Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thank You, Lord!

I was so happy to talk to Dad last night. He sounds like a new man. He was so sick and I was so frightened when I talked with him Saturday night. He was wheezing horribly, could barely talk or breathe, and definitely wasn't himself. Last night he said he felt like a miracle had happened. His voice is back and he was cracking jokes again - back to his old self! Well, still moving a little slowly, but on the mend in any case. He is taking all the rest that he needs and not pushing himself. He assured me last night that he wasn't about to do anything as dumb as start to feel better, overdo it, and then be back in the same boat again. He said that even if he feels like putting in a full day at work today, he won't do it because he knows he needs to come home and rest. I have been praying so much for him and especially yesterday when I got worried when we didn't know where Dad was and Sherri couldn't get Mike on the phone. I prayed then - a lot! While I know that we are supposed to accept God's will for what happens in our lives, whether good or bad, I am very grateful that Dad is getting better. Even though it doesn't always feel like it, and we can't understand why death or sickness happens, we have to remember that God ALWAYS has our best interests at heart. He is a loving father who wants the best for His children. We humans are imperfect and yet as parents would never intentionally inflict pain or misery on our children - we want to give them good things and provide well for them. Well, imagine how much more God takes care of us because he is perfect and without faults - and He never makes mistakes. He can see the BIG picture when we can't, and knows how it all goes together. That what faith is - knowing that He is in control and that He knows what's best for us, His children whom He loves dearly. Okay - that being said, I just had to give praise and thanks for Dad being on the road to recovery!

It doesn't take much to impress this bunch here at my house (including myself!), but I must say I'm pretty pleased. The Gamecube video game system that the boys have just stopped working one day last week. It kept saying that it couldn't read the game disc, even though there was one in the machine. No matter what we tried, we couldn't get it to work. I got online and found that after a few years this sometimes happens - the reader "eye" no longer functions and needs to be replaced. A repair at Nintendo would include shipping (both ways), plus $50.00, plus any extras that may be deemed necessary in the repair process. We have had it too long and it was no longer under warranty, and when a new one at Wal-Mart was $70.00, I wasn't about to bother with shipping it and paying for repairs. I had told the boys that we could probably get another one but that it would have to wait until after Christmas as we have tightened our collective belts around here until after the holidays. I did some further research into this reader eye online and found that it can possibly be fixed, and found the instructions on how to try it. Sure enough, after dismantling the machine there was an adjustment screw on the fixture of the reader eye which adjusts it's strength. With a small adjustment counterclockwise, it is now working again and hasn't had a problem since. I also found out that this is exactly what repair places do. For a large fee. Taking the housing off of the machine was interesting, to say the least! You are supposed to have to buy a special bit that unscrews the special screws they use to assemble the machines (they can't just have anyone fixing their machines, you know!) I found the bit for sale at some electronics places, but at $19.99 plus shipping, then having to wait for it to arrive, no thank you. I found an easier method. I'm down a few ink pens, but it worked. I melted the end of a plastic pen (after removing the ink barrel, of course) and then held it down on top of the screw and waited about half a minute. I then was able to unscrew the screw perfectly and had created a custom screwdriver! Oh, the things you can learn to do online! I ended up needing to use a separate pen for each of the four screws and also learned the hard way that you must remove it at just the right time, or it will become hopelessly welded into the screw hole and one's husband must cuss at it and take great pains to remove the plastic shards. Ah, well. All's well that ends well. We just have to use pencils for a while!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not much time for blogging lately - although I can't really say what exactly I've been busy doing! Just.....stuff! I started cleaning out Andy's room. And I mean REALLY cleaning. My method is a little unorthodox, but I figured it would force me to finish the job. I completely emptied his room into the living room. Yes. That postage stamp size space we call a living room. Now that it's all grouped together instead of strewn all over his room, it really doesn't look like much. In fact, what I'm finding as I sort, is that much of it can be thrown away. I have listed a few things on eBay to see if I can at least get a few dollars for some of my decluttering. But if it doesn't sell, it's NOT staying here! It will go to the thrift shop. My cleaning methods are strange, but then so am I.

Thanksgiving was very nice. It was a very calm and quiet day. The turkey turned out well, as did everything else. I'm not bragging here - I was pleasantly surprised!

I have gotten a start on Christmas shopping. I can't believe how quickly time is going by. I can't believe it will soon be a year since I started my blog!

