Friday, October 30, 2009

Guy Wit for a Friday

My guys have been rather witty lately, and I thought I'd leave you laughing this weekend. Here's a few conversations that have come up in our house in the past few days.

Joel: "I think I'm getting sick. My head's stopped up and I keep coughing."

Me.: "It could be the weather. Or the amount of dust and dirt in your room."

Joel: "Yeah, I'm gonna go with the weather."

Me: "Something stinks in here." (A common complaint at our house!)

Nicky: (Looking down the stairs to make sure Matt was in hearing distance.) "I think it's Matt."

Matt glanced up the stairs, and Nicky ran into his room.

Me: "I think he was trying to get your goat."

Matt: (As he's coming up the stairs.) "Yeah, he said it right at me."

Me: "A mature person would ignore the comment and let it go."

Matt: "Yep. A mature person would." (He disappeared into Nicky's room where I soon heard Nicky shrieking as Matt tackled him.)

Paul: "What are you doing?"

Me: "I'm exercising because I'm old and out of shape. But in six months I'll be old and in better shape. In a year I'll be old and gorgeous."

Silence that lasts a minute too long.

Paul: "You're already gorgeous."

Me: "Thank goodness! I thought you were going to miss your cue!"

Luke: "Do you see the hair on my chin?" (He's in a hurry to grow up, and I get questions like this all the time.)

Me: "No, but I see the zit under your nose." (I'm not in a hurry for him to grow up. And there was no hair on his chin.)

Me: "I just finished working out with weights. What do you think of that?"

Nicky: Noncommittal shrug.

Me: "Someday I'm going to be buff and beautiful."

Nicky: (Roll of the eyes and sideways glance.) "Yeah." (Muttered under his breath) "Someday."

If your read this post, you'll see where Nicky had a case of hive (only one, but it was huge).

Nicky: "I think I have another hive." (He pulled his shirt up so I could look at his back.)

Me: "It's nothing. It's probably a mosquito bite."

Nicky: (Muttering as he's walking away.) "Looks like a hive. Feels like a hive."

The boys asked one day if I would cut their school work short. (They ask almost every day.)

Me: "I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy about that."

Joel: "Step outside. You'll feel warm and fuzzy then."

In a routine conversation involving the instruction of personal hygiene:

Me: "You need to use deodorant every day."

Paul: "I do. Under both arms and on my chest."

Me: "Your chest?"

Paul: "Yeah, I sweat there too."

And the tip of the day: If you have males in your household, it's worth it to invest in a really good toilet plunger. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trust Me

So yesterday I spent quite a bit of time on the phone, shopping for auto insurance. My husband is one of those people who shops prices regularly in order to make sure we have the best deal. I on the other hand think it's a good idea to leave well enough alone. But hey, who listens to me? So yesterday I dutifully called companies to compare prices on our current coverage.

You know, all the bigger companies work hard in their advertising to get you to identify with their product. You can choose from a Progressive devotee in a weird white room, a charming gecko with a cockney accent, or a deep voiced man who assures you that you're in good hands. Before you've ever contacted any of these companies you've already built a relationship with their spokesperson (er, reptile.) You like them. They make you laugh or they make you trust them to the point where you don't want to let them down.

But sometimes reality is a far cry from advertising. Two of the companies I called apparently have robots to man their customer service phones. These robots spoke in monotones, clearly reading from scripts. They asked me about my vehicles, and then gave me the prices they offered. There was no attempt to actually sell me a policy. They didn't seem to make that connection. They simply gave me the information I asked for as if they were a 411 operator. When their prices were higher than what I'm currently paying, they didn't attempt to explain why their company was a better deal in other ways. (I'm not saying that kind of thing would have sold me, but they should at least make the attempt, shouldn't they?)
The third company I called was at least friendly as we went through my information. She chatted with me and actually made a somewhat painful experience almost pleasant. At least it was pleasant right up until she quoted me a price that was twice as much as what I'm paying now. Seriously. Twice as much.

The fourth company I got hold of someone who really believed in what he had to sell. He acted as though he were genuinely interested in me as a person. I don't see how he could not be when he's asking questions about what I drive and where I live and what I do for a living. He probably knows more about me now than my average friend does.

Which leads me to another point. Some of their questions seem awfully strange things to consider when quoting a policy. Does my education level really have any connection to my driving ability? How does my marital status affect my skill in operating a vehicle? Why do they need to know if I've had a driver's license since I was sixteen?

It seems to me that, if they're going to ask those kinds of questions they ought to ask ones that are more relevant. For instance, they should ask if I have a lot of friends. If I do, you'd think I'd be much more likely to be talking on the phone or texting while driving which means I'm more prone to get in an accident. Why don't they ask if I color my hair? Someone who is vain about their looks is more likely to be looking in the mirror and applying makeup than paying attention to what's in front of her. Why don't they ask how many kids I have? The more children in the car, the more chance of refereeing a fight at the same time you're driving. Definitely distracting behavior. They should want to know if I'm late all the time. That kind of behavior could cause reckless speed or the lack of use of a safety belt.

Not that I do any of those things.

So anyway I spent a couple of hours yesterday confirming the fact that, yes, we're paying the lowest possible payment we could get on car insurance. By several hundred dollars. For the next few weeks I'm avoiding the car commercials. I don't want to know if the gecko is disappointed in me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random Dozen #Whatever

I don't remember what week it is, but it's time for the Random Dozen. For more random dozen answers, click the link below.

1. Tell me something about your favorite teacher.

I loved Miss Hermes' English classes in college. She was brilliant, she loved what she did, and she took a genuine interest in her students. She did not play favorites, but she and I got along well enough that my friends starting calling me a "Herm-ite".

2. Tell me about one pivotal moment in your life.

After we left Uganda, I thought we were out of a full time Christian ministry for good. At first it hurt, but then I came to accept and like being a "regular" Christian. When my husband said he was ready to go back into the ministry, I wasn't really thrilled. But a couple of months after we moved here I realized I was happier than I had ever been in my life. I'm not a perfect pastor's wife, and I fail in many areas, but I'm also sure that I'm exactly where God wants me to be. There's tremendous freedom in that.

3. About favorite colors--a lot of people will ask you what it is, but I want to know why it is. What feeling or memory does it evoke?

I like both red and green, but not just in a Christmas sense. I love vivid colors; to me they're bright and happy.

4. What's a sure sign that you're getting older?

Pain and gray hair. Or the pain of gray hair.

5. Please don't sermonize, but Halloween--is it a yes or no for you?

No Halloween. But we do have a Fall Festival the following week at our church that is a hit with the entire neighborhood. This year we're adding a dunking booth to the mix. I can't wait. (To dunk someone else, I mean!)

