Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chocolate-Flavored Calgon

A little while ago, I posted a meme that included a question regarding any confessions I might need to make. I didn't feel inclined. Now I do.

Tonight, I took Preston and Bucky to a friend's birthday party, and due to the fact that gas is at a politically-charged all-time high, I remained in the town where this party was being held and killed some time. I visited the local Dollar General and bought 2 mixing bowls. We've been needing a few extras. They were a buck fifty each. I bought some shampoo for Bucky. I bought a bottle of water.

I drove to the park, and fed baby T. who was along for the ride. She's gorgeously beautiful and I wish I could share pictures of her - alas, I'm told by the state that I must not do this.

As I was feeding the baby her yummy formula, I indulged myself with the 2 other items I purchased at Dollar General.


Chocolate Frosting.

I had no spoon, so I had to use a straw. (I figured this wouldn't look quite so strange to the bicyclists passing through the park, as opposed to just simply using my finger - something I have been known to do.)

When I picked up the boys, I snagged a plastic spoon from Tracy, the mom in charge. Thank you, friend.

Bucky thought I was a little disturbed, and declared me to be in danger of developing acne and getting fat. At that very moment, I really didn't care.

Deanna is exiting the confessional now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Houdini, Alcatraz and a Wheelchair, As Told By Gabe

I have some advice for people who find themselves in a situation not quite to their liking.

The first order of business is to glance around your location and choose an object that will hold your interest, even when the road isn't so smooth. You need to be able to stick to your guns in a tight spot. Any object will do, as long as it's a motivating incentive for YOU. In my case, what kept me focused was my little sister's car seat. It wasn't very far out of reach, but it was certainly going to require some effort to attain what I wanted!

Step 2 is to contemplate how best to escape this contraption you're sitting in at the moment. Pretend to be doing no such thing, so Mom doesn't suspect anything out of the ordinary. (Although in my case, there isn't a lot that actually IS ordinary, but hey, give me a break!)

If you think it will help, pretend to be asleep.

Or very, very bored.

Once you have planned your route, set things in motion with great determination.

If Mom glances your way, just act like this is the most comfortable position you've ever assumed.

If extra people show up while you're working out the details, hide and refuse to answer any questions. Claim that you don't understand English, if you must.

Slowly slip out, a bit at a time and hope that no one notices.

Breathe a sigh of relief when you realize you're nearly there.

Try not to panic when your depth perception problems surface.

Once you've managed to clear the hurdles, strike your best model pose and act casual.

Kiss the ground when you reach it - that's good luck.

Study any sections you had difficulty with, and begin to incorporate into your thought process the alternatives for the next excursion.

Do not kick the offensive object, because you'll get new bruises.

Give Mom a completely and utterly adorable grin when she confronts you with the ridiculous "What are you doing??!!??" question. (Don't say anything like "What does it look like I'm doing??" - that makes Mom angry, and you'll get called a smart-butt.)

Carry on with your plundering of the goods as if this actually does belong to you.

Pay close attention to the small details of the item you originally set out to conquer.

Again, and I can not say this enough, a stern look goes a long way to keeping less able-bodied persons away from your treasure.

This type of manuevering works best when there are many other activities taking place around you.

For this particular exercise, Mom was distracted by a neighbor at the door needing to ask a question. The dumb dog was barking, so she had to be contained. (I should mention that this dumb dog has BEEN being contained for 2 weeks, because she is jealous of my new little baby foster sister, and her chosen method of stating her displeasure has been to begin eliminating her solid waste products on the floor where Mom can see. Mom has been threatening to take the dog away, but she says there's a little more room at the end of her rope to tie one or two more knots. I don't know what that means.)

While Mom was saying goodbye to the neighbor, my little brother smashed his fingers in the front door, and pushed the door shut with his bike. While Mom was cleaning him up, a mosquito flew in her ear. And the baby started screaming. I thought Savannah was going to pull out her hair. Instead she just put my little brother's jammies on him and took him to bed. Mom just stood in the middle of the dining room and laughed her head off. I think she's lost it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


My shopping cohort is growing up way too fast.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's a Delicacy in Hawaii! Really!!

Ok, Mr. Postman, you're supposed to bring me a dream - oh wait, that's the Sandman.

