Thursday, October 30, 2008

Craving a Camera

There have been many times over the last month, when I have wished for a camera to catch something to share on my blog. The huge sign on the walking trail in our park (probably something to do with the haunted hayride, but didn't make much sense - said something about suits - but I'm thinking they meant suites). MS's craft projects and multitudinous pictures and collages (so many, that hubby has insisted that he take them all down the day after Halloween - really, at least four doors are plastered with them and a few walls as well).

But, you know it is really bad when I find myself wanting to take a picture of the pathetic, old, $20 digital camera I bought from iConcepts with a rebate from Office Depot, or Office Max. Today, I actually pulled it out of the computer cabinet, hoping to see if I could get it to work. My ES saw it on the computer desk, picked it up and said, "this is the biggest joke of a camera I've ever seen." It weighs about as much as a pencil.


For Parent's Day Out/preschool today, they had their Harvest Costume Party. MS decided to wear his Batman costume. Here's an old photo. This was a $1 steal at a garage sale. He paired it with a $3 mask from Walmart and black stretch gloves (he was pining for a black version of the elbow length women's gloves he likes to wear with the Power Ranger costume).

A few days ago, I was sweating it a bit, because he declared he was going to be a snake for Halloween, and not just any snake - a Black Mamba. I thought I could swing it by putting together a black top and black sweatpants with black makeup on his face and red around his eyes. Alas, he insisted on checking the computer to see what a black mamba looks like. A black mamba isn't even black. Go figure!

We picked out a Mickey Mouse fireman costume for YS. This was a beautiful hand-me-down (a Disney store purchase, I think) from Aunt Bernie. YS happily wore it last night and said "be Mickey." But, today, he wouldn't wear it for the party. MS was actually jealous because YS was wearing an Old Navy Halloween shirt with a werewolf, which no longer fits MS.

Of course, it would have been splendid if I had used my two hours away from them to head to a store and purchase a new digital. Alas, instead, I headed to K-mart and wasted a whole hour. I only intended to buy a particular pair of shoes from the sale ad, but they only had one in the size and color I wanted, and it had a huge scuff mark on the toe of the shoe. I ended up buying a clearanced pair of summer slip-ons for MS - covered with spiders and spider-webs. Perfect!

At least I was able to help another shopper. She asked my assistance (no, I wasn't dressed like a K-mart worker for Halloween) when I was in the infant section checking diaper prices. She wanted to buy newborn diapers for a woman in her church. I was able to help her find them and even supplied a coupon, since I never buy Pampers, but always clip the Pampers coupon, just in case the sale is overwhelmingly good. By the time, I returned home, I had just enough time to eat a late breakfast and whip up a small batch of worms and dirt to take to the school's party.

If worse comes to worse tomorrow, I will attempt to take a picture with ES's cell phone and figure out how to get it from there to the computer (that, or just ask ES to do that - kids seem to know how to figure out anything technological). Maybe, I'll have him take a picture of the worthless digital I foolishly hung on to. For what, sentimental reasons?? Actually, I think I remember hanging on to it, "in case my newer, more expensive camera ever fails."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Need More Hours

I have been frantically trying to catch up on the blogs I follow. I don't know how I fell so far behind, except that my MS has been in a monumental crafting funk and we have been "making things" during nap time, instead of his usual quiet time and my usual nap time activities. So, I blame MS. I blame Halloween (his favorite holiday). I blame that darned Halloween craft book he picked out at the library, weeks ago. I blame my own dormant love of crafts (after all, we wouldn't have been able to make these crafts if I hadn't several boxes of craft supplies downstairs, now would we?).

I still haven't caught up. And, the problem seems to grow. Now, I have discovered another new blog that I wish to frequent. I was trying to catch up on Testosterhome's blog and noticed that she linked to a poignant post by a man, Tony Woodlief, who has four sons but lost his only daughter nine years ago, on October 19th. I sat here thinking, I cannot even imagine this man's grief. His words were beautiful and sad, all wrapped up in one. I had to go and read further about his daughter on his site.

Then, I sought his most recent post and stumbled upon this very eloquent prayer. This is a person whose heart and soul I want to know further. What a blessing - the blogosphere will allow me to do that! Anyone want to come craft with my son while I'm on the computer?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pray for Janae and Stellan

Two more quick prayer requests to throw out there. I have sort of stumbled upon these, since I don't really know these families personally (although one family, I have heard of often through a mutual friend).

Janae is a five year old girl who lives in DeKalb, Illinois, where we used to live. My friend, Beth, mentioned an urgent prayer request for her a few days ago. Janae's parents took her to the ER believing she might have appendicitis. After a ct scan, they were informed that a six inch tumor was attached to the area of her kidney (a Wilms tumor). At first, doctors believed they would have to begin chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor. However, when the doctor went in to access, he decided to remove it. Unbelievably, she went home from the hospital tonight. Of course, the battle is not over, but the Lord has been gracious and present.

To visit Janae's site and encourage Janae and her family (dad and mom, Frank and Suzanne, and four sisters) go here.

As I was visiting Catherine's blog tonight, I happened upon a link to Stellan's mother's blog. Even as I type, he is apparently making his entrance into this world. However, he has had a tough road so far (with heart difficulties within the womb) and they are not sure what will happen. Thankfully, they are confident that God knows what will happen. Say a prayer for Stellan and his family and visit her blog - her kids are adorable beyond words!

UPDATE: I logged on this morning and checked to see if my links were working. Spent a good long time at Stellan's mom's site. What a creative blogger! You have to visit her gallery of Stellan names. She asked people to send in photos of Stellan's name to signify that others are praying for Stellan. She will be putting these up on his walls to encourage him. When I read back further, I discovered that he was scheduled for a c-section this morning at 9:30 a.m. CST - and that was exactly when I was on checking out the site more fully. Adding more prayers!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seeking Suggestions

Procrastination seems to be my middle name (actually, those who really know me won't be surprised by that).

Case in point: When I lived in DeKalb, our church had a library. One of the ladies in our writer's group happened to serve as the librarian. How embarrassing to have to note that I had failed to return a book to the library which had been due for many months. The title of the book was something like "Cure Your Procrastination in One Month" - sadly, I put off reading the book, until I finally just returned it, unread. For some of us, there may be no hope.

After dashing off a note to the Olympus camera help site, asking if there is any way to retrieve my son's birthday photos and videos from off the camera (which will not open due to the sand), I heard absolutely nothing. Yes, Olympus, you TOO have a problem with procrastination and I'm willing to tell the world! Instead of calling Olympus, which I contemplated many times, I have sat here doing nothing. I have thought of calling Walmart, just to ask if they could at least print the photos, if I bring in the memory card. Alas, I have merely sat here pining the loss of my camera.

This week, of course, I'm going to want a camera to take pictures of my boys in their costumes (although, I do have plenty of costume photos of MS - who is, actually, getting out of that phase now). At this point, I don't even know what they will be. I figure, with two boxes full of costumes, they could pick anything at the last minute. I would love to see MS wear the red Teletubby costume which my mother-in-law made for ES back when he was 3, but MS has never shown the slightest interest in the rotund costume complete with circular head gear. I don't really blame him. Hmm - Teletubby or Spiderman? Teletubby or Batman? Teletubby or Superman? Who'd want to be a teletubby, I ask?

