Monday, July 31, 2006

Daily Diary

OK - today we did what we love to do: shopping and beach! We took the girls to Kohl's and Target, bought them wayyyy too much and then came home for a bit before heading to the beach. It's hard for me to pass up a bargain, but even harder when my girls are with me. I'm teaching them nothing!! I have to work on that!

The beach was fun. We went in the evening, had dinner and then, because it was high tide, the girls actually swam in the water. We like to go at low tide, when finding hermit crabs and digging in the mud serve as great babysitters. Today, though, my two fish actually swam around in the calm waters of the Long Island Sound. I think they loved it! They even got a bit brave and both swam under the salty water. Em insists that she swallowed about three mouths full - LOL.

As my mom and I sat on the shore watching (so strange not to have to go in with my little kids anymore!), we reminisced about going to the beach with my dad. He LOVED swimming with us. We would always beg him to come in, and he usually would. He preferred the lake near our house to the salt water, but would just swim around with us, let us jump off him shoulders, would play Marco Polo, pretend to be a shark and he taught us all how to "splash" correctly with a direct hit! Because he had a trick knee, swimming was about the only physical activity that my dad would engage us in, so we savored every moment of our time in the water with him.

It was truly a fun day, and I missed my dad. Tomorrow morning we are heading back to the beach before the real heat settles in. The high should get close to 100 degrees, so leaving to come home shouldn't be much of a problem!! although we are going for some low tide! The rest of our day is up in the air - just not sure what's in store, but I do know it will involve some kind of air conditioned place!!

More From Cameroon!

Good Morning America!!!

Just talked to G and we need to keep praying for the health of the team. L and E are doing better. L is still on a BRAT diet with a tender tummy. B woke up early in the morning with loose stools and feeling yucky. They are working to keep him well hydrated and he is resting today.

Let’s really pray that the enemy would just leave them alone, please! And we do know that some great things are happening down there…even more reason for the enemy to be upset with us.

Sophie has been a bit more engaged yesterday and Yannick (one of the guys that gave his life to Christ yesterday) has really jumped in with both feet and shows a true hunger and thirst for the Word. Praise God.

G said that even though this is a much more expensive facility (and therefore a pretty nice place to be) than we had originally desired, it has left no reason for complaining and therefore the teens are more able to be focused and there are less distractions. This is great news!

Love and hugs and thank you for battling with us!

W and the kiddos

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hangin' in New England

We made it! We left at 5 am and got here early. I won't tell you what time, as we made a new record. With no traffic and no stops, it's amazing what you can do.

I'm quite tired, but having fun. Kt is playing SkipBo with Uncle D and mom, Em was listening to her new praise CD that dad gave her. We were cracking up because she has changed some of the words. Our favorite - "recipe the name" instead of "Blessed Be the Name". God must have something cookin'!

A couple things I learned today: 1. there are lots of people awake at 5 am!, 2. sunrises can be beautiful (I'm usually sound asleep for them!) and 3. no matter how long we have E-Z pass express lanes, people will still ignore the 15, 30 or 65 mile an hour speed posted and come to a complete stop. Very frustrating, especially when you are the only two people on the road!! Oh, yes, and police like to be out early Sunday. They didn't bother me at all, but there were plenty of them around!

Hopefully we'll make it to the beach a couple times this week and get a little shopping done. We all love to be here, hanging out with our family. It is sure to take our minds off missing T!

News and Prayer Requests for Cameroon

Here's an email I just received from Cameroon. If you feel led, please lift up these requests! Thanks!

Hi Warriors,

Just heard from Gilles and they are doing well. The weather is not rainy and they are having a good time. This morning, Ndoune, one of our Cameroonian team members, gave the Gospel message and 5 kids came to Christ!!! What a praise!!!

Some key things to be praying about…

Elly and Lauren, from the US team, were down yesterday with a bad tummy…They are both feeling better today, but let’s continue to pray God’s protection over all the US team.

One girl, Sophie, a Cameroonian, has been making herself scarce each time God is talked about. They are working to love her to the group and Christ and we are praying for an open heart and that she would be more involved.

