Monday, December 22, 2008

Card from the past...

We have received a lot of Christmas cards already this year. Most are from businesses that we have contact with. Two are invitations to reunions. So today, when another card arrived in the mail, I was ready to take it to Chuck to ask what he had bought from or sold to this person.

When I opened it two photos fell out and I quickly looked to see if it was from some VS friends from 24 years ago who often send pictures. Nope.

It was two girls who lived with us briefly about eleven years ago. With the names and address of their family to help me I called them tonight and talked to their mom and also to the oldest of the two sisters.

I've wondered about them so often, and it was good to know they are OK. Now there is one other former foster daughter I would like to know about, but that connection is a lot less likely to ever happen. Maybe someday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Luke's recent pics

I wanted to put this up the other day, but first I needed to download Picasa, and then my internet wasn't connected. Tim discovered that the internet was fine, but the cord wasn't plugged into the outlet.

Laura has written that Luke got a haircut, and I took a couple of pics. The first is (of course) before the haircut.

Here he is with shorter hair and a grown up look.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More thoughts on Beyond Consequences

I frequent a message board for parents of children with reactive attachment disorder. I asked on the message board if others had experience with "Beyond Consequences" It has been an interesting discussion.

All of the responders have continued to use the ideas over a period of years because they like themselves better when they can see their children as hurting, instead of seeing them as hurtful.

Some have seen changes in their children. Most see their children as often being too frightened of closeness to even allow any empathy to slip past their defenses.

So, as I think about this, it becomes about who I want to be, whether it 'works' or not.

Incidentally, I do think it is helping, but there are days when I have to let go and accept being pushed away.

Today was good though. There were things happening that could have brought up anger and defensiveness but we didn't have to go there. We had a good evening and in spite of talking about some of those issues right before bed, we were able to talk without anxiety and end the evening friends.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Just Bev

I have some pretty strong pet peeves about use of words, and this evening I realized that my signature name, justbev, is a prime example of the thing that annoys me the most.

I bristle at the word 'just' when it is not used as a synonym for justice.

This word is a minimizing word. I think the English language would go on quite well without it. (I almost said 'just fine' instead of 'quite well'.)

For example:

**** "I was just...." This phrase is used in many settings, but nearly always in the same way. It minimizes the effects of my own behavior on those I have offended. "I was just kidding." "I was just trying to help." "I was just minding my own business." In other words, "You should not be offended by what I did because it was such a small thing. You must be a small person to get upset about it."

What if we left the word 'just' out of it? "I was kidding" "I was trying to help" "I was minding my own business" It tells the truth (I hope) without judging the other person. "I was kidding" does not imply that the offended person should have known that. It takes responsibility and leaves an opening for the other person to respond.

****"You could just....." This is usually part of giving advice, and implies that the solution is simple and easily carried out. In other words, if you weren't so stupid you would have thought of this yourself. I much prefer, "You could try..." Usually it's best to be empathetic without advice, but if someone is requesting advice, they probably have already worked pretty hard at a solution. They don't need to have their struggle minimized or discredited.

*****In prayers.... Sometimes the word 'just' becomes the most frequent word in a prayer.
We just want to praise you
We just thank you
We are just so overwhelmed
We just ask you to....
Be straight with God. It isn't a small thing to praise God. It isn't a small thing to thank God. And when I am asking for something, I'm not asking for a small thing.

That said, I just want to let you know that sometimes I just can't help myself. It's just such a habit to say 'just' that it just flies out of my mouth without my even realizing it. I will just have to be more careful...

But I think I WILL change my signature, if I can just figure out how to do it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Beyond Consequences

Chuck and I were talking about "Beyond Consequences" today. He had been listening to mp3's from the web site on our mp3 player this morning, and I had been listening to the two cds that came with the book. We are both trying to grasp the idea well enough that we can think that way with less effort. Right now it feels like beginning to drive, only harder. When you learn to drive, everything is a conscious decision. Nothing is automatic.

Likewise with changing a parenting paradigm. I have to think through everything I say, and every motive I have for saying it. I'm really glad I'm not homeschooling right now because just getting through the evening with the right attitude is enough to be exhausting.

Anyway, one of the things we talked about was parental attitude. Heather Forbes keeps saying that we each have within us everything we need to parent this way. Chuck went from that to talking about how you have to love others as you love yourself, implying that loving yourself comes first.

I agree.

And I don't agree.

Sometimes the way I get into trouble is by loving myself. I often think, "No one can talk to ME that way!" And then I hand out the rules or the consequences or the control. I'm loving myself but it isn't making a difference. The rules and the consequences and the control just escalate the situation, emotions rise, voices get loud, and we are not on the path to understanding each other or empathizing with each other.

In a way, I think that loving yourself has to be beside the point.

There is a lot of fear in parenting. If we do it wrong, we wreck a person's life. We joke about being the reason our kids will need therapy, but it isn't just a joke. So we turn to experts. And experts tell us that yes, we are the most important link. What we do matters. We have the power to launch our kids to a higher place than we have attained, or we have the power to undermine them until they are unable to function in the real world. Aaaaaggghhhh!

So, when my kid has a problem, I can easily see it as my failure. Then it doesn't take much to become defensive and controlling. I have to 'fix' this kid because that is what a good parent would do. If I can't fix my kid that means I'm a bad parent.

What if we take the blame/guilt out of the picture? What if we see the behavior as a direct result of what is going on in the child instead of as a reflection of our own failure as parents?

So when my child comes home demanding things and is easily upset at even small requests, my thought does not become, "I have to fix this attitude right now or I won't be doing my job as a parent." My thoughts stay with my child. I'm already comfortable in my belief that I'm a fine parent, so I wonder what is causing my child so much stress that he can't cope in a reasonable way. My ego stays out of it. My goal is to understand his feelings and validate them. Once he understands that I don't think he is bad, but that I understand that anyone might feel like he does under the same circumstances, the intensity will be over.

It's not about whether I'm a good parent or not.

It's about how to understand and connect with my child when he is experiencing difficult emotions.

I guess that IS loving others the way I love myself. If I'm having a bad day, I'd rather people believe that I'm a good person who is stressed out and needs some empathy. I react pretty strongly to someone telling me that I should shape up my attitude. I do NOT want to be given any unsolicited advice about what I am doing wrong and how I should fix it. When I get that kind of 'help' it makes me more upset rather than less. I end up writing it off as being uninformed and insensitive to the realities of the situation. So why would my child want any of that?

But it is so hard to break old patterns. I made it through the evening without falling into rules or consequences, but it wasn't easy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Extended Parenting

Yesterday we were talking about empty nest. We have friends who have two kids. Their kids were born about fifteen months apart. It is taking them nineteen years to go from birth to having both kids out of high school and launched into college.

We've had kids at home for 29 1/2 years and we still have about 5 more years to go if they leave after high school. I can't imagine what life will be like without the stimulation of another generation in my house. I suppose if I had really nasty teenagers it would be different, but I've been fortunate to have really great teenagers.

I think I'll take the loud garage bands, the crazy schedules, the messy rooms, the dirty socks under the couch, and the midnight calls to see if they can stay out a bit longer without quite so much complaining. All too soon this house will be more quiet than I like.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why are they called garage bands?

Tim has three friends here to start a band. It is not bluegrass.

I'm really enjoying it but I understand now why high school rock bands are called garage bands. They are loud enough that they have to be in the garage in order to hear the phone or have a conversation or hear yourself think. I gave them ear protection, but it was working too well for them. They did fine with the music but they couldn't hear each other talk between songs.

