Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

I just wanted to add a quick link, for anyone who is interested in supporting this cause. I have been following the story of a little boy in California who the Lord has placed on my heart. He has been successfully battling Leukemia. His aunt is participating in a triatholon sponsored by the LLS in California. You can go here to support her.

Having gone through my experience with my dad having Lymphoma, I feel like this is a cause that is very close to my heart. I honestly cannot imagine repeating that experience with my child, or any child. There are ground-breaking treatments available for this particular cancer, moreso it seems than for many others. My father just missed the chance to use another new drug that may have increased his chance of recovery. As it was, he was able to receive a newer drug that helped aid the shrinking of his tumors at an incredible rate, which while it did not save him it allowed for much more comfort. Many times it is only by private donations that these treatments become available.

The funny thing is that T found this family/child through blogging, introduced me to them through cyberspace and now I'm just extending the blogline...

Be a Hummer

Today has been busy, in the stay-at-home mom sense. I tutored this morning. This sweet little boy who doesn't know even half of his alphabet. I asked him this morning if he wanted to do numbers today and he said yes. I told him we could do numbers right after we do our letter flashcards and he replied, "And then can we do the ABC's?" We've got some work to do!

After tutoring I ran to the tile store to see if I could find that one last piece of bathroom tile, the one in the closet that doesn't match the rest. Mind you, I could have called the guys who did our bathroom, but I'd rather not talk to them, because I'm nonconfrontational! At least I try to avoid it all cost!! I was able to secure two tiles (after sending T to two different stores last night) and figured out why we couldn't find them. They are "stacking" tiles, meaning they have a flat top so you can put wall tile above them. Can I just say "no attention to detail" one more time? Do we have wall tile? No. End of story. So glad I didn't call!!

After picking up Em and eating lunch, we decided to go out and buy her some new flannel sheets. She woke up this morning (last night, actually) to inform me that her sheet had a "hole" in it. Upon examining the sheet, I can see that the tear, which goes from one side of her bed clear across to the other, is unmendable. She was VERY disappointed because they are her cat sheets. I wasn't surprised because they were MY cat sheets!! So, off we went to Marshall's to find sheets and picked up some bath towels, too, for that new bathroom.

On our way home we got stuck in some unusual traffic. At first, I thought it was a school letting out, but then I quickly realized it was a 4 car "pile up," actually more of a fender bender with a couple broken windows. One of the four cars happened to be (funny - the third car in the row) one of the new MD undercover Ford Mustangs. Can you say "high taxes"? I knew all that money wasn't going to education! Anyway, while we were sitting there, this Range Rover in front of me decided not to wait a moment longer and turned to the right a bit, hit the gas and went barreling over a grassy area into an adjoining parking lot, never once stopping or looking back to see the two deep tire tracks it left. Em thought it was amazing! Her reaction exactly to me was, "Mom, did you see that car go over the grass? That was SO COOL!" (Please pray for us - this is our second child speaking, and I'm afraid it's a sign of things to come...)

So, why is it that it is so cool to see an off-road vehicle actually do what it's supposed to do? I mean, I have thought about this for a long time, since my husband insists on having one for himself (an off-road vehicle!). Why have one if you are never going to use it in the way it was intended to be used? I believe, or at least back in the 90's this was true, that most Range Rover owners have never even thought of taking this well built, well equipped vehicle off road. MAYBE they might park it on their yard and might even possibly drive it onto a beach. But, never off road. Why? It's a luxury vehicle, not a vehicle meant to go "out of the lines", so to speak. Right? Wrong!! But that's what they have evolved into.

Now, I'm not trying to promote illegal driving practices, but I do want to propose that some of us may have been designed for "off-roading." I'm talking we were created to do something that we aren't doing because we've become too comfortable. We listen to what people tell us is OK, within the bounds of life, church, community, etc. I mean, we wouldn't want to put any wear and tear on these beautiful packages of ours that we've worked so hard (well some people, anyway!) to maintain, would we? Did God design some of us or all of us to go off-road? to do something different, something unconventional that makes sense (is not illegal or sinful) but might be viewed by others as "incorrect" or "out of bounds" from our ordinarily standard "christian" ways? It's an interesting question, and I can only answer it for me. However, I can see tracks along my life's road where people I know have done exactly that and left the evidence to remind me. But that's another blog altogether.

I really think God designed all of us to turn into off-road vehicles once we decide to follow Him. He calls us to do differently, think differently and act differently than what others perceive to be right. He calls us to do what we know in our hearts what He would want us to do, and we know what that is the closer we are to Him.

There are likely different levels of this particular vehicle. I wouldn't have taken my minivan over that grassy divide today, but I might have taken T's Montero, definitely the Range Rover but more likely that Hummer that my husband drools over. And even though we notice the Hummers more, not every person is designed to be that obvious! I would encourage you to live as you are designed and figure out where God is choosing you to go off road. Maybe He made you a Hummer!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


have accents. Well, sure. Anyone who had to endure an episode of the Wild Thornberry's would know this fact!

The Berenstain Bears

Stan Berenstain died today - I think that's sad. I LOVE the Berenstain Bears books growing up and I know that my children love the books and the TV series. If you've never introduced your children to these books, do it. My favorite was always The Bear's Picnic!

A Tale of Two Buses

I can't remember if I've blogged about our bus issue ever, but yesterday I finally decided enough was enough!! In our small section of our neighborhood two buses have always run. I've always thought it was a little extreme, but parents have insured me that they'd been told it was for safety reasons, namely that smaller children were not to cross the "busy" street at the top of our court. I could buy that. It's actually not all that "busy," but we have our share of crazy drivers (mostly moms, I'm ashamed to admit) who whip around the neighborhood at lightening speed in hopes of arriving wherever they are going somewhat on time. (I never do this, by the way - just ask my backseat drivers. On second thought, don't ask!)

I've always thought it was odd, still, because these two buses would pass each other everyday. Our runs on the inside circle of the neighborhood, having quite a small load of around 12, and the other around the outer ring picking up close to 25 kids. I always wondered why they didn't combine the buses, but like I said, the parents insured me it was for safety. At least that's what they had always been told! I wasn't complaining because I loved that my child was on a small, safe bus.

This year, the tides changed, our "numbers" went down and they took away Bus #1 - our bus. Mr. Gary, our beloved bus driver, was nowhere to be found. He was actually reassigned to another more "popular" school, you know, the kind where parents complain and always get what they want! I'm being harsh, but I actually think I'm right on with this one. Our children were assigned to Bus 40, with the scary old bus driver who actually flies around our neighborhood faster than any soccer mom! I'd have to say, I was waiting with great anticipation on the first day, in hopes that Mr. Gary would actually still be our bus driver, but my hopes were dashed quickly as Mr. N came to screeching halt at our newly assigned stop. He almost missed it but for the flock of children and parents who had gathered. I reluctantly put my daughter on the bus, deciding I might as well get used to the new arrangement.

On the second day of school, as the children were being dropped off and needing to cross in front of the bus, Mr. N shut the door and lunged forward with three children, my daughter included, standing right in front of the bus! That's when it all began. I became one of those annoying, complaining parents that wants to get her way!! (Of course, if you ask my mom, she'll tell you that started the first day I sent Kt off to Kindergarten!) We weren't asking for our bus back, we were just looking for a solution to this issue of buses running over our children, not to mention right in front of us!!

Now, you might question our having our children cross in front of the bus. Actually, we'd talked about this early on. Our children cross at a point in the this road that is a bend. People park along the road making it difficult to see very far ahead, but that doesn't stop drivers from speeding. We also have found that the two homes at the top of the court, one on each side, house teenagers who have cars and their friends have cars - drivers with little caution. We just felt it was safer for our children to cross while the bus still had the stop signs and lights on, rather than wait until it was gone and they were on their own. My thought was more on what we need to teach our children to do in the case that we weren't there to cross them ourselves.

Now, this might have worked well, say, if we'd actually had the same bus driver everyday. It wasn't too soon, though, that we realized Mr. N was our morning bus driver and our afternoon one was whoever they could scrounge up at the last minute. And that's how it's been for three months now.

So, not only did they take away one of our buses, we were now relegated to the misfit "third tier" problem bus route. We made initial contact with the "transportation office" at Howard County Public Schools and received a message that our issue was "top priority" and there would be a solution within a week. (Just a word of advice transportation folks, NEVER promise a parent something you cannot deliver!) It was just a week later that I read in the local paper that countywide, there was a bus driver shortage of about 20, that some schools had children waiting for a drivers to return for a second run and bus companies were scrambling to fill in substitutes for their regular drivers. And the guilt sets in!