The whole schedule that Gilles worked painstakingly to put in place has had to be changed and almost scrapped. We are learning the true meaning of flexibility and are praying that the US team can roll with the punches…they surely aren’t in Kansas anymore!!! J

Marie Paule, Ndoune’s wife, is staying with us while he is at the camp. She is 36 weeks pregnant and we are really praying that little Jean Samuel (the unborn little guy) doesn’t feel the need to come early…wouldn’t that be like the Lord’s sense of humor…NOT!!!

Thank you for praying for us and I will keep you updated as often as I have news. G sounded encouraged and upbeat…he is so flexible and God made him for Cameroon, I think! I sometimes just do better to stay at home and pray!! J

Love you and thanks,

W and the kiddos

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Just a Little Laugh

We are having "elastic loaves" for dinner tonight!! I can't wait to try them!

My Little Fish!

We just got back from our third swim lesson of the summer. The girls are both fish, but I signed them up to learn basic swim techniques that they refuse to learn from me. Especially Em, who gives me dirty looks whenever I try to teach her anything! (Guess that rules out homeschooling for her!)

Em's lesson was first, and she wasn't all that happy to listen to the teacher either, but she sure can swim! Now we just have to work on breathing. During Kt's lesson, Em insisted on swimming in the deep water, where Kt's lesson was. In the middle of Kt's lesson, the teacher made all the other students, who have had three more lessons than Kt, get out of the pool to watch Kt swim breast stroke. I was so proud of her! I love to swim and that's my favorite stroke but I do it incorrectly so I keep telling her not to swim like me!!

When she was done she came up to me and said, "I'm good at breast stroke!!" She had the biggest grin on her face. There is nothing like being a parent of a child who has just been instilled with even the slightest amount of confidence. Kudos to her swim instructor, who just grew my daughter today in a way even I couldn't! Nothing could contain Kt's excitement about being good at something and being recognized by a "pro".

I also failed to mention that both girls, at their first lessons, were each moved ahead into the age group above them. So Em is swimming with 6-8 year olds and Kt is swimming with 9-12 year olds. Great job, girls!

Reality Sets In

Em came running into the kitchen to announce that we needed Dad. That balloon, which came with my anniversary present just a bit earlier, has already gotten "caught" in the two story foyer. She was wondering if I thought Dad could get his ladder and get it down for her. I replied, "Well, I'm sure he could if he wasn't in Africa!" To that she responded, "Can he just come home for a minute?" I'm glad she's 5, because she said that with a smile on her face, whereas years ago there would have been no consoling her!

Happy Anniversary - one day early!

Today we received a dozen chocolate covered strawberries for my 12th anniversary. T had them sent early I guess because we are heading up to Connecticut. They were not even in the door then Em claimed the balloon, Kt was drooling screaming "I know it's chocolates!!!!" and I was walking around with my calligraphy pen dripping just trying to sign the little form. Once the poor delivery left, the girls descended upon the strawberries. I'll be lucky to have any!! (Actually, I just ate two and they are super!)

Thanks, T, and I hope you enjoy our anniversary as well - at the beach called Kribi, camping in Cameroon with chiggers! Well, maybe we'll just have to do something a bit more luxurious when you get home - at this rate, that won't be hard!

Dollars or Euros???

I was just reading on a major news outlet an article about the House passing a bill that combined an increase in minimum wage and cut estate taxes on multi-million dollar estates. The strange thing was that every time they posted a dollar amount, in parenthesis next to that they translated that into euros. Huh?? Not sure I understand the point in that. First of all, this is a political issue in the U.S. Last I heard we were not using euros in the U.S. Secondly, I've never seen this done, even in stories about Europe or other countries around the world. Why would they do that?? Finally, I doubt the bill will go into effect anyway. The article even said that. It's not like it will ever impact our economy. So, is this a new trend or is there some reason our law-making is being translated for EU folks.... hmm....

Weird Blog Moment

Thursday, I posted T email update that was sent out to all the parents. That was the only email we'd all gotten and it was sent from the missionary's email address, so I had assumed that he did not have access for whatever reason to his email. I then noticed later that his update was posted on his blog. I thought he had not accessed his email, but somehow had managed to post on his blog. I was still completely clueless.

