Friday, March 27, 2009

A Dave and Donna update...

***If you haven't read my blog post "Feeling Called" two below this one, read it first. This one will make a whole lot more sense!***

"Wow." That was just about all she could say. "Wow." (Quick: what children's book is that from?)

I'm not sure how to start or even what to write. I guess I'll start by saying what a blessing it is to serve others. What a lesson it is in humility and graciousness and faith.

When I explained to my plan to the girls this afternoon, Emma was all for it. Hayley, not so much. She didn't want to do it, didn't want to leave her comfort zone, didn't want to face a tiny spark of reality. I can't entirely blame her -- it's incredibly hard for most adults to do that as well. I certainly can't deny that I was a little nervous to meet Dave and Donna. I don't exactly have a way with words when it comes to talking.

But off we went to BigLots and WalMart anyway. And just as I planned, we spent less than $100 and walked away with bags and bags and bags of goodies to help Dave and Donna start their lives over.

Check out what we bought...

2 bath towels
1 pkg. of wash cloths
2 plates
2 bowls
2 mugs
4 each of knives, forks and spoons
1 pkg. dish rags
1 set dish towels
2 pot holders
toilet paper
cleaning spray
dish soap
laundry detergent
12 pk. of Zest
25 pc. kitchen utensil set
mixing bowl set (three bowls with lids so they can double as food storage)

Not bad, huh?

We also added our old pots and pans, an extra set of cutting knives, some extra glasses and a pitcher.

I think Donna was most excited about the pitcher! She kept saying that now she can make iced tea!

Both of them were all smiles -- so genuinely grateful. There wasn't any sense of pride or frustration against "charity". Simply pure joy at the help people are willing to give.

We stayed for 10 minutes or so, chatting about this and that. They came from Texas last November just because they wanted a change. They'd seen pictures of Oregon and decided the Northwest was where they wanted to be.

Dave and Donna are married via common law. Dave turned pink when he couldn't remember how many years. But he did confess that he "had plans" to have Donna take his name. My heart did a little leap at that. How amazingly wonderful. Here she is, full of cancer, and he's not scared off. Donna sang his praises over and over again, telling us how he carried her sometimes and how he slept on the floor next to her in the hospital.

True love is amazing, isn't it?

As we drove home, Hayley asked how people get cancer. We explained it and she finally asked her real question: can you get cancer from hugs? Donna had hugged her. (She also signed her cast!) We continued talking about cancer and how it works. We talked about homelessness and hope and starting over.

Dave and Donna currently have two living room chairs, a tiny end table, a chair with a 12 in. tv, a bed and a pan. The girls saw their few possessions and maybe now understand how blessed they are to have all that they do. It's a huge concept and not something I expect them to fully comprehend.

But starting them on the track of appreciation and giving to others is something just as important to know.

I'm mentally kicking credit card companies in the shins

I am so annoyed. Everyone knows credit card companies are out to get you, one way or another. But generally, they want to keep your business so they'll help you out to a degree.

And given that Scott and I have impeccable credit, we've always gotten fantastic rates.

So when I got a notice last week from Chase that our APR was going from 4% to 17.24%, I was not happy. Not surprised, but not certainly not happy.

Citi had sent a notice a couple months ago doing the same thing. When I called them, they instantly lowered the rate to 7%. Not the 3.99% it was, but better than 17.24%.

I expected Chase to do the same, but no... not so much. They are now charging at least 17.24% across the board, no exceptions possible. Their reasoning? The economy. They're charging more so they won't go under like other banks have.

Surely, there's middle ground, though, right? I'm not a financial or banking expert, but I can't help but feel this is one more way the banking system is taking advantage of us.

When I told the Chase rep that I would be transferring my balance to Citi, the rep said, "Ok." Usually if you make that threat, they'll bend over backwards to help you!

Scott and I are finally financially stable and we've been significantly paying off our cards (used only in those extended times of emergency). We can handle this. It's ok.