I was hoping the Beyond Consequences book would arrive today and I'd have something to post from that, but no such luck. I guess I'll take my Newsweek and Sojourners and Geez magazines upstairs and see if it's possible to read a little farther from the band.

They really do sound pretty good. But very large amplifiers in a small livingroom make for a high decibel sound.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parenting help

I heard recently about a book called, "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control". It is a parenting book. It is for anyone, but it was written by an adoptive mom.

I've been to the website and there is a lot of good stuff there. It is about a different paradigm for parenting. I can understand it, but it is definitely not second nature to me---at least not yet.

The idea is that every time a child behaves in ways that are not helpful or safe or respectful, etc., they are acting out of a state of anxiety or out of some other need. Kids who are happy and feeling good and loved and safe and confident generally are pretty much fun to be around.

So---the response to behaviors that are frustrating has to be on the level of lowering their stress and anxiety. If you come to a child who is angry and acting out and your response is to give them a consequence, you raise their level of stress and lower their ability to calm themselves or relate to you. And when a child is highly stressed, or upset, or anxious, their ability to learn is compromised.

It is the "soft answer that turns away wrath" approach.

It doesn't mean you give them everything they want, or that you let them run all over you. It does mean that you see behavior as an indicator of stress, rather than as an indicator of defiance or disrespect.

I'm not describing it as well as I wish I could. At the website there is a link for free stuff. There are several mp3 downloads that do a better job than I can of explaining it. But I like the premise, and I think it can help me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music again

Luke crawled over to the piano the other day. He grabbed the piano leg on the bass end of the piano and stood up. That was clearly not where he wanted to be. He wanted to be where the white keys were. He moved over and began to press keys. Tim got the camera and took this shaky video. Don't get dizzy.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The other day I heard a very short story about violence increasing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I didn't get to hear much, but my interest was high because of a recent book I found in our church library.

"Left to Tell" is not for the faint-hearted. It is the story of a woman who survived the Rwandan crisis. Immaculée Ilibagiza did not know she was a Tutsi until she was well into her primary school education. During her college years, the Hutu war against the Tutsi people exploded. Of her immediate family, only she and a brother survived. She lost both parents and three brothers, as well as most of her extended family.

Currently Congo is suffering even worse violence, especially violence against women and children. I had NPR on this morning and the Diane Rehm show did an hour about this crisis. If you want to hear it, you can listen here.

At the end of the show they quickly said that there are things we can do. "Raise Hope for Congo" has a sample letter you can send to your senator and representative, and there is a petition to sign for the President. I already went and sent the letters and signed the petition. Raise Hope for Congo also has a lot of information, if you want to explore the site.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

KMEA Honor Band

I don't have much time to say anything of substance, but, yesterday Tim had to audition for Kansas Music Educators Association. He had signed up a month or so ago at school, but he no longer wanted to do it. It was another Saturday morning commitment, and he is tired of being busy every Saturday morning. Also he hasn't had as much time as he wanted to practice. He didn't feel good about his high school wind ensemble audition earlier this week and did not look forward to giving another audition he wasn't proud of.

However he was quite proud late last evening when he got the email from his Band instructor that he made Honor Band. Unfortunately that will likely mean another Saturday morning commitment, but it is quite an "honor".

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Historical Election

The election of Obama has been good news at our house. But aside from the strong belief that we chose the best person for the job, the added aspect of race has meant more to me than I thought it would. This is one time I am glad that I am past fifty, and wouldn't mind being even older.

I watched the end of the election results, and actually turned on the tv only about a half hour or so before they announced the winner. We stayed up to hear both speeches, and that was really what got to me. I remember Viet Nam. I remember civil rights in the 60's.

At Obama's speech, Jesse Jackson stood close to the front, and the tears ran down his face throughout the entire speech. I am old enough to remember that Jesse Jackson was there on the balcony when Martin Luther King Jr was shot. I remember both his runs for presidency, and I remember how completely impossible it seemed that he could believe there was any possibility of him winning. It was a different time.

Jackson was from the same era as Rev. Wright. He had the same reasons for anger and activism as Rev. Wright. Besides people being afraid of having an African American as president, people were also afraid of Jackson's activism.

But times have changed. A new generation has grown up with some improvements over the things Jackson and MLK and Wright had to live through. Not enough improvements to make things just or equal yet, but enough to make it possible for Barak Obama to convince a majority of this country that he is the best candidate for this job, enough for him to be able to speak about race without frightening the majority of voters.

Anyway, it was very moving for me to see Jesse Jackson watch Barak Obama's acceptance speech. What a night.

* * * * * * * *

And tonight is historical also, but only at our house. Ben helped me switch my laptop over to linux and also to add linux to our desktop. We are busy trying things out and setting up our personal accounts, learning how to do things the new way. Obviously blogging still works fine.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Dance

Let me introduce my daughter, Wesilla Washington, who is nothing like Sarah Palin, and who is adamantly for Obama, and who has the nerve to dress like this for the middle school Halloween dance.

Wesilla's teachers thought Wesilla was pretty, and pretty scary.

Also last week Luke discovered the ukelele, and to my surprise, understood right away that instead of banging it, like he does any other toy, this thing was meant to be plucked.


The kids and my parents were here tonight to roast hot dogs and hang out. It is so good to spend a relaxing evening together.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Headlines for Fun

Our hometown newspaper has a weekly column by Mike Morton. He has a folksy sense of humor, and if I have time, I read it.

Tonight his title was "Headlines to Make Your Head Spin". When Chuck and Tim asked why I was laughing out loud, I decided to back up and read the headlines to them. If you get the paper, read it there. Mike does some embellishing, and you might enjoy the humor.

If you don't get the paper, I'll list the headlines here. If you read them out loud late in the evening to people who are tired, the effect is probably better than in the cold morning sunshine. According to Mike, these are actual headlines.

Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Axe

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge

Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over

Eye Drops Off Shelf

Helicopter Powered By Human Flies

Pope To Be Arraigned For Allegedly Burglarizing Clinic
(article about a Mr. Pope, not the Pope)

City Wants Dead to Pay For Cleanup
(about the group, The Grateful Dead)

Montana Traded To Kansas City

International Scientific Group Elects Bimbo As Its Chairman
(Mr. Bimbo?)

Storm Delays Bad Weather

Trees Can Break Wind

Missouri Woman Big Winner At Hog Contest

Study Finds Sex, Pregnancy Link

Cockroach Slain, Husband Badly Hurt

Two Sisters Reunited After Eighteen Years At Checkout Counter

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another good soup

We made our version of Italian Wedding Soup again today. Actually, I'm sure it is nothing like Italian Wedding Soup because we don't put in meatballs. We just call it that because our recipe began with a recipe for Italian wedding soup.

I wanted to try Italian wedding soup because it uses spinach. I don't have spinach, but I do have chard, and it is great in recipes that use spinach. So I started with the base for the wedding soup.

Wedding soup calls for meatballs, which I am too lazy to make, so that was my second change to the recipe. Since the soup calls for a chicken broth base, I cube a little chicken in place of the meatballs. Or when we fix a turkey, I use turkey broth and meat instead of chicken.

The original recipe calls for pasta, so I changed it again. I have access to garden potatoes from my parents, so I put in potatoes instead of pasta.

Chuck and Wes and I love it. Tim hasn't tried it yet.

