Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Trouble with Boys

Boys can be rough. Our boys wrestle all the time. They also smack each other on regular occasions. It's a rare thing when we're driving somewhere and I don't have to tell someone to keep his hands to himself. They cuff each other at the dinner table and kick at each other while they're watching TV. The other night all five of them got into a huge wrestling match that raged through the entire downstairs of our home. We'd hear occasional crashes as they bumped into things and knocked things over, but fortunately nothing was broken.
Unfortunately that's not always the case. Monday morning my eleven-year-old and my eight-year-old were wrestling in the family room. I heard the eight-year-old, Nicky, let out a yell and then start crying. I expected to hear him say, "I'm telling Mom!" but instead he just kept crying. So I went downstairs and found a very sheepish Paul standing in the family room. As soon as he saw me, he said, "We were just wrestling around and I accidentally hurt him." My ten-year-old piped up just then to inform me, "I had nothing to do with it."
I found Nicky crying in the living room, favoring his right shoulder. Three hours of emergency room waiting later, we found out that he had a cracked clavicle (collarbone). He's complained some of the pain, but mostly he's enjoying all the attention. I almost suspect he thinks the pain is worth it if it gives him all this attention. He played it up for every hospital employee that he encountered. As each one asked him how he got hurt, he answered in a martyred tone, "Wrestling. Never trust an older brother!" I almost think he'd be willing to go through it all again for the chance to have attention lavished on him. Little does he realize that, with four older brothers, he's probably going to get another chance at this eventually. Boys!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Trouble with Boys

I've been studying the male species lately and I've learned a few important things. I thought I'd share them with you this week.
First up, boys are bottomless pits. They never stop eating. With five boys in our family, it's a wonder our refrigerator isn't in a permanent state of empty.
Saturday I washed a bowl of grapes and set them on the counter. There were 3-4 pounds of grapes in that bowl, but by that evening they were all gone. Packages of cookies never last more than a day. Cakes are gone in no time, and 5-quart tubs of ice cream just melt away.
Sweets aren't the only things that disappear in our house. We also suffer from a chronic lack of chips, popcorn, crackers, cheese, etc. The list is endless. I've had to start making announcements when I come home with groceries. "Pepperoni is for a meal one night this week. Don't touch it." "Leave the grated cheese alone!" "The tortillas are for Tuesday night!" Every week it seems I go to the pantry for something I know I just put in there, only to find that it's already been used up. Generally speaking, the empty packaging is still sitting in the pantry because the boys can't seem to realize that if they consume something, they need to toss the empty container. But then again, how else will I ever know what happened to it?
We had company for Sunday dinner, so Saturday night I was working on making dessert. I set two boxes of graham crackers out on the counter and then started pulling out the other ingredients I needed. When I turned back to the graham crackers, one of the boxes was open and about one-third of the crackers were missing. The boys strike again!
Of course, they come by it honestly. One Easter I had a little decorative birdhouse that I bought for my secret sister. I bought several packages of those little marshmallow peeps to go with it. The night before Easter I was putting everything together in a gift basket. Imagine my surprise to find the packages of peeps were all open. ALL of them! It's one of my husband's favorite candies.
Boys are just going to eat everything in sight. I have five boys, two of them teenagers. When the other tree reach adolescence, I'm afraid we'll have to take out loans just to keep food in the house. In the meantime, I'm checking into hiding our own stash so we get to eat at times. Top ingredient: chocolate!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Read Any Good Books Lately?

This past week I read one by a newly published author, A. K. Arenz. Arenz wrote The Case of the Bouncing Grandma, Book One in A Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series.
Most grandmas I know don't bounce, so I was curious as to what this book would be about. I found a fun mystery, enjoyable, with really engaging characters that drew you into the story. Glory Harper is an active grandma. At least, she was until she broke her leg. Temporarily confined to a wheelchair, she's bored and reduced to watching the neighbors move in for her daily entertainment. Her boring world gets a shot of adrenaline, though, when she sees a human foot sticking out of the rolled carpet being carried into the neighbor's house.
This cozy mystery is a great read. Fun and light, but with a good story that keeps you turning pages until the end. I definitely recommend it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not My Gift