My hubby would like me to purchase a new camcorder, since our other one is an older model (there's another blog post). I think he wants to combine the camera/camcorder purchase and he wants it to be something ES can use to upload videos to YouTube (because he is so eager to share his Rock Band and Guitar Hero prowess with the multitudes). I don't really know much about cameras or camcorders. My last camera, an Olympus FE-170 was only purchased two years ago, but didn't offer sound with the video option. I'm wondering if I should just get another Olympus (which offers the video option with sound now) or if any of you readers have a great camera you wish to recommend.

My son's friends have a Flip camcorder, which allows easy transfer of videos to You Tube. Perhaps, I should just get a separate camera and Flip. Obviously, money is a question (otherwise, I would throw caution to the wind and merely go out and buy the best camera with video capabilities that money can buy). For a great laugh, watch this SNL sketch promoting this novel idea, "Don't Buy What You Can't Afford."

I don't want to repeat my first digital camera experience. I bought a digital camera through a rebate offer for $20. That was $20 more than I should have spent. Our present camcorder still works, but is the old kind where you end up with tapes you have to play back on your television (perhaps hubby is realizing if the camcorder also gets trashed - not out of the question in a house full of boys - we will be unable to view any of those tapes).

Even from this discussion, I'm sure you can tell that I am in the dark ages when it comes to technology. Sorry, I'm just not a Gadget Girl. I don't have an MP-3 player. I even bought a cheap $5 cassette player recently because I miss listening to some of my old cassettes. I worry that our present computer will crash - not so much because I will lose everything on here (although, that could be a concern) - but mostly, because I would have to adapt to the change of learning how to get around on a new upgraded computer.

So, if you have a camera or camcorder that you love or swear by, let me know. If you know how to retrieve photos or videos from a memory card when the camera is no longer functioning, let me know. If you just want to comment to tell me what a loser I am - no comment necessary, duly noted without your input. You didn't really think a person whose middle name is Procrastinator, would have up-to-date photography skills, did you? Heck, I don't even have up-to-date stationery (go ahead and snort, Cardiogirl!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Winner for my Puzzle Giveaway

At the beginning of October, I posted about a rebus puzzle or frame puzzle which my ES had brought home from school for an extra credit assignment. This puzzle stumped me and my readers:

NEA$R
N$EAR
NE$AR

Then, a bit later I posted three easier puzzles, but nobody even nibbled.

O_ER_T_O_

HIJKLMNO

SICK BIRD

This past Wednesday, it was time for parent-teacher conferences. Thankfully, I had no concerns for ES's progress, but did want to mention his health issues to give his teachers (especially the morning ones) a heads-up. As I waited outside the math teacher's room, I noticed the puzzle answers hanging on the wall. Of course, the particularly perplexing one was on the side facing the board. Urgh!

So, as soon as I had introduced myself, I asked if he would mind if I checked out the answers, since one puzzle had stumped us so much that I had posted it on my blog. He chuckled, but graciously allowed me to turn the page over.

The answer was: Buccaneers! (buck in nears)

The answers for the other puzzles I offered were:

Painless operation

H2O

Illegal (Ill Eagle)

Unfortunately, this means I have NO WINNER for my giveaway. Thankfully, ES did win the 100 point bonus for getting the highest number of frame puzzles correct. Moreover, a few teachers informed me that ES had earned the highest score in the 7th grade (beaming as I write). However, it was a bit distressing to hear so many parents in the hall berating their kids for underachievement. I tell ES that I merely want him to give his best effort. He has given far more effort in middle school than he ever did in grade school, so I am guessing he is, by nature, a kid who is inwardly motivated by letter grades (and some schools want to do away with grades).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Book Review: Feathers from my Nest

I have heard others rave about Beth Moore Bible Studies. I have wanted to try one, but never really had much opportunity. Listening to this Beth Moore memoir was my first introduction to any of her literature. What a great introduction!

I will say that, at first, I found it difficult to listen to because Beth tends to speak very rapidly (and I'm assuming, if I saw her video studies, with great animation). But, half-way through the first CD, I became engrossed in her stories. She is a storyteller and that is what I love from teachers of the Word. Jesus used parables; it is no wonder that modern witnesses of the Word are most effective when they pair it with personal stories.

Beth Moore is a very passionate woman, yet is very down-to-earth and real. She shared the personal trials of gaining a son and then losing a son. She spoke of dealing with her daughter's brief foray into eating disorders. Her purpose was clearly to encourage women to hang onto their nests and the feathers which line their nest, because God can do miraculous things within our families.

Although written at a time when she was facing the "empty nest syndrome," something a long way off for me, this book is encouraging and uplifting for any mother. I relished hearing the stories of life with her daughters. I ached with her over the loss of her son (in my book, sons are so special!).

There were several things which will stick with me from this book. Beth did an outstanding job of outlining the tremendous importance of church involvement. We have been without a steady church home since our move to Indiana and I feel it acutely. Beth articulated the many reasons faithful church attendance benefits our lives.

She also offered up an interesting idea for establishing a family devotional time in a busy household. She had a burden for creating this special time within their home, but didn't really have a united front in the leadership of it. Therefore, she began starting her morning with a search for an applicable Scripture for the family to focus on. She wrote this verse on a 3 x 5 card and placed it in a basket alongside several devotionals aimed at the differing ages of her children. After each family member read the verse and the daily devotional, they would indicate their participation by signing the card. It was her way of holding her children accountable and keeping the entire family in the Word (though not necessarily together at the dinner table). I'll have to tuck that one away in my brain until my two little ones are old enough to read and write.

Having struggled within my own marriage, I would have loved to have heard a few more details about why she feels that she and her husband had the odds all stacked against them. Perhaps that book is still to come. I know that those type of stories are both difficult to share and difficult to hear. Trials with illness or trials with our children are sometimes easier to embrace than trials within our marriages. Like Beth, I believe my intact family is a miracle of God's intervention. I don't know when I'll get involved in a Beth Moore Bible Study, but I will certainly keep my eye out for any books she might write on marriage. Sometimes, only God can hold that together!

Correction

ES read my last post and has informed me that he never says "wicked." Plus, the tube will go down his throat (an endoscopy), not his nose. The first error is probably because I tried too hard to reproduce his conversations. The second error is because I wasn't able to be there for the Dr. appointment.

I'm praying that I can find a sitter for the morning of the tests, because I would really like both my husband and I to be at that appointment with ES. Originally, that was the goal in having grandma come to visit, but somehow concerns for the boys waking up without me intervened. I'm thinking about asking MS's teacher from last year (she is no longer teaching for the PDO program and both my little guys would be familiar with her).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From a 12 Year Old's Perspective

Life often throws us for a loop. Unexpected things tip us off balance. We reel and try to steady ourselves. This has been a somewhat stressful week for me. I could tell the level of stress when I awoke this morning from an extremely bizarre dream.