Our Italian Wedding Soup
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach (We use chard, either freshly chopped from the garden, or blanched and frozen if the garden is finished producing)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
6 c. chicken or turkey stock
1/2 - 1 lb. cubed chicken or turkey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop frozen spinach if it isn't already chopped.
2. Saute chopped onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in olive oil.
3. Add chicken stock, cubed chicken, spinach/chard, seasonings and enough cubed potatoes to make a hearty soup, and simmer for an hour or more.
4. Serve with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle in the bowls.

Makes nearly a gallon of soup.

When potatoes are not available, pasta is also good in this soup as a filler. Orzo is particularly good, but I will use whatever is in the house. About a pound, cooked separately and then added to the soup is good.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two and a half weeks

The other day I heard on the news that the election will be on November 4. Now I knew this. But really, until that moment, I didn't register that if we had an election, then the campaign would be over. Am I ready for the campaign to be over? Will life be the same without it? What will I do without Bush to blame?

I'm worried about what happens after the election. Even if my guy wins, the problems we have will suddenly be his problems. It will take a very short time for people to move from looking at him for answers to blaming him for not being magical. I heard someone else on the news suggest that no matter who wins, this will be a one term president. The problems are just so huge that no one can succeed, and whoever is in office will be blamed for not being able to do enough.

And if that isn't enough gloom and doom for you, I read in "The Mennonite" this week that the ice cap over the North Pole melted at a much higher rate than predicted this summer. If it continues to melt at this rate it will be gone in five years. But between the three drivers in our family, we still drove to town five times today.

I'm recycling tomorrow! (but that means driving again)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We have lit the fireplace and are enjoying the warmth. It has been such a warm fall so far that I haven't wished for a fire until now.

We still have not had a frost, but the high temps have been in the 50's and 60's. After several days of that, the house cools down. I made soup and bread and that got us an extra day without a fire.

By the way, it was amazing soup and pretty great bread too. I get in trouble at home for liking my own cooking so much. Actually, I get in trouble for saying that I like my own cooking. It is fine that I like it as long as I don't say anything about it.

I went out to the garden this afternoon to see what is left. I'm letting the long beans go in hopes of saving seed for next year. If it works out I will have way more seed than I need for myself, so if anyone wants to try it, let me know. The sweet potatoes are taking over the north end of the garden. As soon as the garden is not muddy I want to dig those so Chuck can work the garden. The chard is beautiful. It is lush and colorful,and with the cooler weather the bugs have pretty much given up on it. The flavor is mild now too.

I picked half of it today and got three dishpans full. With 2 1/2 inches of rain in the last two days the leaves were clean. After washing each leaf individually in a sink of cold water, the water was still completely clear when I finished all three dishpans full of chard.

I really don't want to become a recipe blog, but this soup recipe is so good. I got it from Cindy at church. It is rich. But it is great comfort food.

Baked Potato Soup
Warm until smooth:
2/3 c.butter
2/3 c. flour

Add gradually stirring until thickened:
7 c. milk (I use powdered milk mixed with hot water to lower the cost and speed up the heating process.)

8 large baked potatoes cooled, peeled, and chunked
4 green onions chopped
1 c. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. bacon fried and crumbled

Heat, either in crockpot or stirring constantly, until hot through.

Melt into soup or sprinkle on top 1 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese.

(I didn't have green onions this week so I sauteed 1/2 onion chopped in the butter before adding the flour. It was tasty, but didn't have the pretty color that green onions would have given it.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What is adoption?

I had a mom call me today for advice about adoption. She has two sons, ages 14 and 6, and wants a daughter. Her husband sometimes seems ready to go ahead and sometimes does not. She wanted to know what to do.

She kept talking about how if she gave it up she might always resent him. Maybe that is true. But what are her options? Would she really try to go ahead against his wishes?

It was interesting timing because I have been doing a bit of writing on the message board for reactive attachment disorder families about what adoption means. I kept wondering, as I visited with this woman, what her expectations for this daughter were. Would this woman be able to adjust to a different reality than she expected? Would her husband adjust to that different reality if he felt pushed into an adoption he didn't want?

My adoption experience isn't typical. At the same time, adoption is not like giving birth to a baby. We try to pretend it is. We even insert adoptive names into birth certificates as a legal way to pretend that this child never had other parents.

When a child is born, it is born knowing the voice and smell of its mother. Even a child adopted right at birth has a loss to adjust to. And no matter how right it is that this child has a different family, the truth is still that this child has a different family than the one it expected to have.

I find it difficult to hear someone say, "I have two sons and now I want a girl so I am going to adopt one." It sounds like buying groceries. I have two bottles of cola but now I want a root beer.

It is difficult to look at objectively. For someone who really wants children and can't have them, adoption is like a second chance. It is a gift. John McCutcheon even has a song about it how this family all came together by choice and it is such a happy thing.

But as a cyber friend wrote on the message board, "Adoption is built on the pillars of loss." My boys needed a family. We became that family. But what they really wanted was to not need a family, to not be somehow rejected or given up. I know they are glad they have us. I am glad I have them. But it isn't the picture that I have when I think of what the woman on the telephone was talking about today.

One of my sons plans to change his name back to his birth name. I have come to understand that this is not a rejection of us. It is a way to tell the truth. He is saying that he is that person. He is saying that he wants me to love him as that person. He is saying that as that person, he loves me. He is saying that he doesn't want to deal with pretending that he came from my womb, and that he doesn't need to do that in order to be part of my family (whatever 'family' means). Maybe he is also asking me if I can still love him even if he isn't 'mine', if there is nothing about him that even sounds like 'mine'.

So anyway, as usual, there are many things to think about.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debates, Faith

The debates are currently on my TV. I'm really into this presidential race. I care what is going to happen. But I can't watch the debates tonight.

It gets me too frustrated.

I already know how I'm going to vote, and the tension about who is doing best at presenting their parts is too much tension for me. Is my candidate representing himself accurately? Are people tempted to believe the lies that the other candidate is telling about my candidate? Is getting the last word equivalent to winning the points in the debate? AAAaaaahhhhh!

On another note,
I wrote recently about having questions regarding faith. Last week my devotions brought me to Psalms 88 and 89. These are the words of someone crying out, "Why?" and "How long?"

Psalm 88 even goes so far as to demand God's help soon. The psalmist asks God if the dead can feel God's love and faithfulness. I think what he is saying is "Do something now! It won't be any good if you wait until after we are dead!" This is the part I wonder about so often.

The descendants of Jacob were in Egypt 400 years. Yes, God heard their cries and rescued them. But in 400 years, a lot of cries were silenced before the rescue.

The people in the crossfire in Iraq, the children kidnapped to be soldiers in Africa, the refugees in Sudan, the sex slaves all over the many of their cries will be answered after they are already silent?

Again, I affirm that I believe in the goodness and justice of God. I also believe in honesty about my questions for God. And I believe that I can't see all that I need to see in order to know the answers to my questions.

If it is in the Bible, it must be OK for me to ask as well.

Monday, October 06, 2008


We were in court today in Wichita. It was an interesting experience.

Everyone on the morning docket is to show up at 9:30 am. The courtroom is small and crowded with people standing in the aisles waiting. Only a few of those there for hearings have support people with them. Most are attending alone.

The front of the courtroom is filled with lawyers. There must have been fifteen or more of them.

The group is asked to rise and the judge enters and asks us to again be seated. Then it begins.

The judge reads the first name on the docket. A lawyer says one of three or four things:

"2nd call"
This means "I haven't met my client yet and need a minute to speak with him/her so that I can represent him/her." OR "My client hasn't shown up yet, call our names your second time through the list."