There are certain domestic genes that were left out of my DNA makeup. These are areas where I just don't have much of a knack for doing it right. One is decorating. I don't come up with ideas on my own. I can copy other people's ideas and I've done that in some areas of my home. But the thing is, when I see something nice and apply it to my home one of two things happen. Either it works and then I feel really stupid for not having thought of that myself, or it doesn't quite come off like the original and the I feel stupid for not being able to make it look the same.
Another area where I fell off the domestic wagon is cleaning. Now, I do clean. I like a clean house. I just never feel like it's as clean as it should be. There's always something else that isn't quite up to par. And then this week--well, I've been sick for almost a week so some things are just falling down around my ears. My boys and husband have done pretty well at keeping generally picked up. Most of the dishes are washed every day, and some of the wash is done every day. But there's dirt there. I can see it. I just haven't done anything about it yet.
One of the areas where my domestic lack bugs me the most is in the kitchen. I'm not a great cook, in spite of twenty-two years of practice. I'm better than I was twenty-two years ago, but I still have more flops than I think I should. I'm not bad with everything. I can make potato soup and broccoli soup that are the ultimate in comfort food. I have a pretty awesome chili (thanks, Rachel Ray!) and an assortment of other meals that I can produce well on a pretty regular basis. I've got several great cookie recipes that turn out right almost every time. (HINT: they tend turn out the best when you include all the ingredients.)
But the worst problem I think I have is with some desserts. Certain things in cookbooks sound absolutely mouth-watering. But then when I make them ... not so much. Now a small amount of blame can go toward the cookbook. I have several different cookbooks that are compilations of recipes from ladies in different churches. I think I have four different church cookbooks. Every once in a while you find a recipe where the creator forgot to include a step. Like what temperature to use or how long to bake it. But most of the time it's just me. We had company last week and I decided to make a dessert that I'd made once before. It's kind of like an easy no-bake cheesecake. (No, I did NOT use Jello's convenient boxed products! Although I can mess those up too.) The dessert has a crushed graham cracker crust, so I crushed up graham crackers, mixed them with butter and patted them into the bottom of the serving dish. Part of my problem was that I was in a hurry, so I didn't crush the crackers as fine as I should have. Then the recipe calls for evaporated milk whipped until stiff, according to the recipe. The last time I made this, I used my mixer for over 20 minutes. The milk was not stiff. It worked anyway. So you put the "stiff" evaporated milk with a mixture of cream cheese and sugar and add lemon Jello dissolved in boiling water. Mix all that together and pour over the crust, then refrigerate until set. My mom used to make something like this when I was little, and I was thrilled to find this recipe that's so close to what she used to make. You sprinkle a few crushed graham crackers on the top and it looks very nice and elegant. The problem? Some of the large crushed graham cracker pieces started floating in the cream cheese mixture instead of staying on the bottom, where they belong. We had two families over and both ladies were helping me in the kitchen. All three of us had contributed to the work in making the dessert, so I think we felt a joint sense of accomplishment/guilt over the finished product. We laughingly called it floating graham crackers and hoped it "set" while we were eating dinner.
After dinner I was thrilled to discover that the dessert had set. However, the floating cracker pieces had gotten soggy and expanded slightly. They looked exactly like wet dog food. I jokingly told the ladies it was called Dogfood Delight, and we dished it up. I didn't know one of the men overheard me until he said, "Well, it does look like dogfood, but it tastes pretty good!" His wife buried her face in her hands, but we just laughed until we cried. Then I told him that wasn't really the name of the dessert, and the look of horror on his face at what he'd said made us laugh and cry all over again.
We have a fellowship coming up at church this Sunday and I'm supposed to bring a dessert. I'm thinking a box cake--Betty Crocker or Pillsbury do those very well. And nobody can mess those up. Can they?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vanity Plates Well-Named

I'm sure you've seen them. They have labels like
They're vanity plates. Drive any distance at all and you can amuse yourself for hours reading the license plates of those around you. And getting a glimpse into their lifestyles, personalities, hobbies and egos. So what are you really saying when you have a vanity plate? Just the name would seem to indicate that it's all about you. I don't know how much vanity plates cost, but I know you have to fork out some extra dough. So is the money really worth it to communicate some of these messages about yourself to total strangers?
For instance, when I saw the plate, "SU2WIN", I knew that was one person I wouldn't want to collide with. It was probably a lawyer, but then again these days a lot of people make their money with frivilous lawsuits. I didn't want anywhere near that car. Come to think of it, that's probably a good way to protect your vehicle. Who would want to even park next to it?
The "IARGUE" tag was on an SUV. Personally, I don't want to be known as argumentative, but some people pride themselves on being contradictory. Or maybe that person was on a debate team. Although, then they could have put "DB8". Not quite as eye-catching, though. I think the only other profession that would see the "IARGUE" plate as a plus would be a lawyer.
"LUVMMS" belongs to one of the people in my subdivision. I have to ask myself--do you really love M&M's enough to pay extra for a vanity plate in order to declare it to the world? It just seems to me that if you love M&M's, you would rather spend the money buying more M&M's then simply labeling your vehicle.
"PNKPONI" was on a white mustang with a wide pink stripe up the middle. This is definitely where the little girl fan of "my little pony" met with the teenager who got her first car. I'm sorry, but I find it hard to believe that someone driving a car like that has the maturity to make wise decisions behind the wheel. My daughter suggested that perhaps the car belonged to a fifty-year-old woman. I find that even more disturbing.
Let me leave you with this one final thought: if "SU2WIN" and "IARGUE" got into an accident, who do you think would win the lawsuit?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cleansing Impurities

Do you take vitamins? I'm a firm believer in them, although I'm not as faithful as I should be in taking them. We've got supplements for sugar control, blood pressure, increased energy, managing stress. But recently someone gave us a mineral supplement that's supposed to cleanse the impurities out of your body and boost your immune system. What could be better than that, huh? Okay, so first of all, the stuff is the most vile tasting of anything I've ever had. Fortunately you can mix it with apple juice because otherwise, I don't think I could get it down. And I know I couldn't keep it down. Plus, it cleanses your impurities. Do I need to explain any further? Suffice it to say, it made us a little sick. But that's good because it shows that it's working.
So strengthening the immune system. That part's not working out so well. I had a mild cough and a very mild case of congestion that's grown steadily worse over the past week. (That would be the week that I've taken this mineral supplement.) I now have a deep, exhausting cough, unbelievable sinus pressure and I've been sick at home for two days. What gives?
Someone suggested that this was another way of cleansing out the impurities. I think that follows along the theory that it's got to get worse before it gets better. It shows that it's working. It's making its way through my system. Say it however you want, but the bottom line is, all those expressions mean this stuff made me sicker than I was before.
One of my friends had an interesting thought. Perhaps I was allergic to the supplement? Try stopping it for a week, let the supplement get completely out of my system, and then see if I'm better. I have to admit, I liked that idea. But then again, I could just have a bad cold. In that case I would probably be better in a week whether I stopped the supplement or not.
My husband, like most men, feels the answer is in "more power". Turns out we're only taking the supplement once a day and we're supposed to take it twice a day. So he feels that if we start taking two doses a day for this week, my health will pick up quickly and all the impurities will be out of my system. So maybe that will work. Or, if I am allergic, maybe it'll make me much worse. One thing's for sure: it will definitely change the status quo.
So what's your opinion? I think I'll go lay down while I wait for your answers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Late Night Emergencies