In the dream, my husband and mother-in-law were leaving to take my ES to the doctor. Only, I came out into the front room to find my husband still here. I began to rake him over the coals, when he turned and I saw bandages all over his face. He explained that some glass exploded and he couldn't go, so Grandma was taking ES alone. I thought, "No, a parent has to be there. I have to be there. Let me get dressed." (Note, not a hesitation of concern for my bandaged husband!)

Then, I see my mother-in-law walk in and think, "She hasn't left either??? There's no way they'll make it there on time and if they are late, they will have to reschedule and we already waited three weeks to get in with this specialist." (Here's where the dream morphs to truly weird proportions) So, I grab up MS and dash out to grandma's car - a convertible, no-less. I put him in the seat and tell grandma she'll never make it. She begins to pull out and I have to scream out because I haven't fastened him in the car seat yet. Then, I awoke. Okay, that was my stressed out brain's perspective.

You have to hear my son's perspective. My husband and mother-in-law, did indeed take my ES to an appointment with a GI specialist this morning in Indianapolis. The appointment was for 8:30 and they were supposed to arrive 15 minutes early. Although I would have loved to have accompanied him, we decided I would stay home with the little boys. In truth, they arrived FORTY-FIVE minutes early and my husband said by the time he was called, ES was stir-crazy and anxious.

We have been increasingly concerned for our son because ever since the middle of July, he has been experiencing stomach upsets. He is afraid to eat because when he eats, he feels sick. We took him to the regular doctor and began treating it as a lactose intolerance issue. It remained. We requested stool tests to look for parasites. The tests came back normal. It remained. The doctor suggested blood tests to look for celiac disease (and I don't know what else). The blood work came back normal. The doctor referred us to a specialist and we have waited the three weeks for his appointment.

When my son arrived home, the little boys and I were outside waiting for them (the little guys were anxious to see grandma - MS felt slighted because he didn't get Grandma's famous mush this morning; I was anxious to hear about the appointment). Without waiting for my husband to greet me, my 12 year old walked up and said, "They think I have Crohn's Disease."

I did get a chance (at some point, in between MS's clamoring for mush and YS's clingy fear of grandpa) to hear about the appointment from my husband. But, I spent a good part of the afternoon (the middle school had a half day today) listening to my son call his friends with news of his day. Here is a sample of the first call:

"Hey, Dude. Man, you want to hang out today? I had to go to the doctor. It was wicked, dude. He was askin' me all these questions and I was tryin' to tell him the right answers. And, what if I had said something a little different, maybe the guy would have come up with a different answer, right? Anyway, after all the questions, he felt my stomach and then, get this, the guy lubed up his finger and stuck it up my butt, dude. No way, I'm serious. He wanted to see if when he pulled it out there would be blood on it. Nope. Only poop. Poor guy! That's just NAAAASTY!

"Anyway, get this, it gets worse. The doctor thinks I probably have this disease called Crohn's Disease and if you have it you have it for the rest of your life, man. He doesn't know for sure yet, but they have to do more tests on November 7th. Guess what? The day before the tests I have to take 20 pills. I'm not jokin' - 20 pills and they're gonna make me crap all day long. I might as well set up my Rock Band in the bathroom, man. I'll just take a pill, play some music. Spend the whole day, I guess. Then, for the tests, they have to put me to sleep. They're gonna shove a tube down my nose and another one up my butt, dude. NO LIE! Man, that sucks, doesn't it?"

By a little later in the afternoon, he had an addendum to these conversations (and I think he must have called at least five or six different friends to SHARE):

"Aw, dude, you gotta go to You Tube, man, and look up Colonoscopy, dude. That's what I'm gonna have done and it's so gross. Like, if I have Crohn's, they showed a colonoscopy of some guy who has Crohn's and it was all mushy and gross in there. No way. You have to come over so I can show you all these incredible You Tube videos I found about this stuff."

I felt like chiming in, "This is your colon. This is your colon with Crohn's." I did tell him he should be grateful he is only taking 20 pills at half hour intervals. When I had a colonoscopy, I had to drink the huge jug of NAAASTY tastin' stuff and spent all day in the bathroom (he was with his dad at grandma's house). I even told him the funny line my friend had when she picked me up to drive me to and from the procedure. I told her that I woke up and stepped on the scale to learn that I was now 5 pounds lighter. She didn't miss a beat and replied, "I always knew you were full of sh!t."

Now, I don't want you to think that I feel this is a laughing matter. It isn't. I suppose, to a certain extent we are feeling better just knowing that we are closer to answers about his condition. It continued to grow worse over the past months. But, the look on my husband's face, after seeing my ES in the hotel room after they went to Indiana Beach last Saturday, assured me that it was time to be seriously concerned. ES was 105 at the start of wrestling season at the beginning of 2008. He now weighs about 85. My husband said you could see his back bones poking out. He has the look of a concentration camp in-mate. The doctor said that the weight loss, at such an important time of physical development, is the most serious red flag. For now, we need to try to increase his weight (thankfully, he has Fall break from school right now, so it will mean a few more days at home where he is more willing to eat without fear of any reactions).

However, we are still concerned and do covet any prayers which others are willing to offer on his behalf. When the doctor said he is guessing it is Crohn's Disease, my husband asked, "That is a better scenario than cancer though, right?" The doctor replied that we can't rule that out yet.

So, he will undergo these tests which are earning him ultimate peer points and hopefully, we will gain even more concrete answers to our questions. I do have some limited knowledge of Crohn's, since my sister-in-law has the disease and we have had a few friends over the years who battle this.

I'm glad he can still make me smile. Perhaps my dreams will be tamer tonight. I'll probably dream about ES asking to make a You Tube video from his colonoscopy, so he can share his NASTY intestines with all his friends. That will make them feel like eating, too, won't it. Maybe it is just his way of getting his friends to share his pain. I'm sure it is also his way of keeping his sense of humor in the face of adversity. Now, that's a valuable skill. I'm glad he has it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Theatre Experiences

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of creating life-long memories. It was the age of requiring an adolescent boy to give up one night of hanging with his friends in order to hang with his mom at something as far from copacetic as a ... play, and a Shakespearean one, at that! It was a season of grand opportunities. It was a season of foolish boys who cannot recognize grand opportunities.

From the time he arrived home from school, he began begging not to go. He was also giving detailed examples of the number of phone calls he had received with offers of far better social stimulation than I was about to provide him. However, I stood resolute. He would be spending the next whole day with a friend at an amusement park. He could certainly forfeit one night of time with his friends, in order to spend one night out with his mother. I reminded him, "You're doing this for me, not willingly, but still, for me!"

Although I don't like driving somewhere new, I do love the city. It felt a tiny bit like driving into Chicago. The lights. The people. The traffic. The beautiful buildings. Once we located the theater, we tried to find a parking facility. The first one I pulled into ended up being the valet parking for a ritzy hotel. After securing two free theatre tickets, I wasn't about to pay $25 for valet parking. So, I merely asked the valet if he could tell me where I could find the cheapest location for parking. Thankfully, he graciously directed me towards the $1.50 (3 hour) parking at the Circle Center Mall on the next block over.

The stage was fairly small and bare. The only props consisted of a leafless tree strung with chains and a triangular structure supporting a balcony. I'm sure the stage could have been used interchangeably with several Shakespearean plays. Three women dressed in black danced, knitted and gestured on-stage.

