Friday, December 31, 2004

Watching the Ball Drop

Just watched the ball drop in New York.  It's 2005 there now.  It was awesome to watch it and the fireworks from Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Rob, Andrea and I loved those fireworks!  Things have changed and fireworks have evolved. 

I know it's silly, but I just want to thank God for all the lovely changes.  Again, Happy New Year to all my j-land friends.

Happy New Year!

The sun is coming out and the rain is heading east as we prepare to enjoy the last day of 2004.  Our friend Hank has headed to visit the ministry in Mexico and spend the New Year with them. It will be a very quiet family time for us at home.

I never make resolutions for New Year's.  Impossible to keep, I just resolve to be the best I can be and love the Lord.  That should cover it.

The rain has been heavy and has done a great deal of damage here in Southern California.  A tornado touched down a few miles south and there is deep snow in the mountains and some in the foothills.  Skiers are thrilled.  We have much to be grateful for.  Although the weather has been bad, we have our lives and the enormity of the tsunami overshadows the problems here. 

As we drove home in the rain on Monday, I thought how very fortunate we are to live in this marvelous country.  The roads are generally good, drainage as well.  Emergency services, though spotty at times, are the best in the world.  We are an affluent society in more ways than financial.  No wonder so many people worldwide come to live here.  I've experienced the other side of the coin myself and am happy to be back home.  I miss the kids in Mexico and the work we did, but I find it hard to complain here.  It doesn't matter whether we agree on politics, religion or a ton of other subjects.  This is definitely the place to live.

Last Sunday we spent the day with our grandchildren (step-grands, but no less loved) and got to meet our little great-grandson for the first time.  It was a thirll to behold Candace and her son!  I remember her when she was still puny and now she's a mom!  What a blessing. I've posted some pictures above. There are a couple of Andrea, of Rob with Hank (in the silly hat!), of Hank's girl Debbie, me and my great-grandson, the other grandkids.  Again, I took a bazillion more than I've posted.  It's a year of "firsts"

This has been a year full of wonder and trials.  In 8 work days over two weeks, a group of volunteers from Minnesota built stages 2 and 3 of the ministry house.  One of those days was spent digging out from the mud, but they walked in and worked anyway.  Other volunteers came and painted, plumbed, drywalled and more.  The kitchen now schoolhouse was built by volunteers and others drove 1200 miles to put on the roof, floors and windows.  We got to be part of that miracle. 

One of our kids got a terrible infection early in the year and nearly died.  We slept little or none at all while we nursed him back to health.  Praise God he got to go home to family in March.  I cried, Rob cried, Luisito smiled. 

With Andrea's adoption final, we worked to get papers to bring her to the U.S.  We had no idea that our health problems would force a move for us all.  It was a trying time for us, but with God's help, we weathered it.  First Rob came to make a place for us, then Andrea just a few days after her visa was approved and finally I came two months after Rob left. 

We have experienced such wonder as we have discovered our daughter discovering life in the best country in the world.  Her eyes are being opened.  Our eyes are seeing through hers and it's more awesome than words can tell. 

Whatever the New Year holds, it can't compare to 2004.  I am grateful for my new life here in the U.S. after 15 years away.  I'm sure it will become commonplace for us soon enough. 

 It's wonderful to read other journals and "meet" persons from all over.  This has been a great experience for me.  I'm grateful for my new friends here.  Because of homeschool, I don't get out that much and don't know many people here yet, but I've made a lot of friends online. Thanks, guys, for making me feel welcome.

Weekend Assignment # 41

New Year's Resolution for my pet?  All we've got here are two birds:  Dufus the famous Sun Conure and Oscar, the Cockatiel.

My resolution for Dufus is that for this year he promises not to try to remove all my neck moles with his beak.

My resolution for Oscar is that he promises to finish learning the song from Andy Griffith and Mayberry RFD.


Extra credit?  They both have resolved for more crackers and better bathtimes!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Old Man's War

Read my son's book yesterday, finishing it this morning.  I gotta tell you:  it's good.  And it's not just prejudice, which of course I have.  I've always enjoyed science fiction novels.  I enjoyed this one as well.  I have only one complaint.  It ended too soon.

So this for my son, John Scalzi:  thanks, son.  And for all of you j-landers out there who haven't bothered to get a copy:  What's the holdup?  Go get it!  If you don't know where, ask John.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you.  We sent this picture and one of Andrea with Santa to people by mail.  First time I've mailed out cards in I don't know how many years.  It was kind of fun.  I love the picture of Andrea singing in the Christmas play at church.  She sang her heart out.

Truth is, she was so sick on Saturday that we thought we might have to keep her home on Sunday.  Her eyes had that vacant, glassy look kids get when they are ill and we were concerned, so Robert said that maybe we'd best keep her in bed.  She looked at him and said, "No, dad!  I want to par-ti-ci-pate!".  You can't know how hard that was for her to say until you've heard her speak English!  We both laughed and decided if she could spit that out, she could surely sing.  She was the star of the show!  She smiled, looked at each person in the congregation and even got tears in her eyes once.  The kid is a natural and just loves the Lord. 

After the pot-luck, she went right home to bed, glassy-eyed again and ready to call it a day.  I'm so proud of her I could just bust!  I'm only putting in one picture, but I took 75!  Most of them look about the same, so go figure.

This is a special time for Christians.  It tends to be a time of reminder for me of the beginnings of my faith.  I think of His miraculous birth and am in awe that God set this all up for us.  It's also a time of memories that will never leave.

Each Christmas, my mother and her friend Kay would get together to wrap gifts.  It wasn't like I do now - slap the paper and a sticky bow on - it was a real work party.  The would get special papers, glue, glitter, sequins and ribbon on rolls.  They made their bows which were all hand-tied.  Their cigarettes would sit idly in the ashtrays and you could see the intensity in their eyes.  Packages were geared to the recipient, nothing random about their work!  They were incredible.  Mom always centered the picture from the paper, matched the seams, etc.  There was one I keep in mind - about the size of a piece of notebook paper in height and width - maybe 3 inches deep.  The paper was blue metalic with Christmas trees on it.  She centered the tree and shook white and silver glitter on the edges to make it look like snow.  I think I was about Andrea's age or a little older and I just kept looking at that package.  It was beautiful.

We also bought an advent calendar at church every year.  Each little door that opened had a Bible verse to read for the day.  As we shared those scriptures and the story and meaning of Christmas, mom and I were so very close.  My sisters were grown and we were the only ones left.  It was special for me then and a precious memory now.

I pray that we can make some precious memories for Andrea and that our grown children have a few that they will hold dear to their hearts at this time of year and always.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Trying to get my pictures into my FTP space is driving me crazy - thought I had it figured out - tried it - can't find the pictures anywhere!  So after I stomp around the house for a few minutes, I'll do my next entry like I did the last - with You've Got Pictures.  I don't like the box around that - so . . . AOL - couldn't you make this a bit easier for dummies like me?

Now don't say it - I've been to John's site - printed the directions and still messed it up.  Krissy took me through it step by step and I still messed it up.  I want more!!!  I'm not patient.  Why is it I can't just resize my pics where they are and cut and paste?  Will someone tell me that?   AAAARRRGGGHHH!


Decorating the House

Well, it's finally done to almost everyone's satisfaction.  robert and Andrea and I had finished or tired out or something and put all of Hank's excess Christmas stuff neatly back into the boxes.  Then Hank came home in a fun mood, opened every box, emptied them, and stared to add to the decorations.  It worked out pretty well as you can see, but what a mess was made in the interim! 

