Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Listen to the Experts

England's longest married living couple just celebrated their 78th wedding anniversary!! How's that for longevity?! In just two more years they may well be the longest married couple, the record now standing at 80 years. When asked how they made it this long, Frank Milford replied:

"We don't always see eye to eye and we do have a small argument every day." But that comes and goes. We are always here for each other." His 97-year-old wife (Anita) added: "The key is give and take and lots of laughter."

I especially love the laughter line. And this really says it all:

"These days marriages don't last long. A lot of people get married with the idea that if it doesn't work out there's no worry, but we can't understand that."

Yup, you got it right Anita. And it's a sad state!! I think it's always wise to listen to the experts!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chincoteague Photos

Here are the pictures I promised of our little weekend trip. The one above is the girls at the Visitor's Center being geeky. I had to throw that one in.

Next we have Kt with the "vernoculars" checking out what she thinks may be distant relatives of Misty of Chincoteague, with the distinct map of the U.S. pattern on their sides. You can see that group pictured below.

Em liked the group underneath here because she is quite certain that Spirit is in that particular group. We saw him again even closer on our way out of the park. Spirit is a movie about a horse - and Em is a huge fan of horses. When she was 2! my mom and I took her to a local church carnival. They had a small pony and a huge horse (whose legs were as tall as I am!). She wanted to ride the horse, not the pony. I was not even sure they would let her and my mom and I were sure that once we got up to the front of the line, she would be too scared to get way up on that horse. She surprised us, though, by adamantly choosing that horse, and she didn't stop smiling the entire trip around the circle.

We ended our day with a few hours at the National Seashore on Assateague. It was beautiful. Very cool and windy, which made the sun more than bearable. The girls had a grand time catching sand crabs while T and I relaxed a bit. What a wonderful weekend away!! We all cannot wait to go back and hope to stay on Chincoteague next time we return.

Two Field Trips in Two Days!

This morning I went on Kt's one and only field trip this year - a bug walk in the woods behind her school. Yippee! Last night I was wondering why in the world I volunteered for a bug trip - I hate bugs!! It wasn't so bad, but then I got the note about Em's trip tomorrow, which I am also going on. "Wear old clothes/boot" - I don't even own boots! What am I going to do?? Of course, T is not interested at all in going, so I guess I'll have to go. I wonder if all these field trips are what is making my stomach so queasy.

On a funny note, Em told me today that they use "vernoculars" at school to look for birds, and that each child has a box that will have three eggs in them. Each morning they will check their boxes to see if an egg has "patched." She just cracks me up - I wanted to just leave her be, but instead I ruined it and told her they were binoculars and that eggs hatch. She was not impressed with my superior knowledge - not one little bit! I guess I better not bother tomorrow - in front of all her friends! - imparting any amount of wisdom on them during our pond walk. Those preschoolers can be such know-it-alls!

Aren't They Sweet?

Yes, I realize it's very late for me to be posting, especially when I have such a busy week ahead!! I just had to quickly put this up. My girls - being loving sisters. I have to admit, they are like this most of the time. It's nice because I don't really remember my sister and I being at all friendly like this!

They wanted their picture taken today at Wendy's, where we waited almost 30 minutes for our food. One long line.... It made our trip home just that much longer! But we had a super time in Chincoteague. We saw many, many horses - I'll try to post some pictures later. Kt especially loved the refuge visitor center, where she walked around the exibit three times taking notes! She turned her nose up when we said it would be educational, so we didn't mention how geeky she looked bringing in her notebook! Haha!

What a fun weekend - nice weather, family time, restful, and enjoyable. Now I cannot wait for our vacation - I'm really looking forward to getting away for a bit!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Opening Day!

Despite chilly waters and overcast skies (that happily cleared up for us!), we went to opening day at our pool!! I was given the option to stay home, but decided to go along since it was the first day. There were many more people there, but not many from last year. The neighborhood that our pool is in is being built, so this year many more residents are around. It's a lot more fun having other people to swim with!

T went in the with the girls - they were all freezing but managed to stay in for about an hour. I'm not sure how they did it! So this is where we will be hanging out all summer! I can't wait, as we thoroughly enjoyed it last year.

This is Em on "Charlie" the snake. The girls wanted the snake to have a name last year so that's what they called him. Last year Em could not stand in that part of the pool. Now she can and her whole head is above water. She was also able to get up on Charlie all by herself the first time, so I guess we are all growing up! Some of us are growing out, though - unfortunately!

I hope everyone has an enjoyable long weekend!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Staying Put

This is a strange Memorial Day, staying put at home, sort of. I love going to New England for Memorial Day, because they know how to celebrate this monumental day! Every town has a parade which includes anyone who applies and gets in. Last year, we took the girls because I had had such wonderful memories of marching in the parade (well, not all wonderful - but fun anyway!). We watched the first two hours of it, and decided when we found out it was the half way point we had better take off!! Good thing we parked where we did and were able to get out.

This year we decided to stay home, and that's a little sad for me, especially because we missed our last trip to Connecticut due to sick kids. Em did have a fever again this morning - kind of getting used to this! But we had decided earlier to stay home. Then, we got the bug and decided to plan a day/overnight trip to Chincoteague for the girls. They don't know yet, which is probably good because if Em gets sick we'll have to cancel again. Kt has been asking for a while now to go to see the wild horses, so we thought this would be the perfect time to go. Of course, now I'm wondering if maybe this was a mistake. Are we going to get stuck on the Bay Bridge coming home? Is Em going to get sick again??? We'll just have to wait and see.

It is strange to be so close to Washington, D.C. and feel like I'm missing a Memorial Day celebration up north!! No one here decorates, no red, white and blue, no school bands marching in the parade, or girl scout, brownie and cub scout troops. It's very sad. We'll have to visit again sometime and let the girls see how we, as a country, need to remember to thank those who served our country and are serving it right now in far away places and remember those who gave their lives so we could be free. It's a sacrifice that many choose to make for their country and we choose to honor that.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

She Can Fly!

Today was Em's last day of gymnastics and all the kids were excited because it was their "flying" day. Each kid gets strapped into an apparatus that is used for more experienced gymnasts to practice landings, flips, jumps, etc. The kids get pulled up and get to swing. I tried to get a picture but it turned out really fuzzy because she was flying!!

Em loves the trampoline in gymnastics. She has always loved bouncing, so being able to do that with the added propeller is great fun for her. I wish you could see the huge smile on her face while she's up in the air. Such my adventurer, or is she? Just a few minutes ago, she once again came running in from the back yard, slamming the slider behind her. A squirrel. She saw one running up a tree and had to come in! She said down and said, "Oh, my best animals are dogs and elephants. Oh, and Max, B's cat." That was it. Squirrels, no way. Elephants, fine! One has to wonder....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Principal's Office

Today, T and I went to the principal's office to talk about Kt. All in all, it was a good meeting. We accomplished probably more than I'd hoped and less than what I was afraid of. In other words, we only talked about Kt and left out all the other things I was afraid might come up. I think some really positive things may come out of this meeting, but I doubt that any changes in communication or education will change because of it.

One interesting thing that the principal mentioned was about parents having to be advocates for their children. I think having been a teacher, I'm maybe not very quick to jump in a "take over" where I think a teacher or school should be trusted. Unfortunately, in this situation, things have spiraled to the point where our child is having the time of her life in school knowing that she can get away with doing minimal amounts of work very unimpressively - and that is putting it mildly! She is no dummy! I think the missing key here this year was motivation fed by interest. Nothing, other than math, has held her interest in any way this year. Possibly science, but all the other material that has been covered is either a little too easy or just boring to her. We have tried all year to suggest to her teacher that she might need something more, but it's always been met with this idea that there is more, we just are unaware of what it is. That's been clear, because she brings home so little that I've been wondering most of the year what she has been doing!!