Not only did I calm down, but I began to realize that we really had it easy. In other parts of our neighborhood, parents have to drive their children to the bus stop. In other neighborhoods, they were having really scary bus driver incidents. In some areas, parents had just resorted to driving their kids to school, something we hadn't had to do yet. So, we were quiet. Festering, though, was the knowledge that someone had promised me something they didn't deliver and I wanted that something next year, when I and several other neighborhood moms would be sending their 5 year olds off to full day kindergarten. But, I remained quiet.

UNTIL yesterday. Kt's bus typically arrives at 4 pm on the dot. By 4:15 I started getting a little fidgety. My neighbor, who waits with me at the bus, was getting rather anxious. Of course, this led to an in-depth discussion of our bus woes. All attempts to reach our "friend" at the transportation office had been in vain, all promises of a resolution were null and void. What should we do?? The answer presented itself to us after the bus dropped off our precious children who had one whopper of a tale to tell. The bus driver, someone I had not ever seen before, which is not unusual for us now, had taken our children on a joy ride, gotten lost and became dependent on our children to guide him in the right direction.

Now, I had to admit I felt really sorry for this poor bus driver. I'm sure he was called at the last minute, like all our afternoon bus drivers, and given our route, which he didn't have with him at the time. I'm not sure what he was thinking when he left the school, but he was quite far away. In fact, he had gone in the completely opposite direction from our neighborhood, ending up at our church THREE exits away from even the school. He was not even in the same town. What was this guy thinking?? Fortunately, enough of the kids knew exactly where they were and were able to lead him "home."

So, I did it, I called my "friend" to finally find out what this solution would be. I was nice, but I expressed my concern that as a parent, we like to know who we are entrusting our children to each day, especially on the road. It would be nice to actually have a bus number so that when our children do not arrive home, we can actually say they are on bus 40. He, in turn, made many more promises that I'm doubting he can deliver on. I would hate his job!! I actually requested Mr. Gary back, I mean, why not!?! Of course, he would never upset any more parents, so that's unlikely.

It's really a small issue in the grand scheme of life. I find it difficult at best to decide how to respond to things that upset me while trying to remember to encourage the things that I appreciate. I love that my daughter goes to a small elementary school, I love that we live in a close knit community, I love that she loves to ride on the bus with more of her friends, even if they get the "smelly" bus in the morning and the "mystery" bus in the afternoon. In the end, this year of bus rides will likely be one that she remembers when she is older. She will never forget the bus driver who got lost and had to be led home by the valiant students. I know I have to be responsible as a parent and put my foot down when someone crosses a boundary, but I can't help but smile to myself at the great writing material this situation presented!! I guess I'm just a blogger at heart but didn't know it until a while ago.

And that's my long tale of two buses!

True Believer

I just finished this Nicholas Sparks book and, of course, loved it. Under my gruff exterior (slight exaggeration) I'm really a hopeless romantic!! The book was pure entertainment, took a couple days to read, interspersed with all the daily chores, life. I love to read, but it's difficult to find any uninterrupted time for it. I can get totally lost in a book only to be riveted out of my fantasy world by kool-aid stained kisses and desperately seeking homework help requests. It's not like I'm back in high school or college, when I had random hours to kill by allowing words on a page to carry me into another world, or time or life.

I definitely enjoy Nicholas Sparks, and have even convinced my husband to read a couple of his books, reluctantly maybe. :- P T is more of the ministry, missions, sermons in a book type of reader. He also enjoys "reading" the Patagonia catalog! I have tried to read some more serious material, Beth Moore and Tammy Trent (did finish her book), but sometimes I just need fluff! Now, I'm just waiting for the movie...

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Math Genius

My daughter, Kt, is in an accelerated math class and sometimes I wonder why! Now, in the days when math is SO much more than computation, she brings home homework that really makes me Laugh-Out-Loud, especially when I see her answers!

Today's homework (of course, effort was due the unseasonably warm weather that was calling):

1 Half-gallon of cider $2.50

1 Gallon of cider $4.00

Last question on the paper: Which would be better to buy, 2 half gallons of cider or 1 gallon? Why?

Kt's Answer:

One gallon, because it's easier to carry!

As I chuckled, I thought, "Well, she did answer the question!" Time for some better math questions if that's how we're doing math these days!!

The Box

Back when I was in "Junior High," you know, when you only had to endure two years instead of three in that pre-adolescent phase!, we had something called "The Box." Not many students were intimately familiar with "The Box," only a select few disobedient students ever really saw the inside of it. Those students and all the band students (that would be me!) knew that the box was a small room in the basement near the band room of our Junior High, with 6 enclosed areas each containing a desk, a chair and four walls covered in some very profane graffiti. The other name for "The Box" that was used by the middle aged staff at the school and parents who had the unfortunately experience of being familiar with it was in-house suspension. "The Box" was definitely a threat. It was worse than staying home alone, watching TV and being grounded for weeks on end. You see, if you were in "the box" you actually had to do your schoolwork. Now everyone knows that not having to do your schoolwork, even if you lose the credit, is just not worse than having to do it in the solitude of a closet with nary a soul to interact with.

In the Washington Post there was an article today about just this very thing, although the option of in-house suspension was not really discussed at any length that I could find. The article was mostly about out of school suspension and it's ineffectiveness. I was actually revolted by the example they gave in this article. It makes it seem as though the parents not only participated in this "scuffle" at the bus stop, resulting in two sisters being suspended, but actually seems to indicate the parents were incensed that their children would be suspended for this act. Maybe I'm just not reading this incident carefully enough, but I'm all for suspension in this incident, especially because the parents are involved, if that is the case. Unfortunately, suspension only works if the parents actually take it seriously.

Reading on, it would appear from the article that at least one of the teachers was reluctant to abide by the "suspension without credit" that was imposed on these students. This is high school! This is a consequence of aggressive behavior. Am I missing something here??? Life is not always fair and our kids learn that at a very young age.

I just attended a parent teacher conference for my second grader, who had a near perfect report card except for one "W" - which mean "with help" even though none is ever given! - in Social Studies. I'm not that concerned about this particular subject, but I figured I better find out what the cause for such a grade could be, considering everything she had brought home (like the state report that we spent weeks on!) had all "I"'s on them. The teacher pulled out a grade book, found one 33% that we don't ever recall seeing, and basically told us sometimes one bad grade can pull your whole grade down. Did she feel reluctant to count it towards my seven year old daughter's grade? Apparently not!! So, at the mere age of 7, my daughter knows that if she gets one bad grade amidst her 90's and 100's, she will be penalized. I should think that teenagers would have figured that out by now. So - if you really are that concerned with your grades, act appropriately for your age.

Really, though, why not in-house suspension?? Kids would be responsible for getting their work done, there would be no cell phones, no TV, no internet, no DVD players AND at that level, you could give them EXTRA work to complete. I just don't see the problem here, other than paying someone to babysit these disobedient children.

Of course, ask me when my kids are teenagers and I might have another opinion!

Thanksgiving Reflections...

I'd have to say this will go down as one of our best Thanksgivings! We spent nearly a week in Connecticut with my family, got lots of rest, did tons of shopping, went to the movies, partook of some great food and I'm not sure anyone wanted to leave - well, maybe T did!! The rest of us were moaning, though. And to top it all off, the drive home was spectacularly uneventful. We had a few pockets of traffic, but still made it home in 6 1/2 hours - pretty good for the Sunday after Thanksgiving!

Kt did a little Thanksgiving "actividee" with the help of my mom, who had punched out extra leaves. She set up the leaves on the kitchen table complete with directions. Every person received a pile of leaves and a marker. We were to write things we were thankful for on one side and our name on the other. She was going to let us share unique ones, but instead ended up decorating the dining room table with them. It was fun. Only my brother refused to follow directions (what else is new). I guess he has nothing but geometric patterns to be thankful for! Of course, since Uncle D is the "cool" one, it didn't bother Kt at all!

I don't know about everyone else, but I get a little overwhelmed when I think of things I should be thankful for. It's just an endless list of things and it's rather embarrassing I think. I honestly cannot fathom having nothing to be thankful for. I don't even know what that looks like. I took pictures of some of the leaves on our Thanksgiving table to remind myself of the many things we have to be thankful for. I had put on one of my leaves "My Two Beautiful Daughters" and at one point during the day, Kt brought that one to me with a big smile on her face. I realized that I don't tell my girls enough how thankful I am for them, let alone all the things in our life that I'm thankful for. It was a good "actividee" and hopefully will become a regular practice for us.

Now, with Thanksgiving behind us, we can begin to plan for Christmas. I believe this is my favorite holiday, which is why I get a little nutsy when they tell me at Kt's school that I'm not allowed to say that word. Just blows me away!! I still haven't figured out why Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Ramadan are OK to say on a regular basis, but we cannot mention Christmas. I've not gotten an acceptable answer. Strange!

