Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Getting to know me...

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends.
NOTE: Okay, people! This is generally sent via email, but I wanted to post it to our blog. Please participate by copying the entry into an email and sending out to all those who love you and would want to know your favorite Christmas traditions!
 Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a  SCROOGE!!!  Just copy not forward) this entire e-mail and paste into a new e-mail that you can send.  Change all the answers so that they apply to you.  Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you......Tis the Season to be NICE!
 1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?  Wrapping paper,generally, unless the size/shape of the gift warrants a bag. Then, it's all-out: matchy-matchy tissue peeking out the top and everything.
 2. Real tree or Artificial?  Prefer real; life dictates artificial until life calms down. Looking like we'll be celebrating with a fake Christmas tree forever.
 3. When do you put up the tree?  Day after Thanksgiving. Who WANTS to go shopping when it's INSANE!?!? Besides, it's my favorite tradition that I have from growing up—we would all bundle up, because in Elbert, it was  inevitable snowing buckets, and all trudge out in the back pasture to pick the perfect tree. Mom always had the final say-so, and no matter how small a tree looks under God's great ceiling, it was always 2 feet too tall for ours!
 4. When do you take the tree down? After New Years'
 5. Do you  like egg nog?  Yes, but it's gotta be chased with some plain ole milk or something—so thick a gal could choke, you know?
 6. Favorite gift received as a child.  I will never forget the Christmas that Santa brought me a whole bunch of sewing stuff. I mean, she – ahem, HE went all out. We three kids would come out on Christmas morning, drop to our knees before our respective collections (so artfully displayed) of gifts from Santa, and dig into the fun. My  little sister, however, did not think that My Pretty Pony (or whatever it was that Santa got her that year—I'm remembering MY favorite, not hers!) was her collection, and Mom had to tell her that that was my stuff and hers was over here. I also remember (may have been the same year?) that Santa brought me a whole slew of art stuff, and I think I still have one of those sketch pads.
 7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes complete with a creche, and also a beautiful cream & gold porcelain one that becomes our Christmas dinner centerpiece. 
 8. Hardest person to buy for? Teenage mutant ninja girls. Just kidding; they give us lists. Um… usually, people I work with. You can't give a gift to everybody, and some will get something more personal, and then there's always the person that you didn't get anything for…
 9. Easiest person to buy for?  Me! I love whatever gifts I get myself. Just kidding. It's pretty easy for me to shop for my husband. He's an extension of me!
 10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Christmas what??? Oh, CARDS? I haven't sent those in years. 
 11.  Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I almost didn't put it, but then, it's not like they'll be reading this anyway… a frying pan. Yeah, how would you feel if the gift you got said "get in the kitchen and fix me some chicken pot pie, woman!" (Vernacular changed; I don't talk like that anymore, but the term of "endearment" started with a B and not a W)
 12. Favorite Christmas Movie. The Nativity Story, the Grinch (the Jim Carrey version, too—he did a great job!), It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story (You'll shoot yer eye out, kid!)…  Oh, was I only supposed to name one? Not gonna do it; get over it.
 13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes—and anyone that says no is LYING!
 14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Fudge (I'm going with Margaret on this one!)
 15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? On the tree: both. On the house: varies from year to year, depending upon mood and what strings still light up
 16. Favorite Christmas song?  Silent Night, Holy Night—they REAL version.
 17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay Home – especially this year!
 18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?  Well, I could, but after Grandma got run over, they all got the chair, and he's got new ones now… Greedy, Dopey, Sneezy, Grumpy, Lumpy, and Clueless… Oh, you think not? Don't you watch the news?
 19. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?  One special one on Christmas Eve, the rest in the morning
 20. Most annoying thing about this time of year?  All the merchants that put stuff out in July and stupid retailers that think I want to buy a Holiday Tree (or worse: a Family Tree. Duh! Those are on paper, you idiots!). Do Jews put up "Hannukah Bushes"? Does anyone besides people celebrating Christmas decorate a tree? Gimme a break!
 21. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? My favorite ornaments are blown-glass; I have some that are "American" blown-glass (generally clear or colored-clear glass), and some that are Czech glass (the shaped and inside-mirrored ones) with the fancy colors. One day, I would like to have a tree with all cream & gold (& glass w/ gold) decorations and white lights. We have so many ornaments in our family, we could easily do two trees, so I may someday get my wish!
 22. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Family and friends  to share it with. And strawberry lemonade!
 23. What do you want for Christmas this year?  To honor Jesus, the Christ and the reason for the celebration, in everything.
 24. Who is most likely to respond to this?  Got it from Margaret, and she's the one I would have said…
 25. Who is least likely to respond to this?  All the rest? Hey, it's Christmas, and these things take TIME! Now, go get on those Christmas emails, ya'll!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

quick update on DH's Dad

Many of you have been praying, and we thank you for that.

Dear Hubby and I had to leave town rather unexpectedly because his Dad (Colin) was doing poorly. So here we are somewhere in Oklahoma, and I have a few minutes to blog!

A couple of weeks ago, Colin had some pretty serious kidney stones. He had some in both kidneys, and they were fairly large. He went in and had surgery to remove them (via a scope--they didn't have to cut), and they got one but the other one went back up inside the right kidney. It wasn't small. They put a stint in, and he went home, doing very well. A couple days later, they pulled the stint out, and he seemed to be doing well until Tuesday when he woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't urinate and was in extreme pain. They went to the emergency room, and he was in considerable pain. They gave him some morphine, which helped the pain but caused some interesting delusions--he was having a hard time resting because when he was seeing things behind his eyelids.

Well, what basically had happened was this remaining large kidney stone wanted to pass and started to move down and out of the kidney. Because it was so large, and because they're not polished little stones (they're jaggedy, and filled with crud), it scraped and caused damage, and I believe it got "stuck." It was blocking the kidney, and somehow affected the other one--neither one of them was working correctly (1 is good, 7 is bad; both were at about 3.5). There was also a blood clot in the right kidney; again, likely due to the scratchy stone.

Well, they scoped him again that night, and just missed the stone again. Evidently, they want to blast it with the laser, but that's not something that they can do while he has an infection, which he certainly does. He has a stint back in place keeping the stone from moving down again, and got IV antibiotics and is now taking them to control the infection.

To make a long story short: Colin is home, and feeling okay, but worn out. Fortunately, the unpleasant side effects of the morphine has worn off and the pain is much more easily controlled now. He needs to heal and get over the infection so the doctors can take the next step.

