Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alligators, Manatees, and Mickey Mouse ... Oh My!

Yes, that's an alligator! Yikes! We went to Blue Springs on Thursday & saw lots of manatees (below) and a couple alligators. Pretty cool! When the river cools down (the St. John River, that is), the manatees stay in Blue Springs, which stays a nice 72 degrees. Ahh, what a life!
Yesterday (Friday), we drove to Orlando at 7 AM or so & went to see Mickey, Minnie & the rest of the gang. What a cool day! Actually, it was pretty warm. :) But it was cool too. We spent nearly 15 hours walking around the park (and taking turns carrying the boys). Phew! We're pretty tired! We hit all our top picks for the rides and attractions and saw parts of the Disney parade three separate times! I think the majority of us loved Mickey's PhilharMagic the best. Dad & Derek missed out because Derek was sleeping. We also enjoyed Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's ride, and Thunder Mountain. Lots of others too, but those were the best. :) Jeremy & Dan stayed later than the rest of us & got to ride about as many rides in the last hour as we covered in the whole day! I need to credit Mimi & Gramps with "sponsoring" our trip ... what a treat! We are so grateful to them for doing that. (And I think Gramma & Pop helped too, indirectly, from across the continent. We love you both & are looking forward to seeing you in CA hopefully in a few months)

I was worried about how my tailbone would survive the roller coasters, and it did fine. Ironically, I hurt it a little on the third tamest ride in the park, Pirates of the Caribbean (the tamest are the Jungle Cruise Boat, which I will tell you about later because it's too funny not to tell you about, and It's a Small World ... of course). Near the end of Pirates, there was just a slight bump on which I bounced just a bit and landed at the wrong angle, thus feeling the pain in my backside. By the end of the day my feet were pretty sore & other parts of my back were aching, but my tailbone did fine. :) I know you were all concerned about it, so I thought I'd put your minds at ease. No worries! (Hakuna Matata, as we say here in the land of Disney)

I will post my highlights of the trip when we get back. Spending time with Mimi, Gramps, Aunt Loni, Uncle Trey, Nana, & Grandy is definitely top of the list. We are driving home tomorrow ... so sad! We will miss all our family. Hope you & yours had a great holiday & a nice break from school & work. See ya when we get back!

(**if you read my Mom's blog, these are the same pictures she took & posted of our trip to Blue Springs**)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hello from sunny Florida!!


Hey! We're all enjoying some time here in Florida with my folks. We just got in last night & haven't done much yet. But it's been good so far. After a LONG 12 & 1/2 hours in the car (so much traffic!!), we finally arrived last night, just in time for some pizza and clam chowder--yum!! After the kids went to bed we played a Shout About Movies game. I won't say who won, but I will say that the guys cheated.

We also had breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning with Emily & Malia & Malia's husband & kids. Malia & Emily's parents live in FL too. What a nice treat! We had fun getting to know each other. I met Malia & David & their oldest at camp (Manatawny) a few years ago when Nathan & I went up to work Sr. high week. Malia also happens to be the cousin of a friend of ours from church. One more connection: when David was a kid, my grandfather preached at the congregation where his family attended. It's a small world! Malia & I have been reconnecting over cyberspace for the past few months, so it was exciting to see her in person again & a really cool treat was to meet Emily for the first time, who I only knew through blogging.

We are currently waiting to open presents (as soon as the turkey goes in the oven), but I just wanted to say hi. So ... Hi!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

There are only 2 of me!!


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
2
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?



There are 3 Daniel Leichners, 1 Nathan Leichner, 1 Jeremy Leichner, and apparently 0 Derek Leichners. Maybe Derek hasn't made it into the census bureau yet. When I was still Lisa Bliss, I was a lot more common--there were 74 of me. The last name Bliss is much more common--over 20,000 versus only 630 Leichners. And gee, I know most of them!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Only Three Days Til Christmas

well ... depending on how you count. Since we're near the end of today, there are really only 2 days & a few hours until the moment we are all awakened by Derek (who is always the first one awake when Dan's alarm clock doesn't have to go off). But on Christmas morning, we will all be too excited to be annoyed by the early hour. Honestly, I look back & don't know why it seemed like my parents weren't as excited as we were to be up so early on Christmas morning. I mean, I think I'll be glad when Derek wakes me up. When I peak one eye open, then the other, when I wipe the sleepies out of my eyes, when I stretch my arms, then my legs, when I give my brain a moment to follow the rest of my body to wakefulness ... I will think, "Today's Christmas!" and I will shake my sweet, slumbering husband awake (he's only sweet when he's asleep), I will hop out of bed, I will run to the other boys' room, I will throw open the door, I will shout, "Santa's been here!" and we will all laughingly run to the living room where Santa has left a zillion presents for all of us. I like receiving as much as I like giving ... when it comes to Christmas. Throughout most of the year, I can definitely agree that it makes my heart happier to give. On Christmas Day, however, I look forward to seeing what other people have deemed an appropriate & enjoyable gift for me.

I'm just trying to kill some time until 10 o'clock. I have to make another Wal-Mart run. I got something for Nathan that needs to be returned, & I have one more present to get for Derek & one more for my nephew Tyler. Wait til you hear what I got Dan for Christmas!! You have to wait a few more days in case Dan happens to read this (he doesn't usually, but has before, so I don't want to take a chance!)

But I've been thinking ... and we all know how dangerous that is. There has been a lot of hype about people trying to take Christ out of Christmas, about whether or not the church should officially celebrate the holiday (you know, like it "celebrates" Memorial Day & Labor Day & the 4th of July & President's Day--I jest), etc. I'm kinda getting tired of it. I know it's important to know where you stand on certain issues. I know a lot of things are important. But have we stopped to think that all the hype is mainly created by the media to ... make a bunch of hype?? The majority of average Americans (like you & me, I think) just want to have a good time, celebrate Christ's birth & life & death & resurrection EVERY day (I hope), & take advantage of having the day off by spending time with their family. Some people (not just the media) like to make a big deal about (what should be) small issues, & the rest of us get riled up about it. But should we??

Just something for you to think about. You can suffer along with me in our deep & dangerous thoughts. :) I don't care if you disagree & want to argue with me. Part of me is playing devil's advocate here. Go ahead, bring it on! :)

One more last thought. Wouldn't it be more convenient for us all if Christmas was officially celebrated on a certain day each year, rather than a certain date? You know, like Thanksgiving is the 3rd Thursday of November or whatever. Just a thought.

Have a great Christmas!! God bless you & your loved ones.

Steve, are you there?

Steve Awtrey, if you're there & reading this, please contact me! I know the Leichners would like to say hi & know some of what's been going on with you. I tried accessing your blog & it wouldn't let me & I tried emailing you from your church's webpage & the email came back to me. You're hard to find!! My email is llleichner@yahoo.com.

Thanks!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jibber Jabber and Musings from yours truly

Ijkldfa kjkj fdakjl fda djfalsdkf, sdf jk ijafe adofij fajidf daflk ffdla.
(Translation: Derek has two ear infections so he didn't sleep much last night)

Jklfadi nilsdafoi kdfa i.
(Translation: And neither did I ... sleep much last night)

Oh, okay, that's better; I got five-year-old Nathan to do the typing so now I'm making sense again (of course, all you other sleep-deprived Mommys & Daddys understood me perfectly, now didn't you?! ... and the aliens that are hovering above my house also understood me).

Lots of thoughts runnin' through the ol' noggin today so bear with me ...

Question: How do you get a stubborn two-year-old to take his medicine?
Answer:
Materials needed: 2 adults, duct tape (or rope), jaws of life, drop cloth
Instructions: First, spread out the drop cloth. Whatever extra plastic you have around the house will also be useful for draping on the walls & furniture (really anything you don't want spewed with bubble gum-flavored medicine). One adult needs to clamp down on the child's arms while the other uses duct tape or rope to secure said child to the floor or chair or whatever is handy that is stationery. A vice might also work, if you have one. After child is secured, fire up the jaws of life ...

Okay, just kidding. Seriously, though, getting a stubborn two-year-old to take his medicine DOES require two adults!! What have you discovered works? I didn't have so much trouble with either of my other two.

I've always claimed I don't have much of an accent, & I've been told that before too ("Hey, you don't talk like you're from Joisey!")

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland
 

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
 
The Inland North
 
Philadelphia
 
The South
 
Boston
 
North Central
 
The Northeast
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


What this means is ... my Mom did a good job of making sure I spoke words correctly (that's the English major in her). I find it very interesting that the Northeast accent is the lowest on my results (that's where I spent the first 18 years of my life).