About a half hour later, one of the parents responded to that email using the "Reply to All" button, so I read her reply. Then I read it again on bloglines! as it had posted to T's blog as well. That evening I was really surprised, if somewhat acting a little like my hair color!, while wondering why T would take the time to post that email, yet still not bother to send me a more detailed email about what was going on in Africa. The nerve!!

Finally, after the next morning, I realized what was going on. It started with another "Reply to All" email that was sent out by another set of parents who were going to be out of town. They sent all kinds of personal information - such as where they would be, their phone numbers, including cell phones and their names, of course! It wasn't until THAT email ended up on Ts blog that I realized there was some kind of generated posting thing going on there! I had no idea you could even do that, but that's me, the novice blogger who would never need to post to my blog from an email anyway - that would just be dangerous!

Truthfully, I didn't know quite what to do. I couldn't leave all this personal information on his blog, not to mention everyone's email addresses from the post before it. That's right - I failed to notice that the previous day in my perplexed and miffed mode. Fortunately, T left me some "T's Online Persona" information, and I was able to go into his blog and delete those posts, of course, not before anyone and everyone who has him on their bloglines read them! I was also still left with the issue of how those posts were being "sent" to his blog in the first place.

At this point, I decided I needed to let the parent's know what was going on. The only complete email list for the parents that I had was the one that T used to send out that first email, so I copied it and pasted it into an email that I called "safe line" and explained what happened and how to not "reply to all" when T sends out and email, but to use my "safe" one! Well, the joke was on me as I realized AFTER I sent it that it was an email address, right there in that wonderful list that I had just used, that was sending posts to his blog. UGH!!!

I sent out my last embarrassing email to everyone with my realization and our completely safe email list - to which I added T and the missionaries - so that they would all know how I spent my Friday morning!! When you sign up to do missions stuff, no one ever warns you about situations like this. I can't call him, he's not checking his email or reading the ones I'm sending him, but he's creating a nightmare! But is oblivious to the entire situation.

I guess it's better that way, and it's a good thing he left me here with his "persona". Now, how can I get him back!!??? LOL!

Friday Update

A quick update from Friday’s activities – today had a bunch of cultural orientation and planning sessions for the student camp that will start tomorrow. The team is all well and healthy and enjoying their time together while planning for the camp and enjoying their time with their host families.

The student camp starts tomorrow and runs through Wednesday afternoon. Tomorrow we take a bus for about 3 hours to a beach area known as Kribi. About 20 other Cameroonian students and leaders come with us and we will help out with a camp for high schoolers until Wednesday. You can pray specifically that our team works well together in running both game and small group discussion components and for the students that will be involved in the camp. Also continue to pray for health and safety while we travel to and back from Kribi.

Thanks for thinking and praying for us

Tony for the team

In Addition: Tony emailed me and mentioned that some of the team members are staying at homes that have straw mattresses for beds. Hmm... I guess we'll be hearing about those when they get home!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Well Taken Care Of!

No one needs to worry about me. With T gone off to Africa many have offered all kinds of services, from watching my kids to having us to dinner. I do appreciate the offers, but please don't worry about us! Especially me! What other single mom in America wakes up to the banging of doors, cabinets, screaming and giggling to find small puddles of water scattered around her freshly washed and uncluttered kitchen? Two excited, beaming faces proudly announcing that they've washed the kitchen from top to bottom. I mean, really, is there anyone better taken care of this morning??

As their reward for this unprompted sacrifice of service, lunch at McDonalds, a quick trip to the candy store, and afternoon at the pool and then dinner with Granny and Grandpa at Friendly's. It really doesn't get much better than this!=) (Except when dad's home!)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Short Note from the Cam Team

I just got this (as well as all the parents!) from T:

A quick note just to let you know that the team has arrived here in Yaounde safe and sound. All of our bags also made it safely and all of our flights had minimal delays. The team is now settling in with their host families tonight with cultural orientation and prepping for the camp tomorrow morning. Our next email update will probably be on Friday or Saturday, right before we leave for the camp at Kribi. Thanks for praying!

Yeah - nice to hear from them and with such good news. I was sort of concerned when I checked on their flight this morning and the flight from Daoula to Yaounde, which was listed as a connecting flight last night, disappeared and was replaced by these words: "No Connections" - just a little worried I was!! Now, no longer!=)

Maybe this is why....

