may or may not be evil and turn it around for good? We can wear nice costumes, even funny ones. We can hand out Bible verses and tracts to the trick-or-treaters along with the candy. We can share the gospel during the church events. What a great opportunity!

But to all of this, I still wonder if Christian participation is a good idea.

Everything that is Halloween is bad. I've posted before about a conversation with a neighborhood friend who asked me why we didn't celebrate Halloween. My answer was to ask her what she thought about when it came to Halloween. Her answers: costumes, ghosts, goblins, witches, CANDY, scary things, black cats, etc. Aside from CANDY, there was no reference to anything inherently good. It was all evil. Dark. Hopeless.

Things that are evil should be turned away from, not made up to look different. I'm thinking specifically about the old days of Israel and how over and over again, the people of God would turn away from God and worship idols. They'd sacrifice to pagan gods and forsake God and all that He had done for them. God would put them into captivity and they would call on God in their distress. They would turn from their worthless idols and once again worship God. This is what I think about Halloween. The people of Israel did not dust off their worthless idols and make them cute and funny while worship God again. They would completely cast them aside. They would have nothing to do with them.

I believe that Christians should completely cast away the evil of Halloween. Halloween day should be just a normal day. It should not be made bigger or smaller than October 30 or November 1. We should go about our business. And maybe, maybe it would affect the economic giant that Halloween has become. Imagine if Christians did not buy candy, costumes or decorations! What a huge dent in the Halloween market that would be. And what a huge savings that would be for the Christian that could be used in hundreds of other better ways.

So that's what our family does on Halloween. We just go about our business. Last night, Keith took Keri Lynn and the little boys to the Newnan High School football game. I stayed home and made dinner, cleaned up the kitchen and crocheted and watched TV. We made sure our outside lights were off. By the end of the night, we'd had a pleasant evening and were in bed at a decent hour.

Those are my thoughts. If you don't agree, please don't think that I will think less of you. There are many points of view when it comes to this subject. I've learned that in the grand scheme of things, it's not all that important. I've also learned that I can go ahead and give my opinion even if other people don't agree! However, what is important is that we are raising our kids to honor God. That is my prayer for my kids. That was my prayer when they were still in my womb. "Lord, may this child honor You."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pause to thank

There's a lot going on here, hence the sparse posts. I'm trusting in the Lord's provision -- just as He's provided all of my years growing up and then married with children. Whenever I start to get anxious, I have to sit myself down and remember that there is nothing that He can't handle.

I took the much-anticipated GACE pedagogy test on Saturday. Let me tell you that I studied my brains out for that thing . . . for about a day and a half right before the test. Did I get my study cards in the mail finally? The ones that I ordered two weeks ago? Oh, yes I did! They literally came in the mail as I was driving off to take my test. Fortunately, I had bought a study guide book two days before so that I would have at least SOMETHING to study. It helped me a lot with the 120 multiple choice questions but not much with the four essays.

I haven't studied like that in 20 years! I tried vainly to study at home, but that was a lost cause with Kathleen singing her heart our in the bathroom, Keva watching cartoons in the family room, me trying to study in the living room, and various kids coming in and out throughout. So, on Friday, when I got back from work, I put Keri Lynn and Kathleen in charge of dinner and getting Keva ready for bed and ran off to study in blissful silence. I studied for about an hour at the library, then I went to Golden Coral (where I ate and studied for a couple of more hours), then I went to Starbucks (got an herbal tea) and studied for a two more hours. My big mistake was drinking two Cokes and a coffee at Golden Coral, because by the time I got to bed at about 11:00 that night, I was WIRED! So even though I should have gotten enough sleep, I most assuredly did not.

After following my mapquest map to my destination and thinking about how I could write a dozen children's stories on my mapping adventures (Jackie finds Tyrone!), I met with a girlfriend from church who was also taking the test. We saw a few other people from church, too, who were taking one of the tests for the fourth time! Eeek! That did not bode well for us newbies!

I will quote Princess Bride regarding my test:

Miracle Max and his wife are waving at Westley and his friends as they're riding off to kill the Prince and save Buttercup:

"Bye-bye, boys! Have fun storming the castle!"

"Do you think it will work?"

"It would take a miracle!"



Onto other news:

Last Wednesday, Daniel, a boy in Keva's class suffered a perforation in his stomach and died. It was tragically sudden. He was 13, just like Keva, and a sweet boy, but his health was pretty fragile. I remember several times helping him with various sorting and puzzle tasks when I subbed in his room. And he always announced whenever anyone new came into the room. It was always a BIG event. Well, now Daniel in his very own BIG event in the presence of the Lord.

Keith and I discussed who would go to the memorial service and we finally decided that it would be me and Keva. The little Methodist church was packed out with people coming to celebrate Daniel's life. It was a precious time.

Afterward, the family (the mom, dad and twin brother) met with everyone downstairs in the fellowship hall. I just about chickened out, just not feeling up to the emotional drain of greeting the family, but I gave myself a talking-to and headed on down with Keva in tow. I cried and told the mom and dad that I was sorry for their loss and then I had Keva give them each a hug, and then I was glad I had come.

It's times like these that give us all pause to contemplate God's ways. We don't understand them, but we must trust them for what they are. Perfect in every way. It also gives me pause to thank God for the health of our family. We're struggling very much with our finances, but money trouble pales in comparison to the death of a child.