Why do emergencies happen at night? We had a mild emergency last night about 11:30, and it got me to thinking about past emergencies in our life. When one of our kids sliced their hand down the middle on an old nail, it was after 10:30. When we rushed our daughter to the emergency room because she couldn't breathe, it was three in the morning. (Pleurisy does that to you.) When we were in Uganda, we had several medical emergencies that happened at night. Or at least, late enough that it was impossible to travel four hours to the hospital until morning. Matt developed a severe allergic reaction to medication. Matt got electrocuted. Joel was so sick he was having trouble staying conscious. Even when Terry had hepatitis, it got really bad later on in the evening. Boyd emergencies seem to come at night.
So what was last night's emergency? Not much on the scale of what I just listed, but it was a crisis to my boys all the same. Since they got home from church late, I let them stay up a little late last night. When I finally told them to get ready for bed, their process of changing into pajamas, brushing teeth and kissing everyone in a five mile radius took forever, as usual. I went to tuck them in and found only two of them in their room. Neither one was in bed because they were arguing over the cat. Skittles sleeps in the boys' room at night, and Joel and Paul have worked out some sort of system so that she alternates sleeping on their beds. Paul had Skittles on his bed, and Nicky was trying to take Skittles because, according to him, it was Joel's turn. Nicky has a talent for mixing into things that are none of his business. Anyway, They're arguing over the cat when one of them felt something sharp. We turned the cat over and found a three-pronged fish hook caught on her belly. At first I thought it was just tangled in her fur, but it was actually caught in her skin. (Ouch!) No one knows how she found a fish hook, much less got caught on it. It had to have hurt, but she lay still while I tried to see if I could get it out.
First thing I did was send one of the boys for scissors. If I could cut her fur away at that point, at least I'd know what I was dealing with. We have two cats, and I'm grateful this happened to Skittles. She's the short-haired one. If Snickers got stuck on a fish hook, I'm not sure we would have ever found it! Anyway, I cut away some hair and saw that the hook had gone through a small section of skin and the tip was out. I couldn't pull it back through without hurting her or making the wound much bigger. My boys panicked and kept asking if we could take her to the vet. I don't know if vets have late night emergency rooms. We don't even have a vet down here yet anyway.
Finally one of the boys decided to get their older brother, Matt. Matt took one look and suggested that, if we cut off the tip with wire cutters, then we could pull it back out without hurting the cat any further. Great idea! Anybody know where the wire cutters are?
Matt went to find tools, and in the meantime, here came my husband. Terry was tired from preaching and he had to get up early this morning, so he was already asleep. I didn't want to disturb him, but apparently one of the boys felt that Daddy needed to be called. Terry's not real fond of the cats, but he loves his boys. He and Matt worked together and finally got the hook out. The cat was relieved, the boys were happy and everyone went back to bed.
I hope our next late night emergency can be solved that easily!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Ultimate Compliment

What do you say when you want to compliment someone generally? If you're just making a comment on their likability or all-around goodness, how do you express it? I'm sure you've heard these before: "You're the bomb", "You're the berries" or the extremely overused "Awesome". There's also the silly comments like, "You're the frosting on my cupcake". (For more food-related comments, read June 16th's entry.) For my boys, it seems lately that the best compliment they can give someone is to call them "the Man". If one of them does something particularly smart or cool, one of the others gives them a high-five and a "You the man!" They've even complimented me this way. "Mom's the man!" It felt weird when I typed it and it sounds weird when they say it too.
I don't mind the compliment so much. When they throw it my way I feel like I'm one of the crowd (of boys). But something else started annoying me recently.
When the boys really want to get under each other's skin, they call them a girl. I noticed my oldest son doing that to my youngest son just to make him mad. But I've seen all of them do it when they're arguing. "You're a girl!" "No, you're a girl." Does anybody else see the problem here? Why is being a man a compliment and being a girl an insult? I understand male mentality and all that, but I don't think this gives a good image. I finally complained about the unequal treatment the other day. Results? The boys still compliment each other by calling them the man, and they still insult each other by calling them girls. But now when they compliment me, the say, "Mom's the woMAN." Somehow I don't think they're getting the big picture. And all I've managed to do is get myself moved one step away from being one of the crowd. That's fine. I wonder what their reaction would be if, when they're being high maintenance about something, I called them Barbie dolls?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's In A Name?