6. What's your favorite musical?

I think I like Music Man the best. I like just about every song, and I absolutely love the hats!!

7. Are you more of a city mouse or country mouse?

First of all, I'm not a rodent. Having said that, I'm probably a city mouse. Although I would like a house in the country. But then I'd want a maid for the house because I don't want to spend the first day or two in the country cleaning a house that had been closed up for a month. And if I have a maid in the country, I'd need to have one in the city as well or the city house would feel neglected. Wait, what was the question?

8. Did you know that it is possible, for a small fee, to name a real star after someone? (It's true! Google it!) If someone were to name a star for you, would you appreciate it for its whimsy and romance, or would you say, "Are you kidding me? For $19.95 we could have gone to the movie and actually bought popcorn."

I'd really like to know what part of the galaxy you're getting your star from because I've heard of them charging $49.95 for the same thing. Secondly, I think it's rude to spurn a gift so I would say thank you, and I would probably even mention occasionally that so-and-so had named a star after me. But deep inside I'd still rather have the money. I do have to wonder, though, why we have to pay to name a star. Payment to someone indicates ownership, which, when it comes to stars, seems a little presumptuous. Or maybe that's just me.

This question comes from Paula at His Ways Are Not Our Ways.
9. What's the craziest thing you've ever been doing and texted during it? I only thought of this b/c I was about to try to text during my walking video but I didn't.

Paula, you do know that this blog is rated G, right?

I don't text very often. And I can't do two things at once, so if I'm texting, that's all I'm doing.

10. "It's not a party unless _______."

I'm there. : )

11. When you're stuck in traffic or a waiting room, what do you do to pass the time? PS: There are no magazines available.

I start out watching people, and then I imagine stories about the people I'm watching. Some of them would be amazed at the things they've done!

12. If you weren't yourself, would you be friends with you?

Okay, what kind of a question is that? If I say 'yes' I come off as incredibly arrogant and prideful. If I say 'no', I either have false humility or such a low self esteem that no one else would probably want to be friends with me either. So I'll leave it at this: sometimes I want to be around myself, and sometimes I wish I would go away and leave myself alone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Reason I'm Not An Icon

I've been thinking about icons lately. If you read this post you know that I will never be Martha Stewart. Or June Cleaver. I just don't have that iconic quality. Most of the time this doesn't bother me. In fact, it doesn't today. Much. At any rate, whether it bothers me or not, I got to thinking about being an icon. And I've come up with a list of ten reasons why I will never be one. In the interest of entertainment, I'm going to share them with you. And here they are.

1. I am not June Cleaver because I don't own an apron.

2. I'm not Martha Stewart because I don't own a multi-million dollar company. If I did, I have not doubt I would have more of a flair for decorating and baking.

3. I am not June Cleaver because, while I do own a strand of pearls, I don't wear them on a daily basis.

4. I am not Martha Stewart because I refuse to make lovely stocking stuffer holders for my pets' Christmas stockings.

5. I am not June Cleaver because, while wearing high heels, I have tripped up the choir steps, fallen off the platform and ended up in various other circus-style accidents. I would be dangerous wielding a vacuum cleaner in heels.

6. I am not Martha Stewart because I do not believe that my life would be better if I made wonderful little potpourri-filled sachets for my dresser drawers. I'm just happy if I can get my clothes folded before I shove them in there.

7. I'm not June Cleaver because my children are not Wally and the Beaver. (And quite frankly, I think I'm a better mother because I refrained from naming my children after rodents!)

8. I'm not Martha Stewart because I don't believe all recipes have to be completely from scratch in order to be good. And I don't always have to puree something before I serve it.

9. I'm not June Cleaver because I always thought her light bulb seemed a little dim. That raised-eyebrows-blank-stare-with-pursed-lips look can only get you so far.

10. I'm not Martha Stewart because I killed her off last week, remember?

The reason I'm thinking about this again this week is because I finally made banana bread this Sunday afternoon. I didn't really have time, but I couldn't bear to throw out a fourth batch of bananas. So I made two loaves. It took an hour and a half including baking time. That was several minutes more time than it should have taken. I know this because the bread was not quite as moist as it should have been.

Sunday evening someone at church gave me a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread. It was absolutely delicious, and made my banana bread look worse than ever.

Today, less than twenty-four hours later, the Amish bread is completely gone. So are 1-1/2 loaves of banana bread. The boys didn't eat it because it was good. They ate it because it was there.

Moral of the story? Nothing I make has to be good. It just has to be available. Oh, and it always helps to know someone who is good at baking. : )

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Pursuit of Pain

I should post a warning that this may end up being a whiny post. Okay. Consider yourself warned.

For the past two weeks I have been in constant pain. Pain that ebbs and flows throughout the day, but is always with me. Pain that moves through various places in my body. Pain that keeps me awake at night and makes me move slowly when getting up out of a chair. What is the cause of this pain you ask? Well, even if you didn't ask, I'm going to tell you.

I'm in pain because I'm trying to get healthy. I'm trying to get fit. I'm exercising like an insane person. Actually, I've always thought that people that liked to exercise were slightly insane. I'm not sure I like it enough to be insane yet.

I'm walking a couple of times a week, and when my partner and I walk, we go about 4-1/2 miles. I bike several times a week with the boys. Last week we biked twice, once for eight miles and once for ten miles. I exercise once or twice a week on my glider, usually for about an hour at a time. I'm supposed to be working out with weights too, but somehow my body rebels at going that far.

What I find unusual is that everything I do makes me hurt in different places. And can you guess which one makes me hurt the most? Walking. That's right. Something I do every day anyway. At least to and from the car. But now that I'm walking for "fun" and exercise, it's killing me. The muscle running up the outside of leg is always hurting. My partner said that it was the IT band. She had a technical term for it, but I don't remember what it was. I'm in too much pain to concentrate. She said I need to be sure and stretch after every exercise session. I thought I was, but apparently not enough. A week ago the muscles in my lower back were so tight I was having trouble moving at all. And when people asked what was wrong, I couldn't tell them I'd lifted something the wrong way or pulled something. No I was just extremely out of shape and my body wasn't taking well to trying to fix it.

As if that weren't enough, biking makes a different set of muscles hurt. And that bike seat gets awfully uncomfortable after awhile. Biking makes my shoulder hurt too, but I think that has more to do with falling off the bike than riding it. And that was all Nicky's fault. For some reason Nicky had shoelaces that were long enough for a man's size fifteen work boot. And they were on his sneakers. The excess shoelace got caught in his bike chain. When he realized he was stuck, he pulled over to the side of the path. Right in front of me. I had already started slowing down when he said he had a problem, but I wasn't completely stopped. I put my foot down for balance, only I was already at the side of the path and there was no path left. I fell over in slow motion, never letting go of my bike. Somehow I guess I thought if I let go, that thing is going to pound the fire out of me. Instead my shoulder took the fall, followed by everything else. I got back up and brushed myself off, assuring the boys that I was okay. As we got back on our bikes, Nicky said, "Be careful, Mom. I don't want you to fall again. That was not a pretty sight." Thanks for the encouragement.