Dear Hubby's Mom, Peggy, is also doing very well. You may recall that she has been struggling for the past couple of years and about a year ago was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. This disease is often associated with someone that has a lifetime history of drinking; Peggy never touches a drop. She has been on a number of medications for a number of years, and she has struggled with her health the last couple of years. She was diagnosed w/ cancer and had a kidney removed; the other seems to function just fine. She has experienced no small amount of God's healing in her body, and has been taken off of the liver transplant list. She still gets tired very easily, and it doesn't take much to knock her down, but she is eating well again, and has finally started to regain some of the weight that she lost when she was sick for so long.

It's hard on DH, because we are so far away. We are blessed that they have so much family around, but they also both tend to do too much--can't say no, you know? We continue to pray for them, and God continues to answer. Anyway, thank you everyone for your prayers, and know that we pray for each of you daily that God gives you the strength and support that you need to face whatever life throws your way each day.

God bless, and we'll be back in Colorado tomorrow (Monday).


Monday, November 19, 2007

Boycotting "The Golden Compass?" Our family will be!

The Golden Compass

You may already know about this, but I just learned about a kids movie coming out in December starring Nicole Kidman.  It's called The Golden Compass, and while it will be a watered down version, it is based on a series of children's books about killing God (It is the anti-Narnia).

It is written by Phillip Pullman, a proud atheist who belongs to secular Humanist societies.

Please follow this link, and then pass it on.  From what I understand, the hope is to get a lot of kids to see the movie - which  won't seem too bad - and then get the parents to buy the books for their kids  for Christmas.  The quotes from the author sum it all up.

The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

Please pass on to everyone you know.

We need to be sure to spread the word about this movie!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saving Money at the Pump

Easy Ways to Conserve Gas
  • Take It Easy - aggressive driving ruins efficiency as much as anything. Revving the engine, quick acceleration, and high speed travel reduce your MPG a lot faster than you may realize. When applicable, use your cruise control to help keep the RPMs level.
  • Timing is Everything - Stop-and-go traffic, crowded roads, and looking for a parking space are all fuel-burners. Try running your errands outside of rush hours and peak shopping times. With the amount of stores that are open late or 24-hours, you can find most of what you need later or earlier than peak times. Not only can you save time getting there and parking, but it is often cooler at these times so you don't have to run the air conditioner. Try parking as soon as you get into the parking lot (instead of driving around, looking or waiting for the perfect parking spot—that probably doesn't exist anyway!) and walking the distance.

  • Race ya! – when stopped at traffic lights, do not "punch it" when it turns green; rather, come up to speed gradually, especially if you are just "racing" to another red light. Try to time your stops so that you are still rolling ever so slightly or only just stopped when that next light does turn green—it takes more gas to start from a complete stop than it does from a rolling stop.

  • Don't be a "Gas-Brake-Gas" driver—when it's time to slow down, simply take your foot off the gas and let the car coast slower (unless you're about to hit somebody!), especially if you see a red light ahead or traffic slowing down. Give the car in front of you some space, and then you won't have to hit your brakes, either.

  • Use common sense – if you drive a standard transmission, keep your foot on the brake at red lights, instead of "bouncing" or using the gas pedal to keep you from rolling backwards. No "creeping" either—it's hard on the brakes and hard on the transmission, not to mention your fuel economy.
  • Proper Maintenance - Inexpensive do-it-yourself maintenance such as replacing your air-filter and properly inflating your tires, and using only the necessary octane can make a big impact. In addition, using the proper weight of oil and performing scheduled tune-ups can make noticeable improvements as well as keeping the oil topped off at all times.
  • If you have more than one car, use the more efficient one - Sure it is a little harder to squeeze the groceries into that small trunk rather than the back of the SUV, but this may help you afford to get that filet rather than chopped liver (unless of course you like chopped liver).
  • Lighten the load - the weight that an engine has to push directly affects the fuel efficiency. Take all unnecessary items out of your vehicle (you should probably keep the spare tire and related tools). In addition, although most people like going for rides, try to only take those that need to go.
  • Reduce your trips -
    - On the way home stop and pick up what you need so you don't have to go back out later. Use lists so you don't forget anything. Make do with what you have when you do forget something. Call the kids before you leave the store, because they're waiting until you get home to tell you that there's a bake sale at school, and they need you to make 8,000 cookies tonight.
    - Not to support any one type of business, but try to buy what you need at a single location rather than driving to multiple stores (as long as you don't have to drive too much further to get there).
    - Clean out the fridge and cupboard rather than going out for a meal.
    - Order delivery. Sure someone is using gas, but the driver will usually be delivering to multiple people thus having a more efficient trip.
  • "Carpooling, it's not just for work anymore" -
    - Go grocery shopping with your neighbor.
    - Split the dropping off and picking up of the kids with the other parents.
    - Get together with friends and family at each other's homes. This way only some, not everyone, will be traveling.
  • Buy a Locking Gas Cap – Reports from several automotive parts stores report whenever a spike in gas prices occurs they see a run on keyed gas caps. Many of the people purchasing them tell the clerks the same story, "I went out in the morning and my tank had been drained".
  • No Joy-Riding -
    - Remind the kids that driving is a privilege and not a right. The same bike that got them around when they were fifteen probably just needs some air in the tires (and I bet they forgot how much fun it is to pop wheelies).
    - This could be a good time to rebuild the carburetor on your classic weekend driver.
  • Explore More Activities at Home -
    - Pay-per-view or home movies vs. the video store or theater.
    - Yard / Housework: finally clean out that attic / basement or weed that flower bed that keeps bothering you. Just quit procrastinating, already!
    - Athletic Activities: play catch, soccer, bike riding, hiking, jogging, walking, meditation, etc.
    - Misc.: board games, darts, reading, family talk hour, call old friends, write letters (REAL LETTERS!!), hobbies, etc.
  • Explore More Activities Close to Home -
    - A Little League, high school, or youth organization game can be as much fun and a lot cheaper than taking a road trip or driving into the city for a college or professional game.
    - Explore the nature in the parks in your community rather than driving to the larger parks.
    - The local thrift stores can be more interesting than some museums.
    - Community Service - You could perform some roadside beautification (a.k.a. picking up trash) and give smug looks to all those passing motorist who are wasting gas. Or DON'T—ya' snob!

  • Fill up your car or truck in the morning when the temperature is still cool. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground; and the colder the ground, the denser the gasoline. When it gets warmer gasoline expands, so if you're filling up in the afternoon or in the evening, what should be a gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and temperature of the fuel (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products) are significant. Every truckload that we load is temperature-compensated so that the indicated gallon age is actually the amount pumped. A one-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for businesses, but service stations don't have temperature compensation at their pumps.

  • If a tanker truck is filling the station's tank at the time you want to buy gas, do not fill up; most likely dirt and sludge in the tank is being stirred up when gas is being delivered, and you might be transferring that dirt from the bottom of their tank into your car's tank.