I have spent a little time today catching up with the news. I'm not sure why I haven't done that recently, as I am typically a news rover! I just like to know what's going on in the world and frequent FOX news, the Washington Post and occasionally CNN. Today, I clicked on an otherwise non-interesting story about Pamela Anderson getting married in four different places this month. It was after reading this quote that I started to understand why these stories rarely interest me:

Asked how she's coping with her nerves before the big event, she replied: "I have two words for you: champagne."

I just had to laugh out loud when I read that one!! Two, huh? I bet her kids can count better than that!!

Oh, the drama of it all...

After a relaxing day of recovery, I took the girls out for dinner and came home for a movie. They have been fine, other than my refusal to let them both sleep in my bed with me (not for 12 nights, uh,uh!) and Kt losing a tooth. She has lost many teeth, but tonight she looked right at me and said, "I want to call daddy to tell him!" Very disappointing, the realization that he probably won't see much of his email either. Poor kid - that's life!! I am so sympathetic, huh??

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Your Neighbors or Your Family??

Here in America, we truly value our privacy. It's really a way of life for us. We build fences, put up curtains or blinds, park in our garages, lock our doors and have answering machines to collect messages when we don't feel like being bothered with numerous phone calls. In my lifetime, the idea of a close-knit community is just not something I've ever been exposed to in this country. In fact, anything other than what I'm accustomed to here is just not even a thought in my mind.

Yesterday, we had two women bring a couple suitcases of items for my husband's team to take along to Cameroon. They came from a distance, so we invited them in for a drink, all the while wondering how long they would stay as we'd planned to run the girls to the pool for a swim and our dinner was ready and waiting for us! As they sat and sipped and asked about our neighborhood, we used those couple of minutes we were "graciously" giving them to ask some funny Cameroonian questions.

T started with a general question: So, what should we expect to find? They both laughed. I mean, really, how would anyone put that into words!! I chimed in with: What he really wants to know is whether or not there will be any soda there!! With that, we all laughed. I had assured T that Coke is universal and I had a pretty good feeling that he would be able to get Fanta, as that was everywhere in Mexico. Sure enough, one of the women said, "Of course! Coke and Fanta!" At which point I nearly lost it!

Once beyond the funny stuff, the women started to really paint a picture for us of a place so much different than we know. It started with a statement like this: Your neighbors in Cameroon know everything about you. They are more important than your family! I instantly expressed the American look of shock. Neighbors? I must have gasped! I mean, we have great neighbors, but not one of them would even reach the level of importance that my family has to me. They went on to describe how the minute you are off the phone, your neighbors know about your entire conversation. They know more about you than your family or distant friends. This extends as far as your child care. One mentioned that if you left your child with a neighbor, you could trust that your child would be well taken care of for upwards of MONTHS without you being around.

I really had to stretch for that one. I cannot imagine leaving my child with a family member for more than a week or so, but neighbors?? for months??? Not to mention the imposition I'd be feeling should a neighbor of mine even suggest adding my burden of my own two children for months!! What is the origin of such behavior? Why is that accepted in this culture and completely foreign to my thinking?

Their point in sharing this with us was to illustrate why a trip for them to Cameroon would involve weeks, not just days. They were trying to come to terms with the fact that our group would only be in Cameroon for twelve days when for them they would need weeks in order to spend the proper amount of time with their extended families, but more importantly with their neighbors, who likely are tending to some of their valuable while they are living and working in the U.S. Wow.

I started realizing that this trip for T would really challenge his way of living, his thinking, his world as we know it. We have heard from many that this culture they are entering is all about relationships. Spending a day with friends or visitors is acceptable in place of business or work. It's a culture about people, not about what you do or what you have. It's so anti-American in it's foundation that it almost seems evil to share any of our "anti-social culture" with them. I mean, what do we have to offer them that would be more important that building relationships??

What would America look like if we spent half our time cultivating relationships instead of acquiring material possessions? What if every American employer gave days off for entertaining visitors and getting to know our neighbors? What if daycare was provided by our trusted neighbors, who were given full reign over our child's discipline, shaping and encouraging? What if we always belonged somewhere instead facing the curse of not-belonging anywhere? or the feeling of aloneness?

