Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roadtrip Speedbumps, Part II

Yesterday you learned why Hubby won't let me carry my wallet without handcuffing it to my person.

Today I'll tell you how we dealt with my carelessness.

I spoke with the museum about the possibility of overnighting it to me, but with the Thanksgiving holiday so near, I didn't want to run the risk of having to leave town before it arrived.  I wasn't sure if it would be better to send it to our house, but if I did that they'd have to wait, because I didn't want it showing up at home before *we* got there!

My dad told me to hold off a bit, because he had an idea.

Before I tell you his idea, you need to know a little bit of our history.  When I lived at home, "rich" was when Dad had steady work (he was an ironworker and a pastor.  You can guess which one had a salary) for a length of time, and on a Friday payday, he'd take us (in an old, beat-up VW bug that had rust-holes in the floor and no heat) down to Burger King for 99-cent Whoppers - and a milkshake if the electricity was paid up and all.  Alternatively, we could go to the mall food court, with a $5 limit to buy anything we wanted (we had to bring him the change).  The church (which often met in our home) sometimes bought toilet paper, and more than once I remember people giving us groceries as an early Christmas gift or the like - and it was SO wonderful!  I still have this lifestyle burned into my mind, so understand that what I write next really messes with me.  Still.

His idea was dependent on the weather for Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, and the day before we were to leave).  But it looked like it would be good.  He needed to do some things like this for "practice," and this would be a good opportunity.  Plus, he could spend some time with Hubby and my brother, and they could have some guy-time (me?  No, I was chained to the stove.  I know my place. :)).

His idea was to fly his plane down and pick up my wallet.  Yes, fly.  His plane [insert all kinds of eyebrow-scrunching and head-spinning here.  I. Can't. Make. Sense. Of. It.].  It's not without purpose, or faith-stretching, but God has blessed him with a plane (and the license to fly it, which he's been working/studying towards for years, even through the grocery-gift times). 

It was an all-day trip (they had to stop halfway for fuel - not because they couldn't carry enough fuel for the whole trip, but because they couldn't carry the Big Boys and enough fuel at the same time.), and an experience Hubby has never enjoyed.  He's flown commercially twice (our first married Thanksgiving, and then to my brother's wedding in '06.  Hopefully never again.), but that is a far cry from a little 1952 4-person whatever-it-is.  And he really liked it.  He took some pictures, too!

Not exactly the view we had coming in...

But he saw mountains!
And rivers and lakes..
Shoreline...(and airplane props)

Beautiful sky..

Hmph.  Even a cool bridge.

A lighthouse on a rock!

Taking a closer look..!

Beautiful coastline.

Islands...(isn't it cute?) 
And finally... naturally...

A... cranberry bog.

What a beautiful trip, eh?  Someday, with a real camera...

Considering the taxi-ride from the airstrip to the museum cost more than overnighting the wallet would have, I don't even want to know how many 99-cent whoppers it took to fly down there.  My dad is pretty nice, eh?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Roadtrip Speedbumps

I found another post-worthy story, though the photos are lackluster.  Just pretend with me, would you, that they are better, and taken with that one thing I want so badly?  Thank you.

Daily life is so routine around here (ha.  ha.) that I have to go waaay back to Thanksgiving Week, when we visited my folks.

Remember that half-day vacation?  Remember how I lamented all the unknown possibilities for things to go wrong?  Of course, nothing did, and it was smooth-sailing the whole way.  Ahem.

Except for a few things.  Like, dilly-dallying around a coastal town until WAY past *my* preferred departure time, letting Hubby poke through a fascinating museum, while played lost-and-found (mostly found, thank God) with the kids, potty-relay, and ok-I-need-not-be-a-naggy-unsubmissive-impatient-obnoxious-wife in the same (They didn't even charge extra for all those things I got to play in there!).

No, it wasn't that bad.  Though we could've spent much more time there.  At the very end, when I was in the little entrance lobby, and Hubby was poking around the gift shop (NOT the same as the museum, you know), I paused on a bench to nurse baby before our lonnnggg journey to my parents'.

We took a long route, so as to cross a very cool bridge and traverse a very cool highway (which, oddly enough, are very hard to enjoy in the dark), and we eventually made it there, far, far past bedtime.

Sometime a couple days later, Hubby was clearing out some of the aftermath in the van, and asked about my wallet.  I directed him to where it was, but that didn't amount to much.  We checked my coat, the diaper bag, and all the other-likely places before really searching through the van.  Nothing.  Thankfully we have very little by way of credit cards and such, and calling about our accounts was fairly simple.  Though I had run out of the cash I'd kept in my pocket.  We were really at a loss as to what had happened - figuring it fell out of the van at a wet, dark gas station along the way, probably.  We did look up the phone number of the museum, one state away, and lo and behold some kind soul had found it on the bench and turned it in to the desk - without even touching the couple-hundred dollars of trip cash inside it.

