Monday, June 30, 2008

Servant For A Day

Last night at dinner I asked David to do one little chore, take out the garbage. This is one of his normal chores so there should not have been an issue with the request. However, he decided to ask a question "why do parents treat their kids like servants?" This was just another bad decision on his part, after a week of bad decisions.

So this morning he got to see what mom does when her servant is busy playing. He is responsible to clean his room, pick up his clothes and make his bed. I had explained he would also have to mop his floor, which I usually do after he has completed his part.

He did a very quick job of shoving his junk around and mopping only in the spots left over. The dirty clothes were hidden on the other side of the bed. I made him come in and correct these issues.

After much attitude I added vacuuming the study rug, more attitude. I explained that more griping, moaning and complaining would result in more work. Time to add cleaning the bathroom sink, more attitude. Clean the bathtub and finally his attitude began to correct. I took him to the grocery store and had him bring in all the groceries (except the bread).

At lunch he started more attitude, so he got the job of cleaning the toilet (twice since the first time he just played at cleaning it). More attitude and he got to mop the bathroom floor and take out the trash in the study.

Finally no complaining.

If you haven't been reading my blog you might imagine David wasn't very smart. But, that's just the problem—he is very smart. He is also very stubborn and thinks he can outlast us. I am hoping that his day of forced labor will result in his being more aware of what I do all day.

I think he must have thought I used "mommy magic" to get it all done without lifting a finger.

Dirty Masterpieces

We've all been told that when life gives you lemons, just make lemonade. Well when Scott Wade is given a dirty car window he turns it into a masterpiece. Apparently Scott and his wife live on a dirt road in Texas and their car windows are never clean. So instead of "clean me," he turns them into works of art. Just watch this and you'll be amazed.

I love his philosophy—when asked why he would spend so much time on something that's not made to last his response was that we need to let go of things and nothing is meant to last.

The Bible tells us this is not our home and even we will turn into dust one day. I know that God will turn me into a work of art when I die, but I still wouldn't mind if someone turned my earthly dust into a work of art also.

You can find more of Scott's work on his web site.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Treasure Found and Shared

This past week I was very busy with Vacation Bible School. So I apologize for not posting last week.

Lindsay and I had prepared and purchased the craft projects and were ready. But we underestimated what God would do. The number of children we expected almost doubled in our preschool class. The kindergarten through 3rd grade expanded each night of the program and the 4th through 6th grade class doubled what was expected. Monday night we had more then enough crafts to go around, but Tuesday night we found that we had to switch around crafts to meet the number of children in the classes. I then had to go to the craft store on Tuesday and Wednesday to purchased more crafts for the additional children. The crafts for two classes would only be enough for one class. Since we had ordered the original crafts from catalogs this meant the crafts were different and we would need to prepare samples. Oh, to always have this problem of having more then expected walking into our churches.

Lots of donated items!
One night we had planned to do plaster hand prints and decorate with shells. We had experimented and planned. We made our sample wrote down how long the plaster would need to set and were ready. Only instead of taking the 45 minutes it had taken to set with the sample (or the 20-30 minutes listed on the side of the bucket) the plaster set within 5 minutes of us beginning the mixing process. We were able to finish the project for the first class, after much concern. But we had not been able to do the project with the two other classes as planned.

Kelly shows the thermometer
way over the goal
We scrapped the project since much of the plaster meant for these classes set before we were able to use it for the first class. But that meant another project was needed for the two classes. So we shuffled around the projects from later nights to get through the night. We won't be trying this project again since there are too many variables involved with the plaster.

Missions Project
Our goal for the missions projects was 200 items. If we met the goal, at the picnic Friday our Pastor would get soaked by the kids throwing water balloons at him. Tuesday night we passed our goal. So then our pastoral assistant offered to have his head shaved if we collected 250 items. We passed that goal. Everything from children's books and toys, personal hygiene items to food was brought in. The final count on the items was over 700 items to help others in need! It was really amazing how much was donated.

