Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dumpster Diving

OK, so I'm gonna break down here and admit that every once in a while, something comes across my path that just grinds me.

Normally I can deal with these rare occurrences and no one is any wiser as to the wrestling in my brain. I am no Monk by any stretch of the imagination (my clutter would push the poor man into a permanent catatonic state), but I do have a couple squeamish tendencies that make Tom refer to me as a germ-a-phobe, in a very loving sort of way. I use hand sanitizer the minute I exit Walmart, I use my own pens to sign papers at the doctors office, and I hold the electronic stylus pen at RiteAid with my sleeve when I sign for prescriptions. I think that's only logical! Who goes to the doctor and pharmacy? Sick people!! (I also prefer my kitchen cupboards to be organized by food group, can size and labels turned OUT, and my bathroom closet to have all towel edges turned IN - does this indicate a need for psychological evaluation?)

Despite what you may be thinking right-about-now, the subject of this post really isn't my minor OCD issues. No, the subject - the daily grind, if you will - is TRASH CANS. In particular, OUR trash cans.

Our kitchen trash can being full doesn't bother me. The fact that I'm the only person in the house who routinely notices that it fills up bothers me. The fact that I am still, after nearly 17 years, explaining to my children the task of properly taking the trash to the outdoor trash can and REPLACING THE BAG IN THE KITCHEN TRASH CAN bothers me.

The lid doesn't bother me. We utilize the trash receptacle so often that I generally don't even keep the lid on it. It's stored near the trash can, and prior to company coming over, we'll dust it off and dutifully slap it on top of the (hopefully) empty can. It bothers me that I don't have a "place" for my trash can other than way-too-near my kitchen table, but it works out great for tossing the dry pizza crust and chicken wings and flipping the Corona bottle tops without getting off our chairs.

Dirty trash cans REALLY grind me. Growing up, my mother used paper grocery bags to line the trash can. Paper bags are shorter than the average kitchen trash can, so this effort really did nothing to keep the trash can clean. Emptying all the trash cans in the house was one of my routine chores, so you can imagine my displeasure at having to haul a nasty can outside to the burn barrel and watch the days' disgust roll down the side of the stained, formerly-white-now-dingy-gray can into eternal ashy oblivion.

As you can see in this picture SOMEONE didn't bother to make sure there was a trash bag in the can before tossing a few coffee grounds in, or else SOMEONE ripped a hole in the bag that was there, and a few coffee grounds slipped through. However, my solution to this problem is this: when I mop the floors, I use my kitchen trash can for a bucket. It keeps it nice and fresh. The bottom of my kitchen trash can is NOT stained, and in fact is so clean, that I wouldn't cringe if a piece of chocolate fell in - I'd probably consider the 30-second rule, blow off the imaginary germs, and depending on the day of the month, yes, I would probably eat it. Because I use a botanical germicidal spray on my trash cans, they are actually pretty clean in between changing bags. So that the other trash cans in my life don't feel left out, I let them masquerade as mop buckets every so often, too. My house may be a mess, but by golly, the trash cans are gonna be clean!

Something else that bothers me is the price of trash bags. Have you bought them lately??!? A couple years ago, I could get 96 quality bags for under $5. Now it will cost me almost $8, for 80. And the box they come in is flimsier! It's not even heavy cardboard, it's barely cardstock weight! So I had to salvage the last heavy box we had. When I get ripped off buy a new box of trash can liners, I toss the box they come in, and put the roll into the old box. I have nightmares that someone with lesser trash can liner fears than mine will toss the old box and I will daily, sometimes more than daily, have to face the fact that I no longer can purchase 96 bags at one time. Seriously, I'm tossing money into the trash can! It's preposterous!

This is my saving grace, though. It proves that I'm not a complete lunatic. It proves that not all trash cans are created equal. It proves that I can find ways to stick it to the man save money.