This means that the client wants to waive their right to a jury trial and have their case heard by a judge. In this case the judge would speak directly to the client, asking if they understood the implications of that decision. The client would affirm that they did. The judge would name the date of the hearing and the judge who would hear it.

This means that the client wanted to accept a plea (I think). The judge would then name a date for the plea hearing.

"Continue to _______"
This means that the lawyer is asking to delay the hearing to a future date. The judge always agreed to do this.

We were there for our son's hearing. Before our son had even arrived his case was called. A lawyer stood up and said "10/17". The judge nodded. Then they continued through the entire docket, setting future dates for everyone in the room as far as I could tell.

They finished the first time through the list and went to 'second call' which took less time. At the end of that, most of the people in the courtroom left.

Later we found out that '10/17' was an abbreviation for 'continue to October 17'. The lawyer who requested this was not our son's lawyer. That person never entered the courtroom this morning and never sent any explanation to our son. Maybe he was sick. Maybe he had a sick child. But his client won't know why he wasn't there.

The point is, a whole courtroom full of defendants took off from work to show up in court and be told to take off work another day. There is probably some logical explanation for this, but it looks pretty discriminatory to an outsider.

In that group of defendants there was only one who was dressed in khaki pants and a nice shirt. There were none in suits. All of the others looked as though they were lower income people.

So all these people who can't afford to lose a day of work have taken off only to be told to come back another day. Which takes on another shade of intensity when I add in that this is the second time my son's case has been continued. This already happened the first time last month. How many days off work does it take before the hearing for a lower class offender actually gets heard.

When Chuck and I were talking about this in the car, he suggested that the reason may be that public defenders are so overworked that they can't adequately represent their clients. If they haven't had a chance to meet with their client they may be allowed easy continuances in order to fairly represent them.

It's a guess. I'm sure there is some reason.

But as I said, to an outsider it looks like things could be done better.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Late Birthday pictures

These pics were taken at my birthday celebration nearly a month ago. We'd never taken any four generation pics with my family yet. This is Laura, Mom, Dad, and me with Luke.


Then we took some with just the great-grandparents and the baby. What fun!

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Today we celebrated Chuck's Mom's birthday with a soup and bread meal. It was a nice evening filled with chatter and laughter and great soups and breads, with an excellent chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. There were 34 of us around the tables, including four guests. Still, there were fourteen of us missing. Wow.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

One more class reunion

As part of the graduating class of 1978, I attended my 30 year college class reunion today. It was low key. No fancy dinners. No power point presentation. Just lemonade, coffee, good conversation, and an opportunity to donate to our class endowment fund.

After the reunion a classmate came to me and said something about having wanted to applaud when I said that we had raised four birth kids and three adopted kids. Several others commented about it to me as well. It seems to mean more to the college reunion crowd than it did to the high school reunion crowd. Interesting.

Before the reunion I took Tim to Youth Symphony and continued to learn the new accounting program. I'm liking it pretty much and it will save me from regular deposits into the Quicken bank account. There are some major things about it that are better than Quicken and will make my work with our records a lot easier.

I still have a couple of things to master, but it shouldn't take much longer.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I'm sitting up---still---reading tutorials of new money management software and listening to my newly organized playlist on my mp3 player. Ahhh, technology.

But I'm very proud of myself. I could not find the help screen for one of the programs. I went to "the synaptic package manager" to try to find a 'help' package to install on my computer. I could not find one that looked right.

So, all by myself, I went on line to the kmymoney web site and found the questions search page. I looked up questions about not being able to access a help screen. There was a question there that gave instruction for entering a command prompt, which I did, and which did not work.

But wait, I'm not done yet. I went back to the kmymoney site and kept looking. Sure enough I found another question. Someone else had entered the same text on the command prompt and had the same results as me BECAUSE the earlier instructions had left out one letter that needed to be typed in the command prompt.

I went back to the command prompt and typed the text in the correct version of the text. Things began to happen right in front of my eyes. And now I have a help tutorial for Kmymoney.


Now it is time to go to bed.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Chicken or the Egg

If I'm not getting everything done, does that mean I need to choose some things to give up, or does that mean that I have already chosen some things to give up?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What I did today...

It has been a long busy day and it's time to go to bed, so this is going to be one of those blogs you aren't supposed to write.

This is what I did today:
Worked two bushels of apples
Worked on organizing music files on my computer and on my mp3 player.
Took kids to Wednesday night church.
Ran three errands.

The apples took a lot of time, but once all the pots were full and beginning to heat up, I worked on the mp3 player. Because I'm still figuring out the ways to organize the music and add it so that it isn't too hard to find it later, it takes me a long time.

I learned through mistakes how to schedule podcast downloads that happen regularly from our three favorite weekly radio shows: This American Life, Car Talk, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, all from NPR.

I also learned from mistakes several different ways to load music to the player and set up playlists. Learning from mistakes takes so long. Having an mp3 player seemed like an easy way to get music that I can take with me. But like anything else, the benefits are balanced out by the amount of time it takes to learn how to use it.

Foreign Policy

I'm gettng facebook friend requests from Chuck's high school classmates. What a kick. I'm accepting, but of course, I probably still will not be checking or updating my facebook much. It's hard enough to get here and update this regularly.

But one of the home pages brought me some laughs. A classmate of Chuck's has joined the "I have more Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin" group. I think I do too!

Didn't she get her first passport just a year ago? I got mine ten years ago. Has she ever been on another continent? I have once. Didn't speak with any leaders, but also didn't assume I had foreign policy experience just because I was in the same city with the President of Paraguay!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Group Decision Making

Last Sunday we had to make a decision at church about whether to add to our renovation budget enough money to cover additional unanticipated expenses of the sound system. The discussion was difficult, not because the current sound system is good (it has some serious issues), or because the presenters did not adequately describe the reasons why they believed it would be good to move on this now. The process was difficult because of the variety of ways there are to look at decision making in a church.

There were some there who did not argue with the materials presented, but did question whether our church could responsibly commit to providing the additional funds. They would have liked for the decision to be made less by voting and more by seeing whether the need could be completely covered by pledges. If God would provide the money, then they would be glad to go ahead with the project.

Others felt that we should discern what God wanted, vote for that, and then trust God to provide the funds as they are needed.

I can see both sides. But I can't really tell you which side I feel most comfortable on.

Then there was a whole other aspect to the discussion that no one really talked about. There were some people who had been made aware of the need for a sound system even before it came to the church as a whole. Some of these people had already made large donations toward the sound system.

This can be seen two ways as well.

It can certainly be seen as great generosity in helping to provide something that might otherwise not been affordable.

It can also be seen as having the vote swayed by those who are most affluent in the congregation. This is because everyone can see that money is there, but it is for this specific project. The money is no longer there if this project doesn't happen.

To their credit, I do not think the donors intend to throw their monetary weight around. I think they intend to give hope to those of us who might see the project as insurmountable.

But still, I wonder if there is a better way to do this.

It is a problem that within days a price increase was scheduled. There was no way to avoid that. It was not a high pressure sales tactic, but rather unfortunate timing of when the information became available and how long it takes to schedule and carry out a church meeting. So to take advantage of the lower prices, we did not have the time to take a week to decide what we could pledge.

If there had been no pledges made in advance would we have had an accurate sense of how difficult it might be to raise the money? Do we have an accurate sense even now?