So much of our culture is evident in the state of our mental health, I think. I cannot list the number of my friends who see therapists and are treated with anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds for more disorders than I have ever heard of. Maybe the real culprit in this is our lack of ability to form meaningful and thriving relationships due to our love of privacy and independence that is encouraged by our culture. I don't see an end to that kind of lifestyle in this country. I am wondering what our team will find in a culture so unlike our own!

And they're off!

Well, they are gone! All twelve of them and some of the parents. Now one of the crucial parts of this trip - actually getting on their flight. Last year, the team departed from here much like today, got to the airport 2 hours early and found a swarm of angry passengers, all of whom were bumped off the flight because it was grossly overbooked. The Brazil team had to wait 24 hours for another flight out, they each received $800 in United vouchers and were put up at the Hilton for the night. It was crazy, and the memory of that sort of haunts T. I'm praying they all make it on this flight, mostly due to the fact that there are not regular flights from Paris into Yaounde, so missing this flight to Paris might mean a huge delay.

Our home was the picture of chaos beginning around 12:30, when the first student arrived 30 minutes early! Her father, a marine, has informed the marine attache in Cameroon that his very precious cargo will be arriving shortly. Should the team need anything, they can be assisted immediately and this student's father? Well, he would be there within 24 hours. Somewhat of an asset to bring along someone like this on an international missions trip!

Everyone else started trickling in just after her. I had my little copy center set up in my dining room. We brought down our printer and I had organized everyone's passports with post its on them with what I needed from them. Once I collected everything I got to work copying, folding, putting all these papers into these little files for all the leaders. I didn't mind having something to do, and I could tell some of the parents wished they had something to do as well!!

The kids were repacking the duffel bags with new items they brought, labeling bags with contents, names, addresses.... It was a lot of stuff, a lot of bags, but as I explained to T, the best way to get items to these missionaries is through people. If we have twelve people going, you should bring at least twenty-four bags! How else would all these items get there?? I, for one, would be waiting with bated breath for my chocolate chips! And I am NOT kidding you one little bit!!!

So, we were finally organized, packed, copied, prayed over and off they went. Kt was outside waiting looking quite forlorn. At least this year we had no little kids on the curb crying. Almost, but not quite. I will miss T very much, but I am so excited for this opportunity. I really feel like the Lord has something great in store for them all. If I didn't feel this way, I doubt T would have stepped foot out that door, but we sent him off with some notes, hugs and kisses.

Next Monday is our 12th wedding anniversary. When we got married in the summertime, it was only for convenience sake. I was teacher and mid summer worked for me. I had 6 weeks to get ready and 4 weeks to enjoy, so it was perfect. I had no idea that summer missions would take over any hope of a fun wedding anniversary trip or anything. We've come to not take that occasion so seriously, as we've been apart for more of them than we've been together. I'll be in CT for this one so I'll have to find some way to celebrate with my girls and my mom. I can assure everyone we won't have any problem at all finding some fun way to celebrate!!

Now back to my new role of single mom....

EDIT: T just sent me a text. They are checked in and have seats together to Paris! YEAH!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Day Has Finally Arrived!!

Of course, the day has barely begun!! As usual, with T's exodus to Cameroon tomorrow I am the one up finishing up "stuff". I've been going through my mental list for the past few days, all the things they will need as they head off for some place I have never even been. Yeah, I'm the expert - LOL!

Today I took the girls to Target. We spent $80 on school supplies (that's a whole post for itself!) and bug spray, Pepto Bismal and printer paper. I found Sportsman Deep Woods Off and then I found this other stuff that is 98.9% DEET!! I don't want to hear ANYTHING about mosquitoes, malaria, ticks or chiggers!! They should be all set, don't you think? Again, just a guess... I honestly have no idea!

I ran to Curves while my very expensive babysitter watched the girls. She agreed to watch them today for $10/hour. Of course, I was plum out of cash as she cleaned me out yesterday! Then I made one of my Let's Dish pizzas - burned it. Two women came tonight with two very large and extremely heavy suitcases of "stuff" to be taken to Cameroon. They just could not pass up this opportunity to send items that are greatly desired in their home country by their family and friends. I think there's a stroller in one of the suitcases!

