Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Without Naming Any Names

I think it's disturbing when a pastor steps into the political arena for their own personal gain. It's just not wright. (oops)

got stress?

Ok, so I finally went to the doctor today. Between allergies, heart palpitations, panic mode, my boss having pericarditis.... I felt the time had come. So, I tell this doctor my whole long symptomatic story and she says this to me: So, do you have any, like, stress in your life?? Oh, lady, do I GOT STRESS!!

But really, who doesn't? Sadly, most of my stress comes in a form that is preventable - it's called worry. I guess this whole episode just illustrates the fact that I learned nothing from a whole year of studying Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow. Sorry, Linda. I just didn't listen! I guess I'll go back and take better notes.

Of course, I also am facing my first (terrible) allergy season on a new blood pressure medicine, the first one I've ever taken that does not help control my heartrate or my asthma. That, obviously, has something to do with what they are calling allergy exacerbated asthma. Anyway, I need to try Claritin and I'm back on those nasty inhalers - watch out world!! I was off those once I started BP meds 13 years ago, except for my episode of bronchitis three years ago. Now, albuterol is my friend again!

Still, I have stress and I'm doing my best to manage it. I do not want to be on an anti-anxiety meds on top of everything I already take. I'm not against them, I'm just not interested in taking any more pills. Get it? So, if I say NO to you, don't take it personally. Think of it as our way of relieving some of my possibly life threatening symptoms. =)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


¿ןןǝʇ noʎ uɐɔ ˙ɹǝɥʇɐǝʍ ǝɥʇ ɹǝpun ǝןʇʇıן ɐ ƃuıןǝǝɟ ɯ,ı

Oh, and here's how you do it...

Monday, April 28, 2008

When Panic Sets In

I'm no stranger to racing hearts, but this past weekend was a real racer! I think I'm just overwhelmed with the amount of stuff going on, stuff I still have to organize, plan for, remember... My body decided enough was enough and I was out of commission yesterday. I'm still feeling quite stressed, but I'm off to the grocery store anyway. I mean, we have to eat, right?? As for working, meetings, music lessons, gymnastics, spring concerts, crazy teachers, Hungary meetings, lunch at my house for 24 and still managing my own life... the jury is out. That's just this week!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Free IQ Test - Free IQ Test

Of course, if this were true, I would be a much wiser decision maker! ;-)

Saturday, April 26, 2008


We're addicted once again! Nice weather, old grill, paper plates, fireflies.... Summer's here (yup, we skip spring around these parts!) and we fire up the grill (even with the big hole in the bottom!) and start dreaming about having a big garden. I'm already thinking I might have to find a spot for our most recent addiction - zucchini!! We just can't stop eating it! I have bought about 9 of them this past week and we haven't shared even one bite. Just a bit of olive oil and garlic and herb seasoning, the wonderful veggie grilling basket we bought last year and we have ourselves a side dish. I wonder if you can get sick from too much zucchini?? I guess we'll find out! =)

La Boutique

I visited my cousin's boutique again - I could literally spend hours in that little place. It's adorable and fun and has something for everyone, really! My cousin and her friend were featured in the Baltimore Sun. If you love shopping in a place with atmosphere, visit Old Town Ellicott City and don't forget to stop in at La Boutique de Mon Amie. (I'm their calligrapher=))! If you read this and try it out... let me know here whether or not you loved it!! If you're a room mom, lots of great teacher gifts! ;-)

You know you're old when... wake up on Saturday morning and know you need Advil. And you didn't even go out Friday night! (Just pathetic!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

"A Whole New Life!"

The girls got their hair cut today. Kt went really conservative, having about half an inch off. Em went for the gusto, and when we left the salon she said to me, "I feel like I'm starting a whole new life!!" I have no idea how much was cut off, but they were saying we should have done Locks for Love. I had researched that a bit, but I'd heard you had to have 10 inches... I didn't think it was that much. Anyway, here they are with their new hairdresser - Jess. Thanks, Jess! =)

Now maybe brushing our hair in the morning won't be the overlooked chore it has been all year long!!;-)

World Malaria Day

My husband, T, has a post about this. You should read it!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Good Life Market

I just got this little tidbit of info from my cousin. If you live in this area, Ellicott City, you might want to check this place out. It's ADORABLE and I think I might give this a try. Not only is the store chock full of goodies, beautiful furniture and fun kitchen items, the guys who run it are just plain old nice!! They also run a small garden "shed" a few steps from their shop - it's also adorable!!

It really IS a Good Life with our Neighbors in it. Especially when it is Steve and Randy and the Good Life Market! Please help us spread the word to make the Good Life THE destination this weekend for their "A Taste of the Good Life" Cooking Demonstration and Wine Tasting. The event will take place on Saturday, April, 26 2008 from 1-6pm. The Good Life Market is located in Historic Tongue Row, just off of the Public Parking Lot behind the Post Office on Main Street. It's easy to get in and get out. Bring a friend or two. You will not be disappointed!
Call if you need directions or to make any special arrangements. You can reach Steve or Randy @ 410-480-5077 or visit their website @
Maybe I'll see you there! If you want to give it a try, park in the lot in the middle of Main Street behind the old antique mall. These shops are located on the hill behind that lot.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Really Bad Ad

I have no idea what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, i.e. what kind of job should I get. I roam around on Craigslist for ideas sometimes. Yesterday I saw this posting:

"Tutors Availalbe"

Would you even bother clicking on that? LOL

Growing UP

Just a couple minutes ago, Em opened the garage door. She's now tall enough (some Neanderthal installed our garage door opener buttons!) to escape, to not need me to do one more thing for her and to shut that door when I ask her to. It's scary, exciting and sad all at the same time. Who'd have thought a garage door could elicit so much emotion?!?! =)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

White House '08

I'm feeling a little queasy about who might end up in the White House (again) in 2009. I'm not losing any sleep over it (just yet) because I'm just trying to make it through the summer! Who really is the lesser of evils is the way it is for me. I don't feel like any of the viable candidates really represents me and my concerns, my beliefs, my standards. To put it simply and bluntly: I don't want some old guy, I don't want some old (cheating) guy's wife nor do I want to lose half our income to pay for everyone else's health care, crazy greenhouse gas solutions or embryonic stem cell research! Does that only leave Ralph Nader, who I don't even know anything about, but I'm sure he'd fit in my little rant somewhere? I'm queasy because I see little hope for our next four years. The glass, in this case, is not half empty. It's dry.


For an introvert like me, this word conjures up many negative connotations. Whether I'm on the funding end or raising end, it's just not something I like to/choose to engage in! I do, however, understand the necessity for it in many instances.

For our summer trips, it's only been in more recent years that we've embarked on fundraising efforts. I have no idea why. Maybe it's the kids; they seem to embrace the idea whole-heartedly possibly due to having to raise funds for all kinds of school events. Maybe it's the rising cost of these trips with fewer resources among our growing number of team members. I honestly don't know the reason, but I feel really bombarded by fundraising pressures.