Donald losing his hair
A great time
Several visitors commented on the wonderful program we ran and how much the kids enjoyed it. The really wonderful part is that the gospel was clearly presented to each age group. We never lost sight that this was the real purpose we were all there for.

At the picnic on Friday we all had a great time getting to meet the visitors' families. Yes, Pastor Mike and Don got bombarded with balloons, then Don got his head shaved. It was a fun way to end the week.

Next week is tear down of all the props—some were removed Friday night but most were left up for our church members to see.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Treasure Seekers

Tonight was the first night of our church's Vacation Bible School. For the last three years we have used a beach theme along with seeking treasure. This has allowed us to build our props each year and this year the church looks fantastic.

One of the decorated VBS rooms
The same team of leaders has worked hard each year to make sure the program is not only fun, but more importantly, teaches the children Biblical truths.

It was interesting to watch last year how a few people made suggestions to "help" just two weeks before the beginning of VBS with drastic changes for the leaders to make. The ladies in charge are great about encouraging others to get involved, but the process begins in January, not in June. I also noticed these "helpers" were not offering to do the work, just ideas to change the program.

Last year we had already booked and paid for our vacation when the date was announced. So this year we made sure we would be in town to help (work). I am helping a friend with the crafts. Each class goes through our room and each craft is geared for their age group. While the theme and decorations are reused, we are careful to use different crafts each year. I am happy to say that everything went very smoothly tonight. We have purchased enough supplies for each class. But, more importantly we have worked well with dividing the work up between us. We each made samples well before this week and were able to work out any kinks or change crafts that we found might not work well. All our supplies are purchased and stored in labeled cubbies for the entire week. We also worked together last night to decorate our room. We also worked very well together when the children came in.We would both give instructions as the craft went along—even though we hadn't practiced what we would say.

The church foyer, decorated for VBS
Each year we incorporate a missions project into the program. This year we are collecting non-perishable food for "Gleaning For the World." This is a local Christian organization that provides humanitarian supplies for domestic and international relief. This year there is even a prize for the family that brings in the most food.

I remember fondly my own summers in Tennessee when I joined my cousins at the local Baptist church for VBS. This was the only time of the year some of my relatives attended church. An older couple would invite us and pick us up and return us home. I can even remember their names—Mr. and Mrs. Patton. God was able to use them to plant the seeds in some of my cousins' hearts. When the church had other programs—4H days or Christmas caroling—they always made sure to invite us. They were wonderful people who didn't hesitate to chauffeur and chaperone a carload of kids to church functions.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Early Christmas Shopping

Yes, I am one of those annoying people that likes to finish all the Christmas shopping before December even begins.

I had received an e-mail from Bath and Body Works about a sale. Of course, usually what I buy isn't on sale so I normally ignore the messages. But, I do love their hand lotion since it is not greasy and doesn't irritate my skin. I am also a girly-girl and love shops like this.

When I got there I found this was not your average sale. Almost everything was on sale, with the lowest discount at 33% off to many items at 75% off.

This was the right time to pick up items for gift bags or baskets for friends and family. I purchased a variety of items that totaled $138.00—whoa. But my total after tax was $40.40. Their glycerin soap which is normally $3.50 is on sale for $1.00.

This is their semi-annual sale, but I have been there before at one of these sales and this one had much more on the larger discount tables. Often stores that have up to 75% off will have one or two items that I really am not interested in. The e-mail stated the sale ends on June 23rd.

Now I can hear all the CVSers saying I can get a whole pack of soap for 2 cents. And though I do like a good deal and to save money I also like to be pampered sometimes. And I would not be likely to put a bar of normal soap in a gift basket, but I would a lovely colorful bar to pamper my friend. The money I save on household items on sale I like to use to live a little, pampering my husband, son and, yes, even myself.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dance Class Partner

Yesterday Rich had to be in Washington all day—in fact he didn't get home until after midnight. So what to do about dance class? I didn't want to miss the second of only four classes (and next week I may have to miss because I'm helping with Vacation Bible School.) So David came with me.

