Friday, November 30, 2007

Blessings

My back hurts, my arms hurt, my legs hurt, and my feet hurt, but all in all, I'm a happy individual today. My house is clean, my floor is done, and Christmas can finally begin! I haven't blogged in over two weeks, and there are so many random ideas I've wanted to address, but I've been pondering on how to do that. Well, I've realized that all in all, these are things that I am just thankful for...so we will address them all that way!

1. Let's start with my car, Mithral Rae. Even though we did have to shell out a couple of hundred dollars to get the sensors fixed, she is at least working again, quite nicely, and seems to not have any inclinations towards randomly quitting her job in the middle of the road! We are going to find a way to get the more general repairs done on her sometime in the next few months; she’s been such a good car over the last ten years, I hate to give her up!

2. Thanksgiving was one of the best Thanksgivings we have had in several years. We drove down about ten hours to Texas to spend it with Chris' aunt and uncle and their four vivacious children. We had a lovely time with delicious food, drives around the city (which I love!), cuddling kids, expressions of thankfulness (including a surprise announcement from Chris' aunt about kidlet number five coming in June!), and just a general relaxing, cozy, thankful! Thanksgiving. We were both in desperate need of escaping Springfield (and our house) for awhile, and to be able to do so with loving and accepting people was wonderful.

3. Dishwasher updates. Upon returning to Springfield, we found our kitchen floor was almost completely done being tiled, and indeed, as I write this, not only is our kitchen floor completely done, but this weekend we finished redoing the dining room floor, putting in dividers, and (this is the reason for the sore muscles) completely cleaning up the disgusting dirtiness that my home had turned into! (I spent 6.5 hours just doing the cleaning. Keep in mind, our kitchen, dining room, and living have been one big jumbled mess for over four weeks, and, as with any construction project, dust has been getting everywhere. Add into that the fact that I’ve been sick, we’ve been out of town, and it’s really difficult to keep a clean house when nothing is in its right place and it’s constantly getting dustier because of grout, tile, sawdust, etc).

Our home is now sparkly clean, ready to be decorated for Christmas, and the kitchen/dining room actually look better with the tile in the kitchen than they did before all this happened!

One of the most amazing parts of all this is how faithful God is in taking care of our needs. When we were first debating on how to fix our floor from the great dishwasher flood, we decided we would have to tile the kitchen floor rather than simply replacing the laminate because the particular brand of laminate we originally used in flooring was - of course – discontinued. And, while we did have some extra boxes of laminate left-over from when we original put the laminate in the house, we were going to be just short in being able to redo both the kitchen and dining room.

Dreading the cost of tile (and losing our beautiful floor), Chris and I went out hunting. We finally found what we wanted and brought it home only to decide it really wasn’t right. At that moment, my dear brother dropped off a whole bunch of tiles at our house that go beautifully with our kitchen and were given to him (boxes and boxes and boxes) by a hardware store because most of the boxes had chipped pieces in them. Cobble them together - and we had enough to redo our kitchen. So, even counting what we paid my brother to do the tiling on the floor (a topic both of us were completely clueless about), all in all it cost us maybe $250 to fix all of the mess. Plus a few weeks of frustration - but hey - considering what we thinking it could cost...it's a blessing. God really does take care of our every need - large and small.

4. Tied directly in with the idea of a clean home is another cleansing concept. For the last three months, Chris and I have been embroiled in a nasty, sad, and at time rather pathetic situation with his immediate family. This has been a long time building (years literally) and involves some odd issues. While I won’t get into details about any of that here, the basic upshot is that – as far as we can tell – his family is no longer talking to him (us) and they seem to have no inclination to try to work through any of what has happened – and indeed, seem to have moved on in their lives to the point where we really don’t know if they will ever have an interest in reforming any kind of relationship with us again.

Obviously, this is a hard place for anybody to be. Acceptance by the people who are your family is a basic desire of any person, no matter how good or bad their parents may be. It’s the reason one can find children who’s parents abuse them who will stand up for their parents.

There is so much involved in all of this mess that I really don’t feel comfortable discussing it in such a public forum as this. However, the result from our end has been three very emotionally frustrating and even depressing months. In getting to this point of realizing that we may or may not ever have a healthy relationship with his family, we have spent many hours processing and analyzing and – vital of all – praying. We have finally hit the point where we have to move on – with or without them. We have to put our lives back together again. It is sad that things are the way they are, but we can’t spend the rest of our lives wondering if they will ever turn into reasonable, caring people.