We have hammered this out today and I have resolved to be her advocate if need be. One of our smaller battles has been getting her into this GT enrichment class she applied to be in at the beginning of the year. She had filled out her "application" to do research on her favorite animal, the dolphin, before I ever even saw it or heard about the program. I signed the paper and she returned it the following day. Many of her friends who initially were not at all interested in missing 6 recesses to do this came in the following day as well with applications their parents had made them fill out. Kt, unfortunately, was placed in a group that was to meet last on Fridays in December and January. This group never materialized, much to Kt's dismay. She shed many tears over this, and after asking her teacher, writing the G/T teacher and finally emailing the principal, I still had not one answer on this subject as of last week.

On Sunday, I was talking to another mom at church about this and she mentioned that the G/T teacher started this program the first week of May (when Kt was out sick with her fever) on Wednesdays and never notified any parents. We contacted this teacher, who said the kids had all completed their three weeks of research and were planning to put together a power point presentation of their collected data. If Kt could do this on her own (before today!) she could join them. We went to the library last night, she found three books and two videos by herself!, came home and took notes, watched one video and went off to school with it all in her head, happy as a clam to finally get to join this group!

Her report when she came home? She was the only one in the group to have completed two slides and is working on her third. The G/T teacher told her she learned things from Kt she had never heard before. She found pictures on Google Images for her presentation and is excited to show the class what she has done when it's over. I'm really proud of her, and she is more excited than ever to go to school. She has gotten herself up three days in a row, made her own lunch and breakfast and gotten herself off to school. I'd say that this provided a small amount of motivation - finally doing something she enjoys! I'm sad to report that after finishing her Judy Moody chapter book in her in class reading group, they have moved onto a Magic Schoolbus book - I'm sorry, but have we just taken a huge step backwards, or what??

Anyway, Kt will be tested for reading and I'm hopeful that next year she will be in a group more suited to her abilities. As for math, well, I have no idea who taught her that but she seems to be doing quite well. I believe we've determined that she has her father's school habits, and she probably has his math ability as well. Since T and I both did better in math than reading, do either of our kids stand a chance in Language Arts??

Hopefully, no one in our family will be making any more trips to the principal's office, but somehow I think #2 might bring us right back there - but for very different reasons!

Google Mail bug?

I have this weird thing that happens with my google mail. My husband thinks I have just messed up my computer, and in reality, it's not a big deal problem. When I get spam, I go to the spam box, either choose all or check off each one, then hit "delete". It always loads but never deletes. I have to go to my inbox, then back to the spam box and hit "delete forever" again and even then, sometimes it does not work. Usually by the third time, they will all delete. Weird problem, not a big deal but annoying nonetheless!

The Bunny Mystery

Well, the nest is all back in order and the bunny has not been seen since yesterday morning... I'm not sure there are bunnies in that nest or if they are abandoned. The sad news is that Kt and Em were playing in a neighbor's yard and told us they found a "dead rat" in the yard. From the description, I'm thinking it may have been a baby bunny, but I'm not sure. I'll have to contact the neighbor about it.

The chipmunk is back, which is another reason I'm not really sure there are bunnies. He's guarding his strawberries! Soon he will move to guard his roses on by my front porch. He likes to snip them off as I'm arriving home. He always leaves them for me right on the ground there! What a sweet little chipmunk! (GRrrrr....) If anyone has any chipmunk deterrent advice, pass it along. And no, we don't own a BB gun!

Oh, the bunny is here! Wow! There may be some bunnies in that nest afterall!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Best Thank You!

Today I went to the end of the year Parent Partner's party. PP is the tutoring/reading program I have been doing at Kt's school this year. I have been working with a kindergarten student, who has made some great progress this year although I would not personally send him on to first grade, and with a third grader, who has been the absolute sweetest girl to work with!! Before I went, I stopped at Target and picked up a couple books to give them for the summer and some fun stickers. Really, not a big deal AND we'd been told we could bring something for the kids if we wanted to.

This sweet girl came in, gave me a big hug and said, "I am going to really miss you. This has been the best part of my year!" I gave her her gift, a Judy Moody book, and she said, "This is the book I've always wanted - thank you so much. I'm going to take it to Atlantic City with me this weekend and read the whole thing!" Now, mind you, she was not coached. In fact, she was shocked we were even having a party! It was adorable and it definitely made this volunteer job worth it. M is a bilingual student, her primary language being Spanish, so it helped that she really enjoyed reading, and was not challenged other than in vocabulary and English. What a pleasure!!

My other student, who is in morning K and could not make it, has been another story altogether. He has struggled tremendously this year to the point of complete frustration and refusal to cooperate. At one point this year, I expressed to the volunteer parent who coordinates this program that I was not interested in forcing a child who was not ready to read to learn things that are inappropriate for him. I did not want to participate in teaching this poor child, who really was not ready for K at all, to dislike school. Very quickly, they changed our focus from forcing him to learn his letters, of which he knew only 4 by January, to helping him complete his work. This helped, but I think it's a weakness in our school system that this child, knowing maybe 20 of his letters by this week, will be moved on to first grade, where he is being set up for complete failure. This situation is not one that I am proud to be a part of. Of course, what do I know. I'm only a former teacher, "demoted" to parent.

I did enjoy today and M made it even more exciting with her adorable response. Whether or not I am in this program next year will depend on whether we send Em to kindergarten at this school or to a private school. That is actually looking pretty grim right now. I believe we will be looking at close to 28 kids/class for full day K with a shared aide for 1/3 of the day. For a highly acclaimed county, it's a shame that small class size is only a priority in the wealthier areas of our county, where K classes never go above 17. Just no equality. But then I have my husband, who is quick to remind me that most of world lives on $1 a day and is lucky to have their children go to even a little bit of school. So, in other words, stop complaining. (Sometimes, he's just no help!)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Psycho bunny!

Well, this bunny saga continues. Things are actually looking a little grim... After spending the day tracking this bunny all over my yard, watching her stomp on her nest, scare away birds and squirrels and hang out keeping watch under various trees, I began to realize that this was not ordinary bunny behavior... This bunny shouldn't be here. Last year, the bunny lady mentioned that the bunny will only come to the nest for about 5-10 minutes - that we would likely never see her, as he being near her babies would draw far too much attention to them. All this started coming back to me today, so I called our nice bunny lady.

I missed her call unfortunately, but I knew something was wrong as I listened to her message. This was a question for a more experienced bunny lady - one who lives in South Carolina!! I started writing down the new bunny lady's email when I lost it in some static. I thought it might be worth a call back except that when I came downstairs, something disturbing happened. Emily came in to tell the all the bunnies were gone. When I looked out, mama bunny was on the hill, but her nest was all in a shamble and there is no sign of the babies.

Were there ever any babies to begin with? I never did see any, only assumed they were there. Did she take them away?? Did a predator come?? I doubt this, but I guess it's possible... If they left why was she still sitting on the hill?? All very puzzling, but something is very wrong here. I have no idea what the deal is with our psycho bunny mama!! If you think you know, please fill me in!!

Bunny Update!

Well, that bunny is back, and she is defending her nest against all beasts, great and small. Well, OK - slight exaggeration! She is no match against her human foe, but she has scared away every bird that has attempted to "borrow" some of that soft furry nest for it's own. I've seen her bat away three birds and I have yet to see our furry chipmunk friend. I also saw a squirrel head our direction and quickly change route and take off for another yard!! Don't mess with mama bunny is the sign she has posted! How funny! Of course, when we went out for a brief swing, she hussled off, but not too far. As soon as we came in, she is back at her post, under our steps! just waiting for the next scoundrel to try to get a piece of her nest. That is some ferocious bunny! I will attempt a picture later today - but she's fast!

Church Issue

So, I have this little issue with my church today! Tonight, I went over to do childcare and I pulled into my usual parking space. I was wondering why no one else was parked there as there normally are only to find that they had removed the "Family Parking" signs and replaced them with "Motorcycle Only" parking signs. WHAT? What is that?? Prime parking spots for motorcycles? Closer than family parking??

Now, I'm not really that upset or anything - I'm actually kind of laughing at myself. One of our church administrators and her husband are bikers and they have a biker ministry. I cannot wait to go in and tease her about her parking spaces - for real! If you can ride a motorcycle, you are not handicapped or anything, are you?? Hahaha!!