I took yesterday off to spend some time with Keith on his day off. It was really nice, even though we had some errands and business to attend to.

Today, it was back to business. I went to Lee Middle School and worked with obnoxious and not-so-obnoxious seventh graders. I think when I see Kathleen, my own seventh grader, I will give her a big hug and thank her from the bottom of my heart for being such a terrific kid. I am blessed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Non-productive day

I can't say I'm sorry I'm not working today. I needed a bit of rest, but now I'm going to really book it to make some kind of progress today in anything. There's some very nasty laundry that needs to be addressed and the crew is not keeping up with their weekly chores. The kids each have a job for a week that they're supposed to take care of, but if anyone were to take a tour of the house today, they'd be hard pressed to find the floor. Sigh.

It is COLD! This morning, after getting the kids off to school, I camped out on the couch in front of the TV, bundled up in sweats, long-sleeved shirt, another shirt, socks and comfy shoes, jacket with a hood to cover my cold head and a blanket. I spent several hours snoring. It was nice. I needed it.

Then, I ate irresponsibly and went off to the computer to play on Facebook, pogo.com and catch up on email.

I STILL have not received my study cards for GACE. I'm very unhappy about it. I may need to go to the bookstore and put out more money for a study guide, if they even still have it. Eeek!

I did wake up from my couch nap to watch The View. I put myself through that show simply to see how the "other side" is dealing with politics. Elizabeth, of course, holds her own for the Republicans, but she's rarely allowed to finish a point. Her frustration was palpable today. She said, "I decided that I'll just wear my shirt!" that said "AmeriCAIN". Cute shirt.

Yesterday, I heard a brilliant phrase from Rush Limbaugh's show to counteract the liberal attacks on Trickle-Down Economics. They bash it, saying it doesn't work -- look where it's gotten us -- Reagan was evil, blah, blah, blah. Rush says that liberals have Trickle-Up Poverty. That's exactly what it is! Trickle-Up Poverty!

Has anyone taken advantage of early voting yet?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Facebook

I'm starting to get the whole facebook thing, I think. It's interesting and so accessible! I originally signed up to look at pictures that my brother had put up on his facebook. He's 10 years younger than I am, so that ought to give you a clue to the whole age thing as it relates to facebook. I sign up and it took weeks to start to figure it out. I got a few friends along the way. I finally decided it was safe enough for Keri Lynn to sign up, and she now has 55+ friends. Wow.

I subbed a six hour day today at the high school, working one-on-one with a special needs student. She'd been in Keva's class last year, so we had a lot to talk about. She wanted to know all about Keva and how she was doing, and she needed to be repeatedly assured that her regular TA would be back tomorrow!

In my last post, I wrote about my grade for my first test -- the one I thought I'd done so great at. An 84. Whoo-hoo. Stop the presses. Well, today, in the mail, I received a breakdown of my score:

Reading comprehension 100 (I was surprised I did so well here, because historically -- like in the SAT -- I've always done poorly)
Spelling 85 (I know which two words I got wrong)
Telephone Usage 50 (What!?!?)
Proofreading 94 (Thank you, Biola Chimes!)
Punctuation 80 (Thought I NAILED that, argh!)
Sentence Composition 55 (I seriously think the test writers are whacked out with that one!)
Alphabet Sorting 89 (I can't believe it wasn't a 100)
Numerical Sorting 100 (She can count!)
Grammar 100 (Told you I was a grammar geek!)

The mailer also informed me that most people score between 70 and 100, which means I did pretty average. Sigh.

Depending on what happens with the Home Depot job, I may or may not retest. It's free to retest if you don't count the gas, but I have to wait a month.

Speaking of gas, I filled up my van at $2.56 today. For weeks, Georgia was far above most of the country after the horrible hurricane spike we'd all suffered. We were paying over $4 up until a week or so ago. It wasn't quite so painful to fill up today. In fact, it's the first time I've filled the van tank all the way in months!

It's starting to get cold. I found our favorite tea on sale and bought up a few boxes in preparation for warmth! It was COLD overnight, but at least it warms up again during the day. I bundled up Keva for bed -- socks, something to cover her legs and arms -- in case she kicked off her blanket, but she didn't. She stayed all snug in her bed last night. So did I! I love the feel of being bundled up in a good blanket.

The cold has also inspired a flurry of crochet projects. There's nothing like scarves and slippers when it's cold! I made a really cute something for Ginny for her birthday that was on the 12th (better late than never!), and now I'm in the process of making something for Cheryl who drives both Keri Lynn and Kristofer to school with her every morning. Thank you, Cheryl! The plan is to get the scarf to you while it's still cold!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I need another tag

I'm home today (no job) working on laundry, dishes, bills and the job hunt. Kelly, Keva's bus driver and my life mentor, recommended a job through Coweta County for a part-time deputy clerk. Good pay for nearly full-time hours AND her husband can put in a good word for me. Love those contacts! So I just finished filling out the application and I'm going to drive it over to the County office in downtown Newnan.

While I'm there, I'll try to see if I can fix my little vehicle tag problem. I originally paid for my tags ( for both of our cars) over the phone and waited for weeks for them to arrive. I finally drove over to the office and explained that the tags had never come, so they printed me up some new ones right then and there. I then dutifully brought them back, gave Keith his and put mine on the counter next to my purse.