But what about all the people who are losing their homes and their jobs? Who can barely buy food and diapers and toilet paper? How are they going to deal with this?

And these questions lead me to my next post...

Feeling Called

A few months ago, a couple moved to this area from Texas. Shortly after they arrived, the woman found out she had cancer. In fact, her entire body is riddled with cancer and she's now struggling to survive.

So incredibly sad, isn't it? But that isn't all... This couple is homeless.

Donna is too weak to live on the streets. She doesn't have the strength to ride the buses all day for lack of anywhere else to go. She can't stand in long lines waiting for a free meal or one of the few cots in a shelter. Sitting in the library for hours on end is just not a possibility.

Now I don't know their story. I don't know anything else about them except their names: Dave and Donna.

Pastor Jim has mentioned Dave and Donna in his sermons a couple times -- their struggles and their hopes and their unfailing belief in God. And over the past few weeks, he's been trying desperately to follow God's lead to help them.

When I talked to Jim this past Wednesday at church, he mentioned his efforts at trying to secure Dave and Donna an apartment. He said it felt like a house of cards. The simple act of obtaining an apartment was anything but simple. Because so many organizations were involved in trying to make it happen, if any one thing fell through, the whole house of cards would fall.

But yesterday there was a message on the machine when I got home. The good Lord held up that perilous house of cards and Dave and Donna now have an apartment!

They have an apartment and they have a bed. That's it. No cups, no sheets, no towels, no can opener. Nothing.

On Wed., I had offered some pots and pans I'm no longer using so when Jim called yesterday, he asked if I could drop them off to Dave and Donna. After a prayer of thanks to the Big Guy, I ran around the house trying to pull together anything else I could that they might need.

I found a few things, but not much. Not enough. I feel so strongly that I'm being called to help Dave and Donna. The least important thing right now is that I've never met them. They are two people going through h-e-double hockey sticks and I want -- no, I need -- to help them.

When Scott gets home tonight, we're going to take the kids to BigLots, the Dollar Store and Wal-Mart to pick up additional supplies for Dave and Donna. Now we're on a pretty tight budget, but think about it... $100 doesn't seem to go far these days. But $100 will buy a plethora of needed supplies for a couple in dire straights.

I really want Hayley and Emma involved in this process. They know there are less fortunate people around. They've seen homeless people on the street and lining the hallways at our church (which serves as a shelter during the winter months). But seeing the less privileged and understanding the concept of "privilege" are two totally different things.

I want them to know, to truly appreciate what they have. And I want Dave and Donna to know that they are not alone in this -- that people care and really are willing to help.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Their Leadership Skills Are Developing!

Monday afternoon found the D. household filled with girls -- ages 8 to 12 -- for a Girl Scout event. Hayley's Jr. troop (the one I lead) was helping Emma's Brownie troop earn their very first Jr. Badge -- Looking Your Best.

As part of the Jr. requirements for earning their Leadership Award, they had to help a younger group of girls learn something new. So my girls decided to host "Looking Your Best".

I am so incredibly impressed with how well my Juniors did! They not only organized it and kept in mind costs involved, but they also did a fantastic job keeping the Brownies on task and focused (not an easy thing to do!)

Listen to how much fun it was...

  • Ate snack (fruit kabobs and Chex Mix - yes, the Jr's prepped all the kabobs)
  • Made their own lip gloss (Jr's tested in advance to make sure it worked)
  • Made a charm bracelet (Jr's came up with a system so that no one could argue over the charms)
  • Learned a dance (choreographed by Miranda, with assistance from Hayley and Leslie)
  • Learned about hygiene, including washing their faces (Hayley created a list they could take home and follow)
  • Enjoyed a mini-spa (nails filed and polished by the Jrs. while the Brownies relaxed with cucumbers on their eyes!)
The whole thing was just adorable! The Brownies were so appreciative and the Juniors -- what can I say? They really came through in their leadership abilities. I'm so proud!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kicked Out of the House

Sunday afternoon, Scott asked me if I still wanted to go to a concert we had talked about attending. It was that night and we hadn't gotten a sitter, so we opted not to go.