Here is what I know: when God calls you to go, He always provides. Whether we have done organized fundraisers or not, we've always had exactly what we've needed to complete His work. Sometimes we think we've come out slightly ahead only to find that the little bit extra has covered some unknown need or cost. Or sometimes we've been able to bless a missionary host in a way that we never expected through our extra funds. God always comes through.

I know this as well: it's important to communicate with the church body - within or outside of your own church community - where God is sending you and why. We've had some really bizarre fundraisers work, like just washing windows at a gas station, and we've connected with people who may not have heard about our church and what we're doing in the world. Maybe they give us a dollar for washing a window, but we're reaching out into our community and building some bridges by actually putting a face on what we're doing.

And finally, fundraising for a missions trip shouldn't be about money. In fact, it really shouldn't be called fundraising, but if we called it something like "supportraising" we might get some strange looks from people out there!! We have to know and believe that our efforts are in vain if God isn't calling us to go, and if He is calling us, He will provide a way.

So, why do we fundraise?? Well, we do it to support our teams, to build our teams, to create smaller purposes within our overall purpose and most importantly, to provide a way for others to go with us on our journey. Granted, when we wash windows, those people most of the time don't really understand what they are giving towards. I sometimes imagine what the look on their face will be when Jesus says to them, "Remember that time you gave the girl $5 to go to Hungary?" "What girl??" "The one who washed your car windows and left all those dirty streaks on them!!" "HUH?" "Yeah, that was really for Me, so THANKS!" I kind of chuckle to myself, but the picture of what is happening is so much larger than even our kids realize.

The question we hear most often when we start these trips is, "What happens if we don't raise enough money?" For real, it's difficult to answer that. I usually just say, "That's never happened...." Not that that's any consolation, but it's true. At least as far as I know! I just think when we really focus on our mission, the pressure goes away because we see that we can't do it without God, and when we let Him take control, it will happen.

Silent auction. It's a great idea and I hope we can pull it off. It will surely be a group effort in more ways than one, a team builder and it will test the faith of a few of us more than others!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Juxta Posed

My husband is constantly at odds with the fact that he and I were both raised in "suburban" neighborhoods with little exposure to urban life. At the same time, his was definitely more urban in that his parents live close to public transportation, are now surrounded by an extremely diverse group of citizens who have access to large subcultures, in which communities can immerse themselves with few reminders that they are in the USA!

I, however, grew up in a much more juxta posed area. On the fringe of one of the wealthiest counties in the country, I saw little diversity yet lived within miles of it, knew little of poverty although was told we were "poor" and lived in nice houses just minutes from some of Bridgeport's poorest slums. I look back now on how appalled I was visiting Acapulco, Mexico, where the rich and poor lived side by side and never intermingled. I now see that I grew up in much the same type of area.

Today, before I left for the grocery store, I read an article in the Washington Post about a community in Virginia that has essentially eradicated the "problem" of illegal immigrants. Do I think it's really a problem? Sure I do.... Do I know how to fix all the issues involved in that without looking like a non-cultured, suburban housewife who is uncomfortable with all that comes with being illegal?? I don't! I see both sides and wonder, if given the chance to become legal citizens would their behavior be any different?? Would they be able to secure better paying jobs, purchase their own houses and not have to live communally under one roof, would they be more invested in making their neighborhoods safe for their families instead of not really caring about neighbors who don't really care for them?? I just wonder...

Off I went to the grocery store I only go on my own to. It's an older, cheaper store and I'm addicted to low cost groceries! There is a security guard at the door, which for me means I don't take my children there, not because I think they should be sheltered from all unpredictable things in this world, but because I feel like a more responsible parent if I can keep them from harm. Today, the security guard called in sick and apparently the news spread fast!!

I first noticed something was off when a seemingly cognitively impaired man rushed by me up an aisle with basket in hand, trailed slyly by a store manager. I completed my shopping and noticed by the checkout a group of men who worked in the store were gathering and talking about a man in a hat, blue T-shirt... the women up front where pointing to a couple cars in the parking lot loaded with people waiting for this man. I have no idea what he did - grabbed a purse, stole food, had an altercation - but they finally found him and I did witness him physically push down and run away from the manager. A couple minutes later the fire alarm went off and they were yelling the police were on the way and he had fled out the back. The occupants of the waiting cards began (oddly) heading towards the store and little old me was thinking I was so happy my kids weren't with me! As I made my way out to the parking lot, wondering if I was risking my life by leaving, I heard a man say either, "He's my son" or "He's got a gun" - big difference, but I wasted no time getting out of there as fast as possible, feeling only slightly better that two police officers had arrived.

This store is literally 5-10 minutes from my house, and once again I find myself on the fringe, living in a crazily wealthy county only a hop, skip and jump from some very impoverished and desperate people. Impoverished comingling with overpoverished. And I keep going back to this store not because I'm so cheap I can't spend another $30/week to feel safer, or because I like putting my life in danger but because I don't want to forget that there are many people in my midst who are needy in more ways than one, or two, or three. Someday, I'll expose my children to more of what the real world is like, but for now I just continue to remind them that we are fortunate, and we need to be grateful for all that we have. And we're called to love our neighbors - tangibly.

Just Another Rainy Monday!

It is totally pouring outside. The girls woke up not just on the wrong side of their beds, but most likely crawled under them when they realized it was a school day. Em came in my room this morning and asked me to check to see if school was either delayed or canceled. I assured her it was neither and she nearly cried, whining, "But... but.... how am I going to get to school today? It's POURING outside!!!" You'd think they had never seen rain before!

For real, it's just like life. Things happen, we're pretty sure we just can't deal with it or we don't really want to. It would be comforting to crawl into a ball and wait for the storm to pass, sleep it off, but life goes on around us as if there's no rain at all. School is open, the grocery store awaits me, everyone is heading to their morning aerobics classes and there's laundry to be done. It's just that sometimes we don't feel like doing those things when it's raining, or when our lives are in shambles.

Fortunately, my life is not in shambles right now, so I can see in this rain that my lawn has a chance of turning green (of course, only where there is actually grass growing!), spring is in full bloom and much of that pollen that's been buggin' us will have to start over once it's washed out of the air. I can see the good in the storm now, but it's not always like that. I'm sure when I'm trying to get 20 bags of groceries into my car and it's a major downpour I'll be a bit less optimistic!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On Being Pro-Life

Here's a great post from a college friend of ours, Emily... I LOVE it!! You should read it! =)

Sheraton Key West

In keeping with my travel agent tendancies (yup, I was a teacher, not a travel agent, but humor me!=)), I am going to share our pics from our hotel and give you an idea how we came to stay there. Key West is not a huge island, but there are quite a few options if you are planning to stay on that island. There are also many off island options, but as I soon learned in researching KW, there are few options for parking.