We put a lot of time and thought into naming our children. We had the theme of using biblical names, but we also wanted the names to match the children. We even changed our mind on a name for one of our children after they were born because the name we chose just didn't fit the face.
I think most people that make their mark in life do it with their accomplishments or their personality. You're not going to make your child's way in life by naming them something unusual. In fact, you're probably going to hinder them just a little bit. Case in point: the Hollywood crowd that all seem to choose names like "Apple" or "Coco" for their children. Who's going to take them seriously? They're not a food; they're a person.
I know some people stick with one first letter as a first initial. I also know a family of twelve that had a hard time coming up with enough "j" names to fit. When you're having to make up names to fit your pattern, or when you're taking regular names and adding a "j" to them, you've gone too far. Not to mention, how boring is that? If you're calling all your children do you really want to hear the "j" sound repeated so many times? I like a little variety when I'm yelling at my kids.
Some parents try to make their children unique by using unusual spellings. All they have really done is consign their children to a lifetime of correcting people. You're not overly creative and you certainly haven't marked your child as a genius by changing an "i" to a "y" or turning a single consonant into a double. Extra vowels don't really impress either. You make it look like you were old enough to have a child, but still had no idea when it came to spelling correctly.
Then you've got the parents with a misguided sense of humor. You know, like the ones who name their kid "Harry Toews" (Toes) or "Ima Hogg". That's the stuff serial killers are made of.
With all that in mind, you can imagine my reaction not long ago when my waitress at a restaurant announced that her name was Tabby. We did a double take when she said it, and we were really thrown for a loop by the fact that she squinted her eyes and wrinkled her nose in a very feline manner while she said it. One of the people I was with suggested that we should check our food for shedding hair. Another said that it was short for Tabitha from that old show, "Bewitched". I suppose we were probably safe as long as she didn't put her finger to her nose to twitch it. In the end I guess her name didn't matter as long as the service was (in my daughter's words) purrrfect.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Time with Family

We've been at Victory Baptist Church in Sanford, Florida, for a little over a year now. One thing we noticed right off the bat was that the people in this church were friendly. And they like to fellowship. We average one or more fellowships a month, and most everybody goes to them. Even visitors go to our fellowships because they feel welcome there. Last night's fellowship was held at a restaurant in town. It was the first time we visited this particular restaurant as a group, but they assured us they had a private room and they'd have plenty of staff on hand to wait on us. And they did ... sort of. But I'll get to that in a minute. The restaurant's private room was kind of small, but we crammed fifty people into it. They had one long row of tables set up end-to-end, and two small tables to the side. As we kept coming in, they'd bring some more tables and set them up until there was almost no room to walk between them. We joked that we should have taken over the main floor of the restaurant and they could have fit all their other customers in the private room. We definitely helped their sales figures for this month!
The wait staff were a little overwhelmed and very confused. After all, there were about twenty different checks and not all families were sitting together. I sat at one end of the table and one of the waitresses asked me for my order. My oldest son sat on the other side of the room-at the other end of our long table. He and his friends called me and then I put the waitress on and they gave their orders over the phone since it was almost impossible for her to climb over all the people to get to them. She took at least half a dozen orders over the phone, and then I made sure the only ones she put on my ticket were actually from my children.
Then the food started trickling in. First came a couple salads and some individual servings of cole slaw. No one that actually got the cole slaw seemed to have ordered it, but it kept coming, so we ate it anyway. Then, group by group, we started getting our food. Well, some people did. I thought my family was one of the first ones to order, but my kids sat and waited as everyone around them got their food. We've had this problem before at other restaurants. Somehow, my family always gets served last. So we waited. And people offered us things from their own plates. And we waited. And my kids came and stood by me forlornly and asked if we had any food yet. Finally about 30-40 minutes after the first cole slaws came out, we got our food too. By this time most of the rest had finished eating so they started ordering desserts. Hmmm. Maybe there was a method to the restaurant's madness!
One time I watched a movie where a woman was invited to spend Christmas with a family she barely knew. She had no family of her own, and she was lonely so she went. There's a scene where she's sitting in the living room with them while everyone opens their presents. She's so absorbed in watching the family interact and have fun with each other that she doesn't even open her own present, but just enjoys being with a family. That's what last night felt like. I watched two men (our usual cut-ups) crack each other up shooting spitwads. Two older women across the table scolded them, but then ended up involved in the game themselves! People admired babies and caught up on each others' lives. Ladies teased each other about diets and encouraged each other to order desserts. Children played together and laughed at the two small tables in the corner. A group of teens at the far end spent more time laughing than eating. And everywhere I looked, I saw smiles. I spent time with my extended family last night. And made memories I'll cherish forever.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Exercise I can Live With