After they left, we took the girls to the pool and then out for ice cream. I think T would have like to have spent this last evening with them, but he needed to pack. Then I needed him to run out to buy an ink cartridge because I was copying all the passports, visas, consent forms, insurance cards, etc for the leader packets. I thought this had been done earlier but T told me today it hadn't been done at all. Now, tomorrow, when all the kids arrive we'll be finishing this up. Could have been done Sunday when they all came for their sleepover.....

I have 12 duffel bags full of "stuff" for Cameroon in my living room. It's all the stuff on the missionary's wish list. Three boxes I picked up from a parent of one of them last week in Virginia. Items that we all take for granted everyday - homeschool supplies, peanut butter, maple syrup, chocolate chips (I truly cannot imagine life without those!), cameras, dvd's, cd's, candy... It's such a long list. In the morning I need to combine at least two of them to make up for the two suitcases that just arrived this morning.

I can't believe the day has finally arrived. We send them all off for this incredible adventure. I'm very excited for them. I will be heading up to my mom's over the weekend for next week. That will be fun and hopefully keep the girl's minds off missing their dad. We have tried to avoid any major home improvements after the bathroom last summer during the Brazil trip, although I do have a guy coming to install a garbage disposal this Thursday. I can't live with my sink all clogged up! I'm sure we will forget something. I'll let you know tomorrow around 2 pm what it was!=)

Monday, July 24, 2006

How Much is a Good Babysitter Worth?

We have been fortunate to have some of the BEST babysitters ever, for real! And along with our fortune comes the kind of babysitter who never charges us a fee - just whatever we can or choose to pay. It's very sweet of them, most of them being either family or church members. The problem is that we don't really have a good sense of what the going rate is for a really good babysitter.

I ought to start out with defining what a really good babysitter is, in my humble opinion. I mean, having been a babysitter, here are some of the things I did. I played with the children, limited the amount of television they were allowed to watch, cleaned up the toys we played with, washed any dishes we used, occasionally I'd clean more if the kids were in bed and I had a lot of extra time. I also would raid the kitchen if necessary for a late night snack - but that, to my knowledge, was never deducted from my pay! I made sure the kids all had brushed their teeth and gone to the bathroom before bed, washed up and sometimes even gave them baths (we've never asked a sitter to do this - but I used to have to do it all the time!). I tucked them in after cleaning up their bedrooms.

These days, most of our babysitters do about that much. All of them have spent time with the girls, we always tell them just to leave the dishes, and many of them clean up if they put the girls to bed. For all that we have always paid $5-$7/hour. We try to pay that plus a little extra, and I guess I always thought that was kind of good for this area. Up in Connecticut, I would make anywhere from $5-$10/hour, so for around here where some were making $3/hour when I first moved here, I thought we were doing well!

Tonight we had our neighbor's foster child babysit, and she was excellent! She has a wonderful personality, was awesome with the girls, who LOVE her. If I could, I would ask this girl to babysit all the time, as it's terribly convenient, and she is a super sitter. The problem? When we got home and asked how much she charges, she said $20/hour!! At first I thought she was kidding. But then I realized she was dead straight, and I was dead floored!! I had in my hand what I thought would pay for her tonight AND tomorrow and it wasn't even enough for tonight. I was just a little shocked!

Now, she's going to be a sophomore in high school, which was another reason I was floored. If she'd been in college, my jaw might have only hit my chest instead of the floor, but a non-driving teenager? $20/hour? Even I don't get paid that much to work with kids, and she only had two!!

So, what I need to know is two-fold. One, am I just grossly underpaying my sitters? and do I owe them large amounts of back pay? Two, how much is a really good babysitter really worth? I'd hate to undervalue a truly wonderful babysitter, which is what we've done often with my cousin's daughter. You just can't put a price on a good family babysitter, who will love your kids like family!! I just don't know that I'm willing (or rich enough) to fork out $20/hour for babysitting!