So now my shoulder hurts as well as my back an my legs. Last night in choir practice I quietly groaned every time the choir leader had us stand to sing. I thought exercise was supposed to make me feel young again. Instead I feel like I've aged forty years.

For those of you who care enough to worry that I might give up, never fear. I know I'll never get to the feeling good side unless I push through the pain. I'll continue to stretch. I'll continue to exercise. Eventually I'll discover the Nirvana that comes to those who exercise and live a fit life. You know. The insane ones.

And I'm going to change Nicky's shoelaces. Let's get real here. I've got enough pain. I don't need him adding anymore.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What Are You Missing?

Today's post is a question for you and a little chance to vent if you need to. The question is: what are you always running out of at your house? Toilet paper? Dish soap? What one thing can you count on that it will not be there when you go to use it?

For me it's two things. Batteries and light bulbs. No matter how many I have, I will run out when I need one next. If it's light bulbs I'm looking for I will not have the right size or wattage.

If it's batteries, I won't have any at all. I just don't understand this. I'll buy huge Sam's Club size packages of batteries. But then when I go to use some, all I've got are empty battery packages. The boys go through them like candy. I'm assuming they're powering their many toys and handheld gaming devices, but for all I know they could be building a huge, battery-powered robot in the garage. I can't think of anything else that would use that many batteries.

On the other side, one thing we never run out of is toilet paper. I buy some whether I think we need it or not because I can't imagine life without it!

So what about you? What's always missing from your house, or what one thing will you never be without?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Can I Get An Amen On That?

On Tuesday I blogged a little bit about the Bible study our ladies are doing this year on becoming a prayer warrior. Just studying the lessons have challenged me and made me change the way I think about prayer. I'm also attempting to put into practice the things that we're learning. And of course, as a mother it's my duty to try and share with my children the spiritual truths I'm learning. I had the opportunity to share with Matt yesterday, and although he didn't want me to, we both ended up learning more than we could imagine.

Tuesday night Matt and I had a discussion about prayer. Matt has been praying for a certain something for quite a while. He was getting discouraged and was pretty much at the point of deciding that God was saying no. He didn't want to pray about it anymore. I started asking questions about his particular request and about his prayer life in general. Then I summed up what we had learned.

1. Matt's prayer request, as far as we could tell, lined up with God's will for his life.

2. Matt is a child of God, and was faithfully asking his heavenly Father to answer this prayer.

Then I pointed out to Matt that God has promised to answer our prayers. He has obligated Himself, and therefore Matt needed to keep asking. Matt kept saying, "Do you think I haven't been?" I told him this wasn't about what he had done, this was about continuing to do. In this case, it was continuing to ask. As a Christian, he had the right and permission of God to keep asking for something that he knew was God's will.

I don't believe in putting timetables on God or setting deadlines. But I did tell Matt that I was going to pray that God would answer his prayer tomorrow, which was Wednesday. And then I did. I sensed that Matt was getting discouraged and his faith was wavering. I couldn't give him more faith, but I knew God could. So I asked God to answer the prayer, and I asked Him to answer it in such a way that Matt would see and know that we serve a God who answers prayer.

I believed that God could answer to prayer. And I begged Him to answer so Matt could see it. I prayed that night and I continued to pray. Several times during the night when I woke up because the pain in my legs from exercising wouldn't let me sleep. I decided to put the time to good use, so I prayed then. I prayed all day Wednesday as I thought of it throughout the day.

Wednesday night after church I had to stop at the store and pick up a few things. When I got home, Matt and his dad were outside, so I asked for some help carrying things in. Matt opened the car door and told me, "I just can't believe it." He went on to say that a man at church had approached him tonight and offered the very thing Matt was praying for. I said, "You mean God answered your prayer."


"Today. Today God answered your prayer."

"Yes. He gave me what I asked for today."

Is anybody else shouting yet, or is it just me????

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Random Dozen!

I can't remember what number this is. Actually, it's eight over at 2nd Cup of Coffee, but I didn't get to participate in all of them so I don't know how many it is for me. Feel free to answer some of these in your comments, or click the link and link to your own blog.

1. Candy corn: Your thoughts?

I loved it until someone sent me a bag in a care package while I was at college. I ate the whole bag, was violently ill and didn't touch it again for years. Now I'm back to temptation, but the sugar headache I get isn't worth it.

2. Briefly, what was the first conversation you ever had with your spouse? (or best friend, if you're not married.) (Or someone significant, like your librarian.)

My librarian and I aren't speaking at the moment. For my spouse, he had someone push him in front of me. When we ran into each other he apologized and then asked me out. He asked for each of the four next days until I agreed. Stubborn guy.

3. Could you ever become a vegetarian?

Absolutely not and I feel the need to eat a steak just because you asked. Thanks a lot.

4. Have you ever dressed up your pet in a costume?

You've got to be kidding me. I can barely get myself dressed in regular clothes. My pets don't usually even wear a collar.

5. Name something about childhood that you miss (like Clark Bars, Teaberry Gum, Malibu Barbie, cracking fake eggs on people's heads with your fist and "It's the Great Pumpkin" airing only once a year).

I miss The Kids from Caper. It was a Saturday morning show (not a cartoon) with four cool looking guys who drove a van called the Big Bologna. They dealt with ridiculous crimes such as when everyone thought they were turning into hot dogs. (I am not making this up.) And yes, I am a little pathetic.

6. Have you ever won a trophy? If not, what do you deserve a trophy for?

I won trophies in Awana every year. And then if you finished your memory book three years in a row, you won a Timotheous award. If you did your memory book six years in a row, you won a bigger trophy called the Meritorious Award. My church stopped doing Awana the year I would have earned my Meritorious, and I'm still a little bitter.

7. When do you think is the appropriate time to begin playing Christmas music each year?

When I lived up north we played it the first time we saw a snowflake, even if it was only one. when I moved to Alabama, I started playing it when the weather turned cooler. Now I just start sometime in October and forget the weather. I might play some today.

8. What's your favorite board game?

I like Balderdash, but I can rarely find someone who will play with me. My husband says it's suspicious that I do so well at a game that involves lying. I also like Scattergories, Dutch Blitz and Rook.

9. How do you feel about surprises (receiving, not giving)?

Surprised with roses or a nice gift? Excellent. Surprised by coming home to find that my husband repainted the entire house without discussing the color with me? Not so much.