Keith said to me, "At least keep the tag in the van until you get a chance to put it on, in case you get pulled over."

"Okay," I said, I put the tag, still attached to the registration paper, in the car, where it disappeared forever into the black hole that is my car.

So now, whenever I drive anywhere, I break out into a sweat when I see a policeman because I'm too lazy to go and fix the problem. I'm also worried that the tag people are going to be a little suspicious. "You need ANOTHER tag?!?"

Besides, putting a tag on a license plate is really a man's job. So it's KEITH's fault. : ) Tags, taking out the trash, lawn care -- all fall under Man Jobs. Yes, they do. Keith will sometimes throw me and prep dishes, make the bed, vacuum -- but usually that's when he's attempting to give me a little kick-start. Getting things done around the house has been one of the great benefits of my staying at home. But now that I'm not at home all of the time, housework has been undergoing an evolution. What is has evolved to is still undetermined.

By the way, if any of you happen to be on Facebook, you can find me there. I'll be your friend! Keri Lynn is on Facebook, too. I think I have about six friends and been on it for longer. She started hers a few weeks ago and has forty something friends. It's an interesting tool to get to know people. Technology is something else!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just call 911

I subbed at Newnan High School yesterday. I was a math teacher this time -- advanced algebra & trig -- which just gets more and more ironic the longer I sub. I get a big kick out of subbing in these higher level classes. Kids were asking me questions and I'd preface it with a "don't quote me, but I think it's . . . " At least I had an idea of an answer!'

Then, this morning, once again I made the trek to downtown Atlanta, this time for a dispatcher's test. We were given three hours, just like the office assistant test last week, but unlike last week, I used every single second of those three hours. It wasn't a hard test, but it was very detailed. I think I did okay. I got a chance to finish it and even go over some of the main sections that were a little iffy the first go-around. There were only about six or seven other people taking the test, so I might even have a shot at this job.

I also applied for five jobs at Home Depot. I applied there last year, too, but heard nothing. Which didn't really surprise me since last year's job search was endlessly non-productive. This time, though, one of my friend's from Bible study told me that her husband is at Home Depot and will put in a good word for me. Now we're talking!

I haven't given up on the teaching job, though. It is my goal. I'm in countdown for the big test on the 25th. It's going to be a doozy! I just ordered some flashcards to help out a little. I've been studying from the on-line test prep stuff, but the test prep stuff is pretty abysmal. It doesn't help that I have my own views on classroom procedure from homeschooling that don't always coincide with public school views.

Tonight is Wednesday night church. I'm not ready for my GA class tonight like I usually am. I've been swamped with life. My saving grace is that I've been in God's word much more regularly for the last month. I love the verse that I got from Mary Blaustone's blog (she's in my favorites). I told her I'd steal it . . .

When in distress, just dial 911 . . . Psalm 91:1, that is.“

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ooops!

If you voted for your favorite candidate over to the right on my blog, then you may need to vote again.

See, I was looking at the candidates names, admiring the fact that I figured out how to put a poll on the blog using Blogger Gadgets, when I noticed that I had spelled Barack Obama's first name WRONG! In fact, much to my shame, I had been spelling it wrong for quite some time and hadn't even realized it.

So, I thought, "I know what I'll do. I'll just redo the poll and put the votes in again myself. Oh, the cleverness of me!"

Umm.

Yep.

Except Blogger won't let one person vote more than once on a poll. (Unlike actual election polling places!) So, if you've voted already, please vote again. I appreciate it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Precious Keva

Spiderboy


The boys found a huge spider at the side of the garage door. The girls had found it earlier, including the girl writing this, and WE chose to ignore it. The boys couldn't leave well enough alone and captured it and killed it without squashing it. I don't know how they killed it without squashing it, I didn't ask. I still find it very interesting, though, that the spider looks a lot smaller in the picture than it did up close and personal.

Go Cougars!



Keith takes Kade to the Friday night football game. Kade looked forward to it all week!

Chicken and rice

Currently, my family thinks I'm the best mom in the whole world.

Why?

Because I'm cooking chicken and rice. It's my specialty. I've cooked it so often that I really don't like it myself all that much. So, I'm cooking some chicken wings in barbecue sauce just for me. That way, we're all happy.

I'm in the cooking mood today, or at least in my version of the cooking mood. All that means is that I cook things that take a little more time, or require a little more ingredients or I'm preparing something ahead of time. This morning, I chopped up the last of our potatoes into thin slices (like french fries) cooked them, then I cooked hot sausage, and added it to the potatoes, along with eggs and cheese for a breakfast burrito that is to die for. Oh yes, it is!

Since three kids were sleeping over at people's houses last night, I served up some of the breakfast burritos to remaining family members this morning and then prepared the rest of it for breakfast for tomorrow! Yay for me! It didn't stop the hungry minions from stopping by and asking if they could have one today, but they'll just have to wait. Breakfast burritos are the perfect Sunday morning on-the-fly treat.