Hey, I should be on the radio!! They could tell I have a good voice without even hearing it ... amazing! Just because I know how to pronounce words correctly does not necessarily mean I have a good voice.

Malia, thank you so much for that pumpkin bread recipe. I made it earlier in November, & I've been making it the past few days to give to people--it's been a big hit! Dan's not a fan of pumpkin stuff, but the kids & I went through a whole loaf in one day! You know what makes a great gift this time of year? Mini loaves of bread. Wrap it up in saran wrap, tie a ribbon around it, & voila! you've got a nice gift.

Have you had the holiday Oreos with red filling? Oh my goodness, I am telling you, even though it's supposed to have the same great taste, I honestly think they are better!! They are so yummy! I went through a whole bag myself the other day. No, just kidding. But it was close.

Quote of the Day
"Happiness: an agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another." -Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

I think maybe there's something wrong with that assessment. I don't know, maybe it's just me ... or maybe not. What do you think about that quote?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Leichners!

Derek & Mommy testing out the angle (not close enough)



Oops. Too close, just a little too close (10 points if you can tell me what movie that line is from)


Jeremy & Nathan foolin' around


Oh, that'll do.
(I am not taller than Dan, by the way)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fatuity

Word of the Day
fatuity
Definition: (noun) Something that is utterly stupid or silly.
Synonyms: absurdity, fatuousness, silliness


I have a funny story to tell you. It was complete "fatuity." But it was funny. I'm over it enough now that I can share it.

We went to a RU women's basketball game last night, over in Radford. Our friend Corey is an assistant coach, and we like to go support him and the team when we can; plus it's good, free entertainment for the family since Corey gets us tickets. (Thank you, Corey!)

We decided to leave at half-time (even though I really hate doing that) because I was super-tired & needed to go to the store, and Dan still had some work to get done for school. Since Dan met me over at the game after work, we were in separate cars; so it was easier for us to split the kids up and go our separate ways--me to the store and Dan home. Dan took Nathan so he could put him in bed on time, I took Jeremy & Derek because it doesn't matter as much when they get in bed. Because all of the students are out of town for their break, there were not many people there, so Dan was able to park up near the building. I actually assumed Dan would park down in the parking lot, which is at a lower level from the building, so we could park near each other so I just parked down there. (I know all these details seem unimportant, but you'll see later how they all figure in) Okay, so at half-time we're walking out to the cars. Dan & Nathan head to the right, the rest of us head down the stairs to our car. I was carrying Derek, my purse, and a backpack with toys for the kids. Jeremy was walking next to me. We make it down about two steps before Jeremy gets in front of me just enough to trip me up. Derek starts to slip out of my hands; I move in some way to readjust & get him back up; my purse slips down my arm, and unfortunately I trip on it.

We all start to fall. In an effort to keep us from going forward, I think I pulled us back.

And I landed straight down HARD on my tailbone. I have never felt such instant pain before! The worst pain I've experienced is labor, & you know that's less of a shooting pain & more of a gradual increasing of pain until you feel like you're going to burst. Last night I instantly felt like I was going to burst. It was awful. (Okay, maybe when I had kidney stones, that was pretty bad too, but you have a way of forgetting past pain & thinking the pain you're in now is the worst ever)

Derek is crying for some reason, & I feel bad that I can't really help him because I just can't move at all, so I start yelling for Dan. Fortunately, since we left the game early & no students are in town, there really weren't many people there. I think there was one guy up near the doors of the building, but that was it. I'm aware of what idiots we looked like, & how I was making it worse by calling out for Dan, but I just couldn't move & I guess I was a little scared because of how much it hurt. There's 3 people on the ground, at least until Jeremy gets up; two of them are crying like little babies--though only one of them really is a baby.

So Dan finally gets over to us ... my hero. I don't think he really believed he was hearing me yell his name at first. Then when he finally did realize it, he came over--but not in a real hurry. Anyway, I know he must have rolled his eyes and wondered what in the world I had done now when he got over to us. Oh, and to make matters worse, Jeremy is laughing at me because I'm crying (I know, nice kid), & then Dan yells at him, has him sit down on the stairs. So now he's crying too (& louder than either of the other 2 of us), so we really do look like a strange bunch. But Dan took care of us, and asked if I was okay. Then he walked us down to my car, obviously because he didn't trust us to make it on our own. :) I'm limping at this point, & it hurts to sit down, but I get in the car & grit my teeth & make it home. You can forget about going to the store now!!

I'm feeling much better today. It still hurts, but not quite as much. I don't think I slept very well, but I'll survive. :)

So, I don't know why I wanted to share that silly story about myself, except as a friend pointed out to me yesterday (in a totally different context), it's easier to confess to strangers than to friends--and apparently it's easier to tell a silly story about yourself to people who didn't actually witness it. Despite your assurances that you did indeed look like a complete idiot, they are probably not imagining it as bad as it was. It was pretty embarrassing at the time, though.

Hope you had a good laugh at my expense. You learned a new word, anyway. :)

Only 6 days til Christmas!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Merry Kiss-mas

After Nana's comment on the Christmas Survey, I remembered that a sort of odd place where I have decorations is my fern. I call it the Christmas Fern. In fact, I've changed the song from "O Christmas Tree" to (yes, you guessed it) "O Christmas Fern." A good friend of mine gave me this fern for my birthday, & I get comments on it all the time. I say "comments," rather than "compliments," because I think when people see it, they aren't sure what to say. It's huge & healthy & gorgeous (for a fern, anyway). And now it has some lights in it (which don't show up in the pictures) & a beaded garland & some small ornaments. Dan laughs at it, but I'm proud of it. What do you think??



I am just about through with my Christmas shopping. I think it's the longest I've gone. The first couple of years after Dan & I were married, I started shopping during the summer, & was done by Thanksgiving. But it gets later & later each year. A few weeks ago, I said, "Oh no! I haven't done any of my shopping yet!!" Of course, you know how frustrating it is to even be out with all the extra traffic on the roads & shoppers in the stores. ERRRRR!! It can try even the most patient people. In the past few years, I have come a LONG way to being more patient on the road (yeah, I'm a little bit proud of that). Still, when idiots abound on the street, it is hard to stay calm. So I want to leave you with some encouragement to do just that ... stay calm. Take the extra second at the stop sign to make sure no one's coming. Take the extra moment to check your blind spot before changing lanes. Better yet, don't change lanes as often (the other lane's not really going any faster anyway). Put more space between you & the car in front of you. Don't pull out into an intersection if traffic is backed up enough that you might not make it through (the main source of my own frustration the past couple of days). So many more people are out on the roads, & so many of those people are in more of a hurry than usual. Take your time. The extra seconds, even minutes, are worth saving you from an accident.

I want you all to have a safe and happy holiday. Love your family and friends, & forget about the stress and frustration. I'm sending you some hugs & kisses to share with your loved ones. His blessings to you, now & forever.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I think we should change our clock-system. I mean, when you're up until 1 in the morning, it's not really morning yet. You're still thinking "night." So why not say "night-time" with a different system? Instead of 12 being the change-over hour from PM to AM & vice-versa, let's start with changing our current 6 AM to 1 AM. I mean, no one normal is up before 6 anyway, so that works. 6 AM will become 1 AM, 7 AM will be 2 AM, 8 AM will be 3 AM, & so on. Likewise, 12 PM will now be 7 AM. I don't think that's too confusing. You're not confused, are you? We can handle eating lunch at 7 AM. The only problem I foresee is that we're very used to the terms "12 noon" & "12 midnight." We could still use "noon" & "midnight," but we'd have to drop the "12." And that's okay too. We'll get used to the new system eventually. By my grandchildren's time, saying "12 noon" or "12 midnight" will date you like saying "records" or "LPs" dates you today. They'll look at us like we just fell out of the sky when we say "12 noon."

"No, Grossmater" (that's German for Grandmother, you know), "12 noon no longer exists," my grandkids will say, "the new system is much better. 7 AM is noon. Duh." (rolling eyes) "You're weird ... weirder than Grosspater" (that's Dan).

Don't they know that I'm the one who created this new system? Sheesh.