I wonder how other churches make these kinds of decisions.

For me there are some priorities:
---We find some way to work together to discern God's will.
---We treat each other with humility and respect in the process.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Class Reunion

We went to Chuck's 35th anniversary high school class reunion yesterday and today. More than half the class attended. It had been fifteen years since the last reunion and some people were pretty hard to recognize.

It is weird to think about how separate we are now from the people we spent 7-8 hours with every weekday so long ago. And then for a weekend you get together and the old cliques don't really matter anymore, the nerds are the ones who really got somewhere, and some people are almost exactly the same (personality-wise) as they were 35 years ago.

Then it's over again and everyone goes back to being separate.

Friday, September 26, 2008


From “Wherever You Go There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“(Patience) is remembering that things unfold in their own time…Being in a hurry doesn’t help, and it can create a great deal of suffering---sometimes in us, sometimes in those who have to be around us.”

“Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it.”

“we attempt to bring balance to the present moment, understanding that in patience lies wisdom, knowing that what will come next will be determined in large measure by how we are now.”

Some of the hardest things I have been through did not have a fix. I wanted a fix. I wanted to tell people what they were doing wrong so that my pain would stop. Under the surface of my impatience was anger, and overwhelming energy of wanting things to be different, and blaming people for it.

I make bad choices when I am impatient.

We used to be told as parents that consequences had to be immediate in order to be effective.

That is a lie.

Neither we nor our children are dogs that must be trained.

But it is a lie that I bought into for quite a long time. The other lie that complicated things was this: you must follow through with consequences. If you didn’t your children would not have consistency and it would damage them.

The issue, of course, is patience. When our kids get crazy in one way or another we want it to stop. It is hard. Sometimes it is painful. Often it is emotionally draining. Naturally we lose patience, and beneath that loss of patience is anger, a natural reaction to feeling controlled by another’s choices.

As we raise our children there is an expectation that we are molding them in some way, smoothing out their rough spots, correcting their errors. And we are.

But when we get impatient…

when we combine the impatience we feel with pressure for immediacy and consistency in follow through…

and then add to that the fear that if we don’t do something immediately and consistently our children will be messed up somehow, then we are in trouble.
Lately, when I have a conflict with one of my sons, we talk about the problem and we agree that we will make decisions about it later. This is even for big problems like stealing. We don’t have an immediate consequence. We wait for cool heads and a sense of rightness.

Sometimes I even yell, “I can’t talk about this right now! I’m so angry I’ll say something I shouldn’t. I will talk about this after I take a break and calm down.”

If I do blow it and fire off an immediate consequence, I no longer feel bound to follow through with it. If God can be merciful, it is good for me to follow that example. Kids respond to relationship better than they respond to rigid rules for parenting.

Last time we had a really big problem it took two to three weeks to figure out how to make it right. But it was figured out so well that we all learned from the process. The offending person truly was sorry instead of angry at having some consequence slapped on him before he’d even had a chance to recognize how he had offended people. He wanted a consequence that made things right, not a consequence that had no connection with what had happened.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I’ve been reading from “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” by Madeleine L’Engle.

“As St. Augustine of Hippo says, ‘If you think you understand, it isn’t God.’”

“We are often closer to God in our doubts than in our certainties…it is all right to be like the small child who constantly asks: Why? Why? Why?”

“If my religion is true, it will stand up to all my questioning; there is no need to fear.”

If she is right, this is good news for me, because lately I am full of questions.

Last year we had Marion Bontrager teach our adult Sunday School class using his lectures from the freshman religion class he teaches at Hesston College. The emphasis of the class is the story of God, how God has revealed himself through the Bible and through history. There is a constant theme of God showing himself, people misunderstanding and trying to fit God into their own ideas of him, and then God breaking out of that limitation to reveal himself more truly again.

Because of that class I resolved to read through the Bible again. I chose a reading plan that includes all the parts of the Bible each week. Sunday is from the epistles, Monday from the law, Tuesday from history, Wednesday from Psalms, Thursday from poetry, Friday from prophecy, and Saturday from the gospels and Acts.

It is hard spiritual work. As long as I kept reading the passages in the devotional books I was using in the past, I did not come upon these difficult passages. But the difficult passages, combined with difficult world events, bring all kinds of questions.

The suffering of the people of Iraq, the suffering of the women of Darfur and the Sudan, the slavery still rampant around the world---I don’t know what to do with these. I read the Psalms about God hearing the cries of the brokenhearted. Are these not the brokenhearted?

And then I come to the Old Testament. The other day I read II Kings 1. Elijah prophesies against the king. The king is told about it and sends a commander and 50 soldiers to bring Elijah to the palace. Elijah calls down fire from heaven which consumes them all. This happens a second time. The third time a commander and 50soldiers come, the commander begs Elijah not to ask God to kill them. He is only a messenger. Elijah relents and goes to speak to the king. So God fought for Elijah. Elijah did not have to kill anyone in order to save his own life. But what about those 102 men? When God fights for Israel, people still die. Are they ‘collateral damage’?

God is good. I know this.

God is the champion for the underdog.

In Ezekiel there is a list of reasons why God allowed Israel and Judah to be conquered.
• Shedding of blood in their midst
• Being defiled by idols
• Treat parents with contempt
• Oppress the foreigner
• Mistreat the fatherless and the widows
• Despise holy things
• Desecrate the Sabbath
• Slander
• Eat at mountain shrines (idolatry)
• Sexual immorality
• Accept bribes to shed blood
• Take interest and profit from the poor
• Extort unjust gain from a neighbor
• Forgot God
• Priests do violence to the law
• Robbery
• Oppress poor and needy
• Deny justice

These are the things that ring true with me. This is the way I see God as revealed through Jesus. God cares deeply for those who are powerless. God demands holiness. God expects mercy toward those on the fringe.

But what do I do with the God who kills 100 men because Elijah calls for it?

If Jesus is the truest expression of God, and I believe that He is, then I can trust that there are things about these other stories that I just don’t understand. Nevertheless, the stories are there. They beg for explanation, for understanding, and I’m not there yet.

As for the world today…I wonder what responsibility we as the church, the body of Christ, have to act as God’s agents in the world. As we cry out to God, “Do something!” is God also crying out to us, “Do something!”?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another way of looking at things

We heard a song at the John McCutcheon concert that I'd heard before. It isn't a classic, but it does point out how inconsistent we are, and that it is important to keep our focus on the right things. The words are below. If you would like to hear the song, you can download an mp3 of it free here.

Words & music by John McCutcheon
(September 2007, White Sulpher Springs, WV)

Leona Helmsley had a puppy
Trouble is its name
She left her pup 12 million bucks
Leona was insane
Trouble will be buried
When she barks her final time
In a mausoleum
Bigger than your house or mine.

At the other end of puppy love
We have Michael Vick
His treatment of his puppies
Proves that Mike is just plain sick
He trained his puppies from the start
To kill or to be killed
You gotta stop and wonder
Where such thinking was instilled

We have puppies everywhere
In our cars and laps
If you ever hurt a puppy
We’re gonna give you crap

I have a dog, I love my dog
More than I can tell
But still I wished we treated humans
Nearly half as well

When humans beings fight other humans
We gather, cheer and bet
When we cage our fellow humans
Everyone forgets
We read of murder and starvation
And simply turn the page
But if a single puppy's harmed
Everyone's outraged

So we need puppies in Guantanamo
Puppies in Darfur
So we can get upset enough
To care to find a cure
Puppies need a living wage
Puppies need health care
Puppies need a helping hand
From humans everywhere

Illegal alien puppies
Puppies lost or lame
We rush right in to rescue them
Make sure they each have names
If we treated folks in need
That well both near and far
We might become the persons
That our puppies think we are

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why I Go to the Bluegrass Festival---one of many reasons

One of the reasons I have not been blogging much lately is because our internet connection was not working and we were relying on dial up. That problem was resolved on Thursday. Yea!!!