I took pictures documenting the process, but couldn't bring myself to put up Santa with a noose around his neck (Hank was laughing and laughing - we weren't). The tree is full to overflowing, the clock looks so good, I might ask him to leave the garland there after Christmas.  Of course, Andrea got into the action and truly enjoyed herself.  It's nice for her to be the only kid this year.  Most of the packages you see are for her.  She knows it and is going crazy. 

Isn't this fun?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Quiz Time!

This from Monica's journal: 

1. Mommy
2. Hon
3. Penny 

1. Pennyfre 
2. KDSBaja
3. PeninMex

1. I love the Lord
2. I am a good mom and wife
3. I'm a good friend.

1. I am short on patience
2. Worry about all the details
3. Hard-headed

1. Irish
2. French
3. English
Heinz 57!

1. Chinese language
2. Prejudice
3. Disappearance of the family

1. Cell phones everywhere
2. Long lines
3. Rudeness anytime


1. Harm to my family  2. Loss of essential freedoms  3.  Cancer

1. Time with the Lord
2. My family
3. Morning cup of coffee

1. Kitty napping tee 
2. Pajama pants
3. Fuzzy shoes

1. "Puter
2. Phone
3. Coffee cup

1. I love you
2. Because I said so!
3. Gimme a minute

1. Boston Pops Orchestra
2. most Christian bands
3. Janis Joplin/Big Brother

1. Rob
2. Andrea
3. Hank

1. Loyalty
2. They make me laugh
3. Love me warts and all :)

1. Love the Lord (he does!)
2. Love me (he does)
3. Treat me like a queen (he does!)

1. Christianity
2. Ability to make the best of the worst situation
3. Sense of humor

1. Parachute jump
2. Run
3. Read without my glasses 

1. Writing - journal, stories, etc.
2. Cooking
3. Reading

1. A home of our own
2. A laptop
3. A new bed :)

1. Nursing
2. Physical Therapist
3. Teacher (boy! would I have bombed!)
1. Ireland
2. Australia
3. Tour the U.S. 

1. Write a book and have it published
2. Have all my family together in one place for a day
3. Watch Andrea graduate from college.

If you end up playing along, please leave your link so I can see your answers! Let's  have some fun. :-)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Red Hat and all .. .

I did it!  I went to a Red Hat Society gathering!  I really didn't know what to expect and I was actually a little nervous.  I shouldn't have been.  After all, "Queen" Jan invited me!  How can you miss if you've been invited by royalty.  We were to meet for supper at Fresh Choice, a local salad bar/eatery. 

I wore a purple print top and my favorite purple coat (my only coat, actually!) and forced myself inside.  I didn't have to look far to see where the ladies were.  There was a sea of read hats, purple boas, gaudy-looking gadgets and lots of laughter.  I headed that direction and saw tables laid out with goodies to buy to make one look more like one of the gang.  I looked at and tried on about 10 hats.  Most were way out of my budget, but I had fun trying them.  There was jewelry:  pins, neclaces, rings, body jewelry, you name it, it was there and price from affordable to ouch!  I wasn't willing to part with too much cash, but chose this red hat.  The price was nice and it's crocheted so I can't destroy it. 

We all bought raffle tickets (though I never win!) and put them in a purple bag to be chosen later.  The hats were so wonderful.  I can't even describe how great they were.  One lady had a huge hat - decorated to the max - and she looked great in it.  Others had little tiny hats and the "queen" of another chapter had a red headband with jewels that looked like a crown.  The clothing ranged from dazzly sequined tops and scarves to purple tee-shirts or shift dresses.  The whole point was to be comfortable. 

All the visitors had to stand and introduce themselves.  When it got to me, I just said my name and my town, but the queen stepped up and told how we met (doctor's office) and about my time as a missionary in Mexico.  When she was done, I was as red as my hat!  I used to love the spotlight, but felt kind of squirmy up there.

Then the raffles happened.  I won!  See the bear on my coat?  Her name is Ms. Beary and she was named specifically after the queen of the chapter.  She's called a tag-along pet.  I guess she'll tag along on my coat for a while.  After announcements and a great time of singing Christmas carols, I was ready to join!  Queen Carol gave me her card and said she had a new and a bit smaller chapter close by.  Then the gal that lead the singing gave me a purple and red lace hanky to wave. 

So now I am partially outfitted as a Red Hatter.  What do you think?  Can I pull it off?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Weekend Assignment #38

Dufus, the Christmas Conure


As you know well, Dufus was a special conure right from birth.  His parents fed him well, but kept watching him in the nest.  His brothers and sisters feathered up just as lovely, but there was something about Dufus’ eyes.  He seemed to be staring right into your soul. 


He hatched a mere 3 months before Christmas so he was well ready for purchase when the time came for special gifts.  He didn’t have his name yet, but all the other birdlets were already keeping an eye on him.  There was kind of a jealousy going on in the aviary.  Parent birds had been separated out and now each bird was taken into someone’s hands for feeding and socializing.  It seemed they took Dufus out more often than any.


The owners of the aviary always seemed to have Dufus out of the cages when people came to look.  Bird by bird, all the babies got homes.  The cockatiel babies went in pairs and singles, the conures, the greys nearly every bird was chosen.  Still Dufus waited.  He felt alone.  And Dufus knew he would be a good pet.  Apparently the Andersons thought so, too, for they kept him hidden until the last.  Then they raised the price.


As people came to the aviary now, they would see Dufus in all his splendor.  Bright red-orange forehead fading into that luscious yellow and darkest green wing-tips and tail.  He studied each person with an intensity that was unnerving.  It was like he was choosing his people. 


On Christmas Eve, the door opened for the umpteenth time.  In walked a small family.  The littlest girl seemed so sad.  Her brothers and sister were jumping up and down and pointing at birds.  “That one!”  “The one with the top-knot!”  The parents asked for the prices.  As the tiny girl walked up, Dufus flew close and began to flutter his wings and dip his head.  The girl smiled.


“Look honey, she’s smiling!”  the mother exclaimed. 


“That’s the bird, then and no other,” said the father.  The boys groaned in disappointment and the other girl pouted.  There was joy on Amber’s face.


“How much for this bird?” the father asked. 


“He goes for $700.00,” said Mr. Anderson.  All the faces dropped.  $700.00!!  How could they pay that?  Dufus began to squawk.  Loudly.  His wings fluttered and his eyes were bright.  He flew to the top and back again to where Amber’s tearful eyes were trained. 


“A parakeet, then,” said the mother.  “We’ll take a blue one with white forehead.” 


They chose a cage and food and packed up to leave.  Amber was inconsolable.  Her tears flowed like silent rivers down her cheeks.  She made no sound.  She never made a sound.  She was locked in a world of her own.  She understood, but couldn’t talk.  The doctors called it autism because they had never found a physical cause for her silence and her sadness.


On the way home, they took the kids to see Santa.  Amber sat on his lap and looked pleadingly into his eyes.  Santa squirmed.  How could he answer this little girl?  Finally he said gently, “Santa knows your heart,” and she smiled again for only the second time in weeks.  Sliding off his lap, she walked up to her mom and took her hand,a sign that she was ready to go.


Of course the mall Santa had just been kind.  He didn’t believe there was a Santa for anyone.  For him it was a job.  But as he took off his Santa suit for the last time that year, he said a prayer.  “God, whatever that little girl wants, help her.”  And he hung up his suit and went home.