I first checked out the bed and breakfast options, but they are not typically our favorites. If you like that sort of thing, there are many to choose from - quaint, small, usually in the midst of all the action but parking is an issue - typically. Read reviews if you are going to go this route. Actually, read reviews if you are going at all!!

Of the larger hotel/resorts we chose from, only three offered the discount we were looking for, a couple offered a AAA discount and others offered no discount at all!! The three that were left for us were the Westin, the Doubletree and the Sheraton. All three had great reviews, all three are on three different points of the island. The Radisson offered a sweet AAA discount, but is located in New Key West amidst all the residential shopping districts (Home Depot, Publix, etc.). It is close to a marina, but that also looked very private, so any beach or sightseeing would need to be driven to or taxi - very expensive to park or taxi.

We opted for the Sheraton for several reasons. One, it had great reviews: large rooms, good service, directly across the street from the largest KW beach, Smather's Beach, free parking, free shuttle service to downtown and a restaurant on location. The pool and jacuzzi were also a factor. We utilized all the things we chose it for and were very happy there. If you are used to staying at Sheraton resorts, my only word of caution is that.... it's an island hotel! There's no valet parking or variety of restaurants, the pool is small, the "massage" spa is poolside, and there are breezeways between various buildings. We found the route back to our third floor room from the pool tricky - we either had to climb three flights of outdoor steps to access the door to our hallway or walk out into the parking lot (which surrounds the compound) to a ground level elevator, take that up to the third floor, walk down a hallway, outside to a breezeway connecting buildings, then into our hallway. Seriously, though, once we figured it out it was fine. The pool made up for any inconvenience!!

The rooms at this place are huge - there's a main room with a pullout sofa (very comfy!) and TV, small kitchnette type area with a microwave, refrigerator, sink and coffee maker and a small dining table/desk. Through pocket doors you enter the bedroom with a king, a flatscreen TV and the most comfortable bed you could ask for!! The bathroom was an L shaped room, marble floors, oversized marble shower, separate WC and a granite countertop/sink with plenty of storage for long stays. Behind the sink were three drawers and a closet, shelving.... we could have moved in!! In all, a pretty luxurious bathroom with Bliss bath products - yum! Due to our amazing weather and brief stay while in KW, we spent almost no time in this wonderful room - really too bad!

Why we didn't choose the other hotels?? The Doubletree is located just as you drive onto Key West. I never did see it as it has a long entrance back into the hotel area. It's quite far from everything, has no beach to speak of and is right near the airport. I will admit, we were also quite close to the airport and rarely heard a plane, so I'm doubting that's as big a deal as I thought it might be. It's close to the Sheraton, but we wanted to be within walking distance of the beach. The Westin is really in the middle of all the action. All the reviews stated it was noisy, plumbing issues and lots of docked cruise ships blocked sunset views. This hotel is literally right on Mallory Square! If you like to party, stay up late and want to really just see downtown KW, this is the place to stay! There is no beach to speak of, but apparently, for something like $30/day/person, you can be shuttled to their own private beach. (I'll mention beaches in a bit!) It really did come down to a choice between the Westin and the Sheraton, and since we're not really party animals, we went with the Sheraton - and we're glad we did!

Beaches on Key West: Smathers is a great public beach, as are most along the southern shore. The parking appears to be free, they are each equipped with concessions, umbrella and chair rentals, snorkeling gear, parasailing, etc. The strange thing about the beaches there are that they are very calm - no waves to speak off (they are on the Florida Straights), kind of cold water - not what they look to be, and infested with jellyfish! Many people who snorkel there will rent wetsuits, although if you stay close to shore it's not really necessary. If we go back, I think our preference will be to go to Ft. Zachary Taylor beach again. There is a charge to enter (it's on the Nixon annex), but it's an adorable little cove, seemed to have less sea grass, everyone raved about the snorkeling there and there's a cute, somewhat new little concession stand. When we arrived at 5 they were closing.... and were a bit rude. Even with that, I'd go back. They charge per vehicle and person, so it was $3 for our car, $1.5o/person to get in. They close promptly at sunset. If you like to swim at the beach, don't even bother going to Key West... get it?

Parking: In Key West, there is metered street parking that is difficult to come by, free street parking that is even more difficult to come by and daily lots that are fairly reasonable, small and usually full! The municipal lots are farther out, so great if you like to walk or can find a moped/scooter/bike rental place closeby. T and I both have agreed that on our next visit we will rent a moped for sure - just don't park it on a sidewalk, or that will cost you $35 in the form of a parking ticket!! It's fairly easy to get around once you get your bearings, almost impossible to get lost on a island that is 2 miles by 4 miles!! It's really not that intimidating, even if you are directionally challenged!

Eating: You can find every kind of food imaginable in KW. Sushi, mexican, cuban (yum!), seafood galore, pizza, sloppy joes, conch fritters, vending, restaurants, counter service, fast food (unfortunately!), bagel shops and there's even a Hard Rock Cafe there!! (Oh, and an Outback Steakhouse). Most of the food there is slightly more expensive than you'd find elsewhere, likely due to the pains it takes for them to transport everything all the way to KW and the fact that tourism sustains their economy. When tipping, you might find it in your heart to be a bit generous, as most apartments in KW are $1800 a month - for a one bedroom apartment. I'm sure sustainablility is an issue down there, but I'm sure it's a tradeoff for those who really just want to live on an amazingly beautiful island!

Sightseeing: We hit everything that did not involve a boat, plus received a KW education from our Old Town Trolley bus drivers. The salt ponds - salt harvesting used to be a big industry in the keys until a hurricane washed away all the canals that were used to feed and drain the ponds. The Sheraton sits among the ponds, so that was an interesting fact we would never have learned elsewhere! The Casa Marina Hotel is the oldest hotel/resort on KW, built by Henry Flagler, who built the train down to that island. He build the hotel to attract tourists to an island dedicated to shipwrecking and other various industries. I guess it worked!

Incidentally, the Fairfield Inn and Best Western hotels have trolley stops - we hadn't looked into them because they didn't offer our discount, but both seemed nice. Fairfield Inn was in the residential shopping area, the Best Western was right down the street from the Sheraton, although quite a walk from Smather's beach, right at the entrance to the airport.