* * * * *

Every year we go to Winfield for the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival.

Most years I think about not going. It is a lot of work to get ready, prepare food ahead of time, pack, figure out chores and pet care, etc. It is a lot of clean up after we get back home.

While I am there, I am glad I did the work.

There is something that makes mindfulness easier at the Bluegrass Festival. It takes a day or two to happen.

The first day we are there I am still pretty much in the planning and preparing mode of thinking. I'm figuring out what will be for lunch, how fast we can pack it, whether we will like it, whether it is enough, whether it is too heavy to carry, whether we will find a good place to sit or if we will make good choices about which groups to listen to...

Once we are actually on the grounds and listening to the music I'm still wondering if I should have gone to a different stage. I can't seem to focus on enjoying the music. My mind wanders to everything and sometimes I even remind myself I am here to listen to music, so stop thinking and listen already!

By midafternoon the first day it is getting easier. Sitting in the sun and passing around terere' helps. Having no place else to go is good. Being away from my work is helpful, although I admit I did bring a few 'shoulds' with me---articles to read, etc.

Evening is even better.

By the next day the tyranny of the urgent has faded. I can enjoy relaxing over breakfast and not worry about what music I might be missing. I'm happy where I am now and I will be happy later as well, when I get to the music. I don't care if I catch up on my reading. I want to simply enjoy what I am doing without thinking about what I should be doing.

By the Saturday evening concerts it has all come together. Down in front, in the dark, listening to John McCutcheon, I am fully present. I'm not thinking about tomorrow or later tonight or what is happening with the kids, or why my mind wanders. I am just there, completely there.

Getting to experience that is what makes it worth it to do the packing and the clean up. I get to experience a few timeless hours.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fully In This Moment

I spend a lot of time with 6 month old Luke. He has learned to sit and is working quite hard on crawling. He can be mesmerized by a basketful of toys. He picks up one and moves it from one hand to the other in total concentration. We call it playing. It looks like work.

I am reading a book on mindfulness, which simply put, means being able to be fully in the moment you are in, rather than thinking about what happened before or what is coming next. Luke is my best example of that.

Luke is happy holding the toy he has in his hand until it falls out of his hand. If he sees it fall or hears it land he looks to where it is and tries to pick it up. If not, it is on to the next toy. He doesn’t spend much time on regrets. Even in the deepest concentration on the toys, if he hears his mother’s voice, he becomes disengaged from the toys and completely present to her.

I am not like Luke. When I am writing, I am also aware that the whites are in the washer and the darks still need to be hung out to dry. I’m thinking about how many loaves of bread are left and if I will need to find time to bake yet today. Would it hurt the writing too much if I alternated writing with the steps to making bread? And then I remember a painful verbal encounter which frustrates my concentration as I mentally devise comebacks that would have summarily silenced the attack.

Not present in the moment. Present everywhere but the moment.

The most frustrating time to be ‘absent’ from the moment is during prayer. When I reach the final lines of the Lord’s Prayer and can’t remember praying the rest of it I know I was not really there for the prayer. Does God answer prayers when my mouth is praying without my mind? My prayer time would be much shorter if I did not have to repeat the prayers so many times in order to actually pray them.

I am working on it. When I go out to the garden, can I think in terms of the fun it is to find good things growing there? Can I not worry about whether I have time to process the food immediately?

I’m told that the best way to reach that goal is to practice doing nothing for a little while each day. Not doing nothing and feeling guilty about it, but sitting and accepting the thoughts that are there, the things I am seeing, the sounds I am hearing, the feelings I have. It would be good to take a little bit of time each day noticing and accepting what is.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I'm going on a 'birthday' spiritual retreat the next couple of days. I haven't been able to catch up with the work and the schedule, and felt swamped a lot of the time. When I thought about what I wanted to do with my birthday, I realized what I wanted was to find a way to slow this down.

I don't really have much hope of being able to do that. But it occured to me that maybe the tyranny of the urgent would look different if I simply stopped. Do none of it for a couple of days. Focus on what IS important and see if there is any insight. If not, it still will be two days well spent.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

If it's September, there must be sunflowers

This picture is about a week old, but I've been busy. Chuck always picks sunflowers for me in September, and thanks to my mom for the blue salvia, I have a nice arrangement on my table.

Here is the required picture of Luke, just for fun.

Things have been pretty busy around here, with tomatoes, peaches, soccer, baby fun, church work, and more. I keep thinking that if I just finish _______ things will get easier, but that is a dream. I will actually have to stop doing something that I currently do for things to get easier. So I have to decide if I really want things easier bad enough to give up something, or if I'd rather just gripe while I keep on doing the same things. Or maybe I could be grateful that I like doing these things enough that it's worth it to me to be too busy.

The peaches are certainly worth it. Tasting a bit of heaven every day can make up for a lot of stuff I don't really like that much. We have had so many sliced peaches on ice cream. We've made peach butter, peach cobbler, peach smoothies. These are locally grown peaches that are incredibly sweet and do not darken. I sliced some Friday for supper and today they still are not dark. We will finish the leftovers tonight, either on ice cream or in smoothies. Mmmmm.

Other foods I've been enjoying in the last month are...
Chinese long beans stir fried with peanuts and served in a sauce made of soy sauce and red wine vinegar and garlic thickened with cornstarch

Rainbow chard made the same way

Chard in an Italian flavored soup made with chicken, potatoes, onion, parsley, simmered in turkey broth from the freezer and served with Parmesan cheese

Potatoes almost any way at all, fresh and wonderful from my parents' garden

Other things I've been enjoying are...
Playing with Luke on the days he comes over

visiting with other soccer parents at the games

hearing from other nurses what a great job my daughter is doing in her new job

hanging out with my kids last night at Ben and Andrea's house

looking through old pictures in preparation for Chuck's 35th high school reunion

attending church in the basement during the renovation---it gives a new perspective to be in a different place

OK, Chuck wants the computer to put together his bio for the reunion, and I've run out of stuff to say anyway, so that's it for today.

Monday, August 18, 2008


This summer has been so busy I haven't had time to write at all. I miss writing so much I can almost taste it. It wouldn't have to be here...but as long as tomatoes and babies and church activities and family get togethers and weddings and, well, I won't get to writing if this many other things always come first.

But we had a great vacation, and I'm running a canner full of tomatoes, so I'm squeezing in a bit of writing.

This year we went to visit our good friends in Oregon. For the first time in our lives we decided on a vacation and bought tickets even before school was out last spring. It was worth it. Getting our tickets so far ahead really saved us money. A month later we looked into changing our tickets to give us a day in L.A. and they were already double what we had paid.

We took the train on the way to Oregon. It was important to me to see the country if we were going to go that far. The train sounded so good to me.

It was important to Chuck to not come home exhausted from 60 hours on a train, so we flew home.

Even so there was a lot of worry about whether it would be fun to be on a train so long. But I think we all agreed that while it was hard to sleep soundly, there was plenty of legroom, and it was fun to be able to move around and to spend time in the observation car.