10. Is it easy for you to say, "I'm sorry?"

Have I done something to offend you?

11. What is your favorite candle scent?

Glade's apple cinnamon. I love the way it makes my house smell.

12. October is traditionally "open house" time in public schools. If you had a literal open house in your home (like a reception) what light snacks would you serve visitors and what would you show them (as in art projects, graded papers) that would uniquely represent you?

I couldn't possibly list everything on the menu, but I would have ham rolls, hankie pankie (yes, that's a food!) and stuffed mushrooms. I would serve a fruit punch that included some Dole's pineapple, orange, banana juice for a kick. I (or my husband) would show them the deer heads he has mounted on the wall. Matt could show his latest paintings. Luke would show some gymnastic moves. Paul would discuss the latest book he's read, Joel would tell a few jokes, and Nicky would show the latest fort they built with their gigantic hand-carved lincoln log set. As for me? Well, hey, look back at the table of appetizers again. That's accomplishment enough for anybody, isn't it?

If you would like to participate in Random Dozen, or you'd like to read other people's crazy answers, click on the button at the top of the post!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Delight and Duty

Before I get into today's post, I have an announcement to make. Nan over at MomstheWord is having a contest for a free blog makeover. Nan's got a great blog, and if you want to join in her contest, click here. Now on to today's post.

We have a monthly ladies' Bible study at our church that runs from September through May. Each year we try to do a study that continues from month to month, and this year we're studying how to become a prayer warrior. Studying this series has been such a blessing to me, and I wanted to share just a small part with you today.

This month we covered the fact that God wants to answer our prayers, and we talked about how to get "yes" answers to prayers. One of the verses we covered was Psalm 37:4, Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.. Most people focus on the desire part of the verse. Some people say that God will give you what you desire. Others say that God will put in your heart the desires He wants you to have. I think there's some truth on both sides, but the part we focused on in our meeting was the delight part of it.

What does it mean to delight in the Lord? Webster's dictionary defines the word delight as "taking pleasure in or satisfying greatly". So in order to claim the promise of the verse, before we focus on the desires of our heart, we need to delight in the Lord. It was challenging as we asked ourselves if we really delight in Him.

For instance, do we take great pleasure in reading our Bible daily, or is it more of a duty or obligation? Do we delight in attending church where we can worship Him and learn about Him? Or are we looking for reasons to "sit this one out" when it comes to Sunday night or the Wednesday night Bible study? What about when it comes to serving Him by taking a turn in the nursery or making something for a fellowship? How much pleasure do we get out of truly serving Him? Does our relationship with the Lord satisfy us greatly, or are we uncomfortable with where we're at spiritually?

This verse is a contract with God. He says if we delight in Him, He'll give us the desires of our heart. But we have to fulfill the first part before He will fulfill the second.

So what about you? Are you delighting in the Lord today?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Killing the Inner Martha

I'm rebelling. (Don't tell my kids.) I've had several of my blogging friends lately talk about rediscovering their inner Martha. They're baking incredible goodies from scratch. They're decorating their homes beautifully with leftover stuff from other people's garbage. They're fashioning fantastic fall and Christmas decorations with bare tree branches. They're building looms and weaving scarves for everyone within walking distance. Seriously, I thought they were kidding until they posted pictures. I know it's the season. There's something about the colors and crisp air of autumn that makes everyone get in touch with their inner Martha.

My own inner Martha exists for the sole purpose of mocking me.

I'm not getting anything from my muse. At first I chalked it up to the fact that I live in Florida. There are no fall colors around here. Everything is green all the time. Plus, we've been struggling with ninety degree temperatures. Who wants to bake in that kind of heat? Who would want to crochet/knit/weave/embroider something warm and fuzzy? Get me an ice cream cone and turn the air conditioning up a little, will ya?

Still, I knew that cooler temperatures were coming. I've been preparing. I've bought lots of goodies that I can spend hours baking into wonderful treats that will disappear from the kitchen in less than three minutes. I have an unfinished afghan sitting in my closet, waiting until it's cool enough so that I can stand to be around all that yarn without hyperventilating. My sewing machine tempts me with the thought of the new skirts I could make in great fall colors.

But I didn't do any of these things. It was too warm. I hung onto the promise of cooler weather and knew that I could summon my inner Martha as soon as the temperatures dropped. In the meantime, I bought two new skirts at a great sale price. I moved the afghan further back in the closet because I kept tripping over it. And I ended up throwing out three different bunches of overripe bananas, waiting for cooler weather so I could make banana bread.

And now a cool front has gone through. Humidity is finally gone, and everyone is enjoying a pleasant breeze and temperatures that let you open the windows once in a while. I'm ready for crafts. I'm ready to bake. I'm ready to channel Martha!

There's just one problem. I'm not Martha. If I use tree branches to decorate, I end up looking like I found a weird spot to keep the wood for the fireplace. I'm losing patience with crocheting long before that afghan will take shape. And sewing? Get real. I have no place to set up. And I'm just not in the mood. Desperate to resurrect my Martha, I turned to the kitchen. Not the room of my greatest triumphs, but still I've pulled off a few great moves in my time.

I decided caramel apples were a great thing to do. In the past I've been known to buy those pre-shaped circles of caramel. Stretch them over the apple, pop in the oven for five minutes and voila! The only problem being the circles never completely stretched over the apples. And they tore in odd spots. Nosiree, this time I was going to put some actual effort into this. So I bought a package of caramels. I patiently (or not so patiently) unwrapped each individual caramel. I was a little worried that there wouldn't be enough candy to cover the apples because someone had already eaten some. (The rule in our house is, if it's been around for longer than twenty-four hours, it's open season.) I started melting the caramels on the stove, but that was taking too long, so I dumped them in a bowl and microwaved them to soft perfection. I started dipping the apples while the boys oohed and aahed. I even let them dip a couple of apples in the bowl. My inner Martha glowed. Briefly.

I was talking to a friend on the phone while I performed my domestic feat. The next day we talked again, and she asked me how my apples turned out. Somewhere in the conversation she realized that I had actually made caramel apples just for the fun of it. There was no church fellowship. No outing where I was required to reach beyond my strengths and produce something I'm not equipped to produce.

She was genuinely surprised.

And that's when it hit me. I don't have an inner Martha. Everyone knows I don't have one. She's not a part of my genetic makeup. Seriously, no one really expects me to channel Martha. So why do I expect it of myself? Right then and there I did the only thing I could. The only thing that, as a suspense writer, made sense to me. I killed off the inner Martha.

It felt good.

