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 . . .