Trains are notoriously late, so be ready for that.

We were scheduled to leave at 3:30 a.m., but it was about an hour late. After a couple of hours of sleep, we woke to a wind farm outside our windows. Already it was fun.

We saw mountains in Colorado, although we mostly stayed south of them. From La Hunta all the way to Albuquerque the National park rangers had commentary in the observation car. That was most of a day. We weren't there for all of it, but it was interesting while we listened.

The boy in the picture above quickly became friends with Wes and they spend a lot of time together on the way to Los Angeles.

Close to Albuquerque Chuck talked to someone who knew about a great food stand next to the train tracks that served authentic Mexican food. Because the train was late we only had about 20 minutes instead of an hour so we ran for the stand, grabbed our food, and gulped it down fast enough that Wes still had time to buy a souvenier blanket.

By evening on the first full day we had figured out where the outlet was in the observation car so Tim and I watched a movie on my laptop after dark.

I found the towns even more interesting than the countryside. Once we got pretty far west only the biggest homes had green patches of grass, and those were limited to small areas. The railroad tracks run through back yards so you get a whole different view than you do on a highway.

The most interesting thing about homes in the southwest was how they used their yard space. If there was space behind the house, it was usually not huge, nothing like homes around here. There was rarely grass, but frequently the whole space would be taken up by a small in ground pool with a small patio between the house and the pool. Larger yards frequently had a horse pen just beyond the pool. The horse pen was about the same size as the patio/pool area---definitely not enough to really exercise a horse. People must do a lot of in town riding there, because those horse pens were even in the bigger cities. Once in a while there would be a small green garden at one end of the barren yard.

Both trains got completely full at points along the way. The train to L.A. was fullest right before Fullerton, which is where you get off to go to Disneyland :-) There were a lot of very excited children in the observation car at that point.

The L.A. to Portland train runs along the coast for a significant part of the next day. Ocean on one side and mountains on the other made the observation car the place to be. But that train was also more of a party train and there was a group enjoying their alcohol there during much of the day. You could learn a lot if you listened to their increasingly loud conversations.

On that train was also an actress mom and her daughter. The mom spent the day in the observation car talking about her life and who she knows (John Travolta, Denzel Washington, etc.) and what she's done. She had two men from England captive for the whole day, but I barely heard them speak at all.

I met a couple of knitters on this train and had a great time comparing notes, and moving from there to sharing about the rest of our lives.

OK, We got to Portland, late, missed closing time for the rental car, but got that fixed and arrived at the Bonham's!

Mary Lou


Leah and Amos.

Our second day there we got to eat pizza at Give Pizza a Chance, John's pizza cart. John is the one wearing an apron.

There are a whole bunch of carts in this parking lot near the big buildings in Portland.

And at the pizza cart we met Kristen, who helps John with whatever needs doing every day.

After pizza we walked around Portland and then went to Multnomah Falls, which is great, but I didn't put any picture in here because it is too big to capture on film.

In the evening we enjoyed a picnic of sushi and then went to a 'Final Friday' type evening in Portland to see galleries and art stands set up in the streets.

The next day was time to depart for camping on the coast. Highlights of that day include lunch with Amanda and her friends at Salem, seeing whales close in to shore, not being able to find a camping space, crowding eight of us into a large size motel room, and watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics while eating rotiseree chicken and bag salad from the grocery store across the street.

The coast is usually cold, and the next day was no different. Bonham's dropped us off to enjoy the water while they found a great camp spot. Wes was brave enough to get all the way in. Tim did some skim boarding but managed to keep his hair dry, I think.

Then it was on to the tidal pools and the lighthouse.

Starfish. (duh)


This lighthouse was designed by the same man who wrote "Robert's Rules of Order". The lighthouse is way more interesting than the rules.
By then we were hungry and had Mo's famous clam chowder family style. Mo's is surrounded by artsy shops and fisheries. The artsy shops are recognizable by the displays in the windows and the fisheries are recognizable by the fishy smell and the murals.

One of the murals had a fishing boat named Timmy Boy. Later in one of the artsy shops we saw a photograph of the same boat. Apparently it is still in use.

At the fisheries, after cleaning and processing the fish, the waste is dumped back into the ocean, where the sea lions are waiting for it!

I have no more pictures from the rest of that day and the next. We found our wonderful campsite and set up as fast as possible so that we could enjoy sunset on the beach. There is nothing like sunset on the beach. After the sun was down we made a fire and cooked supper---a huge pot of guiso, and brats and hot dogs. We had enough for two meals, but the day and the beach seemed to increase our appetites and we managed to eat most of it.

The next morning was clear and warm and beautiful. We enjoyed the beach as long as possible, before packing up and heading back to Portland for worship with the house church that Bonhams are part of. John was leading and the worship was thoughtful and God focused.

Then we visited the house Bonham's are buying in order to be in the same community as the rest of their house church.
The next day we spent in Portland. The guys put a first coat of paint on John's new cart, a bigger better version that he owns rather than rents.

John found a bullet hole in the cart while we were there. Tim found the bullet. Wes is pointing out the hole.

The women went blackberry picking and found plenty for a cobbler, for our waffles the next morning, and for making jam later. In the afternoon Carol, Mary Lou, and John did the second coat on the new trailer.

Larry and Carol had come to Portland the same time as us, which was great because it made it more possible for Mary Lou to take time off from work while we were there. It was also great because Larry and Carol are such cool people and we don't get enough time with them in Kansas. Our last night there we went to a look out where we could see Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helen's. We took this picture there.

The next day was pretty relaxed. We had time to pray together before Larry and Carol had to catch their plane. In the evening we took Luke and Kristen out for Lebanese food. The food was great, but my pictures aren't. I do have one of Luke's new tatoo, though.

The words are "Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly".

We flew out early the next morning, making for two new forms of travel for Tim and Wes. The mountains were beautiful as the airplane climbed and we could see all the way to Mt. Rainier quite easily.

When we got home, our Luke had learned to sit.

Babies just don't stop changing while their grandparents are out of town.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

show and tell

Any show and tell has to begin with Luke, who came over in just his diaper a couple of weeks ago. I've been too busy to blog, but it's still a fun picture. He is such fun.I picked beans this morning. This is my fourth picking. Probably I will only pick one more time because I don't think they are blooming much any more.

The garden is growing almost while I watch. I was so proud of it a week ago. No weeds. Mulched thoroughly. Everything perfect. Now the seeds in the mulch have sprouted and grown and it looks messy and a bit overgrown again. thank goodness it is raining right now so I can work on my beans without feeling guilty for not being out there pulling weeds.

I fell on my bike Sunday. It was stupid really. I was going extremely slow, turning a corner from a sidewalk into a parking lot. The parking lot was bordered by a six inch high concrete accent wall.

The reason I was going to the parking lot was so we could discuss our route home. I was thinking about the route. When I saw my wheel getting too close to the accent wall I tried to slow down. But since my mind was on route, my childhood brain took over. I back-pedaled like I would have with my little girl bike instead of using my hand brake. That totally threw me off balance.
When I realized I was going to fall, my biggest concern was to save my knees. I was successful. I stubbed my toe a little, and ended up only using my hand a little bit at the end of the fall to catch myself resulting in a small scratch on my palm.

When I got up there was a little scrape on each of my legs that came from bicycle parts hitting my legs on the way down. Two days later, my little scrapes look like devastating bruises. They don't hurt. Really. If I bump them I can feel that I have a bruise. Otherwise they are just good conversation starters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

moment for laughter

Sorry I've been neglecting the blog lately.

