Monday, February 27, 2012

Stopping to Think

Yesterday at the end of church service a friend made a comment that sort of stopped me in my tracks and make me think - which is always a good thing.

She was to start teaching a new ladies class last night during the church's discipleship time.  I usually go to the Thursday morning time and so, have not been able to see her teach.  In past locations and churches we have been very much apart of the Sunday night experience. Traditionally, Sunday nights are "how-to's" and "why" of our faith where as Sunday mornings are more evangelistic. But in Guam we got out of the habit. The chapel there didn't have any Sunday night programs and so, we have gotten very use to Sunday nights being a time of us just hanging out together and gearing up (at least mentally!) for the new week.

Our church here only has Sunday nights classes two times a year for about six to eight weeks. Both times last year as well as this past fall, there were no classes for the teens at all and there were no classes that Drew or I were interested in we didn't.  Last night was first night for the new session of classes which included classes for the teens! I was thrilled!  It's nice to have an option for EVERYONE - of all ages! (The children's department has classes for the elementary students as well as child-care for the babies through preschoolers.)

So, as I was greeting my friend after church yesterday I told her I may sit-in on her class - if my teens wanted to go to the youth meeting. Then she said. "What!? Letting the child decide if they are to to go church or not??!! What's up with that??"

I was a little taken back....and said something along the lines of "yeah" Not the most articulate answer!

As my Sunday went along, I thought about what she said. Yes, part of me agrees. When the family attends church - the FAMILY - the WHOLE family attends church - which we do on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For those times our children do not have a choice. They are coming to church with us. They do have a choice of being in their age class or they can attend the service with the adults. But go to church, they will.

Our teens have even decided to attend summer camps and  the Monday night weekly study. Of which I am thrilled over! And so with this new Sunday night class, I felt like it was up to them.  Drew and I again were not interested in any of the adult classes, so we as a family we were not going. After talking to both of the teens, they were not really interested in attending the new class. And Drew and I were fine with that.

Instead we had some family time....we all piled up in mine and Drew's bed and watched a show together....sweet times.  We only have all three kids home for just a few more will always be there, but our time together is short - it's nice to be able to enjoy it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

the facebook Effect

This morning I finished reading the facebook EFFECT by David Kirkpartick. Very good! It started off telling how the website came to be, but also in-dept portrayal of the founder, Mark Zuckerburg and a great discussion of privacy in this new age of web-openness.  Several things struck me through-out this book.

-Other than a causal mention that Zuckerburg came from a Jewish family, faith was not mentioned.  At all. Such a stark contrast to my life of where faith is apart of every decision and activity. It's the foundation of  my and Drew's life.

-I was totally amazed at the drive of Zuckerburg and his college friends.  They created this website inside their college dorm room. And they were not the only ones at the time who were interested in building a business. I don't remember anyone during my college years trying to start a business or to "change the world" (as Mark Zuckerburg said time and time again).  My college comtemporaries were more interested in partying and sports and shopping. Maybe that's just the difference in a southern college and the Ivy League.   Now, don't think these Ivy League-ers didn't party - they did - a lot!, but they worked even harder.

- Facebook is what is today - free and without any intrusive advertisements because Mark Zuckerburg demanded it. If he had sold out at any point (and he was confronted with many, many offers in the millions of dollars!), we would have a very different Facebook today.  More than likely it would have gone by the way-side as media people began to run it instead of tech people. Throughout the book it stated over and over that Zuckerburg's goal was not to make money, but to make a great product that people enjoyed. What an incredible point of view. So different than the normal money-seeking greedy people we see in business and in the media today.  One of his main points was that any advertisement would not interfere with the experience of being on facebook.  I, personally, am so glad he stood strong in this.  If I had to pay or had to sit through pop-up ads, I probably would not have a profile.

-One thing that does make me uncomfortable with Zuckerburg's view of the future is his view of privacy and openness.  He seems to want to do away with our privacy - a little bit at a time. Seemingly not to ruin out lives, but to help us share and be "transparent". I'm not so sure I want to be transparent for all to see.  In five years from now, who will control this information? And what will they do with it? Do the powers that be really need to know what tv shows or music I like?