In the meantime, I began educating my son. I explained what a "playbill" is. I located the bio-sketches for the actors and actresses and pointed out two who were middle school students. In the car, I had already primed the pump by asking, "If you went to a fortune teller and she told you that you would win a big Guitar Hero competition, yet weeks later another boy from school continued to best you, what would you do?"

Thankfully, the first scene opened violently (and I was expecting the three witches, but they came after the chase, attack and murder of a traitor). This is always important when introducing an adolescent boy to a theatre experience. A few times, I leaned in to explain small bits to him, trying not to offer up too much and thereby ruin everyone else's theatre experience. Surprisingly, it took 45 minutes before he asked to see the time on my watch. I had told him it would be a 90 minute performance and he was thrilled to be half-way through.

I'm not really sure how much of it he understood. He did notice several things. His first observation, before the lights dimmed, was that everyone else there was a theater geek. I asked how he could tell. He explained, "by the way they dress." I tried to point out three other boys in the audience with their parents, but he was nonplussed.

He also noticed that the main actors (especially, Macbeth) seem to spit a ton. Our seats were on the left hand side of the stage and reams of spit were indeed visible in the stage lights. At one point he asked, "What's the point of the tree?" Good question, my lad, but not an opportune time to discuss it while the play is going on.

He also wondered why the theatre was on the fourth floor of the building (he insisted on taking the stairs, so I can claim a work-out in the date-night as well). I explained that this was a smaller production and the main stage for IRT productions would be larger, with more elaborate props.

When I explained that tickets for this production normally would be $34 per person, he couldn't believe it. No doubt, he was thinking, "Why would anyone blow $34 on a gay play?" (Mind you, he didn't mean it was happy and I'm sure he didn't even notice that the atmosphere of the play was dark and dismal.)

Key question: Did he ruin it for me? NO! I thoroughly enjoyed the play, including his responses and his eventual confiscation of my watch so that he could note the time. There were moments when, even though I know the play (have read it, seen it, taught it), certain lines elicited a snort or chuckle. Plus, I couldn't help but recite some passages under my breath (the sleep soliloquy, the "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" lines, etc.)

I'm sorry that he could not appreciate his first experience with Shakespeare. I'm not sorry I took him. I had a wonderful time introducing my son to something I enjoy. I do think taking my younger brother to see "Cats" back when I was in college, was a much smarter move than taking my son to see Shakespeare. He needed a more timely tale. He needed more props and cool stage effects. He needed something more along the lines of "Starlight Express" (this was a play I saw in London, where the characters spent a good portion of their time roller-skating at break-neck speeds around a circular track on stage). Plus, my brother was actually interested in endearing himself to me by feigning mutual interest.

It was wonderful to be downtown Indianapolis with my son. We saw people taking carriage rides. Everything was lit up. It made me want to head back downtown with my husband and sons when the Christmas season comes because they just have to experience walking city streets when the streets are in their ultimate glow. I doubt they'll appreciate the urgency.

At least I made it worth my son's while by stopping off for a Dairy Queen Blizzard on the way home. I'm sure he is thinking "it would have been a far, far better thing my mother had done, if she had merely taken me to Dairy Queen alone instead of Macbeth and Dairy Queen!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Puzzles and Links

For those still awaiting word about my recent giveaway, ES has yet to approach the teacher to discover the actual answer to that mystifying puzzle which continues to stump us all. He has promised to ask tomorrow. That particular extra credit assignment awarded 100 EC points to the student who solved the highest number of rebus puzzles on the page. ES scored the 100 points (although he did miss a few).

He also provided me with three more rebus puzzles. I will post them today, in case no one correctly answered the previous super-stumper puzzle. See if you can figure them out (although one of them is pretty easy)!


O _ E R _ T _ O _


HIJKLMNO


SICK BIRD


Don't look for the answers tomorrow, because tomorrow is a marathon day. I will collapse in bed without any blogging (but thankfully, I won't be the one responsible for taking ES and his friend to Indiana Beach the following day)! YS and I will arrive for a follow-up pulmonology appointment early tomorrow morning in Indianapolis. Then, in the early afternoon, I will head to a parent-teacher conference for MS's preschool class. I will round out the day with a trip in to Indianapolis to see Macbeth with my kicking-and-screaming adolescent (good times, huh?). Hubby thinks I should just go alone, but I'm determined to share some culture with my son, even if he hates every minute of it. (Really, I'm praying for a really well-done production that will create a wonderful memory for the two of us!)

In case, you find yourself with nothing to read tomorrow (since I won't be blogging, right?), you might visit my friend Michele's new blog (another mother of boys and a Sally friend - translated "Salvation Army friend"). I also have been meaning to link to My Three Sons because I recently found her blog, as well. Another Texas blogger (like BritGal Sarah), who does fabulous photo essays, is On The Upside. If you check hers out, be sure to read back to her "Interview with a Flat Girl," from last Friday! Absolutely hilarious!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Boys Make Me Smile

Today my boys made me smile. My YS is rapidly acquiring more words. I'm talking the speed of light! Not that he is speaking in sentences or anything, but every day he is adding tons more words to his vocabulary. We went for our typical walk in the park today. MS was on his bicycle and YS in the stroller. As we crossed the bridge to enter the walking trail we encountered another mother with a 4 year old on a bike and an infant in a stroller (both boys). She had never been on the trail and didn't even know it existed. I spent a few minutes extolling the benefits of this particular trail (heavily shaded, beautiful environment, uneven terrain which is both challenging and fun, and frequented by dogs - a must for boys).

They decided to join us for our walk (I don't think they realized what they were getting into since the trail is over a mile long and they had already been walking around the upper part of the park, near the playground). As we walked, I explained that the trail is always decorated in October because the park district holds a haunted hayride. This year, the decorations have been in a different spot and that bothers my MS. I mentioned that one year they had gruesome clowns up splattered with blood and everything.

As soon as I said the word blood, my YS looked up at us and touched his head, saying "Blood ... blood ... head ... ow!" I had to smile and explain that last night he was jumping on the trampoline with his brother and somehow (I think MS played a part in the "somehow") managed to fall onto the trains he had been holding in his hands. Surprisingly, usually it is YS beating up on MS. The other day he bit MS on the back. We're gonna have to nip that in the bud.

MS made me smile for a different reason. Today, he noticed me doing a word search. This is not something I normally do, but when I was searching for more of those rebus puzzles, I dug up two of my old variety puzzle books and happened to start a word search. He, of course, wanted to do it with me, but it was a special kind where the words are zig-zagged throughout the letters. I redirected him to his Halloween coloring book, which had simple word searches with 8 words to find. I did one of the puzzles with him - showing him how to look for the first letter and then see if the second letter was next to it, etc.

I told him to spend his quiet time on the porch with the coloring book while I put YS down for a nap. When I returned five minutes later, MS showed me that he had found two words and circled them. He had no clue what the words said, but he was able to find them in the puzzle and circle them correctly. I was blown away. Of course, I figured my husband wouldn't believe me ("oh, how she gushes over those children"), so after dinner, I asked MS to show Daddy and big brother what he could do. He did another 8 word word-search with assistance on only two words (one of which was Halloween - I mean, 9 letters for goodness sake). How is this boy going to wait almost two years to start kindergarten??