Maybe these two gentlemen have confused their roles or something, because my inbox is full of strange things lately.

Frankly, I really don't care to meet Sexy Black Singles OR Church Singles (no color specified there). And I bet Whoever Has a Crush on Me wouldn't, if they could see how I look when I roll out of bed in the morning, smelling vaguely of baby formula.

I don't know who Mrs. Esther Prakash is, but it appears she wants to donate money to me.

I've been offered more ways to cleanse my colon than I ever care to actually attempt.

A CAR!!! would be nice, but I've seen no mention of passenger vans up for grabs. Do you have one on your Impound Lot?

I sure could use a gift card to Applebees, Costco or Sam's, but I'm a little leery about the requirement to participate.

It's rude for an unknown person to tell me that I need to lose weight.

Hi, Nick. Hi, Andrew. Hi, Julie. Whoever you are.

We faithfully make our house payment every month, but I'll keep you in mind if we're ever in danger of foreclosure.

The government has no business giving me your money, so why are you willing to let them do that?

I don't have time to be a Mystery Shopper. There's enough mysteries that go on around my house anyway, so I don't need to go buy more.

Thank you for Selecting Me to Win, but I don't think I should give you my credit card information, so I'll pass this time.

I have tubs full of pictures. I don't need yours.

Online college isn't currently in my plans, but I'll keep it in mind.

Canadian drugs have just as many side effects as American drugs, even if they are cheaper.

I'm not exactly sure how a male enhancement drug would work for me, a female, anyway.

Please get your facts straight: we aren't tromping all over Iraq because they bombed the WTC and the Pentagon.

You can't fix my credit score.

OK, I get it! I'll never park by a van with no windows or offer to help a nice-looking young man change a tire again!

I have six kids; of course I could use $5,000 a month! Sign me up!

I seriously doubt that Obama is the Anti-Christ. Oprah might be related, though. No, I won't forward your messages to prove my patriotism.

This is an American email address. Please use English. No, I'm not racist because I say that.

What are you smoking that makes you think the world is going to end in 2012? Quit, and read your Bible.

For future reference, my new address is youbugmeatalltimesdotcom.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Campaign for Liberty

As anyone who has visited this place more than once should know, our family has been and continues to be huge Ron Paul supporters.

Over the past year, we've done a lot of crazy things to promote his idea of actually following the rules.

We hung this poster in our dining room. Any politician who comes to our home for dinner will have it staring him in the face the whole time he's gumming his PBJ.

We bought white shoe polish and plastered Ron Paul messages on all sides of our vehicles. And yes, I just took this picture today - it's still on the van.

I actually stepped onto the UM campus and spoke with Ron Paul about homeschooling...

and Preston had Ron Paul autograph his Michigan sweatshirt.
I'm confidant that Dr. Paul is a Buckeye fan, however.

Tom drew a portrait of Ron Paul as a gift for me...

and even Gabe's teachers joined in the adventure by entertaining me with artwork sent home from school...

Ron Paul has invaded our garden...

We donated time, money and lots of effort to campaigning for Ron Paul...we bought newspaper ads, radio ads, billboards, and odd things like newspaper bags to hang "slim jims" on doorknobs...

even Savannah donated money to his campaign, and received a thank you postcard, which she promptly wanted copies of, and now hangs proudly in two different places on her door...

We were absolutely thrilled when the Super Bowl teams gave us a reason to design a Ron Paul shirt to wear to our Super Bowl party...

We marched in a parade in freezing weather, we stood on the courthouse sidewalks and waved signs, we walked door-to-door to talk with people, we received rude gestures as well as high-fives at various public facilities where we were promoting Ron Paul awareness, we set time aside time weekly to gather with other supporters...and of course we voted for him in our primary....

Although he obviously did not get the Republican nomination, he received hundreds of thousands of votes in primaries. He said it surprised him, and made him realize that the American people are hungry for their freedom.

In mid-June, he announced that he was ending his campaign for the Presidency, but has no intentions of stopping what's been started in the hearts of Americans everywhere. He and his staff are planning the official launch of his Campaign for Liberty to coincide with the Republican National Convention in Minnesota in September. This is his mission.
He is only beginning a new endeavor with this kick-off.