It makes me even more cautious of what I put on facebook for all the world to see.  And whom I am friends with.  Does a person I knew briefly at a prior location really need to know everything about me? It's something that I struggle with - who to be friends with and what to share. 

But at the end of the day, I love facebook. I started with my profile with every intention to delete it within a week or so. I only signed up to see a friend's pictures from a Halloween party.  But then I saw how many of my in-laws were on...and connected with several people I went to high school with. And...I was hooked.  While we were over-seas, it was a great way to share pictures and our tropical island life with our family.

While we are closer to family now that we are back in State-side, I still use facebook to keep family up-to-date with all the kids going-ons. But also, I use it to connect with my friends.  Moving to a new place can be very lonely at times. On facebook I have connect with my Guam friends and know they, too, were struggling to find a place in their new life.  They have been a great source of comfort and encouragement.

So, even with my concerns, I will continue to be on facebook.  But I am doing some careful thinking as to what I want to share and whom to share it with.  Two friends have told me they see it as a way to minister to others....I thought "wow...what a great view!"  Will that be my view? Maybe....but above all, I want to continue connecting with those that I care about. And thankfully, due to Mark Zuckerburg, I will be able to do that free and without any instrusive ads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Long Weekends

I love long weekends. Sleeping in has to be one of the best parts of life. But I could have done without the illness. I was sick late last week & into the weekend. William had the cold/virus over the weekend. Melissa was down for the count Monday & today.

Hopefully, all will be well tomorrow or at least well enough for school.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ice Coffee

I have scummed to the next social media: Pinterest. It's a place to post pictures of things you like - and you can see what your friends have posted as well.  All sorts of things are available to view - books, music, movies, clothes, recipes, pictures of wonderful locations, sayings & quotes...anything really! Basically, it's another thing to in the words of my friend, Suzi, "to suck up your time".  Sad, but true.

BUT!!! I have found a few things that I not only "pinned" to my boards, but actually completed in real like.

The first thing is ice coffee - which I love - but as the original author of the recipe said, hate to pay $4.00 for a small glass at that fancy coffee place.  So, through a blog someone "pinned" the recipe on their board, I saw it and tried it out myself. Totally sold!!  The recipe is actually easy. Just soak coffee in water for twelve or more hours then drain off the coffee grounds. Now, I have to admit this draining off the coffee grounds took WAAAAYYY TOOO LONG! I will be working on a better system for that, but the end product was one that I am very happy with. Since I don't want to infrige on any copyrights, here's a link to the original blog with the recipe.

There have been a few other recipes that have caught my interest - which I will pass along as I try them out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Subbing This Week

Sunday night the vice-principal in charge of the subs called to ask if I could work Monday, but I said no because I had an appointment at the base - which got canceled Monday morning at the very last minute.

Tuesday morning I was asked to work, but I said no because I had an appointment at the elementary school. Benjamin was having his Valentine's Day party and I wanted to attend - and promised him I would.  After all, this would be the last Valentine's Day party at school for any of my kids as Ben is in the 5th grade and there will be no more after this.

Wednesday I had nothing planned - and I did not get called.

Thursday as I was checking Melissa into school late due to an ortho appointment, I was asked if I wanted to stay and work. I declined saying I didn't feel the best and I had my Bible study. I really thought it was just a minor cold or just my allergies. But no, by mid-morning I was running 100.8 temperature.  I stayed in bed pretty much the rest of the day.

Friday I was called again to work, but declined again thinking that while I felt better, I really didn't feel well enough to deal with teenagers all day.

That's pretty much how subbing goes at times - when you can work, you don't get called. When you can't or don't want to work,  you get called.  Oh, well. This is why I sub - to work when it works outs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Drew gets the same thing every year for Valentine's....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That To-Do List

A while ago I posted about my to-do list that I will be working on instead of New Year's Resolutions. I'm happy, thrilled, and excited to say it's done. DONE!  All 18 of the original things on that list (along with many other normal day-to-day things that a family of five needs to have done) have been completed and marked off. YEAH!! 