  • Fill up when your gas tank is half-full (or half-empty), because the more gas you have in your tank the less air there is and gasoline evaporates rapidly, especially when it's warm. (Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating 'roof' membrane to act as a barrier between the gas and the atmosphere, thereby minimizing evaporation.)

  • If you look at the trigger you'll see that it has three delivery settings: slow, medium and high. When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to the high setting. You should be pumping at the slow setting, thereby minimizing vapors created while you are pumping. Hoses at the pump are corrugated; the corrugations act as a return path for vapor recovery from gas that already has been metered. If you are pumping at the high setting, the agitated gasoline contains more vapors, which is being sucked back into the underground tank so you're getting less gas for your money. Hope this will help ease your 'pain at the pump'.

~ Some of these tips were derived from and some from, some from an email I must have gotten 43 times already by some guy that has worked on a pipeline for 31 years, and the rest I made up myself based on my own personal knowledge of the industry. ~

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things I have learned since becoming a mother:

(and this isn't the same list that has been circulating in emails for a couple of years that talks about a queen-sized waterbed contains enough water to flood a ranch-style home with 2 inches of water, and flushed flashlights illuminate the toilet bowl.)
  • I now understand why Dad took away all my toys when I couldn't/wouldn't keep my room clean. We're mostly past the toys stage, and full-blown into the clothing stage: it's called a hamper, Sweetie!
  • Kids claim (falsely, I fervently believe) that they can distinguish between clean and dirty laundry, no matter how interspersed the two may be
  • Old cats pee on everything. Except kitty litter.
  • Old cats barf a lot. Especially on white carpet. White carpet isn't white after cats barf on it. Now it's leopard-print!
  • City kids have no idea what a growing tomato, broccoli, cucumber, or pepper plant looks like. Imagine explaining to them where the seeds come from!
  • Mice like garages. Especially garages where dog food gets dropped a lot.
  • Mice scare the daylights out of Moms when opening a box that was stored in the garage and there he is, peering at you just as frightened of you as you are of him. Maybe more so.
  • Parent-teacher conferences are never scheduled at a good time for the parent.
  • "huh" and "I dunno" are the first words teenagers learn. Older siblings and peers can be pivotal in helping them learn these words while still tweens.
  • Once-A-Month-Cooking gives one much more energy throughout the rest of the month to pursue such hobbies as baking cookies, giving homework help, and haircuts.
  • Once-A-Month-Cooking is best performed with help. Useful help is good, but yet oh-so-hard to find.
  • Potatoes don't freeze well for once a month cooking. Still not sure how they do it for commercially-sold French-fries and hash browns, and probably don't want to know!
  • Celery doesn't freeze well after being cooked, and can ruin an otherwise great quadruple batch of split pea soup
  • Teenagers are an excellent example of why some of God's creatures eat their young.
  • No matter how much it makes sense to eat them, we still love them—even more so when they're being most edible.
  • Parents are human, and humans generally don't eat their children, unless they want to be locked away for years.
  • Teenagers will lead parents to question if they will be locked away for years if, rather than eating them, they chain up their teenagers in the basement until they turn 21. They contemplate doing so anyway, and and wonder if they have enough fingers and toes to count the years.
  • Parenting is a thankless job, unless and until one starts thanking one's own parents
On that note: I LOVE MY PARENTS (all of 'em!), and I forgive them for any real or mostly imagined faults (especially my part of imagining!) in their parenting of me—thank you for loving me enough to discipline me when I needed it, not that it was very often, cuz we all know what an angel I was and still am! I like to think I turned out okay, and I hate to think that they ever may have wondered how I would make it in the world.
I also understand if they still wonder…
(and just in case you were wondering, we absolutely DO love the kids!)
If Hillary is the answer, it must have been a stupid question. -unknown

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sleep, anyone?

Imagine, in your best snobby, rich-kid, brat-pack from the 80's movie voice, some snotty kid (more on that thought later) querying, "Tennis, Buffy?"

Wow, this wife and mother thing has its challenges! Like the challenge to get up in the morning and get myself ready, and crack the whip to get princess #2 moving so we can get out the door in time that she's not late for school and I'm not late for work... On the weeks that she's here, I take an alternate route to work so I can drop her off, and although I've left the house almost 30 minutes earlier, battling traffic at that beautiful high school (who failed to plan for TURN LANES and TRAFFIC CONTROL??? Sheesh, people! Did you not realize that your several thousand chilluns would be driving to school at the same time their thousands of parents are trying to get to work?), and then battling down one of those roads--you know, the kind with enough lights to make the traffic move so slowly that only two cars can get through on each cycle? It's amazing I get to work at all, some days. But, the Lord has blessed me with some outSTANDing sunrises! Particularly because of the unfortunate fires in Cali these past weeks, the atmosphere has enough junk in it that even when there aren't any clouds for painting, the sky itself is shaded the most unusual and beautiful hues.

Challenges... yeah, that's where I was going (how cool that I got sidetracked by beautiful blessings?). The challenge to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. Princess #3 has been an amazing help in this department, as has our family's decision (read: solely my decision, and the rest of them had no choice in the matter) to start Once a Month Cooking. (Go Google it--it's a ton of work up front, but a lot less later) #3 and I gotta work on the final directions--I often forget that she hasn't spent as much time in the kitchen as I have, and directions like "dump the bag into the bowl and put it in the oven on 400" don't get translated into "dump the bag, smash the contents down so there's not a mountain sticking out the top and getting burned and oven-dried beyond reasonable limits of human consumption and pools of liquid surrounding aforementioned mountain like a bubbling moat." Challenges communicating: "Can I go trick or treating with Sally (names always changed to protect the guilty)" actually means "will you come home early from work, help me put the final touches on my costume, and then take me over there--oh, and pick me up when we're done, and no, I didn't study for my 2 tests that I have on Friday like you told me I had to do or I couldn't go with Sally..."

Or how about the challenge of trying to make gravy for the potroast (which has been cooking all day, the mere smell of which has set the tummy monster into a fit of rage) while trying to answer the door for trick-or-treaters? I swear, every time I dumped some of the slurry in, the doorbell would ring. Well, at least it got to cook long enough that the gravy didn't taste like flour. (Again, back to the blessing... Hmm, I guess I'm still a raging "good attitudist"!)