Belly dancer at Epcot, Disneyworld
I figured he could sit out in the hall and read, but the teacher and other students graciously welcomed him to watch. He was very tired (since the class begins after his bedtime.) But he really enjoyed watching all us moms learning to belly dance.

Most of us had purchased the hip scarfs with the coins on them (I call them butt bangles) and so we all tried to make sure we moved enough to hear the gentle tinkling of the coins.

This week's class took it up a notch and even though I have been working on the treadmill and other equipment for over a month I still found this was really working lots of extra muscles. David thinks it's cool that his mom is learning something new and can't wait for me to dance for his dad.

The response has been fun to watch when I tell friends (especially church friends) that I joined a belly dancing class. Many say they would love to go too but maybe in another 10 years they will get up the nerve. Others say they would love to learn now. I explained to one of the maybe-in-another-10-years friends that I found it so very freeing to express myself and step out of my comfort zone.

I had thought I would stand out as being the most uncordinated klutz in the class, but am pleasantly surprised that most are having the same "chewing gum and walking" issues I am with the hand and hip movements together. I am enjoying it so much I may have to join the next class when it begins.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We All Screamed For Ice Cream

I received my coupon for a free "Love It Creation" at Cold Stone Creamery from their birthday club. So off we went on Father's Day to get a cool treat. If you've ever been to Cold Stone you know they are a bit pricey, but ooh so good. So we only go once or twice a year and usually for some sort of celebration.

While I tend to get the Like It size, David always gets the Gotta Have It size (the largest size) while Rich gets a smoothie. David once again not only ate all his food, but dug into mine and Rich's.

Photos through the plate glass
If you haven't checked out the Cold Stone web site, it's worth it to sign up all the members of your family for a free medium size creation as part of the birthday club.

We ate at a table outside and David loved taking a picture of us through the plate glass window. Of course, our ice cream quickly melted in the heat.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Double Celebration Dinner

Since my birthday and Father's Day fall in the same week, we decided to go out to a fancy restaurant. We had planned on trying a place we had never eaten at but that had come highly recommended. I went online to check out the menu and quickly realized it was not the place for us. First it had very frou frou food and I don't tend to like places like that. Second the menu listed mushrooms in almost half their dishes and since I am allergic to mushrooms that seriously limited my options. It is so wonderful that you can check menus on line before taking the time and gas to find out a place isn't right for you. This was also an expensive restaurant and I would not have been happy.

So we checked online to find a place that would suit all three of our tastes. I had passed a little place last year called "PorterHouse Restaurant and Lounge." I found their menu online and knew it was a place we needed to check out. We like to eat an early dinner so made reservations for 5:30. They had a table for three all set for us when we arrived and there were only a few other tables occupied. We began the meal with Shrimp Cocktail and Charleston Crab Bisque. Fresh bread was promptly delivered. David ordered the Angel Hair Pasta Marinara, Rich ordered the Fresh Sea Scallops a la Jamaica while I chose the Slow Roasted Prime Rib Au Jus.

All the meals were served with a fresh house salad and Rich's and my meal both included a baked potato. The wait staff was very interesting. Most restaurants go for younger employees but the staff here was more mature. I would say all the servers were at least our age. The service we received was excellent and unrushed. There was sufficient time between courses to allow our food to settle without too much time to think they forgot to order the food. While waiting for our main course we saw one of David's early one-on-one specialists come in. We were able to catch up with her about how the school year ended. When our meals came, David had to sample a little of mine, then a little more. His take on the meal was "outstanding." I think he said this at least 15 times during the meal. David ate all his meal and part of mine. The food was excellent and we will be back.