This afternoon, I started cooking the chicken and rice. I make that with the big frozen wings chicken bag you get at club stores. I love those chicken wings, because 1) they're yummy and 2) I can make one bag stretch for at least three big family-filing meals. I throw the frozen wings into a big dutch oven, cover it with seasoning salt (the end all to all things related to my recipes), and let the wings cook until they are nearly fall-of-the-bone done. Then, I scoot the chicken over to one side of the pan to add half of the rice. I do not take out any of the oil -- most of it has cooked off already, but the remaining oil adds the best flavor to the rice -- and then I scoot all of the chicken on top of the half of the rice in the pan so that I can add the rest of the rice to the other side of the pan. Then, I scoot the chicken back on top of all the rice, add water and a little more seasoning salt, cover and cook until the rice is done. Fabulous! If I do say so myself.

Keith now has Sunday and Monday off, which is a real bummer on the weekend. I miss him, especially since Sunday is such a run-run-run day. He took Kade to the high school foot ball game last night. Kristofer couldn't care less about football, but Kade is an entirely different beast. He adores sports of all kinds and told me that he's going to be a famous football player and buy me a house. That fits well into our overall plan. We told the kids that one of them has to be rich. That's all. Just one.

What they don't know (or maybe they do know) is that we're already rich because of them. I am so proud of my kids and so thankful for the blessing of each of them in my life.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Government jobs

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to go test for two government-type jobs in a fancy building next to the Capital building in Atlanta. I drove city streets, clutching the directions in one hand and the steering wheel and and cell phone (for a makeshift flashlight) in the other. The parking attendant let me park my 15-passenger van in a handicapped spot. (Shhhhh!!! Don't tell anyone!)

"Are you sure no one's going to tow my car while I'm gone?"

He assured me that it would be fine, and as I walked away, I thought that maybe I should have gotten his name, so that when I came back to a missing van, I wouldn't have to say, "Well, officer, yes I did park in a handicapped spot, but the parking attendant said it was no problem, and, yes, I know he's not there anymore, and no, I didn't get his name . . . " Yes, I thought all of that as I walked away, and then decided I'd take my chances rather than make the parking attendant grumpy at me for asking his name.

I took the test in a place called Twin Towers. Um, yes, I did. Who's in charge of these places? I got to the right floor of the right building by a sheer miracle (since I am most definitely directionally challenged), but wandered a full circuit of that floor before I found myself a nice guard who pointed me in the right direction. Even after that adventure, I got to where I was supposed to be a full 56 minutes before the test was scheduled to start. (Am I really needing a job? YESSSS! I AM!)

I settled in the waiting area and got out my notebook to enjoy a little time writing, when a lady arrived asking if she was in the right place for job testing. We then started talking, sharing financial concerns and getting just a little depressed about the economy and how it's affecting the job market, especially out of the city. I gave her Keith's name as a referral for possible work with Delta -- she's closer to the airport -- and after learning each other's life stories, we went in with about 25 other people to take the test.

While in line to get our tests, we all got into an interesting conversation about politics. One lady says she's probably not going to vote at all since all politicians are evil. My new friend said that she's definitely going to vote for the person who was so clear and had such good ideas . . . Obama . . . and she's a Democrat. (Oh well, friends can't be perfect, right?) And I put in my two cents, too, with a deep breath said, "I'm a Republican to the core, and there are several issues that are VERY important to me . . . " looking around for mob riots . . . "I'm pro-life . . . And the President appoints the Supreme Court judges. That's REALLY important . . . " Unfortunately, I didn't get to continue (having just warmed up!), because we got to the end of the line and needed to start the test.

Spelling, punctuation, grammar, filing, fact checking. It was actually an interesting test. I did pretty well, partly because I did a quick review of filing rules the day before. That saved a lot of angst.

Eventually, I settled into the test. It took about an hour and half. My new friend Marge and I sat together and finished at nearly the same time. We left with a promise that we would pray for each other for our jobs. It was nice to have a little moral support, even from a Democrat. : )

Tomorrow the kids are home from school, and I'll be continuing the job search. I'm started looking into teaching positions in private schools. I fully realize that private schools pay is very low, but it is still pay. I don't need a great-paying job. I just need a consistently-paying job.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

To teach

I've been working at Kathleen's school this week. I'll be there for three days this week, working with sixth graders in physical science. They are taking a benchmark test tomorrow. I personally now know all I'll ever care to know about igneous rocks.

Despite my personal lack of enthusiasm for igneous rocks, I do enjoy teaching at the middle school level. The teacher has been out for more than a week because her husband is getting cancer treatment in Texas. So you can imagine that the classroom is in some upheaval. She's a good teacher, though. The kids miss her and keep asking when she'll be back.

This kind of substitute job is different from the usual job where the teacher is only out for a day for a doctor's appointment or a meeting or something like that. In this situation, I've got a lot more responsibility to keep the learning flowing. So I've been getting a real taste of classroom experience.

I have to say that I really love it. I mean I REALLY love it. I love the connection with the kids. I love that they like me. I enjoy figuring out their personalities -- which ones are the "good" kids and which ones are the trouble makers.

Later on this month, I'm going to try to pass the GACE (Georgia Assessments for Certification of Educators). If I pass that, then in the fall, I should be eligible to get my own classroom in a training program unique to my county.