So why am I still up after 1 AM?? Let me enumerate the reasons:
1--Well, I had lots to do to get ready for a baby shower I am hosting tomorrow morning. Presents to wrap, stroller to assemble, cake to bake & decorate, petite cheesecakes to make, etc. Mixed in with all that was family time: dinner, picture-taking (for my not-yet-sent-out-I-know-they're-late! Christmas letters), bath, game. It was a pretty nice night.
2--I am obsessed with blogging. I add an average of one new blog to my favorites list every week. I don't like to miss anything, so I am checking ALL the blogs on my favorites list 2 or 3 times a day. If no one has added a new post, that might take me 15 minutes or less. But when you have 100 blogs to read (no, not really, more like 87) what are the chances that there will not be a new post to read? And, of course, comment on.
3--After spending an hour on the computer, my shoulders & upper back start to cramp up. So I get up, realize there's a mess in the kitchen, feel bad that I've been spending time on the computer rather than cleaning (it's my job, you know), so I get to work. I wash the dishes first.
4--I wipe down the counters.
5--I wipe down the stove. Oh, there's a mess under this burner. I'd better clean that up. The coffeepot has been accumulating dust because it's been a while since I've used it (with shoulder pain waking me up at 4 or 5 each morning, why would I need coffee?). I'd better wipe it off.
6--Wow, look at all the dirt on the kitchen/dining table. Yuck. Wipe that down.
7--Would you believe it's been a week or so since I cleaned under Derek's booster seat? Cleaning under his booster requires turning the chair on its side to get the crumbs out onto the floor, which means ...
8--I need to sweep ... the entire kitchen/dining area.
9--While doing all these chores, I think of a post I'd like to write, so here I am, back at the computer.

Is it any wonder I'm still up at 8PM?? (Trust me, you'll get the hang of my new time system)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's the Holiday Season


With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock
And don't forget to hang up your sock
'Cause just exactly at 12 o'clock
He'll be coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney, down!

(I hope you know that song, otherwise you're thinking I'm really strange--just like I thought Dan was really strange the first time I heard him sing it)

Okay, I've been waiting to post this "survey" for a while. Some of you have been getting it in email form, so don't feel pressured to answer again here. But, if you want to, I'd love to know your answers. I'll post my answers below, in case anyone cares.

In 10 days I will be preparing for Santa's arrival! I am so excited!

Getting to know you (sing it with me!) getting to know all about you
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
2. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
3. When do you put your decorations up?
4. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
5. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
6. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
7. Can you ice skate?
8. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
9. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
10. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
11. Do you have music playing while decorating your tree and house?
12. What's your favorite Christmas song?
13. Artificial tree, pre-cut tree, or cut-your-own tree?
14. Do you have Christmas decorations in your bathroom? Or, where is the oddest place you have decorations in your house?

My Answers
1. we actually drink egg nog--something Dan introduced me to--I love it! But I also really like hot chocolate, which I drink all year round.
2. white lights
3. I usually put up decorations the first week in December, then the tree is done Christmas Eve
4. Sweet potatoes, definitely--I think because they're a lot like dessert
5. I don't remember when I learned the truth about Santa, but I know that my sister likes to tell everyone that I told her Santa's secret after I found out, even though she probably would have had a few good years left to enjoy it
6. My family used to, but Dan is dead set against it. He thinks it's cheating. BUT, just yesterday I got the boys some PJs & am hoping to persuade Dan to let me give them to the kids on Christmas Eve. Since I went outside our clothes budget for them, he might be pretty upset. And I don't think he'll let me use the toy budget for them. If anyone would like to contribute to the PJ-fund, you can send donations to First Leichner Bank, Account #333333. Just kidding. :)
7. Every time I ice skate, which is about once every 3 years or so, I start off shaky but warm up to it & get better within an hour or two--just about when it's time to leave!
8. Despite the hectic-ness of the weeks leading up to Christmas, I love the relaxed way we've been doing Christmas the past few years. Just soaking it up & trying to enjoy the boys & their excitement as much as possible.
9. I have to choose ONE?? Nana always makes divinity & saves some extra for me. I also love chocolate pecan pie, tollhouse pie, cookies, apple pie, pumpkin pie......
10. As crazy as it is since I put up a big stink about it a few years ago, now I love our unique tradition of getting our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. It gives us something to do the day before Christmas, anyway. :)
11. Uh, yeah! (said with valley girl voice)
12. What Child Is This?
13. Cut-your-own every year!
14. Yes, I do have some in my bathroom. A tree-shaped bar of soap & some towels with Christmas trees on them.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Welcome to the world, Aiden!

Here he is! My cousin Kevin & his wife Mel had a baby boy today in Minot, North Dakota (I can't say "Dakota" without a Canadian accent). Aiden Robert Mackey is 9 lbs 10 oz & 20 inches long! Big boy!! Kevin's email to everyone dubbed him "Big Mack." I hope that's not a nickname that will haunt him for life!! ;-)

Congratulations, Kevin, Mel, Alexis & Aiden! What a sweet family you are. I hope we see you soon.

It's not fair!!

Why does everyone I know from Florida INSIST on rubbing their warm weather in my face?!

You know, I don't really appreciate that, Mom ... Dad ... Loni ... Matt.
You're the reason I want to live with warm weather. At least before I knew people who lived in Florida, I didn't know warm weather actually existed during the winter months. But I can no longer be ignorant about it. I know there is warm weather to be had somewhere. While you're having 70-degree weather & putting your Christmas lights up wearing t-shirts & flip-flops, our weather looks like this in Virginia.Isn't that such a gloomy picture?

For the record, I don't really mind snow ... when it accumulates enough to do something with it!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Thoughts, Amelia's, and Hot Water Heaters

Dee posted this article written by Ken Neller (a Harding guy) last year. It really helped me articulate some of the feelings I have about Christmas & celebrating Jesus' birth this time of year. If you're interested, you should check it out. I think you'll enjoy it.

In case you didn't read my Miscellaneous & Extraneous Thoughts post the other day before I edited it, I'll just inform you that I had vented my feelings about some Christmas carols that we sing--my number one pet peeve is when we sing songs that have to do with the wise men visiting Jesus as he lay in the manger. The Bible says that the magi found him in a house, and our carols make the assumption that he was still laying in the manger. Unfortunately and, well, stupidly, I used a verse to refute it, that really didn't at all. I wasn't paying attention in my haste to get the post published & I used the wrong verse. Malia corrected me on that & added some of her own frustrations about the assumptions we make & sing about that relate to Jesus' birth. For one, the wise men being "wise." She's heard a presentation that these men probably dabbled in black magic. I think that's what she said--she may have to correct me again! I actually deleted that section of my post & her comment, & now wish I had saved them so I could remember what she said. Basically, the point I got from Malia, & I'm grateful she shared it with me: It doesn't really matter what inaccuracies we sing about or talk about (because there are plenty of liberties we've taken to fill in the details), as long as we remember the reason we're singing about Christ's birth. Without His birth, there would not have been the amazing, exemplary life He lived on this earth, there would not have been His ministry, there would not have been His death, & there certainly would not have been His resurrection, which is the miracle that still saves us 2000+ years later. What should be our focus?? Really, you should check out that article. :)

Yesterday, I had a pretty ordinary experience that turned into something rather cool. The furnace guy returned to our house to finish his repairs on the furnace. When the boys & I were in NJ, the heater stopped working. When I returned I called to have it fixed. I recognized the guy that came but couldn't place him. Yesterday, though, I remembered. He is a regular at the restaurant where I used to work. So I asked him, & he said that he had remembered me. We talked a little about the old restaurant, which he doesn't seem to like as much anymore. He asked me if I had been to Amelia's, a new Italian restaurant here in town (the other restaurant, Sal's, where I used to work, was in another town). I said that I hadn't. He told me that Buddy, a guy that used to cook at Sal's opened it up with his family. He also said that the service wasn't that great. After he left, Amelia's remained on my mind. I know this is really strange, just bear with me. I got this idea in my head that they could use my help, & of course, I would benefit from helping them with more income. So I talked Dan into going there to eat last night. (He wasn't very excited about going out & spending money when we don't have that much coming in, you know?) It was pretty slow. I think they need to advertize more. No one seems to really know about it. Anyway, my furnace guy was right, the service was so-so. This girl we had, she really seemed to be trying, but she was so quiet & timid. I wanted to offer her advice!! Buddy was standing behind the counter & saw me...& recognized me! He came over to say hi, & introduced me to his wife, Amy, who I actually knew--she also used to work at Sal's. But I guess Buddy didn't remember that we worked there at the same time. SOOO...I told them I could help out if they needed me, & Buddy said that they had a full staff, but some that weren't necessarily working out, so he would think about it & get back to me. Later on, while I was paying, Amy asked me if I'm staying home with the kids. I said yes, & that I babysit some too. (Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that Amy is pregnant, & due in April) So a few minutes later she & Buddy came back over & said that they are actually looking into childcare. They have someone to interview in a few days, but if it didn't work out, they were wondering if they could call me about it. So, wow!