If we take our girls back to KW, I think we'd likely choose the Sheraton again. The rooms were huge, the location was nice and quiet and they would really enjoy the beach, sans the jellyfish!! There were many children staying at our hotel and it seemed quite kid friendly. The restaurant had a kids menu, complete with crayons. The pool was very kid friendly with noodles and rafts you could borrow. having a pullout sofa and separate TVs in the room is a bonus! Of course, you'd have to live without a bathtub, but it's the price we pay for island living I guess! ;-)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

40 years

ago today, my parents got married! I know that if my dad were still here, we'd be celebrating that huge commitment. Or maybe they'd be off celebrating somewhere together. I honestly don't know, but I do know that I'm always grateful for the example I've had in my parents love and dedication to each other. Marriage is not easy, and they never hid that fact from us. Nor did they hide the fun it can be! Thanks!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Today is my sister's birthday - my little sister. Hehe. We don't always see eye to eye. In fact, we sort of have a little party when we do agree, but we share the same love and respect for family, friends and the ocean. Being moms together has added a new element of "tightness" to us I think. Perhaps it's the realization of what our mom had to endure raising both of us in the same house! Or possibly it's sharing something only sisters can understand together, raising kids using the same source of experience and advice. Anyway, today is her birthday - so HB, Steph! ENJOY!
Favorite Mems with the Sis

~eating Cheerios together on the dreadful green cushioned rocking chair
~collecting stickers that our parents let us put on our beautiful, antique wooden bedroom door
~sharing a bedroom, bunkbeds and playing "Name that Tune" way past our bedtime ;-)
~doing eachother's hair in the funkiest ways possible
~daddy tormenting our boyfriends - one of our common nightmares!
~playing school in our back porch playroom together
~playing house, Barbies and fighting over which one of us our friends belonged to
~trying not to be like eachother
~naming your cat (Baby Kitty or Frisco?)
~Monopoly games that lasted weeks
~giving Sean M. rides home from school
~teaching you how to get to Caldor
~sunbathing on the back roof when mom let us skip school
~you being a missing person at MWC
~driving all the way to Florida after playing in church together on Christmas Eve
~our weddings - still managing not to be anything like eachother!
~becoming mommies
~spending hours together laughing at all the crazy, funny, hysterical memories we've made and how lucky we are to be sisters!


This was something I lived through myself. Twice. Once at Fairfield High School (remembering it like it was yesterday! esp Senior Skip Day!) and another time at Gordon College (remembering missing my last convocation to go to VA beach.... not knowing I was getting some award I'd never heard of!). Now, however, I get a different kind of senioritis every single year. It's the kind of sick, sad feeling I get when I realize all our SPACE seniors are leaving us. It's actually really depressing for me.

Don't get me wrong - I am more excited for them than they'll ever know. It keeps us kind of young listening to them plan the rest of their lives (foolishly thinking the next 4-5 years will determine that - muahahaha!), applying for college, going on Senior Week (wish we'd had that when I was a senior!) and making all their last prom/graduation party plans. Sometimes we even get invited, and I'm amazed that an 18 year old would actually think it's OK for us 30 somethings (almost 40 somethings!) to party with a bunch a seniors. They are brave!! So, I get their excitement, I thrive on their energy and I embrace their newfound feelings of freedom they are embarking upon.

However, I know from years past that we're going to miss them terribly. My girls are going to miss their favorite babysitters. T is going to lose his beloved interns. I'm going to miss hearing all their fun stories of admiration for my husband - LOL! They make me proud, so, just as their parents, I dread them leaving us. We conspire ways to manipulate them into coming back to us (yup, it's THAT bad!) and we dream about the things they will do for Christ when we launch them into the "real world" (yup, it's THAT good!). We realize the impact this generation will have on this planet and it's terrifying - but that's why we do what we do!

So, I'm settling in now to my newest season of senioritis. Fortunately, I'm not quite at the senior citizenitis yet! It really is about our seniors. I'd beg them all to stay if I thought they could actually better themselves around here, but I recognize that God gifted them to us for a very short time as part of a much bigger plan He has for them. Watching that unfold in all the amazing experiences our past seniors have embarked on is the only remedy for this illness. Hearing about their trips to Egypt with Intervarsity, or Turkey/Greece/Rome on a YWAM DTS, spending a month in Ghana on a medical missions trip, or just initiating a ministry on their college campus here at home.... I can see that even though we're planted here, our hearts are extended into the world by/with them. They make me so excited to start over with new seniors, new pebbles who will create those concentric waves of influence in their ponds of life. It heals a saddened soul.

Dolphin Research Center

OK, so they left a nice comment on my very brief description of our visit to the center, so I'll expound!

One of the things we didn't have enough time to do, although would have LOVED to do, is swim with dolphins. This place offers a variety of options that include just getting a picture with a dolphin to actually meeting dolphins out in the wild. The ones we witnessed were "Dolphin Encounters", which I'm sure on warmer days are a bit more enjoyable. That particular day, when we were sort of in a hurry to catch our plane, it was only 62 degrees and incredibly windy. The kids in the water had chattering teeth! I guess that's the downside to having to plan your encounter in advance - you have no idea what the weather will be like!

Anyway, I really wanted to check this place out and someday we'll return with our girls, who love dolphins! This a cute little place, a bit pricey, which is understandable. Having a sister who was a marine biology major and understanding how all these internship experiences work, I know they operate on a tight budget, have to feed their animals and are trying to maintain some level of research. Educating visitors is their way of doing this, so we really didn't mind paying the $20/person entrance fee.

There are some cute areas, but most of the action centers around the dolphin/sea lion areas, where the staff interact with the dolphins and guests, have daily presentations and encounters. All the dolphins seem quite happy, well taken care of and most certainly loved. If it hadn't been so cold, I would have been quite disappointed that we hadn't scheduled our own encounter!!

I'll leave you with some pictures we took there and just say that we recommend a visit there, and if you are interested in a dolphin encounter, definitely plan in advance online. I personally think it's worth your time - and just a unique way to spend part of your vacation. If you think your child won't get in and make it not worth your money, think again. One boy asked at the beginning of the encounter if he had to get into the water! The researcher told him no, he didn't... but by the end, that child was being pulled around the pool by a dolphin, laughing and smiling like he was having the time of his life. You just can't stay away from those gentle, loving dolpins, even if it's 62 degrees!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Key West

Waiting for Sunset - Ft. Zachary Taylor

Readjusting to reality is tiring.... especially returning from an island adventure! Here are some pictoral highlights with some extra *highlighted* memorable tidbits.

American came through as far as our flight not being canceled or even late, but


are served, just a beverage and the option to buy snacks. This was a bit... unexpected, so we were starved when we arrived in Miami!

We made our first Florida stop in South Beach, at the same time as some big beach festival... wish we'd known! No parking, lots of people - very cool scene but we opted for the Lincoln "mall". It is an interesting outdoor, several blocks long mall and


Wish we had more pictures of that, but I think seeing these creatures among The Gap and Starbucks was slightly shocking. And fun! We likely would have had several days of entertainment had we just stayed in South Beach!Me Behind a Plexiglass fountain at Lincoln Center Mall, Miami Beach

Our first meal in Florida we decided to try to stick with food items we would not ordinarily eat or were regionally popular or at least sounded that way!! We started off with a tomato, cucumber, cilantro, raw tuna and salmon tartar appetizer drenched in wasabi. Just for the record, we pretty much never eat fish, and when we do it's never raw. Anyway, we loved it!


We spent the night in a Comfort Inn in Florida City.


Early Sunday, after a bit of messing with that dang convertible, we drove off South on Route 1, 120+ miles from our exotic destination. The weather was phenomenal and we were really excited to be driving. Once we made it out onto Key Largo we began to take in the multiply blue hued waterways, island pelicans and hot,

*HOT*T Driving His Convertible (wishing it was a Corvette, not a Sebring!)