I would love to be there. If we could afford it, we would take the whole family. What a great field trip to start the school year!

As for who we'll be voting for come November, you can be sure it won't be the anointed Obama, or the cranky McCain. I'd vote for my dog first, and right now I'm pretty sure she'd do as good of a job as either one of those two clowns!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Did Anybody Else See the Partridge?

We have some lovely friends that we met courtesy of our local Ron Paul Meetup Group. They live a couple miles outside of town. Last month, their family vacationed while it just so happened to be raspberry season. We fed their 4 dogs and 12 chickens for 2 weeks, in exchange for berries. A very unfair trade, in my estimation! We did very little work, and in return got 9 jars of jam, and a few bags of berries in the freezer. Had I purchased the same amount at our grocery store, they would have probably been chemical-treated, AND cost me over $30!

This is the first time I've made raspberry jam, and I must say, the family was impressed. Mmmmmmmmmm...

So now with this second attempt at canning (What? you don't remember my first attempt? No one died, and as a matter of fact, I just opened the last jar today!) being relatively successful, I'm on a mission to save the world through the miracle of self-preserved foodstuffs! Ok, not the world, but my family will be eating more healthfully.

See this? This tree in our backyard is absolutely loaded with pears. Last year, we got none...count, zip, NOT ONE! single pear off this very same tree...Why, you ask? Because our backyard was also loaded with squirrels.

It would appear that the squirrels entertained themselves with cable television over the winter, because we haven't seen many around. Or maybe there's something in our trashcans that causes infertility.

Now if we manage to keep the blasted rodents out of the tree for a few more weeks, we should have plenty of pears to can, make jelly, and share with our berry friends.

(And if we could get rid of the mosquitoes, we'd go outside, pick up that bike, and fashion that lumber into the swing set for which it was intended, but that's another story.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not the End of My Oddness

So I had this bowl of nasty crayons that I just hated to pitch, being the el cheapo that I am. What to do? I zoomed over to this place and found that I can indeed do something useful with these annoying little clumps of wax. The something useful was keeping a couple kids occupied for a while. (We have 10 kids at our house right now, 6 ours, 4 not ours but related, so apparently I'm required to feed them PBJ's right along with my own.) The girls spent an hour peeling and chopping up crayons, and stuck them in the oven. We got quite nervous when we saw them melting because it appeared all the colors had blended together. But when we took the muffin paper off, the bottoms of the melted crayons were simply stunning. (As stunning as melted crayon bottoms can be.) We took them out of the oven after 7 minutes.

I have discovered that all my efforts at healthy living can go out the door in an instant when there's a clingy 2 year old and a hungry newborn in the house.

My nephew is way taller than I am. My niece is nearly even with me. I am wider than they are, though. (Singularly, not combined -oh, my!)

I've been suspecting that James Dobson has lost his ever-lovin' mind, but now it's been confirmed!

Give 2 girls a bag of flour, a container of salt, and a pot of water and you'll have playdough blueberry pie in a couple of hours.

My older sister has a daughter that never shuts up. My younger sister has a son that never shuts up. My belief that God loved me more so He spared me that type of child has been thoroughly destroyed. My 2 year old foster son hasn't stopped blabbering since we got him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Couple That Plays Together...

It is not uncommon for me to say completely ridiculous things when I'm nearly asleep, nearly awake, or somewhere in the general area of sleepy wakefulness. For example...

When Bucky was just a few months old, we had him dedicated. All of our extended family attended our church for the occasion, and we shared a meal together following the service. I had borrowed one of my sister's punch bowls for the day.

That night, Bucky woke up and needed to be fed. I'm not a heavy sleeper, but I am also not prone to jumping right up when a kid cries. I prefer to let them think it over a few minutes and gage whether their current need outweighs their Mother's need for decent sleep. Call me crazy. Being of this mind, when Bucky didn't calm down after a few minutes, I elbowed Tom and informed him that Punchbowl was crying and could he please go take care of him.

I do sometimes recall these odd moments in my life, but I'm usually informed of them a day or two after the occurrence, by my still-chuckling husband. He's also usually had ample time to amuse his co-workers by sharing my indiscretions with them before I'm even aware and can seek solace, or counseling - whichever is more beneficial.