Dad is very sick with pneumonia and I am really worried about him. I wish that he would stay with someone who could help take care of him and get him medicine and stuff, but of course he won't consider that. I can't really blame him - if I were that sick I don't think I'd want to be at anyone else's house either. I hope he gets the rest that he needs and doesn't try to get up and about sooner than he should. That's the trouble with things like pneumonia and the flu. Even though you start feeling better, it actually can take your body months to fully recover, and so if you start overdoing it right away just because you start feeling better, it can knock you down even worse than the first time.

I started writing this post a couple of days ago, intending to finish and publish it later. Now since I wrote the above about decluttering, I have received a bid on something I have listed on eBay. Yay! Decluttering pays in more ways than one!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to give thanks for all your blessings today - and every day.

Plenty to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thanksgiving? Already?

Time really flies. Thanksgiving sort of crept up on me. I knew it was somewhere around the corner, but wasn't aware of just how close! Usually it happens that if I wait until too close to The Day to buy my turkey-n-trimmings, that the stores have run out of something or I get second pick. I decided to go yesterday to make sure I got everything. I always look forward to cooking the meal for my family (it's just the four of us - we don't go anywhere and no one comes here). We invited Dad this year because I know that Thanksgiving is going to be rough for him. Thanksgiving and Christmas were Maggie's two biggest holidays and she always went all out for them. He has decided that he wants to spend it with Grandma, as she usually spends it alone and he said they are going to go out together and eat. Anyway, I'm beginning to wonder about my family's sincerity. I like to cook this meal, as I do enjoy cooking and especially like to give my family special meals. Feeling generous, I decided to let each family member request a dish or dessert that isn't included with the regular Thanksgiving stuff. When I asked Jerry what he would like for Thanksgiving, he said lasagne. When I just stared back at him, he said it was just that he hates to see me work so hard on Thanksgiving. Hmmmm. I moved on . Andy's response was also interesting. He stated he wanted an iPod to go with dinner. When told that that wasn't one of the choices, he settled for cookies. I moved on. Tom's response? Bob Evans. By now I was seriously questioning my culinary abilities. They all claim it's to save me the trouble of cooking such a big meal, but I'm suspicious nonetheless!

Yesterday at the grocery store Andy did a wonderful thing for me. I had sent him in search of bread when he came back and asked if he could borrow some money. He said he found something that he really, really, really wanted to give me because I would really, really, really like it. I agreed to lend him the money as long as he held onto whatever it was and gave it to me for Christmas (I should have known better!). When it came time to check out, Andy told me to go around to the other side of the checkout stand because he needed to tell the cashiers that he had a surprise for me and wanted it bagged so that I couldn't see it. One of the cashiers is a lady who has become a sort of friend, even though I only see her when I grocery shop. Several years ago she noted that on one of my weekly grocery trips I didn't buy cigarettes like I usually did and I told her that I had quit. She said she was trying to quit too, and asked for advice on how I did it. From then on we saw each other every Friday when I did my shopping and she would tell me how she had done the previous week and ask for more encouragement. She eventually stopped and hasn't smoked in a few years now, and credits me with that, but I was really only moral support. She did the work herself. Next she said I needed to help her lose the weight she gained when she quit smoking - ooops! One look at me ought to make her realize her mistake in asking that! ANYWAY - (I dost ramble) - this lady helped Andy package my surprise and she had two other cashiers pitch in and help. These cashiers even unloaded my carts (I had two!) and rang up everything so that they could put everything, including my surprise, in the carts and all I would have to do is pay. When they finally told me I could come back, there was a huge banana box in one of the carts with brown grocery bags placed everywhere there might have been an opening through which I could see. They did quite a job! We hadn't been home for an hour when Andy couldn't stand the suspense any longer. He brought the banana box to me and said that I just HAD to open it! I did, even though it was supposed to be for Christmas. It is a beautiful set of dishes. Andy said that he knew I liked dishes and that the design on these was "really cool" (his words) and he just KNEW I would like them. He was right! I told him that I would be honored to serve Thanksgiving dinner on them. Either lasagne, or perhaps we could carry them to Bob Evans with us.

Tom just left to do some clothes shopping. The cold weather took him by surprise this week and he wasn't garbed for outside work. He is really enjoying his job, despite the commute. Next week he is supposed to start working in Mount Vernon. What happened to "closer to home"?!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The time has come, the blogger said,
To speak of girth and size.
Of excess adiposity
amassing on my thighs.