And so, for both of us, restoring the physical peace of our home from the chaos and mess that has overtaken it, can be seen as a symbolic representation of what we are doing with our emotional and mental selves.

So where does the thankfulness come in?I am thankful to be married to a man who is willing to give up a lot of important things in order to not only become a better man but to develop his own faith and beliefs. I am thankful for his humility and willingness to be honest about his own life.

I am thankful that we have not had to walk through all this alone, but that we have had friends who have been willing to pray with us and put up with our rather chaotic emotions for several months.

I am thankful that God has so clearly demonstrated to us – over and over again – the last few months how much control He has over our lives and that He is always taking care of things – no matter how bad or how frustrating.

And, I am thankful that, somehow, in all of this, I know that everything will be okay in the end. Maybe not what we would ideally want, but God will be with us and we will be okay.

Severe lack of blogging

And sadly, for at least a few more days, while I have multiple things bursting out of me dying to be written...I probably won't have time. However, until that time comes...listen to this entertaining song instead!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And the fun just doesn't stop

OK, so I'm really not that negative of a person. Slightly on the pessimistic side at times, especially when I'm tired or feeling overwhelmed, but really...not that negative as a general rule. However, this craziness has got to stop. I literally can trace for the last three months week by week the non-stop disasters that have been following us. Basically, something happens, we get about one week (two on a really big thing) to settle into it, figure out what to do, yadda, yadda...and then something else comes up.

  • Crazy family issues (this is a non-stop stressor that anytime everything else is being quiet likes to crop up and be irritating - or just crop up and be irritating when it wants to!)
  • Myrte (who, btw, is not doing so well - I'm still completely out of her life - but she's gone straight back into all sorts of fun things)
  • Food Poisoining
  • Poison Ivy
  • Dishwasher disaster (and thereby, ripping up my kitchen floor disaster - which is still a mess, although scheduled for fixing asap)
  • Strep Throat (feeling somewhat better, but I was way to tired this morning after doing a little bit of housework)

And the most recent...my beautiful, faithful, beloved car of ten years - who incidentally goes by the name of Mithral Rae - don't ask - it was just one of those phases I went through where everything had to have a name. For example - my old laptop's name was Freddy. OK, so maybe it wasn't just a phase - I guess I did name our new, current laptop Leo! Anyhoo...Mithral Rae has suddenly decided she's tired of being faithful and has started this new thing of suddenly dying. Which, when one is driving down the middle of a busy road, can be a very disconcerting never mind dangerous concept!

Now, she did this a couple times to me a few weeks ago, so we sent her to the shop, and they proceeded to charge us $60 to tell us they couldn't find anything wrong with her. However, I was not comfortable driving a car eight miles to and from work every day on very busy roads when I knew (despite the non-diagnosis) that she was being tempermental and obstinant. So, Chris and I switched cars (his drive is much shorter to work and on back-streets primarily). Well, he had only one problem with her in a couple of weeks...until yesterday...when she proceeded to die three (?) times in the span of about half an hour or so...including while he was driving down the middle of the road.

So, Mithral Rae is now in the shop...

Since writing the above, I have received a phone call from the car shop. The particular issue is - as far as they can tell - one that should only cost a couple of hundred of dollars to fix. However, Mithral Rae has also been shaking a lot lately and have some odd rattlings, gurglings, etc. Now, you have to keep in mind, she's ten years old and has a LOT of miles on her (about three trips back and forth between Washingston State and Missiouri never mind tons of other trips). So, while she was in the shop. Chris asked for them to check out her other cranky issues. Apparently nothing major is wrong, but it's a lot of little things that need replacing, tightening, aligning, etc to keep her healthy and running more smoothly. The entire bill, if we decide to have everything fixed that needs fixing, will run a little over $1000.

And so now we face that huge question of to pour the money into her or not. She is only technically worth about $600 book value any more. However, she's a great car that we have not had to pour a ton of money into over the last few years. If she will last for several years more (which she really should given that there's nothing seriously wrong with her, just bits and bobs that need some help, and she's primarily only driven in town now because she's getting a little old for huge long road trips)...is it worth it?

GAH! I hate decisions like this! And amounts of money like this! If it's not one thing, it's another!

God bless us every one!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

And the Diagnosis is....

Strep throat.

I finally managed to find a doctor who would take me as a one-time patient, and he took one look at my throat and said it was an extremely bad case of strep throat. And so I am now on antibiotics, should be uncontagious (is that a word?) in about 24 hours, and will spend the next few days trying to get better.