Ah, but when the roles are reversed and it's THOMAS that has trodden into the unknown and fearsome territories of the land-0'-nod...

Yesterday, I drank a rather large, if I do say so myself, helping of French Vanilla Iced Coffee from McDonalds YUM!! - at 3pm. Suffice to say, I was wide awake at midnight last night, so I arose from my supine position on my comfy bed and trekked downstairs to catch up on my blog reading, MySpace snooping, and all-around useless but entertaining bymyselfintheweesmallhoursofthenight alone justmeandthescrewedupcolormonitor time.

I went back to bed around 2:30, and wasn't even quite comfortably laid down on my right side, when Tom leaned straight over me, grabbed my shoulder, and kissed me.

D - "What are you doing?"

T - "I'm following the directions." (Deanna silently laughs.)

D - "Directions for what, honey?"

T - "Directions for that game." (Deanna is choking on her silent laughter.)

D - "What game is that, honey?"

T - "That game where I grab your ass." (Deanna is barely containing her mirth.)

D - "You need to go to sleep, honey."

Deanna will not try to describe how difficult it is to not wake the entire household when stifling a laughter that would be appreciated by no one else at this hour. Which makes it all the funnier. Knowing that Tom's head will turn beat red and he will laugh till he cries when I tell him what he said also makes it funnier.

Hmmmmmm...maybe we should try and find the rest of those directions.

At Least It's Not White Underwear

This lovely scene outside our village caught my attention. I had to do a little research, because as patriotically beautiful as it appears, it just didn't seem right.

The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.

The above, along with much more flag etiquette, can be
found here, and here.

The Flag Code is apparently a "voluntary" protocol, but I do know that you don't want to disrespect people's patriotism or step outside your authority if the flag police are watching. Tim Russert even managed to stir up controversy after his death because someone who obviously ignored Flag Code ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. Good ol' George W. and the insidious John McCain have also been in hot water for not following the rules. They signed flags for admiring citizens. That's a big No-No. Then there's always Mr. Obama, The Man Who Just Recently Discovered That Displaying A Flag On Your Lapel Makes People Happier.

I suppose I need to get rid of my red t-shirt bearing a flag picture and the words "Kiss me, I'm American", now that I'm up to speed on what's acceptable...??

The Boy Next Door

Under normal circumstances, an unclean plate would not be impressive. It would bring out the obligatory "There are starving children in Ethiopia who would LOVE to have your food!" comments and all other wise tidbits that mothers feel compelled to pass from one generation to the next. (An astute husband will generally refrain from pointing out to these particular mothers that they are acting like their own maternal figure.)

This is the first time that D has left food on his plate. It has taken him a long time to realize that there will be more food when he's hungry again. He is always the last to leave the table after dinner. Sometimes he needs his plate refilled not once, not twice, but four or five times. He never refuses new or strange tastes. We have learned to set hot food out of his reach, because he will not wait while it cools.

There are starving children in America, too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Speaking of Killing Time...

A few notables:

The mosquitoes are out in full force in our backyard. We have become prisoners in their minds.

Our garden is looking good despite my lack of pulling weeds. Mosquitoes.

Next week I will be feeding 10 children. My niece and 3 nephews dare to tread on Ohio territory. (Actually they can all feed themselves. My role is Food Preparation.)

I had a very strange dream last night about buying smashed eggs in muffin papers and Kroger shopping carts.

Sailing is fun. Even when there isn't much wind. Only then it's really not sailing, is it? More like just boating.

There's a new VeggieTales movie I haven't seen. It's a blend of complicated moral dilemmas with light-hearted vegetable frivolity. (and when I'm sitting down, my legs resemble Jimmy and Jerry Gourd.)

My 15 year old isn't happy with me.

Parents should read the lyrics of their kids "Christian" music, too.

The last 2 sentences could be construed as having something to do with each other.

I am not anywhere near ready to start school again.

My sister's roses are blue on my computer because EVERYthing is blue on my computer. Maybe I should feed it some Prozac.

Horizontal stripes really do make one's body look chubbier. Buy a full length mirror. Use it. Ignore my appearance when I pretend my mirror is broken. It's just my alter-ego dressing me.

Assembly-line diaper changing is effective, if not exciting.

2 year olds can really make big messes quite quickly. I had forgotten that aspect of parenting/housekeeping.