The last two things were items on my list since BEFORE I left Guam!  At least I think it's been that long since I've pieced together that blue quilt. But yesterday I refused to "eat the bread of idleness" and just work on the thing. And  I got it all done!! YEAH!!  Ben has said it's his, but I don't think he realizes how small it is. It's more of an over-size baby quilt. But it's done...even if  my sewing machine acted like a very small child when they are oh, so very tired: uncooperative! Part of it was operator error  (blame it on being in a hurry and being blond), but after that was corrected I think my machine is just ornery when it comes to quilts. (Maybe I should talk to Drew about an upgrade....say to a quilting machine instead of just a sewing machine...hmmmm...something to think about it...)

The other project that has been on THE LIST since summer was to update the kids' school photo albums. But that's done as well as of last week.  These albums were intended to chronicle school up to 8th grade.  With William in 9th that means his is done - as in in not too much longer and he'll be gone.But as I said in another post, that's how life is suppose to be.

Back to my to-do list....time, now, to sit and think about what projects need to be done...or what project I would like to do.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music and Singers

Last night we watched some of the Grammies. I must admit - I didn't know most of the people and groups that were nominated or preformed.  For the most part I find secular music and raido stations vulgular and annoying, so I listen to mostly Christian music. I know when I have Klove on, my kids won't be repeating anything shocking or asking me to explain a ruanchy joke.

But as the kids are getting older and into the teen years and have radios in their rooms, they listen to more secualar music. For a while now Melissa has been talking about how she like Adele.

Yeah....I had no clue who this person or group was. At times, when we would hear a song by her somewhere, Melissa would point it out to me. I had to admit, what little I heard, I like. The songs were very blues...with a great swing to them.

But last night during the Grammies was the first time I put the face with the voice. I was impressed. This morning I did a quick internet search and listened some of her songs, an interview of her, as well as read through some of her lyrics.  While the interview had a few choice words I would not want to repeat or hear my kids say, I did not find anything objectionable in her lyrics.  They reminded me of some of Taylor Swift's songs - songs they wrote about the things going on in thier life.

Two quotes from yesterday have stayed with me today. One was from the head singer of Mercy Me (Christian group). He said on Twitter, "Music is in good hands with Adele."  I agree. She has such a clear and unique deep voice that she'll be singing for the public for a long time to come.

The other quote was actually about Whitney Houston, whom died this weekend. Not sure who said it, but the quote was something along the lines of: Whitney didn't need all those back-up dancers or a light show - she would just come out on stage with a micorphone and sing her heart out. 

Wow. So, true. Adele just came out and sang last night. She, too, didn't need dancers prancing around like some groups last night did  or like we saw in the Super Bowl half-time show.  She's good enough to entertain us with just her voice.

Another part of Adele that I was impressed with was her dress. It was modest. It was lady-like. It was stylist. It was time-less.  What  a difference between her and some of these other singers that seem so insecrue that they flaunt all that they have and try to distract us with a "show" instead of just singing from their heart.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beauty Pageant

Last year Melissa went to her school's beauty pageant with a friend. Since then she has talked about participating in this year's pageant. So, she did.

My baby girl is just about all grown up. 

In yesterday's post I talked about a quote from a book, "The Lost Wife", about women who sparkle from within and without.  On the way to the pageant, I told Melissa that as much as she was sparkling from the outside with all the fancy dress, make-up, and hair, she really sparkles because she always sparkles from the inside.

She has such a thirst for life. One of my dearest memories of her as a toddler was one Wednesday night as we were going into church.  There she was - just a tiny little thing, but could run and walk and talk at nine and half months.  That night she was running in the church's parking lot toward the door -  just running and laughing - just she was afraid of nothing...just enjoying life.