Or, the challenge of getting the hubby home in time to have dinner before the clock tells me that it's tomorrow? I tell you what, he had worked almost 60 hours between Sunday and Wednesday, and not a day off in sight. I do like to see him live and in person every once in a while (I have his picture on my desk for those days when I can't wait to see him--which would only be days that end in "y"), and because he isn't the best at making time for meals while at the store, I like to have something ready for him to eat when he gets home. We then sit at the table and unwind him from the day, and I catch him up on the latest Princess Antics. Occasionally, one or more of the Princesses will stay up so they can see him before bed--oh, and then be so tired that the alarm gets shut off in the morning and DW gets a call saying someone overslept and just woke up and whoops, school started 45 minutes ago and oh, do you think that's a problem to oversleep on the day after All Saint's Day Eve? (Just in case you're wondering, YES, it's a problem. No more trick-or-treating for you, ever. Just kidding. I DO love you, Princess #3! I guess it shows, since I surprised you with the finishing touches for your costume and only reminded me that "you owe me bigtime" about 8 times!)

Then there's the challenge of sleep. Sleep, that blessed state in which one's body is refreshed, rejuvenated, and revived to do it all again another day. That state which has effectively eluded me for far too long. Thanks be to cats, who complain loudly throughout the night that they need food, and such tasty morsels have to be doled out in tiny portions because Old Man Wulfie will barf because he eats too fast and his old tummy can't take it anymore. Or Little Chunk will just starve to death (NOT!) if she doesn't get some food right now. And if it's not food, it's snuggle. As in, snuggle NOW! Oh, were you sleeping? Well, all the better, that means she has a captive audience. I have kicked the cats in my sleep before--would it be wrong if I pretended to sleep and gave them the boot? Hey, they'll never know that I wasn't sleeping... Not that it's all the cats' fault--somehow, I'm just waking up for no apparent reason in the middle of the night. How can a person be so tired and still have such a hard time sleeping?

So, back to Buffy. Sleep, Buffy? Oh, Buffy rhymes with fluffy. As in pillow. Pillow-top bed. Comfy. Calling my name. Now. Gonna go try to snag some of those elusive Z's. Slap-happy? Delirious? Can barely type? Choose "D," all of the above.

Drifting off, thinking, "I can't wait to review this post tomorrow and see what I really wrote." Should be entertaining! Stick THAT in your snobby-voice pipe and smoke it! Gosh, I love those old 80's movies, the really stupid ones with John Cusack in them. I'll probably have a dream where some kid is screaming "two dollars" all night long. Ahh. Dreams. Okay, NITEY-NITE!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

check out the link

Even if you've never been to YouTube, all you have to do is click on the link at the right that says "Are you proud?"

Great stuff--and from a 15-year-old! Thanks be to God that there are some teenagers that aren't so absorbed into MTV, Ipods, MySpace and FaceBook that they can see what's really going on in the world.

Thanks to Mimi for the link, and the email entitled "grab a hanky!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Master has been out with His paintbrush

Oh, the lovely colors of fall! Often, we do not get to enjoy these as much in in this part of the country as those from the New England area like to brag; this year has been an exception, to be sure. The girls have a long-standing tradition of going to a charming mountain town each fall with their Dad toting cameras and enough cash to load up on ice cream and beanie babies (they've mostly grown out of the last stage). Last year, Princess #1 was still learning to drive, and got some drive-time experience on the way up. Dad got a "learning how to sit in the backseat and silently white-knuckle the whole ride while Dear Wifey sits in the passenger seat and coaches" lesson. It's a hard lesson for either parent--I remember my step Dad teaching me to drive because my Mom recognized that she might kill me if she had to teach me. I love you, Mom, and to this day, thank you! We probably have a better relationship for your having let someone else teach me to drive... I recognize how tough it is for a parent to let the arrow loose from the bow--oh, how the string quivers after sending such a precious arrow out into the world. Anyway, that was last year (no, don't think for a second that we're "over it"). She's driving on her own now, working and attending the local college... She doesn't write, she doesn't call... sisters (and DH/DW!) are starting to wonder: when's she gonna come home!?! Oh yeah... The colors (isn't that how I started down this train of thought?) in the mountains are a most beautiful yellow of the aspens against the stark contrast of the evergreen trees on the annual sojourn to the mountains. Sadly, the beatles are killing more and more of those dark trees, and the contrast is more yellow against brown these days... very sad, but that is part of the cycle of life, I suppose. So, THIS year was a different story. In a rare sighting, Princess #1 actually asked if we could plan a trip to this secluded mountain town. Now, when it came time to actually go, it was a different story (she's working, or Dad's working, or birthday parties are happening--oh, but the list does go on!), but it certainly got us all thinking again. We have been especially blessed with an extended Indian Summer this year--heck, we're still picking tomatoes, although their ripening has slowed significantly in these past weeks. We have, however, had one of the most colorful falls I can remember. Oranges, reds, yellows--reds over greens, and more. WOW! And just enough rain lately to keep everything from drying out, so the leaves are still actually on the trees and yards are still (mostly) green. The Master has been at work again, and we there's not a day that we don't enjoy it. We have the beautiful mountains out our back door (okay, there are actually neighbors' houses in the way, but we can see them when we drive around), and stunning colors to amuse us. God loves you so much that he sends you flowers every spring, but fall will not be outdone with its stunning array of contrasting colors. I love God!

So, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but (no, not a miniature sleigh--it's not time for that yet!) a weather prediction of temperatures touching 30 degrees. Bummer! I wanted more 'maters! So, I made DH come out in the blustering wind with me to drain water out of the planter boxes and move the still heavily-laden, green-fruited vines into the garage. Whew, biting wind, but a hood makes ALL the difference in the world! He must really love me (yes, he does!) to brave the bluster. Yep, my gardening sickness will be allowed to continue, as the garden has taken over the second stall in the garage. Hey, since Princess #1 wrecked the car, we have the space, so why not? Okay, okay, so there's not much daylight that gets in--only the windows on the garage door, but it's going to give them just a little more time to ripen those tasty toms, and save us some on our grocery bill at the same time. Interestingly, we bought some yellow and red peppers from the grocery the other day, and when I cut them up and sampled them, they had very little flavor compared to those that my taste buds have come to love. Don't even get me started on those pink-fleshed, mushy-mess spheres they pass off for tomatoes in the produce departments of our local grocery--there is simply no comparison to the sun-warmed tomatoes on my plate! Then, did I mention I woke up to a BLIZZARD this morning!?! It was pretty short-lived, but I sure am glad Dear Hubby and I brought stuff in last night. Yep, that snow-covered flowering color-bowl is from just this morning!

Let's see, before I write a book (which I am planning, by the way, but not here...), I should let you all know that Princess #2 has started her first official job at a deli/bakery at the local mall. DH and I went to pick her up last night, and I asked if we could go a few minutes early. We just stood there and watched her helping customers, working (!?!), and smiling. We commented that we may have to come and watch her work more often, just so we can see her smile--she is at "that stage" where the bedroom is the only place she'll be unless we insist she come and join us. We just don't get to see her much; it's not quite time to let that arrow go, but she thinks she's already left. If only she would figure out for which target she is aiming... She'll get there eventually. I keep reminding myself of a statistic I heard on James Dobson's radio program that said something like teenagers have the same brain-wave patterns of a psychopath. A PSYCHOPATH!!! How's THAT for encouraging? Well, he also says, "Just get them through it, and they'll come back to you." We spend all kinds of time in prayer for all our princesses, but for #2, it's that she'll preserve herself long enough to find (and then stay) in God's will for her life.