My ES made me smile tonight, as well. For the past week, we have been getting a few calls at 9:15 or 9:30. The phone only rings once and we can't see a number displayed on the caller ID. Of course, we assumed it was one of ES's friends. Last night, as I was driving ES and a friend to the football game, ES received a crank call on his cell phone. I asked if he thought perhaps this was the same person who had been calling the house after 9 p.m. lately. He grinned and said, in his little drawn-out whiny voice, "Nooo, that would be me. I called on my cell phone."

So, tonight, just after putting the little boys down around 8:30, the phone rang. Once. I walked into his room and said, "Do you have your cell phone?"

He said, (again, voice with the inflections), "Mayybeee."

I made him give me the phone. I explained that from now on, the phone has its own bed on the kitchen counter. At 9 p.m., I expect everyone to be in their respective beds and his cell phone to be in bed on the kitchen counter.

His dad walked in and gathered what was going on. He half-grinned at ES. ES looked down from his loft bed and sneered, "OWWNNED!"

His dad said, "No, actually, I think you are the one who just got owned, mister. From now on your phone is off limits and on the counter at bedtime." Let's hope the pranks stay that tame. He comes from a line of pranksters (now there's a blog post for another day)! So glad they make me smile.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Craving This Simply Soothing Song

I must admit, I don't spend nearly as much time listening to music as I used to. In fact, if I listen to anything, it is likely to be a book on CD. I'm not sure why, since music has always been paramount in my life.

Moreover, my taste in music is eclectic. These days, I'm drawn to songs like "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse, "LDN" by Lily Allen, "Omnibus" by Lautsprecher, "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat, "Forever and For Always," by Shania Twain, " and "Thank You," by Dido. Yet, I'm also given to bouts of listening to older albums by Chicago or Bread or even Air Supply. A few years ago, my husband took me to my first and only rock concert, when Styx played at the Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois, on Valentine's Day. What a fantastic memory we made that night!

As a teenager, while most of my peers were listening to rock on the radio (I know my brothers listened to a lot of Styx), I was fixated on Salvation Army brass band music. I would put on some brass band music, pull the piano bench over to the couch and sit and write endless letters while listening to the form of music which, to this day, can make my soul feel like it's standing on a mountain. At times, I would even play my horn along with the record (if I had the music). Dweeb, I know!

Of course, I left my Salvation Army brass band days behind when I got married. My heart still pines for that unique experience. My brain also misses those songs I grew up singing in The Salvation Army. Lots of times, a song will pop into my head and I will have to think really hard to determine if it is a song that is used in general Christendom or one that is unique to The Salvation Army.

For those who don't know, The Salvation Army is famous for writing new lyrics to bar tunes and old melodies. Many of the songs in the red Salvation Army Songbook were set to tunes which were popular with the common man. I guess early Salvationists were pre-Larry Norman thinkers with the concept of "why should the devil have all the good music?"

When I was a teenager, I remember one officer couple who tried to employ the same concept to The Salvation Army founder's song, "Oh, Boundless Salvation." John and Nancy MacLean sang these profound words to the tune of John Denver's "Annie's Song." It was breathtakingly beautiful, and I often find myself singing those words to Denver's melody.

Then, a few years ago, I discovered that a group of young people were reviving this trend. The Singing Company produced a CD called "The Red Book Sessions." The group's leader, Eric Himes, had written modern tunes to pair with the older lyrics in the red Salvation Army Songbook. I asked for a copy of this CD the Christmas when my YS was born and spent a lot of time listening to it during feeding sessions.

Imagine my surprise, when I learned that my own niece, Kirsten, had joined the group. This made me all the more eager to request their newest CD, called "The Mercy Seat Sessions," for my birthday this past May. My parents spent the weekend before our summer visit at The Salvation Army's Central Territorial Congress and picked up a copy for me.

Then, I sat on the darned CD for several months (who knows why? - it would have made excellent music for the drive up to CBLI!) and only ended up listening a few weeks ago. Since then, I have been transfixed. I can't get enough of this CD and especially one song in particular - a solo called "Abide With Me," sung by Kirsten.

At the end of a chaotic day, there is nothing better than plugging into this song. Kirsten has a beautiful Celtic lilt as she sings this melodic tune. The words are comforting and uplifting. I have listened to it over and over again. I had to share it, so my husband played it on the computer and my little guys were mesmerized by the swirling graphics dancing across the screen. Now, my MS begs me to play the CD in the van. He loves Kirsten's song, but he also loves other ones (especially new lyrics to "Morning Has Broken" - he loves this one because it mentions the biblical story where God brings the dry bones to life - called "Wake Up, O Sleeper").

If you visit the Singing Company's website and listen to "Abide With Me," you'll be craving this simply soothing song, too. Her voice is beautiful, the words meaningful and the music melodious. If I don't review as many books this month, it is because I can't get enough of this song! Kudos to Kirsten!

Renee's Bloggy Give-away

I'm so thrilled to have met Renee Garcia through the blogging world. She is an amazing mother to four children (one has battled leukemia and Down's Syndrome). She makes me think of that book I Don't Know How She Does It! Her husband is deployed with the military, yet she tackles all the demands of parenting and still finds time to blog. Plus, her positive spirit is infectious.

It is her one year blogoversary and she is having a giveaway. Head on over to her site and you can enter to win one of her lovely gift baskets (you only have until Oct. 15th to enter). Even if you don't want a basket, scroll down until you see some pictures of her beautiful children. She's a proud mommy and she sure knows how to showcase the blessings she's been given.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Help Urge More Childhood Cancer Funding!

Tonight, I was visiting a Caringbridge site for Mariah Klein. She was my niece Amelia's friend and she recently went to be with the Lord, after battling DIPG. Mariah's mother brought attention to another inexpensive way you can influence the pull for more childhood cancer funding.

She wrote:
"You may remember that Stand Up To Cancer aired on all three networks about a month ago. Well, there is a group of 20 people who are now deciding what areas of cancer research to spend the $100 MILLION that was raised. Here's what you can do. Go to http://www.standup2cancer.org/ scroll down to the bottom, at the left side is the contact us link. (Very small wording) Click there, fill out the form selecting "Request SU2C funding" in the drop down menu. In the comments ask for funding for childhood cancers such as DIPG because of their lack of funding and extremely low survival rate. It only takes a minute and you will be helping show support of all these children with the same tumor."


It only takes a moment. I sent a comment. In my comment, I mentioned that greater awareness and numerous advances were brought about by the intense campaigning for breast cancer awareness, yet childhood cancer awareness month went by last month, almost unnoticed. Too many children are dying. Too many of these cancers strike aggressively and leave empty hands and hearts.

The other day, I realized that this isn't merely a new interest for me since my niece was diagnosed with a childhood cancer. It is true that I have become more active about supporting and encouraging those in the childhood cancer battle since it hit my own family personally. But, it dawned on me that my passion for this battle goes back further.