This came with our house. We bought this house and moved in 5 years ago today. Upon arriving in our new God-provided home, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple outdoor trash cans loitering around the back door. Great, I thought. Wonderful. I won't have to buy new ones. So I didn't. I didn't care that this one didn't have wheels. I just prop it against the house, or the other trash cans. It works fine. It has serviced our dirty diapers, tomato soup cans (that don't get used on Tom's car), moldy bread, junk mail, used coffee filters, and empty Hershey wrappers faithfully for 5 full years.

But now...after 5 full years ... I have been put on notice. Apparently not everyone appreciates my money-saving finesse.

I've been served collection notices in the past, but they've never made me laugh. Until now... and they have a new twist. It's a NON-collection notice! Yahoo!

Two weeks ago, the trash guys left one can untouched on Trash Day. Sitting there so neat and orderly by the street, they abandoned it! We happened to have some extra stuff out that day, so I thought we were over our "limit", although we typically are and nothing ever happens. They're so nice, and they need our junk so much, they just take it for us. Our solution was to have the boys haul a couple of extra bags over to a neighboring house which never puts ANY trash out, because it's owned by a church and not occupied. The pastor's wife told us years ago if we had an occasion where we had extra trash, we were welcome to put it out at that curb, because the church pays for trash pickup for that location anyway. This was the first time we've taken advantage of her offer. (This pastor's wife had some of her own trash disappear a year or so ago, and she thought she was losing her mind. As it turns out, the police had swiped her trash bags from her curb in an effort to nail some drug dealers they thought might be dumping evidence in other people's trash. Ha!)

Voila! Problem solved. But wait! Two days ago, Preston Savannah brought in this lovely little green sticker from the handle of our free trash can. Now we know the real reason they left us in a lurch for trash space!

Have I mentioned we've lived here, and used this very same trash can, for 5 years???!??

I'm not sure why we're getting a sticker from the "Village of Delta" trash collectors. Tri-State Waste has always provided trash pickup for our village, to my knowledge. So I'm going to defend these guys by assuming that Tri-State must have subcontracted that day out to Delta, a town some 30-odd miles away from us. These guys would have no knowledge of my aversion to spending money on new trash cans, and as Tom pointed out, it is slightly difficult to keep the can standing up, with no wheels on it. This might explain why there was a dirty diaper left lying in my front yard after the truck pulled away...

But do you think I'm spending money on a new trash can now?

Think again. If I can screw a piece of wood onto the bottom of this puppy and stabilize it, I will not be replacing this trash can any time soon. The Trash Gods can just deal with it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yes, You Can Help

We're currently in a holding pattern regarding adoption. There's nothing we can do to hurry along any process that has to take place before these babies can have our last name. Only God knows right now if that's even going to happen. People ask us if we plan to keep fostering if the babies do become ours legally. They ask us if we would adopt more. Our answer is "We don't know". We won't say "No" to what God has planned for us. Whatever that is.

In the meantime, to keep my mind off what I can not change, I read other family's stories of happiness, sadness, hope, trials and blessings. I try to encourage people considering foster care or adoption. I try to make people aware of opportunities available for families who want to help in ways other than increasing their own family size, because that isn't for everybody.

Sarah's Covenant Homes in India is a new blog I recently found via one of my regular spots I visit. If you can visit her pages without feeling a tug on your heart, you might need a heart transplant. You might not be called to move around the world and run an orphanage, but if you want to help, you can donate through Sarah's website (see the FAQ section) or you can participate in fundraising opportunities with Kendra at Sugarplum Boutique. Browse that website - another family who's been blessed, and can't help but pass it on to others.

OCC Special Report

Maybe it's because he resembles my inquisitive, ever-talkative 3 year old. I want to know this little boy. He has a temporary tattoo on his left hand - or is it dirt? His face is dirty. What's that in his right back pocket? Is he warm enough? The way his hair is blowing makes me think maybe it's windy. He's clutching his Christmas box very tightly. Did he get candy? How far did it travel to get to him? Is the little girl behind him his sister? I can't tell if she is wearing shoes. Does he have a Mom and Dad? Which shack does he live in? Does he go to school? Is the sock on his left foot a gift from last year's Christmas box? Does he have his pant leg tucked into it? Or is that sock covering a brace? How often does he get to eat? Does he have clean water? Does anyone tuck him into bed and kiss him goodnight? Has anyone told him about Jesus yet?