UPDATE: So, here's what I did. I first emailed my neighbor and told her that we loved having her foster child babysit, but probably couldn't afford her. I just wanted her to know that there wasn't anything that happened - we were just poor! Next, I emailed some friends and neighbors to find out how much they pay. Sounds like $5-$10 is the going rate around here. There is a woman who is widowed who babysits for a living - she charges $10/hour, so that would be the top of the scale I guess. Then, I emailed one of our very favorite sitters to find out how much we owe her in back pay, and, well, she sent me this funny email:

OH MY GOSH!!! $20 an hour! No way. I would only ask that much... well, i would never ask that much. but if i had to think of a time that i would, it would be if you had 10 boys who always kicked and hit me and your house was dirty. haha. that is totally totally nuts and i do not think that anyone deserves $20 an hour to watch kids, especially not your girls! i don't even make $20 an hour at work! and even people my age who nanny all day only make $12- which would be too much for a babysitter anyway. wow- that is just outlandish.
I hope I'm in the clear here, in being completely shocked and not owing my babysitters all kinds of money!! I am feeling much better, of course, she's babysitting today and possibly tomorrow as well! Live and learn, I guess!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest

T and I finally made it out to the movies. Lately we're lucky to have any time to ourselves!! The one week my mom gave us was a real blessing, but with all the summer trips happening right now we don't usually do a whole lot together. Even last night we got another call in the middle of the movie! about a trip. So that was our ride home! LOL

Anyway, I liked this movie. I think I liked the first one better, though. I wouldn't exactly call this one predictable, but it seemed a bit more comical, somewhat creepier, but not in a scary way like the last one. Johnny Depp was super in this movie, as I'm sure he'll be in the next. As were Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley. The three of them work well together!

One thing I did not like about this movie was the ending. It made me feel like I'd only seen half a movie, as clearly there will be a POTC 3, and all reports indicate it is almost finished! as it was filmed simultaneously with 2. I like movies with a bit of finality, but this one really leaves you hanging. I'd suggest if you like to see the whole story at once, wait until 3 comes out and then rent 2 to watch right before you go.

In other news, could it be that Disney has pirated Pirates???

Monday, July 17, 2006

We are Family!

Yesterday, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get a little help with the clutter around here. Everywhere I look - stuff! And it's nobody's stuff until I threaten to throw it away, then it becomes sacred!!

The reason for my madness? Another SPACE meeting. This is our typical routine. House gets messy, we have a meeting here, house gets clean very fast - or at least presentable! The girls LOVE hanging out with the space teams, so yesterday, when they were less than excited about cleaning up their junk I threatened them with a bedroom ban during the meeting. That still didn't make anyone move faster, so I had to actually act upon it. I was met with utter disdain, drama, and a boatload of tears and wails.

After shipping these pour souls off to their rooms, I sat down in T's office, where he was busily getting ready for the meeting. I reached over to move the mouse so my computer screen would light up so I could see the time and there on the screen? A little diddy Kt had been working on entitled, "We Are Family". T just busted out laughing, then I joined in. "Not anymore I guess!" were his exact words.

It goes like this (she's working on this one hoping Uncle D will record it for her):

We are family
Totally cool and fun family
We are family

Did I feel like a heel? Not really, but it did lighten the mood for me a bit. I'm sure the words will be rewritten at some point. I mean - we are a way better family than that! (wink;-))

Top Ten Greatest Places to Live

My cousin in CA sent me this article about the top 10 places to live. I happen to have grown up in one and now live in another. What are the chances??? So, when T told me I should stop complaining about living here, I said, "Well, maybe we should just move to Connecticut! Can't be that bad!!" Poor guy - I hardly ever let him win!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary!

To my aunt and uncle today! 50 years ago today they were married, then proceeded to have 4 children and eventually ended up as one of the orginal families that made up our church that today has over 3000 "members". 50 years is a long time to be married, and it's an incredible milestone to reach. My parents were 6 weeks shy of their 35th when my dad passed away, so for me this is likely the only family member whose 50th I will be able to celebrate. Unfortunately, no one planned a celebration.... how embarrassing!

This summer is T's and my 12th anniversary. A dozen years together. He'll be in Cameroon for this wonderful occassion. Years ago we'd planned on taking a trip to Hawaii to mark our 10th anniversary. I had it all planned out. My parents had agreed to watch the girls and we started saving American Express points for the hotel and saved up a bit for the airfare. It was just after I'd made these plans and starting executing my perfect celebration that my dad got sick, he passed away and then, low and behold, our whole heating and cooling system died. SO, with the little we'd saved we converted to gas and bought a whole new AC system and furnace for our tenth anniversary!