When I was around 10 years old, I met a girl in my class named Janet. She was bald because she was battling cancer. She became a good friend to me and had me over for sleep-overs a few times. I watched her bravely fight. I returned home from summer camp to learn that she had passed away. I think of her to this day. Several years ago, I visited her home and had a chance to speak with her father. I told him that I still remembered Janet and that I had written a short story in college prompted by her life.

I know I don't have many readers, but it would please me immensely if you would go to the StandUp2Cancer site and request a larger portion of those funds for childhood cancer research. It would thrill me even more if you let me know you did so in my comments. Let's flood their in-box with requests that more than 3 cents of every dollar raised be spent on finding a cure for the various forms of childhood cancer!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book Review: Two Little Girls in Blue


I have never read anything by Mary Higgins Clark before. I do remember several girls at my high school reading her book, Where Are the Children? In my search for another audio book, Two Little Girls in Blue, sounded interesting.

It is the story of young parents whose 3 year old twin daughters, Kelly and Kathy, have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom. Trouble is, the parents spent almost every extra penny purchasing the old home that they have recently moved into. Thankfully, the husband's employer decides to offer up the money in exchange for the girls' safe return. Unfortunately, only Kelly is recovered, from a car with a dead man whose suicide note claims the other twin was accidentally killed.

There were several pressing questions which kept me reading. Who is the Pied Piper, the man who orchestrated the kidnapping? Will the parents get both girls back safely? How do all these extra characters play into the final revelation of what really took place?

It was very suspenseful and the narration was good. At times, when I would be driving just my ES somewhere, I would continue to listen. He commented that the book was weird. Then again, I've mentioned before that he tends to have a low opinion of books.

I guess I did have some difficulties with the book myself. For one thing, I wondered if the story could have been more effective if written from a different point of view. As the story unfolds you already know the identity and the location of the criminals.

I also kept questioning actions of the characters in the book. I suppose I found bits of it difficult to believe or accept. If a doctor had asked the mother to document moments of twin telepathy previously, why would the same doctor quickly discount the mother's belief that the twins were still in communication?

Moreover, these criminals did some pretty stupid things. Now, I know that criminals really do often do stupid things, but I found it hard to believe that the criminals would enter a store and request assistance with outfits for twins and mention that they weren't sure of the size. In fact, purchasing matching outfits seems like a sure way to arouse suspicion. Purchasing medications for the sick child at the local store where they normally shop didn't seem realistic either. Furthermore, would they really have kept two three year old girls in a crib? I doubt even one of my boys at age three would fit in a crib. Again, doesn't this beg discovery?

I also found the numerous characters to be confusing. Perhaps reading the book would have eliminated my confusion. I could have gone back to review bits and pieces about each character. Still, it seemed like a lot of characters were thrown in to create red herrings without really advancing the plot.

However, even with my skeptical position, I would say this book delivered a good mystery. The ending led to a satisfactory climax and adequate conclusion. I certainly would not have returned the book without finishing it. The concept of twin telepathy was interesting to consider. Sadly, the stupid criminals and the wrench in the plans were probably more realistic than I'm willing to admit. Maybe I should have started with Clark's first book, since a few Amazon reviewers mentioned that this book wasn't as good as her first mystery about children gone missing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Free Theater Treat

There are two things I have missed for many years now (pretty much since children came into the picture): travel and the theater. I seized opportunities in my college years to travel overseas on several occasions. But, since the boys entered our lives, I haven't traveled overseas once. My passport has expired. Sob. Sob.

My first memory of a professional theater experience involved riding public transportation with my high school Honors English class and "Harsh Ms. Karsh" across the city of Chicago to see a presentation of a Shakespearean play (wish I could remember which one, but they all blur together in my mind, somehow). I believe at that moment, I was hooked. Like my first experience with downhill skiing, I couldn't wait until I could go again. Unlike my downhill skiing experience, I actually did go again, and often.

I attended several performances at Wheaton College and during my Wheaton-in-England term, I even saw As You Like It, performed in Stratford by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company. There were many other plays I attended in England as well: Daisy Pulls it Off!, Singin' in the Rain, All's Well That Ends Well, Vanity Fair, Brigadoon, The Wandering Jew, Mousetrap, Midsummer Night's Dream, A View from the Bridge, Hapgood, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, and Les Miserables. I enjoyed going to see Cats in downtown Chicago with several Wheaton friends so much that a few weeks later, I secured tickets and took my 10 year old brother Tim to see it.

Of course, I have always been deeply saddened by the differences between the theatre experience in England and the theater experience in America. In England, theatre is accessible to all and fairly reasonably priced (especially if you are a student - I paid five and a half pounds to see Les Miserables from a second row seat). Here in the States, it seems that theater is far more expensive and attended by the select few.

I'm guessing this observation may be what prompted the Theatre Communications Group's national audience development program to promote Free Night of Theater. I am absolutely thrilled that I took the time to read my newspaper last night. On page B3, in a 2x5 inch column, I discovered this promotion. This first-come, first-served opportunity offered tickets for four different productions. I logged on here the moment it began, at noon today, and secured two tickets for a performance of Macbeth, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Apparently, this option is being offered in other cities besides Indianapolis, so check it out.

I am hoping to take my ES along (even though it is the night before he is scheduled to go to Indiana Beach with a friend). I really want to expose ES to this kind of cultural experience. I must admit, though, I am worried that he will hate it and I will have ruined my evening as well. The website indicates that it is a modern rendition. This could help. I remember seeing a fabulous modern rendition of The Merchant of Venice, during a Spring Break trip to England while I was teaching high school. I came back pumped to teach it to my Junior English class.

We shall see what happens. Tonight, I mentioned the free tickets and my plan. If he really pitches a fit, I will have to try to find someone else to go with me (that or attend alone - which I have done numerous times). Still, I am very excited to have managed free tickets. Now, if only I could find free air-fare for a trip to England. Then again, that would require finding a sitter; scratch that idea!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Heart is Full

I want to paint a picture of a blessing that will go. I know it will go, because it is similar to a blessing I used to enjoy several years ago. Ever since my marriage, we had been coming to this house for brief visits. Before kids, we spent our time relaxing on the porch, reading and watching movies. When my ES was younger, we would often take tractor rides back into the woods. But, one of our favorite activities was always throwing walnuts and sticks into the creek in the back yard.

When ES was 3 or 4, we went to visit my older brother, Mark, and his family. They live in Kentucky and we lived in Illinois at that time. We broke up the drive by stopping in at this house in Indiana and, of course, ES had to take time to throw walnuts into the creek. It is one of the key memories attached to our visits to this house. Now that we are living here, the little boys are making similar memories.

Tonight, I watched this blessing unfold again. Actually, this is a ritual we observe at least two or three nights a week, when the weather is agreeable. After dinner, my boys will clamor to go outside with their daddy. I remain in the house, cleaning up the supper dishes. I enjoy washing dishes. It is one of the few cleaning chores that I find to be relaxing and even, somehow, comforting. Here, in this house, I am able to see the little boys and their dad in the back yard as I wash up. They bring a bucket and scramble to find as many walnuts as they can. Then they head to the steep banks of the creek and begin tossing them in.