I find it ironic that the first case of full-blown strep throat I have had in YEARS (probably four or more years) is after I have quit teaching and gone to work with adults!

So, if you have been around me lately and your throat starts hurting, please go to the doctor right away. Because I may have infected you :(

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Honey and Lemon

So, I've been essentially confined to my couch for the last three days drinking in the powers of honey and lemon and hot water and blessing God for the invention of the lap top! I did try to go into work today and subsequently got kicked out and sent home (through the power of very strong suggestion) by my boss! You know you're sick when you're boss...who really does need you to get some of that work done...sends you home.

Apparently I grew up during the era of doctors thinking that removing tonsils is a bad idea even if you did get tonsilitis on a consistant basis multiple times a year as a child. I was always told that I would grow out of these tonsil issues, but, alas, I have not. Any time I even get a hint at a sore throat, it promptly blows my tonsils out of proportion, coats my throat with nasty, sore, gunkiness, and wipes me out so much that I wind up flat on my back (well propped up) on my couch for several days trying to work up the energy to be able to do anything ever again! Fortunately, I have a very patient husband who takes excellent care of me, but I really do truly hate being sick as an adult because most of the time you're by yourself, and even when you feel woozy and tired and flat out awful - you still have to fend for yourself if you want anything.

Go to the doctor, I keep hearing. Easier said than done. We have such a ridiculous health care system in this world that because I've switched insurance companies with my new job, I have had to say goodbye to my faithful and beloved doctor of eight years and have been searching for a new one. I have finally manged to get into one of the doctors who was recommended to me (one of about seven - none of the others of whom were taking new patients), but the earliest appointment I could get is in January, and I sincerely hope that I won't still be needing her at that point because of this particular problem right now!

Sadly, however, this nastiness means that I shall have to forgo seeing the Ballet Hispanica which I was going to go see tonight and have been looking forward to seeing for about four months :( Sigh...stupid tonsils. Stupid sickness. Stupid timing!

And that's my grump for the day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Travel Lust

I admit to. I have a lust for something - and it's surprisingly not dark chocolate! I'm sorry my dear husband, but I can't help it. The idea of traveling places...*sigh*... such happiness!


There is a part of my being that thrills to the idea of hopping a plane and going to see a new (or old) place. Being able to touch and see for myself the places that I have spent my whole life reading about...that idea gives me this sparkling, wonderful feeling that makes working 40 hours a week seem worthwhile if it will help fund that desire!


Now, I know, some of you will say, "But think of all the places you have been. Think of all the adventures you have had that other simply dream of." And, believe me, I'm not denying the magic and delight of those adventures or the mystery and memories of those places. And yet, the travel lust is not satisfied. There is still an entire world out there that I haven't seen!


I long to see the pyramids of Egypt, to see if the Sphynx really does look as majestic as the pictures present it, to climb the Alps, to touch the Great Wall of China, to see the Pantheon of Greece before it burns to the ground, to walk to Golgatha, to see the birthplace of my Lord, to visit Rome and see the Colleseum, to walk through the Louvre of Paris, to hear Gaelic before that language disappears off the face of the earth, to find out what Mexican food tastes like in Mexico, to see Boston, Washington DC, Philladelphia, to sit in the The Eagle and Child and imagine being able to overhear the conversations of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, to visit PEI and see Green Gables, to go to the opera in Sydney and see if the gym at Evangel really is a miniature of that building...the list goes on and on.


I have always had a goal of visiting every continent (Antarctica might be negotiable) before I die.

Now, I look over the last few years of my life, and even in these few short years, I have done a fair amount of travel. Since I've been married, we've gone to England once, Thailand once, we've visited Tenneessee, we've done a road trip from Washington State to Missiouri...and those are wonderful memories. And yet, it's been nearly five years since I've seen my aunts and uncles and cousins (and now even second cousins - I think that's what they are!) in England. It's already been a year since I was last "home." And, there is this always nagging longing in me that craves seeing more...going more places, experiencing new cultures, languages, foods, life.



Is it sad that I can sometimes be frustrated that when I consider traveling I feel like I sometimes have to choose between going to England or Thailand because I want to see family? Who, in their right mind, would be frustrated about such a decision?! And yet, again, there is this world out there of places and people and adventures that I haven't had yet.