My plan for December is to blog less, decorate more. I won't be absent from this wonderful outlet, but I might be shopping more (don't tell T!), baking more and just plain enjoying the season. I'm excited to have my family here this year - again! - and even more excited that it's just around the corner. But first - Kt's first slumber party - more to come later. (funny story about T and Kt over Thanksgiving here!)

Some more thankfulness:

This one was my mom. This was my personal favorite, by Aunt J (I love chocolate, too!)

This by the first child. This by the second!!! And finally, by us all but articulated best by my second grade "genius"

From the Sheng Girls, with Thankful Hearts!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Harry Potter Review/Critique

My friend over at Harambe just posted this great review/critique of Harry Potter. Seeing as I've only seen one movie and never read a lick of the books, I appreciated reading his thoughts on this oft controversial topic. I've been asked more times than I care to mention whether or not I will "allow" my children to be exposed to Harry Potter and my answer is typically, "I don't know, and they are too young to even know who he is!" That's changing a bit, now that I have a second grader. I've listened to differing points of view on this topic, including a good friend and my mom who absolutely LOVE the series, to the school librarian (mother of good friend!) who is not so entranced by the books or the movies.

With this and most of the other haunting debates among Christian parents, T and I typically take the proceed with caution stance. We aren't saying "no" and we aren't saying "yes", we're saying we need to decide when it's appropriate and be ready to discuss different themes presented in the books/films. This is why I love the link above - great job pulling out these themes, comparing them to some other favorite series.

T is finishing up watching the entire Star Wars episodes with our girls. Now, this started when I was away and the girls are hooked - which I think is hysterical. I've got two girls who are now well versed on Luke, Leia and Darth Maul. They have regular light saber duels and are still learning the names of the droids, C3PO and R2D2. Em constantly refers to Chewbacca as "Joey" and calls the movies "Starvers", which has us all in stitches. (Almost as funny as "Nose White and the Seven Ho-hos") So, how do I really feel about "exposing" my children to this sort of media? Sometimes, I don't even have a say in the matter!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

I went last night with my mom and sister-in-law to see this movie. We all loved it! Hopeless romantics that we are. The theater was packed with lots of older people who talked through the entire movie!! That was annoying. It was sort of like they were watching this movie at home on video or something. Before the movie began, the theater manager came in and made some announcements - I've never seen that before! He was rambling on about not using cell phone, cleaning up your garbage, watching out for the black ice when we all left, etc. Too bad he didn't mention to be courteous and quiet! When he was done, a woman raised her hand and asked if they could adjust the volume to the correct level. My sister-in-law and I could hardly keep from laughing out loud. We're not sure how the manager managed to keep a straight face! We just looked at each other and said, "When was the last time you went to a movie???"

The movie was really good, despite all the old people rambling through each and every scene. It's a beautifully made movie with few slow spots. Of course, I've always loved the book so I had little doubt I would love the movie. It's just a little annoying to have the people behind you, at the end when Mr. Darcy appears in the fog in the distance, saying, "Is that him? Oh, I think it's him! Maybe it's not him? Who would it be???? Oh, yup, I knew it, it's him!" By that time my sister and I were just cracking up! It sort of ruined the whole movie.

I will buy this one. I don't like buying movies because I usually only like movies one time. I'm not a big cult movie fan, but this is one I'd love to see again. It would be perfect for those nights when T has to work marathon hours at work and I'm stuck at home with the girls. Someday I'll make them watch it, too, but not before they read the book!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

I'm not really sure I like the name for this particular day, but it sure was fun!! Of course, while all these retailers are entering black, I fear I'm entering red. My mom and I got up a little early, in the FREEZING cold - I might add, and headed for the mall. We did a small amount of shopping. It's fun to do things I wouldn't do by myself at home with someone I love, like my mom!
Last night we had the next door neighbors over for dessert. This couple has lived here longer than my family. They are super sweet, nice neighbors. They are both in their 70's now and it's fun to sit and reminisce about the past. When I was a little girl. preschool age, I used to "hang out" with my neighbor, the car mechanic. I knew the names of all the important tools and would pass then to him while he was underneath various cars. Later, when his son was in his early 20's, I would climb all over the frames of the stock cars he would build in their garage. I would also accompany this neighbor to the Danbury Fair and Big E for the stock car races, and lots of fun!! It was a great relationship, one that is remember fondly by us all!
When T and I lived in our townhouse, we had neighbors just like this. Kt used to visit them daily and it reminded me of these wonderful neighbors. We do miss those visits and while we try to go back to visit, it's nothing like having them right next door. Em will never know what it's like to have this kind of relationship, however, she has something Kt doesn't - a best friend, right across our court. She spends hours over there and loves every minute of it.
I'm not sure which I would prefer as a child or even as a parent. Both would be great, but one of each is nice, too. Of course, being able to visit everyone for the holidays just makes them all the sweeter - the friends, and the holidays! I'm thankful for the opportunity to share memories of really awesome neighbors with them, not to mention brownies, pecan and apple pie!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Smoking Ban in Howard County

I think there's nothing more unappetizing than having a little smoke with my food!! I'm all for a restaurant smoking ban, and I think it's doubtful that an alcohol ban would soon follow - what a ridiculous prediction! Ulman would get my vote on this one - yes, I might actually vote Democrat for once!

The strange thing is that I thought Howard County already had a smoking ban in restaurants. At least where we go they do. I'm not exactly sure what this article is referring to. I thought all public indoor areas were smoke free already. So, before I vote, I research!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


So, my mom began her week of payback today by asking me to take her car in for an oil change. I was thinking around 30-60 minutes, no problem. When I arrived, they informed me that there was a recall on this brand new Ford Freestyle so they would just do that, too. No problem. Two hours later!!!!! I was finally heading home. It was the typical CT crowd in the "customer lounge." There was a man there in his "grundgy" clothes - a torn and tattered denim polo shirt (you know, the Ralph Lauren kind - might have even been brand new!), work boots, sweats and his three year old son, who was extremely well behaved! That's actually kind of unusual around here, or anywhere for that matter. The well overdressed woman reading the New Yorker even commented on his wonderfully patient behavior. That's a bit usual, too, and nice departure from the typical disdain shown for preschoolers. Our last lounge attendant was a well dressed African man who seemed to be fully engrossed in a pile of notes. I'm not sure if he was studying for an exam or trying to get some work done. Whatever the case, he looked up from his work only twice in the two hours that we all waited there.
I knew after watching the same news stories for the third time on the Connecticut News cable station that I'd been there quite sometime. I did at one point pick up the only magazine that grabbed my eye on the table, called "fairfield." That was the only word on the entire cover, along with a picture of a large snowglobe that looked like Lennox with a Christmas tree in it. Oh, how I miss being in a state where Christmas is still celebrated openly!!! It's not that I believe Christmas needs to dominate all other holiday celebrations, it's just that I'm so sick of not being "allowed" to even utter the word Christmas in Maryland - I think it's becoming a bit oppressive. Anyway, the funny thing about the cover of that magazine, other than it containing only the word "fairfield" was that the content had very little to do with Christmas. Hmmm... maybe I'm wrong about that whole Christmas thing afterall??
I read an article, somewhat half-heartedly, about the history of Pepperidge Farm. It was interesting because the company was started by a woman, Margaret Rudkin, who lived in Fairfield. I knew the headquarters were in Norwalk, but I never knew the whole history of the company. It was a very interesting story, and a true testament to the woman and her family who began that company out of a need for hypoallergenic bread (her son was allergic to bleached flour) and a desire to share in a newfound hobby of cooking and her serious research. I can't find the article online but here is a short bio and her stuffing recipe.
I have always loved Pepperidge Farm, but now I have a newfound appreciation for the company, it's founder and it's food! I'm going to have a take a short drive down Sturges Road to see if I can find Ridge Farm, or at least get a feel for where this company actually was born. I love stories about small companies employing neighbors, friends, and growing into something fantastic. It was a fun read - but it didn't take up all my two hours!
For the last 30 minutes or so I just waited... and waited... and waited... I watched the story about some truck driver heading all the way to Ansonia to spend Thanksgiving with his folks. Wow - what a trip! All of 30 minutes or so!! Then the story about a police officer who was shot by her boyfriend, a state trooper, who then shot himself. That was really getting depressing after the third time around. Then there was the story about all the "dangerous" toys out there this year, top of the list some water yo-yo that can get caught around a child's neck and choke them. They actually show some kid twirling it around his head, stopping about neck height and letting the string twist around and around his neck. He seems to be enjoying this - what a great image to show on a news clip about dangerous toys. Don't give them any ideas or anything!! Of course, this story found little interest in me once they included that balloons with strings were not appropriate for children under the age of 9. What? I'm not even going to go there!
While I wasn't that interested in the stories I saw today, it was a stark reminder to me that not all news is national. I find that national news, political news and the like dominate all news in the DC area. Before I moved there, I knew only what I had learned in school about politics, and that was very little. Now, I know much more than I really want to know. In fact, I'd welcome more news stories about bad toys and local truck drivers (not the shooting - we've got plenty of that!). I miss the feeling that I had growing up, that CT was a world unto itself, a small fortress in some larger land mass some call a country.
Finally, this guy comes in to tell me the car is ready, BUT he noticed something suspicious and needed to "check it out" before releasing the car to me. OK - #1. why bother coming in to tell me that? Just take the car for the little joy ride and I'll agree to not watch!! #2. Like I was born yesterday or something?? A brand new car that most people have never heard of, and you think I don't know that you just HAVE to drive the thing? Fifteen minutes later he peeks in, claiming everything was just fine, I can pick up my keys and then he vanished. Off to take another car of a quick 2 mile joy ride!! I didn't care - I just wanted to go home!!
This did remind me, though, of another trip to CT when we had just bought our Toyota Sienna. It was under warranty, so when it started acting funny I had to take it to a dealership in Westport to get a part changed. I've never before been more disgusted with a service department than I was with them. They also took forever, and after I had waited for hours, they finally brought my car to me, blaring some hip-hop junk, both front seats fully reclined!, two almost finished drinks, empty bags of chips and it was, say, two degrees inside that car in July!!! I can't even put into words what these kinds of experiences say to me about CT, but I can say I know it can happen anywhere. It just ALWAYS happens here! Not sometimes, all the time!
I'm home now, and tomorrow is Turkey Day! Can you say Nor-easter? That's what my mom said to us anyway when we arrived here Monday evening. It was very stormy and tomorrow is supposed to be the same. We'll be holed up in this warm house, enjoying turkey, Pepperidge farm stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoe casserole, pecan pie, apple pie, brownies, you name it! Tony is heading over to have Thanksgiving with some friends at a halfway house in Bridgeport. He's thinking about taking Katie, but we'll see. Ordinarily I'd join him, but I can't see leaving my mom alone to cook and watch our girls! I'm looking forward to some time with no phones ringing for us, no obligations to fulfill and time with my family. While I would love to say that's a perfect Thanksgiving, there's never one where I don't think of the thousands of people who have no family, no food, no home, and that's just not perfect. I am thankful, though, that we have all those things and some to share.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Real Christmas Story