EDIT: LOL - Now THIS is a church for bikers! So funny that it's on the WP front page today after my little biker post last night - weird!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

They're Back!

Last year, right around this same time, I started cleaning out the weeds from my tiny strawberry patch. This patch is something I started when we moved here from a friend's kind donation of strawberry plants that thrived under their loving care. Unfortunately, ours has not done as well! I don't know if it is due to our lack of gardening skills or the relentless pursuit of our "chipmunks" that have wreaked havoc on our poor patch. They guard "their" berries day and night and happily pluck them just before they are ripe. The most strawberries I've collect in a year from this everbearing patch is 11!! And that is from 8 (now 7) plants!!!

Last year, as I was cleaning out the patch, I accidentally uncovered a small bed of baby bunnies! It was an unfortunate discovery, as I learned that once you touch this patch, the mother will not return. With the help of a local animal care person, we concluded after 24 hours that the mother would not be returning, and this woman came to collect and raise these adorable 5 bunnies. The were actually quite large, most likely 5 weeks old, so we did pretty good in not disrupting nature until the weeds got in the way!

This year, I thought we were in the clear. I'd pulled out all the fencing that had protected them last year, sprayed some weeds with weed killer early on and to me, there were few signs of a nest, although I did see a bit of fur. I left it untouched just in case! Yesterday evening, the girls were talking about seeing a couple rabbits in our neighborhood, and it reminded me of last year. I was thinking they most likely had found a safer location to have and raise their bunnies, especially after last year!

So, last night, when T went out to grill and had us come out to see the HUGE rabbit in our neighbors yard, I turned to peak at that strawberry patch right next to our back steps and almost lost my breath! There, still as ever, was mama rabbit, clearly feeding her little bunnies. I quickly motioned to T and Em to get back inside fast, and as they did momma bunny took off, leaving her nest in a shambles. The cute tiny babies made their own way back into the beautiful nest just after T took a picture. After what I had learned last year, we resisted the urge to "help" the bunnies, and left the nest just as the mama had. We knew that if we touched anything the babies would be abandoned. We also knew that if mama didn't return last night, we'd have to call our nature friend again.

This morning we were all relieved to see that mama had returned sometime last night and put that little nest back together. We are not going to touch it this time and pray that the snakes don't find those poor little bunnies. I have also resigned myself to the fact that once those little bunnies are ready to hop around and eat more than mama's milk, my strawberry plants will be history!! Oh, well - for the girls, this is a great lesson in being stewards of all God gave us and allowing nature to reign even in our own suburban backyard!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Over the Hedge

Just got back from going to see Over the Hedge - excellent movie, great storyline, non-stop fun and very family friendly - at least that's what we thought!! The girls loved it and T and I laughed through it. Great writing, a good lesson on suburban sprawl... and family, which is really what comes out in the end. It's a definite go see, if you can fork out the dough - which these days is ridiculous! A matinee - well, when I was younger, they were cheaper for kids as well, not you just get a buck off the adults. It was crazy! Anyway... fun for an afternoon that we didn't think we'd have off.

Our particular showing (and the theater was showing this movie almost every 1/2 hour!) was only about half full, but the one that started half an hour ahead of us was apparently packed. It was so full, other movie-goers were told they could join us if they'd prefer to find seats together!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Kermit is History!

American History, that is! Looks as though Henson's Muppets are at the Smithsonean and this one exibit I cannot wait to see. My girls love Kermit in the Muppet movies and Swamp Years. It will be so much fun to actually see him! Emily still calls him "Hermit" so we might have to work on that a bit before we head to D.C.!

The Irony...

Yesterday, I mentioned that my daughter Kt had a field day at school. This was run by the P.E. teachers and the conclusion would be that it would promote exercise and physical education, i.e. healthy habits!! Today, Kt came home with her two prizes - Werther's Originals (2) and a Starburst! Let me just remind you all of the excerpt I printed about a month ago put out by our P.T.A. president:

Current studies indicate that by 2010 nearly half the children in North and South American will be overweight... I can obviously monitor what they eat at home, but what happens when they are at school? They are offered birthday snacks, candy, and pizza in addition to the lunches they bring from home or purchase at school.... Parents of children with food allergies also have concerns.... The students who suffer from food allergies are often unable to eat the treats that are offered to them. As a result, these students may feel left out when others bring in food to share that they cannot eat.... When your child has a birthday, consider sending in a present for the classroom in lieu of cupcakes, cookies, and goody bags filled with candy.
How ironic, that we are foregoing all parties at school due to childhood obesity, yet the one activity this year that is promoting physical activity is passing out candy as a prize???

I, for one, am not complaining about this. My child was quite happy to get some candy and I see no harm whatsoever in her getting it! I do see a problem with claiming that parents who send in a birthday treat are the problem, however. And, as I stated in my previous post where I quoted this letter, the issue has more to do with allergies than it does with childhood obesity, the latter being the latest scapegoat for food allergy concerned parents. And why? Because no one takes them seriously when they share their fear of their children dying due to exposure to things such as nuts or eggs.

I wonder if anyone will complain about these prizes? I wonder if anyone will see the irony in this?? I, for one, am not complaining, unless a poor gym teacher gets in trouble for doing something nice for the kids. Personally, I know that those gym teachers spent their own measly salaries to do this and I think it was very thoughtful, but you won't hear any parents thanking them, will you?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Field Day

Kt has field day today. I don't recall ever having this when I was kid. I probably did, but I'm surprised I don't remember something this big of a deal! We always had a big school fair that was after school, families could come, you bought food (pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers), won games, and then we had the "Western Onion" - which was our favorite. You could send messages to your "friends" through the Western Onion for the price of one ticket, which most likely cost about 25 cents. I loved it because we lived so close to the school, that when the fair started I always knew because they would say, over a P.A. system, "(someone's name), please come to the Western Onion." If it was you, you'd run up and pick up your message, usually from some unknown love interest about how much he/she loves you and wants to meet you. No name, of course!! Such silly kid stuff! So silly that I'm sure nowadays, they wouldn't have a Western Onion anymore. Just way too much fun, not "educational" enough for a school fair or a field day!

Anyway, I surprised Kt with my visit. I sent her off to school this morning, sunny day in the 70's with a chance of passing showers. She was wearing what you see in the picture - t-shirt and shorts! On the way home from Em's doctor's visit (which was FABULOSO - no more ear infection, no more rash, no more heart murmur!!!), I stopped for a tank of gold, uh - I mean gas, and the temperature seemed to drop about 20 degrees!! I decided I ought to be a good mom and run some warm clothes over to Kt. By the time I got there, it was warm again, so she was flabbergasted that I'd intruded upon her afternoon of fun with a best bud!! I snapped a couple cameraphone pics and left her to enjoy her field day.

Field Day at her school was not at all like the field day where I taught. When I was a teacher, we had to take our students around to stations ALL DAY, and kids were timed at every event for ribbons - big competition! Then we had to eat lunch outside with them, typically in the heat! It was no fun for teachers and the kids might have it enjoyed it more without the competition aspect. At the end of the day, all the ribbons were presented - just more work for all the teachers.

At Kt's school, field day was more for enjoyment. They had lots of small stations, not a teacher in sight!!!, and the kids went around with a buddy to do whatever they wanted. No scoring, no competition, just pure and simple unsupervised fun! Well, not completely unsupervised because there are tons of parents there, but no one had a structure to the day for these kids. I actually think it's perfect, because these days there is no "free time" in school anymore, no time where kids can enjoy a couple hours of play with their friends. I think it was perfect!! I wish the kids had MORE time like this, which is why I think it is so tragic that school have taken to canceling holiday parties - just a real shame!

I'm hoping they didn't get washed out in that passing thunderstorm. I cannot wait to hear all about her day of fun at school. Fun is a necessary part of life, and if kids can't learn to have it in school, school will become dull, boring and unattractive. If you are a teacher or a parent, insist on some fun times for kids in school.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I wonder....

...when God will tell him to retire!

Assigned Seats on Southwest??