This picture is from the Special Report Magazine of
Operation Christmas Child, one of the outreach ministries of Samaritan's Purse.

Each time we get an issue, I look through carefully, trying to locate the child who has the box we sent. So far, I've not recognized anything. ;-)

It's one small way we can share God's love with people we'll most likely never meet. If your church or workplace doesn't participate in this great outreach, please consider coordinating a Shoebox drive this fall. That little boy up there will appreciate it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Wedgie-Headlock Comin' Right Up

(image from google)

Take a walk through our county seat on a warm summer day, and you might be treated to the smell of Butterscotch or Cherry Dum-Dums being cooked. But trust me, when I get suckered, I don't feel much like taking the trolley tour of Spangler's Candy Company!

I've had some suspicious looking charges on my phone bill for the past 4 months. I thought it looked a little higher than should be, but it wasn't an extravagant amount, so I let it slide. Finally this morning I sat down to sort out last year's bills, receipts and other junk needed for taxes, and decided to deal with the problem of the extra $13.86 for Emergency Voicemail that's been lounging on my Embarq bill.

Can ya'll see the steam rising over Ohio??!?

Phillip at EBSI didn't act the least bit concerned that a John King (OK, thief! Can't you at least be original?) claimed authority online to charge my phone bill for a 1-800 number. No, Phillip can't tell me who this person is. Yes, he can trace the IP address, but I will have to file a police report and let them contact EBSI to gain access to that address. He will refund my phone bill a total of $51.80. He wasn't interested in chatting with me for long, for some reason.


My phone call to Spencer at Embarq was much more productive, although just as disheartening. I wasn't happy with his answers, but he did say I wouldn't be held responsible for the charges. He was happy to enlighten me on how this happens, though.

It appears that there are 3 companies in particular that are allowed to 3rd-party bill through an Embarq customer's phone bill. They are the above-mentioned EBSI, and two more: UBSI, and IDL. Upon Googling these 3 miscreants, it seems that's exactly what they are - up to no good!

A ne'er-do-well boonswaggler randomly picks a non-suspecting phone number owner and signs up for various phone services online using that person's number. In my case, the twit only needed an Emergency 1-800 number, but I found other victims who had been charged hundreds of dollars for who-knows-what. Had I been hit with exorbitant bills, I would have investigated sooner; fortunately I was only being taken for 14 bucks a month - but by golly, that's a couple gallons of milk and a loaf of bread!

This problem can be avoided by having a 3rd-party block put on the phone account. Except that will mean no one can call our number collect. That could be a problem. Hmmm, Spencer, what can we do to fix this? (Placed on hold...again...) The solution to this was to place a block on each of those three companies individually, keeping the possibility of collect calls open. However, should more companies pop into existence, there's nothing stopping them from stealing from me, until I figure out what they're doing and have a block put on them as well. "Um, with all our technology, you can't fix this problem?"

"Unfortunately, Ma'am, that's the way our program works."

(Ever heard of firing your techs and hiring some real computer whizzes, then?) - No, I didn't say it....grumble...grumble...wish I wasn't trying to obey the Biblical book of James right about now...)

But my biggest question, which Spencer had no decent answer for, was this: When I call Embarq for ANYthing regarding my phone account, I have to verify address, phone number, and security word. They will not discuss my account with me if I don't know what the answer is to my security question. So how in the world could Mr. John King sign up online for ANYthing regarding my phone account???!!!????

Where's the Homeland Security when you actually need it? HA!

Bottom line? Watch your phone bills for weird charges. Better yet, call your phone company and tell them you want blocks on the 3 companies I mentioned. And if, on your way to StuffMart tomorrow to spend your extra $13.00 President Obama just gave you, you just HAPPEN to rear-end a car being driven by a Mr. John King, please remember his address for me - 'cause I'm gonna kick his butt!!!