Santa was readying his sleigh when an angel appeared to him.  “You’ve forgotten a child.  A little girl named Amber.”


I can’t even see her thoughts and can’t imagine what she might want,” Santa replied.  “Anyway, why is it that you have come to me?” 


“Because one of yours said a prayer for her.”


Santa was saddened, but didn’t know what to do.  He finished loading and gave the command to the reindeer.  Off they flew.  In the wrong direction!  Santa cracked his whip and tried to turn the sleigh, but the lead reindeer wouldn’t budge.  They seemed to be listening to something or someone else’s commands.  When they landed near the aviary, Santa was more confused than ever.  He entered and a small red and yellow bird flew close, looking him straight in the eyes.


“Yes, yes, I understand,” said Santa and left a tidy sum on the counter for the bird, a cage and food.  Is it possible that Dufus smiled?  Santa smiled when Dufus told him the name he wanted.  Soon all were in the air.  Ready to make Christmas special for a little girl.


If this were the end of the story, it needn’t be told.  But it was just the beginning.  A little prayer, a magical bird and Santa, who loves us almost as much as God does, unlocked the cage that little Amber was in.  I know.  Dufus is my bird.


Dufus' Song:   (to Rudolph)


Dufus the Christmas Conure

Had a very bright insight

He knew who was his person

And came to her on Christmas night.


Now he's opened up the door

To her heart and mind

Lot's of love he gives to her

And baby, he's so kind.



Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Hump Day

That's what we called Wednesday when I was still working.  Now I'm not sure if it applies, unless of course there's something I can slide down tomorrow.  After all what good is the middle of the week if days aren't all that important anymore?  Once you quit working, they are all the same anyway.

I've been having kind of a rough day.  Been down and funky and bluesy.  I'll probably get over it.  Maybe hump day will help.  Maybe tomorrow I will be over the hump.  I surely hope so.  I don't like myself this way.

The weather doesn't help much.  Weatherman said last night it would be sunny today.  It's still cold and rainy.  I don't what I'd do if I lived anywhere there was snow.  I'd probably turn into an overweight popsicle.  Imagine that!  No, better not, it's not a pretty thought.

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.  It's got to be.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

A verry, merry, happy. . .

I'm probably going to get into trouble with this one.  I'm having a real problem here.  I've been listening to radio, watching television and reading news reports.  What happened to Christmas?

I know we celebrate it on December 25th and my personal beliefs keep me celebrating all year long.  I'm a Christian and happy and proud to be one.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying the people who aren't Christian aren't any good.  That's not even a discussion to have in this journal.  Suffice to say that I will stand up for my convictions.  Still . . .what happened to Christmas?

A few years ago, I worked with a woman who painted windows.  Christmas time was busy for her.  She painted Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everywhere.  She painted some nativity scenes.  She painted Hannukah stuff.  I don't think we knew much about Kwaanza (sp?) then.  We never thought much about any of it.  People greeted each other with "Merry Christmas".  Merchants wished you the same while they wrapped your gifts.

Now, our "holiday" gifts are placed under a "holiday" tree.  In some places, people are trying to make it illegal to say Merry Christmas.  Of course, all the other persuasions can participate and say what they want, but since we are Christians, we can't.  What's the deal.  Isn't this reverse discrimination?

I just heard of a holiday parade in Colorado where the Chinese guys did a New Year's dance to ward off evil spirits and some gay Indians got to march, but they wouldn't let the Christians have a float or sing Christmas carols.  This is breaking my heart, guys.  It's a bunch of hogwash!  We don't have to be in total agreement on everything to celebrate as Americans at our chosen holiday time.

I don't know where I'm going to start, but I promise you all this:  I'm going to stand up for my right to celebrate MY religious holidays without prejudice.  I'll stand up for YOURS, too!  It's our right as Americans to have religious freedom.  That's why our country was founded.  THOSE guys were Christians, but they wanted religious freedom to extend to all.  Why can't those who have fought so hard to escape religious persecution also give that same privilege to me? 

I know I'm on a soap box.  If you can't stand it, just don't read this.  I won't be like this all the time, but I"m upset!  I want Christmas back.  I don't want my kids and grandkids arrested for saying Merry Christmas someday. 

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it, and happy holidays to those who celebrate something else.

Weekend Assignment #37

Qualities - who really ever thinks about them anyway?  I mean unitl someone says to you, "You're a (nice persone, scmuck, sweet, nasty, etc.)" it not part of your thoughts.  I don't go about looking at what I'm doing to check out my qualities.  And they change, don't they?  When I was a little kid, I was precocious and cute.  I'm sure not that now!  cute doesn't really fit when you are all grown up and out.

Well, you all know my best quality anyway.  John wants the second best.  I'll tell you, we had a personal qualities battle going on here this morning.  You know, like that donkey in Shrek - "Pick me!  Pick ME!"  And I don't think well before my first cup of coffee.  It was a struggle.  But pick I did.  Are you in suspense?

You did want good qualities, didn't you John?  I mean, I have some awfully prominent not-so-good qualities.  Yes, well.

It's friendship.  I'm a good friend.  Like a dog.  Loyal to the end.  I won't tell your secrets even if I want to. That's it.

Now what quality would I like to have more of?  Duh!  Patience.  That request has been high on my list for years.  Want it now.  Been waiting a long time.  I need it before someone dies. 

There you have it.  No, I'm not telling the bad qualities.  They have big enough mouths on their own without me helping.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Off to the Movies Again

We got a chance to take Andrea to see the Polar Express today.  She was enthralled!  Andrea doesn't really know any Christmas tales, so television and this movie have kept here little eyes bright.  As I said before, she knows why we celebrate Christmas, but this is quite a wonder for her.

The movie was very fun.  We enjoyed the computer animation & the all over story.  I know I will love the book, which I understand has quickly become a classic since it was published about 20 years ago.  How I wish I could write like that.  I would love to be able to entertain people with my words and imagination.

After a bit of shopping and the movie, I am tired tonite.  We have some things to wrap and put under the tree - it's up! and beautiful!  I am excited to decorate the rest of the house now.  We have a singing reindeer and a santa up, but I have to find my nativity set.  Christmas time just wouldn't be right without it.

Whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I hope you are filled with joy at the prospect.  I am remembering other Christmases and pageants and pageantry and I just love it.  I love to celebrate the very best Gift ever given.


Thursday, December 2, 2004

Rambling and Whining

I'm going to go mall walking again today right after we turn in Andrea's school work.  I'm late turning it in and I think the teacher is a bit upset with me.  Actually, I don't feel like I'm doing a good job at all.  I guess that's for another entry. 

No, it's not - just will have to change the name of this one, I guess.  I am so frustrated trying to teach my little girl.  It's tough to be her mom and her teacher at the same time.  She's learned a lot, but is getting a real attitude going on here.  I push her to work and she snaps at me or cries when she thinks its too hard.  It crowds over into our regular life. I feel like a failure here. 

Andrea is so bright and is learning so much.  What am I to do?  I have strict beliefs and feelings and don't want to push her into public school.  They'd put her in a remedial class because she's so far behind.  That wouldn't help her fragile self-esteem.  I haven't checked out Christian schools, but since we don't even have our own place yet, it would be hard to commit to that expense.