Due to some recent conversations with various individuals, some of our priorities have been brought into question. And in considering those priorities, I realized, yet again, how deep my love of travel is. And so my longing has been reawakened, if anything, more deeply than ever before. And, since I fortunately have an amazing husband who not only understands my crazy longings but sympathizes and is more than happy to go along with them...this concept is going to be placed nearer the forefront of our lives again. We'll see where the road takes us for, to quote a hobbit of great wisdom and rhyme:



"The Road goes ever on and on


Down from the door where it began.


Now far ahead the Road has gone,


And I must follow, if I can,


Pursuing it with eager feet,


Until it joins some larger way


Where many paths and errands meet.


And whither then? I cannot say."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"The Second Spring" or "Why Autumn is My Favorite Season"




"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." ~Albert Camus

I love the crisp feel of a cool Autumn breeze.
There is a distinct leafy, crispy perfume associated with Autumn that causes me to throw open my windows to try to absorb as much as possible.
I'll go out of my way (and risk being late to work) to drive through tree-lined streets to watch the leave change.
The sound of crunching leaves under my feet is one of the most satisfying sounds in the world.
I revel in cooler days where I get to start pulling out sweaters and boots and other fun warm weather clothes but are not yet at the point where I shiver and hurt because of icy chilliness and have to bundle up like a snow-monster.
There is a peace - like the calm before a storm - that descends upon the world as nature is gearing up to fight the long, bitter days of winter.

Everything seems brighter (even than in summer), calmer, and more at ease than at any other time of the year.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fun Food Fixes

A relatively common conversation I run into with various friends and acquaintances is that of food. Or more precisely, food budgets. In this economy where prices are rapidly going up, how do we afford good food (I despise the fact that healthy food is so outrageously expensive!) and what do we do about those days when we come home from work or whatever and we just don't want to cook dinner? Going out to eat will blow a food budget in no time flat, yet it can be such a tempting solution sometimes!

Well, personally, I am now attempting three new ideas to solve some of our food crises that arise.

1. Planning! Now, don't laugh at me. I know this is such a basic tool, but I'm so bad about planning out ahead of time what our meals are going to be. So, for the last few weeks, Chris and I have been sitting down on Saturdays and determining what meals we are going to make for the week ahead, what items we need to buy to complete those meals, etc. Now, has this worked perfectly since we've started doing this? No. Changing several years of habits is hard and (for this last week) cooking when my kitchen floor is torn up because of mold just wasn't appetizing to me! However, I think we're getting the concept, and we shall see where it takes us.

2. Share Colorado. What is Share Colorado? It is an non-profit organization (actually through Catholic Charities) which - because of its size - can buy huge amounts of food for way cheaper than the individual would pay at the grocery store, and then proceeds to turn around and sell that food to individuals families and groups for extremely low prices.

Different churches can volunteer to be host sites for this program (my brother's church is where we go), and people order through that church and pick up their groceries every month at that location.

I really like it because (a) unlike some programs of this nature, you are not required to buy a certain amount of food from them or spend a set amount of money (b) they actually sell (again, unlike many of the organizations of this nature I've run into the past) fresh fruits and vegetables of all sorts. The meat is always good quality; we've never run into any out-dated products. And the amount of food you can get for the money you spend is amazing! Plus, you can donate extra money for some of the basic food boxes to go to families in need, and I know the food is good because it's the exact same stuff I'm eating!

This program has really started changing some of our meal planning and food budgeting just because of the amount we save. I highly recommend it!

3. Social Suppers. This is another fun organization I have recently gotten into. And this is for those days when I don't want to come home and cook a meal. Social Suppers essentially is a place you can go where - for pretty good prices - you can assemble all the ingredients for several meals which then get placed into your freezer until you're ready to cook it. Then you pull it out, thaw it, pop it into the oven, and the only cooking left to do is any sides you might want to have with it.

Now, these are a little more expensive than if I would have just made this meal at home from our own ingredients. However, it has several advantages:

1. It's cheaper than eating out, so we're saving ourselves money there, and we actually get more food from these meals than if we went out to eat.
2. The meals are varied (anad amazing!) and provide some interesting new experiences to our dining life (along with some great new ideas for meals I can make).
3. I go with some girl friends of mine, so it's a fun time to socialize and hang out!

So, these are my latest solutions to the never-ending problem of What's for Dinner?!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Eragon

Eragon by Christopher Paolini. This is a fantasy book full of your classic good vs bad themes, dragons, elves, etc. One fact that really makes this book a fascinating read is taking into account the age of the author when he wrote it. 15. It's a really well-written book, fully developed, great plot, even good usage of literary devices. And he was 15!