I really felt God leading me there yesterday. I don't know how to explain it, because I didn't actually hear a booming voice from heaven telling me to take the family & head to dinner at Amelia's, I didn't even hear a quiet voice in my head--just my own. But after dinner, despite my disappointment that I didn't have a job offer firmly on the table, I felt like I was supposed to go there, offer to help out, agree to consider babysitting their child, etc. And, actually, we ran into a family whose son was on Nathan's soccer team. They ended up sitting next to us & we enjoyed chatting with them. Maybe they were the reason we were there?? I don't know. It was interesting. And I get the feeling there is more coming...whatever my reason for needing to be there yesterday, it's not come to fruition yet. Kinda exciting!

We've been getting Christmas cards in the mail the past few days--I'm really enjoying them. Thank you, Auntie An, for all the great pictures! I CAN'T believe some of you actually send your cards out so early! No, I haven't gotten there yet! I haven't even started, except that yesterday I bought 60 stamps--hoping that's enough! I can never remember from year to year how many cards I send out. To be honest, something this year feels strange about sending out a newsletter. Now that I'm doing this blog thing, it seems like my newsy letter will be redundant to those who read my blog. Will any of you mind? Probably not. Still not sure, though. I might have to be creative--something I'm not very gifted in.

This morning, Derek has been feeling pretty sick. It wasn't just that he woke up around 4 and wanted to be with someone (that "someone" was me & I ended up sleeping in his bed with him so we could let Dan enjoy sleeping in--those little toddler beds in the shape of a car are pretty cute until you try fitting your 5'7" frame into one--maybe it's time to get a guest bed). After waking up at 7, he was already back asleep by 9. Dan wanted to go over to the school to get some work done & he took the two older boys with him. I laid Derek down & hopped in the shower. AWWWWW... peace, quiet, & all the hot water I could ask for. Nice. I don't know much about hot water heaters, but I do know that ours isn't very good. We only get about 1 & 1/2 hot showers in a row. If you want a full shower, & you're the second one to take one, you have to wait an hour after the first one. Most mornings during the week, I need to get in right after Dan so I can be finished before the kids are all up. But that gives me about 30 seconds. If you're a guy, you're thinking, "no big deal." If you're a woman, you know that isn't enough time to wash your hair, let alone add conditioner, wash your body, face, shave, etc. My priority is to get my hair washed & then whatever else I have time for I consider an added bonus. So today was like a BIG GIFT!

Hope you have all the hot water you need on this frigid December day! Only 16 days left until Christmas!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Miscellaneous & Extraneous Thoughts

I think it's about time for another Update, don't you??

Job Situation (does anyone know how to write the code for underline?)
I remembered recently that I have not really told many people about the latest with my job situation. It just all happened so fast & I have trouble remembering who I've talked to & who I haven't. To recap, back in September I was offered a 20-hour work week as opposed to the ten I was working for the WIC program as a breastfeeding peer counselor. This was an answer to prayer, as the pay for that was exactly what we needed me to make to supplement Dan's lowly teacher salary (the salary's low, not the job, though some teachers might feel they're treated that way). However, the first week of October, which was my first week working 20 hours, I was in the office one day with Jeremy & Derek, making some phone calls & waiting for a client to show up for our appointment. To make a long story short (& believe me, it IS a long story), an administrator saw us, told me she didn't want me to bring my kids to work, my supervisor arguing the decision didn't help, & so...I can't work there anymore. It was a good job, I enjoyed it while I was there, but ... so long.

But then the question was, "What now?" I was already keeping one little girl Mondays & Wednesdays & my niece on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons. I needed to get a few more if that was how I wanted to make my money. My friend was needing someone to keep her baby after she went back to work, & I was relieved I would be able to do that for her; so it seemed timely that my other job did not work out. I am still not making as much money as I want, well need, I think, so I would appreciate prayers that will lead me to another child to keep. My only other option is to get a waitressing job one night a week (but who would want to hire me for just one night?? it'd probably end up being 2 or 3).

Jeremy points with middle finger
Yeah, that's right. I don't know why, but when Jeremy is pointing at something or telling me the number 1, he uses his middle finger. I mean, it's not like it's natural or even somewhat comfortable to use that finger. And, of course, there's a reason your first finger's called "the pointer finger." So yeah, we're working on that.

Snickers throws up again
My dog has been throwing up once daily. I don't know what the deal is. For a week or so, she was waking us up each night in the middle of the night (2,3,4-ish) & throwing up (she sleeps in our room & the huge gagging sounds were hard to sleep through). For the past 4 days I find throw-up near the back door when I walk into the den the first time each day. I'm now out of Spot Shot, so I guess the December grocery shopping trip I've been putting off is imminent. It's possible it's the new cheap food I got from Kroger the last time, but that was mid-November, & the throwing up didn't start right after that. So, I don't know what's wrong with her. If she has the stomach bug that's been going around, (A) she was the first to get it, (B) it's lasted a lot longer than it does for humans, (C) I hope she can't give it to other dogs, since we'll be dog-sitting for a friend this coming week. After she starts the cheap food I'll be getting from Wal-Mart, I'll let you know if the throwing up subsides. I'm sure you'll all be waiting on the edge of your seats for the news. :)

Pain in the neck!
For the past week now, I have had neck & shoulder pain which has ranged from mild pain in the neck (pardon the pun) to severe shoulder strain (pardon the silly alliteration). Last Wednesday morning when I woke up, I had milk neck stiffness, which was also in my left shoulder & was a little more painful than the stiff neck I've experienced before. By Thursday morning, when I woke up an hour before my alarm was going to propel me out of bed, I wanted to scream from the excruciating pain. It loosened up, however, & by that night, when I had a show to do it had lessened considerably (praise God! & I did). It still hung around for a while, almost a week, which I thought was unusual. But it wasn't keeping me from my activities, so I wasn't going to do anything about it. Yesterday morning (a week from the beginning), I woke up again to excruciating pain & I really wanted to cry. I called the doctor to make an appointment for Friday (my first chance). By the afternoon, though, it had lessened again & I second-guessed my need to go to the doctor. Then last night at church, I did the ultimate stupid thing. So I bring you Mommy's Bad Idea #88: Helping to set chairs up for Wednesday night supper. I couldn't help it. I saw that only half of our usual number of chairs were out. I feel kinda silly, like a (*gasp*) mother, when I ask others to help do something that I should be perfectly capable of doing myself. So I just went over, started getting the chairs out & putting them at the tables. You have to know what our setup is to know why this is bad. The chairs are up on racks. You have to lift your arms (okay when you're normal), raise the chairs above your head, bring them down to the floor, then unfold them & put them at tables. At one point, a chair slipped out of my hands. I don't know what happened except that I suppose I probably reacted quickly to try to catch the chair & pulled something in my neck worse than it already was. An observant friend of mine noticed I was favoring my neck, so she came over to help. She lifted the chairs off & handed them to me so I could put them at the tables. It wasn't until I sat down to eat my food that I realized how horribly my neck & shoulder now felt--possibly the worst yet. SOOO...I'm glad I still have that doctor's appointment. Sleeping last night was difficult, at best. :)

Christmas letters
Finally, a little survey:
If you send out Christmas letters, when do you send them out & how many do you send? How long is yours usually? A card or a newsletter? Pictures??

Stay tuned, I will be posting the Holiday Edition of Getting To Know Your Friends soon. I know you're all so very excited about another survey.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Jeremy just informed me that Derek is “cleaning” the toilet. I gotta go.

Why I Love My Church Family

This is a practice run for an article I'm planning to write for the bulletin this weekend. After Bible study last night, it just kept running through my mind that there are some really great things about my church family that amaze me and encourage me all the time. First,

Why I Love Wednesday Night Suppers:
*Eating with a large group of people that I didn't have to do all the cooking for.
*Eating with the college students, who seem to sense when I need an extra hand. Last night, I ate by myself (well, I got to sit with my own friends for a change) because my kids were eating with their favorite college students. I didn't have to fill their plates, find them a place to sit, make them eat all their vegetables, get them drinks, help them cut up their food, clear their stuff from the table ... or any of the other things that come with taking care of children at dinner time.