Florida sun. So happy we rented that convertible.T at Seven Mile Bridge

We saw.... The Seven Mile Bridge, sailboats, many keys, lighthouses, sunscreen, one unknown sea creature, old bridges, silly tourists, all the places we want to bring our girls back to visit and smooth sailing (or cruising) straight to Key West. Once on KW, we decided to drive down Route 1 through the old town. I had printed a map of old KW off google before we went, so we used that to navigate around. It was adorable upon first sight. I can't say that I ever mastered my way around, but I certainly can find all the things we wanted to see.Can You Find T? Our Hotel Pool

We checked into the Sheraton (more on that later) and spent the day at the pool, tried a Mojito

*YUMMO*Mojito - lime, mint, rum, soda.... delicious!

and went to Fort Zachary Taylor for our first Keys sunset. This would have been a great venue for snorkeling had we known AND we probably should have visited the Fort. Instead, we lounged by the windy shore waiting, and waiting, and waiting... for a sunset that was, well, mediocre. But it was fun! We figured out that the brilliant colors I was seeing had a lot to do with my sunglasses, so we took a few pictures with my sunglasses in front the lens.Sunset (booze cruise) at Ft. Zachary, compliments of my sunglasses!


That evening, we found a little restaurant called Duffy's - one of the oldest on the island, and enjoyed an excellent dinner - T had Salmon and I had Chicken Alfredo (which I don't normally order - too buttery) and then took some Key Lime Pie back to our room.


Monday morning we got ourselves up early, had a great breakfast at our hotel and went straight downtown to take one of those Old Time Trolley's everywhere. We spent all day with people mostly older than us (LOL) but learned many interesting facts about Key West that we would never had learned on scooters. Although,


Some interesting Key West facts learned from Old Town Trolleys: most KW buildings have tin roofs to keep fires from spreading quickly, the last direct hit from a hurricane was in 1919, they used to harvest salt in old salt ponds that are now, well, just ponds, there are no natural beaches on Key West - all sand is brought in from the Bahamas, old KW is the original island - new KW is the section added by the Navy when they dredged up and nearly ruined the coral reef, Casa Marina is the first resort destination in KW - built by Flagler to attract tourists who now make up most of the revenue on the island, KW has heavy Bahamian and Cuban influences, making it extremely diverse in many ways - especially when all the white tourists show up! hehe Oh, and T!


KW is the "2 x 4" island - 2 miles by 4 miles. The "Gold Coast" of KW likes in the center, where the one and only waterway where you can dock your own personal yacht in your backyard is home to KW's wealthiest citizens.Kind of Self Explanatory!

On Monday we say Hemingway's house, the Southernmost Point (open to the public!), The Shipwrecker's Museum, The Little White House, Duval Street and all it has to offer and Mallory Square. We also ate at a Cuban Restaurant on Mallory Square.At the Top of the Shipwrecker's Tower


We hung around Mallory Square for the sunset celebration, street performers and a bit of a better sunset. In general, it was just pure fun!!

When we got back to our hotel, we felt completely old, even though that trolley guy who sold us tickets said we looked to young to have children. (I didn't dare tell him I had a 10 year old after that compliment!) Our plan to try the jacuzzi never materialized in part due to the approaching stormy weather and our total exhaustion.


We got some good sleep, then got up early to give snorkeling a try. We started out on a cold, blustery morning across the street from our hotel to Smathers Beach. There were seriously 3 other people on the beach, oh, and the sea grass rake machine operator. The rental booth had an "OPEN" sign flying but was clearly closed and I'm pretty sure nobody was even awake and getting ready to arrive. I guess when it's only in the low 60's and 40 mph wind gusts, beach life takes a break!! So, instead of snorkeling, T took a quick dip? saunter? knee high visit?? into the ocean. It was record breakingly short, but he did it! We then decided to try the pool again. We were again alone, but I found the pool water to be quite warm, especially when finished off by a visit to the jacuzzi.

After showering a packing, we had sadly our last breakfast at the Sheraton before heading out. It was really too short a visit, and we knew that, but we are both so glad we went. On our ride home, we stopped to walk the 7 mile bridge but the water was so choppy and the wind so gusty we didn't make it far. We also checked out the Dolphin Research Center in Islamorada. Very cool place, we will try that when we take the girls back someday.Some lucky people who swam with dolpins (in 62 degree weather!) Brr!


T was quite motivated to find the airport on our own, so we ended up arriving 4 hours early for our flight and sitting around for a long, long time in Miami International Airport. I would have preferred more shopping or another trip down South Beach, but instead we enjoyed yet another piece of Key Lime Pie (our third!). Then home.


Now, we're home... and I want to go back!Sunset at Mallory Square


Friday, April 11, 2008

Best Job

This is a GREAT story on CNN about a woman who created something incredible out of tragedy. It's a wonderful story, exactly the kind of things I'd love to see more of in terms of aid to Africa. If you really want to make a difference, invest in something like this!!

One More Day!

So, we leave tomorrow, Lord willing, on an American flight for Miami. Spend a night there, then drive down to Key West on Sunday in our (hopefully) convertible for a couple nights of fun in the sun! I cannot wait, although I understand I may be waiting in some lines.... luckily, so far our flight has not been canceled and from what we can tell does not involve the dreaded MD 80 plane. Let's hope we're reading that correctly! Today... cleaning, laundry and getting ready for Mom to come watch the girlies - they are excited!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Supporting SPACE

Of course, every summer, we have a huge number of people that support our summer teams. None of these teams are viable without friends, family, and partners within our networks that pray for and financially support our teams.

This year, in order to make it a bit easier for those that feel led to help with finances, we have two methods for electronic giving. The first is via a PayPal account. If you give this way, it comes to our direct account - therefore this is not tax deductible. Click on the "Donate" button, which will take you to PayPal information for our personal account.

The second way is to give via our the electronic giving vendor that our church uses. Click the icon to give to one of our SPACE teams, which will take you to eGive's page for donations to Grace Community Church. After entering the appropriate donor and bank information, fill in the amount for "Short Term Missions" and specify for "SPACE Hungary - Shengs". Or you can give to any of our other teams :
2008 - Baltimore
2008 - Cameroon
2008 - England
2008 - NYC
Just fill in the appropriate team after where it says "Short Term Missions."

Thank you for supporting SPACE. Of course, you know you are supporting students getting to serve and bless in other contexts. You are also supporting the real time lab of global mission, students and leadership. Expect that your investment will certainly multiply and know that we are so, so appreciative!

RSS readers, there is some embedded java script. Or something.

[PS - We think we got all the links correct. Please double check the info before you submit and let us know if something doesn't look quite right.]

God Can Do Anything!

If he can get the top 8 American Idol finalists to sing praise to Him on primetime TV... I'm convinced! (sorry about the end!)