I'll probably still do some baking. After all, I've got another bunch of bananas ripening on the counter. And I always make Christmas cookies when the time comes. But when I do that it'll be because I'm in the mood to bake. Not because some non-existent entity is goading me into doing it. If I crochet, it'll be because I feel like it. And my decorating? I'm going back to copying things I've seen in magazines, using strictly store bought and decorating-ready objects. I'm not frustrating myself anymore. I'm free!

Next week I'm planning something really horrible for my inner June Cleaver.

Friday, October 16, 2009

All About Us

This post is a little different in that it's got trivial answers about me and my husband. So here's a little glimpse at the two of us.

♥What are your middle names?

Mine is Marie. His is Allen.

♥How long have you been together?

We were married twenty-three years this past June. We've now both been married over half of our lives.

♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?

He asked about me for two weeks, and he asked me out the first time we actually met.

♥ Who asked who out?

He asked me out. And he kept asking after I said no.

♥ How old are each of you?

I'm 43 and he's 46. I can't believe you made me say that.

♥ Did you go to the same school?

We did in college.

♥ Are you from the same home town?

I'm from Chicago and he's from Detroit.

♥ Who is the smartest?

Are you trying to get me in trouble? Actually, we once took an IQ test and scored within one point of each other. His was higher. I think he cheated.

♥ Who majored in what?

I majored in secretarial science. He majored in pastoral theology.

♥ Who is the most sensitive?

Me, of course. and I cry more easily too.

♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?

It depends on what we want. Lately we seem to be heading toward Olive Garden when we go out. We'd both love to eat at Ruth Chris' one day when money is not an object. : )

♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

Nairobi, Kenya.

♥ Who has the worst temper?

I think he used to, but I've seen some amazing things that God has done in him the last few years. I probably have the worse temper now.

♥ How many children do you want?

We've got six and think that's probably enough.

♥ Who does the cooking?

I do most of the time. But I'm training all my boys so they can do it occasionally as well. My husband can make some basic things, but mostly the cooking is up to me.

♥ Who is more social?

Definitely he is. He's never met a stranger.

♥ Who is the neat-freak?

Neither of us like a messy home, but both of us occasionally contribute to one.

♥ Who is the most stubborn?

Absolutely, totally without a doubt it's him.

♥ Who wakes up earlier?

It depends on who has to be somewhere earlier. But the alarm is on my side of the bed, so if it's set for him, I tell him it's going off and then I turn it off. And then I go back to sleep. He resets it for me.

♥ Where was your first date?

The dining hall at college.

♥ Who has the bigger family?

I have five siblings and he has two.

♥ Do you get flowers often?

I get them occasionally. For years I got them whenever I gave birth. Could that be why we have so many kids? Don't think so. There are easier ways to get flowers, including buying them myself. : )

♥ How do you spend the holidays?

Usually as a family. We spend the day enjoying our family and doing things together. Last year we did something different and went to the celebration at the house of some dear friends of ours. We became part of their family for the day, and it was really special.

♥ Who is more jealous?

Absolutely I am. I've seen several times where women seemed just a little too interested in my husband. I solve it by linking my arm through his and giving him a kid to hold. All clear signs that he's taken.: )

♥ How long did it take to get serious?

He was serious from the start. It took me a while. I'm a slow mover.

♥ Who eats more?

He does and he doesn't gain weight and I really hate that about him.

♥ What do you do for a living?

He pastors our church full time, works occasionally as a painter, and sometimes helps with the kids' homeschooling. I work part time for an auditor, homeschool the kids, and write in my spare time. Which at the moment tends to be between 2 and 4 a.m. No wonder nothing I write makes sense!

♥ Who does the laundry?

All of us do. Everyone's required to help shuffle the mountain of wash through. (BTW, thanks Mandy and Susie for the tips on laundry! They help a lot!) When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Terry does laundry too. Without being told, I might add.

♥ Who’s better with the computer?

I think it's a toss up. I know stuff he doesn't know, and he knows stuff I don't know. We tend to complement each other that way.

♥ Who drives when you are together?

Usually he does. If it's a long trip, I'll take my turn but it never lasts as long as his does. That's fine with me because I could be sleeping or reading or writing. Or breaking up the kids fighting in the back.

♥What is your song?

We don't have a song. But we do have a phrase that we use, mostly with the kids. "Lovey, Lovey, kissy, kissy. Stinky shoe!" Don't judge me. In the first place, it was a lot cuter when they were little. In the second place, they're boys for pete's sake. They're not gonna get all emotional and mushy.

Okay and now that I've told you more than probably either of us are comfortable with, feel free to leave an answer to one or two questions in your comments. Let's hear about you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random Dozen

So here we are again with another Random Dozen.

1. I've always wondered why we were taught both printing and cursive. Do you prefer to print or write cursive? (Keyboard is not a choice.)

I will print when I'm filling out a form, but other than that I write cursive. I can make my cursive nice if I focus on it, but I usually don't. It's still readable. And I make my kids do cursive in their schoolwork. If they learned it, they're going to use it for pete's sake! (Except for Algebra, of course.)

2. Are you a dreamer or a realist?

I am a dreamer somewhat (I think I have to be as a fiction writer), but I'm also a realist. But hey, a lot of times if you put feet to your dreams, they can become reality.

3. Billy Joel or Elton John?

I've heard of them both and I'm sure I've heard some songs from both of them, but I wouldn't be able to identify them. Didn't Elton John write some of the music for The Lion King, and Billy Joel wrote some songs for Oliver and Company? Yeah, I liked Toy Story.

4. What is the scariest movie you've ever seen? Not just horror flicks but also ones where the tension or suspense is killer, for example, Flightplan (2005): A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet the child vanishes and nobody admits she was ever on that plan.

I do not do horror. At all. Period. Never. But I do like suspense. Unfortunately, sometimes suspense crosses over into horror. I hate when that happens. Once I wanted to watch a movie (I don't remember the name of it) where a bunch of people were stranded at a small, dumpy motel, and then they start disappearing one by one. My husband didn't think it was a good idea, but I rented it anyway. When the first person disappeared, they found her head rolling around in a dryer. That's when I started to agree with my husband. I guess the scariest movie I can think of from this decade is probably Signs with Mel Gibson. Aliens freak me out.

5. Now what is the scariest real-life moment you've had?

Uganda, December of 2002. Terrorists who blew up a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, on Thanksgiving Day ended up trickling into our little town on the border. My husband reported them and then we were told we needed to get out because the terrorists would be seeking revenge. The last night there my husband patrolled our compound all night, and among other things, some men tried to push in our gate. My husband backed our vehicle up against the gate and prayed for safety. I was inside, packing whatever I could fit into suitcases. I would pack a little and then throw up. Then I'd pack some more and cry and throw up. I don't do fear very well.

6. What word do you misspell without fail?

For the most part I am imminently cognizant of the spelling parameters (and I love big words), but I did have a lot of trouble with obsolescence until I figured out there were two s's and two c's. And the s's come first.

