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!"


That's my boy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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."