*Getting to know the Gillies. Tom & Leah are some of the sweetest people you'd know. I have really enjoyed getting to know them, as well as eating Leah's great cooking! And I was really impressed that Tom, who noticed my neck was very stiff last night, offered to take me with him to see his masseuse on Friday.

*Finding someone different to sit with each time. It has been a fun game to try to get to know someone different each time I go. Sometimes, it turns into a big argument when the kids want to sit with their friends, but for the most part I enjoy it.

*The fellowship each week is outstanding. It's easy to get conversation going over food. It's like an ice breaker: "I wonder who made this delicious dessert?"

*With all the extra stuff I'm carrying, class materials, dinner dishes, etc., there are always people on hand to help me out. What a blessing! Moms really don't have extra hands, you know, except when they're willing to accept help from others.


Why I Love My Adopted Family:
This semester, we took 4 college students, 2 or 3 families, put them together & the result is...
Lots of fun & fellowship!

So far, our family has gotten together for dinner & dessert twice, one of those times just so we could get to know each other better. The other time was to celebrate one of our students' birthdays & play some games together. We had such a blast both times! My kids LOVE the attention they get from the college students, and *surprise* the college kids genuinely seem to enjoy it too. I remember how special I felt as a child to receive direct attention from a young adult or college student. It makes me smile to see that my children have that opportunity too. And I have to admit, they make me feel pretty special too. The first Sunday we found out who our adopted families were, two of my "kids" came over to hug us & say "Hi Mom & Dad!" Cute. They all offer to babysit for us, & they help keep an eye on the kids while they're running around the church building. One of my students has offered to help with the bulletin & directory. What servants!

While I know all the college students are really special people, I want to say a "thank you" to Adria, Ethan, Kristin, & Jason, who I'm so proud to call family. If you haven't had the opportunity to get your adopted family together much this semester, please try to do so more often in the spring. Every one of you will be blessed because of it.

Word Verification Dyslexia

I become dyslexic when I do those word verification thingies in order to leave comments on people's blogs. I don't know how many times I have had to redo one because it didn't accept my first submission. For instance, dxhmi becomes dhxim. I just caught myself. Before, I didn't know WHY I was having to redo them so often.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Elf On A Shelf & My Basement Door Project, Which Are Totally Unrelated Subjects

Over Thanksgiving break, while we were decorating my in-laws' tree, Oma pulled out "Elf on a Shelf," which is really just a dwarf ornament from Snow White (don't tell the boys!). Anyway, she launches into this big story about Elf-on-a-Shelf for the boys' benefit. She said that the elf sits on a shelf during the day, keeping an eye on everyone, and then at night he goes to the North Pole to report to Santa. Then he comes back the next day in a new place in the house. The kids thought that was pretty cool. So Oma put him up on a shelf. Sure enough, the next day, he was in a different spot. I was thinking, "I gotta get one of these!" Already planning out my own scheme. But Oma was ahead of me; she sent Elf-on-a-Shelf home with us. So he has made himself at home here in Christiansburg. I did not unpack the car when we got home at midnight Sunday night, & I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) that the kids were asking about him the next morning. Oops. So I told them he must have stayed in the car that night, but that I'd make sure I made a place for him as soon as I brought everything in. I brought him in & put him up on top of our refrigerator (he does not have to be on a shelf, as you'll see later). The kids think this is just great. And, of course, so do I. I am totally playing up the "You guys better be good, Mr. Elf is going to report to Santa tonight what you've done today." I LOVE the magic of Santa!
As you can see, Mr. Elf has been in different places, including hanging from our basketball net--the kids got a HUGE kick out of that! The boys excitedly look through the house each morning for Elf-on-a-Shelf. Today he was in Derek's room. This is where he's "going to be" tomorrow, his first time actually on a shelf, in our living room:

This might be the best year ever for our family getting into the Christmas spirit. There is only a small window of time that you have with your kids believing in Santa. Once they start school, you're just not sure when they're going to find out the truth. I have no idea how much longer I have with Nathan, & after that when he'll be telling his brothers. So we're taking advantage of "the magic" as much as possible this year. The kids have Christmas Countdown Calendars, also courtesy of Oma, that have little chocolates in each of the windows. Every morning so far (which is 3), the kids have gotten out of bed & almost immediately started asking about getting their chocolate. I am planning to start another special activity tomorrow, where I read a Psalm to the boys each morning. If it seems to go over well, I'll try to organize it a little more next year. I hope to continue it past Christmas, but thought it was as good a time as any to get it started. Do you have a daily tradition your family does during the holidays (or did when you were a child)?

There is NOTHING cuter than a 2-yr-old shouting, "Look! Christmas lights!" which really sounds like, "Woot! Tismas wights!" Too adorable! We count how many houses have Christmas decorations when we're driving around. And Derek is in on it just as much as his big "buh-das."

Speaking of Christmas, you might be interested in the Countdown to Christmas I have at the bottom of this page. I think I might have mentioned it before. Today, there are only 3 weeks & less than one day til Christmas!

You might remember that one post I asked about ideas for our basement door. The door in our house leading down to the basement had a hole cut in the bottom for the previous owner's cat. The cat-door had fallen off & the hole that was left was all uneven & jagged-edged, so I wanted to do something to cover it up. I haven't yet taken the time to print out a picture of the kids' faces, which I plan to eventually do. But here's what the door looks like now. My mom, who is ultra-creative, helped me a few weeks ago find a frame & these velcro strips to attach the frame to the door. I bought a print to put in the frame. Since it worked, I went back to get another frame & print for the other side of the door, & thought Dan might appreciate an Italian scene, since he so enjoyed his time in Italy. So, walking up the stairs of the basement, it appears that you're looking out a window to a villa scene. I think it's cute. Kinda strange to have picture frames on the bottom of a door, but it's WAY better than an ugly hole.

View of the door from the upstairs:
And, from the basement steps looking up:

My sister now has a blog that you can find here. Loni is too cute! She started off with some observations on her experiences as a first-year teacher, but she's branched out a bit, talking about the moon & her weird propensity for handbags(you'd have to read it to understand).

These people were tagged either directly or indirectly from my Weird Post (which, if you don't know, is an ongoing "meme" going around the blog world--you'll have to check out Mom's weird post comments for Malia's informative definition of the word "meme"):
Loni
Dad
Mom
Trey
Tanya
Terri (left a comment on my weird post with some of her weird qualities)
Emily (Malia's sister; you may not know her, but Emily is WAY funny! You will get a kick out of her list)

As most people say, there are probably lots of weird traits that we don't remember when we're working on our list of 6 things. Every time I read someone else's list, I think of another thing or two I could have put on my own. Maybe someday I'll post the complete list. ... On second thought, it'd take too long. But one thing that's been kinda reassuring during this Weird Saga: you read other people's weird lists & check off half of the list that could apply to you as well (maybe more if you're related)...maybe we're not so weird after all!

Friday, December 01, 2006

One Girl's Weird is Another Girl's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

(At what age will I cease being a girl & start thinking of myself as a woman?)

Okay, Malia tagged me, so I'll give it a whirl.

But I had to get help from Dan. Who would know my weirdest quirks better than the man I've lived with the past 7 years (almost)?? You may not believe this, but I had a hard time coming up with weird things about myself. I'm just not all that weird. Who knew?

Six Weird Things About Me you may or may not already know:

1. I do not like people to play with my ears. Please don't touch them, stick wet fingers in them, don't even look at them. I've had ear problems for a long time, & I've had enough of all the poking around in my ears. Please just leave them alone.

Thank you.

2. I'm too defensive of other people. When someone says something bad about someone else--even if it's true--I jump to their defense. You could say, "Wow, I can't believe that jerk just cut me off." And I'll say, "Well, he might be having a bad day." It doesn't matter that I don't know these people, I have to defend them.

3. I get caught up in books I'm reading so that I tend to neglect other duties in order to read them. If I am in the middle of a book, don't be surprised to note that the laundry is still unfolded from 2 weeks ago, the kitchen counters are collecting dishes, crayon marks are all over the living room, water is dripping from the bathroom into the basement, the dog has peed on the carpet, & the kids are running around outside naked. Is that food under the table from last week?

Oh wait, that's not weird, it's just plain lazy.

