Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Noticer

Although I read a lot there aren't many books that I would recommend to just about anyone. The Noticer by Andy Andrews is one of the few.

Jones an old man of undetermined age and background helps a young homeless man - not by giving a handout but by giving him the tools to improve his life. Later the young man finds out about the others that Jones has helped: the couple on the brink of divorce, the old woman who thinks her life is over, the business man who is too busy getting ahead to notice what he is leaving behind.

Based on a true story but weaving in fiction and allegory, The Noticer is a beautifully crafted story from the young homeless man. It is a fairly quick read except, in my opinion, this is one to read slowly and savor. This is an excellent book to add to any collection.

As a side note, as a homeschooler I love how much Jones taught through biographies. We must read more biographies.

I was able to read this book through the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger. I get no compensation for doing this review, only the book to read. If you are interested in doing some reviews yourself, click the button in the sidebar.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I am turning into my mother - or maybe not

I come from a long line of Dallas Cowboy fans. I can remember my (great) Granddaddy, Grandmother, and Mom all yelling at the TV when a Cowboy game came on. I grew up with names like Roger Staubach and Danny White.

I also would try to go outside when the cowboy game was on because, y'all the yelling was LOUD.

Even though I did somewhat keep my distance during game time, I did consider myself a Cowboy fan.

I mourned along with everyone else when Tom Landry was fired.

Tom Landry should still be coach.

I still consider Jerry Jones the new owner, the villian who fired Landry.

Now I watch Cowboy football and yell at the tv. My kids hate game day because they say I am too loud.

I have to confess though, I saw part of the Houston Texan game against the Tennessee Titans. That was a good game! And I didn't get mad at Tony for thinking too much about Jessica and not being able to throw the ball. And there wasn't any illegal tripping like in the Cowboy game that followed.

Although, my throat was a bit sore by the time the Cowboy game came on.

But I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the Texan game yesterday. Although, they totally should have won. Stupid Refs.

They didn't make a bunch of glaringly stupid errors. At least not compared to some of the Cowboy games I have seen.

So I may be turning into a Texan fan. I will still root for the 'Boys but I am losing some of the loyalty.

I am just glad my Grandaddy doesn't know.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weird Wednesday

Apparently some part of me likes coming up with problems no one else has had and stumping support people.

I would really like to get rid of that part.

I have had a cell phone that would randomly delete numbers, then one that insisted the bluetooth was on when it was off, then one that wouldn't make phone calls unless there was internet access. We have had other people's insurance tacked on to our mortgage - every single person I talked to at the mortgage company said "oh but we wouldn't do that" until they realized that they did.

Today my land line phone service died. Except, I still have DSL through the same line.

Yes, I know. It's weird. I spent almost all day moving furniture trying to get at each one of the plugs to see if that was the problem. Bought a new cheapo phone to see if that was the problem.

When Hubby got home he spent 20 minutes and wired up a device to plug a phone into to see if it was the line outside the house or inside. So it took him 25 minutes to confirm what I spent all day doing.

I was a little annoyed because of no phone service but it wasn't too bad because I still had internet. Until about 2 or 3 pm and the internet died.


All afternoon and evening it was "oh, I need to look up _____. Wait, I DON'T HAVE INTERNET!" or "I need to send an email to _____. Wait, I DON'T HAVE INTERNET!" And then "That would make a great blog post. Wait, I DON'T HAVE INTERNET!"

After a very long and frustrating day, I thought I would just double check and amazingly the internet is back. Angels sang, I did a happy dance, Hubby got annoyed.

See, there is a chance that I was wrong and only thought the internet was alive when the phone was dead. Which would be more understandable. Because only half of our services going out is weird. But the net being back means I was likely not wrong. So the weird thing is the true thing.

Hopefully I will have phone service back sometime tomorrow. And the internet connection won't die again. And maybe I will be more coherent.

Edited to add Well they came today and I watched them out the window and they had to bring one of the cherry picker trucks. It turns out a mama flying squirrel had made her nest in the line box thingy (it is the long black box that looks like it would be great for holding french bread or newspapers). She had 5 baby squirrels so young that their eyes weren't open yet.

The phone guys found a box to put them in so they could have another nest and mama flying squirrel is checking out the new digs. She may decide to move the nest again but at least she isn't completely avoiding them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Secret Keeper Girl and a question

Now that Daisy is getting to be a certain age, we have been discussing modesty more. Fun.

To help with the whole thing, I got the "Secret Keeper Girl" geared to 8-12 year olds. It is a mom and daughter thing, with mom and daughter going out on dates and discussing "the truth about their "internal wardrobe," their external beauty-and to have a blast in the process!"