It's the getting to a place of employment that's the trick. As a substitute teacher I'm just not making enough money to help meet our bills. If I got a call every day of the week, which was happening toward the end of last year, then we'd be okay. But apparently there's a glut of new subs in the school system. People who have been laid off from other jobs are becoming subs, and there aren't enough jobs to go around.

On Thursday, I'm driving into Atlanta to take two tests for two government type positions. Neither position pays great, but it's steady. Steady wins the race! One is for a general clerk and the other is a secretarial job. Neither one is for a specific job. It's ongoing filling of places in and around my county. Hopefully somewhere close. Next Wednesday, I'm going to Atlanta to test for a third job for an phone operator. I would sincerely appreciate prayer for employment.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Composing Memories

First thing in the morning, I get dressed, then I take myself into the living room spend about 15 minutes with God reading His word and praying. I also enjoy listening to the rustling of my family as they wake up. It is a precious time.

Yet it is with some dismay that I've had to pull out reading glasses lately. My eyes have really taken a spiral. It's a constant reminder that life and health should never be taken for granted.

This morning, Konner was the first to come downstairs. His hair was standing up all over the place. He said to me, "Mom, they should make a school where you don't have to wake up in the dark."

Amen, Konner. You are definitely my son.



When I'm done with my quiet time, I get Keva ready and then sign and go over last minute homework, listen to excuses for why there is last minute homework, have Konner change out of whatever he thought was really okay to wear to school, and start a load of laundry. The younger kids run out the door first and then the high schoolers come down, as they both ride with a neighbor who works at the high school. They do not miss the bus at all.

I am VERY excited about Shutterfly. I discovered it yesterday. It is a online photo service. And even more importantly, it's FREE. You just upload as many of your digital pictures as you want and create as many photo albums as you want. The catch is that if you want a real live photo album in your hot little hands, then you order it through Shutterfly and pay for whatever it costs. But that is something I'm willing to pay for. When I made my albums using Creative Memories, it cost me an arm and a leg.

While I uploaded pictures onto my brand new Shutterfly account, I got to thinking about offering my services to whoever wants a photo album made, particularly people who have old pictures and slides -- I can get those scanned digitally and use Shutterfly to make albums. I'm calling it Composing Memories. So I've put an ad into a local online classifieds section and I put up a blog for my business, and we'll see how it goes! I'm kind of excited about it, particularly if I get that job at Target Portrait Studios.

And while I was at it, I put up Adsense onto my blog to make a little extra money. This is my first venture into blog ads. I'm going commercial. : )

Here's Konner seeing if it is worth eating at the cafeteria today or if he should pack their lunch. All three of the little kids do this every day. I never lift a finger to make lunches for them. They like to do it themselves.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brain Squeeze

Here's a picture into my little brain. (Hang on, tight -- you're going for a ride!)

No subbing again today. It's getting to be pretty bad. After working on some laundry, playing on the computer, working on a job cover letter, and watching The View (for my dose of "What is crazy in the world today), I headed off to run some errands.

I've decided that what I need is a new purse. I used to have a backpack purse that I loved to death. I could have kept it for longer, but thinking that it had seen better days, I passed it along to Kathleen and bought a new purse last year that has shoulder straps. I don't like it. At all. I like it so little that when I go anywhere, I transfer my purse items from my work tote (my wallet, my cell phone, my sunglasses and my keys) and just carry it all in my hands rather than put it in my purse.

This morning, I walked out the door doing my usual mental check list. Doing anything mentally rather than working off a physical list is always detrimental to me. I just don't have enough memory space in my brain, I guess. So, I walked out the door, remembering that 1) all the doors were locked, 2) I had mail to put in the mailbox, 3) I had library books to return and 4) my wallet, cell phone, sunglasses and keys were in hand. All set, I shut the door behind me and opened up the garage door. I got my keys and saw, to my dismay, that I had brought Keith's truck keys instead of my van keys. This was a problem. Keith's truck was with Keith at work. Keith's truck keys did not have the HOUSE keys to get back in to get the VAN keys. I was locked out of my house without even my car keys. It was 86 degrees.

I checked all of the doors -- front, garage door and basement door. Sure enough, I had locked up everything nice and tight. I checked where we used to keep a spare house key before Keith changed the locks -- the key could still work for the basement door providing I hadn't locked the upstairs door leading into the house. Nope. No key there either. Coming back up the hill from the basement, I checked Keith's truck keys and saw the extra VAN key attached to it. But did I then say to myself, "Oh, the van key! I can drive off to do my errands and come back home when the kids (who have keys!) get home from school!" Nooooooooo, I said to myself in a rather indirect manner, "Hey, there was an extra van key at the van dashboard. I wonder if it's still there!" I then took myself over to the van (which is always unlocked when it's in the garage) and started looking for that extra key, not even connecting it with the fact that I HAD AN EXTRA KEY attached to the Keith's TRUCK KEY! Good grief!

I searched for about five minutes for that extra key on the dashboard before giving up and figuring I must have taken the extra key into the house earlier -- seeing as it's not the wisest thing in the world to keep an extra car key in a car! I sat in the van for a few more minutes, then got out to search that area where we used to keep the extra HOUSE key -- before I put it back in the house -- seeing as it's not the wisest thing to keep an extra house key in the garage either! It still wasn't there.