By the time we finished our meal the restaurant had pretty much filled up. I love that the smoking section is a room at the other side of the restaurant from the non-smoking section. Also a side note, the Porterhouse was a little less expensive than the restaurant we had planned on going to. So we were very happy about our change in plans.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Eventful Night

Thursday night saw quite a bit of action at our house. First there were several kids playing at the playground across the street from our house. When David saw one of the boys pee on the ground, Rich went to speak to them about it. He found the youngest girl lying on the ground. We are not sure what happened, but she was screaming and crying. He told the kids to come let me know so we could call someone and none of the three children would obey. I looked out to see what was taking Rich so long when I saw him speaking to the girl on the ground.

I went out to see what was going on and told the kids to go get their parents. None of the kids would obey us. I called 911 and was asked if we had tried to contact the parents. We explained we didn't where they lived and the kids wouldn't go to let them know. We then kept the other kids from moving her and kept her still while waiting for the EMTs.

They arrived within minutes of our placing the call and were wonderful with the little girl. She is seven years old and at least two of the other kids were siblings. She was able to move her legs, but held her arms very stiffly. The EMT's immobilized her and continued to tell the other kids to get her parents.

After at least 6 orders, they finally got one boy to go. He came back right away and stated they were alseep. We told him they needed to come because she needed to go to the emergency room. The boy refused to return. The EMTs then told the oldest girl to take me and wake the parents. On our way she pointed to a vehicle and told me it was her mom. I waved her over and told her about the seriousness of the situation. It turned out to not be Mom but an aunt. We left as the aunt began to argue with the EMTs. No parents ever showed up. We have heard nothing more about the condition of the little girl and, of course, since we don't even have a name we can't check up on her.

I was able to change and make it to my dance class just in time. It was wonderful and there were many moms like me with middle-school aged kids. We had a great time, there were lots of giggles. When I returned home I called a friend and told her about my dance class and she began to laugh.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Strawberry Soup

When my mom was here I decided on a light meal that would require little cooking. I made ham biscuits, strawberry soup and baked beans. After finding I had purchased more then I needed for the soup I made an extra batch and took it to a friend. She loved it, along with another friend who was visiting. So I promised I would post the recipe I got from life:beautiful magazine.

Strawberry Soup

1 quart (1 pound) fresh strawberries
2 cups half and half
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used splenda)
1/4 cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover and process until very smooth. Garnish individual servings with a mint spring.

The magazine also had other cold soups. I made the two-melon soup and got rave reviews on that also. Next I will try their chilled green apple soup.

This was so easy to make, little clean up and was very refreshing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birthday Celebration

Last night we began my birthday celebration with the cake that Stacy made. Let me tell you—it tastes as wonderful as it looks. Can you believe this beatuiful confection she considers easy?

This morning my mom and I headed out to the stores. She lives a long distance from stores so I took her to the many we have here. Then it was off to the hairdresser's for a highlight job and haircut. Then to lunch with a few more stops at the stores. Even though little was purchased we had fun looking at the deals. Mom has now gone back home (with my Father's Day present for Dad in hand.)

Tonight I am going to the Y and joining their Tribal Fusion Dance Class. The description of the class is "An eclectic blend of ethnic dance styles coordinated to exotic music variation." Sounds like fun and a great workout. I've always wanted to do something like this, outside the box and I figured the timing was perfect since it starts on my birthday.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bucking The System

Tomorrow is a big day around our home for four reasons, yes four. First, my mother is visiting us for the first time in this home. My parents don't like to stay overnight away from home so this is a big event. David is very excited about giving up his new bed for grandma—which means he will sleep on his old mattress in our room.

Tomorrow is also the last day of school. The last three days of school are half days and tomorrow is going to be wild. I remember the last day of school and papers flying out of lockers and will be having a talk with David about this before he heads off for school.

Tomorrow I will turn (gulp) 45, not 47 as my husband so rudely told a co-worker. My friend Stacy is making me a birthday cake today, so we can share with my mother and friends that have a permanent before-church dinner invitation. I am so thankful for Stacy being willing to add my cake to her list—just last week she made a cake and cupcakes for a preschool graduation and lots of cupcakes for a wedding. My secret sister gave me some cute ice cream plates, bowls that I think I will use to decorate my front entry table next week.