So I guess I'm just whining here. It's actually one of the things I do best, other than eat.  I want to be the best teacher, the best mom, best wife, best room-mate and all with not much margin for error.  Kinda sets me up for a fall, do you think?  I think so.  Question is:  can I change that at this late date?  Probably not.  I'd likely stress out more from trying.  Darned if ya do . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Isn't she Cute!?

I know, she's a little old for all of this!  And she knows really why we celebrate Christmas.  She knows that her gifts pale in comparison to the Gift we were given.

Still, there's a magic about the holidays that I don't want to take from her.  The only Santa she's ever seen was a volunteer coming to the house to hand out presents.  Nothing like this.  It's her first Santa picture.

I can't tell you how much fun it is to be celebrating this time in this place with her!

Ret Hats and Water Massage

I honestly don't know where to start.  Robert and I decided to take up mall walking.  I need to get my heart rate up and my body weight down.  No matter how little food I eat, if I don't move, neither will my body weight.  I'm not unhappy, mind you.  I'll grow where planted if this is the way God wants me to be, but my cholesterol is up, blood pressure up and platelets down.  Gotta do something.

We took Andrea and began a brisk walk of the mall.  The Chinese massage people beckoned to me.  They know me.  The have these great chairs you kneel on to have your back, neck, head, sides. legs and arms pummeled.  It's wonderful.  The last time I had a massage was the day I broke my wrist.  I'll tell you - they aren't getting hold of my wrist until it's totally better.  That's it.  But my body was achy and I wished I could have that massage anyway. 

Instead, we kept walking.  On to the end, up the escalator (they don't have stairs!) and on for a turn at the top.  We passed a place that advertised Aqua Massage.  My body tingled!  Really!  I'm not kidding.  There was a man lying face down in this chamber where water pulsated over his body.  Between him and the water was a sheet of plastic that molded to his shape.  Now, I'm not sure I want others to see me molded in that way.  Oooh! Perish the thought.  Makes me laugh to think about it.  We walked on with a promise to come back on the return circuit.  We did.

You cannot believe how wonderful it was.  First I picked my music, then he adjusted the temperature and intensity.  I was given a controller to halt the jets at any spot I wanted and to change the intensity some.  Then the water started.  I'm not ticklish on my feet, but when the water hit them, I giggled.  From then on it was heaven.  Twenty minutes of moist heat massage just how I liked it.  They even sat Rob in a massage chair and let his feet sit on a foot massager for no charge.  Of course, you needed a spatula to scrape me out of there after 20 minutes.  I slept better last night than I have in ages.  I'm definitely going back. 

The deal is this:  for $50 a month, I can go every day if I like!  Cool, huh?  An hour of brisk walking followed by a wonderful massage!  That's what I wantfor Christmas.  I'm tellin' my honey! 

So today, we went to the doctor's office for my wrist.  And who was sitting there but two ladies my size and age in purple sweatshirts and red hats.  One was holding a stuffed bear with a red hat and purple boa.  It was fun to see.  I struck up a conversation with them right away.  I'd heard of these ladies.  Red Hat Society.  Brazen older ladies who care more about fun and living life to the fullest than about whether their clothes match.  Suffice it to say I am intrigued.

I got called inside, but Robert was stuck with the red-hatters for about 30 minutes.  By the time I came out, therapy order in hand, he had me just about signed up.  He thinks I'd look cute in a red hat.  Can you imagine that?  Cute I'm not.  Fortunately, cute is in the eye of the beholder.  The lady in charge handed me her card and asked me to give her a call.  Maybe I will.

What do you think?  Will a retired missionary fit into a society of women who wear purple clothes and red hats?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Moving . . .

I just heard that missionary friends of ours are moving about 60 miles away from their current site.  They care for severely handicapped kids, regular handicapped kids and babies with aids.  Occasionally, they take in a normal child that is sick.  It's an awesome ministry and I take my hat off to them.

By December 15th, they expect to have 40+ kids moved.  That in itself is quite an undertaking!  I also heard they just took two baby girls found in a trash can.  That kind of makes me want to run down there and smuggle those babies home.  I've always had a soft spot for babies.  I wouldn't care if they were sick.  Just how can you toss your kid in the trash?  It's not just Mexico where that happens, it's here, too. 

I've moved with a passel of kids more than once.  It's not easy.  At least mine were not in wheelchairs and walkers.  The job will be monumental.  I cannot imagine doing it.  I assume that's why they've stayed put all these years in a place that was a bit less than what they needed.  I hear the new facility is just what the doctor ordered.  Praise God for His provision.

I guess I decided to write to ask those of you who pray to pray for those missionaries around the world who are helping out in their own special way.  Especially now that our stomachs are full of a Thanksgiving meal and all the fixings.  There's not enough money in the world to do the job and they are tireless in their devotion.  Many, many kids have opportunities never dreamed of because some of them stepped out.  My friend there is fond of telling that her life was good until God sentenced her to a children's home in Mexico. Now, she says, there are no words to express how great her life is.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Bath Time Bliss

Fifteen years I was in Mexico.  They were fifteen years of joy, happiness, fun, trials, trubulations and many other things I can think of.  The years were not bliss at bathtime.

When we first moved to Mexico, we lived in a 15-foot travel trailer on the beach.  There was no toilet, only a bag-a-potty.  We also had no water save that which we carried in from about 20 miles away.  We were conservationists to be sure.  If the weather was nice, we took Joy soap and bathed in the ocean in our suits and came back to rinse under fresh water that had been left in the sun to warm.  If we wanted a "real" shower, we could trek the 20 miles and pay about a dollar for lukewarm water for about 4 minutes.  We had to be quick.

After a few months, we moved into a larger travel trailer - 30 feet long.  It was like a palace for us!  We had also dug a large water tank on the property and placed a sump pump in it to bring water into the trailer.  It wasn't drinking water, but with the little pump in the tank and the one in the trailer, we could finally take a shower.  We still had to conserve, however, because it cost $20 a tank for the water.  Also, we only had a 4 gallon hot water heater.  I thought the shower in the trailer was heaven.  I thought the potty in the trailer was heaven as well until we had to dump the holding tank into the ground.

We moved the trailer across the street so we could build a house.  The trailer seemed to have shrunk, so we built a room next to it and another bathroom.  That bathroom had a "real" shower in it.  Same rules applied even though we got a larger water heater.  Then we started to take in kids.  We used a lot of water even if we had constraints on it.  My best time to bathe was when we came up to the states for a visit.  Then I felt guilty even taking a 5 minute shower.

When we moved into the big house, there was a huge bathtub, but I couldn't afford to fill it.  Too many kids, too many clothes to wash and not enough time.  From the beginning, a daily bath or shower was a luxury we couldn't have.  We would bathe 3 times a week or so. 

Then, 4 years ago, we lost our home on the beach and the kids and I moved to our pastor's ranch.  HE had a well!  Oh, glory be!  I took at least one long shower in my weekly allotment.  We had too many kids there for too many long showers, but I allowed myself one. We lived there for 15 months or so, during which time I married Rob.  Lord love him, he liked a daily shower!  Was he in for a surprise. 

We had to leave the pastor's ranch and found a home to rent.  It was way up on a hill and had "city water" available.  I thought it would do us well.  Ugh!  The water only came up the hill 2 or 3 times a week.  The water heater wouldn't stay lit because there was hardly ever any water in it.  We filled a large above ground tank and a huge barrel with cold water when the water came - usually at 2 or 3 in the morning.  If we wanted hot showers, we would heat water on the stove and carry a 5 gallon bucket of water to the bathroom.  We would "dip" a bath and pour water over ourselves.  It was effective, but I hated it.  There was so little water that we bathed babies first, dirtiest kids next and so on.  Adults often had to wait several stinky days for water. 