So we did the first date on Saturday, it was supposed to be a tea party but Daisy hates tea. And it is hot anyway so we went for dessert at Olive Garden. The discussion was great and I think it gave both of us something to ponder.

Something she told me about has been sort-of bothering me.

We have a family rule that stupid and shut-up are not allowed. It is too easy to use it on each other and that just does not build the family up. With younger kids, they don't see how some occasions are ok and others are not so it is just easier for it to be a general rule.

Well apparently some of the girls at camp were talking and one said that if you weren't allowed to say shut-up then you weren't cool. According to what Daisy said, this wasn't directed at Daisy but it still hurt her feelings.

Since she has a good head on her shoulders and is compassionate, and I don't think she would be using stupid and shut-up constantly, we lifted the rule. I explained why the rule was there in the first place, explained that it didn't solve conflict blah, blah, blah.

I also explained that people don't typically notice the words you don't say until they have been around you for a long time. For instance, I would bet that none of my friends know that I don't like the word "hiney". It just annoys me and so I don't use it, there are many other words that mean the same that don't make me cringe.

I suppose the real reason this bothers me is that it hurt my baby girl. But also because I don't like shut-up. It is rude, hurtful, and it tells someone that you don't value them. I may have thought it at my kids but I don't want to verbalize that message at them. Really the only value where I might use it is an emergency situation. Stupid is equally vile, although I do find myself using it on the other drivers around me (or some other word that means the same like idiot, moron etc).

So what do you think of those words?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Dozen

1. Which is worse: a long, boring meeting or standing in a return/exchange line after Christmas?

Well, I would have to say long boring meeting because the line I would have to be corralling my kids in a long line I didn't want to be in. The long boring meeting I would either not have the kids or if it is 4-H, the long boring meeting is their fault.

Plus the whole sit-down vs stand-up makes the meeting a winner anyway.

2. Except for maybe Rosie O'Donnell or Ann Coulter, nobody likes confrontation, yet we all have to deal with it. When you feel cornered and defensive, do you "bite back" or become passive aggressive?

As much as it sounds like a cop-out, it really depends on hormones. Most of the time I become passive-aggressive and retreat. There have been a very few occasions where I have gotten into a rage, but since I have felt the need to apologize afterward, I prefer to leave.

3. Do you know anything about your genealogical background? (What country, culture, ties to prominent historical figures, or other stuff.)

Primarily Scotch-Irish, some German, English, French - no Italian wich is amazing considering my love for all Italian food. There was one cousin who traced the family tree back to the Plantagentets (which only means something to the history buffs). I do have a cousin who was a movie star back in the black & white days, if I remember right her dad and my great grandmother were siblings. That's all I know about though.

4. What is the quickest way a person can endear him/herself to you?

To treat the old and the young with respect. To listen, both to what is said and what is not said.

5. Cake, pie, cookies, or ice cream? (Note there is no "all of the above" option. You must choose one. Feel free to elaborate on flavor or memories tied to this dessert.) If you'd like, you can share a recipe, but you certainly don't have to.

Either cake or ice cream and it really depends on the mood and the weather.

6. Females: Do you regularly change your handbag to coordinate with your outfit?

No. Usually when I change purses, the old one is dead to me.

7. Are you task-oriented or relationship-oriented?

relationship My to-do list is too long for me to pay any attention to it.

8. IHOP, Bob Evans or Cracker Barrel?

Never eaten at Bob Evans, there isn't a Cracker Barrel nearby so by default I would say IHOP (but I would prefer Cracker Barrel)

9. Have you ever left a movie in progress in a theater? Why?

No, if I do make a mistake and go to a movie I hate, I hold out hope to the very end that it will improve.

10. What is one area of life in which you would like to develop more discipline or organization?

Can I chose the whole thing?

11. Was middle school fun or painful?

Horrible, painful, awkward. Not that High school was a bowl of cherries either. I have come to terms with being a nerd or geek since then though.

12. What is your favorite Fall beverage?

We don't do fall here in this part of Texas, it goes from blasted hot to danged cold in a couple days. I have heard of a mythical event called fall but haven't witnessed it. Is it like the similarly mythical event called autumn?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WFMW - Dry skin

Ok, no tip from me but I need help.

I don't know if it is my age or hormones or what exactly but my face has become like a painful dry desert.

I don't use soap, I occasionally wear makeup, and have never had this problem. I have always been oily/combination skin, and have had to get oil free makeup to keep the shine down.