There was a time I saw my feet,
now I can only grieve.
Where once was flat, now is a tire.
Steel-belted, I believe.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nuts To You

What an interesting day. Tom started his new job today. He left at 4 AM to be sure he was there on time. He called at 5:25 to let us know he had arrived. It was a little worse getting home, though. He said he took a wrong turn somewhere (Albuquerque?!) and ended up in Alexandria and had to figure his way out of there and back on the beltway. He is working for an HVAC company and right now they are finishing up work on a rec center in Fairfax. Tom said he helped build a catwalk on the side of the building today that will be used to access the new units that were installed earlier. It's too early to say if he likes it or not - the initial jitters haven't worn off yet.

Sometimes the boys tease me about what they call my "family orientation". I am a stickler for eating dinner together at the table with no television on, and I try at least on Sundays for us all to eat breakfast together. I am also known for initiating "family pizza and movie nights", "video game time", where all of us compete against one another, and other things which really bug them sometimes. Oh, well - there will be time enough for everyone to be off on their own doing their own things. Right now we are blessed enough to all be in one place, so I think a little (or a lot) of "togetherness" is nice! The boys didn't see it that way when I initiated a "family split-and-stack-firewood-for-the-whole-winter day". Anyway, in true "family orientation" spirit, I made everyone get up to see Tom off to work this morning. Yes, at 4 AM. To be honest, I think everyone kind of had the jitters, because all of us had trouble getting to sleep and it really wasn't difficult waking anyone when it was time for him to leave. Jerry gave him last-minute map checks and I made sure he didn't forget his lunch. One day very soon, we PROMISE to treat him according to his age - but not today! I don't expect that he'll have the same send-off tomorrow morning, but you never can tell with this bunch.

In science Andy was learning about Venus (the planet - not the woman!). The atmosphere is so thick there that scientists use radar to "see" the surface as they can't get a clear picture through the thick clouds covering the planet. As an experiment, I had to make up a model for Andy to map out using a kind of radar. I crumpled newspaper into a small box and then poured plaster over it, creating hills and valleys in the box when the plaster dried. Then I made a numbered grid on paper and covered the box with it. Andy had not seen the box and so didn't know what was in it. He had to mark a stick (we used a wooden kebob skewer) with measurements, then poke the stick through each grid and mark the measurement on a corresponding paper. By using the measurements when he was finished, he was able to make a "picture" of what was in the box based on his measurements. Then he took the paper off to see how close he was, and he had mapped our Venus-in-a-box perfectly. The experiment took a while, but it was a lot of fun. Low-tech, but it worked!

I wonder what it means when the nut trees and pine trees are VERY productive? Does it mean a harsh winter or something? Yesterday Andy, Hilda and I picked up shagbark hickory nuts that had fallen from the three trees near our driveway. We have never seen this many before. Most of the time the squirrels get just about all of them and we are lucky if we get a few. Not this year. We picked up an entire bucketful, plus a huge Tupperware bowlful, and Andy and I went back out today and filled a cardboard box top with several more. Looks like we'll have nut bread this year! While we were out today, Andy and I noticed that there were lots of pinecones lying on the ground, too - more than I can remember seeing in a long time. Today was a beautiful fall day and we really enjoyed being outside. Andy wanted to do his lessons outside, so that's what we did.

Jerry is hard at work on his truck. The motor on his brown truck (his baby) had finally died, so he ordered another one which finally came in and he has been hard at work putting in the new engine. A while back Jerry was working on a house when the man who lived across the street came to the job to ask if Jerry would give him a price to put siding on his house when he was finished that job. Well, they started talking and it turns out that this man painted vehicles for a living and Jerry just happened to need new paint on his baby, and so they worked out a deal - siding for paint. Shortly after starting on Jerry's truck, the man found out that he had cancer. It took him a long time to finish the truck because in between he needed surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Jerry felt badly and kept telling Lonnie that it didn't need to be finished, but Lonnie kept at it, and he finished painting it. It was two-tone, brown with beige down the middle, but Lonnie got the brown done and was going to get to the beige later on, but he just got too sick to finish it, and we felt terrible that he was pushing himself to finish. We brought it home as it was, and I guess it will stay that way unless Jerry decides to paint the beige himself. Sadly, Lonnie died a few weeks ago. His wife called here a few days before and said that Lonnie was asking for all of his friends to come visit him, as he knew he wasn't doing well. Lonnie was a good guy, and Jerry really misses him. Anyway, soon his truck will be back on the road, with a new engine and new paint.

Whew - long post this time! I really should start posting more often and maybe each entry would be shorter!

Oh, nuts!

THIS is how you work on a truck.