God is so good.

Tomorrow I'll tell you what we did about it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow Big Deal

Back when we had snow, and not just mud, Big Sister was so excited to make snowmen.  She's tried several times, but we never had the "good, sticky, snowman-snow."  At Grandma's, she borrowed some gloves and went out to make Grandma a snowman.  Grandma loved it, and I thought it was very well done, with arms and pebble-eyes to boot.  She even formed him a snow-hat, which you can almost see in the picture.

My favorite, though, was when Hubby was still working full-time hours, and she wanted to make a surprise for him.  She worked outdoors in the twilight before coming to say it was ready:


She made three small snowmen in the driveway "for Daddy to run over when he gets home."  Who needs boys, when you have girls who think like that?! :)
I didn't even begrudge the organic carrot she adorned one with.

(And yes, Daddy happily plowed his Dodge 3500 HEMI service truck through them when he arrived. :) )

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Helping Haiti

Have you forgotten Haiti?  I haven't.  I can't.  I feel more deeply about this than the Katrina disaster, though that was bad too.

Have you helped?  Have you donated?  Have you prayed?  Continue to do so, please.  I'm blogging about this here to make an additional effort.

I was reading about it, hearing about it, googling about it when it first happened.  The Common Room always has great current-events information, among other things, and they had some posts with excerpts from missionaries from Haiti and such.  I liked these "on-the-ground" missions and I was surprised to see a dear friend on Facebook link to one of the very same organizations, and speak of them with considerable familiarity.  It turns out my friend went to college with these people (well, after she left the college *I* was going to), and had nothing but good things to say about them.  I'd been dragging my feet on the donation thing - unsure where to send one, and worried about budgetary issues (which seems so pathetic in light of the "actual" need Haiti has), but after a trusted friend endorsing them, I donated my paltry sum to The Apparent Project.  It wasn't much, though, and, of course, my husband was laid off a couple weeks ago, so there wasn't much in our future either. It was still on my heart, though, and God graciously brought opportunities.  Remember the picture of the picture?  Well, someone locally asked about it, and made an offer... which suddenly seemed like a good way to donate more.  So I will (the check is in the mail, I'm told. :)).  I realized I still had Mary Kay stuff taking up shelf space, and (God bless facebook!) put out the word that I'd take offers for whatever people wanted.  I've had a handful of people respond and, praise God!, have well over $100 to donate additionally!

There are ways.  There are ways to squeeze out a little bit here and there.  This is how I'm doing it.  You can read about other ways here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Frugal Gifting

Last Thanksgiving time, when we took our half-day vacation en route to my folks, we stopped at a beach or two.

At one, Little artist found the sand-caked remains of a bouquet, and excitedly ran them alllllll across the beach, back to the van, where I nursed Baby. Discouraging her from any more perishable souvenirs, we compromised by taking a picture of the arrangement she left in the sand next to our vehicle.

I thought it a very artistic display. No cost to her, and benefit for me, for the next beach visitors, and readers of this blog too. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Undercover Photog

Every once in a while, when I actually get the photos off the camera and onto the computer, I find a few surprises.  Surprises that make me happy that I have a digital camera and don't have to pay for film and developing and all that.

The girl, she doesn't know Kodak EasyShare doesn't have a macro lens.

And it's frequently some close-up, blurry detail of Organique's clothes.

Or Baby's.

Or the ugliest part of the ugliest 'comforter' we have kicking around here.  Ick!

Here's... part... of a big framed picture we have hanging on the wall.  Do you like it?  Do you want it?  It's lovely, but the colors just aren't right (then again, I probably need to repaint that room anyway).  The frame and mat were probably $300, and I like it, but it just doesn't like living here.  Make me an offer.  Like, offer to give it a home.

Then there are great bits of art like this one.  Clutter is one thing; saving the evidence forever is just mean.  Rubbing it in.  SOMEDAY I'll really fix that window valance thingy.  Maybe I'll even close the cupboard and put away the broom.  Seriously, what is going on here?  I think Organique is attempting a somersault.  I think this was before our Thanksgiving trip and I was washing and reassembling all carseats/straps/pads and the like.  It was definitely after my one brown shoes wore out, but before I got new brown shoes.

The burning question:  Do I lock up the camera, or teach her there are NICE things to photograph???