When Community Ends

There is nothing more devastating, in my opinion, than when community is disrupted. This happens when groups split up, when people move, when people get sick, there's a natural (or unnatural) disaster, or even death. It's always traumatic and sometimes it causes us to lose trust in the overseer of that community, whether that be a person, a group of people or God. I could go on and on, but I'll just cut to the chase.

Many of you know that my girls and I, although in the past year definitely more me, have been part of an online community/game run by Disney called VMK, or Virtual Magic Kingdom. Almost three years ago, I got this goofy email from Disney asking me if I'd like to be a cool mom and sign my child up for this new community. Of course, at the time, I was completely in love with Disney. We'd made several trips there, our family had enjoyed a few Disney vacations and I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into!! I'd never joined an online community, let alone an online game.

To make a long story short, what Disney had apparently intended to be a year long 50th anniversary promotion (of course, that intent was never really communicated at onset to their fans), ended up continuing into a huge, three year online community/game complete with message boards, expert room builders, expert gamers, people having multiple "mules" and VMKers amassing massive amounts of virtual "stuff"! There were (and probably still are) sales of these virtual items on ebay, bringing in loads of money.

My part in all of this?? I joined two online communities, met in person a few of the people I met online (not recommending this, although for me it's been fine), and enjoyed some of my downtime with friends I've made in the game. It's an environment where we all have made our own rooms, can chat with each other, play a few games Disney has added and wander around the Magic Kingdom online. Really... it's just fun! Kt enjoys decorating her rooms with credits I win for her, Em enjoys buying costumes and changing her clothes. We completed several of their in park quests while on various vacations and have brought home virtual prizes that we've shared with friends who can't make it to the parks.

VMK, while it's not as large as some other online communities such as Second Life or Hobotown(?), has on average 6,000-8,000 players on line in the evenings and on weekends. Right now, it serves people all over the world, many of whom stay up all hours of the night to play as it's only open from 10am - 1am eastern time. There are message boards for Disney addicts who play, for small groups of friends who play and I've even visited one that is totally devoted to room building. While there are frustrating things about the game (like the fact that the bigger the kingdom gets, the fewer things my laptop can handle!), the fact that people can mingle online is the one thing about VMK that brings everyone back.

For this whole school year, I've basically been off of VMK, unable to play games but checking in with everyone when I can. Yes, I have friends on the game. I call them friends because they are. I'd like to think that if I met them in person I'd still like them, but I don't know that! LOL Online, they are friends, a community. I've seen people meet through VMK and get married, have regular park meet-ups and we've gone through losing people, medical issues, marriage issues, parented together - sometimes I've even felt like some of these people are like family. On one board, they affectionately refer to each other as "ohana", which means family... from Lilo & Stitch. So, why am I telling you all this???

Disney announced to it's VMK players through a newsletter hidden on the VMK page that on May 21st, they will shutting off VMK. That's it - just ending it. No warning, in fact they've produced a surge of VMK items and events in the past three months that would have led any VMKer to assume quite the opposite. Instead, they are just shuttering the entire community, without nary a sign of remorse. It's a big deal for a lot of people. For me, it's sad, disappointing, but most of all kind of the last straw for me and Disney. I had always been prepared for the possibility that Disney would convert this game into a pay to play venue, but just turning it off? It just seems like a failure to see the limitless possibilities, but more importantly I'm shocked that a supposedly family oriented company that relies on it's die hard Disney freaks would effectively decimate such a hugely successful venture.

Disney aside, because their luster has faded in my eyes, I'm sad that I can't check in with my virtual friends anymore. Of all the online communities I've seen - Second Life, Webkins, Hobo, World of Warcraft(?) - VMK is a stand alone in my opinion. It's monitored fairly well, has some fun games, is familiar to anyone who knows anything about Disney and can be fun for kids and adults as well. I don't believe that anyone foresaw the potential the creation of this community would have, and they obviously don't see the impact that breaking it up will have on those who have come to love it.

So, what happens when we're separated from our community, when the world we once felt comfortable in vaporizes?? I'm not sure, because in real life that's just a rare, extremely traumatic event. An earthquake, war, tornadoes, death, tsunami, or even 9/11 are examples of the instantaneous breakdown of community. This does not quite compare to something that catastrophic, at least not at first sight. This community will disappear in an instant, with no fanfare, no FEMA, no outpouring of sympathy. In fact, for most people it will not even be a blip on their radar. But I'm willing to bet that for many, kids, teenagers and adults, there will be a void that can't easily be replaced with something similar. Friends we knew only online will be gone. I'm also willing to bet that in this age of increased virtual activity, we'll see more communities end like this. I guess I just never thought it would happen by the hand of Disney!

Post on TheDisneyBlog about this closure.

Another story today on this in St. Louis.

Renovation / Short-sightedness

T talks about this (shortsightedness) a lot, but in the opposite way. In what we do with SPACE and students, he is envisioning 10, 20 and 500 years from now, what impact will what they do have on the world. Casting that vision to students is not an easy task, because their lives are more in the here and now mostly due to inexperience. Creating meaningful experiences for them to think beyond themselves and their time allows them to develop a different world view than most typical teenagers.

Last night, I went to a meeting where the girls' elementary school renovation plan was presented. I must say, I was really disappointed. I'm grateful the county is finally putting 10 million dollars into our school, mostly to bring the 25 year old building up to code and making sure it meets all the safety standards necessary for the time we live in. However, there are desperate needs in our school that are not being addressed, and I just can't believe the county would bother putting 10 million dollars into a building and refuse to see what's right in front of us.

For one, our school has fully utilized three portable classrooms (all that we can fit on our tiny property) for at least the entire time our kids have been there. They have been used as overflow classroom space, GT classrooms and the music room. There are no bathrooms in a portable, so the kids now have to walk through a second grade classroom to get to a bathroom - outside in an insecure, uncovered area. For me, that is a point of great concern. Not addressed at all - not even with a fence.

Secondly, this 25 year old building is going to be completely retrofitted with all the newest in technology. The doors will be secured with ID card entrances, a new PA system will be installed, direct access to the county central maintenance system installed and video surveillance added. They are also basically gutting the inside of the building and redoing everything - heating, AC, walls, plumbing, all the cosmetics... but they left out new kitchen appliances. And I wonder: how could that have been left off the agenda??? We're replacing toilets, doors, windows, floors, computers, ducts, electrical wiring. We're leaving 25 year old refrigerators, ovens - that are constantly being fixed, sinks/plumbing in this "new" building. Makes no sense.

Finally, nothing is increasing in size. They, of course, offered "all their projections" and how no new space will be needed.... Well, guess what? We are using a portable for a second grade classroom, just last year our "projected" three kindergarten classes easily turned into 4 oversized kindergarten classes and they are still building more new homes in our district. I think they might reconsider their projections!

All in all, a very shortsighted plan. But it really an example of all the planning in our county where schools are concerned. New housing is surging through the roof, new school buildings... slowly plodding along. It's a terrible example to the generation it's serving, and it only perpetuates the mindset in kids that we can only do so much. What a pathetic excuse for.... I won't say it. But really, that's not at all what we want to infuse in our SPACE kids.