I just got finished reading an article posted by Jeremy Del Rio about a ministry experience he remembers as a child of this amazing NYC pastor. It's a great illustration of what it means to "dwell among" and why it's so important. He reminds us of how Christ's birth was so much less (or more) than cuddly sheep and angelic proclamations. He came and dwelt among the lowliest of the low.
T also writes about a similar (but more contraversial) topic. It's similar in that it tells a story of the effect that missionaries can have on individuals just by the example they set. It dissimilar in that it quotes an organization that is criticizing financial giving over going. I think it would be easy to see from J's story that financial giving is also important.
I'm being a little simplistic here, but apart from the financial aspect, my point is that with Christ in us, we are dwelling among some. Take time this Christmas to figure out who Christ is choosing to dwell among through you. This is really what Christmas is all about!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fame in Misfortune!

So, yesterday I blogged about my friend and her husband who just moved here and had their wallet stolen on Metro in DC. It was kind of funny, because the day after she told me their story, there was an article in the Washington Post about crimes committed on Metro not being counted. Of course, the story didn't quite apply to them, as it was more about how crimes that are committed on Park and Metro property are not counted in the city. My friend's story was more about a crime that was discounted because of "lack of proof" of a crime. In order to claim that a robbery has taken place on the Metro, you have to actually see it happen. It's not enough that your wallet is gone and some stranger has begun to charge up a storm on your credit card, that you have no driver's license, military ID, ATM card, etc.

Anyway.... the WP lists blogs from a technorati search, so when you link to a story you occasionally attract people who are interested in a certain story. Somebody found my story yesterday, and in turn posted it on their blog, somebody who it appears is extremely popular! I emailed my friend last night, after many hits on my blog, that she was famous! And today, it's quite the same thing. We both think it's hysterical. It's great to have friends who can find humor in the worst of circumstances and misfortune!! If you've visited here from there, thanks for stopping by. It's made our days just to be heard!

Heading Home In Trouble!

We are heading off to CT today - I'm psyched! but I'm also in a bit of trouble. I was home a few weeks ago and noticed a little note in the bulletin at my mom's church advertising leaf raking by the church youth group for shut-ins, widows, elderly, sick, you name it. Now, as some of you may know, this is a service we provide at our church organized by my husband, and while I would love to take our bus full of kids up to CT that's just not possible (fun, but ...). Without my mother's knowledge or permission, I made the grave error of contacting this youth pastor by email about how helpful it would be for my mom to have her leaves raked. Ever since my father died, my brother and his wife have been helping her each year, and we try to chip in whenever we are up there. It's a big job, and somehow they have always managed, but not after days of dealing with it. I thought, what a great opportunity for my mom and this new youth pastor (the last one was let go, I'd hoped this one was better!) and his kids.

Well, it wasn't long after I had emailed this guy that I received a note back from him that I was the ONLY person who had contacted him about this service. He had run the little blurb in the bulletin for two weeks with no response. He would call my mom and set up a time to take a group over there. When I emailed my mom with this information I might has well have blindfolded myself, tied my hands behind my back and handed her the rifle!! She was livid with me!! It took about a week before I had her convinced that SHE was doing this guy a favor by providing this wonderful opportunity not only for these kids to learn to serve, but also for this youth pastor to have some fun time with the kids. (I will regret this tactic of guilting my mom into allowing this!)

Here we are, three weeks later. My mom FINALLY contacted this guy a couple weeks ago, set up a time LAST weekend for them to come, waited all day, no show. NO SHOW!!!! I thought, well, maybe they went to the OTHER house - address very similar but on the other side of town! So, my mom and brother drove by that house, which was buried in leaves. Unlikely!

The youth pastor finally called her last week and said they couldn't find her house..... not sure I'm buying that! Anyway, he wanted to come this past Saturday, would that be OK? My mom, who had spent Sunday a week ago raking all her leaves with my sister-in-law, agreed to let them come. Guess what??? NO SHOW!!!! She finally got a call FROM A STUDENT! saying they were out raking all day (and we were the only ones who contacted them?!?!?!?) and didn't have time. Could they stop by tomorrow. Well, N-O! I told my mom at that point not to bother. Just go out. No reason to sit around the house all day waiting for this #^$% to show up - pardon my anger!

Now, I'd say this is a story of youth minister gone bad! I'm totally embarrassed by this guy. My mom was sitting at home, CHECK IN HAND, because she was refusing to let these guys rake and not support their ministry, and they twice passed her by. A widow. In their church. Now I ask you, are we not called as a church to take care of our widows? What is going on here??

Anyway, I'm in trouble now. I'm packing to head up there with my family. I stayed up until 2:30 am! doing laundry, now I'm actually packing bags (while I finish that laundry) and the car and I'm thinking, should I pack the rakes?? 'Cause I'm gonna be raking!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Crime on the Metro

Yesterday I visited with an old friend from CT. She and her husband just moved here over the summer to Alexandria, where her husband, who is in the Army, just started working for a general. They have enjoyed many sights in DC and Virginia since they moved here and for the first time last weekend decided to try out the Metro. I have always found the Metro to be well organized, pretty safe and fairly easy to get around but a little more stressful with children, especially with a stroller. My friend, who has two young boys, was doing exactly that. Two boys, one stroller, lots of bags including a backpack with all her essentials, including her wallet. Her husband was also along, making this story even more intriguing.

Last weekend, my friend had her wallet stolen while on Metro. She had it when she picked up her ticket, couldn't find it as they exited the station at their last stop. Amazingly, when she reported this to DC Metro police, they told her they could not claim it was a robbery as she could not prove it was stolen. Hmmmm.... what exactly do they mean? She would willingly give her wallet away on the Metro? She would have just left it out for someone to take??? Someone might just pick up her wallet and quickly charge over $200 on her credit card in one hour?

Fortunately, they were able to stop the charges on that card only 1 hour after it was stolen. Unfortunately, she has gotten no help from DC police. Stolen? her military ID card, her driver's license (from NY), her credit cards, ATM card, etc. It's sort of a nightmare. Now her husband is off in Iraq for a bit and she's made two fruitless trips to MVA with two children, is carrying around more cash than she'd like to because she has no credit card, no ATM card, no driver's license.... Crazy!

This morning, I open up the washington post and look what I see:

Some Crimes at Metro Stations Not Counted

Well, no duh!

What's in a Name?

Identity crisis, that's what!! At least for my husband. T has a Chinese middle name that he has not widely advertised. The reason being that at our last church, while working with youth, he did and the kids were relentless with the usage of it. It was funny for a time, but it soon became a bit disrespectful, so he has chosen not to reveal it for the 10 years we have been in our new church, new friends, etc.