(Googled Dum Dums Taste Better!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gabe Should Consider a New Workout Routine

He's fine. Bruised and sore leg, but he's bearing weight OK.

Males respond so differently to traumatic situations than females do. Here's what happened today at our house, following Gabe's adventures at the Y with his school mates.

Mom and Savannah were just relieved that Gabe is OK, and both chuckled at the vision of people scurrying out of the building due to Gabe's Gym Faux Pas.

Synopsis delivered to Bucky and Preston:
Gabe fell at the Y today. Down the stairs. He pulled the fire alarm and the building had to be evacuated.

Bucky's response: "Alright, GABE!!" - round of raucous laughter

Preston's response: "Gabe set off the fire alarm??!?? Alright, GABE!!" - second wave of laughter

Dad saw the bruise when he came home from work. He asked me what happened. I told him.
Dad's response: "Alright, GABE!!" - 3rd round on the house

Imagine the testosterone if these three blokes would have actually been involved!!

Cancelled Enroute

It's the number I MOST do not want to see on my Caller ID between the hours of 8am and 2pm Monday through Friday...

"Deanna, it's the school. Gabe...(insert current catastrophe here)..."

(ok, Deanna - it's the school, not the hospital. And close your mouth, your heart's escaping.)

Today the entertainment was Gabe and his aide taking a tumble down the stairs at the Y. Why? (ha!) Well, because Gabe and his aide were working on stair-climbing skills, and the genius who placed the fire alarm near the stairway wasn't aware that someday little Gabe would decide he needed to use that fire alarm for support. Down goes the handle. Up goes the noise level. Up goes Gabe's startle reflexes. Down goes Gabe and the aide.

He'll be home shortly, and I'll have to examine him thoroughly. The report was "No lacerations, but he is bruised on his shin, and he's favoring his leg. He doesn't want ice on it. It's hurting him, though. I don't imagine anything is broken. Fire trucks didn't come."

Apparently, the entire building evacuated. Not knowing the story, the rest of the school staff members were wondering, "Hmmm. Did one of our kids do that?"

Yes, thank you. That would be the Juvenile Delinquent Gabe.

Hey, Mr. Fire Inspector:
Just a thought - maybe you should meet Gabe - Stretch Armstrong ain't got nuttin' on him!! Gauge where you THINK he can't reach, then move it 10 paces to the right. It might be out of reach then.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stimulating Thoughts In Honor of Crooked Politicians Everywhere - But Which Have Little To Do With Politics

Overheard at the beauty salon:

In a discussion regarding the recent birth of 8 precious babies to a woman who has 6 additional children: "Shouldn't Social Services step in anyway? They only have 3 bedrooms!" me nutty, but I don't believe not having individual bedrooms is cause to require a visit from Child Protective Services. And silly me, but I'm thinkin' that CPS is probably onto the case, as it's PLASTERED ALL OVER THE WORLD!!! Leave the poor woman alone!

Apparently one of the hairdresser's children has contracted the horrible disease known as Chicken Pox. "And she had the shot!" (I nearly fell off my chair laughing at Savannah, who was nearly falling off her chair rolling her eyes. Fortunately, her bangs were covering her eyes good enough that only I knew she was rolling her eyes.)

Points to ponder:

If you're going to drive left-of-center for an extended period of time when I'm advancing toward you minding my own business in my own lane, you probably shouldn't identify yourself with "S---n Farms" splashed across your windshield. I'm just sayin'...

Little Mister D, it is never a good idea to demonstrate that you've had enough dinner by picking potato and cake crumbs from your plate and flingin' 'em over your shoulder when Mama is watchin' ya...

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Favorite Author of Mine

Several weeks ago, my aunt suggested that various family members begin reading and commenting on a book together. After several days of bantering, bartering, bargaining, and bickering, my sister Teresa managed to pull the group together with the first book chosen being Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. Our group consists of myself and my 3 sisters (although my oldest sister may be incognito as her husband), my favorite aunt (she's pretty much my ONLY aunt, but even if she wasn't, she'd still be my favorite 'cuz she has red hair and laughs at my stupidity), some nieces, a few in-laws and accompanying relatives I may or may not have met, and perhaps a stray or two of which I'm unaware. Teresa named us The Book Bunch. (She's good like that.)