This girl? When she puts her mind to something, she does it.  While she did not place at the beauty pageant, she did an amazing job. I know at 13, I could not have stood on a stage and let everyone look at me and just stand there and smile.  She is amazing, that girl of mine.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Update

Yes, another book: "The Lost Wife" by Alyson Richman. The story starts off as an older man attends his grandson's wedding and meets the bride's grandmother...who use to be his wife before WWII. The book is about their love as well as the ghastliness of the war....but also in how the human spirit survives.

I usually don't fall in love with quotes from a book, but a phrase in this book stopped me.

"She [the mother] always told us there were two types of women. Those who are lit from the outside and those who are lit from within. The first needs the shimmer of a diamond to make her sparkle, but the other, her beauty is illuminated through the sheet light of her soul."

Reminded of the Jesus calling His followers to be the light of the world as well as Peter in  2 Corinthians 4 saying we have been given the light of knowledge of God's glory in our hearts. May I always shine from the inside never relying on the outside to make me sparkle.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Loosening These Apron-Springs

So many times as we raise our kids we focus on the first...the first steps...the first tooth....first day of school.  But we miss the lasts...the last time they crawled...that last loose tooth.... But there are time when we notice the passing of time. Friday was a day like that for us. A time of handing over control and responsibility...with our heart in our throats all the while.

Friday William's high school soccer team  were playing in the first round of the state play-offs - and neither Drew nor I could attend. Like to have killed me!  See the game was at the other end of the state - six hours away. And I couldn't go. To have him so far away...yikes!

No, this isn't the first time he's been away from us. But before he was with people I had full confidence in. This time? Not so much.

A huge issue for us is the food. All my kids are allergic to nuts and peanuts. As in they swell up and quit breathing if ingested.  Scary - very scary! (Here's the story of it happening in Guam.) But over the years, we have taught them that the world will not change for them - they have to be the one to change and be proactive. It's their health and ultimately, they are responsible for it. We talk about reading labels and asking questions. And when in doubt - throw it out or don't eat - being hungry and breathing is the better option! 

When we were vacationing in Australia we went on a cruise to dive and snorkel at the Great-Barrier Reef where lunch was provided.  The crew could not tell me with all certainty that was no nuts in the salad or breads.  My kids didn't eat much.  We were ninety minutes out in the ocean - way too far away from an ER  even with Epi-Pens on hand. That's just how it is. (I did have some safe snack food with me, but they were hungry by the time we returned to the hotel.) Many times the kids have gone to a birthday party and didn't eat the cake or other treats.  They all know it's just not worth it.

At all the schools the kids have attended, I have become great friends with the school nurse. I have made sure all the teachers  know exactly what my kids can and can not eat. Most teachers have been great! A few, though, had to be told to NOT feed my child - that I would send in a treat for that special day.

As the kids have gotten older they have gotten tired of the conversation  - they don't like the other kids knowing there's an issue. They just want to fit in. In fact, this was the first year I did not send an email to William's or Melissa's teachers at the beginning of the year.  Partly because, there's less food in the classrooms in  middle and high school than in elementary rooms.

We are, also, to the point where the older kids have to carry an Epi Pen with them when there's food involved...which with teens is most of the time. They hate it. But it's a non-negotiable. Food=epi pens.

So. Back to Friday and the soccer game six hours away.  In the past I would talk to the adults around to make sure they knew how to use an Epi Pen and make sure they knew where the Epi Pens were stored. Actually, when the system works right, the school nurse is to go over this with the teacher. But I had a sneaky suspicion the school nurse was not notified of the trip. (I found out that she was not.) Drew and I talked - and talked to William. We decided to let him go on the trip - after all, he has worked hard and deserved to go!

Drew and I, also, decided not to have a conversation with the coach over the use this as a way for William to be totally responsible for his health.

Oh, my. That was hard.

I trust William. I do. I know he would NEVER eat anything that would endanger his health. He has vivid memories of that night in Guam (and probably a few other reactions as well). But the other boys? Not so much.  All it would take is for one boy to eat a peanut butter cracker then rub his hand on William's face (they are teenage boys after all!  I found out afterwards that a few moms made snack bags for the boys - complete with chocolate-chip cookies with pecans and several packages of crackers and peanut butter.  And a banana and an apple. Yeah for fruit, at least!) 