Well, that would be music to our ears, although we probably wouldn't be getting $37 flights to Orlando anymore!! Truth be told, Southwest is awesome if you are flying alone, can sign in via the internet for that coveted "A" ticket and then make it early to the airport to line up in the "A" line hoping that families with babies don't take all the good seats!! While we loved the rate last year, I have to say the entire experience flying a family of four to Orlando was very stressful for all these reasons. What if we can't sit together? What if we don't all get "A" tickets? Can we make it to the airport on time?

Not to mention, I had the stomach flu all night before the morning we were to leave that January. When we called the airline to see if there was any way to change our flight out (in the middle of a snowstorm) they replied, "Yes, there is, for about $300! A person!" When you purchase a $37 one way ticket, you don't shorten your stay for another $1200!! They were not at all accommodating for contagiously ill patrons - not good news for it's customers. Fortunately, with an even worse snowstorm brewing we WERE able to change our return flight due to BWI closing. Great news because by that time Em (and probably several of my fellow passengers that fateful day) had the stomach flu and there was no way she could have pulled off a flight home the way I had pulled off the flight down there.

All in all, just having assigned seats would make Southwest once again my first choice for travel. We are not picky travelers, but for this summer's trip, we switched to JetBlue for many reasons, first being we knew we could get seats for 5 people together. We also knew we could get a non-stop flight (as opposed to one that had one stop in Paris, or some other out of the way destination!), which is important when taking kids on such a long flight. Comfort was our remaining factor, and we've heard nothing but great things where comfort is involved with JetBlue. Southwest? Well, let's just say, been there, done that, not going there this time!

Family Stuff

We are all feeling better, going to school, doing homework, playing outside (well the girls are, anyway!). It's kind of nice. My commitment on Saturday and T's work Saturday night have both been cancelled, which leaves a huge chunk of time we all of a sudden have free - AND we have two days to plan something fun! We are thinking we might take the girls to see Over the Hedge. Of course, I'm sure we can think of many other things to do as well!

On Friday, Kt has a "book sharing" project, so we all just made a video for it. It's OK, but it'll do, I'm sure. She was very excited about it, so that's good. Em has her end of the year school party at a park, then she's off until next Thursday when her 3 1/2 week nature camp begins. That will be nice for me. I love the end of the school year because it means I'm a little closer to having the girls home with me. Something I love!

Today, Em and I went to visit her friend, M, who had surgery last week. She came home Monday evening - 1 1/2 weeks earlier than they originally thought she would! She is doing really well all things considered. Kids are so resilient! I sat with them for a bit while my neighbor ran out to pick up one of the two prescriptions their pharmacy had to wait on. I'm guessing tomorrow she will need to run out for the other. What a hassle. They have this tub of all the meds M needs, syringes for administering them and all the other medical things one might expect. It's quite an undertaking, but all in all, I think they are very glad to be home and you don't need to glance twice at M to see that she is exactly where she wants to be!! Thanks, again, for all who have prayed for them. They are being well taken care of and I think things are looking really good for them!

So, back to family stuff. We have to make some decisions about next year, school, girl scouts, jobs... It's getting a bit overwhelming added in with all the missions trip stuff. At some point, we will need a little respit from all this, but I'm just not sure that is coming any time soon. Hopefully, LA and a little Disney magic will do the trick!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Playground "Safety"

Today, Em and I went to the park. When I stepped outside, the sun was bright and hot, so off we went, without any jackets!! As soon as that sun disappeared behind the clouds, well, let's just say the temperature dropped to somewhere in the single digits! Well, OK, maybe not, but it might as well have!

While I sat on the bench, watching Em enjoy the park to herself, riding her bike all over it, I had to think of something other than how terribly cold I was!! I started thinking about all the wonderful playground equipment we no longer see at parks. Now, we see these big structures that are so "safe" for our children - you know, with huge gaps they need to cross over 5 feet in the air, or zip lines suspended at just the right height for their feet to clonk some other child's head as they recklessly glide on by with no ability to stop! So glad they've improved on my old favorites!

Let's take for instance teeter totters. Where are they? We had the perfect set of 4 wooden ones at the park I used to go to. You could adjust them so that size made no difference. You could fit about 8 people on each side! We even used to use them in our obstacle courses, making participants run over them, stopping in the middle to make them to balance them and run down the other side. Now, they weren't the safest activity! If your friend wanted to play a bad joke on you, they would slide down to the end while you were suspended in the air and then just hop off. Yup - you remember. Major heiney fatigue, and if you had your fingers under the seat? Well, that would just be some serious finger busting! All in all, though, they were a favorite and I have yet to see them at one of today's parks!

My other favorite were those super high slides! We had one at almost every park. You climb, and climb and climb up these teeny tiny rungs with handles on each side, in a long line of kids who are dumping dirt on your face from their muddy sneakers, then you get to the top. You would hesitate at the sheer height and wonder if you'd made a big mistake (for the 20th time!). Then, just as you realize you cannot climb down due to the fifteen kids on the ladder, the person behind you gives you a good shove and off you go, screaming for dear life only to land in the big mud puddle at the bottom! It's OK, because that helps the next time you go down - you are not as dry, the wet jeans will keep your speed from getting out of control!

Then there were those swings! Many parks these days do not have them, or they have a babied down version of our swings. They are half the height these days, have mulch or reclaimed, chopped up rubber tires under them and have some king of plastic, rubbery seat on them. Ours were the real swings, wooden or metal, (splinters or heated, in other words!) and they had all natural material under them - dirt, rocks, stones, mud, you name it! The perfect landing pad! Our target was always the branches of the huge oak trees that shaded the playgrounds of the past, their roots the fabric that held all our lead pipe structures! We knew nothing of the ill effects of lead, nor the frailty of the old trees we thoughtlessly climbed. And our swings, they were the finger pinching kind, the ones that actually planted ideas of space travel in our naive and imaginative minds. We didn't need pretend space ships to dream that we were on one when our swing sets were already launching us 50 feet in the air!

Finally, my favorite ride of all, the metal merry-go-round! That ride provided so many options, especially the older wobbly ones!! It was great the more you had to help push it around. If you had older kids who were faster runners, you could jump on and find your place, hang on for dear life and ride! I'm sure many a parent lost their heart while watching their child innocently grab hold of a bar and let their legs hang off as that thing spun around. I can remember running around, jumping on, leaning over that bar and launching my whole body over the side and the air holding it up as we all spun around. What fun? I mean, how dangerous can those things really be??? (I'm laughing! of course!!)

The truth is, we've taken all the risk out of playgrounds these days. Even where there is a little risk, it's not the kind that would ask a child to be inventive. It's a big, high step here, or a tiny jump there. They have numbers, tic-tac-toe, steering wheels and all other realistic things to play on. And they are fun, but they hardly stimulate the imagination the way a tiny brook, tree toads and a little bridge did for us when we opened our mud pie stand, complete with frog frosting! (No, we didn't kill any frogs!) Or the carnival we created, or the obstacle courses, which I rarely see kids trying to make on our playgrounds today, which do everything for you! I'm not really complaining, but I'm grieving a bit of the past.

Last summer, I took my kids to one of my favorite parks back home, Lincoln Park (not the band!), and was happy to see that after all they redid, they left the horse swings. They were always my favorite. The park is now gorgeous, smaller swings, lots of mulch, trees trimmed so you cannot climb them or swing to them, and lots of fun rope and wall climbing aparatus. But the horse swings take me back to a carefree time, when we used to go to the park without our parents, safely, and visit the moon, or mars or even make our homes under those spider looking monkey bars. Now the kids hardly outnumber the adults, they place has much more painted color but the world I used to play in has been blotted out. One can only wonder the effect of "safer" playgrounds will have on the imagination and creativity of today's children!

New England Flooding

I found a bunch of pictures in this WP article on the the floods in New England. I went to college in this very area and have friends that still live up there. I emailed a friend who lives in Cape Neddick (one the pictures shows a collapsed Cape Neddick bridge) which is near York, ME (more pictures!). She said she only had flooding in her basement yesterday, but in town they were under water. She was not sure her husband would be able to find a route home!! That is some serious flooding.