Maybe it's best to not mention to a friend, also a teacher, that most of what kids learn in school isn't all that beneficial. Shrug.

Eating bread and pasta makes my stomach mushy.

I don't comb my hair every day. That's why they make big hair clips for thick hair.

McCain and Obama just aren't all that.

Fingernail polish makes my toenails grow weird, and painful.

I'm OK with my non-medicated lunacy.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Not Just Killing Time

I don’t generally say a lot about the fact that we home educate our children. There’s plenty of information available, and I don’t think I have anything particularly new or useful that hasn’t already been covered.


...people who actually know us, people we spend time with, people we see face-to-face ask us why we home school. Most of the time, while they might not understand, they are at least respectful of our decision. Sometimes they say stupid things, although I think it’s usually out of ignorance as opposed to rudeness. You know - “Oh, I could never do that! I don’t have the patience.” or “My kids are so involved.” or some such nonsense. It’s painfully obvious that these are parents that speak without thinking. If you can get through potty training a stubborn little boy, you can handle a few hours a week doing “schoolwork”.

But here’s a big part of the problem. Because WE were sent off to school for 30+ hours a week, and because that’s still the accepted norm, society views home education as a full-time sit-at-a-desk-with-a-textbook job. They think we slap pictures of Washington and Lincoln onto the wall, arrange cutesy posters of the cursive alphabet around a chalkboard, produce the obligatory science fair project about Planets, and take a field trip to the zoo at the end of the year.

They’ve probably never heard the term “unschooling” but if they have, the picture conjured up probably involves kids running amok with no adult supervision and frequent trips to Juvenile court, at the least.

We teach our children at home. We don’t have to stick to a prescribed set of rules to accomplish giving our kids the tools they need to function in the real world. We are always changing what we do and how we do it to meet the needs of each individual living in our family. In our world, unschooling means we let our children learn the way they are capable of performing their best. For my sanity and because it works for all of the kids, the math video program we use is very structured. While I understand math, I get very frustrated trying to explain it to someone who does NOT understand it. We follow a semi-structured program for language arts. Pretty much everything else is varied according to the learning styles of each child.

People just don’t understand this. And with few exceptions, unless someone is genuinely interested, I don’t try to explain.

I was talking with a church acquaintance a couple of years ago. We were discussing the fact that her youngest daughter was graduating high school and would be attending the local community college. I asked her if her daughter had been participating in the state’s program that pays for students to go to college instead of high school. (Here in Ohio it’s called Post-Secondary Option, I think. I have no clue if other states have similar programs. Students are still enrolled through their local school district and are therefore eligible for sports and other typical school situations, but their classes, or some portion of classes, can be through a college, if eligibility requirements are met.) This mother nearly gasped when I asked her this question. “Oh No! I could NEVER do that to her! She’s too involved!!” I had an invisible eye-rolling moment and changed the subject.

Recently, one of our neighbors moved a few miles out of town. She is a pastor’s wife, in her 60s and grows a great garden. The boys have earned quite a bit of money helping her around her house and yard. Out of all the strange and stupid things I’ve heard people say about home schooling, she made a comment to me a few months ago that, the more I thought about it, didn’t make me angry so much as puzzled and quite sad, actually. She has, in the past, questioned why we won’t put our children in the local public school, attempting to justify it by saying “There are lots of Christian teachers in the district.” (I have given up pointing out that their Christianity doesn’t change the fact that they teach in a very non-Christian environment using God-hostile materials.) We were discussing our busy lives during a phone conversation, and she was telling me she didn’t think her daughter would be successful at home schooling her two children. I defended her daughter’s decision and questioned her on why she puts her daughter down instead of encouraging her. (an on-going problem I’ve observed several times) She immediately became defensive and said “Don’t tell ME about home schooling. I did it with one of my children. IT CONSUMES YOU!!”

(Interesting enough, her daughter’s decision to home school lasted all of two months, and the children are now in the local school district where there are lots of Christian teachers.)

What got me was the “it consumes you” mentality.