Just recently, T has been gathering together personal information and the need arose for him to get a copy of his birth certificate. He pulled out his "original" copy, which is a cute certificate from the hospital with his little footprints on it and handwritten his name and birthdate. It actually doesn't look all that official, it looks more like the decorative copy a hospital might give you upon leaving, but not a certified copy you might receive from the department of health. The interesting thing he noted about this handwritten certificate was that it had only two names on it, his Chinese name and his last name. Missing from this certificate was his first name, the one we all use for him, the one that is on all his school records, his driver's license, his passport, etc. Where was his name???

To confuse matters all the more, he was born in Montgomery County, where you can only apply for your birth certificate online, by phone or by showing up in Baltimore where no other country records other than your birth certificate are. When he applied for his birth certificate over the phone, they didn't want to send it to him, claiming he was a third party requesting this information. He had to gently explain to the woman that he was the person whose birth certificate was being requested and he had no idea why his name was different! How strange!!

Because this has created a bit of question, T went to the source of the issue, his parents. Being an only child of first generation chinese immigrants, we really have no understanding of what life was like for his parents as young, newly married new parents. Up until T registered for school, they spoke only chinese at home and enjoyed their culture within the confines of their home and friends. Once they went to register him for school, however, all that changed. They were told that all children have an "english" name and they needed to choose one for their son. Maybe there is some truth to him being named after some tiger on a cereal box afterall! So, he was given the name he has come to call his own at kindergarten registration, and somehow that name has followed him on all his other earthly identification documents, except for that birth certificate!!

Now, this has created a bit of an identity crisis - not really, I'm kidding, but think about it. Am I really married? Did he really graduate? Does he hold a valid driver's license? or passport? Of course, I'm laughing at all this. What a crazy thing for a school system to do, but it was another time.

I think we take for granted what life is like for families who immigrate here to the US. While it may be an improvement for them in some ways, there are many things they lose when coming here, identity being the most obvious. What if they had decided not to change their son's name, what would that have meant for my husband? I saw what he endured as a well-loved youth leader with a chinese name. What would that have looked like having to endure years of school with an "ethnic" name? These days, that's not so uncommon, but clearly it was back when he was growing up. Interesting... now we're off to change some documents to make his name, the one we all know him by, as permanent!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What is Too Young for Harry Potter?

I read this article this morning in the Washington Post about this very subject - very interesting! Now I'm not going to jump on some bandwagon of parents who restrict their children from reading or viewing Harry Potter, but I do think as parents it's our responsibility to make a reasonable decision about appropriateness in all reading/moving viewing material for our children based on their age and maturity. I think it's questionable what some parents allow their very young children to see in the movies and it always astonishes me the number of small children who attend adult oriented movies late at night with their parents. It's hard to decide if parents really want their children to see these movies or if they just can't afford a movie AND a babysitter at the same time! I mean, honestly, both are expensive!!

When Harry Potter first began, T and I were just starting a family. I can remember the first time a "very responsible christian" family asked us if we would allow our children to read or see Harry Potter. We kind of chuckled, given our oldest was 4! I mean, she didn't have a clue who Harry Potter was, we were trying to decide if we should let her watch Scooby Doo!! It was sort of a "we'll cross that road when we get to it" kind of attitude. In some ways, I'd hoped the whole Harry Potter craze would die down, but it hasn't, so here we are with our almost 8 year old. Today the cool school librarian arranged for a school viewing at the local theater of the new Harry Potter PG-13 movie - we didn't go. Our daughter wasn't really interested, so we didn't need to think about it. Eventually, though, we will have to revisit this subject because I believe there may be a spark of interest in our very imaginative, very creative child's mind. Fortunately, she is SOOO looking forward to the release of Narnia in a couple weeks she seems to be more drawn to that....

Which opens up a whole new can of worms for us! Do we take our 4 year old to see Narnia? It seems a bit scary to me and my 4 year old is not really a fan of scary. I guess we are waiting to see what others say about this movie before we decide. Which brings me back to Harry Potter (I'm all over the place here!). The reviews of Harry Potter are all over the place. Our decision: we will read these books with our daughter, decide on the movie a bit later. I think she could handle it and I'm kind of welcoming the chance to converse with her what I might like/dislike about the movie. While I'm not a huge fan of censorship, I'm a huge fan of teaching my child to make informed, wise decisions about what she is exposed to. While I'm certainly not one to take my 4 year old to the opening of a PG-13 movie, I'm not ready to judge someone else who might. That's just not my approach to teaching.

I guess my response to this article is one of perplex at the parents of our generation. It's a small minority of them, but this minority of parents don't seem to exercise any reasonable restraint with very young children. On one of our trips to Florida, my friend and I stayed late at the park - one of those extended hours nights, where they leave only the "E-ticket" or popular rides open for a select number of people who pay an extra $10 or so. My friend an I stayed and went on some fun rides, like Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, etc. We were absolutely shocked by the number of people who stayed late with babies! in those baby B'jorn's who were insensed that they were not allowed to ride on these restricted rides with their babies. I mean, how crazy is that?? Even my friend, who does not have any children of her own, could not believe anyone would willingly subject their baby to Space Mountain! and try to argue their way onto the ride. It was unbelievable, especially because it wasn't just one couple, it was several! I'm just not understanding this.

So, back to the Harry Potter movie, should my daughter ever decide she wants to read/view them, we'll start at the beginning. Maybe, by the time she's ready for #4 or #5, she'll be 13! Otherwise, it's a parental preview. I think that's reasonable!

Friday, November 18, 2005


Yesterday, when I was religiously checking my sitemeter (haha), I saw someone had found me while doing a Technorati search on "gordon college." Upon checking through some of the site this person came across, I found a Gordon alumni trying to compile web and blog pages of other Gordon alumni, so I jumped right on that bandwagon. Now Jeremy, look what you've started! If you are a Gordon alumni, and this is Gordon College in Wenham, MA, you can check out this list here, click on the Gordonexus link in the sidebar. Who knows - maybe someone I know will pop up on there sometime!! Although, I did take note that I'm the second oldest alumni listed on there... but now I'm just dating myself!

In my little Gordon perusing, I also came across a neat story while visiting the Gordon website. There was a news release about some Gordon Alumni being honored at a dinner. It's about a retired missionary (T and I are a little partial to these folks!) who is blind. He was unfortunately discouraged while training from going into the field but ended up serving in Peru for over 30 years, only to be recognized for his service by the very professor who had years earlier tried to discourage him. Very interesting story - worth the short read!! I hope he writes a book someday (or maybe he already has!).

Well, enough about Gordon. I still can't get any of these Maryland students to head up that direction. Even with that new Gordon in Boston program - which sounds totally awesome! Not to mention the new facilities! What a great (over-priced) school!!! Honestly, though, I applied to another Christian school that offered me a pittance of help where Gordon bent over backwards to help me financially. The location is phenomenal, the faculty is outstanding, student ministry and leadership development is excellent... can I say more? or would that just be overkill?? Really, I loved my four years at Gordon and would love to lead more students in that direction, but have had little luck around here. Oh well!

Thanksgiving in New England!

I am so excited to be heading home for Thanksgiving! I know, I go quite often, but I love Thanksgiving. It's relaxing, fun, great food with Christmas just around the corner! Of course, spending it close to where the first Thanksgiving actually was makes it seem a little more authentic, even if it is still 2 hours away!

Strangely, most of my memories of Thanksgiving center around my father. It was the only day he actually helped in the kitchen, possibly Christmas, too, but Thanksgiving was more his thing. He would typically get doughnuts for breakfast, help with the turkey and "test" the gravy. He would be the first at the table to partake of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, mostly so he would be the first finished and first one back in front of the TV for some traditional football! My father would later lead the way back to the kitchen for leftovers, only to return to his spot in front of the TV with them in his lap. Ah, Thanksgiving!

In many ways, I do miss this sort of traditional Thanksgiving, but I'm also thankful it will be different for my children. We have spent most Thanksgivings with my family in CT, getting up early to make the food, T taking the girls to the park if it's nice, playing outside if it's nice, hanging out with Uncle D and Aunt J, sharing a meal with friends, whoever might pop in. On occasion we have interrupted our Thanksgiving with other outside activities, serving meals to the homeless, joining friends at a halfway house, etc.

Last year, Kt decided to start her own tradition. I found a journal she started just after she did this last year. Her only entry in the journal was about her Thanksgiving "activadee" she started - it cracked me up! She must have been mighty proud of it, as she wrote an entire page explaining all the complexities of this activity, which none of us really understood. Just reading it, though, I realize how important these traditions are to children and for them later in life. I'm thinking this year we will try to turn her idea into something manageable, something we can hold onto for later years to remember just what we were doing in 2005. Sometimes Christmas is a bit too hectic for an "activadee" like this, but Thanksgiving I think is the perfect time.