For those of you who have never been to New England, anything related to water up there is cold! The coastline is very rocky, so there are not many sandy beaches but plenty of quaint little towns, or seaports, set up along the coast. It's no surprise to see these little towns under water right now! But very sad!! Just to give you an idea of how cold water is up there, I arrived back at Gordon early August one year. It was super hot, very humid... We went to our favorite beach one afternoon, Singing Beach, and the water was crystal clear, as usual (not much grows in it!), and went body surfing. For about 5 minutes. When we all got out, we were completely numb!

Two summers ago Tony, my mom and I took the girls to Cape Cod for a few days. That same summer we had gone to Hilton Head. When I was going through pictures, I found a bunch of the girls on the beach and wondered how I could tell the two beaches apart. Then it occurred to me, the ones from Cape Cod only had people on the beach, no one was in the water!! Just way too cold!

Just keep these folks in your prayers. It's no New Orleans, but having sewage back up into your house, your belonging washed away and ruined and streets impassable is just no fun. I'm hoping the rains slow soon so they can get to work cleaning up that mess!


I stay away from this stuff, avoid it like the plague!! Ever since Nutra-Sweet became available, it's has been one big headache for me, literally. This stuff can produce the closest thing to a migraine I have ever had. The problem these days is that they no longer print on the outer label of foods when they are using it like they used to. You used to see that little white swirly label on the front of sweets or juices that warned people like me to stay away. I'm finding now that I have to actually read the ingredients to see if aspartame is in something, and it's in so many things now that I often forget!

Last summer, I found that I really liked, for the first time, Minute Maid light juices. I love fruit juice, but I have to limit my intake of it due to the ultra high sugar content. When I discovered how much I loved this light juice as opposed to other light juices, I went for it! I didn't see a little Nutra-Sweet or Splenda insignia on it, so I assumed it was safe. I bought my six pack and off I went to Connecticut. While away, I noticed I was getting these awful headaches around the same time each day - noon. I was loading up on Advil, not really certain what was causing them. It didn't occur to me until we were standing in line at Einsteins and I had pulled a Minute Maid light from the cooler that the cause of my headaches might be an artificial sweetener. I scoured the label, no little warning, then looked over the ingredients and there it was. I quickly exchanged my MM for water and from that point on, I had a headache free vacation.

More recently, I had not been feeling well. None of the issues I had should have involved a headache, but I was starting to get a terrible one. At first, I was thinking it was from being cooped up at home, or possibly even stress from having to deal with multiple doctors and taking different antibiotics and pills. But even when I would switch or not feel so stressed this headache would persist. Then, it occurred to me. The one thing I was doing day after day different from before was taking these Vitamin C pills I grabbed while in line at the pharmacy for the THIRD time!! I was a little desperate! I never even thought to look at the ingredients, but had bought chewable ones so the girls could have them as well. They had had them at my sisters house and I was hoping they would give them a try at home since we were all sick.

Now, I had no inkling that my headache was connected to these things. I did notice, however, that they were about half the size of the ones my sister had. I just chalked it up to being a different dosage or something. But after several days of a terrible headache getting worse, I was on a mission to figure out what it was from. And there it was, ingredient #4, aspartame. Duh! I stopped taking them and voila, the headache went away. In fact, I have not even thought about taking Advil for many days now. What a shame.

I want those days back when that little swooshy sign was on the front of labels of products with artificial sweeteners. My life would be so much easier and headache free!! Not to mention I would feel better knowing I wasn't feeding this stuff to my kids. (these new cereals with splenda have made me MAD!) Either that or someone please make me an artificial sweetener that doesn't give me a headache!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Krazy about VMK

Most of my 2 readers know that I am sort of hooked on Disney's new marketing tool, the Virtual Magic Kingdom. It takes a true Disney fanatic to get hooked on this game - or does it?? Actually, it's through some other tools for this game, namely message boards, that I have met some seriously nice people. T teases me a lot that I don't REALLY know who these people are, and he's right to a certain degree. But the truth is, I'd like to call these people my friends and hope to meet some of them when we go to Disneyland - OK, so I'm crazy!!

There is one family I've come to know fairly well and we have had oodles of fun in the game and out of the game. Last month, they launched a new message board, VMKrazy, and asked me to be a moderator. So far, it's been a fairly easy job as we've been testing out everything, proofreading, adding spoilers - well, OK, they've been doing all the work!! I've been sitting back and enjoying it all from the sidelines. I think, though, that we are ready for a bigger audience. We love bantering back and forth but it's time for VMK fans everywhere to jump on with us.

Our goal is to keep the board open to all, to respect the way others play this game and to be extremely family friendly. No talk or links to anything questionable - just good clean fun!! If you are interested in this game (and we have found just as many adults play as children!) and need any help getting started, I think you will find this site warm and welcoming and very instructional. The administrators are excellent top quality people and I doubt you will be disappointed!

Now, for my friends who think I'm absolutely Krazy, sorry to bother you with this. Someday, when you want to have a little fun, you can look up this post again and join me! ROFL!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Let Me Tell You About My Mother

I am one of those people who takes great pride in her mother. I am sorry if that is nauseating for some, but no matter how sick it makes you feel, it won't stop me from letting you know just how awesome my mom is! My mom was the "mistake" of her family. She came 9 years after her big sister and 7 or 8 after her older brother. She barely knew them as her parents shipped them off to boarding school in Florida. My mom vowed to get kicked out of that boarding school should her parents even consider sending here there! Did I ever tell you how fiesty my mom can be??

When my mom was in second grade, she spent a whole year in bed with rheumatic fever. Ever since then, she has despised doctors, hospitals, needles, you name it! She passed that dislike for anything medical along to me (and I think it might be trickling down to her grandchildren - funny how that happens!). Have I ever told you how obstinate my mom can be??

My mom went off to college, where she met the love of her life, Dave. They met at The King's College in Briarcliff Manor, NY. He proposed to her in Times Square and they were supposed to live happily ever after. Then, tragically Dave was killed in a car accident over Thanksgiving break. He was hit head-on by a drunk driver, who survived. With her dream of living happily ever after shattered, my mom picked up the pieces, finished her college education and allowed my father, Rudy, to pursue her. Have I ever mentioned how mature my mother is??

After letting my father know he was history if he kept trying to "find himself" at Moody Bible College, she married him and they both became teachers in Connecticut, Fairfield County, to be exact. After their wonderful first child was born (that would be me, of course!), they became a one income family and miraculously bought a house in Fairfield for $25,000. It was on the market for $75,000. It was my mom's starter home. And she still lives there. Have I ever told you how patient my mother is??

Two children later (that would make three of us, all crammed into the 2 1/2 bedroom, 1 bath house), my mom was still living in her starter home on one teacher's salary in Fairfield, Connecticut. With barely a penny to rub together, we never wanted for anything, vacationed every summer, enjoyed a wonderful neighborhood, great schools and had for the most part happy parents. Life was fun, full of laughter, very simple and centered around God. Have I ever told you about the faith my mother instilled in us at a very young age?? or how incredibly content she is??

Finally, crisis struck our little happy family. My sister, in second grade, came down with Reye's Syndrome. She was rushed to Yale New Haven Hospital, where she was in ICU in very bad shape. My parents rallied all their friends, far and wide, everyone they could think of to pray for her, because they believe in the power of prayer. We had friends all over, in Papua, New Guinea, in South America, in England and many places we do not even know of today where people prayed for her. Miraculously, she came home from the hospital in under two weeks without any lasting side effects of this devastating disease. Have I ever told you what an incredible faith my mother has?? and how much she trusts in God??

On our last big family reunion vacation, we went to Hilton Head Island. My father and I planned this trip and everyone came. It had the makings of the beginning of a tradition! What we didn't know was that it would be our last family vacation with my dad, who was diagnosed just before our meeting with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It was actually the beginning of his two year battle. While on that trip, my father bought some Bubba burgers from the local grocery store and got up enough strength to grill for us. While we all devoured one of his favorite meals, delighting in his cooking, my mother remained silent, wondering why her burger was not nearly as good as ours. It was not until the end of the meal that she realized my father at placed on her burger accidentally the paper that separated the pieces of cheese. She had eaten most of that paper! To this day, we laugh hysterically about that day. Have I ever told you how my mother can laugh even in the midst of her darkest days?? She has an infectious sense of humor.