4. HP might mean Hewlett Packard to you, but it means Harry Potter to me. I am very obsessed with Harry Potter. Last summer, when the 6th book was coming out in stores, the family & I joined ranks with a few other strange HP fans & hung out at our local Barnes & Noble to enjoy festivities such as wand-decorating, HP trivia quizzes, lightning bolt tattoos (temporary, don't worry), & story time. Ahem, the festivities began at 10PM. Don't worry, the kids didn't mind missing sleep. I am pretty angry that the movies are not coming out in a timely fashion (I mean, come on! Dan Radcliffe, the actor-who-plays-HP-all-of-you-can-call-him-Daniel-but-we're-tight-so-I-can-call-him-Dan, is going to be 32 when HP's supposed to be 17!!). I am very upset about how the 6th book turned out (I'm not telling!!). I have cried while reading more than one of the books. I was disappointed by some of the things left out of the 4th movie. I don't think Dan (my Dan) should be reading his students the 5th book in class...he should have started with the first. I still cannot figure out whether or not to trust Severus Snape. I want to be in the Order of the Pheonix.
Oh, by the way, have all you muggles checked out www.mugglenet.com??

5. Some of you might not think this is weird, but most will: I did not take any pain medication for any of my babies' deliveries & 2 of them were born at home.

6. I'm bossy (this was Dan's idea). I tend to tell others what to do. I give helpful suggestions & make people feel like they have to use them. Then, when I bossily organize an activity & it doesn't go right, I get upset. Or in the middle of it, I feel bad that I'm bossing everyone around.

Okay, never mind, I don't like that one. Scratch that. (cool, it worked!)

6. I don't like other people's feet touching mine.

You know what? I don't like that one either. Let's try again...

6. I am so obsessed with blogging, I could spend hours each day just working on one of my posts. I start writing, then go back & fix something here, add a little there, do a little research on this or that, check so-&-so's blog about something I read yesterday, try to find a picture to add (which takes a long time, & really that's why I spend so much time on a post), think of something funny to put in the title... You need proof? I started this post yesterday & spent about 30 minutes trying to think of what to write. I got back on tonight around 11:30 & have been working on it straight until now, 1:30AM. And you know what, by the time I'm done with a post, I've read it so much I'm sick of it!! How's that for blog-obsessed, AKA weird?!

All right, I know I'm not all that weird after all. But you're not surprised, are you? You already knew that. I'm one of the most normal people any of you know.

And to spread the love, I'm tagging these people that I don't know much weirdness about:
Dad (who'd better tag Mom), Dee (who'd better tag another ChiO), Terri (who'd better tag Dawn or Mark), Tanya (who I hope will tag Cindy, even though Cindy probably won't do it, so she should probably tag Bevin too), Maria (who can tag anyone she wants to tag!!), & Matt (who won't do it & instead just think I'm really weird--then again, his post from yesterday might have been his "weird" post--ha!!).

Feel free to consider yourself tagged if I didn't officially tag you, & post your own Weirdness for everyone to see. I'm also hoping that those of you I tagged will tag others that I would have liked to have tagged (which is why I offered helpful suggestions for who to tag). If you each tag two other people I know, & those people tag two other people I know, & so on, we will eventually cover all the people I know. What? What's so weird about that??

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm Thankful For . . .

Friends like the Hinckleys, who let me drag them along on one of my hare-brained ideas last night. Usually my wild & wacky ideas involve dragging along a friend or two; sometimes it's Dan or other family members; & thankfully everyone's always a good sport about it.

We have supper each Wednesday night before Bible study, & each week one family or group of families provides a main course, while the rest of the congregation that comes brings a side dish or dessert. Signing up for these suppers has slowed down, & I wanted to sign up for one week but didn't want to do it by myself. So I asked Tanya if she'd be interested, or if she at least could give me an idea for what to cook. So, she came back with several ideas & offered to help (or did I ask? I don't remember). We decided on spaghetti. Sounds pretty easy, right? Why, oh WHY????, do things have to be so complicated when they should be so very easy? The basic food prep was pretty easy, but the timing of everything was a lot harder than it should have been, & there were lots of little things that I forgot about. I felt responsible since it was my idea in the first place. I felt bad for dragging Tanya & Jonathan into it without having a clue as to what I was doing. But, as always, they were good sports about it & SUPER helpful!!

In case you need some tips on preparing a meal for a large group, here are some ideas that should make it easier for you, based on what I learned last night:

1--A large pot of water will probably take longer to boil than a small pot. (Okay, so maybe for most of you, that's common sense, but some of us are a little slower)

2--Watching a pot of water & waiting for it to boil will make it take longer to boil (ask Tanya if you don't believe me)

3--If you're planning to serve drinks with dinner, you need ice. (Again, maybe common sense for some of you)

4--Don't use the spaghetti sauce spoon to stir the tea. (once again, common sense probably...)

5--If you don't mind dragging yet another friend into the mess, ask one to help watch the kids while you're setting up; but don't be surprised if everyone else coming in thinks you must be someone else because your 3 extra limbs (otherwise known as children) aren't hanging off you for once.

6--Enlist a guy (a strong one, like Jonathan) to help set up the chairs & tables & to lift the big heavy pots of spaghetti sauce & pasta.

7--It's helpful to check your supply of plates, cups, napkins, etc., BEFORE the night of your activity.

8--However long you think it's going to take to get everything ready, add 20 extra minutes.

9--Above all else, when you're planning an adventure (even if it's not a far away, exciting adventure), take a friend along for the ride. I'm glad I did!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Thanksgiving Trip & Mommy's Bad Idea #87 (also, trip to Storybook Land)

On Wednesday afternoon the boys & I drove up to New Jersey. Dan has this portfolio he needs to get done for his course, which he had been planning for months to spend this weekend working on. So he was not able to go, but I really had a desire to do something with family on Thanksgiving. Since no one was coming here, I decided to go to NJ. Mom & Dad L. were gracious hosts, as always, & it was great to be with them.

Wednesday was not such a great day. I hadn't been keeping up with the weather, but apparently it was supposed to rain. I did not realize this fact until a little before 1PM when I left the house to go pick up Nathan from school & it was starting to rain. Great. So, on top of the weather (which was coming down pretty hard for the majority of the trip), the traffic was really bad. That's to be expected the day before Thanksgiving, but with the rain it was doubly frustrating. What normally should be 7-7&1/2 hours was 10 hours!! Ugh. I'm thinkin' I should have just not sent Nathan to school that day & left as early as possible. Oh well, would've, should've, could've. Fortunately, the travelers were suitably entertained on the trip, which made it a bit easier. Plenty of DVDs for the kids in the back, a book on CD for me. It's the first time I tried a CD book while traveling, & though I don't absorb as much listening as I do reading, it was entertaining. Next time, though, I'll research a little more before choosing books to listen to with kids around. Though my first book was tame (Philip Craig does not do the really bad words, but some of the not-as-bad bad words), the book on my trip home had a lot of the bad bad words & A LOT of taking God's name in vain. Annoying!!

Thursday was a great day! The morning was relaxing, sleeping in (for me, anyway), hanging out with Dan's folks & the kids. At 2 we picked up Grandmom Leichner & drove over to Steve & Jane's house. It was GREAT to see a lot of extended family that I don't see often or some I've not even met yet! After a few hours there, we went back to "our" house & had dinner with Dawn & Steve & their kids & their girls' boyfriends. That was great too! And Dawn sets a mean Thanksgiving table. Everything was so yummy!! We also played a game that Dan's mom made up, sorta like the surveys that go around the emails & blogs: "What color is most like you?" or "What would you do if you weren't afraid to do it?" etc. Since everyone was such a great sport, it was a lot of fun. I think the answer that elicited the most laughter was Nathan's: "My favorite letter is A, because it's the second letter in my name." Where does he get this stuff? But the most appreciated answer was also from Nathan: "The famous person that I'd like to be friends with is Pop-Pop." Apparently Dad has been bragging to as many people as he can about that.

On Friday, Dad set up the artificial tree he got last year after Christmas for $28. I think he was more excited about the deal he got on it than actually having it. We (Dad, Mom & I) were pretty much making fun of it while he was setting it up. It was sparse-looking. I pointed out, though, that even if it didn't turn out all that great, it's less than he would have spent on a real tree so one good use out of it would have been worth it. After the branches were all spread out, the lights turned on, and the garland draped over it, the tree was looking much better. But I have to say that it looked pretty darn good after the ornaments were put on. Maybe that was the $37 burning a whole in my pocket that made me think it looked good. Mom has some ornaments with good hiding places. Each year after Christmas, while taking the ornaments down, she puts money in those ornaments. Then the next year whoever is helping to decorate the tree gets to look for the money. The kids enjoyed getting the "special" ornaments this year. Even though Nathan found the most bills (6), Jeremy found a 20, so his $23 won. Derek also only found 4 bills, one of which was a 5, so his $8 beat Nathan's $6. It didn't really matter, I decided to put it all together & we'll use it for a special family treat soon. We're looking forward to that.