Speaking of just getting through teenager-hood and praying, I'll ask that you all remember our family in your prayers, because our Princess #3 has just turned 13! Yes, she's already displaying some of the classic teenager syndrome; but to be fair, she has had two shining (uh... ?) teenager examples to follow! Thirteen is a big one; I still remember mine: our family always saved the Japanese Kitchen Steakhouse trips for the "big" birthdays--13, 16, and the like. Well, I think I still had the picture that had been taken at my 13th until just a few years ago! Anyway, #3 had 6 friends over, and her Mom picked them up and took them to get manicures and then dinner at Red Robin. Then back to our house for gifts, cake (which I decorated myself, thank you very much!), a costume party and sleepover.
Go figure, the biggest girl (not big around--she's athletic, very tall and muscular!) had to dress as Wonder Woman, and kept taking "Wonder Leaps" off the couch in the basement. Not a problem if you have concrete-slab basement; however we happen to have elevated subfloors and the house sounds like it's coming down when wonder leaps are performed. Princess #1 took pictures of the girls in their costumes, which I then surprised them all by putting on CD's so they could take them home. Cute pictures... #3 and the friend with whom she is writing a book both dressed as ninjas-in-training (ever seen Naruto? No? Well, consider yourself lucky!), and of course they had to have mock fights where Wonder Woman was lasso-ing, Ninja swords were swinging, drama queens (all seven of them!) were flailing, wailing, and all were generally hamming it up. And CONTACTS!!! Did I mention that DH and I got her contacts?!? She's so excited--but it's going to take some time for her to get used to them. Best birthday in memory, she says. Mission: ACCOMPLISHED.

On that note: sayonara!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Praises to God

YES!!! We get to stay where we are, for now! DH will be working in a great store with some great people, and while it's about 20 miles from where we live, at least it's not 2000 miles! What an answer to prayer, because this area is home to Dear Hubby and me, and the kids wouldn't think of moving away--and darn it, I guess it would be up to them. So, at least we don't have to deal with a big move, but we do still have to move...

Gotta get outta the big mortgage. It's just silly to think that mortgage brokers would do what they do--and regulations are starting to come into place so that they don't do that anymore. I remember when we were looking at financing the castle, and our mortgage guy was insistent that we should get an adjustable rate mortgage, "because you're going to refinance in a couple of years, anyway," he said. Well, we knew better, and we were insistent that we get a fixed-rate first mortgage, and can you believe it? He had to look into a different loan program than what he ever had used in recent history. We wouldn't even have had to use this guy except that with my work history (only being self-employed for a short time), we were looking into otherwise unconventional stuff. We also had to insist that the mortgage payment escrow the taxes and hazard insurance--I mean, this guy was unconventional! Anyway, the payment goes up when your taxes go up (and where we live, they just can't wait to bump our assessed values--even though the market is taking a dive), and we're just not that into having the big mortgage payment and big house. Too much to clean!!

So, where are we going to move? Somewhere close to where we are now. We definitely want the girls to stay in their schools, and if we end up out of the school district, we'll have to take BOTH of them to school every morning instead of just the one right now. Speaking of school, Princess #2 has decided that she wants to go to the HS just by our house, instead of the one over by her Mom's. This has been a matter of contention for Mom & Princess, but she has decided that she really wants to be in a school around her friends. We have discussed it, and Mom agrees with us that she can transfer but only after the semester is over, and only after she can prove to us that she can get her grades up and keep them up. Once she gets back into our local HS, she will be surrounded by the same friends and distractions that she had in middle school when she was getting very poor grades (due to said friends aka distractions, according to every single one of her teachers--and we tend to agree!). Anyway, Princess doesn't think it's fair that she should have to wait until the semester is over, and we have explained over and over to her that 1) she made the decision to go the other school. Yes, we know that it became a matter of being able to see her mother or not, but she still made that decision, and we expect her to respect and honor that. 2) She simply must prove to us that she can get good grades before we can allow her to be back in an environment that has historically fostered such poor academic performance. She insists that she can get good grades there (we don't believe it yet), and that we can't begin to understand how bad it is. Yeah, well, 'tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all... She doesn't know how good she has it (and don't all parents say that?). Unbelievably, she had all A's just a couple weeks ago, and then when we met with her teachers last week, the report we got was just more of the same stuff that we had heard all through Jr. High, and the grades had all slipped but one of them. We keep praying for her to understand that she is going to need to stick it out, and then have the resolve to do it--otherwise, she's not going to be transferring, and that would probably not help the situation either!

We also started the family on a bonafide written spending plan (aka: a budget. Oooh, is that a bad word?). When I was single, I managed just fine--I knew how much I had and where, and I also knew when I didn't have it. Here's the kicker: the cats don't ask for money to go to the football game, or Starbucks, or get hair and nails done for Homecoming. So, it's been a lifestyle adjustment for me--one that has not gone as well as it's "fixin' to". Now we are married, and we have family finances, as well as cats (and dogs!), and of course, three princesses that wreck cars, go to the doctor, play sports, go to the movies, like to buy clothes, and MORE (did I mention Starbucks?)!!! I had already been familiar with Crown Financial Ministries (and I highly recommend EVERYONE check them out--God knew that money would be a tough area for us, and He talks more about it in the Bible than about Heaven and Hell combined), and had heard of the "envelope" system. Well, we started the girls on the envelopes last night. They had just recently had an "incident" with the mall cards that their Mom gives them, and Princess #2 wasn't able to purchase several much-desired items due to technical difficulties with the card. The girls thought that all that cash looked pretty cool--and we admonished them to be sure to budget it that it will last all month, because they're not getting any more until next month--and no "cash advances" either! We explained that it may look like a lot now, but by the end of the month, it's gonna be getting smaller and smaller. I fear that it will all be spent in two days, but they will learn life lessons this way--and better now, when we know that we will still feed them rather than later in life when it becomes an issue of ramen and tuna and Visa bills. Oh, we hope, anyway. We certainly have learned, and it seems that we'll get some "buy-in" for our overall family spending plan if they understand that it's budgeted, and that's it; when it's gone, it's gone!

Anyway, my lunch break is over, so I'm gonna get back to work before the boss comes around and cracks the whip (she's such a meanie!). Praying everybody is having a great week, and we'll try to make more frequent entries!