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas Jammies

I may have mentioned finishing up Christmas Jammies for the girls on Christmas Eve.  Or not, considering how busy I was that week.  I'd bought this cute cupcake-print thermal (like long johns) fabric on super-clearance a year ago or nearly.  Good intentions and all that.  I finally decided I should use it up, and make some nightgowns for the girls, for them to open on Christmas Eve.  I didn't use a pattern, but made raglan-type sleeves (I think that's what they're called.  The top of the sleeves reach to the collar, and the seams go from there to the armpits, diagonally.).  I had to go buy a ribbed knit to do the collar, which was a first for me, but they came out!

Truly, three little gowns in three sizes... it just makes me sigh.  A good sigh, like a warm fire, a braided rug, and a mug of hot cocoa while a blizzard rages without might make me sigh.

I used the serger for everything but top-stitching the collar, and that was definitely the way to go with such a stretchy knit.  Because my cotton interlock (?) collar fabric wasn't exactly the size of each collar, I just overlapped it once I got all the way around (you can somewhat see that on the left side of the middle gown).  I lettuce-edged the cuffs and hems (and didn't have to use any more of the rib knit), and in pink woolly nylon, it came out well.

So cozy and girlie, huh?  Now, to figure out what to do with the boyish farm animal print... "just in case," you know (hey, remember I was pregnant a year ago)...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Womanly Dominion Book Giveaway

At Passionate Homemaking.  It looks like a really wonderful book!

She Loves The Thumb

She's a happy baby.  Fat and happy.  I'm surprised she's still so roly-poly, considering how she's substituted The Thumb for her former nursing habit.  She still nurses, of course, but The Thumb now takes the brunt.

It's usually the left thumb, though not always.

When I carry her, or when she sleeps.  But she's so cute bundled up in her carseat:


Friday, January 15, 2010

Birthday Surprise

Don't you love a good surprise on your birthday?  Like, a surprise party with all your best friends, or the keys to a new vehicle, or someone you thought was far away shows up?  Well, I didn't have those kinds of surprises yesterday, but I did have a surprise.

To start with, Organique showed signs of the surprise.  This is never a good sign:

Oh yes.  That's paint.  And not even the Zero VOC kind I've been loving.  Leftover Satin Latex is what it is.  Well, it WAS "leftover."  Now I call it "allover."

Yep.  "Allover" the carpet, and "allover" the wall.  A splash or two on my reclining camp chair, and ditto for the JBL speaker.  It pooled around the bookshelf, but I saved it.

By the way, the paint can was on it's side, and it's nearly-full contents were thick upon the circle you see there.  This is after I scooped handfuls of paint up and filled the can back nearly three-fourths full.  Do you think we have another Little Artist?  Or maybe just another Little Monkey?  Let's have a closer look at the detail:

Oo, blurry picture.  Sorry.  The wall already had white areas (gouges and scraped paint).  Sadly, my mind wasn't running on all cylinders, and it was a few hours before I could reach Hubby and his wise counsel to use the shop vac and water to clean the carpet.  Not how I planned to spend my birthday, certainly, but I recovered.  The carpet only kindof recovered.  It looks now like a ghostly intruder was slaughtered.  That'll teach 'em.

Good thing she's cute...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This is it.  The earth has been enduring my presence for 32 years today.  Actually, tonight.  10:39 pm, to be exact, though I wasn't born in this time zone, so I should probably consider it 11:39 here.  Weird to think that if my mom travelled east before I was born that I might've had a January 15 birthday.  I wonder if they take into consideration the time zone of conception...  That could change things for some people, I'm sure... :)

I am blessed.  I have four of the most beautiful daughters anyone could hope for, a home to sustain them, the opportunity to provide for them the training I think God wants for them, a husband to facilitate much of this, to say nothing of our many luxuries. 

Monday I was having a hard time.  The camera I have been batting my eyes at for nearly 2 years was coming into closer reach.  We'd gotten some "medical expense" money back at year-end, having paid the bills through the year and turning in receipts, and Hubby thought he'd stay busy this winter, there being many pivots to build and wire up.

He was wrong, though, and after 2 hours at work on Monday, he came home.  My camera again retreated into the hazy distance, and I struggled to keep a good attitude.  Hubby felt down, I think, and the way he deals with that sometimes brings out the worst in me.

Then there was Haiti.  Nothing like seeing true devastation to put your DSLR pity party into perspective.

[This post interrupted to deal with a nose-bloodied toddler and accompanying laundry.  We now return to irregularly-scheduled posting.]

So today I count my blessings, and thank God for the abundance.  My "need" is turned into "extra" to donate to Haiti (Food for the Poor has a near 98% of donations going to relief). 