Today, my mom still lives in her starter home. She has put three kids through college, all of whom are happily married, two of whom have children. She is an outstanding teacher, loyal friend, hysterically funny, and a complete joy to her family. Unfortunately, she is also a widow. She goes to church alone, goes to movies alone, eats dinner alone and welcomes every opportunity to do any of these with friends, even when she doesn't feel like it. She is very relational! Have I mentioned how incredible my mom is? Because if I haven't, I want to tell you right now that my mom, should you ever have the chance to meet her, is one of the most amazing women I know. You would be privileged to cross her path, to learn from her, to be invested in by her. I only hope that someday my kids will think even half of me what I think of my mom.

Hey mom, Happy Mother's Day!! Sorry I missed coming up to see you, sorry I never sent a card because I thought I'd be up. I hope this makes up for those disappointments just a little. Thanks for spending the day with your newly widowed friend when you should have been showered with Mother's Day blessings from your own children - you are truly the best!! We love you!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My Mother's Day Present!

Well, by far, this gift was the most surprising. This Mother's Day was sure to be different as T planned his NYC trip on it, is coming home in the middle of the night. I was OK with the whole idea as it freed me up to go to Connecticut, but that never happened. When T left on Thursday, the plan was for him to take the girls to his mom's tomorrow for lunch and I would get a day to myself - I've been looking forward to this all week, knowing that I would likely not get to go to Connecticut because of Em being sick. T's parents were busy tomorrow evening, so in my mind, that was out of the question. Busy playing Mah Jong.

So, tonight, I get a call from his mom, who knows that he is not home. She wants to know about tomorrow. It's 9:00pm, I'm getting the girls in bed, I tell her he won't be home until the wee hours of the morning, as they have not even left NYC and she tells me she knows that... She wants to know what we are doing tomorrow night for dinner. I'm a little surprised, I told her I didn't know but I thought they were busy playing Mah Jong. She tells me no, that we are having dinner with them for Mother's Day. Wow - surprise to me! I told her I thought T was taking the girls over for lunch tomorrow, she replies with a hearty, "Oh, no. I called him yesterday morning (while he was in NYC!) and he said dinner was OK." I asked what they planned and she said she didn't know, but what did we want to do. So, I told her I had no idea, it's Mother's Day, most people have made reservations for this day well in advance, I just don't know. She'll have to talk to T!

So, I send T a little text about this fiasco. He tells me they are bringing dinner to our house. I am already seeing that my Mother's Day will look more like this: I will get up while T snores away, unable to rise due to the fact that he drove all night for these teenagers to get home for Mother's Day, I will have to get the girls ready and take them to church, then come home and clean my house for visitors that I had no idea were coming. No fun shopping, no alone time, and all this on Mother's Day. Oh, how I wish I were in Connecticut!! Next time, on Mother's Day, I hope I get to vote!

ADD: Moral of this story - if you think you are getting a day alone, don't plan ahead - just way too disappointing!

UPDATE: Well, it turns out his mom didn't want to have dinner in, she wanted to go out. So I sent him along with the girls and I stayed home. Did a bit of shopping, but on Sunday everything closes kind of early, so a quick trip and now I'm home again!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Things are Looking Up!

Well, we all slept in today - how relaxing! Em slept until 11:30!!! The rash has left her head/face and her feet and hands. Still covers her arms, legs and torso. Other than the obvious rash, she has acted normal now for a couple days, eating, playing, running around, goofing off! It's always a relief when things start looking up.

T and the high school seniors and their leaders are in NYC. They spent the day in the projects, cleaning up artwork. Tonight they are serving the kids at Genxcel for their awards banquet tonight. They cleaned up, set up and will serve them. Tomorrow they get a sleep in and sightsee day before a homeless coffee house in the evening. Then they pile in the vans and head home for Mother's Day!

It sounds like everything is going well. Only T is having issues - he's not feeling well. Probably another visit to the doctor. We need him well soon for all these shots he needs for Africa! Actually, I am glad that we decided against taking the girls because of that. Em could likely not handle all the shots - Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hep, Malaria - that you need in order to go. I am thankful not to be worrying about that. But we need to get T well for them!

At least if we can't go away we can have a relaxing weekend! I should clean, but what fun would that be?? LOL - OK, it would give us a happier, healthier environment to enjoy! OK - you win!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Your prayers were felt, well received and very answered. Our little neighbor had a very successful surgery, her parents are feeling good about it. She came out of it well and seems to be taking everything in stride. The hospital they are at used to have a ban on children visitors due to RSV, but just lifted the ban last week, so M's two year old sister will now be able to visit. If Em were any better I might take her, but we'll have to pass!

You can continue to pray for them - M will have a hospital stay for a couple weeks most likely. When she returns home, there will be a lot of home care that her parents will be responsible for - lots of tubes, lots of tube cleaning, lots of nursing things that no one is really trained to do. It's overwhelming. She was fortunate to have not been able to get on the correct pediatrics floor, but instead is with the older kids, has a private room with a shower - great for mom and dad!! One perk to having this surgery later I guess.

And Em? Well, she was much more herself today, other than being completely covered with this hideous rash. Poor, poor baby. Although, I'll take a viral rash over major surgery any day of the week - so I guess the timing for us works as well. We all appreciate your prayers. Our big disappointment is that we will likely not be able to go to CT this weekend as planned. I was really looking forward to spending Mother's Day with my mom, since my brother and his wife are off to Las Vegas on Friday. I'm just not sure Em is up for travel - every little outing seems to wipe her out. We are one unhappy household right now. Mother's Day weekend with dad away, sick kids and no fun trip to CT. Oh, well. I guess we'll have to go another time!

I'm off to bed so I can spend another day playing Princess Monopoly, watching Lilo and Stitch and taking baby dolls around the zoo that suddenly popped up right inside my own house. I never knew there were dolphins living in our upstairs bathtub! Now I know! And if you come over, watch out for those lions in our living room!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Almost today! is finally the day that Em's friend, our neighbor, will hopefully have her bladder reconstruction surgery. It will be the third time this little 4 year old will bravely walk into the hospital for major surgery. The first two times, she ended up home due to a chronic infection caused by a germ she contracted at this very same hospital! A huge source of stress for this family. I think they are feeling like they are not really sure what will happen tomorrow.

Em is concerned about her friend but comforted by the fact that she won't feel anything. Apparently, the two of them have discussed this, but I know Em still worries. She asked me today if she was going to have to have surgery. I told her she would not have to have the same one M is having, but in life there is always the chance that someday we might have to have something like this.

The truth is, I dread having to even think about this. With all the illness traveling around the four of us lately, it has reminded me how I am totally paralyzed when illness strikes. It's almost like the trigger for my complete shut down. I seem to have developed this fear or panic when anyone, especially me, is sick. It's been weeks since I've regularly exercise, or thought enough to plan a weeks worth of healthy meals or even thought much at all. Illness consumes me - in a terrible way. I think even my blogging is interrupted.

Anyway, if you have a free moment tomorrow, pray for this family - that things will proceed smoothly, that they won't be sent home a third time, that recovery will be quick, that their two year old will adjust to being without mom and dad on a daily basis for a couple of weeks while big sister is in the hospital and pray for a successful surgery! Thanks in advance - all the prayer offered up will make a difference - I know that.

Here is a short piece of what my neighbor's pastor wrote to them after last week's attempt and being sent home with a PIC line, IV antibiotics to administer every six hours and the unknown surgery date at that time:

Yes, sometimes it is hard to comprehend why a child has to go through such things. And other times it seems impossible to comprehend it. I hope Pastor B's sermon on Sunday was helpful to you. We follow a God who died on a cross for sins he didn't commit, and then rose from the dead to new life. Therefore, He is with us in the midst of things that seem unfair and hard to comprehend. He doesn't expect us to comprehend it all, but to trust Him through it all -- to have faith in His presence and never-ending love, in the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins, in life now and forever.