~Dear Wifey

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Starting High School, Selling Cookies, and Long Weekends

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's been forever. Hey, life's crazy; I've thought several times about writing but haven't been in front of a computer at the time.

That's all I have to say about that.

So, Princess #2 officially started High School. She is attending one that is close to her mother's house instead of the one that is 3 blocks from our house--time for a change of scenery for our little Drama Queen. Interestingly, on the first day of school, she has her ride "home" take her -- not home. For some reason, parents were not surprised. Basically, she wanted to see what the other high school was like and see some of her friends from 8th grade. Even more interestingly, she reports all the drama going on at what we'll call the "old school" as opposed to the "new school" where she is attending and knows all of 3 people. I chuckle and think of all the drama that must be going on that she just doesn't see because she doesn't know the cliques and the individuals. Can't wait for the drama to begin! She does have extra time after lunch to do some homework, so here's hoping that she doesn't just spend the time as extended lunch and does some of her work before she comes home--where she certainly is not known for doing her work, of the school-type nature or otherwise! She's a good kid, though, and we just can't help but love her. She's so creative, and very much looking forward to her art classes this year since she'll be doing a variety of different art practices instead of all pottery.

Princess #3 is selling cookie dough as a fundraiser for her school. She is working very hard to earn the next level in awards and prizes, but I'm not sure what we're going to do with 83 cases of frozen cookie dough until she can deliver them--or even how is she going to get it all home? I remember as a kid selling all kinds of garbage as fundraisers - from soap to jewelry to wrapping paper, but I still think the best fundraisers were the single-serving candies, either M&M's or chocolate bars or whatever. Kids could take them and sell them--or not; parents could put them in the breakroom at the office with a note and an envelope for collections (instead of having to deal with order forms and please pay now--it's just not worth it!). Ah, well, the bennies are much better than they ever were--she has earned a limo ride to lunch with several of her friends who have also achieved the same level of sales. Yeah, a LIMO RIDE, to where? Taco Bell??? Sheesh. At least make her work for it!

Princess #1 wrecked Dad's car last week. As she was leaving campus, she pulled out in front of a car, got smashed, and we're out a car payment. Uh, yippee? Oh wait, we're also out a car. Hmm... Well, I guess it's time to figure out how to ride the bus! SO glad that we had gap insurance coverage, because we were completely upside down in that car. If you have a loan on your car, PLEASE look into it and get it--it's cheap, and well worth the money in the event of one of those moments in time that will change one's life. Oh yeah, Princess is just fine. Her boyfriend is righteously upset (a little too much so) and insists that it wasn't her fault. Dad & I have surveyed the scene, and I tend to believe the police officer (who sees wrecks all the time and can better tell from experience who is to blame) who indicates by virtue of the ticket he wrote that our Princess was at fault. If the boyfriend doesn't pipe down, she might miss the lesson to be learned here, but she'll get to make up some of the lost lesson when we sit down to discuss the financial ramifications and what she will be contributing to get the situation squared away.

Finally, we have a "temporary" word on DH's assignment. He is wrapping up his time (if nowhere near his effort) at the current store, and will be assigned to another local store for a while. We're not sure what they're waiting on before they give him the permanent assignment, but we just keep praying that the decision-makers see what they need to see to make the decisions that God has in store for us. Hey, it's kept us here so far, so maybe that's His plan for us for the foreseeable future! Maybe He has an even better position for DH than we originally envisioned? We can only hope!

Long weekends are made for garage sales. I gotta tell you, we had one a couple weeks ago--participated with the neighbors in a "block" sale, and did extremely well, even if we were nickled-and-dimed to death. Sold a TON of little stuff, and at the end of the day had to move almost ALL the large furniture pieces back into the garage. Knowing that we had so much stuff, we didn't hesitate to determine that we would have another sale in a couple of weeks. Well, after cleaning up from that one with the help of Hubby and Princess #3, I was exhausted, and allergies were having a heyday for having stirred up all the garage-sale dust. I was still stuffy and sore throat come Monday. This time, however, was different: no block sale, no ad in the paper; just signs. Effective, apparently, because ALL the furniture sold (I even tried to give away the last dresser as I was "closing shop" but the guy insisted on giving me some money), I had very little to drag back into the garage afterwords, and made some decent cash, again. Now, if only I had remembered to put those boxes and bags of leftover goods on the stoop this morning so that AARP would pick them up... DOH!!! Guess I'll freecycle some stuff. Maybe, in light of the fact that we're down by one car, we'll figure out how to get the ole' truck running and haul some of the stuff to ARC or Goodwill. Duh? At least this time, I had Monday to recuperate as well--a good thing, since the rest of the weekend had been shot!

Okay, I gotta get going - hope you all are having a GREAT day (week, month... how long has it been?) and God bless!


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

the latest update

Okay, so I have discovered something interesting about having a blog that family checks: when I don't keep it up, they actually write to me! Well I have found that, in my silence--and by their own admission--they can't be trusted!

It looks like Mom & Rick have two new puppies--and it looks like they're making themselves right at home on the dog-bed, too. Now, you must understand (for those of you that haven't seen the aforementioned dog bed), that to the average person, this piece of cushiony furniture might look like a rather comfy leather couch, suitable for snuggling with your sweetheart, watching movies or taking naps on (all of which I have done on said piece of furniture). You would be mistaken, however, if you called it a couch--just ask the dogs! They have clearly marked their territory, and as Mr. T would say to those who think otherwise, I pity the fool!