It wasn't until AFTER I had searched for the house key a second time that my brain finally crept up on the little fact that I had the extra van key attached to Keith's truck key. Bing! I stood there in the garage looking down at the key chain: Keith's truck key, Kroger card and extra van key. I stood there for another full minute realizing my idiocy! Argh!

Alzeimers?

If I'm like this at 42, how will I be a few decades from now? (By the way, I literally had to get a piece of paper and do the math to figure out if I was 43 or 42.) Yep. And I'm looking for a job, people. Hire me. My brain doesn't work too well, but I love to play Spades!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

See you at the pole

This morning, I took Keri Lynn and Kristofer to the annual See You at the Pole. School kids all over the nation meet once a year at the flag pole in front of their school to pray. One of the teachers led the event. Several youth pastors came. One pastor led music. The principal was there along with a half dozen teachers. And there were at least 50-70 kids. We sang, the student president of our FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) read scripture, and we prayed. It was beautiful. I was proud to be a part of it and glad that our country has the freedom to do this.

It's so very hard to stand up for Christ in a sinful world. As I stood with the students, I prayed that they would stand up for righteousness, protect those who cannot protect themselves and seek purity.

Today, I do not have a job again. Sigh. I'm sending out resumes again. It was hard for me to deal with the fact that people weren't falling over themselves to hire me. : ) This time last year, I started making inquiries and went from one dead end to another. At least this year, I'm sort of employed with the subbing, but I really need a real job, a 9 to 5 type job. And those are pretty hard to find these days, especially in a small town. Everyone hears about the same job opportunities and everyone fills out the same applications and stands in the same lines. I think I need professional help to get a job.

Kathleen printed out some fliers and, along with Kylie and Erin, went off to get some business of their own.

The fliers read:

We are the Dog Walkers.
We will walk your dog for your set price!
Call us at _____________

They tried this little idea out in our neighborhood this weekend and within a few hours came back with $20! Good grief! Now the little entrepreneurs are dying to go spend the money!

I've been carefully keeping track of politics. To all of my homeschool buddies in California, does McCain's wife look like Kris E. or what!?!

Here in Georgia, we get to vote early -- I may just run on down to the registrar's office on Main Street and do just that. However, it's kind of fun to be in the thick of voting on Election Day. I can't believe it's almost here. Is everyone registered?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FIREPROOF Teaser Trailer


This movie, starring Kirk Cameron, is opening on Friday in 850 theaters around the country. Keri Lynn and I are planning to sneak off to go see it sometime this weekend.

I watched an interview on Good Morning America this morning. Did you know that Kirk Cameron made a committment to not kiss any other woman other than his wife, even when acting?

"Well, I guess that kind of puts a crimp in your movie opportunities!"

He smiled and said that he gets to choose top quality films instead, that he'd rather please his wife then make a ton of movies. Since this new movie coming out is a romantic movie, where a man woos back his wife when they are at the brink of divorce, there is a kissing scene with his movie wife. His real wife stands in for her when he actually kisses her. I was so tickled by this and so glad to see a man taking that physical act seriously.

I'll go see your movie, Kirk Cameron. Keep on serving Jesus!

A lazy afternoon after school

Contrary to the start of last year, their first year in public school, the kids are easily keeping up with their homework. Keri Lynn is relatively light this semester, so here she is on a Monday night writing one of her four or five stories that she's got going, AND watching Emma on video.

Kathleen had time to make a little bonnet for Kody. He really loves it. That's Erin with Kathleen -- two peas in a pod.

A tea party

Erin and Molly join Kathleen and Kylie for a tea party. Last month, I treated myself to a box of fruit-flavored teas. The kids went nuts! They love it, too, especially during the cold months. It hasn't gotten cold yet, but it is starting to at least not be so hot! So, they had a little tea party.
Proper Kathleen, stirring her tea, pinky out
The centerpiece was created by Kathleen.

The proper use of kitchen items

Yesterday, I subbed in a high school special ed. class. TA's were in and out for mandatory meetings, so the kids were off of their regular routine. The kids were all mobile and maybe a little higher than Keva's level. They worked on writing or arranging letters for their names, depending on their abilities.

I monitored a game of kitchen picture bingo for about an hour while the teacher stepped out. It was just me and six kids. I wondered if we would all last that long -- four young men and two young women -- playing bingo. I needn't have worried. One of the girls pulled out a picture of an item and the rest put a marker on the matching picture of their bingo card. We'd talk about each one. That's where things got interesting.

"What is that?" I asked.

"A blender!"

"What do we put in a blender?"

"Rocks!"

"We do not put rocks in a blender! You all are silly!"

Seeing where we were going with this, I asked, "What is this?"

"A refrigerator."

"What do we put in a refrigerator? A cookie tray? A person? An elephant?"

They burst into laughter. We all just cracked up. I'm hoping that no one went home that night and stuffed a little brother or sister into their refrigerator just for grins.

"Here's an ice tray. Does this go in the oven?"

Hahahahahahahahaha. I was funnier than any SNL skit. I rocked!

One boy hung out toward the back of the room deciding he was too cool to participate, but he started laughing, which egged on the main instigator of the whole laugh fest.

"Reggie," I asked, "What does the microwave do?"

Reggie pantomimed his hand getting slammed into the microwave door and cooking while he pantomimed hollering in pain. Typical high school humor. Very hilarious. Everyone thought it was great.