To look at me is to know that I don't exercise regularly. I'm not proud of it, but it's a fact of life. I know exercise helps me lose weight. I know it's good for me. As a borderline diabetic, I know exercise is not just important, it's essential. There's just one problem. I don't like it.
My husband, bless his heart, has tried over the years to provide different solutions to my exercise inertia. First, there was the gym membership. This was all of about fifteen years ago. I worked full time as a secretary. He worked full time second shift as a forklift operator, and we had two children ages 3 and 2. The plan was, I would get up early and go to the gym on the way to work. Anyone that knows me knows that plan was doomed to failure. I couldn't get to work on time, much less stop and workout first. Even meeting a friend to workout together didn't motivate me. More often than not, she worked out alone.
Then there was the bike. I enjoyed riding a bike when I was a kid, and I guess my husband thought the thrill would stay with me as an adult. So he bought me a bike. (please note: I did not ask for one.) I rode around our neighborhood, but still there were problems. I could never find a good time to go. I still had little kids, so I had to wait for my husband to be home. That left early morning and late evening. Plus, I hated going by myself. And every road around my house led uphill. Both ways. And then there were the dogs. I always had dogs chasing me. The bike lasted quite a while, but I didn't. I slaved over that bike for three straight weeks. Finally my husband commented that he could tell the exercise was working because my face was thinner. I nearly exploded. I wasn't trying to lose weight in my face.
"Great!" I snapped sarcastically. "Maybe if I start pedaling with my face, my butt will look smaller!" The bike riding ended shortly after that. Come to think of it, so did most of my husband's spontaneous compliments. LOL
Then came various efforts at walking my way to fitness. One with nature and all that. Enjoy the peace and quiet. I have to admit, I did enjoy the quiet. By then we had six kids. Quiet was a precious commodity. But still there were problems. The main one being: I'm an impatient person. It drove me crazy to walk for ten minutes to get somewhere I could pass in 30 seconds in my car. I realize that wasn't the point, but still ... Yes, I enjoyed looking at the scenery, but when you think about it, unless you're continually turning corners, you're looking at the same scenery for a half an hour. Boring!!! By this time, though, my schedule was a little more flexible. My kids were older and in school, so I could go walking without having to worry about a sitter. I could also go in the morning to avoid the heat of the day, but it didn't have to be so early.
I tried another gym, but I hated being surrounded by skinny, spandex-clad, younger females. I could almost hear their internal comments as I slaved on the stationary bike next to theirs.
"Honey, give it up."
"I think she's going to have a heart attack!"
"How many kids has that body produced, anyway?"
"I go to the gym so I will never look like that."
"Oh, that's just gross."
That membership didn't last long either. Then, believe it or not, I tried a bike again. We lived out in the country. It was better than walking. I listened to music or talk radio. (By then complete quiet unnerved me.) I biked maybe three times a week. I got up to 7-8 miles each time. But it was an awful lot of effort at something I still didn't enjoy with little to show for my efforts. I suppose eating right would have helped, but come on! I'm not a saint! Then I started getting comments from people at church. Not "you look like you're losing weight" comments. No, these were "I saw you out biking the other day" comments. I could see in their eyes the questions.
"If she's biking like that, why does she still look the way she does?"
"Does she have any idea what she looks like on that thing?"
"There's a reason I pretended not to notice her."
"How old is she anyway?"
Okay, so I'm a writer. Even if they weren't really thinking those things, my mind still filled in the blanks. Eventually it got to be full summer in Alabama, and it was just too hot to put forth that much effort. Plus, I was chased by dogs again. They usually just ran along the edge of their property barking until I passed. But twice I was chased down the street by a pretty mean looking dog. And then one time one chase me and bit me! He grabbed onto my shoe and left teeth marks. I screamed and kicked at the dog which almost made me lose my balance and fall off the bike. (Go ahead and laugh at the mental picture. I did.) My biking days didn't last much longer.
So now I have a new exercise option, and this one I actually like. Tennis. I've always loved it. There is a court nearby with a park right next to it, so the kids have a place to play and I don't need a sitter. We can go first thing in the morning (thank goodness for homeschooling!) without having to get up at the crack of dawn. I can play with one of the ladies from church, or I can play with one of my teenage kids so I'm not slowed down if my partner can't come. And I've gotten comments three Sundays in a row about the weight I'm losing. I admit, this time both diet and stress have played a part in helping me lose over twenty pounds, but hey! I'll take it any way I can get it!
I'm thrilled to think that I've actually found an exercise I can live with and even enjoy. This one might be a keeper. Except for that dog that keeps hanging around the court ...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Remembering the Crash

I woke up this morning to the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead. It sounded just the same as this day last year. We had just moved here from Alabama two weeks before. I was getting ready to go to a job interview, and I could hear the garbage truck rumbling through our subdivision. The truck noise got louder and then suddenly we heard a boom that shook our house. My first thought was that the truck had run up on the curb and actually struck our house, but then I looked out our bedroom windows. Beyond the houses on the other side of the retention pond was a thick column of black smoke. I could see flames in the column as well. Although we didn't know it until later, a small plane had crashed into two houses in our subdivision. While I was still struggling to grasp what was going on, my husband had already pulled on his shoes and headed out the door. In the time it took him to run two blocks, anyone that was going to be rescued from the crash was already out. He took several pictures, including the one posted here, and my son emailed them to one of the local news stations. As I remember, we were still so new here that we had to look up the different news channels in the phonebook.
In no time we heard the sirens of emergency vehicles responding to the crash. Our subdivision was blocked off and our streets were lined with emergency vehicles and news vans. There were satellite dishes on top of vans as far as the eye could see when you looked out our second story window. Then the phone started ringing. The people in our church started calling as the news got out, wanting to know if we were okay. Then other news agencies started calling, asking my husband's permission to use his photos in their reports. An information command center was set up right next to our house, and we watched from the windows as news conferences were aired throughout the day. After receiving copies of Terry's pictures, CNN and FOX news called to interview him over the phone. The the phone started ringing with friends in Alabama, Texas and Michigan who heard his interview.
It's supposed to be 95 degrees today. It was blisteringly hot last year too. We ended up opening our home to emergency workers and news personnel so they could have a cool refuge from the heat, an occasional cold drink of water and the use of a restroom. On an interesting side note, we had one person come in to use our restroom. Five minutes later we saw them on our television, airing a live update right outside our home.
The lives of five people ended that day. Three families were altered forever. Some are still trying to recover from the physical injuries inflicted. There is a memorial scheduled this morning and another this evening at the crash site.
The events from one year ago emphasize some absolutes of life. One is that life here on earth ends eventually, and we're not always expecting it. If something were to happen to you today, do you know where you would spend eternity? The Bible tells us that everyone ends up in one of two places: Heaven or Hell. According to Romans 3:23, no matter who we are--good or bad--our righteousness is still not good enough to get us into heaven. Romans 6:23 says that the wages or payment for sin is death. That verse also tells us that Jesus gives us the gift of eternal life. Romans 5:8 says that Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, died in our place to pay for our sins. Romans 10:13 lets us know that all we have to do is accept God's gift in order for us to go to heaven. I've accepted His payment for my sin. I know I'm going to heaven. How about you?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Woman's View of Auto Repair