I’ve watched this woman in her yard for four years. It is immaculate. There are no toys left out at night. No weeds are penetrating through the rose bushes. The flowerbeds are beautiful. Her vegetable garden is ever so much neater than mine is. She has a manicured hedge along her chain link fence over which I’ve heard more than one tidbit of business that’s not mine. But she is not in good health. She’s had at least one heart attack and numerous trips to the hospital with stress-related issues. She never sits still.

Who is consumed?

The dictionary defines “consume” this way: to take up, use up, eat, devour, waste, squander, destroy

I am not squandering my life by teaching my children. I realize she most likely used a word out of context. I’m pretty sure her thought pattern was more along the lines of how much time she assumes I spend on bookwork.

Or was it?

In speaking to her daughter, it appears that this lady expects other people to live their lives as she does hers. She does not say that out right, but she expresses her displeasure when things don’t go her way.

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about pleasing her. And I don’t have to be consumed by home schooling if I don’t want to be. I can do an excellent job educating my children if I allow God to direct my path instead of thinking I can do it on my own. What a scary thought! Some days I have absolutely no desire to be a home schooling family. Those are the days when I have to rely on God’s strength even more. This isn’t something I can quit because it’s boring, I’m tired, or the kids are driving me nuts.

For the record: When we pulled our kids from a private school 4 years ago, our oldest had some very serious reading deficits. He was failing most of his classes. He hated school. He refused to pick up a book for pleasure reading. Our youngest had daily headaches and stomach aches and was absolutely bored in class. We have let each of them self-direct much of their learning and now our oldest spends the better part of his day with a book in his hand. Our youngest can transplant entire flower gardens, prepare tasty, balanced meals and produce original designer handbags. Our second child has worked hard and earned enough money to pay for expensive musical instruments and lawn equipment. I am not consumed by home schooling.

Let me just make something perfectly clear - if I’m going to be consumed by something, it sure isn’t going to be something like home schooling! It’s going to be something really REALLY fun - like planning my escape to a private island where Tom and I can run around naked all day without winding up on the cover of the National Enquirer because, as very famous people, inquiring minds want to know what we look like.

Chocolate Cake Overload

Happy 4th of July.

Happy Birthday to me, yesterday. Tom and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and then saw Get Smart. What a hilarious movie! Full of dry sarcasm. Go figure!

Savannah baked a chocolate fudge with chocolate fudge frosting birthday cake for me while we were gone.

Do you know popcorn and a drink will rack you $7.50 at the theatre??? We never buy snacks when we go see a movie. Popcorn makes me thirsty which makes me have to use the restroom which makes me miss part of the movie which makes me mad that I lost the story line and therefore didn't get my $8.25 worth of movie.

There's a Dollar Tree by the theatre we go to. I can buy all kinds of candy there. I have a big purse. I confess to nothing. Milk Duds taste good.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Seriously, Doctor, I've Got This Growth

Tom has been working a ton of overtime, and combined with the other part-time jobs he has, he's been averaging 70+ hours a week for the past month. He's currently in the middle of about a 13 day stretch, but he has all of next week off. (One of Tom's favorite Simpson's episodes is where Homer is at a BTO concert and yells out "Get to the part about working overtime!")

We took the kids to the lake tonight. We were going to take a friend's boat out for a while, but a storm front was coming in, so we just sat by the water and ate B-bot sandwiches. (That's Peanut Butter, in 2 year old language.)

On the way home, Tom was really fighting tiredness.

Tom: "Who's a good dermatologist?"

Me: "I don't know. Why?"

Tom: "Cause I've got these callouses on my butt from it dragging so much."

Me: Chuckle. Chuckle. Thinking about it. Raucous guffawing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Grammatical Probables


Police: Ex-convict suspected of killing 8 captured

Opening sentence:

GRANITE CITY, Ill. - Police and FBI agents captured an ex-convict suspected of killing eight people in two states as he smoked a cigarette outside of a southwestern Illinois bar Tuesday night

How is this possible?

The headline implies he killed something that had been captured. My curiosity is peaked. Piqued. Peeked.

The sentence makes him look like an omnipresent supervillian who's getting ready to hit on the blonde bombshell sittin' at the end of the bar drinking Jack Daniels. Were these 8 people in two states? Are they labeling this man the State-Line Murderer? How could he do this with only one hand? Or did he have one of those things musicians wear around their neck to hold their harmonica while they're playing a guitar at the same time, to hold his cigarette?