At the ranch, we had plenty of water available, but the same restrictions applied because of so many people.  The showers were good and good people helped us get the best water pressure we'd had since arriving in Mexico.  Shower water drained out to water plants, so we felt good about the system.  I ached for a bathtub.

We've been here 3 months or so now, and at first, all Hank had here was a tub (heaven!), but he managed to intall a shower head for himself and Rob and whoever else wants it.  There's all the water I want, plenty of hot water and bubble bath just for me.  I go to soak my achy bones and muscles in a little bit of heaven.

If you've never been without water, you probably won't understand this babbling.  Suffice it to say, I will never take a bath for granted again.

Saturday morning six

This from Patrick's Place:

1. How long do your Thanksgiving leftovers usually last, and at what's the first non-Thanksgiving item you begin to crave when you tire of turkey?  I cook a big turkey.  Leftovers can last several day - maybe until the first of the week.  Then I want Mexican food.

2. Of the following, which would you most prefer to be located:
a) Interstate highway traffic jam
b) Slow-moving checkout line
c) Dentist's chair

Since I'm talkative, the checkout line would serve me well, unless of course all the others were too ticked to talk!

3. What is at the top of your personal Christmas gift wish list this year?  Laptop computer - no explanation- expensive toy, but I want it

4. What improvement would you most like to see added to AOL's Journal software?  An easier way to put my pictures in.  I don't like the way they look from you've got pictures and I'm still working on hometown.

5. What seasonal movies do you most look forward to this time of year?  A Christmas Carol (the old one) and It's a Wonderful Life.

Tara:  What is your favorite classic 80's video game?  Oops!  I can't remember that far back!  Was it Pac Man?  I didn't play much then.  Had a golf game on my computer in the late 80's.  Graphics we state of the art for the time . . .

Saturday morning grateful

I'm cleaning house this morning.  Nothing to be grateful for, except that we are guests here and it feels good to be able to contribute.  It may take a while before we are able to get a place of our own.  Our housemate, Hank is so generous.  We pay him for electricity and gas and it seems what we pay him comes back to us 10 fold in friendship and other things as well.  Ever since we have known him, he has collected $1 bills for us to use as we see fit.  He still does that.  We end up spending a lot of that on the ministry, 

I wash Hank's clothes along with ours and try to keep the kitchen spotless.  It's not much, but it's something.  We are scrubbing now to get ready to put up Christmas decorations.  Hank brought down an unbelievable amount from the attic.  Probably can't use it all, but it's fun looking through it.

What I can't manage, Robert and Andrea do.  They are so precious to me.  Andrea is better about chores than cleaning her room, but she's learning.  Robert does all the heavy stuff for me.  When he first got here, this house was an unbvelievable mess.  He started to clean right away and worked the entire two months to get it ready for us.  The room we sleep in was packed to the ceiling with donations of clothes and "stuff" for Mexico.  Rob was tireless.  Hank's friends came over and thought they were in the wrong house.  Now Hank is getting used to it.  I wonder what will happen when we leave.

Gratitude comes in many forms.  There's the big stuff:  life, family, kids, etc.  But there's also the little stuff that touches the deepest part of the soul.  A smile when I don't feel up to par will break the cloud from my countenance.  A quick note from a friend will do the same.  I may well take the beg stuff for granted.  I am eternally grateful for a loving Father and all the little stuff that comes my way to remind me just how grateful I am.


Friday, November 26, 2004

Another memory

I got to sleep in until nearly 9 am.  It was delicious.  I could think of many Thansgiving days where crack of dawn was the norm.  This year it's just the three of us and we can do as we like, eat when it's done - no pressure.

After Hank spread his famous salsa all over the kitchen, Andrea and I cleaned up the mess and got to work.  With delicious pumpkin roll already made and ready to slice, the turkey and fixin's were the order of the day.  With each step, Andrea would ask, "Wat is dat, Mama?"  At the ranch, I cooked turkey on a rotisserie - we didn't have the use of an oven.  I would explain to her and smile at the wonder on her face.  Did I have that look when I was young?  At her age, I was cooking turkey!

It is so cool to look into her sparkly black eyes and see the newness of nearly everything she does.  Mostly, it's smaller kids who still have that wonder, but having just left Mexico, everything is new for her. That makes it new for us as well.  It's like having a baby when you are old.  You never knew how wonderful they could be. 

 It really is different, you know.  During the last 11 years, I had tiny babies many times, often more than one.  Andrea was one of those babies.  I adored my children when they were born, was in awe of God and the process of birth, but I worried how they would turn out.  I worried that I couldn't do the job well.  I worried what others would say.  When you are older, you just don't care about those things.  Their importance is low on the list. 

My first Thanksgiving with Andrea, she weighed just 10 pounds.  She was 8 1/2 months old.  She had doubled her weight in a month.  There was no awe in her face.  She was struggling for survival.  Not so now.  She is full of awe at every turn and we are full of her.  What a grand pleasure!

So the meal came out of the oven late, about six pm.  It didn't matter what time we ate, because it was just the 3 of us.  Andrea could not believe the big, browned turkey!  She wondered why I called it a bird and I reminded her of the turkeys we kept at the ranch.  Her eyes opened wide!  I could almost see her thoughts and the resolution not to eat that thing.  Dressing was my way this year and I put some of that, some turkey, yams and peas on her plate.  Robert got a leg.  We took pictures.  We ate.  They stuffed themselves.  I nibbled.  After cooking all day, I wasn't really hungry.  Everything was delicious.  I wish you could have seen Andrea's first bite of candied yams!  It was phenomenal!  Her eyes actually watered and she said, "Mom!  I didn't know dis would taste like dat!"

We'll have more Thanksgivings together and maybe they will be more commonplace.  This one, however, was one in a million.  I can't wait for Christmas.

We are truly blessed.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


First a memory that came to me this morning;

My mother and I boarded the train at Union Station in L.A. and headed north to spend Thanksgiving with my sister Sharon.  She was having a rough time.  Her very premature baby had died just a month or so before.  I was 10 years old. 

I loved the train.  I ran from car to car, meeting people on the way.  My mom and I especially liked the dining car.  Mom sat there with something to drink and her cigarettes.  I learned to play cards with a dapper old man.  The train took forever to reach Walnut Creek.  It stopped at every little burg on the way.  Mom called it a milk train. 

The scenery was great!  I had seen some of these things before, but from the train it seemed brand-new all over again.  There were bazillions of cows and farms and trees.  I couldn't get enough.  I wouldn't be surprised if my face print on the windows wasn't permanent.

When we arrived, Sharon picked us up and took us to her home.  They lived in Navy housing.  I had never seen anything like it.  White weather-beaten siding as far as the eyes could see.  The wood was only about 2 or 3 inches wide each strip.  It didn't stop for each apartment, rather ran the whole length, probably 20 or so units at a time.  Outside the back doors, there were clotheslines as far as the eye could see, with assorted clothing hanging there.  There were no fences, but a lot of grass and lots of kids.  Since there was no school, the area was packed with kids of all ages.  I stood back and watched them play.  I wasn't much of a joiner.  Besides, I felt better with adults.

Inside, Sharon had all the fixings for a great turkey dinner.  She looked at Mom and said, "I don't know what to do."  Mom shoved me in and said, "Penny will help."