I thank God that M has you two as parents -- gentle spirits, committed to loving her, committed to providing her with the medical care she needs. Make sure you two spend time with each other in the midst of all of this so that you keep your marriage in a strong place, you have a safe place to let down your hair and cry and question -- so that you can trust together in God's presence and power. As you do so, you will be continuing to teach this faith to your daughters.

Now, I almost cried when I read that - what a nice note and all of it so true. I just don't know how people go through life in these kinds of situations without faith in Jesus Christ and a supportive church body - I've never had to experience it, and I hope to never be in that place. Let us all remember to extend that blessing to our unbelieving friends, because I'm quite certain a good dose of it is what Christ would intend for them!

And to our neighbor/friends - wishing you the best tomorrow - you are in our prayers!!

Why Non-religious Parents Choose Religion for their Children

Wow - this article grabbed my attention because I think this is so prevalent in our area! Many of our youth drag their parents to church - I've met them, sat next to them, listened to them tell me it's great for their children, just not for them. It has always made me wonder what is so attractional for them that they would choose "religion" for their children, yet remain completely indifferent to it. If you've ever wondered, read this!

Over the years, says Khan, she's seen religious community serve several of her friends -- mostly Jewish -- with its sense of shared history, support and belonging. "We no longer live among extended families and extended communities," she says Khan, 42, who is legal director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. And, she notes, "there really aren't intergenerational institutions that offer quite what religion does in our society."

Khan also believes that spirituality -- with its sense of purpose and meaning -- is key to her children's emotional well-being. And she's convinced it would be a lot tougher for them to develop spirituality without the structure and guidance that religion offers.

This is not to say that these parents are choosing Christianity - they are not most of the time. But there are some who do and I think it's important to understand what it is about certain religions that they hope to instill in their children that they do not deem as important for themselves. Very interesting read!

EDIT: They just posted this Q&A - I couldn't stop reading it - I'm really surprised but it's really interesting, along the same lines as the article above. Things that make you go Hmmm...

My Poor, Poor Em!

This morning I went in to wake up Em and found her covered in that rash we discovered yesterday. She looks extremely miserable!! That poor child! So, I did what all good moms do. I said to my husband, "See if she'll eat, call the doctor and I'll be home in three hours!" Really, that's what I did, because I have the luxury of my husband being able to work from home so I can fulfill a commitment I made to a friend to do childcare at our church's women's ministry. He had to stay home last week with both girls and today with Em. I'm glad now that this was the last week, even happier to guess that by next week, when I don't have anywhere to go or anything to do, everyone in this house will be happy and healthy!

Really, it just brings up a huge question for me about going back to work. It's so hard to decide what to do. I do want to work, but I also need some flexibility so that I can be home when my kids need me to be. I certainly cannot expect T to stay home with them all the time and we really don't have any family that is willing to stay with them should I go back to work. It's a tough decision.

Now Em - will we ever find her some relief? I sure hope so. Now that I'm home, I guess I better go check on her!!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Doctor Woes - Part II

T just told me (at 11:41 pm - almost one whole week after going to the doctor!) that my doctor FINALLY called back. After 4 messages on Friday and one this morning. I need antibiotics. Well, duh, I could have told them that. Like I've said - I would NEVER be bugging my doctor if I didn't need to!!! One week... that is just pitiful.

DaVinci Code

T and I went to this thing on the DaVinci Code movie - intriguing. I've never read the book, haven't decided about the movie yet but I think I'll go. I'm much more of a media person than a bookworm these days. I didn't used to be that way, but now I am. After reading through lists and lists of incorrect information within this book, I've just felt that there's little good that can come from me reading it. It's really just disturbing to me - blatantly incorrect "facts" that are presented as truth. Yeah, sure, it's a novel and all, but even good novels can get simple historical facts correct. I think it lends to the integrity of the author and the story!

For real, it's really the idea that someone can present such a blatantly false story as being possibly truth about God that really gets to me. We have riots over cartoons about Allah, but everyone will flock to see a movie trying to prove, using incorrect information, that Jesus Christ was not really God. Is this inconsistent?? Well, maybe not, but it's so totally ironic!

So, if I go see this movie it will be purely for entertainment, although I am sure I will leave it infuriated, so why bother?? Such a dilemma. I am just not sure I am ready to watch two hours of the name of Jesus being mocked! Oh, wait, I listen to that all the time!

Doctor woes!

Today was just another day at the doctor's!! Em decided to go to school today - very late! That's fine. While she was there, I put in another call to my doctor. Friday, I had called at 8:30 am asking for my lab results so I would know whether or not to come in again, as my symptoms had not changed. T called three more times in the afternoon for me - no answer. I called again this morning, left an extremely detailed message - still no call back. I have honestly never been more disgusted with this doctor ever before. Anyone who knows me, knows that the last place on earth I'd like to be is at the doctor, let along on the phone with one. I have never pestered a doctor's office with multiple phone calls nor have I abused the doctor with any kind of unfounded illness. Bottom line - I hate doctors! (Sorry friends who are doctors - I just try to pretend like you aren't in the medical field!)

To make matters worse, Em came home with little red bumps all over her body. For a moment, I thought she had the chicken pox! AGH! Anyway, when I called to make sure this was not an allergic reaction to the penicillin she is taking, they wanted to see her right away. Long story short, she has lots of stuff going on - viral, ear infection - looking worse after 1 week of antibiotics, sinus infection, rash probably related to her stomach flu/fever episode on Saturday and to top it all off some kind of heart murmur they are hoping is from all the stress her little body is under. We got her some heavy duty meds - very costly - and are hoping clears up the infections. Poor baby! And you would never know it!

So, I'm done with the doctor. I don't know how people with chronic illness deal with them day in and day out. I'm also considering finding a new one for myself - as this is ridiculous. No call back. If I end up with kidney failure, I'll direct my ER docs to this post!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

War Against Christianity??

I am stuck home again with some recovering children! One more Sunday not in church... Usually T and I take turns going when this happens, but with summer trips coming up he needs to be in church to collect things and connect with the teams and kids. So, here I am...

I found a very interesting article this morning in the Washington Post On Sundays, they run a couple stories in their religion section. This one is intriguing to me because ever since I placed my children in public school, I have for the first time, felt a little oppression against my religion. It's nothing life threatening, but it was really shocking to be point blank told in America that my religion was far from welcome in their territory, to the point that I might not be included in activities that they deem unsafe for Christians - let's say, for example, a "holiday" party where I might accidentally say the word "Christmas." I doubt this is common in most public schools across America. In fact, on my last women's retreat I met a woman who lives near me and when I told her where my kids go to school, her reply was, "Oh. It's hard to be a Christian at THAT school!"

The truth is, in many ways it's a good pruning ground for me and my family. I find I have to hold my tongue and really try to understand where everyone else is coming from! Why is it OK to share Allah with an entire school population, but "illegal" to mention God in school? While I find it inconsistent, I have also found that much of the to do about Christianity doesn't really come from the powers that govern, but from individual issues individual people have with the "religion." There are so many misconceptions about Christianity and the thought of dealing with them strikes fear in the hearts of so many. Christianity has found no home among the cries for tolerance, it has acquired no friends among those who seek an answer to their problems.

The challenge here for us every day is being a believer who practices what the Bible says in a relevant way in the world. It is the hardest thing I've had to do in a long, long time! I am constantly falling into traps that are not even set for me, traps that looks so inconspicuous that I have no idea they were meant for harm until it is much too late. When I sit back and absorb the microcosm of school that my children go to, it all seems so "wonderful" but when I look through the lens of Christ, I can see the traps, the temptations along with the good that can come from a disciplined life. It's daunting and I must say, there have been many times this past year when I've been ready to throw in the towel and homeschool!