"That's disgusting!" I cried, which made them laugh more.

"Okay, what about this spatula? Is it for banging people over the head?"

"No, Miss Jackie. We do not use it that way," said the girl originally leading the game, and the only voice of reason.

Reggie thought that a spatula should be used exactly that way, though, and so did the rest of the boys.

We were barely able to get through all of our kitchen items before our hour was up and the teacher was back to take everyone to lunch. We had interesting scenarios for hot pads, cookie sheets, mixing bowls and toasters.

When I left that class to go on to a different class for the afternoon, I got a lot of high fives and secret handshakes that made them all laugh harder because, above all, I'm really not all that cool! But I am funny!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Konner is in the paper!

This summer, Konner went with a group of kids from church to visit our shut-ins. You got to love small town newspapers. This is probably the fifth or sixth time one of the kids has had their picture in the paper!

Tacky Day

Kathleen and Kylie are getting ready to go to the Coweta County Fair -- whoo-hoo! -- with Erin and her family. It's the first night and the first time any of our family has gone. I'm hoping we'll all go later on next week when my headache has dissipated. Anyway, Kylie is getting her stuff ready right now. And this is how our conversation went:

"Mom, can I get a Vitamin C?" (we've been passing them around like candy lately)

"Um, sure."

"And can I bring some cough drops?" she holds up the bag I keep next to my bed.

"Sure."

"I'm also going to bring a pair of clean socks in case my socks get to stinky." She stuffs them into her cute little red purse.

"Um, okay," I say, "But what are you going to do with your dirty socks once you put your clean ones on? You're not going to put them in your purse, are you?"

"Yeah, that's why I've got the zip-lock."

"Great."

And off she goes, fully prepared, to the fair.

Today, I subbed at Kathleen's school in Kathleen's grade. Seventh grade Literature. I didn't have Kathleen, but I had quite a few of her friends. I panicked a little at the beginning because not only did I NOT have any lesson plans from the teacher or a roster to take roll, but -- even WORSE! -- I forgot my riddles! Eek!

I grabbed one of the other literature teachers who helped me make up a lesson plan. She happens to be Kathleen's literature teacher and also goes to our church. She was invaluable. Then, I got started on my day. The kids were fine. Everything went fine. I remembered a riddle that worked especially well earlier in the day . . .

I told them, "Are you ready for a violent riddle?"

They were all over violent riddles.

"Okay. A woman shot her husband, put him under water for five minutes, then hung him. Later on, they both went out to dinner. How was that possible?"

If you want the answer to the riddle, you'll have to check in the comments section of this post.

The little kids and Kathleen and Keva were all home by the time I got home. Keri Lynn and Kristofer followed shortly thereafter. They had an especially interesting day in that it was Tacky Day today. Kristofer is KING of tacky. He says that he's been practicing all year. Kathleen says that he'll be perfecting it the rest of the year. Keri Lynn tried to be tacky, but just wasn't making it. She just can't do it! Here, see for yourselves . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mean Librarian strikes again

I went to the library to pay fines. Why I do this to myself, I don't know. Why I can't seem to get anyone but Mean Librarian to help me, I don't know either. It's a conspiracy.

"Would you please print out a list of the books I still have out?"

"Sure. Do you want to renew them too, so you'll stop incurring the fines?"

"Yes, I would," I said through a fake smile, thinking to myself, "No, Mean Librarian, I want to keep incurring fines forever and ever! Urgh!"

"That will be $20."

"$20 even?"

She didn't even answer. I pulled out my wallet to bring out a $20 bill. I had just been to Rite Aide where I'd gotten $40 cash back, only apparently the cashier had forgotten to give me my money and I'd forgotten to ask for it. Luckily, I had my checkbook handy, so I dutifully wrote out the check, doing my usual joke about doing my part to support the library. A joke that, as with anything I said, fell flat as a pancake with Mean Librarian.

Then, later, I checked out some more material. And surprise, surprise, Nice Librarian said with a concerned frown, "It says here you owe $10 in fines."

"But I just paid all of my fines. $20--"

"She glanced toward the back toward where Mean Librarian is sitting, "Don't worry. I'll take care of it."

I'm really confused about the whole Mean Librarian thing now. Either 1) Mean Librarian charged me less than I owed and forgot to change it in the computer or 2) Mean Librarian made a mistake and didn't see all of my fines or 3) Mean Librarian is out to get me and was going to let the items that I hadn't returned yet continue to incur fines.

Hmm.

I don't know. All I do know is that I have a receipt from Nice Librarian that shows that my slate is once again clean. Yippee!

When I got back home, my head was achy and I wasn't feeling well. I think I'm coming down with a little something still. So I canceled my Monday walk with Stephanie and decided to get dinner going on time for a change so that we could all get to bed by 10:00 -- that is my goal -- and here it is 9:41 already and I'm happily typing away. Sigh.

Anyway, we all had dinner together at the table with the TV off. It was nice to sit and chat. Konner came in late from Chase's house. Keith was still at work. Kathleen ate at Erin's house. So, maybe it's more accurate to say that some of us were eating dinner together.

Konner went running off after dinner leaving his plate at the table. I stopped him before he could get too far.