So that day, I taught my big sister how to make a turkey.  I felt so grown up in my skinny frame, pulling pinfeathers from the bird, stuffing and basting.  My sister looked at me with a new respect and it was grand.


Saturday, November 20, 2004


Here's my baby studying.  She's having a tough time of it.  I would turn back time if I could and teach her the basics years ago.  Isn't it funny how the basics are often the hardest to learn?  They are the stepping stones to more learning and I find she's mad at me most of the time.  She can't figure out money no matter how hard we try.  I thought that came natural to girls!

The English language is also a stumper.  We add so many letters that really aren't necessary.  When she writes a paragraph in Spanish for me, it's all one sentence connected by &'s.  When I correct and translate for her to copy, she doesn't understand why all the periods.  The vowels all sound different and "e" and "i" get mixed up all the time.  It's a monumental task.

I would hate to be 10 years old and just learning what my peers learned years ago.  I would hate to be 10 years old, period.  She's a spunky kid.  "I don't gonna be stupid, mom!" she shouts.  She cries with frustration, takes a break and comes back for more.  I would have quit long ago, but not this kid.  She wants more and she wants it now. 

Her rewards are games and television.  She loves television, which we didn't have for her in Mexico.  And of course it's all in English which helps her.  I have to learn balance, though, because she would live in front of the TV.  Dad gets her to watch the NASA channel with him and she writes reports for her school advisor.  Works for me.

She's looking forward to the holidays, her first as an "American girl."  Me too.  It will be the first time in years we haven't celebrated as a family of 15 or more.  Just the 3 of us.  That's a nice sound.  Hubby, me and one smart little girl.  Wow.



Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Photo Scavenger Hunt #7

Picture # 1 - Underneath these poor abandoned tomato plants is what used to be a small fountain and  pond.  Now the only thing lurking there is the potential for West Nile Virus.  Must get some bleach in there soon.

Picture # 2 - Our room-mate is a body and fender man and I found this old car stuck under the avocado tree.  I didn't get closer because - who knows what's creeping around in there.

Picture # 3 - Wonderful for summer sitting, the swing has become a bird-bench, a place to toss stuff we are going to "get around to" and a bed for the next door neighbor's cat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The cast came off today!  I was so excited about it.  I wanted to free my wrist for the bath, for dishes, for lotion and to drive.  I had to feel better out of confinement. 

WRONG!! :(

It only hurt this much right after I broke it (pout!) and now my hand must weigh 50 lbs if it's an ounce (pout, pout).  The doc ordered a brace which I hoped I wouldn't need, but is now saving my sanity. Man!  It's tough getting older! 

I broke my other wrist at the tender age of 12 and was totally healed and out of the cast in like, 4 weeks.  What's up with that?

Anyway, all else is fine here.  My daughter doesn't want to study, my hubby is still sick and now our room-mate is sick, too.  We have beautiful sunny California weather but no one besides me wants to enjoy it. 

Enough complaining,  It could be worse.  We could have snow.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Another Journal . . .

I've started another journal.  It's an autobiography of sorts.  I promised one day to write the story of the child I gave up for adoption.  Many years ago, he came looking for me.  Now he's found his dad.  It's time to write.

It's as much my story as it is his.  He'll have to write his own side.  I'm going to put the story in installments.  The first two read one and two.  After that, they will seem out of order as newest entries show first.  I've already had a lot more to say than I thought I would. 

Look in if you dare.

Weekend Assignment # 33

Each stage of my life has had a favorite song or theme.  Oh!  I loved Janis Joplin singing "Piece O' My Heart"  Reflective of how I felt in the 70's, I thought that's what the world wanted from me.  Scratchy, gravelly voice, that woman sang my soul.  Of course, always a day late and a dollar short, I didn't discover her until she was already dead from an overdose.  No matter, I idolized her anyway.

Today may songs lean more to church service than rock & roll or metal. I still love folk songs and oldies take me back to that Janis time. I always wanted to sing just like Joan Baez.  I would listen to her hour after hour and my daughter and I still sing "Let Us Break Bread Together" a couple of times a week.  Gratefully, no one is judging the performance.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


It seems I am always complaining 

About one little thing or another

I stubbed my toe, I broke my wrist

It’s tough being wife and mother


If the truth can be told . . .

And I’m good at this

My complaints can all fit

On one short list


I love my husband

More than I can tell

Whoever picked him

Did the job well.


I only have one child

Left to raise

She good, she’s wonderful,

Worthy of praise


The grown kids have,

As you might guess

Lives of their own now

I must confess


I’m proud of them all

Young and old

They’re my kids

And I’ll be bold


No grandkids are smarter

Or cuter - not one

If they were closer

We’d have lots of fun


So when I’m grumpy

And starting to bitch

Remind me, dear friends

That I’m rich, oh! So rich!


Thanks to the Lord

Who loves us so

I have these riches

Wherever I go.




Tuesday, November 9, 2004

The Drabs

Back from the doctor, it's kind of a gloomy day outside.  The trees even seem depressed.  There's no breeze blowing and branches seem to sag with the weight of a morning dew not yet burned off.  For some reason, even the birds are quiet.  None is at the feeder we have set up.  In my mind's eye, I can see them huddled together against the chill, beaks chattering a bit and each one hoping someone else will go and get food to bring back to the branch. 

Cars whiz by on the avenue.  I have the door and curtains closed against the damp and have waited past noon for the sun to peek out.  No such luck.  There's no heater in our room and I'm wearing my jacket still.  My fuzzy shoes are great and though I've thought of jumping under the covers for warmth, I'd have to shed them first.  Andrea has her little hands stuck in warm dishwater.  She doesn't seem to suffer from the cold like I do.  She a ray of sunshine even when the sun doesn't come out. 

Robert and I both have some kind of virus.  Sore throat, icky ears, stuffy nose and body aches.  Just have to let it run its course, but I sure hate it while happening.  I have no energy.  Glad that puppy isn't here yet. There's a beautiful siamese cat outside that I guess belongs to the neighbors.  She's cold, too and looks longingly at the door and gives a pitiful meow.  When we went out to go to the doctor, she came up to me and did the purr-leg rub-front end lift and looked at me with soulful eyes.  I know she went to sad kitty school and got an "A+"  I didn't let her in, however.  Two birds and a kitty doesn't work well.  Besides, she's not ours. 

Had a quick IM with my daughter this morning.  She's having a tough time.  I hate it when she's bummed out.  I feel so powerless. She wants to know why God isn't helping if He's all that great and I tell her that some things He leaves for us to do and that the results are up to Him.  She's not pleased with my answer, but I know what I'm talking about.  I've been in and through the fire on enough occasions. Unfortunately, that's no comfort to her.  I'll just keep on praying.  That's something I can do. 

I also got to meet Krissy online this morning.  What a delight to chat with her.  We have many things in common despite our age difference.  I'm enjoying this j-land experience now that I'm getting the hang of it.  Making new friends.  I like that.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Refrigerator Boogie

Saturday morning and we have spent the better part of it cleaning the kitchen and refrigerator.  Ugh!  What a job!  Since I broke my wrist, I haven't been able to do any deep cleaning and although Robert and Andrea help, the are surface cleaners for the most part.  Robert will dig in, but it's tough to get to that point. 