My husband gave me a digital picture frame. I had been wanting one of these for almost a year, so I am very excited. The ones I had always seen were more sleek and modern than I like. The frame he found has an interchangeable frame and we are using the more traditional cherry wood frame. My son gave me a Blogging for Dummies book. I looked for a book like this when I started my blog six months ago and couldn't find one—you may see some changes in the look after I read it.

Tomorrow will also be the first year anniversary of David coming home from the treatment hospital. This is a big deal for us since we were told that he should not return home, but be placed in a more tight facility. We were told he would never make it in public school no matter the support that was given. When asked, the therapist admitted that this recommendation was not based on what was best for David, but on those who would have to deal with him. Us—his parents, the community and the school system.

First, since when has any parenting been easy? If you want easy, don't have kids. Yes, it has been hard, I have spent as much time dealing with David's school issues as most people spend at a part-time job. But, the big payoff will come tomorrow when not only did he stay in a regular public school for the entire school year, but he is growing and learning. He will have earned his graduation to the eighth grade and he often tells us "we learned about this is school..." then launches into more details. He has grown in maturity and just this past Monday his one-on-one was not at school, but the report came back that he did very well. All on his own!

What saddens me is that I know we are not the only parents who are being told this and many others are following the "expert's" advice. If we had not pushed we would never have been told "no it was not in David's best interest to send him away, only ours and society." It was presented that if we loved him we would do this. Sometimes this might be the case, it was necessary for us to do this in order to get David's medication to what it needed to be. But, once the medication was where they felt it needed to be, how could we not give him a chance to prove himself?

When we see employees of the treatment center around town they are amazed at how well David is doing. One even had heard of the progress before he saw David, so there has been much talk about him. I would love to be a fly on the wall as they discuss the progress David has made. I imagine they continue to stress it has only been a short time and predict dire long-term results. But, David is getting better and not worse. But, no matter which way the long-term results go, we are happy with our decision and for giving David the chance that all children deserve.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My How Times Have Changed

While my husband was playing a video games last night, David asked him what video games were like when we were kids. We explained the early video games we played. I remember my father bringing home Atari's pong game. We were the first in our neighborhood to have one. My brother Mike and I played for hours. Turning the little dial in order to score a point against our opponent.

I found this YouTube video of a game of pong. For some reason David doubled over in gales of laughter when he watched it. It is so hard for him to think that video games have not been around for hundreds of years. (Contrary to popular belief we are not that old.)

I hope this blast from the past brings a smile to you too (or maybe gales of laughter?)

Monday, June 9, 2008

No Need to Attend

Last week I received another phone call informing me that due to the unstructured last week of school it might be best to keep David at home this week. This is not the first time I have received one of these calls, the first came at Thanksgiving break, followed by Christmas, Spring break and now end of school.

I really resent these calls. The law mandates the number of hours a child under the age of eighteen must be educated. Encouraging me to keep my son at home instead of at school goes against what is encouraged in other students. It was explained that because this last week of school would be more unstructured with movies and fun time it wasn't necessary for him to attend. We were also told to send a snack for a movie in first period if he did attend. What a wonderful way to begin the school day, hyped up on snacks.

I called the vice principal this morning and explained that the teachers are still being paid to educate the children and if the students need structure it is their job to maintain it. I also explained (again) that my job is to look long-term. When my son is employed and has a scheduled vacation in two weeks he will not be allowed to take off the weeks prior because it might be too hard to concentrate.

I was informed by the vice principal that David is going to proceed to the next grade. He has only failed one course and a student is only held back if two courses are failed. I asked what he needs to do in order to go into summer school to pass the math course that was failed. It will be interesting to see if we are told he does not have to attend, since he is in special education. Non-special education students must attend summer school, but I have been told that special ed students are not required to pass in order to graduate to the next grade.

