Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Did it Have to End?

Lady Fi said we needed to read this book, so I did.
Now I have a new favorite book.
Have you read it and do you feel the same way I do?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Happiness Project: Watching the Neighbors

Tuesdays have gotten much better since Leigh introduced the Happiness Project.

So what makes me happy today?
A front porch that holds two rockers which have not, as yet, been stolen.
But if they ever do get stolen, it might be okay because they don't really rock very well.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Waiting Room Needs More Reading Material

I could just indulge my self-pity over Kentucky's unfortunate loss to WEST VIRGINIA!!, but I'll be more mature than that.
Instead I shall offer you some nibbles of trivia to entertain your brains. WEST VIRGINIA?????

"The average man celebrating spring break has 18 drinks a day and the average woman has 10 drinks a day" - cited by the Detroit Free Press

Jon Gosselin and his girlfriend of two months have broken up!
Ironically, the local news just reported that oral sex may lead to brain and neck cancers.

I think I need to read The Curse of the Good Girl. Supposedly it will help me raise my very good daughter to be more assertive.

From Web MD:
There has been a 732% increase in computer-related injuries (tripping over wires, falling,et cetera.)

Both objective and self-reported stats say that the least happy states to live in are:
New York
New Jersey

The happiest states are:

The Bic pen was originally the Bich pen, but too many people pronounced it as the bitch pen.

You will weigh less during a full moon. FYI: that's tomorrow - March 30. Get your scale out now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fragments: Meandering !! and ??

!! I was in a school office this week when I had no choice but to overhear the principal loudly complain to a staff member about some teachers. Whether or not the principal's claims had validity, I was annoyed to hear specific names mentioned - especially since one is a teacher my child has this year. I wonder how one goes about introducing a principal to the concept of a closed office door during venting sessions.

!! Mommy's IdeaI’m thinking Mrs. 4444’s for principal now. I really am. What do you think??

?? How do you all respond via email to your comments? I love that you do, but haven't figured out how to do that. Are you working from the comment moderation page?

!! My favorite missionary, Julie, has me using Live Writer now. I like it but don’t really know why. However, I do know why I like Julie. She and her husband have such a passion for sharing Christ :) Life in Hungary hasn’t been easy for Julie and there have been times I’ve worried about her being there (like when her son went through a terrifying medical crisis last year) but she NEVER complains about where the Lord has placed her family – even though I sometimes think she should. If you need a missionary family to love, go meet Julie.

!! When I was a child, I always thought that a rainy or cold Saturday was just perfect if I happened to turn on the t.v. just as the CBS Children's Film Festival began. I never could decide if I liked or despised Kukla, Fran, and Ollie though.

!! My 8 year old had a field trip to the library this week. He and his partner were to measure their height with the measuring guide there. He was surprised and a bit disappointed at the results. "It turns out that I'm only 4 inches tall but I always thought I was 8 feet tall!”

!! I asked my students to choose two words or phrases that best define them. Some were insightful (pliable), a lot were boring (nice) and then there is Steve who agonized over what best defined who he is as a person: smoker.

!! On Craigslist this week, one local group listed a blue coach for sale. He is a good deal at $50 since, "...the coach is large and would require a truck for pick up."


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Here Burns My Candle Giveaway aka Doesn't anyone want this book??

I was sure I was a literary criticism marvel, oh yes I did. Early on in Here Burns My Candle I was able to detect the Biblical theme of Naomi and Ruth. That beautiful story of love, loyalty, and God's provision offers something new every time I study it. I felt vindicated when I learned that the Naomi/Ruth theme was indeed something Liz Curtis Higgs intended. I felt slightly less superior when I learned that every review published to date about the novel also cites that theme. So much for my profound insight.

Here Burns My Candle was provided to me for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group and I was thrilled to receive it because I love historical fiction and I love Liz Curtis Higgs.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is one of three women in a 1745 Edinburgh household run by her mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Marjory Kerr. They enjoy a life of privilege and leisure until bonny Prince Charlie makes a claim to retake his father's throne. From the moment loyalties are chosen and revealed and, at times, hearts and lives broken, the Kerrs will be forever changed.

What makes this novel different from most of similar genre, is that the neat, happy ending simply doesn't materialize as the reader might hope. This novel is one of imperfections, spiritual awakening and is a love story far deeper and broader than we might expect.

The novel begins very slowly and I might not have continued with it if I hadn't needed to write this review. But somewhere around page 144, the book found its rhythm and by the end I looked forward to 2011 when the sequel will be published.

Would you like to read it? Leave a comment today. Okay, I mean please comment whether or not you want the book, but if you really want it, let me know. How's that for lack of clarity? We'll choose a name out of the hat, and if my giveaway history prevails, the book should be in the mail to the winner in a month or so, give or take a year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Yes, he's wearing his winter pajamas ...