It's also hard because Hank's kitchen is so poorly laid out.  We have no room to work or store things and most of it ends up sitting on the counter.  Hank is truly a confirmed bachelor.  He uses what he needs and drops stuff all over the place.  No amount of mopping will clean that ancient floor.  Those not wearing shoes do so at their own risk.  The cabinets have been painted about 50 times.  They get scrubbed, but never look clean.  Hank is talking about replacing them.  He talks a lot. The wallpaper was put up in 1978 and has just been left to rot.  If Hank ever hopes to get married, the he'll have to make an effort to fix that kitchen up.  She may never cook in there, but she'll want it nice anyway. 

The poor frig had been neglected.  We didn't have to throw much food out, because I check it every day for that, but someone had spilled a chocolatey mess in ther and it had dizzled to the bottom.  Bottles were stuck to the glass.  I totally emptied the shelves, depending on Andrea and Robert to take out anything heavy or that needed two hands.  Then the scrubbing started.  Robert would take a chisel, but I just used hot water and soap.  I wish I had gotten to it sooner.  It was embarrassing.  It's not even my frig, but after all, we live here.

Now that the refrigerator and kitchen are clean, I can sit down without guilt.  My darling hubby is watching college football and I am at the computer, nearly my favorite place.  I have many things to do today, including writing the weekly letter for the ministry.  I'm just waiting for my friend to let me know what has happened there.

Hank took Andrea to the open market in town and there bought her a purple stuffed gorilla.  He really spoils her.  He's a good room-mate for us.  We don't seem to get in his way and he loves having a clean house for the first time in years.  At times I feel funny about living here because we should have a place of our own, but I guess it's all in God's timing.  Venturais a pretty spendy place to live.  We are on a fixed income.  Rob needs to get counselling for his PTSD and we just have to stay put for a while.  Tough for me.  I'm a very independent sort.  Guess I just need to stay flexible.

Well, off to fold laundry and figure out the rest of the day. 


Wednesday, November 3, 2004

A great kid

We just got back from Andrea's school meeting.  She's doing so well and her advisor is pleased.  Andrea started to do the word find while we were there and found every word.  I am so proud!

I guess what happened at first was this:  I never struggled in school.  Nothing was hard for me.  I was reading before kindergarten.  So when I saw her struggling with what I thought were simple concepts, I was frustrated.  None of my kids are average intelligence.  They are all waay above the norm.  This is not to say they all have what I call walking around smarts, but they are bright.  Then came Andrea who struggles with everything.  She is bi-lingual and can effectively translate for someone, so I just figured she'd also do well from the get-go when I started being her teacher.

Was I in for a surprise!  I never took into consideration the fact that she was born prematurely in a country where moist preemies don't survive or that she was starved for the first 8 months of her life.  These things affect learning on a grand scale.  Now I'm not blaming myself, but I can see that I was expecting too much.  When we dropped back to simpler things and she began to have success, we began to see a difference.  There's so much for her to learn.  Don't get me wrong, but Mexicans are not truly a literate people.  Sentences never end, they use no capital letters, don't care how it's spelled and the hand-written word runs together in a very confusing way.  I'm a stickler for grammatically correct phrases and good punctuation.  That alone should stupify my 10 year-old Spanish-speaker.  I just had to chill.

We both did.  Andrea's first few weeks were tear-filled days full of frustration for both of us.  Teachers in Mexico tend to call a kid "bad" if their work has mistakes.  Truly great for the self-esteem.  So everytime I pointed out a mistake or had her re-do something, she cried and asked, "Did I do bad?"  Getting over this hump has been horrific.  She just wants to be a good girl for us.

Andrea is a wonderful girl!  She wants to hear the word good, but so many descriptives fit her.  She is bright, pretty, full-of-fun, helpful, outgoing, friendly, slender, brave, determined . . .well, I could go on and on.  I'm so glad I have this opportunity at this time in my life to raise another child.  She's a great kid.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Memory lane

Just took a little trip down memory lane.  A friend sent a link to me and unlike my normal, I decided to click on it:

Wow! Did my past come up and hit me on the behind!  I loved the music and the read.  Thought you might too - especially if you yemember as much as I did.

This is it!

This is it!  If you haven't already done so - got VOTE!  It is such a privilege to live in a country where you can be a part of your own future. The air that we breathe is different because we are free.

How important is that to you?  Do you realize what a great country you live in?  What's the best part for you?

The best part for me is that I'm free to take a stand - any stand -  anytime.  My voice can be heard.  And for us here in the U.S.A., it's more than freedom; it's our right. 

When is the last time you took a look at the Bill of Rights?  Look at it again.

There's not another the same anywhere.  And it's ours. 

What a country!  What a time to live!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Television and Language

Andrea and I are working on her schoolwork 5 hours a day.  At first, she cried all the time.  Apparently, she never did any work at school in Mexico, preferring to sit and stare at the wall or door.  The first weeks were miserable and I thought she would never begin to learn.  The school district has some help for parents of home-schooled kids and we had a meeting, some testing to see how well she could work in English and another meeting.

At the first meeting, the teachers, principal and school psychologist tried to convince us that she would do better in a classroom situation.  Of course they hadn't even met her.  The district gets the same money whether she's in class at the school or at home.  It's possible the individual school gets extra funds for Spanish speakers.  However, we know that she would feel lost in 5th grade in English. Gratefully, her home school advisor was in that meeting.  We stood our ground and came away with the promise of some help.

At the last meeting a week ago, they told us that she was wonderful to work with, but only working at kindergarten and first grade level in English.  Her reading seemed close to "early intermediate" but she needed more practice.  They gave suggestions for comprehension and gave us a kit to use that will help her form ideas and words in English.  Cool.  We're ready to go.

Now here's the bit about television.  She loves it.  We watch all sorts of cool stuff together.  She especially loves Discovery Health and Babies: Special Delivery.  Now don't get on me about that.  I'm a trained midwife and she was in the house when I delivered my first baby in Mexico.  She even gave a good report about the program (orally) to her advisor. 

Robert likes TV too, and has it on a lot while he's working around the house.  As the commercials come on, Andrea stops her studies and repeats them word for word.  For the most part, she even loses her accent.  Sometimes it's to the point of irritating.  But then I realized what was happening (picture me slapping my forhead and an idea bulb above me):  she's learning English!  Duh!  Where did my other kids learn new words and concepts?  Television!  They had Sesame Street and some of the others.  I just never thought about those kind of programs for my 10 year-old.  But what they provedyears ago about catching kids attention in short spurts was as true then as it is now.  I just forgot.

So now it's not irritating anymore.  She may be 10, but she's learning stuff a much smaller kid needs to learn along with stuff for her own age group.  It's tough at best. We hardly watched televeision in Mexico and I'm not a fan of letting my kid gel in front of the television, but I see some benefits to having the tube available for her. 

and the thing is . . . she's making huge strides in the last couple of weeks.  She's not reading woodenly anymore.  She is comprehending the words and doing some of her worksheets without me reading all of the instructions to her.  And I don't know what happened in math.  She wants to do it now.  We still have to do board work, letter recognition and such, but I just know that television is helping. 

Color mom "helped".


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Weekend Assignment #31

Three years ago, my friend Celeste held her own funeral services.  She said she hates to miss anything, so she invited friends and relatives to "bring a dish" and share her life.  It was wonderful.  Much better than the sadness one feels when sharing memories of times with a recently lost loved one.

She didn't write her eitaph, however, so for extra credit first I will write hers and then my own.

Celeste, Celeste, beloved friend

Didn’t give up until the end.