But in the past few months it has all changed. My forehead is the worst, it is flaking off skin but the rest is pretty bad too. After I take a shower or wash my face (water only to keep from stripping it worse) the skin actually feels tight from the dryness.

No new detergent or soap, I am at a loss.

So what do you suggest as a moisturizer?

For real Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips go to We Are That Family

Burdens and lightening the load

The other day we were watched Little House on the Prairie, the miniseries movie based on book 2 of the series. We had read part of the series several years ago and thought that this would be something that we could watch with the kids without having to pre-screen - and it was fine.

There is one scene that got me thinking though, and it is a scene mentioned in many of the books and movies about going west. People would leave home with only the "necessary" provisions and then find that if they were going to make it, they would have to lighten the load. So out on the side of the road they would leave great-grandma's table, aunt Tilly's trunk, pappy's books. These things so precious became a burden that was slowing them down. And maybe they weren't even things that were loved, but things that they felt they "ought" to keep.

Either way, they became burdens.

It struck me how often we do that now, carry burdens that are weighing us down - a feeling of guilt from something that happened in high school, worry over something we can't change, hurt feelings from a family member. All burdens that we carry and have no idea how to get rid of.

Sometimes we get rid of them only to find out we have picked them up again.

Sometimes we feel that we need to keep shouldering that burden.

Sometimes we don't know it is there.

Sometimes it seems the hardest thing to do is to toss the burden at His feet. Many times we have to lay it down over and over.

But it is worth it. It is worth the pain and fear of trusting. Through laying down our burdens, the way is easier.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Because we are also known as the "fun" family

We are dragging the sicky summer into fall. I know! how fun is that!

I got tired of mentioning Junior's strep that he had 3 times in 3 months. I know! how fun is that!

I didn't want to whine about Junior's chest cold thingy - the technical diagnosis is "the crud". Which he shared with his sister. Which she had with fever. And then he started running the fever and his cough got worse.

So this has been 2 weeks with sick kids and nary a whine or complaint from me. Isn't that impressive?

But now! Seriously! I am catching it. And like I was telling my mom - the kids get sick, you stay home but mom gets sick, she sits in the back.

So I am going to go guzzle some more chicken noodle soup now. And limit my whining.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WFMW - Remember Scholastic?

I used to love, love, love getting the flyer from the teacher. I would pour over it and look at it and try to figure out which ones were the most important.

I was bless to have a family that considered books important - or at the very least knew how important they were to me. My mom would give me a dollar amount and I could pick almost anything I wanted as long as the total was less than the dollar amount (I have no idea what it was but that was 20+ years ago so it means nothing now anyway).

I rarely - if ever - spent it on anything but books, I had completely forgotten they also used to do posters. And each one of those purchases was agonized over. There were always books I wanted but didn't get - in fairness though, I wanted half of the flyer. It was always a question of this one or that one, these two or this one. Million dollar business deals required less thought and debate.

As fun as that day was, the day that the books came in was even better.

I would barely be able to wait to get home to start reading them. I don't really remember very many specific books. I remember seeing How to Eat Fried Worms in the flyer - but I thought it looked disgusting so I never got it. I also remember some book about popcorn - 100 Pounds of Popcorn. It was one I agonized over, decided against and then a friend accidentally got 2 copies and so gave me one.

I love getting to share this with my kids now. I handed them each a flyer yesterday and watched them. Daisy spent nearly an hour picking and Junior - well Junior was not interested until he saw a SkippyJon Jones book. He did end up having to chose between 2 books that he wanted.

I am lucky enough to the the Scholastic person for our homeschool group. I organize the orders, get them in and meet of with the families who order and as payment, I get free books. Both kids were able to choose $10 worth of books that were free.

I know! Cool!

I don't think we will usually be getting that much and sometimes we have to spend some in order to get anything. Either way it works-for-me!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Max Lucado's Fearless

Everyone has fears of some kind. Everyone.

There are the fears that can mostly be avoided like the fear of crowds or airplanes or needles. But then there are those fears that keep you awake at night - fears of not mattering; fears of not protecting your kids; fear of death. These are the fears that we are powerless against, they gnaw at you and they distract you from the One who can give you peace.

Max Lucado's new book is Fearless and it takes on these fears as well as others: fear of disappointing God, fear of running out, fear of overwhelming challenges, fear of worst case scenarios, fear of violence, fear of the coming winter, fear of life's final moments, fear of what's next, fear that God is not real, fear of global calamity, fear of God getting out of my box. We live in a society that is incredibly fearful and rather than depend on the One who can conquer fear, we walk around as if we have been defeated.