Do I think there is a war against Christianity in America? I must say that I do, but it's a very spiritual war. Each of our small examples is a sign of a much larger war that is taking place beyond our visual realm. This is a war that has been raging for generations and I think it's battleground has finally arrived at our shores. It's more than obvious in many parts of the world, where Christianity has been outlawed, punishable by death. That may never happen here, but the battle has begun. I just think our defense is prayer and practicing our beliefs. Satan wants America - I mean, of course he does. There is no part of this earth he wouldn't love to control. The question is, can we stand up to him? Not alone!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Round Two

Well, as if two weeks of illness in this house isn't enough... Em and T have the stomach flu today! I'm hoping Kt doesn't, as she is spending the day with a friend about an hour away!! If I get this, well, it's over for me. I've been sick for 10 days now with an on again off again thing and vomiting isn't going to help. If you know us and you know where we live, you'd be wise to stay far, far away!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Woes of a Room Parent

I was somehow selected this year to be the "room parent" for Kt's class. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, as I only said I would do it if no one else volunteered. I was chosen and later found out that at least two other moms had wanted the job! I don't know why, and there's not all that much to it anyway. I call myself the "party mom" because I was told all I need to do is find parents to send in items for parties. Simple enough. Especially considering it's only been for two parties!

One of the more dubious jobs for a party mom is organizing the class to send in items for Teacher Appreciation week, which happens to be next week. Having had sick children and being somewhat sick myself, this has been no easy task. I went over to school, looked up Kt's teacher's "wish list" and came up with a simple plan. Monday - bring in a flower to form a bouquet for your teacher to enjoy through the week, Tuesday - your free expression of thankfulness, Wednesday - let her know how sweet she is by sending in something chocolate (chocolate was the all she put down for things she likes, chocolate of any kind!), and Thursday - send in a poem. Now the poems are supposed to come to me via Kt by Wed and I was going to assemble them in some fashion - a book or something - and wrap it up for some students to present. Friday there is no school, so only four days to plan.

This afternoon I received a phone call from a mom in the room. She thanked me for putting together such a nice letter (written, printed, sent in with a neighbor since Kt was home sick!) and organizing everything. She wanted to know if I'd heard that this teacher would not be in school all next week. Her husband is having surgery so she'll be out taking care of him. I then verified this with Kt as being true - she just told the class today. I'm going to go crawl back into bed and wake up sometime at the end of next week!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Professional Advice

This morning Em and I headed off for her Kindergarten readiness test at the private school we are consider for her next year. She did really well, but I had to leave the room to "go to the bathroom" because everytime the tester (my friend) asked her a question, she would just look at me! She's such a cutie - and a champ because she feels lousy, but was a great sport.

While there, this friend of mine was asking me how I'm doing on my plans to get my Master's degree. Well, ashamedly, I had to admit I've gotten nowhere!! It was a great talk I had with her, though, because she gave me some really good advice and I'll have to discuss it all with T before I post is all here. I think she had some really good advice about education, jobs, how the world views Christian education... I will need to sit on this for a bit, but I'm thinking of taking her advice.

The truth is, I'm not really sure I want to be a full time teacher, so spending thousands of dollars to get more education so I am marketable... I know I should do it, but I would hate to waste all that money! I have just felt the need since my father passed away to be able to take care of my kids should anything happen to T. I'm not overly anxious about it or even fearful, but I feel like I need to be ready. Since my undergrad degree is in elementary ed,I'd like my Masters to be in something similar but different, like Reading Specialist. That's what I'm leaning towards, as my experience teaching first grade was most geared towards teaching reading. I do need to decide, though!

As a treat for Em, we ended our morning at the mall for McDonald's. I kept asking if there way ANYWHERE else she wanted to go and she finally said to me, "I just can't stop thinking about McDonald's!" I think I've created a monster!! So, chicken nuggets it was, and then a ride on the carousel. On the way home, she told me she could not keep her eyes open. I'm thinking gymnastics and kindergarten storytime at the elementary school might not happen!

5,000th Visitor

I had my 5,000th blog visitor this morning - I still have no idea who it is, but it's someone in Beltsville. I'll have to have my number loving husband look at the ISP - he has so many of them memorized he'll probably know as soon as he sees the number who it is. Wonder if it's him again?

EDIT: Well, in looking again, I'm going to guess a UMD student. The visitor came at 1:14 am... I was in bed! and so was T!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Going to Church

How important is being a regular church attender for a committed Christian? This is a question I've been asking myself for a while. Having grown up a VERY regular church attender, I'd have to say there's always a twinge of guilt involved in my churchless Sunday's! Of course, most of that comes from this learned idea that all Christian's MUST be involved in a church body.

A couple of things have had me question this, and I'll try to keep it simple. I know some Christians who do not attend a church. Sure, it leaves a bunch of questions in my mind, none of them is "Is this person really a Christian?" Most of my questions revolve around the "Why?" factor. Why would this person not want to go to church? Why do they dislike church? Why wouldn't they want to be a vital part of God's community? Why do I think church is so important anyway?? Some questions ask What? What happened to make them not want to go back to church? What is it about churches these days that seem so unauthentic? What will they do when they need a church family? What do they do to participate in the body of Christ?

Years ago, I would have seriously questioned the true beliefs of someone who did not attend a church or at least think that was important, even if they couldn't find the "right" one. But today I think times are very different. Churches are huge or they seem a little weird - this is ONLY my opinion!! Personally, had I not gone to church all my life, I would never step foot into today's megachurch - just way too intimidating to me. And smaller churches - well, I've not found one that I really liked, that seemed very authentic or doing much in the way of meeting needs. I'm sure they are out there, right now I am not really looking. When I was looking, well, it was slim pickin's!

Finally, I've questioned this because I just find it interesting that so many missionaries around the world find themselves sent to area where there is just not a church! Now, if God really expected all Christians to go to church every Sunday, then wouldn't he make sure there was a church for all the Christians who went out into the world to tell about Him? Sure, many of them start churches, but who will minister to them?

That's a job I think our churches should be doing. In fact, T and I have had numerous discussions about how to involve the children of missionaries in the very things we plan for our students here. It would be costly, but I think for interested families, it would meet a very vital need for them.

In reality, I feel sad for my Christian friends who, for whatever reason, have not gotten involved with a church. I do think it's important, I do think Christ calls us to act as a body together. Whether it's a physical building, or a group of believers - that is not really what I question. I would just love to see Christians engaged in the work of God with other believers, to share corporate worship as part of their walk with Christ and realize their place and service in Christ's body. There is no perfect church here on earth - and no one should look to the church to solve their problems or meet all their needs. That's God's job!


some pictures!! Keep in mind, Em has a double ear infection and Kt has been home for three days with the 5 day fever that is going around. I am pretty sure she'll be back in school tomorrow - yeah!!

I honestly can't believe how big they are getting. It was just one year ago that Kt had no front teeth and Em had huge baby cheeks! Time sure does fly!

Today was Em's Mother's Day Tea at preschool. I savored each minute, although she didn't!! I think her ears are too clogged for that! They do nothing of the sort at the Elementary school, so it was fun to have this one moment. The kids sang a couple song and then did "Happy Mother's Day to You" in sign language. I think Em might have benefitted from a little sign language today. At least she looked beautiful!

I am looking forward to some healthier days ahead and am hoping everyone is well for our vacation!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Spring Fever, Part Two

This may be the first spring/Easter that we don't have any pictures of the girls with our beautiful spring flowers. Why? because someone is always sick!

On Easter Sunday, Em was sick with a fever for two days, then had a cold, T was sick, last week I was sick and this weekend Kt got the fever. She's home now with it. I feel like I'm running a sick ward here!

It's too bad because my Dogwood tree has come back to life. When my father died three years ago, some good friends of mine gave me a nice gift certificate to a nursery to pick out a small tree. My mom and I chose a Dogwood because my father loved them. They also happen to be the flower of the town I grew up in, Fairfield, Connecticut.

One year after I bought this tree, we had the year of the cicadas. Because the tree was so young, I was advised to cover it in cheesecloth so that the cicadas would not destroy it. We saved the tree, but the branches for the following year were mangled and last spring it had only three blooms on it! I was a little worried, but we left it alone.

This year, my father's Dogwood was beautiful. It's a bit small and most likely too close to the maple it is planted near, but I think it looks very healthy. It is also the same colors as Kt's Easter dress - would have made a great picture! Oh, well... maybe next year?