They love this time with their Daddy. Tonight, Daddy was lingering in putting on his shoes and I offered to take my YS out with his brother. YS emphatically said, "NO!" He made it quite clear that he wanted to wait for Daddy and that he really didn't want me to come along. No hurt feelings. In fact, I much prefer my viewpoint from the window. It is so precious to watch them tag along with Daddy, finding just the perfect spot, where the water is close enough for both MS and YS to toss walnuts in and hear that satisfactory splash.

I know that the thrill of throwing the walnuts into the creek won't fade, but this memory will shift and change. Their bodies will grow tall and lanky. Their tosses will arc further. They will decide to aim at specific targets. Perhaps they will even employ big brother's three man sling shot when the little boys are big enough to manage that.

But, for tonight, my heart was bursting with joy watching them frolic with their dad. Their little heads come up to his waist and every movement they make communicates how much they love this time. When MS throws, sometimes he flaps his arms in excitement. Tonight, I could tell he was feeling silly. He began to throw some of the walnuts over his shoulder so that they would land on the ground instead of plunking in the water. Of course, YS followed suit, until MS went back to throwing them into the creek.

When they finished off the bucket, they ambled up the hill, turned on our outdoor Halloween decorations and headed to the front yard to jump on the trampoline. I finished up my dishes and went out to tell them that it was time to come in. Both boys wanted to show me new skills on the trampoline. They run around in circles after one another (which they have always called "running like a chickee," don't ask me why?), jump and land on their bottoms, and roll around over each other (called a "hug roll").

I have my share of evenings when I feel frazzled and spent (last night I was frantically trying to gather things to take to a re-sale shop and it seemed like the time between dinner and bed was the chaos zone). But, tonight, I was able to enjoy the fullness of my blessings. I'm sure the down-time earlier in the day, when the boys were at school and PDO, contributed to my feeling of contentment. I was able to wash dishes and watch my little ones making memories with their Daddy. What a lucky day!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Only Time for Tid-bits

They say "every cloud has a silver lining." Ever since YS received a glass cut to one of the two middle fingers on his left hand, he has been unwilling to put his two fingers in his mouth (in his normal comfort stance - see photo here). The first night and naps were difficult. He woke often, crying because he wanted his fingers, but didn't want to suck band-aid! I actually removed the band-aid for him Friday night (don't think he was using the two fingers for comfort at any of the times I checked on him that night), but Saturday morning had to reapply. When we arrived at the park for our walk, I discovered blood on the car seat and upholstery. Thank goodness for our first aid kit in the car! I am sincerely praying that this will be the weaning process for that comfort crutch.

MS still hasn't received his pet (a promised birthday gift), so on Sunday, he found a caterpillar and declared it to be his "new pet, Trophy." He continued to use this name for the pet the rest of the day. He begged to keep the caterpillar in the aquarium overnight. This morning, surprisingly, it was still alive (but hanging by a thread). He let Trophy go and urged him to go find some food in the ground.

ES has been selected as eligible to participate in the 2009 Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search. This is another opportunity we will leave to his decision. If he does participate, he will take either the ACT or SAT and his scores will be compared with other students who participate. I just recently pulled out an old file of my grades and found my ACT scores. He looked them over. Now, I think he might decide to participate just to see if he can best the scores I earned when taking the test in my junior year.

Now, for a tid-bit about another boy: Please continue to pray for Coleman Larson and his family. They had headed back to New York to begin a new treatment. Unfortunately, the preliminary MRI's revealed a spread of his cancer and the cancer must be reduced before he can begin this new treatment. I know some readers may not wish to join CarePages, in order to keep abreast of Coleman's struggle, but I can link to a You Tube video of these adorable twins from their first trip to NY a few weeks back. They have captured my heart and my prayers.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Book Review: One Small Sparrow

I happened upon this powerful and uplifting book in a thrift store recently. I cannot wait to pass it on to other members of my family (I have already offered to lend it to my sister-in-law, Mary, Amelia's mother). Jeff Leeland tells the heartbreaking, yet inspiring story of a community banding together to save the life of his young son.

Jeff and Kristi Leeland welcomed their fourth child, Michael, in August of 1991. Within a week, Jeff left the family to begin a new job teaching in a middle school in Seattle, Washington. One month later, the family officially moved. In February of 1992, they learned the devastating news that their baby was fighting cancer and would need a bone marrow transplant. They also discovered that their insurance would not cover the necessary transplant.

What follows is an amazing story of God's hand moving through ordinary individuals. One of Jeff Leeland's students came forward to offer all the money in his savings account ($60)and this became the initial deposit for the Michael Leeland Trust Fund. Within four weeks, because the students and faculty at the middle school banded together to broadcast the need, the Fund raised the necessary $205,000 for Michael's transplant.

This books holds so many stories in one. It is the story of his son's battle, the story of their family's faith in God, the story of students who are passionate, undaunted and jump right in to help out, the story of a community touched by the need of one small person, and the story of God's provision against the odds. It is a touching reminder that, with God, anything is possible.

My favorite quote comes in a passage describing the final half hour Jeff and Kristi spend with Michael before he is placed in sterile isolation. Jeff writes:

"We have discovered along our hard journey two kinds of hope. One looks forward to the final destination, the other for the strength and wisdom to move toward it. Both rest in God's faithful provision.

We have also encountered two types of discouragement. One mistakes an obstacle in the path for the final destination; the other mistakes our own weakness for a reason to give up. Both rest in our faithlessness."
I only wish that I could have accessed the photo which graces the cover of my copy. My copy shows an actual photo of Michael and his mother. This photo compelled me to purchase and read this book in the same way it probably compelled community members to give on behalf of Michael and his family.

I highly recommend this book. It can be purchased for only one cent through Amazon. I also discovered that Jeff Leeland has published another book, entitled A Thousand Small Sparrows. This second book provides many stories of kids reaching out to help other kids. It is based on the work of the Sparrow Clubs, which Jeff Leeland spearheaded after Michael's experience.

These clubs exist primarily in the western states (although, I did note two "sparrows" being supported by a sparrow club in Illinois and Indiana). What a marvelous tool for harnessing the enthusiasm and passion of kids! What a wonderful way to encourage empathy! I wish there were a Sparrow Club at my son's middle school.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Of Glass and Grace

When my ES had just turned six, he began playing with two brothers (we'll call them Graham and Monte) who were five and four and lived just around the corner from us. At the time, there was only one other boy his age in the neighborhood. I was thrilled that he was playing with these boys since the other boy had rammed ES's bike, the summer before, and caused ES to go flying over the handlebars, landing in a heap on the ground, bleeding and not remembering where he was.

ES seemed to really like Graham and Monte. At one point, I noticed that almost every day he was wanting to head over to their house to give them one of his toys. When I said, "You know you don't have to give them your police badge, just because they like to play police," he replied, "But I really want to give it to them." Now, what mother is going to turn down sincere sharing like that, I ask? A few weeks later, I discovered what motivated his generosity.

I began working at my son's grade school as an individual aide and happened to be working in Graham's classroom. One day as we were lining up to go to gym, another student asked how I knew Graham so well. I explained that my son plays with Graham sometimes. Graham immediately offered up, "Well, not anymore."

I asked, "Why not anymore?"

He said, "Not since the glass."

I asked, "What glass? What happened?"