Here is a brief video talking about fear:

Like Max Lucado's other books, this is not a dry, weighty tome full of big, hard to understand words. Nor is it a fluff bit of work. Fearless is an engaging book written in an easy to understand language. Included in the book is a study guide that can be used with groups or by an individual.

I recommend reading through the whole book, some of the chapters I was surprised by the direction they took. I have read through the whole book, and while I can't say I enjoyed the whole thing - some of it was too close to sensitive areas - I got alot out of it. I plan on going back and taking a closer look at those sensitive areas and useing the study guide along with it.

This is a book I highly recommend to anyone. I was very glad to be able to review this book for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers.

By the way - I am not getting anything from Nelson or Max Lucado other than the book to review. I am not being paid or anything like that. I just got a free book.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pick your side now!

I have been seeing a disturbing trend - I wish it was a new thing but I think it has been around for decades - of women attacking other women for their parenting choices. I am not talking about appalling choices like selling your daughter into prostitution - no, choices like stay-at-home vs work-outside-the-home, public school vs homeschool, pro-Obama speech against anti-Obama speech (which then denigrates into the school choice debate).


Admittedly there are some crappy parents out there. Some parents do send their child to public school because they are too cheap/lazy/whatever to think about the choices and they don't care. There are also some parents that shouldn't be homeschooling their child. There are parents who don't deserve to be parents because they don't want to take the time to be parents and there are parents who have made such a mess of their life that they shouldn't have the responsibility of another life.

My husband and I chose to homeschool our children because that is the best choice for us as a family. I see so many benefits of homeschooling. While I would love to share a list, that really doesn't do anything except put some non-homeschoolers on the defensive. It is very difficult to praise the one without condemning the other.

I know there are many who chose public school (or private school) that believe just as firmly that they are doing the right thing for their family.

How arrogant to judge them as being wrong! ! I don't know them or their family as well as they do - or you and your family as well as you. Just as you don't know my family as well as I do.

Can't we just agree to disagree without getting so emotional? My choices are not condemning your choices, and your choices really don't affect my choices.

There is enough mother-guilt without us adding to our burden.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I think I need another cookie

I gave blood yesterday so I think I should get another cookie.

What? You don't think it is a big deal?

Maybe for you. I have a phobia slight fear of needles. I know, you are thinking most people don't like needles. True, but most people don't get light headed at thinking about a shot.

It might have started when I got a series of shots that I distinctly remember being as big around as my arm. True, I was a skinny thing but still . . . . I remember the first two shots vividly. They wanted to put the first shot in my hip - which all kids know is where you sit. If it hurts to sit, it will be a long ride in the car home. So I threw a hissy fit and insisted that it go in my arm. They gave in, said it would be the last one I wanted in my arm, and gave me the huge shot. Oh, and they were wrong. I wanted the 2nd one in my arm too but they were bigger than I was.

Or it could have started when I was tested for allergies. That one was traumatic on so many levels beyond the actual "scratch test." I don't want to talk about it.

Or it could be the frequent shots I got as a result of the allergy testing.

Or it could be that I got a shot every time I went to the Dr office. Which was a lot.

No matter what it was that caused it, I had panic attacks when I would get an injection until I was in my 20's.

Then I was working in a hospital and thinking about nursing school, but my fear of needles was in the way. So thinking about that theory of facing your fears, I decided to donate blood. I nearly passed out part way through it, but I made it.

I still donate blood but I warn the phlebotomists that I don't like needles. I really don't want any extra information like how fast it is flowing, or how big the needle is or anything I don't have to be told. That side of my body does not exist while I am giving blood, I won't even look in that direction. I really try not to look at my arm for several days afterward because the hole makes me cringe. I seriously can feel the muscles in my shoulders tighten up as I think about it.

And with all that I still donate.

Because it saves lives.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

WFMW - Keeping mushrooms

Well this themed Works-for-me-Wednesday is organizational tips, but I am not that organized.

Plus, I have been meaning to post this one for a few weeks and would forget it every Tuesday.

Anyway, we love mushrooms but they tend to spoil rather quickly if left in the plastic bag or in the styrofoam carrier. What I have been doing to keep them fresh much longer is really simple.

I put them in a paper lunch bag in the fridge. They don't get slimy in the paper bag! And if the bag gets shoved behind things and forgotten?

Not that I know this from experience (ahem) but they are still ok. They will eventually dry out - like a dried mushroom - but those can still be used in a soup. So the paper bags makes them almost last forever.

Putting mushrooms in a paper bag works for me.