I sometimes go to and pick a bunch of stories to listen to while I work. I found this one that made me laugh. Last night I played it for Laura and she laughed too. She suggested I share it here. I won't tell the story because it is best told in the voice of the woman who lived it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What do you do with your time???

For those of you who have been home sick for Kansas, it is time to set that aside until September. The chiggers are here. Time to get out the toxic sprays and protect ourselves from itching that can drive one insane.

Haven't been writing much, obviously. I have been spending a lot of time in two places.

The garden has been getting a lot of attention. I am finally done hoeing all of the vegetables and making trenches between the rows of corn for irrigation. I began the mulching this evening and got 2/3 done with the tomatoes. We didn't begin until about 7:30 pm so we made pretty good time. Chuck doesn't really have time to help me right now because the farm is pretty busy. But he was working on an auger where he could see me with my pitchfork pitching compost into the wheelbarrow and then trudging to the tomatoes to throw it back out of the wheelbarrow. He felt sorry for me. When he finished with the auger he took the pitchfork and the wheelbarrow away from me and let me spread out the newspapers and push the compost up close the the tomato plants.

The tomatoes need cages yet this week, before they get so big that I have to break branches to fit the cages over them. The long beans need a cattle panel to climb. And everything else still needs mulch.

When the veggies have what they need, I need to hoe the parts of the garden that don't have anything. I have a pretty big garden, and since I didn't put in potatoes this spring, I have extra space.

Besides gardening, I've found an on line support group for people who are raising kids that have attachment disorder. Summer is always more stressful with attachment disorder in the house. It is nice to be able to find encouragement during the moments I can grab. I don't have to leave the house, or find a sitter, or wait until the next scheduled meeting. It works pretty good.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lots to do

I've been plugging away at the yard and garden. There is always more to do. For now the beans are weeded and organically sprayed (because the leaves are like lace from bugs), the beets are weeded and also organically sprayed, the tomatoes are weeded, one row of corn hoed, flower beds hoed and mostly watered, yard mowed and raked (because the grass had been so tall, and because I need lots of compost for next year's garden).

Still to do: Hoe the rest of the corn and dig irrigation ditches between the rows; plant butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and green peppers; replant summer squash and cucumbers, mulch everything, pull weeds in back flower bed, get rid of unwanted volunteer trees, trim more bushes.

I'm having trouble feeling guilty about my resolve to not help with Bible school. Summer is a busy time and I have already added some new things. The problem is that my responsibilities do not have hours assigned to them, so it feels funny to say I am too busy.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Shingles vaccine

Just listening to NPR stories that interest me and happened on one about a vaccine for shingles. According to the article, your chances for getting shingles doubles if your parent, sibling, or child has already had shingles. It quadruples if two of those people have had shingles.

I have two people in that group who have had shingles. The vaccine costs around $160.

They describe the pain of shingles in the article. They said that medicare and some insurances cover it for those over 60, but that they are urging coverage now for those over 50.

They blame the increase in cases of shingles on the chicken pox vaccine. The thinking is that when all kids got chicken pox, there were enough cases of chicken pox walking around that they served as booster shots for adults. Now that most kids do not get chicken pox, adults' immunity to shingles has weakened.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

He found it!

My Grandson found his thumb today. He was so excited about finding it that even though he was exhausted, he had to stay awake to enjoy it. I think he forced his little eyes to stay open at least a half hour past the time his body was mostly relaxed.

OK, I know that this is not news that most of the world cares about. But since I was a thumb sucker and one of my daughters was as well, it is kind of fun for me.

As for news that most of the world seems to not care about, I read an article today about the conflict in Congo. This is not an article for children to read. It is quite long, so be ready to sit for a while.

The stuff that happens there is unimaginable. The really frightening part of the article is the reason for the insanity. The western world's demand for the diamonds, and for the metals that go into making cell phones, laptop computers, and game systems is what drives the violence there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What makes a healthy church?

Recently I read a booklet about the traits of a healthy church. According to this writer, a church that is strong in all eight of these traits will also naturally be a growing and healthy church.

These are the qualities:
  1. Empowering leadership.
  2. Gift-oriented ministry.
  3. Passionate spirituality.
  4. Functional structures.
  5. Inspiring worship service.
  6. Holistic small groups.
  7. Need-oriented evangelism.
  8. Loving relationships.
According to the writer, after studying at least 1000 churches of all sizes, from all five continents, including countries where there is persecution and countries where churches are supported by the state, and also including countries where there is great revival as well as countries where faith seems to be on the decline---these eight qualities were true of every growing and healthy church.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It' s been so long since I have posted. Whenever major things are going on, it is hard to find time to post, or to know what to write. I guess I need an idea file to keep me going when my life is a little too personal for the internet.

The latest Newsweek, which we got last week, had an excellent article about Barak Obama and how he runs his campaign. Staffers who have worked with him for four years say that they have only heard him raise his voice twice. When he disagrees with something being said, he leans back in his chair and closes his eyes. In a meeting, he believes that those who are most quiet are probably the ones who are questioning what is being said. He wants to hear all viewpoints, so he makes a point of asking those who are quiet to say what they are thinking. This is a person I could vote for. Probably will.

Spent a lot of time working in my flower beds with my parents last week. I'd just about given up having flower beds this year. Now they are dug, mixed with lots of compost, and filled with flowers. I even dug a new spot this evening for some hollyhocks.

I don't actually dig. I have a field hoe that has a big enough blade to go as deep as a rototiller would. My dirt is more clay than dirt. When it is dry it resembles brick. Hoeing it gets my heart rate up to the aerobic rate quite well. Then I still have to bring in the compost and hoe it all again to mix it in. After that---fun. Planting the flowers.

I haven't added compost for a long time, so what usually happens at this point is a sad decline. That clay becomes tighter and the flowers look sadder, and I realize it's really pretty stupid to spend the money on flowers with this dirt.

This spring had been so busy. I was considering planting the beds to ground covers and bushes. I didn't really want to do that though, so I bought a couple of flats of annuals. I worked, composted and planted one bed but couldn't get any farther because of weather and schedules. Then my parents came to my aid, bringing a rototiller, a bush trimmer, and boxes of perennials culled from their own flower beds.

There is still more to do. A little each day is enough.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Busy Day

My day began at 5 am. I've been having difficulty finding time to write without interruptions. It isn't working to stay up late because that is when Chuck and I would usually talk. During the day on a working farm there are interruptions. Sometimes I think I have planned for every possibility and now I can write. Nope. Doesn't work out that way.

I was complaining to a writer friend and she said that she has found early morning to be the answer for her. Thus, 5 am was the time to get up.

It was hard to roll out of bed and I wondered if I would be able to stay awake, but no problem. By the time the computer was warmed up, I was too, and 6:30 came all too quickly. I'm nearly done with this assignment, unless I panic and start over. That has happened before.

Then it was time to get everyone off to school/work and when the house was quiet I slept for and hour and a half. Interruptions are not as bad when I'm sleeping as they are when I am writing.

Then farm/family accounting and bill paying, and a meeting after that. And finally the best part of the day---grandma time.

Luke was very snuggly today. He smells so good! He and I got a few things done together, but mostly we just enjoyed each other. He was very cooperative about taking his nap at the exact time that I needed to run around town with him, so all was pleasant in the car seat.

This was taken after his mommy got back. He enjoys diaper changes and is playing with her afterwards.

What a sweetie.