He explained that he and my son had broken some glass on the driveway and Graham's mother had forbidden my son from ever coming to their house again.

That afternoon, I grilled my son for an explanation of what had happened. He claimed it was Graham's idea to take the glass from the recycling bin and break it on the driveway. He said that the mother yelled at him and told him he was not allowed to play there again. This had apparently happened three or four weeks prior to my knowledge.

I informed ES that we were walking over right then and there and he was going to offer up an apology to Graham's mother. When Graham and his mother came to the door, I said that ES had something to say to them. After his apology, I apologized and said that I had no idea that this had happened. I asked if she would let me know if anything like this happened again. She explained that when it happened she told my son to go home and tell his mother what he had done. She said it wouldn't happen again because he is not allowed to come to their house. At some point during this discussion, Graham even spoke up to confirm that he had been the instigator in this behavior.

The mother held firm to her resolution of never allowing my child on her property. She continued to glare at him every time she saw him. When my husband would take ES to Cub Scouts, he would come home and report that Graham's mother stayed for the entire activity and glared at my husband as well as my son.

So, as I cleaned up the gazillion glass shards from my own garage floor yesterday, I found myself thinking, "Boy, I can imagine how ticked off Graham's mother must have been to find the glass mess that they made." But, pretty soon after that, I returned to my normal thoughts on this incident. They were kids. Yes, they made a bad decision, but they were kids and kids make mistakes. Her own kid was part and parcel of the mistake. My child was not a frequent offender and his actions had not been malicious.

Plus, what kid goes home and tells on himself? I mean, even George Washington was asked by his father before he confessed to his misdeed of chopping down the supposed cherry tree. If I had known in the moment, I would have jumped right in and helped to clean it up (and probably would have included ES in that process as well).

I guess I keep wishing this mother had been able to show my son some grace. We all, like kids, make mistakes which lead to horrible messes. Oftentimes, those horrible messes inconvenience other people. Thank goodness, God responds to our mishaps with unending grace. He doesn't whisk our glass shards away (and sometimes, someone even gets hurt from the shards).  But, He never banishes us from His presence.

Hopefully, this will motivate me to be more gracious towards others. I know I didn't feel too gracious towards the boy who rammed my son's bike (and many of his actions were malicious). I suppose I should also be gracious towards this other mom. Perhaps she was responding to other factors. Perhaps she had stumbled upon a hidden figurative shard of broken glass. I was amazed at how many extra little pieces I kept finding long after I thought I was done with the clean up job. Broken glass can be a lot like broken lives - shattering, dangerous, and complicated to clean up. I want to know and give more grace in the face of broken glass.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

200th Post on a Shattering Day

One of my many weaknesses is tardiness. I know what that says about a person. They don't consider others because they cannot bother to get to the assigned place on time, etc. I promise I never do this on purpose, but I am quite often LATE! I don't think we have made it to the little boys' preschool by 9 a.m. once this year.

I was so determined this morning. I was up and showering by 7:00. YS was up by 7:15 and MS by 8. Even so, I was pushing. No television during breakfast. Things laid out the night before. Check written for October fee. By 8:40, I ushered the little boys out to the garage and opened the van door (they can both climb in by themselves - MS can even do his seat belt).

Of course, they didn't get in. They ran off to their bikes and began riding around on the empty side of the garage. I can deal with that. I ran back inside to grab their lunches off the kitchen counter and stuff them into their backpacks. As I returned to the garage, I heard my MS say, "Sorry about that. Sorry I did that and it broke. Sorry, Mom." It was perplexing because, as far as I could see through the van windows, he was still sitting on his bike.

As I rounded the back end of the van, I suddenly understood his apology. However, not soon enough! The floor was covered in thick green glass shards and YS decided at that very moment to get off his bike the only way he knows how. He put his hands down to the ground and pulled his leg over the seat. As he stood up, his hand was dripping blood.

The next half hour was frantic and emotional for everyone but MS. It took forever to stop the bleeding. Of course, YS didn't appreciate the fact that I was persistently pinching his finger, so he persistently tried to wriggle free from my grasp. The band-aid application was also a sight to behold (some of you have tried this one handed maneuver - opening the box, peeling off the protective coverings with the teeth, wrestling upset toddler while trying to secure gauze and band-aid).

I think MS was in-tune with the attitudinal vibes I was sending. When I finished badly nursing my patient (there is a reason I never went into the medical field), I found MS sitting in his car seat all buckled up looking terribly contrite. He explained that he had found a glass bottle in a bunch of Grandpa's things (there are some things Grandpa doesn't want moved while we live here - I think this has convinced my husband that his own father's desires will have to be overlooked!) and dropped it while trying to ride his bike with it.

Once they were both safely fastened, I headed back in to call my husband. I had a dermatologist appointment in a further town this morning and would not be able to clean the mess until after we all returned home at 1:30 p.m. Since he comes home to eat his lunch, I didn't want him to pull into his half of the garage and ruin his tires.

As I cleaned up the mess this afternoon, I thought back to another glass incident with my ES. It is a real pain trying to clean up glass. I felt a smidgen of understanding for our neighbor's mother. Just a smidgen. Then, it left as quickly as it came. Kids! I'll have to relate ES's glass story at another time, since it is nearly 1 a.m. and I will certainly wake my hubby when I come into the room. He's sure to say, "Didn't you have a full enough day? You had to stay up until 1 a.m. blogging?" Tardy to bed. Tardy to school. Tardy sending cards. Tardy to church. I'm just trying to keep up with the general pattern I have established.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Deeply Puzzled

I intended to write a different post for my blog tonight. However, just after the little boys went to bed, my ES brought me an extra credit option for one of his classes. It was a page full of rebus puzzles (you know the puzzles where they write words or numbers in a square to represent a common phrase). Well, I tend to love these things.

There were 24 total puzzles on the page. ES had managed to figure out 12 (things like "Hot under the collar" and "Broken heart" and "One thing after another"). He was surprised at how quickly I solved several of them ("Hard up for cash," "the long and short of it," and "Looking out for number 1"). But, in the end, we were still stuck on three. Of course, my little competitive edge was whet and I was determined to figure the rest out.

So, I went on-line and searched for word puzzles (otherwise, I wouldn't have known these were called "rebus puzzles" - although they also went by other names like Brain Busters and Brain Bats). I have now looked at hundreds of these things. Many of them, I have seen before. I did find one that we were missing. It was:

END
^

Answer: The beginning of the end

Having looked at a good many of them, I also think I figured out the other one which had us stumped:

MORE
MORE
MORE

MORE
MORE
MORE

At first I thought this had something to do with there being six "more"s. But I'm guessing the answer is "Room for one more."

Now, I can't figure out the last one and couldn't find it on-line either. I even stumbled upon this interesting site, which I intend to visit when I have more time (I thought if I looked at popular phrases, it might come to me, but really finding the meanings behind some of these phrases would be far more fun than solving rebus puzzles).

So, my faithful readers, give this one a try:

NEA$R
N$EAR
NE$AR

It certainly stumped me. The first person to comment with the right answer (to be confirmed by my son's teacher, of course), will get a small prize from me! Woo-hoo, my second giveaway!