I'll let you know what we decide to do with everyone and how we are going to archive this new tradition. I'm excited! and I know Kt will be, too! Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Stem-cell Thingy

I don't like to get involved in political things, but living around DC I'd be crazy to say I haven't developed opinions about certain thingys...

The stem-cell issue is something I watch because my father was the recipient of an autonomous stemcell replacement. It didn't go so well, but we learned a few things when he underwent this procedure. First, we learned that embryonic stem cells are of no use to adults with cancer, meaning had I saved the cord blood of my daughters for stem cells they would not have been helpful for my dad. This might be because of lack of knowledge about embryonic stem cells, but it didn't sound that way!

Second, we learned that harvesting one's own stem cells for use in procedures is much less risky than using someone else's, the whole rejection thing. This harvesting procedure for my dad took two days, one to insert a tube in his neck to retrieve the cells and the second for retrieval. We understood the typical retrieval could take up to three days, but for my dad it took one day - he was lucky! Another woman, who was donating stem cells, did not have the tube in her neck but rather IV's on both of her arms.

Thirdly, we learned that there is a lot of stem cell research going on, just not on embryonic stem cells. I think sometimes the public is falsely led to believe that there is some governmental block of any and all stem cell research, when the debate extends only to embryonic stem cells. I think the media coverage can be a little deceiving sometimes in this area.

I found this very interesting article while doing a bit of research for my cousin, who has to write a paper on stem cell research. Why do we never hear about advances like this? I'm thinking it's political, and it doesn't do anyone any good. Next time you hear about particular politicians "voting against" stem cell research, take a good look at just exactly what they were voting against. Let's be more specific, folks!

Em's Top Ten

Prayer List:

1. The animals - right now, the deer we see on the side of the road in a sad state!
2. Her dog, Calvin
3. All the children who lost their toys during Hurricane Katrina
4. All the mommies and daddies who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina
5. Heaven
6. Pabu in heaven (my father, who died a couple years ago)
7. That mommy will be nice and happy
8. That mom (my mother) will not be sad or lonely without Pabu
9. For a good school day, that everyone will behave and not hit her (this only happened once!)
10. For good bike riding weather!

My second daughter, who will be 5 in January, is such a creature of habit!! She doesn't mind a change, but it takes her some time to get used to it. For example, all of last year she had grandiose ideas about how I should paint her room, exactly how we would do it, i.e. move all the furniture out, paint pink and purple, move all furniture back in (a plan!), and where everything would go on the walls, including the castle I was to paint myself! When I finally tackled this project, not according to plan, she stood in the middle of the furnished room, much like a middle aged woman would do, folded her arms, looked ALL around while shaking her head and finally mustered up a, "I like it!" Only then did she smile! She is one tough customer!

Last night, in our Beth Moore Bible study we were talking about obstacles to achieving the benefits we should see from having a relationship with Christ. The topic came up about prayer (prayerlessness is the obstacle to Experiencing God's Peace) and the subject of teaching our children to pray arose. Another woman and I were the only ones with little children and this other person comes from a Catholic background. There are three "prayers" they recite with their children each night, including Hail, Mary, The Lord's Prayer and the Lamb's Prayer. I know one of those! I mentioned when asked that we pray before meals, before bed and any other time the need should arise. We don't say any of those rote prayers, although I'm feeling a bit like I should probably teach my children the Lord's Prayer. Afterwards, this other mom asked me about this prayer issue. It was a really good conversation because it caused me to think about what I'm teaching my children through this action of prayer.

I think praying before bed with your children opens so many avenues of conversation with them. I don't know why it's those bedtime prayers that do it. Maybe kids try to stall the inevitable bedtime, maybe it's a time to reflect on not just their day but their lives, maybe it's because it's the one time it's OK to cuddle with mom or dad once they "grow up" - I don't know, but I do know that I have had some of the most intimate conversations about God with my children in their bed before, during and after we pray. Em, especially, has been much more open about spiritual things at night, moreso than any other time. Kt always wants to talk about God or to God, but for Em it's a planned event. Maybe I need more unplanned prayer for her!

I am reminded, as I typed Em's top ten things to pray about, that we can bring ALL things to God in prayer. Even the deer by the side of the road!

*Photo by Michelle Rose, Ellicott City, MD

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Like this...

and thought it was funny coming from Neil Cavuto. He's the finance guy on Foxnews.

We met with some friends of ours who serve in a predominantly Muslim country and it was very interesting listening to them talk about how important prayer is the lives of Muslims. Why is it that in a Muslim nation prayer is coveted, but in a "Christian" nation it is becoming taboo? What does that say about our society?? Nothing good, I think.

American Education Week

These poor Howard County school teachers!! This week is AEW, which means that parents are invited to "stop in" and observe their child's classes. For teachers, this is sort of a nightmare. If it were one day, I think everyone would manage, but for one week??? As a parent and former teacher, I've always stayed away from this event. I think it's very disruptive and distracting for students. I don't know how the teachers get anything done and students never act the same when parents are around. The clowns become clownier, the noisy become demonstrative, the know-it-alls takeover and the shy, quiet students disappear. I choose, usually, to not participate, however....

This year, I've not had the opportunity to observe anything! There are so few opportunities to help that I feel like I honestly don't know what is going on the in the classroom. I also received a small lecture from a friend who is a teacher about how my daughter will feel so left out if her mother is the only who doesn't show up, so even though only one parent in Kt's class has so far visited, I peeked in after my tutoring session. There were more parents there today, one teacher had a substitute (that poor woman!) and the principal also stopped in to observe - AGH! Why??? would you choose to observe a teacher during a week like this? Crazy!! I was a little insensed by that, so I did a bad parent thing... I grabbed the principal and chatted for a few minutes with her about kindergarten! I know, I'm bad, but I couldn't resist, I mean, she didn't need to be there anyway, right?

To top it all off, Monday report cards were sent home. Who subjects their teachers to a week of observations the week before conferences and then sends report cards home to stir things up at home??? Howard County Public Schools! They never fail to surprise me!! And kindergarten?? Well, our school was approved for the building project, but not in time for next year's kindergarteners. Full day is still in the works, but the class limit will be 22 (hallelujah!), at least that's what the principal told me. (All this while schools who have 2 years to implement full day are already starting construction?!) She also admitted to me that in our community, there have been a majority of parents who would prefer half day - interesting... We'll see if all this really happens.

I'm heading back this afternoon for reading class, that's the one I have the most questions about. I feel bad going in - but they sort of leave me no choice. If I get to help in the room, they won't see me, but if I'm shut out I'll take every opportunity I can! At least I'm only going in one day, for small stints. Some parents stay all day everyday - no kidding!?! I mean, that's a little crazy, don't you think!?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oh, To Feel Loved...

Kt, my older daughter, is my thinker. She used to say the most profound things as a young, young child. She still does, but now that she's older we don't always notice them as much. Today at school the librarian (who is wonderful!) is hosting an after school movie, The March of the Penguins. My experience with these after school movies is that they are rowdy, unorganized and well-loved by the students! I mean, what student wouldn't love to let loose at school with all his/her friends and the goofy librarian??

Today we signed the permission form, stuffed $4 in an envelope and sent Kt on her way. While I was waiting with her at the bus stop, I said to her, "If you change your mind and decide you don't want to go to the movie, just come home on the bus. I'll be here!" She smiled this big smile and replied, "There are two things I love about after school movies. One is the movie and the second thing is that you always want me to come home instead of going to the movie! I think you just want me to be with you!!" And she's right!! but how did she know that?

This just reminds me of how really important it is to talk to our children and really let them know how we feel. It's OK to let them go, but make sure they know we really want them to be with us! I'm always complaining to Kt about how it's not fair that her teacher gets to spend more time with her than I do on any given school day, how all her friends want to have her over and I miss even more time with her. I chide her on wanting to go out when I just want to snuggle up with her. I let her go, but I'm glad that she recognizes how much I miss her.

I think a lot of the time about how I don't want to die. I don't want to leave my children, my husband, my family behind. I don't want to give up all the things I've grown to love, although the thought of heaven, stressfree, new body, being with Christ, does sweeten the deal ever so much!! I think God probably loves it when we recognize that He wants us to be with Him, but He's leaving us here for a reason. Do we really recognize how much He would love to bring us home to be with Him? Or are we so attached to things here on earth that we would rather ignore that love? There are two things I love about heaven. One is that it sounds so wonderful. Two is that it's that place where God wants me to be, with Him, forever. Oh, it's so wonderful to feel loved!