I've never subscribed to a Book Review Club, mostly because I have a mental image I'm not prepared to handle. Stodgy old men with pipes and plaid jackets, middle aged women wearing Christmas sweaters, and a lone gorgeous gay guy who thinks he signed up for a cooking class all gathering in a dark paneled room discussing poetry by B.T.Donethat and drinking weak tea with lemon wedges. That's the picture in my brain.

The pipe would be cool, the Christmas sweaters not so much, I don't get poetry, and the gay guy - well, hopefully he can make a better cup of tea by the time the book review is complete. As for The Book Bunch, it's been humorous, if nothing else, reading the emails flying back and forth between Michigan, Texas, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina (who am I forgetting?!?) in just simply preparing to begin to commence to think about starting the first book, and all the resulting confusion! So far we've learned that Keeping a Quiet Heart apparently doesn't quiet the fingers very fast.

Moving forward...

Over the past several months, the concepts of quieting my heart, being content, waiting on God's timing, and holding my tongue have been very present in my mind. Anyone who knows me in the slightest way will most likely need a paramedic's assistance at the mere thought that I could be successful at any attempt of patience or shutting up. So believe me when I say that while it isn't easy, it also isn't under my own power that I'm learning. Learning not perfected by any stretch of the imagination. I don't see myself hitting the road to promote my latest book on Virtuous Living with an Emphasis on Taming the Tongue anytime soon!

God's timing is a very strange thing that makes no sense to humans. I don't presume to understand why things happen the way they do when they do. I would drive myself crazy trying to figure it out. Actually, I nearly did! Not so fun - don't really wanna go there again! But one of the really cool things about learning to rely on God is that He gives you peace about the unanswerable. He makes it OK that you don't have all the answers. He helps you accept the realization that your life isn't perfect but He loves you anyway. He puts people in your path for specific purposes and while you may not like it one little bit, it's part of His plan for you.

A few months ago, I caved to technology and created a Facebook account. I've found people from "way back when" just as the creator of this monstrosity must have intended. Friends I'd lost touch with surface on a frequent basis. They've married, divorced, remarried, survived cancer, birthed children, adopted children, buried family members, traveled to other continents, lost jobs, become grandparents, acquired possessions...they've lived. Like me. They've been happy. They've also suffered great loss.

I haven't been involved in the daily lives of most of these old friends. With the exception of my best friend from high school, I have rarely spoken with most of them. It isn't particularly my preference that I only get updates at weddings and funerals, but life is busy. I would love to be with a friend who's undergoing cancer treatment, but my prayers don't have to come from her bedside. They're every bit as effective from my own.

What I would tell my friends, in their good and bad times, is that God is always with them. He knows. He planned. The challenges they face shouldn't be considered their lot in life, but rather what God has assigned before they were ever born. God IS in control, and we can rest assured that His ways are better than ours.

I believe that what gives us a quiet heart is our acceptance of God's plan. Yet, maybe we're so busy asking "why" that we don't see the answers around us. What we perceive as a struggle can be the avenue through which we learn to trust God. God is supreme and He wants us to know Him.

In Keep a Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot says, on page 76:

When we find ourselves most hopeless, the road most taxing, we may also find that it is then that the Risen Christ catches up to us on the way, better than our dreams, beyond all our hopes. For it is He - not His gifts, not His power, not what He can do for us, but He Himself - who comes and makes Himself known to us.

That is what I want.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Style Courtesy of PIXAR

When the nearly-3 year old decides he isn't going to take a nap no matter how many times Mommy comes into the bedroom and tells him otherwise, and when that nearly-3 year old is self-sufficient in his own mind, the nearly-3 year old does not always come out of the bedroom looking the way he did when he went in to the bedroom some 3 hours ago...


Still means EARLY BEDTIME.