The other special treat of Friday was going over to Autumn & Chad's house. They also had Shawn & Cindy, Mike & Amy & all of our kids over. We had breakfast for dinner. YUM!! It was so wonderful to spend so much time with our old friends; I was just sad that Dan wasn't there too. It's the most we've done with them in a long time. We're hardly ever in town the same time Mike & Amy are. And we usually only see the rest of our friends at church when we're in town, so to have an evening together with them was really great.

On Saturday, the two big things were Treasure Hunt & Storybook Land. If you don't know what either of those two things are, you are REALLY missing out. ;) The treasure hunt is where Dan's mom (Oma) hides one-dollar bills around the house & the kids find it. They each have a limit (this time, $13) & then they stop while Derek finds the rest of his. Dan's parents really like to spoil the kids, in case you couldn't tell. It's getting to where the kids expect it, though, so I hope they don't do this EVERY time we go (hint, hint). So, we took our $13 to Wal-Mart after lunch & spent it. Nathan & Jeremy both got play guns & small cars. Derek got a Dora puzzle and a Little People SUV (it's purple, & the driver is a girl, but he doesn't seem to mind). After that we drove the rest of the hour to Storybook Land. It's a bit cold for amusement parks this time of year, but we were really blessed with warm weather that day. The main reason for us going this time of year was that Mom had heard Santa comes out at 5 & turns on Christmas lights all around the park. She heard it was pretty amazing. Since the kids absolutely love Storybook Land (voted Most Fun Place on Earth, by Nathan the night before), it wouldn't have mattered what the lights looked like, but I do have to admit, it was pretty amazing. Lights EVERYWHERE. Before that, we had enjoyed rides all over the park. I agree with Jeremy that the best ride is Turtle Whirl (AKA, Spinning Turtles, according to Jeremy). Turtle #6 is especially whirly, & especially so when you have two adults sitting on the outsides with the kids crammed in the middle. I think the centrifugal force affects the speed of the spin. Maybe. I didn't do so well with Engineering Physics. Not my best science class.

Sunday was difficult for me, mainly because I feel uncomfortable with my old congregation after what they did to my parents. But it's not everyone, & I was trying to suppress feelings of betrayal & such. Maybe I'll blog some more on that later. LOTS of people came to hug me & say how cute our kids are & to say that they miss my parents & sister & grandparents. I told them that they miss lots of people in NJ too. Apparently my sister has recently written to a few of the seniors there, & they were very appreciative of that, so Go Loni! (Ellen wants you guys to write to her!) After lunch we had another long trip home. I really intended to drive an alternate route suggested by Dad, but my hands on the steering wheel were on autopilot, apparently, as we just went the same old route we always go. Old habits die hard. Sure enough, we hit bunches of traffic in Delaware & Maryland, which we might have missed if we'd gone the other way. Oh well. Another long trip, 9 & 1/2 hours. But we're home, safe & sound, & I'm relieved. Trying to rest up!!

I was going to include some things I'm thankful for, but this has gotten pretty long, so I'll finish this up with another bad idea & post on my list of thanks later. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Love to you all!

Bad Idea # 87: (In case you're wondering where the first 86 bad ideas are, they're around somewhere. I haven't been keeping exact track, but I'm pretty sure 87 is close.)
Last week before our trip, I stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things & went by the toy department to see if I could spend my meager allowance (yes, I said "allowance") on some small, cheap toys for the trip. I thought I had a pretty good idea: some glow sticks & these little balls that, when you squeeze them, flash a bunch of different colors. It was a good idea; the kids loved the glowing toys when it began to grow dark outside. The problem? Those flashing balls caused me to think there were flashing police lights behind me every time they were squeezed, which was frequently. I started to get used to them, but then there would be a break in between flashings, so when it started up again I panicked again. Not such a great idea after all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Static Electricity




My sister-in-law Terri took this picture of my niece Hannah and submitted it to our local paper. It was published a few weeks ago, then it was chosen by the paper to be part of this Best Shot contest they're having. If you want to help Hannah win the contest, you can go to this link & vote for her picture, "Static Electricity," or "static," as they have it listed in the left column where you vote. I think you can vote multiple times, though just once each day. I hope I'll be announcing after December 15th that she won!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How Much Is Your Life Worth?

I am hooked on this BlogThings site--well, I'm hooked on all things BLOG--but my latest entertainment has been to take one of these tests & then maybe put it on my blog. I enjoyed taking the intelligence test (not to see how much intelligence I have but to see what "type" of intelligence I have). The results are in my last post, near the bottom. [FYI, the other 2 people who took it told me their results were the same; but I know that not everyone gets the same answer because the first time I saw it on someone else's blog, the results were different]

I also took the "What Does Your SAT Score Mean?" test, & the results were quite exciting: my SAT score of 1370 was higher than that of Howard Stern, George W. Bush (I should run for president!!), Al Gore (then again, maybe not), but lower than Bill Gates, Natalie Portman & David Duchovny (who knew that alien chasers were so smart?!). My SAT score also means my IQ level is in the 130-140 range (according to this site, mind you), and that the ACT equivalent was 31 (though I can't remember what it actually was when I took it TEN whole years ago, that sounds about right).
I haven't yet but look forward to taking the Redneck & Driving tests, which I told you about in my last post. Don't hold your breath, I'll get to it.

I did a double-take when I came to "How Much Is Your Life Worth?" I thought, yeah, let's see! So here are the results:
Your Life Is Worth...

$805,500

Whew! Sounds like a lot, but that $1,000,000 life insurance policy might be a good deal after all!

The truth is, there are many ways to calculate what your life is worth, but I initially would not have thought about it in monetary terms, despite my history with math. Maybe that's because of my history with God's Word. One way to look at it (in my opinion) is that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is what gives my life its worth. That cost is far more than I could ever repay. Thank you, God, that I don't have to! The grace that God extends to me daily covers over whatever worthlessness I created in myself. One of my Dad's favorite quotes is:

The fundamental problem with most of us is not deficient self-esteem but inadequate divine-esteem. (Daniel Block)

Every time I read that, I think "Right on! I know that's true of me!!" When I try to calculate what I am worth, I come up empty. I have issues with self-esteem. And actually, according to Daniel Block & I am apt to agree, my focus on self-esteem IS the problem. I am looking to myself & what I can contribute to society, to my household, to the church; instead I need to look & see what God can do through me to contribute to society, to my household, to the church. When I compare myself to others, I am immediately overwhelmed with all the things about myself I'd change so I could be more like so-&-so or less like another so-&-so. Well, you know what? God can work though me and in spite of me to accomplish the good He will accomplish. When my focus is less on myself and what I want to change the focus is instead on God and what He would change. A favorite quote of mine is from The Purpose-Driven Life:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. (Rick Warren)

Again, when thoughts of myself are not at the forefront of my mind, then thoughts of God and His work take over. I'm not thinking less of myself in those instances, I'm thinking instead of my God and Savior and I don't worry about my body or my shortcomings as a human being.

Here's what I'm going to try to do to work on my divine-esteem and maybe this will help you too. Or maybe you have a good handle on this and can give the rest of us some suggestions.

*I am going to try to journal about my day, & home (hone?) in on the times or situations of each day that I am most likely to be distracted with thoughts of myself which almost always end up negative (i.e., I know when I go into the bathroom, I am going to look in the mirror, and then I will proceed to pick out the things about my body I wish could change. That's not a good time of the day for me)
*When I figure out what situations in my daily life I am likely to focus on self (i.e., being in the bathroom), I can devise a plan to stay away from those situations (while not going to the bathroom ever again sounds like a good plan to me, it's not that realistic so instead I am going to try to coach myself before I go in there not to look in the mirror, maybe I won't even turn on the light so it won't be so easy to spot my flaws)
*What else can I do since draping something over the mirror won't help when I need to put my makeup on in the morning? (i.e., Pray before going into the bathrooom; carry a verse with me to read & dissect & think about)

So I chose a somewhat simplified situation to get you thinking. I hope this will at least generate a discussion that can help us to encourage each other. I don't know how much guys are affected by the sort of things girls are, but I know that I have several friends who've complained of the "blahs" lately, and--believe me--I've been there a lot too! Whatever ways we can find to focus on God instead of on self are going to be helpful in the fight against the "blahs" (when did the "blues" change to the "blahs" by the way??). So please share your ideas!!