Thank you God for 32 years of life, health, and blessing -- and the opportunity to share just a tiny bit of it.  May it, and all things, point people to You.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Dear EllaJac,

I have a problem. I am experiencing some guilt over some Christmas gifting this year. I try to be fairly careful with money, and our budget is kind of tight in the area of "extras." Moreso this year than the last few, and we have more kids than ever before also. We do buy some gifts for our children, and each other, but other than that we mostly make gifts for extended family members and friends. Baking, sometimes sewing or other crafts, things like that. Some of my out-of-town relatives were around for Christmas, and they went shopping for our kids, buying each of them an outfit. They also gave my husband and I each a gift card.

We gave them some of our homemade goodies, but certainly nothing remotely worth the gift cards they gave us. Their child seems to have everything she could need, and we didn't really give child-specific gifts this year anyway.

I feel like we should have done more, though I'm not sure what, and I'm uncomfortable being in this place. What should I do?

A Concerned Recipient

Dear Concerned,

Christmas gifts are - or should be - just that... Gifts. While we may all like to reciprocate and bless others as we are blessed, it's certainly not obligatory. Maybe your relatives are in a different financial situation, or just wanted to make an extra gesture towards your family. Either way, you can (and should) show gratitude without feeling burdened to spend the same amount of dollars. Your homemade offerings may well include significant time spent in their making, perhaps creating something of a design or quality that isn't even available to purchase. Don't beat yourself up for giving something markedly different than you received. The giver chooses to give (and what to give). Don't sully that generosity with expectations or guilt.



Advice. I can dish it out. Why can't I take it?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I Fixed It!

One plaguing problem on this computer is fixed now. I am so happy!

Of course, there are still 1,548 plaguing problems still to go, but...

For a year or more we've been mostly unable to use certain websites. No, not THAT kind of website.

Things like ebay, for instance. The main page would load, I could click and load pages from links, but entering a search almost always resulted in an error. *Sometimes* I could click refresh a couple dozen times, and like casting and trying to hook a fish, it would occasionally 'catch' and load. And.... occasionally not.

Another lost cause was barnes and noble dot com. Clicking refresh - IF it worked - resulted in every graphic and link lining up in a column along the left side of the page, making almost no sense at all.

My brother knew of this, so naturally he got me a barnes and noble gift card for Christmas. Daring me to take four kids into a bookstore, I suppose.

I gave him a popcorn cake. Hardly equitable, I know, and you don't know the half of it.

I foiled him though! In my umpteenth google search about this error, I ran across an idea that I figured might well work.

It did.

The problem had to do with Windows Live Family Safety Software - which was constantly harassing us to update it - and the recommendation was to uninstall it.

Which I might have done. Or updated it. In any case - began to work!

And I did NOT have to take an overloaded stroller into a bookstore. Ha!

More gratifying still was that my barnes and noble educator discount card saved me more money than my brother's formerly-coveted Membership discount. And I don't have to pay for the Educator discount. :D

Monday, January 04, 2010


Like everyone else this month, I'm getting back into the swing of things, trying to organize and streamline my world. :)

One of the things I have a hard time with is clothes. It's not like I haven't tried things, or am not implementing ideas, but there is still so much room for improvement.

We have moved a small dresser downstairs where each child has one drawer for clothes, with a basket sectioning the panties and socks from the rest of the clothes.

One drawer is for all jammies.

Dresses still hang in their bedroom closet.

Off-size and off-season clothes are stored in the computer room here in boxes or bins labeled for size. Since we have only girls, we don't have to sort for gender, and thus far we haven't sorted for seasons either.

The problems: Keeping dresses on hangers and hangers in closets is nearly impossible with a 2-year-old in the house. I don't know that there's a fix for that, but I welcome all legal ideas.

Each laundry load invariably includes something that needs put in the storage boxes, and their next stop is a laundry basket in the computer room "to be put away." You can guess how that's working out. Organique thinks it's a dress-up pile (and I don't like seeing 6-month-old clothes stretched over my 2-year-old's head), things get mixed up and back into circulation, I procrastinate... It seems like a big job to sort out each item into piles from infant to 8, keep those piles from being molested before the basket is emptied, not to mention locating and peering at all those hand-me-down, washed-out tags that may or may not be readable anyway.

Is there a better way? I ran across some blog lately that referenced their clothing-storage bins being more for genre than size. "boys dress pants" - several sizes in one bin. Would that be easier? Tossing all the summery shirts into one pile might get them put away faster, but would it be reasonable to retrieve things that way? What about things that have a matching top and bottom?

With a gift card from Christmas I've ordered Don Aslett's Weekend Makeover, and I hope to find some good organizing ideas in there.

Do you have a perfect clothing system in your home? Will you tell me about it if you do?