"Konner, tell me you're sitting here at the table eating your food, only you're invisible. That's why the plate is still here."

I looked over at Keri Lynn, "What am I going to do to help the little kids remember to take their plates to the sink?"

"Murder them?"

I grinned. This is Keri Lynn's pet peeve, that no one seems to be able to take their dishes to the sink.

"That might be a little drastic," I said.

"Beat them? That way they'll NEVER do it again!"

It turns out that I didn't have to resort to violence. Konner took his plate to the sink.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kylie has leaves on her head

I get the biggest kick out of conversations with my kids.

I was making dinner the other night, and Kylie came up to the bar for a chat.

"Mom, am I too young to get married?"

"Um, yes, Kylie. You're too young to get married. You need to be done with school. Your husband needs to be ready to support you so that you have a place to live. And most importantly, remember that your husband has to love God with all of his heart."

"Uh-huh," she replies congenially, having heard all of this many times before. "Does the boy have to ask the dad for permission to marry? Can he ask the mom?"

"The boy asks the dad, which is like asking the mom and the dad together."

"Does the girl ever propose to the boy?"

"No. The boy always asks the girl, but usually they've talked about it and they've both agreed that marriage is something they want to do."

Kylie ruminated over this for a while, then apparently felt safe to confide something to me, "A boy likes me at school, but we're too young to get married."

"Oh, well, how do you know he likes you?"

"He put leaves on my head and he's always teasing me, the way boys do to girls when they like them."

"And did you tell him that you're not going to be dating any boys for a very long time?"

"I don't know if he for sure likes me, but don't worry, Mom, I'm not getting married right away."

"That's good, Kylie."

And off she went to her next order of business. How did she get to be 10 already?

More Eli froggy stories

"Okay, Eli, you want another froggy story? Who should be in it? Cletus? Okay. Bosefus? Of course. What about Eli? Should Eli be in it, too? Good.

"One day, Cletus and Bosefus were hanging out. They decided that they wanted to throw a birthday party for Eli. A SURPRISE party! Shhhhh, don't say anything!" Big smiles from Eli as he listened. "So Cletus and Bosefus invited everybody they knew -- Eli's Mom and Dad and brother and sister, G (of course!), and all the rest of the family, Miss Jenna, Miss Kelly, and Miss Jackie -- is that okay, Eli? Can Miss Jackie come to the surprise party? Good!

"Cletus and Bosefus made a cake. What kind of cake? Carrot cake?" BIG frown. "Vanilla? No. Chocolate? I agree. They decided to make them into cupcakes. No? Okay, three-layered tier cake. And ice cream. And what to drink?"

Here Miss Kelly chimed in from across the room, "Eli loves soda."

"Oh! Soda! So everyone got ready for the big surprise. Shhhhhhhh. It's a secret! Eli came home on the bus after school just like usual. The bus pulled up to his house and he rolled right on in, totally unsuspecting. When suddenly, out from behind all of the furniture, everyone jumped up and yelled "SURPRISE!"

"Eli was so surprised and pleased! Everyone had a great time. They ate cake and ice cream and drank soda. In fact, they drank and drank and drank. And you know what happens, don't you, Eli, when everyone drinks soda?" I put my hand on his chest, "The soda goes down into the tummy and forms bubbles. And if you drink a lot of soda, the bubbles start getting bigger and bigger until suddenly you start floating in the air.

"That's exactly what happened to Cletus, Bosefus, Eli, Miss Jenna, G, Miss Jackie and everyone else who was drinking all that soda. They went up, up, up into the air. They just floated around. And do you know what they started to do?" Pause for dramatic effect. "They started to play Human Bumper Cars!"

This is when things really picked up in my silly story. I demonstrated Human Bumper Cars on Eli's chair.

"They started bumping into each other." WHAM! I'd hit the side of his wheelchair and Eli would burst out laughing. It was the best! WHAM! Big guffaws! WHAM! Couldn't get enough of the idea of all those people floating up into the air bumping into each other. WHAM! Until finally, they started burping a little and the soda bubbles died down, and little by little, they all came back down to the ground with a THUD!"

"More!" Eli cried.

"So they decided to play some games, since they were having so much fun. No? No games? Okay, they decided to swim in the pool? But Eli, you love to swim in the pool. They ate more cake? What did they do, Eli? Did they drink more soda? Oh, okay. They drank more soda, and pretty soon everyone was floating back up in the air. Floating, floating, floating, until . . . WHAM, they started running into each other again. Human Bumper Cars!"

Oh, yes, those human bumper cars were a BIG hit.

"More!"

"Well, the party finally did finish. Everyone had a great time, but Cletus and Bosefus didn't quite want to go home yet. They wanted to go to the grocery store." Big lip. "No grocery store? But they needed to go buy more soda! Okay, so they went to the grocery store. Each frog had a cart and Eli had his wheelchair, and the grocery aisles started looking might tempting. So they started racing down the grocery aisles like the crazy ones they were." Squealing sounds, moving Eli's chair back and forth, corner turns, acceleration. It was great! "Bananas were flying everywhere. Cans toppled to the ground. People were falling. It was a mess!"

"More!"

"But Eli, it's time to get ready to go home! We'll do more stories tomorrow."

And we both had to be content with that because who doesn't love a good froggy story!