Well, life is, as I mentioned to Pops, like a soap opera. For those of you that have never "followed" one, you won't know what I'm talking about. For those of you that were ever involved in GH when Luke & Laura were getting married, or any one of them when somebody died and mysteriously came back to the show, you'll know what I mean when I say you can miss a day and miss entire episodes of drama, excitement, and death, or you can miss a month and not much has happened. Well, such is life in our household, and so here's a (not-so-) quick and dirty since the last update:
  • Dear Husband has been working in the prescripted SuperK store, trying to put the people, procedures and training in place to help the sales and service turn around in the various grocery departments. People have been on vacation, and the hiring/ training procedures can be arduous, so it has been an uphill battle, but he's fighting the good fight, and winning. Team members are now in place, and improvements will continue to happen as training and oversight continue to improve.
  • Meanwhile, he was also shipped back out to Chicago for a week (7/30 thru 8/3) for Super K specific training. The previous 7 weeks were for Kmart general training--learning the corporate philosophy, some systems training, meeting all the right people, etc. Trouble is, it's now monsoon season in Colorado, so his flight was diverted to Colorado Springs thanks to the storm cell sitting right over DIA. I'm telling you, building an airport in a part of the state that has historically been called "tornado alley" is not a smart thing to do... But then, they didn't ask me for my opinion. Oh, and just heard that they're going to be doing a $250 million improvement project to the airport (excuse me, is it even 10 years old yet? Oh, it is? Well, then, it is certainly past due for a major overhaul and redecoration!), and that they'll be budgeting $30 million for a new luggage system. For those of you that weren't in CO when this airport was being built, we're SICK of hearing about the problems with the luggage transportation in the airport itself--the first one was doomed before the airport even opened. Okay! Onward and upward...
  • Princess #2 has had a birthday--15 now! Lord help us, she'll be wanting to get her permit soon... She also has expressed herself and is thinking about going to live with her mom full-time. Please pray for us in this area--she needs her father's influence more than ever, as well as some consistent discipline in her life.
  • Princess #3 helped put on a garage sale last weekend. Okay, now let me not downplay this at all. We had a TON of work to do to get ready, and because the girls were at their mom's, I was trying all week to get ready for the garage sale as best I could by myself. I was planning on picking her up and having her help me price some stuff, then take Friday off so we could have the garage sale, but work dictated otherwise. Since the neighbors were planning a block sale, we hated to miss the opportunity of someone else paying for the ad and putting up signs, so we planned to still "open shop" on Saturday--but with Dad's flight being diverted, we were several hours behind and he was in no mood to play in the garage on Friday night. She and I worked until about 1 a.m., got back up at 6 and were at it again. After a couple of early sales, we were getting somewhat organized and beginning to price things when the waves of people started coming in. I was instructed by a well-meaning customer that I needed to have Princess #3 running the cash so she could learn how to do it, and we ended up being so busy that we ALL were running cash before we were finished! Anyway, I have been trying to teach her how to count cash back the real way without doing the math--her math is a little shaky after a summer of watching Disney channel reruns. She doesn't understand it yet, but at least now it's not a foreign concept, and she knows how to hold the money so that someone doesn't claim, "Hey, I gave you a $50!" and get away with it. So much work, and by far the most successful garage sale I've ever seen. More than once I would be standing in an area where I could see most of the garage and driveway, and be overcome with the idea that there are about 35 people pawing through our stuff at that very moment. Sold a lot, but not nearly enough--and hardly any furniture, which is weird because in my experience, furniture is the first thing to go (and the thing that draws people in), but then, most of my garage sale experience is in a college-town, where a glass-topped hardwood table for $5 will fit into any decor. It's amazing how much of a throwaway society we live in these days.
  • Gardening in our parts is interesting. We are trying container-gardening, because there really isn't a place in our yard that would be suitable for permanently converting to a garden unless we did some serious landscaping--for which we do NOT have the time. Anyway, I was saving some seeds from some store-bought roma tomatoes this spring (which involves them soaking in water for several days while allowing a film to grow--a fungus, actually--and kill off any bad bacteria that would inhibit the plant's natural growth, when the seeds all sprouted!! Well, I can't let anything die intentionally, so I put them in some soil, and we now have a plethora of tomato plants. Never mind that I had purchased some heirloom tomato seeds on Ebay, and so had a couple others, to boot... Anyway, you'll notice my earlier comment was regarding tomato plants, and there's a good reason for that. We currently have about 14 plants, all of which have tomatoes on them--not one of which has even begun to show a hint of color that might indicate an intention to ripen anytime soon. Lord have mercy if they all ripen at once--it's gonna be crazy! This is where we get to the "death" part of the soap opera; in the parts where we live, the winds can sure kick up and knock a plant over, or cause other problems. Personally, I have never grown any squash plants, but this year we have zucchini (whoa, did I spell that right?) and spaghetti squash, as well as cucumbers. Now, cucumbers don't usually get lumped into the squash family (or DO they?), but they grow on a similar vine, and are susceptible to the same problems, including powdery mildew. We nearly lost our entire spaghetti squash plant a while back--it creeps up fast, and if you don't treat it right away, it will take over your whole plant and affected areas don't recover well--at least, not when you're using organic treatments, as I insist on doing. Did you know that a mixture of 1 part skim milk (any milk will do, but the lesser the fat, the lesser the stink later) and 9 parts water, sprayed on the tops and bottoms of leaves at the first sign of this pesky problem will not only treat the problem, but strengthen the plant against further outbreak? I spent a good hour last night, culling the dead leaves and flowers off of the vines (quite a bit of work, since they had "gone crazy" growing well before being affected by the offending "Douie" I have named it --think Hewey, Louie & Dewey, only "Dewey" was too cute and Douie reminded me more of "doozy"). The poor plants now look nearly dead--all the original leaves are long gone and nothing is left but the new growth on the ends of the vines, which has been treated several times with this cat-attracting milk potion and is even bearing new male AND female flowers! Maybe we'll get a couple more "spaghetti" dinners out of the plants yet!
Okay, well, that's enough of an update for now (that's Dani-speak for my lunch is over, now I have to get back to work) so I'll have to fill more in later.

And Mom, what ARE their names???

Strange Notes from World War II

In honor of my Grandfather, Colonel Jack Blanchard, U.S. Airforce, now gone for three years. We miss you, Grandpa, and can't wait to see you again on the flip side!

1. The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt.Gen.Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress)

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was Called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika".  All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions your chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot.  You were either an ace or a target. For instance Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy.  Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

7. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn't worth the effort.

8. German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

9. Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans.
They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

10. Following a massive naval bombardment 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Humor from Mimi (my grandmother--no, REALLY!)

John the farmer was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called "pullets," and ten roosters, whose job it was to fertilize the eggs (for you city folks).

The farmer kept records and any rooster that didn't perform went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of his time, so he bought a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so John could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.

The farmer's favorite rooster was old Butch, and a very fine specimen he was, too. But on one particular morning John noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all! John went to investigate.

The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover. But to Farmer John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He would sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result...The judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making: Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's HOT here!

Happy blazin' summer, folks! Okay, I know for those of you in the Southeastern part of the country, you're wishing you could remind me of how hot 99-99 is, and don't think I've forgotten. Dear Husband and I were discussing when we might go to see Mom (in the hot and humid Southeastern part of the country) just this morning, and I made no secret that the worst times to be there are July and August. I love you guys, but let's plan some time when we'll have any energy left to do more than look at each other and weakly laugh!

Summer here is warm, and as I walk down the streets of Downtown, I am reminded how the term heat wave came into being. The heat just rises in ripples off of the sidewalks, and it has been somewhat humid lately--okay, humid by our standards, anyway! It has been clouding up in the afternoon with thunderstorms--some of which produce more than just garden-threatening winds! When I got home yesterday, our spaghetti squash plants, which I have trained up onto two tomato cages (and they've overgrown those, too... not sure what I'm going to do with them next!) had nearly blown over. Never mind that branch of tomato plant, either. It's history! We do get to see some spectacular sunsets, though, because as the clouds usually break as the sun dips down, we are enjoying more reds thanks in part to smoke from the unfortunate fires in Utah and other parts of the country right now. God can use bad for good--the good being our enjoyment. DH and I take every opportunity to enjoy the paintings that God sends us every day. Hey, if you like seeing the mountains, maybe you should live here, too!