Needless to say, I'm not making any plans anymore for anniversaries. I would hope to make it to my 50th, but I'm just not sure what I'd like. By that time, I'll be old, hopefully enjoying some grandchildren, maybe still traveling a bit. A gift? Probably just to have my whole family around and enjoy some time with them all, if they'd be willing to give up some of their time to be with me. That's what I'd like, and that's what my dad always wanted once we all grew up and moved out. He savored every chance he had to be with everyone at the same time!

So, here's to hoping that my aunt and uncle have the chance to have their whole family together at some point this year. It would take a great deal of planning and manuevering and some sacrifice on the part of their children to make this happen. And if your parents are celebrating a great milestone like this, just remember that being with their family is probably all they really want anyway!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

God of Many Cars...

We need cars. It's just that simple. I do not have my van this week as the D.C. team had a car issue and they needed another vehicle. After an email went out to lots of people guess who had to give up their car?? Me. Now, while T is out having dinner with that D.C. team I got a call. The middle school team that is leaving TOMORROW doesn't have enough transportation. If you ask me, it's a little late to be deciding that, don't you think??

We got them the church van, but apparently of the 3 or 4 adults going, no one apparently has a car that "will make it" up to PA and back. Hmmm.... well, maybe I'm being dense but isn't God bigger than car problems? Yup, I'm dense. However, I'm not dense enough to know that I don't have another car to give them! Sorry, but in a church of over 3,000 people don't you think there is one car that can get 4 people up to PA for a missions weekend? in one of the most affluent areas of our country?? It's quite pathetic if you ask me!!

Of course, planning may be an issue. But really, God is a God of many cars I'd imagine. We have two of them, one of which is being used by Him and the other of which is being used for us to make a living. Is God asking us to go carless?? or might there possibly be another car out there for these kids??? I'm just wondering...

We're Back!

And majorly jetlagged. It doesn't help that it's summer and we have nowhere to be. It's very overcast, not good pool weather, no sun. Anyway, T is putting up some pictures of our trip, so check them out. We had fun, but it was difficult getting the family to move! No one wanted to get up early, so we missed all our early hour benefits, including Mickey's Toontown Madness. Then they all actually wanted to leave early on our last day!! Am I too fanatical? I guess so!

Being at Disneyland made me miss Disney World. Sounds strange, I know! It's a different crowd in California and the park fills up at night with all the locals, who live minutes away. We even heard one dad say to his children as they were running to get in line for the Matterhorn, "Now is not the time to be polite or we'll never get on that ride!!" Can you believe that? Anyway, it was a totally different experience, but so much like the Magic Kingdom that it was confusing.

The rest of California was beautiful and HOT! And air conditioning is apparently something you only need two weeks out of the year. Unfortunately for us, we were there during those two weeks and no one had it!! (Except Disney!) The beaches were nice, but cold water, big waves and lots of seaweed! We attempted to go to tidepools, but ended up hiking up and down cliffs for something really mediocre. It's no wonder there was the "No Refunds" sign at the gate! LOL

Hollywood was fun. The girls could have spent another day there - they were in awe! of the double decker celebrity tour bus!!! We might have taken them on it if it wasn't about disturbing what should be other's people's privacy. I don't care if they are celebrity's or not - no one should be peeking into their homes! That and the $30-40 ticket shock - um, no thanks.

In the end, hanging out with our West Coast relatives and meeting up with virtual friends ended up being the most fun. Our cousins, aunt and uncle were the most amazing hosts - we could have stayed for weeks and totally felt at home. It was a wonderful visit with them - and I think we all enjoyed each other immensely.

Now we're home, and trying to get back to normal. The girls are out with friends, I'm sitting here on the computer, T is trying to keep tabs on all his missions things while working from home. Yeah - that's about as normal as it's going to get around here!! I guess I ought to start some of that laundry while I'm trying to be normal!!

Pictures: 1. Sunset at Venice Beach, 2. Breakfast with Minnie and Friends, 3. The girls in Hollywood and 4. The whole family with West Coast relatives on July 4th in Newport Beach.