I don't drive a typical vehicle. I drive a Ford E-350 twelve passenger van. Oh yeah, did I mention--it's a diesel. We don't sneak up on anybody. I don't change my own oil, although I can manage to get it done. I check my tires occasionally and add air if needed, but I'm really not in tune with the ins and outs of the vehicle. I just don't see that as my duty. My husband basically agrees. In fact, one time I suggested he teach me how to change the oil in our vehicles. I made the suggestion because I wanted to help, but he made it clear that he considered maintenance of our automobiles to be his domain. Not long ago my husband drove the van for the first time in months. He was highly concerned by the "shimmy" he felt when we went above sixty. I got the usual grill--had I hit something, did I run over a curb, was there something wrong with the tire? I don't know why I should take the blame just because the vehicle I'm driving has a problem. So I told him "I don't feel a shimmy". He pointed to the shaking water bottle in the cup holder. I shook my head in confusion. He asked if I could see how his hand was vibrating on the wheel. He did not appreciate my suggestion that he simply wasn't used to driving such a big vehicle. Stab the poor guy's ego, why don't you. My evasions didn't change the fact that the front end was out of alignment and the tire rods needed replacing. At least, that's what the mechanic said that gave him the estimate. Of course, none of that was covered under the warranty. Finally my husband took the van to a dealership to get a second estimate. He called me a short time later.
"What did you hit?" Most of our vehicular conversations start this way.
"I didn't hit anything."
"The mechanic says the rim is bent. The rim."
"I honestly don't remember hitting anything." At least, nothing big enough to bend the rim.
"Did you run over a curb? How fast were you going?"
At that point I could see that the conversation wasn't going anywhere. I truly don't remember hitting anything hard enough to bend the rim. I also knew that discovering the cause wouldn't unbend the rim now. The conversation ended somewhere around there. When the mechanic called to say the vehicle was done, I went to go get it. I paid out over $200 and pulled onto the expressway to head home. BOY was there a shimmy! Oh yeah I could feel it! But wait, wasn't that supposed to have been fixed? I slowed down a little, hoping foolishly that somehow a slower speed would fix the shimmy. I dreaded going home.
"So how does it run?" First question out of my husband's mouth when I walked in the door. I decided to seize the bull by the horns.
"It's worse than ever. As soon as I got on the expressway that thing shook like it was having a seizure."
A cloud crossed my husband's face. "Did you take it back?"
I stared at him blankly. Now, in all honesty, it had occurred to me to turn around and go back. But this was his project, not mine. He was the one who had dealt with the mechanic in the first place. Plus, I'm not stupid. I know many in the the auto repair world try to take advantage of a female's limited knowledge of vehicles. I know my knowledge is limited enough to tempt any mechanic into that scenario. I also know that, even if a mechanic dealt honestly with me, my husband would be convinced that I could have gotten a better deal, better options, etc. So he got on the phone. The mechanic was gone for the day (what a shock!) but we could bring it back first thing in the morning.
Turns out the rim was bent, but also the belt in the tire was shredding. Wait a minute. Hadn't that happened just last fall with one of the other van tires? Wasn't I blamed then for driving over a curb? (As I mentioned, it IS a big vehicle. I do occasionally cut my corners a little short.) My stomach churned as I waited for the lecture. Instead my husband shrugged when he got the news. "The tires are old," he said. "I guess we had to expect this." Apparently the bent rim was enough of a lecture for now.
Some months later, my husband and I were both in the van. We turned the vehicle off so we could place an order at a drive through. (Diesel engine, remember?) Then it wouldn't turn back on. It was clicking and that was it. BTW, my husband was driving. It wasn't my fault this time! We're still waiting to hear the problem this time around. Hopefully our warranty covers this. Is it possible I ran over a curb big enough to keep it from starting?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Things I've Learned in Paradise

We've lived in Florida for a little over a year now, and I'm still constantly surprised by how happy and contented we are here. Of course, if you're following God's leading, you can be happy anywhere, even Alaska, although I'm glad He's not called us there.
But at that, there are certain lessons I've learned in paradise, and I thought I'd share them with you today.

1. I never have to wear stockings again.

2. It's a good idea to keep your sports equipment in your vehicle at all times. You never know when you'll get a chance to go play. (My tennis racquet is in my trunk.)