These are all questions one should ask oneself before publishing something online. Much like I do. Sometimes.

It wasn't anything exciting. But Mr. Edwards was my favorite teacher in high school, and he'd have a hayday picking
this article's errors to pieces. Then he'd raise his eyebrow at mine, too.

I really don't have too much time on my hands. Maybe it's the coffee.

I Told You I Like Frank

I'm not boring. Rarely do I have a traditional message on my answering machine. I've mentioned that before.

Today Gabe had a visitor. A home health nurse had to come out to fulfill politically-correct paperwork requirements for the bathroom modifications that will soon be happening here. Our bathroom will then be handicap accessible and updated for the 21st century. YEAH! That is another story, though.

While she was here, the nurse (who's grandparents used to own our home, another story) made a comment about us being on vacation. I said "No, we haven't gone on vacation this summer." She replied that her coworker who had made the initial contact with us to schedule this appointment mentioned that we were in California.

"We left our heart in San Francisco, so we went back to get it. Leave a message. We'll call you when we get back."

I Can't Afford Overdraft Fees

My head spins sometimes with all I have to do. Thinking about it wears on my frazzled mind.

What I’ve come to realize is that, aside from my family and my marriage, I don’t handle long term commitments very well. I have this crazy habit of jumping into things that, if I would sit back and think about them for 2 seconds I’d realize, I have no business attempting at the moment. If I sat down and wrote everything I’ve started or thought about starting, the list would be never-ending.

But I can handle short commitments, and it helps if they’re fun. One could say that I might be a wee bit dramatic at times, and that ability has served me well on more than one occasion. I don’t mind people laughing. I actually enjoy making people laugh. I couldn't do stand up comedy, but I can play an airheaded bimbo fairly well. I can crack some pretty dry comments, but sometimes I have to have time to think up something really smart. When I’d be irritated at something my mother had said to me and I would start spouting, my sisters would say, “Yeah? That sounds pretty good. Why don’t you tell MOM that?” Because I can’t think fast when I’m angry, hurt or flabbergasted! And it just isn’t as effective, calling someone up 2 days AFTER a disagreement and saying “Well, just for your information, Joe...I do happen to believe Elvis is alive, so just stick your head in a bucket of ice and inhale!”.

Last year, I decided to join the Dinner Theatre group at our church. In the months leading up to that decision, I had the opportunity to use my dramatic skills a number of times, to various people’s amusement. I had fun. When it came time to start pulling the team together, I was asked to be the Director, and without thoroughly thinking it over - who am I kidding? Without thinking it over at all! - I jumped at the opportunity. It sounded like fun, so...let’s party! A couple of months into this, I started thinking, “What have you done, Deanna?!? You homeschool, it’s winter and you’re depressed, the kids require daily chauffeuring, you want to do this well and you don’t have the time, this will decrease your time with Tom”...I struggled with my decision a great deal, but in the end, I had to rescind my agreement to direct. It certainly wasn’t because I didn’t WANT to be involved. On the contrary, I love that kind of stuff! But, I have to admit, I can’t do everything. Yep, even I have my limits.

At 39 years of age, it has become easy (easier, anyway) for me to say “NO!” to things that I should say no to, if it’s something I don’t really want to do anyway...but when it comes to something that looks like fun, it isn’t as easy to turn it down. Isn’t that what Paul says? “I do the things I shouldn’t, and don’t do the things I should” (that’s the Deanna version...don’t confuse God-inspired with man-retold Message)

Backing down, putting limits on myself, turning down an opportunity to have fun - these are not easy, they are not fun, but they are sometimes necessary to save my sanity. Instead of always looking for an opportunity to bless others by saying yes, I must choose to sometimes serve someone else by saying no. When I make a commitment to perform in one area, it means I have to sacrifice in another area. That sacrifice may have a greater effect on someone than what I had hoped my commitment would have on a different person. How and what I choose to perform can mean the difference between a positive or a negative effect.