So, let's see... what's up with the family right now... I'll start with the youngest of the human children. Princess #3 is currently in Arizona enjoying the church's summer camp. DH and I dropped her off at the airport at SIX A.M. on Sunday (traditionally a day to sleep in, but not so this time around!) and she was chatty and excited--wish we felt the same. Talk about uncontrolled chaos: there were at least 52 kids trying to get checked in with the church and then checked in for their flights, plus parents trying to get one last hug out of the kids, plus "supervising" adults (not more than 5 kids per group leader), plus the extra yay-hoos in the group. Communication is KEY, people! Get a plan and then execute, already! Well, they finally got the group headed out to the terminal--made 'em walk to the terminal after giving everyone clear-cut instructions on how they were going to handle getting on the tram--at which point, Princess was completely oblivious to the fact that we were still there, waiting and hoping for one last wave. DH got a call from her on Tuesday; it sounds like she's having a blast, and really enjoying the camp. She says they have chapel services in the morning and the evening, and she's making some new friends. Hmm... she'll never convince me that she has a hard time with that! The return flight is due in on Friday at 10 p.m., so we're praying for no delays since airports are not the most comfortable hangout (nor the cheapest!) and DH has to work on Saturday morning. It's a good thing she's my favorite!

Let's see, the next human is Princess #2, and she's been in summer school since the 9th. In an effort to get ahead in high school (before she inevitably gets behind because homework comes first on the list AFTER boys, phone time, computer time, text-messaging time, boys, friends, sleeping, and getting beautified for ... phone time, computer time, etc...), she will be going all the rest of July, Mondays through Thursdays. She has a friend whose older sister is going to summer school as well, so it's not like she doesn't know anybody. Not that SHE ever has a hard time making friends, either! She is about the most socially-minded little girl I have ever known. She didn't get to go to the high-schoolers' church camp this summer because she was in Florida. I think it would have been a good one for her to attend, but alas, the time has come and gone... like sands through the hourglass! Princess #2 and I have a unique connection in that we're both the middle child in the family (well, so far for her); that makes her my favorite.

Little Miss Princess #1 has been doing fantastically at her job at a popular clothing store. She has been promoted in a little over a year from low man on the totem pole to assistant manager, and this was her first job! We have been cautious with her and this job, because she does intend to go to college; she seems to think that she will be able to work full time and still handle a full-time class schedule as well. I guess we'll see what her schedule looks like in the fall. We are thrilled that she is going to be taking classes at the local Community College. Not only is it close to home, but also, with the grades on her transcript and her now-busy schedule, not to mention the fact that she's 18 and has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up, it would seem foolish to fork out tons more money for the same (sometimes lesser!) education at a bigger, more prestigious university--at least for now. We are encouraging her to give the first couple of years her best efforts, and to crack out as many of the un-fun credits as possible so that she can enjoy the rest of her college career. We hope that she's able to get the grades that will reflect favorably on a university application and that she can transfer after two years at the Community College. Heck, knowing how hard a road it is when you're working and going to school, I'm just praying that she sticks it out, and I think she will. She's a good kid--takes right after her Dad, going into retail. Yep, she's definitely my favorite.

Okay, the non-human kids: Did I mention that we have some overweight dogs? Well, Candy, at least. Brandy was a little heavy, but she has so much energy, she burns it off and is probably right where she needs to be now that we've cut the food down. Oh, and she looks a lot less like a woolie bear since we groomed her! Candy, on the other hand, has also been losing weight, and is now having a much easier time keeping up with us when we all go for walks. She still pants heavily, but at least she doesn't try to lay down in the middle of the walk anymore! She also got groomed, and the groomers loved how playful and fun-loving she is. She is the hairiest golden retriever I have ever met, and as such, got a partial body-clipping. I tell you what: when they shaved her bum area, it was the funniest thing I think I had ever seen--fat dog, fuzzy dog, naked bum. YIKES!

The other non-human kids are doing fine, too. I think I'm going to take Beaujolais in to be fitted for a football helmet. She takes this snuggly-thing to a whole new level--she is now known as the Kamikazi Snuggler. She comes in at a lively pace and crashes into me, head-first, which turns into a body-slam. I secretly think she does it to wake me up, because she is usually initiating a snuggle either right as I'm falling asleep at night (like it was last night), or right after that snooze button gets smashed in the morning. I guess she thinks that's when she has a captive audience. It would be a lot easier to resist her if she weren't so darn cute! Wulfgang has taken to talking a lot more these days. He has a tendency to sit by the food bowl in the kitchen (the only one into which anything resembling canned food might land) and demand that something appear. Initial unmet requests are repeated. Frequently. He also has taken to drinking water out of the reservoirs under our containers in the garden. He gets fresh water in the bowl every day, and still has to steal it from the 'maters... Go figure! His snuggle times are when Chris is in the recliner or I am on the couch. He isn't as much of a bedtime snuggler as his cohort; perhaps he doesn't want to have to "compete" with her when she's in 'Nuggle Nazi mode.

DH is having fun as well as frustrations in his project at the SuperK. He called me yesterday, and there was a tone in his voice that spoke of a rare excitement... I could tell something was up when he asked me, "Did you know that lemon meringue pies are on sale today at SuperK for $2.99? Today only, save two dollars!" Well, let's just say that the pie on sale that day is pretty tasty! It's great to hear the excitement and passion for his work in his voice--and it's very contagious. He explained to me that the cashier's were in a contest to see who could sell the most pies, and the positive energy was thrumming through the whole store. Long gone are those blue-light specials! DH is still in his training project, and we won't know anymore about where they want him to work until after the project is over. I know, I know! This not knowing is driving us crazy, too!

I have also been completely inundated at work. We have been working a drilling schedule that is constantly changing--it's like aiming at a moving target, only to realize that the target is completely gone and now there's another one. I am constantly amazed at all the pieces that must be in place in order for a single well to be drilled, hooked up to pipeline, and produce revenues. Believe me, people, the prices you are paying at the pump may be driving higher profits for oil companies at the moment, but it truly is based on supply and demand, and the cost of doing business doesn't even get considered by all those politicians that are screaming "price-gouging!" In ANY market, there are ups and downs; it's to be expected. I, personally, am enjoying riding this wave. I love being this busy!

Well, it's that time again... I gotta sign off and go live some life. Maybe one of these days I'll get some pictures posted... I guess I'd have to be at my own computer to do that! On that note, I'm outta here!