I'm really excited for this year and for a vision for these kids that what they will participate in this year, whether it be New Orleans, Cameroon, Hungary, England or Baltimore, that their contribution will have a lasting impact on generations to come. It's more than giving up a week or two of their summer and traveling with friends somewhere. It's impacting lives for Christ so that He will be known in the world. We're out to renovate the world!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No Comfort

If I were a parent or student at this Montgomery County high school, I would receive little comfort in this statement:

"The big news here is there was not an intent to harm a student," said Lucille Baur, a police spokeswoman. "Students brought the guns in with the purpose of selling the guns, and in the process, a gun accidentally discharged. It was not pointed at anyone, and no one was injured by it."

I mean, really.... what do you think they were buying the gun for??? Duh.

Clemens Clubhouse

I'm going to a building improvement meeting tonight for the girls' school renovations beginning this summer. I was explaining to Em why I'm not going to be at GGA when Kt gets dropped off tonight. Here's the convo:

Em: Is there GGA tonight?

Me: Yes, but I'm not going to be there when daddy drops you off. I'm going to a meeting about all the building they will do at your school this summer.

Em: WHAT? What are they doing?

Me: I don't know, but I'm going to find out tonight. They are going to be making things better, though.

Em: You know what I think they should do?

Me: (Curiously!) What do you think would make it better?

Em: They should make a password! (she said this while raising her eyebrows in her ever so clever way.)

Me: Really? Like a password to get into the school?

Em: Yeah... and then they should add doors onto all the rooms and make lots of passwords for people to get in!!

OK, so she envisions a labyrinth of secret passageways, which obviously will create a safer environment for those lockdowns, much like the one they had today! (Shooting in the area!) I like the door idea. The password is a bit much, but unfortunately, times are achangin'!

Currently, the girls' elementary school is divided into "pods", which I happen to think are really distracting, not secure and not very conducive to teaching. They have made it work remarkably... by adding a wall a year! =) This renovation will hopefully fix the open classroom environment, allowing for lockdowns that actually might work. I mean, why bother having kids congregate together in a room with no door? should some psycho storm the building??

So, off I go to this meeting, where I will also find out if Kt will be subjected to her last year of elementary school in a portable!!


Who gets called for these things? I sure don't!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


An old friend of mine moved to Australia last year to pastor a vineyard church. I was just poking around their church website and found this link to a "worship" message. It was pretty convicting for me, as I've recently become a bit dismayed by the seemingly programmed worship at our church. It was a good reminder that worship isn't about us.

Run, Condi, Run

I think this guy might have read my blog - LOL! Anyway, an interesting read on the possibility of McCain adding Condi onto his ticket. Then I'd vote for sure. ;-)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cars & Ideas

Today T took my car to get the emissions done so I had his old clunker. I gathered all my things and hopped in for a quick ride to the gym for my water aerobics class, and as I was sitting in his car at the bus stop, waiting for the girls to get on before I was off, I started remembering what it was like when his old car was our new car. It smelled nice (I won't mention the stench now... oh, I just did!), it purred like a kitten (OK, maybe a cheetah!) and it was our "fun" car! Now, time has taken it's toll on this car. It burns oil, has little pick-up and compared with the car we just bought last October, it's old and run down. The back bumper is still busted because my husband refuses to fix it. It looks, sounds and acts like a very old car!

As I was truckin' down the highway, wondering if that acrid smell was coming from me!, I was thinking that old cars are a lot like ideas. We envision them - brand, new Corvette.... (that's what T's always dreaming about!), smells nice, shiny. We might actually realize one of them, ride in it, purchase it, own it... Then, after using it many times it loses it's luster. It's just a car, it's not new anymore, it wreaks of it's own innards falling apart. At some point we realize it's just not going to hold up any longer. It's even lost it's capability to be recycled and renewed. Time to junk it and find something new or it might just fail us.

I had decided, as part of this post I was formulating in my mind, that during my water aerobics class I would go through the file of ideas in my head (always thinking) and figure out which ones had reached the limit of life... which ones I could recycle and renew and where I needed to birth new ideas. In fact, had the gym actually been open and not void of electricity, this might have been a better post. Instead, I realized that my idea to take water aerobics this morning over group power (located at a different gym, needing registration) was a bad (dead) idea! So, here I am, back at home.... and you get this incomplete idea!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

SPACE status

I think T probably does this more often than I do, but after this crazy week and not having mentioned our pending trips, I figured I'd update everyone...

We finally found a (brand, spankin' new) hostel in Vienna that is less than a kilometer from the hotel we stayed at last summer. It's nice because they were happy to accommodate us, seeing as they aren't even open yet (YIKES) and we are slightly familiar with that area. I actually found it while doing a search for another International House that I was unable to find... they were also offering to host us, but it was outside of Vienna, a bit farther than we'd hoped for. Maybe that's why I couldn't find it? Anyway, God orchestrated a something out of nothing, as usual, and we are good to go. Now, just having to find away to get all 26 of us from the airport to the hostel with all of our luggage. No biggie! ;-)

Last weekend we had a large number of SPACE leaders over for lunch, Stengths Finder discussions and fellowship. We ordered a couple of those huge Subway party subs, I made some really gross chocolate chip cookie bars (realizing only yesterday that my incorrect ingredient was baking soda instead of baking powder - what a difference that one mistake made, let me tell you!) and we forgot the diet soda... will not happen again, I promise! It is really a blessing to be able to host these things here, but for real, if SPACE continues to grow like this, we're gonna run out of "space" around here pretty fast! Pun intended!

BIG EVENT!!! Ok, fundraising is probably my least favorite part about these trips, HOWEVER, quite honestly, it's one of the ways in which God reveals his heart towards us every single summer. Financials weigh heavy on T's heart and soul and every year we squeak by, but it's an area where we know it's only by God's hand (and big pocket) that we can pull this off. He has encouraged us in ways no human can with our silly fundraising efforts. Not only that, but he has given us ways to communicate with our community what He's doing in the world - even if we are asking for help. Sometimes if baffles me the part that people unknowingly play in His work by "paying" us to wash their windows, wash their cars, donating items for..... OUR SILENT AUCTION. Yes, that's our big event this year. Luckily, there are some people who have done this before because I sure haven't. I'm not sure what I was thinking when this idea popped into my head.

Anyway, we talked about this last Saturday and I thought everyone was on board... but we have not heard boo about it all week. And this scares me a bit, but I'm still excited. And slightly frightened. Here's what we still need: a location, an event, donations. Just three really big things! No biggie, right?? Once again, our induction into the nearest insane asylum is emminent. Thank goodness T and I aren't doing this one alone! (Thanks, Erin!)

Really, each of our trips is off to a great start. And even though we have started early this year, we understand, as one of our CAI friend put it, God is often so last minute! Why? I think because He wants us to trust him, depend on Him and to know it's not about us at all... all for Him.