*Photo by Michelle Rose, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, November 14, 2005

Interesting Court Ruling Today

The Supreme Court ruling in this Spec. Ed. case is interesting to me, because I taught in a private school in Montgomery County. I have very mixed feelings about this case in particular because it highlights a couple problems with public education and special ed. services provided by public schools. As a former teacher in a private school, I understand how ill-prepared private schools are for dealing with any kind of learning disability. In Montgomery County, very little if any attention is paid to students who are privately schooled but need special ed. services. On the one hand, the schools are overwhelmed as it is to provide testing, IEP's and services to the students who attend their schools. On another, it would be to their benefit to cooperate with the private schools who often invest many overtime hours in providing specialized services recommended by the county for students that they will not have to service. I guess the legal ramifications, however, of parents now suing schools for tuition to these private schools is what keeps them from cooperating.

The other interesting point that is not so apparent from this article is the decline in services offered to special ed. students once they are out of elementary schools and enter into middle school. I'm not as familiar with this transition, but from friends of mine who have gone through this, it is a very difficult adjustment. As a parent, you want what is best for your child but that is not always available. It is a shame, but schools will ultimately choose the "diagnosis" that works best for them, not necessarily the parents or even the student, at upper levels.

In an unrelated case, but one I am quite familiar with!, my sister-in-law was "diagnosed" with depression and severe ADHD in second grade. Throughout all her school years, the town included her in a special ed program that ended up basically treating her like she could not do anything on her own!! When she got to high school, she was in a "resource" program that basically did all her work for her. All the while, she was included in the numbers for which the school received special ed. funding. It wasn't until she decided she wanted to go to college that the party was over. All of a sudden, she didn't belong in that program anymore. She didn't get any help her senior year, she was smart enough to join the "normal" kids in regular classes and was no longer welcome in resource.

What happened??? Basically, she never really tested into the special ed. program, but they needed their numbers, so she was always welcome. It was quite a shock to her system to learn that she was actually normal, that she might be expected to actually read one of the novels on the English class reading list or do her own math homework and pass it in. I might be slightly exaggerating, but my parents literally sat down and taught her how to write term papers when she was a senior in high school. She went on to a wonderful! school in Virginia, Longwood College, that has an excellent program for students with learning issues and they were willing to accept her into that program based on the fact that she had always been treated like she did have a learning problem. Thank goodness for some brains at the college level!!

So, what am I trying to say here?? I don't really know, except that I side with the schools, that teachers need to spend more time in the classroom and less time in court, but I also agree with the parents, that getting special education services that truly meet the needs of your child can be so impossible when you feel like everyone is working against you. Educators need to listen to parents and parents need to respect the training of these professionals. Until that happens, we'll be seeing more and more cases just like this one! Especially dealing with special ed. at the middle and high school level.

Dark Clouds Lifting

I'll make this brief, since I still have food in my car to unload from the grocery store! The dark cloud is lifting and the storm was not so bad. I think we've been spared, at least for now!! Some day we'll share all the details, but for now just know that God has been sweet on us, we have been able to "taste and see that the Lord is good." We hope to be the ones to do that for others who don't know Him yet! Thanks for prayer!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Raking Leaves and Dark Clouds Away

The weekend is over, we still have lots of leaves in our yard... I guess I'll be doing a little work tomorrow! Em and Kt loved joining the teenagers on the last leg of their leaf raking journey. Em loved being buried by leaves (apparently) and Kt enjoyed talking to the bus driver - she's our 7 going on 70 daughter! T, while exhausted, had a great time. Our house has pretty much recovered, other than the fact that WE still have leaves... and that dark cloud...

Hopefully both will be taken care of this week, and I think (hope) it will be a relief for us. T invited me to this meeting today where we recapped some of the plans for this coming school year. In all our planning is the "we don't really know what's going to happen" kind of attitude. Sometimes, it feels like EVERYTHING is up in the air, so we just have this lackadaisical outlook. In many ways, I can see that God has just planned for it to be this way for us. We have had unexpected events, unexpected reactions, unexpected complications, unexpected blessings all rolled up into something we call our lives. It's challenging and fun at the same time, stressful and exciting, frustrating and relaxing. There's really no way to explain how we feel on any given day! I do find myself praying more - very fervently. While I don't like feeling uncomfortable, it's God's way of drawing us closer to Him - I know that, but it still doesn't make me any more comfortable! just a little more secure in this turbulence.

I have not decided yet what I'm going to do tomorrow. I should go to Curves, go grocery shopping, rake leaves and get some chores done. I want to skip Curves, make a short trip to the grocer's, go shopping and blog all day. It's a tough call! Be responsible and resourceful or be selfish and self-indulgent. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Pray for T tomorrow - big day tomorrow at work. We planned a date tomorrow night so we can debrief ourselves on life!! It's a much needed night out and we can't wait! Has anyone seen Derailed??? I don't know... maybe that's not such a good idea given our dark cloud...


While blogging can be addictive, I'm finally at a point, most likely from sheer exhaustion, where I can't think of anything to blog about. At least not anything that's interesting! All day yesterday, as I was running around, I was blogging in my head. I was going to write a quick post about how the leaf raking bus was late and ended up being late enough for one last kid to jump on as his mom pulled into the parking lot 1 hour late!, how my kids, who were given very specific instructions on their cleaning duties, took a detour to the TV while I was scrubbing toilets (that didn't last long!), how we survived all the teenagers eating lunch at our house, for some reason choosing to congregate in our living room leaving the family room virtually empty (so strange), how I took a great power nap before heading to my scrapbooking event - which was great, and finally about the crazy people at this particular event.

You know, now that I think about it, it is a strange group of women. I do a lot of these events, as the calligrapher. This one, by far, never fails to amaze me. I think I might be exposing myself to things that may be detrimental to my well-being! I tend to sit by the door, where some of these women take their cigarette breaks. Does wonders for my asthma! I'm generally seated near at least one table where curse words are not only a regular part of the conversation, but occasionally make up a majority of it. I'm talking real curse words, you know, when they say them as verbs, adjectives and nouns, complete in one sentence! Then I had to do some work for a woman who couldn't make it. Apparently she HAD to go some bar that was closing early where they do some heavy drinking/stripper thing - I'm not sure of all the details, and it did raise a lot of questions, but her friend who was sharing all this info with me finally looked and said, "But I'm probably telling you more than you want to know?!!" to which I replied, "Uh, yeah, hahaha." It's a funny group, and they are so different from what I am used to. The SO interesting thing about them - the two women consultants who organize this crop are two Christian women, and I love them! They love this group of women, they are warm, welcoming and I've never once heard them make any snide comments about these women or their conduct. They never act like they are any different from them, other than in their conduct, which is probably more like mine than the crowd. It's a ministry and it's a joy to be invited to join them.

I think I've been privileged in this way through my little traveling calligraphy deal - I get to observe and experience business practices of women like myself and take notes on what I would want to be should I ever (and I have NO plans to!) become any kind of consultant, salesperson. I've been scrapbooking for 10 years and have only really met two or three women I would ever want to work for - and one of them was from last night. It's really a pleasure to know these women, I'm sure there are more somewhere out there, but I appreciate this experience. Not to mention all the other women I meet and getting to know about them through their scrapbooks. It's fun and educational!

Well, I'm off to Pizza Hut for a Space meeting with Tony. I'm kind of surprised he invited me. Kt and I sold girl scout cookies this morning in front of Giant, then I let her go home with a friend. Interesting - I think the mom thought I would make Kt go to church, but I didn't. Am I bad? I'll find out later! Anyway, fun time with other moms. It's nice to have a child that other moms like - except that I never get to see my daughter. She's always at someone else's house!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

1000th Blog Visit

I was just checking my sitemeter, which I might be more addicted to than my actual blog! I had my 1000th visitor today. Of course, I have probably visited my blog a few times - not really sure I count as a visitor, but I digress... I doubt I will ever find this visitor, as he/she was from Australia, Melbourne to be exact. Probably blog hopping! Anyway, I don't know if this is some kind of blog milestone or anything, but I thought it was interesting. And now, I need to go to bed :) (This is also my 102nd post - well, one was deleted!)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Leaf Day!

Tomorrow is the big day!! In more than one way!! It's our annual leaf raking event. Sounds to me like 40+ kids coming to our house for lunch, which is why I have had little time to blog today. I've been baking, cleaning, doing regular chores, like laundry, organizing, taking care of my kids, answering all the phone calls that always come the day before an event, running last minute errands (not saying who made me or why they waited so long.... but I always love shopping, so no harm!) and just stressing, in general!

It's been a long and crazy week. Aside from this weekend, we have other dark clouds hanging over our heads. They are the kind that typically appear when Satan gets wind that we are up to "no good" - at least in his feeble mind. All the more reason to be in prayer... thanks for the reminder, Satan!