... even though it's 63 degrees outside and sunny.

But he is using that brain of his and working hard ...

...even if it is to build a barricade to keep his siblings out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Happiness Project: Always


Once a Kentuckian, always a Kentuckian.  Go Cats!!!


Now head over to Leigh’s place to feel even happier – if that’s even possible after thinking about Kentucky bball.



Monday, March 22, 2010

The Champion of Geeks

My daughter is crazy for a boy who is a jerk. He's smart and funny and irreverent. He's also mean, unpredictable, and unloyal. She denies that he is of any interest to her, but that's what friends and brothers are for: to tell the mom everything she needs to know.

Recently, my daughter spent several hours in the company of some very different boys. They are well-controlled, intellectual in nature, polite and even kind to everyone they encounter. They have earned a reputation as good and dependable workers. But they're also a little Dugger-esque without the multiple babies or the long-haired sisters.

Because I never, ever meddle, I told my daughter she should maybe take an interest in that second group of boys. I am certain they would treat her with kindness and be honorable. Their lack of a sense of humor notwithstanding, they would be fine date material.

"No way!! I would never date a geek. I'm not like you!"

And so she laughed and her FATHER aka Checkered Whom I Used to Love, laughed, too.

"Oh, your mom sure did like to date geeks!" Hahahahahahaha!!

"I know! Have you seen the pictures with all those guys and their enormous glasses!!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I felt it necessary to point out that most of the geeks were now enjoying very successful mid-lives, thank you very much, and they never treated me with anything but respect, AND I had fun dating most all of them.

But I've been thinking about you, Mr. Checkered. You were certainly cool in high school. And you were certainly cool for a while after that, but the minute you went back to school and fretted if your gpa dropped below 4.0, the minute you became addicted to tallying your Weight Watcher points on your Blackberry, the minute you began to take pride in how you do laundry and wash dishes, the minute you started arriving at work an HOUR before the start time, well, you became an official geek. And you are the reason I happen to know that geeks become wonderful husbands.

Perhaps you could forward those thoughts on to your daughter now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

FF: There's a silver lining in here someplace

~An acquaintance has just learned that she is SURPRISE pregnant for the third time. This father, like the others, is going to marry her. She has a good decade of fertility left, so I think there's at least one more SURPRISE in her.

~My two youngest boys googled, "Ways to fake sick and get to stay home from school." They were so thrilled with the new great ideas that they immediately found me to tell me everything they learned.

~I've grumbled about having to drive a mini van for past 75 years. Now that I've insisted on getting a bathroomless/air-conditionerless pop-up camper, I will have to drive a truck. A really big truck. While I'll never be able to back-up or pull into a parking space again, I had a recent epiphany that my husband will be okay with us getting mulch this year since he won't have to pay for delivery.

~Mrs. 4444's, mother of Friday Fragments, says assertiveness is good. I wouldn't know about that. I do know that her blog is good medicine.
Mommy's Idea

~My neighbor drives his car about 50 yards every day. Twenty-five to the stop sign and 25 back to his driveway. He's getting great gas mileage.

~My friend's dog died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve. It was devastating. She is now looking for a new dog. My friend is compassionate, loving and having a terrible time finding someone who will allow her to buy a puppy. I sincerely think that other people are offering more $$ than the asking prices. When the right seller and puppy do come along, they're going to find just what a wonderful family my friend and her husband and kids make.

~Another dog-loving friend sent us to our current vet. This vet runs such a bare-bones, no frills practice that had I not trusted my friend completely, I might have thought the vet was not especially swift. It turns out that he is the father of several VERY smart children and he is so very, very compassionate. He always wants my kids to look through the microscope and see all those squiggly things or listen to the dog's heart so they can learn. What's even better is that he almost always gives me a discount. These are the ones I've received thus far:
"You gave my daughter an A in English : 20% off"
"You finally adopted a decent dog!: 15% off"
"You are raising fine children: 10% off.
"I'm sorry that Pepper has a hookworm :( 10% off.
I certainly love that man.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Oxygen

The public service announcement says that asthma feels like a fish trying to breathe out of water. My daughter says it is like trying to breathe through a straw. Last night that straw got so small that I think she burst her eardrum trying to breathe. The asthma is now triggered by more things than it used to be and the attacks scare her. I guess she missed the asthma doctor's memo that said she would surely outgrow this by age 12.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Caution's Crash Landing

These are the chairs in the classrooms where I teach this term. They may be covered in bajillions of germs, but they're comfortable.

But sometimes these little adjustment thingies stick and the chairs get locked into uncomfortable positions.

Some are stuck down so low the students have trouble writing at the desk.

Some are stuck leaning forward so far that students have to sit on the edge of the seat.