Friday, April 04, 2008


In 8 days I'll be on my way to Key West, Florida. Let the giddiness begin! hehe


That's what I'm doing. I have a huge list of things to do, but I'm just waiting. I put a batch of something in the oven, waiting for it to be done. An electrician friend of ours was supposed to be here half an hour ago, so I'm waiting for him. Em will be home in half an hour, then we're going shopping for some birthday present, groceries for a meal I'm making for someone, stamps so I can finally mail these support letters off... I'm just waiting. Personally, I think it's very difficult to wait. For sure, that's been a challenge in my life - I'm sort of impatient. Unless, of course, I'm just waiting for the right time to decide what to do with the rest of my life. Then I'm way too patient with myself!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Catalytic Converters

A woman in my Tuesday morning Connections Bible study sent out an email last night. While at our church that morning, someone sawed out her catalytic converter. This is a problem of epidemic proportions in our county, and I'm sure in many others. T received a warning about this back in January at his work and anyone I've talked to who has a Toyota truck or SUV has either had this done to them or knows someone who has. It can also happen if you have a Lexus.

Our church is next to and has use of a commuter parking lot, which I'm guessing was the intended target of this thief. I guess they figured a church was a soft target as well, not to mention the new, upscale office complex across the street. It had to have happened between 9:30 - 10:30, they work very fast, use a handsaw and saw that baby off in seconds. Why? I've read that it's to sell the precious metals in them, but T's work notice said something about using them for meth labs. I don't know how accurate that is, but the warning is really just don't mess with these guys. The notice for T was basically if you hear anything unusual, turn and walk away. I wonder who wrote that notice??

Anyway, if you have a Toyota truck or SUV or a Lexus SUV, be forewarned!

Mornings Minus Quiet Times

I'll admit it, I'm not entirely disciplined about quiet times to begin with, but I do enjoy the quiet part! This morning, any chance of having anything resembling quiet was interrupted by a rude contractor in my neighbor's backyard. Our backyards are quite small, so just having anyone in their yard feels too close. However, this annoying contractor brought his dog along and tied him to a tree....

Now, let's pause and evaluate this. If you were a contractor, would you bring your dog with you to a job? I've never seen a contractor do this. Nor did I think it was particularly necessary. It's not like you need a guard dog around our neighborhood or anything!! Let's just say, however, that you are a contractor who absolutely MUST bring your dog to a job. What would you do with him?? Tie him to a tree and let him run all over the neighbor's yard as if it's no big deal???

So he ties this dog to a tree that sits on the property line and, of course, his dog is all over my yard, can practically walk up my back steps and my two little chihuahuas (that's what they sounded like today, so for arguments sake, just imagine this) spent 30 minutes straight yapping away at this dog while he ran around and howled outside. Does this seem right??

Now, any good contractor (human being?) would recognize this is going to be a problem. Not this dufus. He just kept measuring, shaking his head (at my dogs??) and walking around to the front of the house to get things out of his truck.... most of the time I had no idea where this guy was.

Here I was, in my pajamas, not about to go outside and say anything because I'm an INTJ. No, I just fumed inside my house and eventually called my neighbor. They were not home (well, they didn't answer their phone! nor did they call back), so I left a message asking if they could please ask their contractor to tie his dog on the tree that is in their yard because my dogs were going ballistic.

I hopped in the shower for a break from all the yapping and when I got out, it was just as noisy. I quickly got myself ready, then put my dogs in their crates and went outside. I walked over and said, "Do you think you could move your dog over to that tree....." before I could even offer a reason why, this guy whines to me, "Well, if I move her there she can't see me!" Then he huffed off and said he'd tie her to our other neighbor's tree!!!! What??? What I wanted to say was, "Well, if I kill her, then you won't be able to see each other!"

You see, that's what happens when I don't have a quiet time.... and I'm afraid, from the looks of all that wood piled up outside my neighbor's house, that we aren't going to be having many quiet days this week!! UGH.

Seriously, if I posted a picture of our back yards, you would wonder to yourself, "Where are they even going to put a deck?" That's how close our houses are....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Sometimes, as a parent, I feel completely clueless. Here are some reasons why:

~ Em "cleaned" her room, and I found (I'll post a picture later) she had hung all her plastic bead necklaces on hangers from her dresser drawer knobs... why does her idea of clean = a messier room?

~ Kt has a quiz tomorrow in math on fractions, capacity (measurement) and elapsed time... is it possible that I made it to calculus and have no idea what elapsed time is? or is that some code name for something I actually did but there is some new name for it? I have no idea because Kt does her homework and schoolwork before I ever have a chance to absorb any of it!

Despite feeling a bit overwhelmed by our communication gaps, my kids basically amaze me on many levels. I cannot comprehend life without them now that they're here, and for that reason my mind has been focused on Amy Castillo. Many prayers and thoughts her way tonight.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Safety Capsule

I have weeks where I feel like my little family is in this safety capsule that is equally protected and on the edge of bursting. This is definitely one of those weeks!! We've had good news, bad news and tragic news but we're on this little island for now.

Good news: my neighbor had her baby and they're healthy, home, happy. I'm really so encouraged and excited about that. Our neighbor, who has 6 kids and one on the way and the same exact lymphoma my father had just received an all clear in remission report on his latest PET scan. It's a miracle! T had his first review at the job he's had for a year and it was awesome - very encouraged, very happy. We're gearing up for our little pre-anniversary getaway in Key West next weekend... Yay!

Bad news: T's dad is having more test for another "odd" thing on his latest MRI. A young woman in my Bible study group had a stroke resulting from a chiropractic manipulation that caused what was thought to be vertigo... but was really a tear in an artery that in the past three weeks completely clotted and blocked that artery causing a stroke - will be taking them a meal tomorrow. She needs to learn how to walk again - with a 2 year old and a 4 month old at home. Our friend and genex pastor of our church had 2 seizures last night and is in the hospital. T went last night, as did many other people who know and love him. Prayer for that family and all other mentioned here.

Tragedy: I mentioned earlier that the family in the news - father who killed his children in Baltimore Marriott - went to the school I used to teach at. It seems that many of my friends knew them, the director of the Mother's Day Out program I work for is very good friends with this poor mom and was with her when she received the news on Sunday. Please continue to pray for her, the community that has been deeply devastated by this unbelievable event. I'm very disturbed by each part of this story I hear in the news as well as from the many who knew them. Having dealt with a family member who also suffers from a mood disorder I know how frightening it can be and how frustrating it is to attempt to protect those you love. I just really wish our judicial system recognized how serious mental health issues are and would be more proactive in protecting children, who tend to be the innocent victims caught in the crossfire.

So I'm at this point where I'm feeling like things around us are kind of falling apart and we're intact. I'm just wondering for how long! But I'm so thankful for a faithful God, a peaceful home, a strong family unit and that I can help even in small ways.