I think when we are committed to doing a good work, we open ourselves up to all kinds of craziness in our lives. Some readers may know what I mean. T and I have witnessed this in our own lives and we are doing somewhat small things. I wonder what might happen to us should we actually leap out in major faith and cometh to something larger?? Every summer, when T heads off on another trip with students, we always give each other that look like, "Well, here we go!" We've had natural disasters creep around our house, sick children, sick parents, car troubles, you name it, when he goes things happen. It might be Murphy's Law, but I think there's likely more to it. I'm sure Satan would be quite happy if we threw in the towel, but it actually makes us feel like we're doing something important. It's crazy, but the worse the repercussion, the more effective we are likely being. When I hear of the trials and tribulations believers go through when they are acting upon a conviction, I am amazed at what God entrusts to them.

We've got a situation brewing here at home, and it's one of those things that just make you sit back and wonder, "What could God be doing here?" I have to admit, it's taken some of our focus off this weekend, but it has also made us thankful for the weekend so we're not consumed by this dark cloud. It will pass, life will go on but tomorrow will only happen once and we want it to click for these students.

I picked up some "star lights" today for T to use as a token. It's not what he wanted - he wanted pumpkin lights, but I had to break the news that we are wayyyyy past Halloween around here. He's going to have to start thinking Christmas, I mean, that started even before Halloween this year. I think it will work anyway. T will have to make it work, he will have to use it, go with the flow.... It's going to be good. I'm very excited for him and the students. And after yesterdays wind, there are leaves in abundance, so no worries there!

God - open up some hearts tomorrow, in fellowship with each other, experiencing the beauty of your earth. May your face shine through so that those who are ministered to will recognize your fingerprints on the hearts of those who will serve. May Your grace be upon these servants, may your peace be upon their leaders. Glory be to the One and Only true God - Whose love knows no bounds. Amen.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


This article in the Washington Post about learning earlier if a fetus has Down's Syndrome is just disturbing to me on so many levels. I think that spending millions of dollars on research that would make it easier for women to decide to have an abortion easier just bothers me. To be honest, I'm not even sure if I agreed with the right to choose abortion (I don't) that this study would make me happy. I understand that having a child with Down's Syndrome is a lifetime committment. T, my husband, has a cousin with Down's who is in his 20's. His family will be responsible for years to come for this "child," but that doesn't really diminish his worth in this world. Ask any parent of a Down's child whether or not they regretting having that child - I think the answers would really surprise you!

Getting back to the article, or not really... when I was a sophomore in high school, I had an English teacher that I really disliked. She was a good teacher, but she injected some very personal feelings and views into our English class that I not only disagreed with as a 15 year old, but I thought were completely inappropriate to disclose to teenagers (at least in the 80's!). She was pregnant at the time, in her early 40's, married one of her former students... that might actually tell you something right there! But she told us this, "I'm having this fetus tested. And if there's anything wrong with it, I'm getting rid of it. Of course, an abortion is the only answer. I don't want to have anything but a perfect baby." As a 15 year old, I didn't need to hear that. As a 40 year old, she should have known better. I'm kind of surprised she's still teaching there! What made it even worse - her sister-in-law worked with my mom and had tried for years and years to get pregnant. She would have taken any baby as her own at that point, but instead had to listen to this insensitive woman at every family function.

When I read an article like the one in the Washington Post, it reminds me of how lightly some people view abortion. There's a quote in the article about how knowing earlier allows for women to make a decision to abort earlier in a pregnancy when it's "safer and less traumatic" for them. I can't think of any procedure being safer and less traumatic - let's not belittle what we're talking about here. Someone is acknowledging that they have a fetus that will most likely develop into a full grown adult someday with Down's Syndrome. Let's just get rid of it?? I think the power of suggestion is in play here. Are we trying to tell women that it's OK for them to abort because a person with Down's is just not worth it? or that it's their responsibility to act responsibly? What is responsible in this case??? because I think that's exactly what they are asking women to ask themselves. It's disturbing.

I have a friend who is in the medical profession who laid it out for me, as we dealt with the news that another friend was actually having a baby who likely had Down's Syndrome (she did - and she's a precious little girl!). Encouraging women today to abort Down's babies is really hurting the ones who are born. The fewer Down's children/adults that there are, the fewer resources and services they will have. They will lose their community with others like them. It will be more difficult for the families. I think she's right, and I'm disturbed. And truthfully, I'm ashamed that this country would spill millions of dollars into researching a "safer and less traumatic" way to provide abortions. Aren't there better things to be spending that kind of money on?

I also think of another friend of mine, who had the test that they do now to determine the chances of your child having a variety of "disabilities" and conditions. Her baby's test came back with a very high liklihood of Down's, at which point she began some serious research on the issue. She refused further testing because she never intended to abort and figured the testing would only provide a motive for further encouragement of termination by her OB. It was a stressful pregnancy knowing there was this possibility of having this condition and we all learned a lot!! In the end, her baby was "perfect" in every way. There is not one sign of Down's syndrome.

So my question, how do you really know? Are you going to trust a test?? And will these women question their entire life whether or not they may have aborted a perfect child?? That is traumatic. And for those medical professionals who don't know, ANY abortion at ANY time is traumatic - don't forget that!

B2B Beth Moore

I watched video # 2 from Beth Moore's Breaking Free series last night and DVD #1 from her Living Beyond Yourself. There were two similarities with both sessions. First was that God's perfect law liberates us, it does not condemn. (Romans 8:1, *James 1:25) She specifically encourages us to recognize that confession of sins to God should be a relief. He already knows our sin and once we confess He purifies us. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) Hard to believe, but He does. With that confession, or pouring out of our sin, the Holy Spirit is able to fill us if we allow Him to. It is then that we are fully prepared to deal with life, in our emptying of ourselves.

The second similarity was the idea of filling the voids in our life with the wrong thing. By doing this, we are allowing a stronghold of sin to take over. In the Living Beyond Yourself DVD, she specifically speaks to America/Americans. We are so full of ourselves, our things, our lives that we are making it nearly impossible to be spirit filled. This was so apparent to me, as I am trying to decide what to get our girls for birthdays and Christmas. It's crazy. Even they are having a difficult time coming up with things they want, because they really don't need a darn thing! And we have the added burden of two Christmas birthdays, so I have to make a list for birthday, Christmas and what I get and what the relatives get. It's overwhelming. I think we are finally going to have to come up with a well thought out plan for teaching our children about giving, not just receiving. (If you have any ideas, PLEASE post them - I need help!) What are we doing to our children? How do we teach them what a spirit filled life looks like? I have to work on that one.

25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25 NIV

Her point here, we have to DO IT! We're so good at doing everything else, but when it comes to doing the things that will liberate us, we find that difficult. Could be an authority issue or just a general apathy, but we need to heed the call to obey.

I could honestly listen to Beth Moore everyday, but I think I'll chew on this for a week. Of course, I'll have to add some of that perfect law into the mix!

Friday Night Violence

This is a real problem in this area, unfortunately. I'm certain the school officials in Howard County are watching, as they started just last year adding lights for Friday night games. (I hope I'm right about this!) One of the women who works at my Curves was at a Montgomery County game at a really nice high school where she saw firsthand some of this violence. What was disturbing was the lack of police at the game. She said there were four officers, all directing traffic at the time of this apparent beating/stabbing/death, none of whom would leave their posts to help. Even more disturbing, the apparent "anger" of parents about measures that need to be taken to help protect these students. They are complaining about the rescheduling of games to daytime? like it's this big punishment for them?? Kids are dying, people. Maybe they should just cancel football altogether!

What If?

I keep hearing this song in the car when I'm running around. I love it. I think it epitomizes the thoughts of a people-pleasing first child - am I wrong?? I'm not one for posting tons of poems or lyrics, but I'm going to do it tonight because I can't stop thinking about this song!! by Jadon Lavik.

What if I climbed that mountain,
what if I swam to that shore
What if every battle was victorious
then would you love me more
Would you love me more

What if I were everyone’s first choice,
what if I went farther than before
What if I stood high above the rest
than would you love me more
Would you love me more

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I’m in awe of why you do
Why you do, why you do, I’m in awe of you, ooh

What if I ignored the hand that fed me,
what if I forgot to confess
What if I stumbled down that mountain
then would you love me less
Lord would you love me less

What if I were everyones last choice
what if I mixed in with the rest
What if I failed what I passed before
then would you love me less
lord would you would you love me less, oh no oh no oh no

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I’m in awe of why you do
You do you do you do

What have I done to deserve your son sent to die for me
What can I give I want to live give me eyes to see
In a world that keeps changin’ there’s one thing that I know is true
Your love is stayin’ there’s nothing else I’ll hold onto

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I’m in awe of why you do
Why you do

You say I belong to you apart from the things I do
You say I belong to you I’m in awe of why you do
I’m in awe of you I’m in awe of you

The way you love me, the way you do
The way you do , the way you love me, you love me , you love me
The way you do the way you do the way you love me,
the way you love you love you love

And the song is good, too! I am so in awe of God's love for me!