3. Sunburned people are most likely tourists.

4. Girls wearing Micky Mouse ears with a veil are most likely tourists on their honeymoon.

5. When people say the West Coast, they mean Tampa, not California.

6. Keep your patio door closed unless you want lizards in your house.

7. Alligators don't always stay in the lakes.

8. You can go all year without turning on your furnace, but don't ever let your air conditioner go out.

9. Sunglasses and windshield shades are not a luxury.

10. Love bugs are almost as annoying as mosquitoes.

I've learned more than this, but I know the value of a top-ten list so I'll stop there. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tennis match to play.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Don't Mess with the Best

Why would anyone want to mess with something as good as an M&M? I can understand that some people like plain and some people like peanut (I'm a peanut person myself). I even kind of like the way that they change colors according to the season. You've got all your pastels around Easter time; pink and red for Valentine's Day; red white and blue in July; and of course, the green and red at Christmas. I've even heard that you can go online and order a batch of whatever colors you want. I suppose that could match your wedding colors or holiday theme. Messing with colors is one thing, but when you start messing with the basic taste and goodness, you've gone beyond all bounds of decency. why would anyone want an almond flavor? And if you want peanut butter, buy a Reese's. Dark chocolate? Dove makes a nice one, (although I think you have to be a little twisted to prefer the bitter taste of dark chocolate anyway.) York peppermint patties give you mint and chocolate combinations.
As you can see from the candies I've mentioned, these taste sensations are already covered. There is no need to mess with the basic goodness of your standard M&M's. Still, for some reason people keep trying. I recently went to an anniversary reception where they had white M&M's at each table. I don't mind the all white, in keeping with the theme. What I did mind was the mint taste that came with them. When you look at an M&M, no matter what the color, you know what taste to expect. At lteast you used to. Now they have almond flavor, dark chocolate, and even peanut butter. Seriously, why?
The latest effort I've seen involves wild cherry M&M's. They can be described in one word: "What?" Of all the flavors to shock your system, this one has to be one of the worst. If you want red M&M's, order them online or save them up out of your weekly packets, but don't mess with the flavor. Some things were never meant to go together. Wild cherries and M&M's are just two of those things. They're deceptive as well. They look like regular red M&M's--a whole bag of them. But when you take a bite, you suddenly find yourself asking the age-old question, "How many licks does it take to get the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?" If I want to contemplate that question, I'll eat a tootsie pop!
Come on, M&M guys! Plain and peanut covers all acceptable and decent options. Mess with the colors all you want--that's kind of fun. But don't mess with the flavor. When you've got perfection, you shouldn't try to improve on it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July! Hope you all are planning on having a great day today. I'm looking forward to the fireworks tonight. I've always loved watching fireworks. When I was growing up, the town fireworks were set off in the park next to our church building. We always had a front row seat from the parking lot. I've been back a time or two since I was married, and it was always a lot of fun. We took the kids to the fair at the park during the day, and then settled in at night to watch the fireworks from the parking lot or inside the air conditioning at the big windows. Kind of like having box seats.
Our years in Alabama were even better. Some close friends of ours hosted their own fireworks show almost every year. The whole church was invited, and most of them came too. Everybody brought a dish and sometimes we grilled hotdogs. When it got dark, Tammy handed out glow sticks and necklaces. Smart idea, too. That way you could keep track of all the kids in the dark. David put on a first class fireworks display with all the precision of a military general. Awesome time every year.
This is our second year in Florida for the Fourth. Both years part of our family has been away at camp. Last year, people in our subdivision set off their own fireworks on the other side of the retention pond. I mean full-fledged fireworks. The sparks landed near our house. Once again we had an awesome view from our upstairs windows. This time we may sit on the patio in the back, but if it doesn't rain today I may water our lawn before dark just to take care of those sparks!
Whether you're in a crowd, watching fireworks from home, or doing them yourself, have a great Independence Day!
Love the Red, White and Blue!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cravings and Comfort Food

Every once in a while you just gotta have it. Your body craves something and you just can't seem to get enough of it. Craving something to where you're willing to make a run to the store at eleven o'clock at night in order to satisfy the need. I'm not talking about weird pregnancy cravings such as pickles and chocolate. I'm talking about just "I'm really in the mood for---" fill in the blank because you can't stop thinking about it. I've had two of these lately and they're driving me crazy.
First off, I've been craving fruit-flavored candy. Now, anyone that knows me knows that, if there's not chocolate involved, candy and dessert are a waste of time. But for some reason, I'm craving any fruit-flavored candy I can get my hands on. Since I'm not supposed to eat candy, this is not a good thing. Hope this craving goes away soon!
The other thing I'm craving is homemade cream of broccoli soup. I know that's probably weird. But I can't help it. I have a recipe someone gave me and the soup is to die for. It is just a really wonderful comfort food and right now, I can't get enough. There's no other way to describe it--it is just an extremely comforting food. This is why I was making it at 10:30 last night. Just had to have some. Nothing else would do. When I finished, I sat back with a mug of it and oh was it good! I'll probably have some for breakfast this morning too.
Once in a while I crave fruit juice. I always love Welch's grape juice. I also like Dole's pineapple-orange-banana juice. That stuff is fantastic! It doesn't last long at our house because my boys drink it like water. Once in a while, water, milk or soda won't do. I have to have fruit juice.
So what do you crave? What is it that'll get you out of the house late at night? What's your comfort food? I'll read your answers when I get back from heating up another mug of soup.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quiet, Please!