And some are just crooked.
And one time last semester, when the teacher sat down on one, it broke right of its base and teacher and chair crashed to the floor. The teacher and students were so shocked that no one could move. Eventually, after the laughter abated, the teacher asked the students if anyone had taken a picture of her on the floor. No one admitted to it. Then again, they never admit to texting during class even though they obviously are. So if you ever see the video of me on YouTube, let me know, okay?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For the Love of a Tree

I took them for granted all my years in Kentucky --those glorious Redbud trees which grow best on their own in the wild. The east Kentucky hills are simply abounding in color at this time of year, and the drive from Ashland, then Morehead and into Lexington is about the prettiest drive in the world. When I moved to Michigan I looked, but there were no hills decorated with those delicate trees. Every spring I get a little homesick and to fix that, I'm going to Kentucky in a few weeks. I haven't been brave enough to ask if the Redbuds are still in bloom, but I surely hope so.
Now it's your turn: what picture makes you happy? Then click over to Leigh's to see what ups the happiness factor for everyone else.


Monday, March 15, 2010

My Very Own American Teen-Ager

My daughter participated in a drama competition last week-end. She and her drama partner did well. In fact, they received a perfect score. Excited for her, I began to talk about the next step of the competition which will take place in Chicago. How exciting to be on the cusp of 15, to be able to do something she enjoys, and to get to do it in Chicago with her best friend!

"Are you kidding?" she asked. "I was bored out of my mind at the first competition."

I was dumbfounded. "But there were hundreds of other high school students there! Your BFF was there! You got to be on a college campus and now you get to go to Chicago!"

"No way am I going, " she countered. "I got almost no phone reception all day and then my phone died so I couldn't even surf the Internet or talk to my friends at home."
You can be certain that when I think of a good response, I'm going to text it to her.

Friday, March 12, 2010

FF: The World Ends at the Edge of Me

~In this spirit of spring and renewal, I've been learning a lot about myself. There's been so much to learn to learn this week that I hope I can fit it all in one post. Here's just a smattering.

~I work in a building cleverly named H Building, so I spend a lot of time worrying that if someone comes there thinking it's a hospital, I may have to pretend I'm a doctor and treat them.

~It's okay to eat all the cookies as long I bake more before the family arrives home. (They'll never even know)

~Sometimes I'm so overjoyed with the first sentence that someone says, that I don't hear anything else they say. That gets problematic by the end of the conversation.

~When I walk between the projector and the screen at work, I always sometimes slow down to study my silhouette - even as I continue to lecture. I just act like it's taking me a really long time to read the words.
~Now that I've seen that picture, I'm worried that I may not have a neck.

~Since I can't love Facebook right now, here are some other things that make me smile:
wind chimes
beaded necklaces

~Virginia may be for lovers but it's clearly also for wonderful bloggers.

~I am not from Virginia so I have no idea how that last one got in this post.

~I always schedule my posts to publish at 6:06 because that's my parents' area code.
~I just can't bring myself to brush my dog's teeth even though her breath is a tad malodorous. Okay fine, it's overwhelming.

~I spend more days calling out to my children as they leave for school, "Don't call home, okay?" than I do calling, "Love you!"

~My favorite blogging days are the group days:
The Happiness Project on Tuesdays at Leigh vs. Laundry,
Three Thing Thursdays at Chesapeake Bay Woman

and Friday Fragments at Mrs. 4444's

.Mommy's Idea
And the thought that most alarms me is:
~I may have given my son my glorious math ability. Some of his work:
2. 7


$ .77
+ 4.74
5. 4

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Facebook, Caution, and God

Deciding what to give up for Lent this year was a difficult decision. Donuts? Done that. Fast food? Done it. Television? The newspaper? Flirting? Yes, yes, yes. This year I really wanted my Lenten "fasting" to be more meaningful, so I gave up Facebook.

I thought maybe I was in love with Facebook. Through it I have found high school classmates, former neighbors, and some of my dearest college friends. I've gotten to be much better friends with some people from my own neighborhood, too. So checking FB multiple times each day brought immense pleasure to me and would surely be meaningful as a Lenten offering.

The first few FB-less days were hard. What if someone sent me a friend request? What if Jennifer posted pix of her first photo exhibit (or the subsequent SECOND one!!)?? What if Lady Fi offered some of her sage advice about life or my last long-lost college friend decided to find me?

But something interesting has happened. The time I was spending "quickly" checking my FB has morphed into time my brain can simply think. I'm teaching better, reading more books, and doing a far better job studying for the Sunday school lessons I write.