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38,39)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment . . . Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Peter 3:3,4)

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just Some Miscellaneous Ramblings

This is how stubborn my youngest is (& if you'll remember from his birthday post, I told you we really thought Jeremy was stubborn until Derek was born):

He comes into the living room really frustrated because he can't get his shirt off. I mean, he's getting angry. I offer to help, but no, he wants to do it himself. He gets it up over his head, but it's still on his arms, & behind his head. He is just wrestling with his shirt & I'm thinking, "what a silly kid, you could just let me help you!" He finally gets it off, & then decides to give it to me. At which point I notice it's wet -- REALLY wet.

"D e r e k..." (I say it really slow because I know he's been up to something but I'm not sure I want to know what that "something" is)

"Why - is - your - shirt - wet?" (I say between gritted teeth)

Jeremy answers for him (they love to get each other in trouble): "Because he was playing in the water!"

So I scold Derek & tell him not to play in the water. Then I scold Jeremy for telling on Derek (not a big fan of the kids telling on each other).

A few minutes later I'm walking down the hall & I hear some noise coming from the bathroom. Hmmm, sounds like running water. Yup, it is running water. Apparently Derek left the water running after he was done with it . . . AND my (still unread) Reader's Digest is now in the sink! This is the second time he's ruined a Reader's Digest I hadn't even read yet! What does he have against the great writers at Reader's Digest?! Especially that witty Mary Roach who I aspire to be like--well, to write like. And who doesn't love all the funny stories that are shared in "Laughter: the Best Medicine," "Humor In Uniform," etc.??

I'm going to have to find another place to leave my RDs.

Okay, another few things...

I love Wayne on Sesame Street, by the way. Wayne was the funniest guy they've ever had on Whose Line Is It Anyway? in case you don't know who "Wayne" is.

My friend Bevin has entered the wonderful world of blogging! And her husband's basketball team (Go Highlanders!) has a blog. I've added both of the links to the right. Unless you're really interested in basketball, I'm not sure you'd want to read about a team you're not familiar with, but then again you might! The Highlanders have provided the majority of our family's winter-time entertainment for the past 3 years & we are looking forward to another year. Especially since they've had such a great start! You can read all about their "surprise" win over VT (another local team & usual victors of the RU-VT battles). I just hope Dan will be able to join us as much as he has in the past. Corey & Bevin just had a baby in August, so you will enjoy seeing sweet pictures of their adorable little Cooper on Bevin's blog.

My brother Trey also now has a blog in addition to Xanga. He hasn't written much yet, but the link's to the right if you're interested to see what kind of little brother I have.

I am also adding Matt Dabbs since he apparently will be an occasional visitor to my little world. Since he's befriending my dad--the new guy--in Florida, & he's going to help me find a husband for my sister, he's almost family. And I've never even met him! Just kidding, he didn't say he would help me find a husband for my sister. If you didn't read my last post, then you are thinking I'm really crazy right now!! Matt's posts are really encouraging, & he also has links to other great preachers, so check out his blog & be prepared to be challenged & encouraged. (Don't worry, Matt, most of my friends are not as annoying as I am)

While I'm at it, I'm adding the other blogs I regularly read. And yes, I KNOW, I am way too obsessed with the whole blogging thing. You can see from the list how much time I must spend each day reading all these blogs. And this list doesn't even include some other blogs that I read a little less frequently or the myspace people that don't really blog on it but occasionally add pictures or whatever. I might be addicted. Dan makes fun of me. Or he might be serious.

Well, anyway, I will try to work on it. For instance, my goal today is to get online to check blogs & email one less time than I did it yesterday.

Today I am aiming to get on only 38 times.

A few posts back I asked a few questions you might be interested in answering if you haven't already seen the post. My brother said something about being sorry he didn't get around to answering them, so I just wanted to let him & others of you know that it's never too late! You can read & comment on my old posts, & I will still very much enjoy reading your comments!

What kind of intelligence do you have?

This is mine (don't laugh!):
Your Dominant Intelligence is Interpersonal Intelligence

You shine in your ability to relate to and understand others.
Good at seeing others' points of view, you get how people think and feel.
You have an uncanny ability to sense true feelings, intentions, and motivations.
A natural born leader, you are great at teaching and mediating conflict.

You would make a good counselor, salesperson, politician, or business person.


There are several other quizzes you can take at this site, & I plan to try a new one every once in a while to share with you. I am looking forward to taking the driver's test & the redneck test. Those will be interesting.

You might also want to scroll down to the very bottom of the page to see my Countdown to Christmas!! Yep, very excited about that.

Last night I had a jewelry show at my house. What fun! I actually really like jewelry, but I've never really had the money to indulge in it that much. So this was a treat. My show totaled over $1,000. Normally the host gets 30% of the total in free jewelry, but they were having a promotion this month so I am getting 50% in free jewelry. (For those of you not inclined toward math--as I am, of course--that's over $500.) So, WOW! I am way excited. I hope it's not too cheap of me, but some of you that I exchange Christmas presents with can probably expect jewelry in your stocking this year.

Okay, I'll wrap this up. I will leave you with my (current) favorite verse: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:31

I hope you're able to remember today to trust in Him who gives you strength. He will help get you through. Blessings!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Answers to the Last Post

I was going to just leave a comment to my last post with all my answers, but it got so long I thought I should just go ahead & make a new post.

Wow! Great response so far, guys! Thank you! I am enjoying all your answers.

Matt totally took me by surprise, though!! I really thought my post with Derek's bare bottom would scare away all of the preacher friends I've made recently. I'm wondering, Matt, if you know any single guys in FL that I can hook my sister up with. She's going to be really mad that I asked that! You're just the only young guy in FL I know (if we could say I know you), & you're already taken.

Maria, I love imagining your accent as you said "porridge" for breakfast. Too cute! I wish I could hear you!

Amy, can you say "Obsessive/Compulsive"?? HA!! I'm just kidding.

Malia, I love your answer to what you wanted to be when you were a child.

Bevin, I think we should take our vacation together next year. I love the beach too!

Dee, I remember in Searcy there was this horrible trend with the natives there to not use their turn signals. What is up with that?! They're only a little better about that here in VA.

Okay, here are my answers...
1. I guess there is no answer to this one. Thanks a lot for all your help, guys. Really, I mean it, so helpful.
2. I read mostly NIV, but we also have a New American Standard now because Dan was once asked at another church to not read from the NIV. So now I like to compare some of my favorite verses in his translation.
3. Yes, I do think schools should ask for ID, but twice I went to Nathan's school & was not asked for it--once, when I was staying for lunch, I wasn't even asked to sign in. Another time, when we went to pick Nathan up for a dentist's appt, I signed him out & then went to wait for him in the hallway--it wasn't until later that I realized if I were an evil person, it would have been WAY too easy to sign out a kid that wasn't mine & take him home with me! I was just wondering if I was being too paranoid or if others agreed with me.
4. I am definitely NOT a minimalist. I like clothes. I don't really like shorts, even in the summer.
5. There are so many ways I need to work on my relationship with God that I don't know where to begin. But I have determined to be more patient, because that characteristic spans several areas in my life that need improving. (patience with kids, patience with Dan, patience with God, patience with other drivers, patience, patience, patience!!) And I love Matt's latest post on Waiting on the Lord. I actually have a similar post I've been working on, but I think I'm going to scrap it as Matt says it so much better. So go on over & check it out.
6. My biggest driving pet peeve is other drivers, period. But I'm working on that. :)
7. Let's see, breakfast . . . I think I had some.
8. My ideal vacation would be a resort on a tropical beach where I could take lots of books, maybe some craft stuff, where I had absolutely nothing else to do, nothing to cook, nowhere to go, & it would be absolutely free. Since that's not likely to happen in my lifetime, I'll settle for Mom & Dad's new place in sunny FL. It'd be almost the same if I could go without the kids!! I don't think the grand-folk would let me come without them, though. Oh well!
9. I am a night person. I hate it too, because I have three morning children who like to wake me up early! But for some reason, I cannot bring myself to get into bed at a reasonable hour. Maybe it's just that there's so much to do after the kids go to bed.
10. I have always wanted to be a teacher & a mom. Well, I'm halfway there (unless you count Sunday school, which I would, except I planned to be a teacher that got paid).