The girls, though, heard us talking about a babysitter and decided that Scott and I needed a date, even though we didn't have a sitter.

Hayley and Em insisted they would be fine on their own while we went out for dinner. They've stayed together alone before -- never for very long, but dinner doesn't generally take long.

While we were deciding, Hayley presented us with this coupon... I've scanned both the front and back sides for your amusement!

Pester, pester, pester. They were desperate!

Hayley agreed to heat up dinner for the both of them. Emma brought me my purse and Hayley gave Scott his jacket. They handed him the keys and made sure I had my cell phone (and that it was on!) Emma even went so far as to open the door and push me out! Except that we hadn't even decided yet!

We were officially kicked out of the house!

Not that we minded, of course! Black Angus, here we come!

An hour and a half later, we were home again. Everything went smoothly -- they'd mostly followed directions! No tv was watched, but also no dishes were cleaned up. (Don't tell them, but that was ok. I was so pleased that they'd had fun together.)

Maybe Scott and I will get kicked out of the house again someday soon!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Deliciously Green Update

It's been a while since I've posted about Green developments around the house. I've actually started such a post several times, but never seem to finish. I'm determined this time, though!

Here's what I'm currently doing...

Homemade cleaning spray... I like it a lot, but don't love the smell of the tea tree oil. You wouldn't think that 20 drops in 3+ cups of fluid would make a difference. But it does. If it weren't for it's antibacterial properties, I'd leave it out.

Kitchen rags... I remember that some of you were skeptical when I first said that I was going to reduce my paper towel usage. Well, ha! I've been extraordinarily successful! I have a drawer full of old dish towels that have found new life as rags. So instead of tearing off a paper towel, I reach for a rag. It was surprisingly easy to get into the habit -- even the family took to it well! Now a roll of paper towels can last an entire month! (We were going through one to two a week!)

Castille soap... I use it to make my own hand soap! It's not drying and it cleans well although it doesn't have the thick consistency of store-bought soap. We've discovered the hard way that we have to cup our hands around the pump so soap doesn't squirt across the room!

Dish soap... Yesterday I opened my first bottle of Seventh Generation dish soap. I loved it! It had a great bubbling properties and cut grease like a champ! It was comparably priced to Dawn (my previous favorite), so I can't say I saved any money, but there are no phosphates in it!

Laundry detergent... Here's where I did another switcharoo to Seventh Generation. Clothes are just as clean with less detergent needed. In fact, last December I started keeping track of how many loads I get from each bottle of detergent. By keeping track, I've been much more aware of how much I pour into the cups. I got 76 loads out of the last 64 load bottle. Coolio!

Paper... Printing less and reusing the back sides of sheets that we have printed on. I've even been using the clean side of worksheets and notices that come home from school. (Lesson learned, though... Make sure you don't print a coupon on the back of something you wouldn't want the world to see. Good thing I caught that one in time!)

Napkins... Cloth napkins are a hassle, but I'm sticking with it. No one ever remember to put their napkin back in their napkin ring, so I gave up on that. Instead, I took a bunch of cloth napkins upstairs and together we spent an hour with the sewing machine. I sewed a different pattern on each napkin, giving each of us our own color. It has easily solved the problem of whose napkin was whose!

Energy savings... I still have my thermostat set to 67 day/62 night, but we've still been using more energy than a year ago. The past couple months have been a bit colder than last year, but still, I'm surprised by the lack of savings. I need to be more dedicated in unplugging unused appliances, turning off the computer, etc. Oh, by they way, our water heater is still turned slightly down, so there's some savings there at least.

So let's add the savings up. I haven't added up my savings in about three months, so let's see what I can add to my Green Fund this month!