This week, instead of checking my FB page a dozen times a day, I've been reading these verses and trying to see what they mean in my life:
If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both. 1 John 4:20,21

In some ways, it would have been easier all the way around to have given up pizza.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happiness Found Here

Most nights, after the household has quieted down and Checkered is drifting in and out of consciousness on the couch, my middle-aged body enters this middle-aged body:

There is something magical and soothing about painfully hot water, and I find that anxieties and restlessness are more easily chased away afterward.

As lovely as that is, what makes me really happy is that under the cloak of a long, dark winter, a swimsuit is entirely optional.

For more ideas of where people find happiness, visit Leigh. Like right now, okay?


Friday, March 5, 2010

FF: People Will Notice

If one gets distracted while mixing cookie dough, and adds 3/4 cup of baking soda instead of the required 3/4 teaspoon, people will notice.

If a blogger links to Mrs. 4444's Friday Fragments, people will notice.
Mommy's Idea

If one volunteers in the church nursery and successfully delays changing a bad diaper until after the service is over and the parents arrive, people will notice.

If one is a student in Dr. Caution's class and picks one's nose, and Dr. Caution can't help but pause during the lecture when she sees the finger up the nose, people will notice.

If one fails to squeeze one's buttocks tightly enough during a sneeze and ends up with an embarrassing snart as a result, people will surely notice.

If one is using a pedometer to count her steps every day in an attempt to hit the 10,000 step mark, and holds the pedometer in her hand while driving, the steps will add right up. If she always records those 10,000 steps but her derriere never gets smaller, people will notice.

If one mentions on Facebook that she cannot find any pants to wear to a work meeting, and the person in charge of that committee and the entire project is her Facebook friend and at the beginning of the meeting comments, "Well, are you wearing pants?" people will notice.

If the writer of a very small blog makes repeated references to gross bodily functions, will people notice?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In the Land of Caution!!

After the flu, asthma, strep, and pneumonia fairies did what they needed to do in January and finally left my house, I barred the front door and got proactive in my cleaning. I disinfected every surface and child I could find even if they didn't belong to this house or family. I washed every piece of fabric which might have come in contact with a germ. And finally, when my job was almost done, and just before the doctors' bills arrived, I remembered the germy toothbrushes. No need to get new ones when I could just disinfect the old!

Ah ha!

I was clever!!

I was frugal!!!

I was a great mom!!!!

As a result, my children haven't been sick since I boiled and boiled and boiled those soft plastic brushes and I think we owe the good health to this:
and this:

and this:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Please Shine Down on Me!

Leigh was a featured SITS blogger the other day and I decided that her blog was worth a return visit. Why?

First, her name. Don't you just love the name Leigh? If I hadn't once pretended to change my name to Elisabeth, I might have considered pretending to rename myself Leigh. If I ever have a daughter-in-law, I'm going to name her Leigh.

Secondly, she knows how to make those little link buttons that I spent all week-end trying to make and couldn't.

Thirdly, she's happy. Today Leigh begins a new weekly theme: it features pix of things that make us happy. Isn't that a lovely meme for Tuesdays?


So what makes me happy? After a long, gray Detroit winter (did I ever tell you that Detroit is the third gloomiest city in our country?), the sun came back!! And, baby, when the sun is out, even the pain of spending $500 between the orthodontist and the eye doctor seems tolerable.

Welcome back, Mr. Sun!

Monday, March 1, 2010


Our scouting year always includes a banquet called the Blue and Gold. It's a time to celebrate what the boys have accomplished during the year and to simply have time to enjoy the friends we've all made through scouting.

This year the banquet was in a truly lovely facility very close to home. That the banquet facility overlooks the Burger King drive-through was just an added bonus for some.

The scouts don't have to pay for their banquet tickets because that is covered in the $$$fees$$$ we pay to our pack for other scouting-related expenses. Parents must pay for their own $$tickets$$. But the event represents tradition and we enjoy it.

Like most banquets, there are raffle baskets and EVERYONE $$participates$$ and dreams of what he or she will do if they win one of the really good baskets such as the Family Fun basket with the board games, the restaurant gift cards, the ice skating gift cards, the football, and the snacks.

During the Blue and Gold, without warning after dinner (during which my friend's husband discovered a very long hair in his mashed potatoes), a raffle ticket number was called and no one answered. Without much hesitation, the emcee called a second ticket number and that is when my son raced out of the restroom waving the first winning ticket. Some quick thinking on the part of the emcee left my boy with his dream basket: yes, he won the Family Fun one.

We played two house rules games of Monopoly today (on the new board even though we already owned one) and a couple of games of Chinese Checkers. We LOVE Chinese Checkers, but have learned the board we got in the raffle basket is too flimsy and easily ruined when five or six people play. Not to worry though. I've already $$bought$$ a new Chinese Checkers game because we can't let the enthusiasm die, can we?

What a $$bargain$$ that banquet was !! I don't regret a single $.

Have you ever won a raffle before? What did you win?