But the apron strings...loosening they need to be. After all, our goal in raising children is to raise them to leave us. (Gen 2:14) And in leaving us, they need to be able to take care of themselves. 

It's just...the training is hard at time.

(They lost the game 4-0. And yes, William did great - on the field and with the food.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lost and Found

Since the kids started school, I have enjoyed working in their classrooms. I started out being a co-room mom in William's kindergarten class. I loved getting to know the other moms (the other co-room mom and I ended up being great friends - Hey, Carie!!). I, also, enjoyed getting to know and supporting the teaching, and getting to know the other kids in the classroom. After all, these were the people that my child was spending an enormous about time with. Over the years, I done different things for the classes and school - and enjoyed it all (okay - most of it!)

Of course, in Guam I started to sub and that's when I really got to know the school in a whole new way!  As a sub for all the grades I was able to see how the curriculum worked together as well seeing all the work an elementary teacher does - and so glad I'm not one of them! No way could I teach the same class day in day out - all. year. loooong.

When we moved here, I was sort of at lose ends.  I did not sub for the first six months - I wanted a time to focus on getting the kids settled and the house settled. And then there were all those doctor appointments that needed to be made up because  we weren't able to take care  of them in Guam. I tried to help out some in Ben's class, but as a fourth grader his teacher needed less help in class than the lower graders. Also, things are different here. I didn't want to be room mom because I had no idea of the traditions here. (And that my friends, was such a smart decision! Some things here are just CRAZY!)

I still wanted to help out, but not sure how. But at the end of the year, I found my spot. Ben had lost his jacket towards the end of the  year. On the last day of school, I went to pick up the meds we keep in the nurse's office and I wanted to go through the lost and found - hoping his jacket still had his name in it and that I could find it.

Oh, wow. Was I in for a shock!  I wish I had thought about taking a picture of the closet where the lost and found was stored.  I would say it was six feet by ten? Twelve? It was really a closed off stair-well. And it was full. As in FULL. F.U.L.L.

There were two good sized hanging racks with jackets and sweaters on hangers - full. And then at least two - probably more - large tubs - all overflowing. Then there were just piles and piles. You literally could NOT walk through it all without putting your life at risk. As I was going through the jackets looking for Benjamin's I was amazed to see that many had a name in them.  But no one had taken the time to return them to the child. My thought was: "I can do this." (Yes, I did find Benjamin's - thankfully, in the 2nd pile I went through.)

So, I am. Every few weeks I stop by the school, go through the lost and found, return the item to the child if the name is on it, and then take all the left-over un-named items to the Goodwill.

So far, I have probably take eight bags to the Goodwill. And by bags, I don't mean Walmart size. Nor do I mean tall kitchen garbage bags. Nor do I even mean large yard-waste bags. No. I mean the industrial size garbage bags the school janitor use for the extra large cans in the cafeteria.

As in I have taken enough clothes to Goodwill to clothe a small country! Saddening really. To think that these kids have enough jackets that they don't miss one. Or the parents have enough money to buy a new one instead of time to stop by the school to locate the missing one.

Then there are the lunch boxes. At one time or another all my children have left theirs at school or on the bus. But the next day they had instructions to FIND IT! And they did.  Yesterday when I was at the school I came across a lunch box that I know I have returned to the child at least once before. Then I found a second lunch box with the same kid's name on it. Then a third!

Really? If this kids can't remember to get home a lunch box, then I think it's time to either switch to the school lunch or a paper bag that can be thrown away. After all, it's apparent that this child does not care about his things.

I have also taken a Vera Bradly lunch bag to the Goodwill - not cheap. A Banana Republic rain coat - oh, so very nice! and I'm sure, also, no cheap! But yesterday was the prize. I came across a local college team's leather football jacket. I'm sure someone paid a pretty price for it new. And now someone will get a steal of a deal at the Goodwill.

Put your name in your items people!! It's money that's just floating away.