I've spent most of the past school year getting up at five in the morning. This was not by choice, but because that's how early I had to get up in order to shower and get ready, get the kids ready, and leave to get to school before 7:30. That may seem like a lot of time to some of you, but I move very slowly in the morning. Even then I was usually late. One of my many faults, I guess. But that's not what this blog entry is about.
I usually had most of my things out and ready so that I didn't have to hunt for clothes in the morning. I usually didn't need a light in the bedroom at all, which was good since my husband didn't have to get up that early. Once in a while I might need to turn on the closet light, but even then I pulled the door enough so it wasn't too jarring to him. Then I gathered my things, and got ready in the bathroom. My point is, I tried really hard not to disturb him when he still had the chance to sleep.
Why can't men be the same way? Or at least the men in my life? My husband and one of my sons left for camp at five in the morning on Monday. Most of their stuff was packed the night before, and I strongly hinted that they should be able to slip out without disturbing the rest of us. I did not want my three younger boys up and ready for the day that early in the morning. But there were a few problems. One, the alarm clock is on my side of the bed. it's been that way throughout our married life. No, it didn't make sense to move it to his side for one night because I needed the alarm for later in the morning. So I set it for four in the morning. When it went off, I woke Terry up and then leaned over to set the alarm. Thirty seconds of effort, and then I could go back to sleep. Unfortunately, my husband took that thirty seconds of effort to mean that I was awake and willing to help wherever needed. He snapped on his bedside lamp and asked me to wake up Luke. I agreed only because I wanted to check Luke's nose again before he left. (See yesterday's post). When I stumbled back to my room, I saw that my husband also had on the bathroom light and his closet light. That closet light shines directly in my eyes when I lay on my side of the bed. Off went the closet light and I crawled back in. My husband came back in the room before I went back to sleep, and I asked him if he had everything. No, he hadn't packed soap or shampoo. Couldn't find them. So I sent Luke to get the toiletries I'd purchased for their trip. Did he have toothpaste? Yeah, took the stuff in the bathroom. Okay, so what was I supposed to brush with all week? I gave him the toiletry items and made him put my toothpaste back. Then I drifted off. Only to be awakened a short time later.
"Honey, did you get any cash for me?" I sat up groggily and told him to bring me my purse. It was on the floor next to my side of the bed, but I didn't feel like leaning over, and I was getting a little aggravated by this time. Plus, the closet light was on again. I gave him his cash, complained about the light, which he promptly turned off, and laid back down. But then he sat on the bed to put on his shoes. He sat on my side of the bed to put his shoes on. Was he making a point? No. He just honestly doesn't think of these things.
They finally managed to haul their gear downstairs and I sighed with relief. They left the hall light on, but it wouldn't bother me too much if I rolled over. I heard the front door shut and knew they were on their way. A short time later I was shocked awake by a crash in the doorway of my room. I went from deep sleep to sitting upright, only to hear Luke muttering, "Sorry, sorry. That hurt! Sorry." Seems they hadn't left yet, and his dad had sent him up to get a couple of pillows to take with them. Luke was trying to move in the light from the hall, but he ran into the doorknob. Okay, now I guess I see why the closet light needed to be turned on. Luke got the pillows and left, turning off the hall light after I reminded him.
So what is it with guys? Are they just that unaware of other people's comfort? Are they truly unable to function without us? Or is there some latent resentment when someone else gets to sleep in and they don't? I'm really not sure. I think I'll contemplate it after I catch up on my sleep.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Nose by any other Name, Still swells when you hit it

So I was playing the organ Sunday night during church. We have a shake-hands song where the congregation sings the first verse, then the instruments play while everyone shakes hands and then we sing the last verse. When everyone starts shaking hands, I start concentrating really hard on staying with the piano. It's a little more difficult when the song leader isn't keeping time for us. Once in a while someone comes up to me and wants to shake hands while I'm playing. Our piano player can somehow shake hands or carry on a conversation and never miss a beat. Me? I can either play or talk, but not both. Sometimes not either. So I'm playing and focusing and one of my boys comes up to talk to me. When they do that they usually just want to say "I love you" which I can answer as long as I talk in the rhythm of the music, or they want to ask if someone can sit with them ("no" comes out easily while I'm playing) or something like that. This time Luke came up to me and said, "Mom, I think my nose is broken." That almost stopped me in my tracks. So I did a sideways glance at him. His nose was a little red, but there wasn't any significant swelling and he did not have black eyes as big as flying saucers, so I figured he'd live through the rest of the song service. I told him we'd check it out after church and went on playing and he went back up into the choir.
When the song service finished, I went down and sat in our pew, but I noticed Luke was nowhere in sight. One of his brothers said Luke went to check on his nose, so I started to go out when Luke came back in. His nose was a little swollen, and he didn't look real happy.
After the service, I pulled him to the side and took a look at his nose. I gently ran my fingers down the side of it, but he pulled away and said that hurt. Now I really was gentle, but I often wonder why we parents do stuff like that. Frankly, unless a bone actually sticks out from the skin and scratches my hand, I'm not sure I could tell if a nose was broken by touching it. Although there wasn't a lot of swelling, it concerned me that he couldn't stand anyone touching his nose at all. The teens were supposed to leave the next morning for camp, and I envisioned hours in the hospital waiting room trying to get his nose taken care of through the night. It seems that several of the kids were wrestling in the fellowship hall before the service. Can anyone say inappropriate church behaviour? Luke fell and then someone jumped on top of him and his nose hit the floor pretty hard. A group of us stood around and examined his nose and finally came to unanimous agreement that it was probably bruised, but not broken. He seemed fine the rest of the night, and he left for camp early the next morning, although he complained of pain every time he sniffed. I've talked to him and his dad several times since then and he seems to be doing fine.
This is not a picture of Luke, by the way, but it was the best picture I could find of a child's nose. I had a close-up of a nose that I put up first, but then I realized there was a whole nose-hair issue and it just seemed a little gross. So I found this cute kid instead.
Related Posts with Thumbnails