Here lies Penny, salt of the earth

Only her love for life exceeded her girth


And for another “love”:


Oh, my dearest I miss you so

I can’t figure out where you did go

What will I do now ‘til the end

They said you died when I hit “send”


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

As if we need it . . .

I’m getting a puppy!  It’s not as if we need it.  We don’t even have our own place yet.  I just want something to love and adore me.  I know Rob and Andrea love and adore me, but that’s different. 


Hank, the man we live with, has 2 birds.  One is a sun conure named Dufus and the other is a cockatiel named Oscar.  Oscar’s cool, but his beak is really sharp and he bites sometimes.



Dufus is another story.  I tried to get a picture of him for this entry, but he kept moving.  He was nibbling my ear and rubbing himself in my hair.  Sun conures are beautiful.  Just like the colors of autumn, Dufus is a bright yellow, orangey-red with bright green spots and bright green wings and tail.  He has a yellow furry “house” in his cage and when he’s in there, you can hardly see him.


Te other thing about Dufus is he loves me.  Not like a dog would love me of course, but love all the same.  He comes out of his little house to greet me, sometimes when he’s already gone to bed for the night.  He waits for me to stick my fingers in the cage for kisses and head scratching.


Andrea has hermit crabs.  Or at least I think she still has one.  We bought her two. She was very excited about them at first, but Stripe outgrew his shell while we were away overnight, climbed out and died in the water dish.  What a stink.  Her room still smells all right, so Goldie may still be alive.  I think she may be hibernating or moving only when we aren’t around.  Don’t ask how we know their sex – we don’t.  Andrea wanted a “he” and a “she” so there you are.


Anyway, back to the puppy.  I used to have Pomeranians.  They are cute, jumpy, dancey, yippy little dogs, but so devoted.  I just adored them.  They even got along pretty well with the kids.  They were smart enough to hide when they’d had enough.  My last one, a black named Teddy, died about 3 years ago.  He was 12 years old.  Just crawled under a bush and went to sleep.  Man!  I loved that little dog.


On the ranch, we had a number of mixed breed dogs.  We had a shepherd named Dancer, a poodle named Pepe (he died under suspicious circumstances) and 3 little dogs.  Freckles was aptly named and the sweetest of the smaller dogs.  The little males were Dudley and Bandit.  We found Bandit trying to get someone to adopt him near the Calimax market.  I fell.


Dudley was Robert’s dog, although everyone seemed to love him.  He fathered Freckles’ children and we never had trouble finding them homes.  Good thing, too, because we’d have been feeding more dogs than children.  He is a short, black, wiry-haired terrier kind of dog.  His front legs are kind of crooked, as if he had arthritis or something so his gait is a little strange.  He would hop-skip-trot everywhere he went.  Kind of made him look happy or spunky.


Dudley was also a fierce protector of our ranch.  Any dog within miles better think twice before entering.  When we first moved to the ranch, there were lots of stray dogs running around.  We had a barbed wire fence, but that didn’t deter them from coming in to make “deposits” on our freshly raked dirt.  Robert would go out every morning with his slingshot to discourage them.  He didn’t actually hit them, but the sound of a rock or marble whizzing by was enough to set them on a run.  And

Dudley would follow, barking his meanest until they were out of sight.  He didn’t care how big they were.  This got him into some trouble because he was quite the scrapper.  He got his neck and shoulder ripped open (I thought he was going to die), his hip torn and one ear was split right down the middle.  Now when he limp-trots, his ear has a kind of scissor action.  It’s funny.


When we left, Jon and Arlene inherited our dogs and brought their own.  Theirs were two Chihuahuas and a couple of mutts. One of the Chi’s  is their son’s dog, though I doubt now he’ll ever take her back.  Her name is Minnie and she and Dudley fell in love.  I think it has something to do with that special perfume she was wearing.  Dudley had no concern about his years with Freckles.  Minnie was the new queen.  Now Minnie has puppies


All of this to get me a puppy!  I asked Robert and he frowned at me.  I can’t describe the look, but if you’re married, you’ve probably seen it a time or two.  He wanted to know how it would get here.  I told him not to worry; I wouldn’t go to Mexico to get it.  He looked like he was ready to give in.  He’s happier when I’m happy.  Next was to approach Hank.  After all, it’s his house.


We were eating a wonderful meal that I cooked.  Hank is a bachelor, though engaged forever (another story) and loves home cooked meals.  We were watching football and Hank decided we should save the bones for the dog across the street.  He said, “I was going to get a dog, but Debbie said not until her cat dies.”  My opening!!!


“How about one that leaves when we do?”  I asked. Hank shrugged, nodded and Robert grinned at me.  Don’t you see?  The puppy, Dudley's progeny, was meant to come.  I just know it.  It was all too easy.  Divine intervention!


Imagine: a half-Chihuahua with an attitude . . .

Into nowhere

First, let me tell you I lost my text this morning because I was too slow to save it into my journal.  At least I think that's what it might have been.  Can't blame AOL . . .or can I?

I really liked what I wrote, too, and there doesn't seem to be a way to save text while journalling.  Have to make a suggestion on that one.  For the most part, I love AOL.  I'm new to it, as it wasn't as readily available to me in Mexico.  I did have a blog, however.  I like journalling, but didn't keep the other one up very regularly.  Might have something to do with the number of kids I was caring for. 

In some ways, the other journal was easier.  If I wanted a picture, I'd just select copy and paste it in there.  This one's a little difficult and I don't like the white box around my pictures.  Eventually, I'll figure out how everyone else does it.

Anyway, I'm frustrated.  My lo-ong journey entry has gone the way of all dust-kitties, space objects, bodily noises, etc.- right into the air.

Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Sunny Day

Thankfully, the day is sunny and warm.  It's one of those days when it's just right to be chilled out and do nothing.  That's what I plan on doing.  From my room, which is closest to the street, I hear the traffic making a gentle shooshing noise as it goes by.  Even the cars don't seem to be in a hurry today.  The sky is bright light blue and there's just enough wind to hear the wind chimes tinkling in the distance.

A while ago, my reverie was disturbed by the sound of an electric chain saw.  Hank was out front trimming the ficus tree.  I guess he couldn't stand a clean front yard.  Rob and I spent hours cleaning up all the junk he had out ther just before the rain hit.  All that was left to do was to spread a little grass seed and make the best of it.  Now we are back to square one.  But not today.  Maybe not until Monday.

Rob is doing his favorite weekend thing right now - watching college football in the other room.  This is purportedly the time when I could ask for and get anything I want.  I'm just not that sneaky. I used to be. Pulled it on my mom when she was sleeping, my first husband after a few beers . . . well, you get the picture.  I've turned over a new leaf. 

Andrea is also in slow mode today.  She's been in her room for the longest time playing with Barbies.  It's so cool that she has a room of her own and can play there when she wants. At the ministry, she shared her room with 11 other girls and none of them was allowed to play there.  Just change clothes and sleep.  A room of her own is the thing Andrea wanted most when she came to the U.S.  She came about 2 weeks ahead of me and moved into the room her daddy had been sleeping in.  He moved to the couch until I got here with a bed.  The first time he went back into that room to get his clothes, she cried out indignantly, "Da-ad!"  He told her he needed clean underwear so he could bathe.  About an hour later, she came out of her room with all his clothes in her arms and asked, "Where do you want these?"  There was no dought she had no intention of sharing any part of that room!

Hank has started up on the second ficus.  For some reason, even that noise isn't bothering me all that much.  It's a great day for just doin' nuthin'.