The late notice we get when it comes to overcommitment in our lives could perhaps be avoided all together if we would remember to balance our books and pay the important people first. Ever notice that the check-out aisles at Walmart don’t include high-priced items? It’s the little things that get ya! But how often do you stand in line, and at the last minute, grab that magazine with the pictures of pristine gardens? Who are you fooling? Your coffee table is straining under the load of similar books already, and you don’t even own a spade! That crossword puzzle book is going to wind up collecting dust under your couch, so put it back! And the cheap body spray that your 14 year old son just couldn’t do without? He’s allergic to it! The 4 pack of lighters you bought to light already purchased that last week...and lost it!

It’s the same with how we choose to use our time. Committing to the employee ball team might not appear to be such a big obligation, but how many nights a week will you be late getting home? Will it mean you can’t kiss your kids goodnight? What if your team wins big, and you’re obligated to tournaments for an extended period? Will it mean you can’t go to your son’s ballgame and cheer him on? And come to think of it, do the kids really need to sign up for every sport known to man? Check out statistics on kids, stress, and anti-depressant use.

What do we hope to accomplish by cramming so much into our schedules that we don’t have time to sleep? Certainly we need to include time for fun in our lives, but not at the expense of our family time. A backyard ballgame might be just the thing that would bring us closer to our children. A story read before bedtime goes a long way. Wrestling on the floor and getting Dad in a headlock will be remembered forever. Team sports are fun, but the most important team is the family. Kids don’t need a grumpy coach telling them how to toss a ball nearly as much as they need their dad helping them teach their mom how to catch a ball. Story hour at the library might net them a cookie, but baking cookies together and telling stories is even better.

Children grow up so fast, and before long the opportunity to rock them to sleep is gone, and they’re more interested in spending time with friends than they are with us. They need to know that when the friends aren’t around, we are.

One of the best things I can do for my family is to just be there. I want my children to see me serve others, but I want them to know that for right now, I serve them first, as part of serving Jesus. What spiritual effect will I have on my children if they see me extending my Christian love to people outside our home, yet I haven’t set aside the time to cook a decent meal at home in three weeks? What will I be teaching my children about loving their future spouse if I get so caught up in activity that I neglect their dad’s need for time with me?

People don’t intentionally forget to remain close to their family, but life is busy. Love requires effort and thought. It requires a conscious decision to make the RIGHT decision. It means you say no to inane activity and yes to building lasting relationships. It might mean that the activities you participate in either include your family, or you don’t participate. The whole “quality time” debate is one of the biggest lies families have ever fallen for! Kids need their parents, and married people need their spouses. Period!!! (Ok, that’s an exclamation point. I really mean it!!!!) What if we scheduled our family time first, instead of letting less important things crowd out our family? An hour a week just isn’t gonna cut it!

It doesn’t come naturally to slow down in today’s world. But it never WILL be easy, if we don’t start somewhere. I have a stack of old calendars. For some reason, I started saving them several years ago. I can tell you the date we found out we were going to have our fourth baby, when the kid’s birthday parties were, when the tax papers (ugh!) were ready...and that Tom and I had a date on Sunday, February 13, 2000 and Sara babysat for us. Some families pull out photo albums to recount past events. We have photos, but not in albums. Some families make a practice of journaling their every move. We aren’t a journaling household. Our family reads old calendars. Weird? You bet! But until I can figure out how to clone myself, it’ll have to do. What has struck me, though, in glancing back through the years, is that I can literally see when our family has made time for each other. If I compare the calendar dates to the stressed vs. happier times, invariably the result is that the emptier the squares, the better our family has fared.

We can’t avoid all things that might bring tension into our lives - kids have to have braces adjusted, mom might need help with moving the piano, the dog consumed an unmentionable and needed surgery...and inevitably, those things will happen when you have the least amount of time to spare. But trying to squeeze just one more activity in between Jr’s karate lesson, guitar practice and T-ball game just might push somebody over the edge.

With the addition of new family members, it’s becoming more important than ever that we reserve time to be a family together. Our circumstances being what they are, we are not able to go outside our home and serve Christ by helping others nearly as much as I would like. We probably will never go on a family mission trip to Cambodia. Our opportunities to spend a Christmas holiday working in a homeless shelter are fairly slim. But we can share God’s love in our home. We can teach our children the importance of caring without leaving our front porch. That’s a commitment I’m willing to stick to.

Bottom of the Pork Barrel

Please do not disclose how much of my money was diverted to pay for this.

Oh, Good Grief!