7. Name something you like to do but are not really talented or good at?

I like decorating and scrapbooking, but I'm severely limited in talent in both areas. I can copy other people's ideas, but I rarely come up with my own.

8. Do you get your emotional/mental batteries recharged by being around people or by having alone time?

It depends on why my batteries need recharging. And then sometimes I don't even know what I need in order to recharge. For instance, I may feel like being alone, but I end up with other people instead. Then when I head home I realize I got the recharging I thought I would get by being alone.

9. Have you ever been on TV?

Not since they canceled my sitcom. I'll only go for the big screen now.

10. Apple or pumpkin pie? (Don't be greedy.)

Definitely apple. But if there's something chocolate offered, that's what I go for first.

11. How many magazine subscriptions do you have?

I subscribe to Writer's Digest. In the past I've had subscriptions to Reader's Digest and Good Housekeeping, but I'm cutting back.

12. What lesson do you have to keep re-learning?

On the spiritual side I keep learning that God is in control and He's doing a good job at it even when I don't understand things. On the physical side I have to keep learning that, no matter how much time I think I have, I actually have less.

If you want to read other answers on random dozen, click the button at the top of my post to go to 2nd Cup of Coffee.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Husband's Love

Last night I saw a man's love for his wife and it was a beautiful thing.

We went to a surprise birthday party for a friend who turned ... well, she hit a milestone. (Happy Birthday, Susie!) In honoring the milestone, her husband asked about two dozen friends and family to all come to a restaurant to help celebrate her birthday. She was truly surprised and really seemed to enjoy the celebration. I watched her husband and noticed how happy he was with her joy. He wasn't eager for her to see what a good job he'd done in planning her party. He just wanted her to be happy and know she was loved.

This man always cares for and cherishes his wife, and it shows. But in a very quiet and thoughtful way he honored and celebrated his wife last night. He brought her presents and stood behind her to watch while she opened them. He chatted with his daughter, away at college, on the phone and told her what her mom was getting. He kept track of the opened presents and moved them out of the way so she could open others.

And then it came time for his gift to her. He was eager to give it, you could see that, but it was more about wanting to show her he loved her than it was wanting her to see how much he showed his love. Does that make sense? I've thrown parties for my husband before, and I wanted to surprise him and make him happy and show him, with all my effort, how much I loved him. This man simply wanted to love his wife, whether she was aware of how much or not. (I think she is aware.) : )

My husband commented on the way home that there was a man who cherished his wife. He loved her and cared for her.

The thing that impressed my husband the most? The man didn't put out any black balloons for his wife's birthday. : ) Now that must truly be a mark of love.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thanks for Your Help!

A while ago I asked for some help on this blog. I was working on the proposal I needed to send to the editor, and I asked for your opinion on the back cover blurbs I had to write. If you want to see what I originally came up with, click here.

And here is what I finally sent in.

Jennifer Hamilton’s husband never told her about his secret life. Or his business partner. Or the real reason they were living in Uganda. So when he’s killed in a car wreck, she and their three children are stranded 9,000 miles away from safety. It’s up to this business partner to help Jennifer rescue her children from the attacking rebels. But can she trust him to help find out the secrets her husband may have hidden before he died? And can she find those secrets before they cost her life?

And here is my one line sales pitch.

Jennifer Hamilton has no idea how much of her husband’s life was a secret. What she doesn’t know could kill her.

Thanks so much for your help! In case you're wondering, opinion was pretty much split evenly between the two choices. I tried to blend aspects of each paragraph and added in a little of what my husband had to say. : ) I submitted my proposal last week, and I can expect to hear something some time within the next three months. When they contact me they could ask to see some more of the manuscript. (Good) Or they could ask to see all of the manuscript (Better). Or they could say thanks but no thanks. (Very, very bad)

Keep praying for me and I'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Credibility and Potential

In case you missed this news late last week, most of the world was shocked (or maybe not so much) that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. On the one hand, he's been President of the United States for nine months and I really can't see where he's done much to promote peace throughout the world. Except of course for that apology tour he took right after he got into office. I'm sure that appeased some of our enemies. And the pandering he's doing about sending more troops into Afghanistan. I'm sure that's appeased the Taliban. And that fact that we've got a great semantics game going on where we no longer have terrorist threats or terrorists. Now we have man-made catastrophes. (Government rule: add more words in order to confuse the issue). His slap at Israel while he was speaking at the United Nations? It didn't set too well with our allies (namely Israel), but I'm sure it made a lot of the other middle east occupants (Hamas, Palestinians) feel more peaceful.

But if Obama hasn't done much for peace in the last nine months, he certainly hadn't done much for peace in eleven days. That's how long he'd been in office when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yep. Eleven days. That seemed awfully surprising to me, but then I wondered if perhaps they were looking at his record before he became President. Had he accomplished some major things that caused this award to happen? Let's see ...

He achieved a seat in the United States Senate with little more than "community organizing" experience under his belt. So did he accomplish great things in the Senate? Actually, he spent less than two years total time in his Senate seat. He spent the rest of the time running for President.

And there you have it. The sum total of his experience. And now he's the leader of the free world. Oh! And he's done something else as well.

He's toppled the credibility of the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize. I've heard that they more or less admitted they awarded the prize based on potential rather than accomplishment. And in their efforts to do that, they destroyed their own credibility.

Potential is a wonderful thing. I know many people with incredibly potential. The problem is, not all of those people will reach their potential. In fact, many people never live up to their full potential. Awards are not supposed to be given for what you can do, but what you are doing. I sincerely doubt that Obama will ever earn a Nobel Peace Prize. But it would have been more legitimate if they'd at least waited until he'd done something before they gave it to him.

In his acceptance speech he said that he wasn't sure he'd earned it yet. But then he accepted it anyway. There have been people in the past who were awarded but they turned it down. They didn't feel it was for them. If Obama had turned down this farce, that would have increased his credibility with many people. It would also have given him some sorely needed humility points. But I guess in this world gone mad, we should have expected this.

I wonder if anyone's entered his name for the Nobel Prize for literature. Do they have a fiction category?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ow! *whimper* Ow!

I am in serious pain. In the pursuit of fitness, weight loss and all things unattainable, I have been doing a lot of exercising lately. Oh, but not just any old exercising. I'm not just doing jumping jacks in the living room. No, I'm doing walking. And bike riding. I'm out with nature.

I'm an idiot.

I've known for sometime that weight loss and fitness were not within my reach unless I had help. And since I refuse to audition for Biggest Loser or Survivor, I had to find help close to home. So I asked a friend to help me. This friend is a doctor, so she should know what she's doing, and she does. She's also a fit person who takes exercise seriously. She suggested I start out with walking, so we've been walking together.