Low-tech radar!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Tom got a phone call this morning, and he will be starting work on Monday morning - in Fairfax, Virginia. This is through the meeting he had last week at the union office he went to, and someone who works for one of the companies is looking for a helper, so they called Tom. He has until January to be sure this is what he wants to do before signing up for the five years of schooling to become an apprentice and then journeyman. The man that he will be working with told him that they only have another week at the job in Fairfax, and after that he will be working near home.

After Tom told us this news this morning, I did what any mother would do - I bawled. Okay, maybe it's that time or something, but I had kind of gotten used to Tom being around, and so had Andy. Tom is working now, but his hours are erratic and most of his lessons were in the evening, so he was here with us during the day. I can't really say why I cried - I just know that I did a lot of it, and felt immensely better afterward. I think I was crying also because it felt like just the beginning of the changes that would be taking place within our family circle, and it also meant for sure and for certain that Tom wouldn't be moving with us. I know kids grow up and move on, and I have been praying for Tom to find a direction for his life, but when it came, I wasn't ready for it! Jerry just rolled his eyes when I started sniffling and babbling this morning - he's used to seeing me like this over our kids! He just shook his head and wondered aloud what it is going to be like when Andy grows up and the nest is empty for good. Which prompted a fresh onslaught of tears!

I'm better now. My eyes are a bit swollen still, but I'll live. I just refuse to think about Andy growing up - I've still got a little while yet. I'll cry about that later.

Oh, and we didn't win the raffle for the $350.00 worth of groceries at Safeway. Good thing we went to BJs, huh?!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Maybe it's just me, but I believe that when I have grandchildren, (which had better not be for a LONG time yet), they will only know what trick or treating was because of being told by their parents, not because they will have the opportunity to do it themselves. We have been here 10 years and the number of children that have come here on Halloween has dwindled each year until last year, for the first time, we had NO ONE come to the door. (Had to eat all that candy by myself, you know. I considered it a mercy eating - had to save my family from the stuff, of course). This year we had two little girls come to the door, but they were my neighbor's daughter and her friend and were on their way home and stopped by. Can't really count that as true trick or treating, though. I remember a few years back when a very tall teenager dressed in combat fatigues and Army boots held out his bag and with a very manly voice said, "Trick or Treat". I looked around for a hidden camera somewhere, but not finding one, and seeing the expectant look on his face, I obligingly dropped candy into his bag. I do have my suspicions, though, that he actually WAS in the military............

Andy has only been trick or treating once, and that was when he was in kindergarten. Neither of my boys was ever really interested in it. That's not MY doing - I'm all for free candy, especially if I get a cut of the chocolate! And as for that one time that Andy went, he only went as far as Hilda's house, scored a haul there, and decided that he was finished. We had painstakingly made a paper mache (did I spell that right? Doesn't look right....!) turtle shell so that he could be Franklin. I went all out on that costume, attaching Velcro straps to the "shell", and even painting a turtle shell pattern on it. For one house. Oh, well. Once I sewed a dinosaur costume for Tom when he was small. THAT was really cute. Somewhere around here I have a picture of him in it. It was like a green jumpsuit that had a hood, and I had made "fins" all down the back and on top of the hood that were stuffed. Tom went trick or treating a few more times than Andy, but didn't start getting into the swing of it until he was older and then I finally had to gently break it to him that 18 was really too old to be doing that. Nah, just kidding. It's probably a good thing my family has no interest in reading my blog huh?! Oh, the stories I could tell......!

Andy did the neatest (I'm old, okay? I use words like "neatest") thing the other night. He plays an online game in which there are players from all over the world. He and Tom have both been playing this game for a couple of years now. There is a translation mode on the game so that all the players can understand each other while they chat, but the other night Andy took a chance and decided to try chatting in Japanese with a player from Japan. I knew he was playing the game, but I didn't realize what he had done until he excitedly screamed, "I DID IT! HE UNDERSTOOD ME! AND I UNDERSTAND HIM!". He nearly scared me out of my desk chair, but his excitement was worth it. So is homeschooling! They chatted for a minute, then Andy got stumped on something and had to write that he hadn't gotten that far yet learning the language!

It is getting late now, and I think I will read for a while. Right now I am reading Seasons of the Heart, a wonderful book by Janette Oke, which I have already read a couple of years ago, but it's huge and takes me a long time to get through it. I am also reading the new issue of The Old Schoolhouse homeschooling magazine that came in Monday's mail, and An Encouraging Word magazine which came in today's mail. And there's ALWAYS an issue of Countryside lying somewhere near me. Oyasumi!


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