Overall we have been very pleased with this school year, both with the school's willingness to work with us and with David's progress and growth. But, I feel if we had not been so willing to do our part as parents while explaining our reasons for decisions and expectations and followed up with the school on their part this year could have had very different results. David has had some great teachers, but also some that should not have been working with special education students. We have had many false starts with one-on-ones, but it looks like there will be a new one next school year.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Am The Older Woman

I knew the time would come when I would be the older woman. But, it came upon me unawares. Titus 2:1–5 tells us “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

As a young bride I was privileged to learn many lessons at the table and homes of many godly women. Joanie Barb taught that it's not a spotless home that we should be concerned with, but enjoying the privilege to entertain unexpected guests. Sandy Nixon taught me the gracious way to smooth a difficult situation as the invited guests sit down to a meal prepared for them and you find out that one guest has forgotten to inform you that they are a vegetarian. Another lady taught me to keep my child's outgrown highchair, toys and playpen in order to entertain families with young children. I am still being taught continually by many Christian women around me.

I have been enjoying passing on some of what I have learned in my 22 years of marriage to a wonderful young newlywed. She has more wisdom then I had at her age but I can still pass on our journey from newlyweds and the many compromises and lessons learned along the way. I'm sure our friend Peg is also taking this role of passing along help to this loving woman.

This is our calling as Christian women. Rich and I have found that our tastes in food, music and movies is so much like theirs that it is a joy to spend time with this couple. So even as we are giving we are receiving so much in return.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Making Life Beautiful

I came across the most amazing magazine, life:beautiful – Faith For The Journey magazine. The wonderful scene on the cover grabbed my attention, but the content in the magazine was what made me want to buy the magazine. This was the first time I had ever seen the magazine, but their web site shows the first issue was published last year.

life:beautiful magazine
Though the magazine is geared to the contempory Christian woman it has a small town timeless feel to the articles. While Biblical verses are used throughout the magazine, the use is not forced. The verses compliment the articles and convict with the verses and not by heavy-handed beating-you-over-the-head with the author's point of view.

The photography is amazing! The articles deal with a wide variety of topics, almost all of which I was interested in. There are crafts to do with the kids, dinnertime picnics, recipes for cold soups, organizing the home, how to organize a yard sale and more.

My favorite article was about fairs—town, county and state fairs. It brought to my mind my own childhood when we attended our county fair several times. Even though we have taken David to the county fair, I now want to make a trek to the state fair with our family this year.

One of the articles has helped us decide on our summer vacation. In "Fireflies," Campbell Cloar's remembrance of summers past and the fireflies captured reminded me of my own childhood summers in Tennessee. We had originally planned on going to Florida again this year to visit grandparents, but will put this off until Christmas. We are now planning to visit relatives in Tennessee and visit Dollywood. The last time David was there was as a toddler, so he is looking forward to the trip. Most of my cousins and their families still live in the Greeneville area so there are many children for him to play with.

The women in the magazine look like I could relate to and be friends with. They take care of themselves and their homes. This magazine advances the idea that you can be contemporary and still be modest and desire to deepen your relationship with God.
If you haven't seen the magazine yet it is worth checking it out for yourself.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dinner with Friends

We met some friends yesterday for dinner. We were to meet them at Fork Union (not a place I had ever heard of.) On our drive we went through some very small towns, some that made us sad due to the fact that the economy there has forced many stores to shut down and many to move away. We also had many laughs, such as in Dillwyn, where we saw a place called "Dunkum Funeral Home." This sent us into a fit of laughter and we had to stop to take a picture.

Good Friends

When we arrived in Fork Union we drove a little ways to "Dogwood Resturant" a family style resturant. Luckily it was not so busy that we couldn't spend a couple hours catching up on our old friends. All our children have grown up together, their son is just about a year older then David so they kept each other entertained. Their poor daughter had to put up with the boys playing and running around.

Dunkum Funeral Home – Dillwyn, Va.

We hope that they, along with some of our other friends will be able to come camping near us this summer. We even have friends who have had a baby since we left and we still haven't seen him yet!