Now I have to say, she doesn't get her exercise with me. She goes running at other times during the day. When she's with me, I walk as fast as I can. To keep up with me, she saunters. I'm drenched in sweat when we're through. She looks fresh as anything. It's really not fair. But she does keep me walking.

Because of our schedules, we only get to walk together two or three times a week. The other days I'm supposed to do some sort of exercise on my own. That doesn't always happen.

Until this week.

My problem started because I'm married to Indiana Jones. If you think that's fun, imagine what it feels like to be the child of Indiana Jones. He takes our boys snorkeling and diving, shooting, fishing, shrimping, tubing. You name it, they've done it. So think like my children for a moment--when they're with Dad, they're doing fun stuff. When they're with Mom, they're usually grocery shopping or cleaning house. It's not much of a comparison. I don't mean to imply that I'm always working and he's always playing. My husband works harder than almost any person I know. But when he plays, he plays big.

So I wanted to do something fun with the boys. The path that my friend and I walk is also used for bikes, and it occurred to me that I could take the boys bike riding. How fun would that be on a great path through the woods!! So Tuesday after I got off work, we loaded all five bikes into the van and headed off. When we got to the hiking/biking trail, we hauled all the bikes out and took off. It was a lot of fun! Following that trail on a bike didn't take nearly as long as walking it did.

But there was a problem.

The day before, we had walked a little over four miles. Halfway through our bike ride, my legs started protesting this unusual abuse. I was a little concerned about making it back to the van, and I knew I needed a rest. So we stopped at Big Tree State Park and walked our bikes to the point where we could see America's largest cypress tree. (The reason for the name of the park, obviously.) The boys were properly impressed, and while they were examining the tree, I got to sit and give my legs a rest on a bench nearby. Then we hopped on our bikes and headed back to the van. We biked about five miles on Tuesday, and the boys absolutely loved it. For once I was the fun parent!

I didn't have time to exercise on Wednesday between work and church, but yesterday my friend and I went walking again. I didn't think anything of it because I wasn't sore or anything. I could handle this. Except for a couple of problems. We're having record heat these days in Florida. Yesterday it was 94 degrees. Plus, we went to a different part of the trail. My friend wanted to show me a longer area I might want to use the next time the boys and I go bike riding. That area wasn't as shady. We hadn't been walking long when the abused muscles in my legs started screaming. I ignored them because I figured "walk it off". Isn't that where that phrase came from?

I did start walking slower and slower. I couldn't help it. I felt like I was walking on two very tightly wound rubber bands. There was a spring in my step, all right, but it wasn't natural and it wasn't pretty. When I explained my problem, my friend showed me some stretches to do to help the tightness. They did help some, and I was able to walk our four miles.

And now I'm dead. I woke up in pain during the night. Every muscle below my waist is permanently and unnaturally wound tight and will not let go. I walk like a spring loaded toy and again, it is not a pretty sight.

There better be a skinner and healthier me at the other end of this torture, or someone's going to die.

The boys are asking when we can do something again. I wonder if I can interest them in a shopping trip for our quality time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Random Dozen

I missed the last couple of lists, so I wanted to make sure I participated in this one!

1. On an average, how often do you splurge and buy something for yourself?

Okay, are you saying that anything I buy for me is splurging? Because I just don't think that's fair. Splurging to one person is necessity to another. Who are you to say I don't need that pedicure?

2. Are you more like Hall or Oates? Just kidding. Real question: What is the last creative project you began/finished? Feel free to post a pic of it.

I'm sorry, but I have no idea who Hall and Oats are. As for creativity? Well, I write books. Does that count? Except I can't post them here. But I'm extremely envious of people who can do crafty things around their house. I have trouble arranging my furniture attractively.

3. OK, Goldie Locks, do you consider your house too big, too little or juuuust right?

I think the size of my house is just right. As for layout or function, I could think of a few improvements, but since it's the biggest house we've ever lived in, listing those improvements would seem downright ungrateful. So I'm gonna go with just right. Unless the three bears are around here somewhere ...

4. What is your favorite outdoor chore?

Okay, in the first place I live with a husband and five boys. If there's an outside chore that I need to tackle personally, well that's just not right. In the second place, we're talking about chores. I might have a "least disliked" one, but I don't think I have a favorite in that department.

5. If you knew that cigarette smoking was not bad for your health but would be a weight loss tool, would you use it? Why or why not?

Absolutely not! They're gross and disgusting. Now excuse me while I go take my diet pills.

6. On a road trip, would you rather drive or ride?

I want to start out riding. I usually fall asleep very quickly from all the nights of little sleep while I was working to get everything together for this road trip. Then, later, I want to drive. Except when I'm traveling with Terry and Matt. They criticize every little lane change and every bump I go over. (Hey! There can be lots of bumps on the interstate if you look for them!)

7. What do you consider a trivial pursuit?

I think reality TV is a trivial pursuit. What does it say for us as a society when we get our "best" entertainment from watching total strangers forced into a situation together and see each of them reduced to their lowest and most base form? In a lot of ways I think it can be called Depravity TV. Now help me down from my soapbox so I don't twist my ankle.

8. This weekend, we downloaded the movie "Duplicity" with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Within 5 minutes, I was bored and annoyed, but I kept watching 5-10 minutes at a time hoping it would get better between small chores. I finally gave up and Jorge watched it alone, and then regretted wasting that time because he disliked it intensely, too. So ... how long do you watch a movie or read a book before giving up on it?

With a movie I'll give it the first half hour or so. With a book, the first couple of chapters. There are exceptions though. If I'm at someone's house and they say, "You just have to watch this movie!", then I'll politely sit through it and try not to fall asleep.

9. Is there a song that you really love but are embarrassed to admit because it's not cool or it's racy or because it's by Hall and Oates?

Okay, still don't know who Hall and Oats are. I can't think of a song I'm embarrassed to know, but I do know a song I absolutely hate. That would be the theme from the movie, The Rescuers. The song that goes, "R-e-s-c-u-e. Rescue Aid Society." Because if I hear it, it gets stuck in my head for hours. I have actually woken up in the middle of the night and discovered that song in my head. It's enough to make me kill someone, so stop singing it, you guys. I'm serious! Knock it off! Do I have to come over there and hurt you?

10. On a scale of 1-10 (10 = extremely) how spontaneous are you?

I got a lot more spontaneous since I married Indiana Jones! But seriously, I think I can be pretty spontaneous in that all kinds of wild and crazy ideas pop into my head. But then I start thinking of all the steps and means needed to do this idea properly, and then I realize that we're missing some of the key ingredients to making this spontaneity happen in the right way and so we'll put it off until we're better prepared. Okay, I guess I'm a 0.

11. Are you a food and/or beverage snob?

I absolutely refuse to eat at White Castle or Krystals. And I think that statement explains itself.

12. Who/What are you trying to control in your life? (I hear people gulping and see them sweating in anticipation of how to answer this one.)

Are you kidding? I can't even control the remote control. I can't even control my hair. I have no control over anything, and I know it.

For more Random Dozen, visit Linda @ 2nd Cup!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Laundry Organization

Time for another post on organization. Actually, it's probably past time. Hmmm. Maybe I need to do a post on organizing posts.

Maybe next time!

In the meantime, laundry is a never-ending challenge at our house. Clothes, towels, etc. We go through an enormous amount. In order to stay on top of it, we pretty much run the washer and dryer all day long. A minimum of four loads a day, washed and dried, maintains our status quo. Meaning the laundry piles don't get any bigger, but they don't go down much either.

I've had people suggest before that some things, like skirts and pants, don't necessarily need to be washed every time you wear them. That's true. The problem with the boys, though, is this: they shuck off the pants and toss them in the floor. Then they are walked on and stepped on and looking pretty bad by the time they need to be worn again. Or they take them off and actually stick them in the hamper because they don't want to be bothered right then with actually putting the pants away or *worse* hanging them up. (Why is it so terrible to have to hang things?)

I do have a good sorting method. I have a hamper in each of the bathrooms. Each morning the boys are supposed to collect them and take them down to the "hamper room". This is a small room under the stairs. That room has five hampers lined up along the side of it. Each hamper has a different type of laundry: towels, jeans, darks, lights, and "special wash". The boys sort the clothes from the bathroom hampers and then return the empty hampers upstairs. They've got the sorting part down, no problem. Collecting the hampers in the first place and returning them to their proper area? Well, that requires a little more nudging from me.

The point of the hamper room is this: now the clothes are always sorted out. My three oldest boys all know how to do laundry. So if I tell them to change the wash around, I can just tell them to put in a load of towels, or wash some jeans. Thankfully, our whites never turn odd colors because of bad sorting.

I usually put a load of clothes in when I first get up in the morning. I'm up before everyone else, so not long after they get up, it's ready to be changed around again. I'd like to have one more load done before I leave for work, but that only happens if I remember to tell someone to do it. I can't seem to get anyone else to take the initiative. The amount of loads we get done each day is in direct proportion to the number of times I remember to tell someone to change it around. I've tried assigning each boy a different day when he is in charge of making sure the laundry keeps going, but that doesn't seem to be working too well. Any other suggestions?

Our other major problem with laundry is what to do with the clean items. When the boys change the wash around, they toss the clean clothes into one of the baskets. Or at one of the baskets. At any rate, clothes don't get folded until there's a huge pile. For a short time I had them convinced that the job was much easier if they folded it as it came out of the dryer. Sometimes that doesn't work because the wash gets changed just as we're rushing out of the house.

I did try requiring each boy to fold one basket a day. But after a couple of days I noticed that the pile of clean clothes was not going down any. They had found a small basket, little bigger than a toy, and they were using that as their one basket a day. Three pairs of jeans or two towels filled that basket completely. They'd fold those few things and claim their basket was done for the day. I've since gotten rid of that basket!

I know some families give each person in the house their own wash day. Some of my boys are not old enough to be responsible for that yet. Plus, not all of us have enough clothes to last an entire week until our day comes around. In addition, in case you've never noticed it, boys tend to stink on a regular basis. Some of the clothes around here don't need to be sitting around for a week.

We also end up with multiple changes of outfits per day. For instance, if my husband goes bike riding, or he and Matt come back from the gym, they need to shower and change. If the boys come in from outside dripping in sweat (and they always do because we live in Florida. and because they're boys.) they're going to have to clean up and change if we're going somewhere later. Or Terry and Matt might have spent time doing some pressure washing or lawn care. Another reason to shower and change when they get home.

I can't cut down on the amount of laundry. But I think there must be a better way to process it. How about you? What systems or methods work in keeping your laundry up to date? You write your comments while I go downstairs and dig through the clean clothes to find a towel so I can take a shower.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is It Monday Already?

I can't write much today because I'm desperately trying to finish up my proposal to send into the editor and agent that requested it. I've been working frantically every spare moment this weekend. Problem is, I didn't have too many spare moments. We had a church picnic/skeet shoot on Saturday. Actually, I think the shoot was planned first, and then they added the picnic. Probably because they figured they'd be hungry after shooting.

Anyway, we started with softball. The team players ranged in age from eight-year-olds to--well, adults that were beyond their glory days. They still had fun, and at one point it even became tackle softball. I planned hamburgers and hotdogs, coleslaw, chips and dip and brownies for our lunch. But my guys ate the chips and dip on Friday night. I forgot the coleslaw at home, so we just had hamburgers and hotdogs and brownies. That would have been fine except I forgot all the buns. Fortunately, someone else brought their buns, but forgot their meat so we arranged some trading.

After the picnic I had to practice with a friend for the duet we were supposed to sing on Sunday morning. Once again I'm vowing not to wait until the last minute any longer. We managed to find a song we could both sing, but for some reason I couldn't manage to play the piano and sing at the same time. We struggled through it, but it was not our best performance.

Saturday night I sat at the computer working on my proposal until I fell asleep. Sunday afternoon I had to delete what I'd done in my sleep and get something down that made sense. And now I'm going to finish it up before work this morning, or die trying.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, October 2, 2009

What A Day!

I thought I'd share some of our most fantastic day with you. The weather was perfect, mid-eighties, and the waves were gentle.

Here's the view. That is a ship on the horizon. I just couldn't get enough of looking at the ocean.

Four of my guys. They were trying to get their act together for a pose. Never did quite make it, though.

This is Nicky, who apparently doesn't feel the need to removed the floating ring even when he's not in the water.

All of them brought their fins, snorkels and masks. In my writer's mind, they just looked like dead bodies floating in the ocean.

And one more last, gorgeous look at the view.

Later that evening we celebrated Paul's thirteenth birthday. I think we may have to make a trip to the beach a condition of every birthday!

We were all exhausted, but happy. And I remembered the sunscreen this time, so we didn't look like boiled lobsters. Well, most of us didn't. I sprayed my arms and throat, but forgot to do my face or the back of my neck and arms. So I look like a lobster when I leave the room. I can't believe I was that stupid! Anyway, have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Time out!

I've worked 10-12 hour days for the last three days and today is my son's birthday. Paul is thirteen (ack! Only two left who haven't crossed that threshhold!). So in honor of his birthday and my exhaustion, I'm taking the day off. No work. No computer. Just fun at the beach, presents and cake and ice cream. See you tomorrow!
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