Cleaner: $5 (2 bottles of 409)
Kitchen rags: $15 (24 rolls of paper towels)
Castille soap: $15 (5 bottles of hand soap)
Dish soap: $3 (no monetary savings, but environmentally safe!)
Laundry detergent: $13 (1 bottle)
Paper: $5 (paper, ink, energy savings)
Napkins: $9 (3 packs of napkins)
Energy savings: $0 (bummer)

A grand total of....... $65! Comparatively not much, but it's something, right?

Now here's a Green something I've been thinking about. Not actually considering, perhaps, but thinking about... hankies. I go through tissues like there's no tomorrow. My nose always runs when it's cold and since I've been keeping the house at 67, it's always cold.

Am I ready and willing to try handkerchiefs? My dad uses them. And I saw a woman (about my age) using one yesterday at a Girl Scout workshop. I like the idea, but is it gross? I mean, if you have a cold, then yeah, it's gross. But for a simple runny nose, how bad is that? I don't know.

It's certainly not easy being Green, but it's worth it!

(Quick post script... I just found these organic cotton hankies online. Check them out...

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Art of Building a Delicious Following

If you give a girl a blog,
She's going to ask for readers.

And you if give the girl some readers,
She's going to want even more.

And if you give her even more,
She'll want to read their comments.

And if she reads their comments,
She's going to want more fans.

And if you give her more fans,
She's going to want to post more.

And if you give her time to post,
She's going to make you laugh.

And if she makes you laugh,
You'll want to share it with friends.

And if you share the blog with friends,
You're giving the girl more readers!!!

A free virtual pan of freshly baked, still warm out of the oven brownies for whoever can tell me what book my little ditty is based on!!

At the top of the side bar, I've added a new Blogger feature to help grow my audience. Not only does it lend credibility to my blog, but it also tends to draw back return readers!

So please, please, please sign up to be a Delicious Follower! It's super fast! And an avatar (photo/icon) is so not necessary (as you can see by the lack of my own up there).

As I've mentioned before, the more popular my blog is, the more likely an agent or publisher will take me seriously when I'm ready to publish my book. I've already developed a tiny, yet dedicated readership base (thank you to all of you!), but you know.... If you give a girl a blog, she's going to want more readers!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's almost summer!

At 52 degrees and no rain, we're just about ready to put shorts on!

Instead of shorts, though, we pulled out the hammock and set it up on the back porch. The girls have been out there for two hours and have only come in twice -- once for the bathroom (or as Emma shrieked as she streaked through the house, "I have to go weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!") and once to get popsicles.

Sending out summertime warmth, freshly cut grass smell and sticky popsicle fingers to all of you!

Do the happy dance with me!

Girl Scout cookie selling is ovvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrrrrr!
(Wave your arms in the air!)

No more deliveries on cold, windy, rain-drenching days!
(Twist your body!)

Say good-bye to sitting outside Freddie's for hours on end!
(Get your head going!)

Stop counting and recounting hundreds of dollars that aren't even your own!
(Wiggle those hips!)

Reclaim your email since there won't be 20+ cookie related messages every day!
(Are you moving your feet yet?)

Admire the open carpet space that once held umpteen zillion cases of cookies!
(Turn in circles!)

Reallocate the brain power it took coming up with ways to incent three Girl Scouts to actually *talk* to people! (Strangely, talking to people actually helps the sales process. Go figure.)
(I'm out of dance moves so just do the Macarena for a while! LOL)

Save all the money spent at Starbucks for the necessary hot cocoa to keep warm while sitting outside during the coldest afternoons of the year!

Sweep all the receipts, forms, packets and instructions into the circular file!

Rejoice in the Girl Scout activity free weekends!

Ok, you can stop dancing now. You had to burn off those Girl Scout cookie calories somehow, right?

Monday, March 16, 2009

You know you're exhausted when...

  • you contemplate letting the kids stay home from school because you just can't get out of bed
  • you stand in your kitchen for a full minute wondering where you keep the bowls
  • you just don't care that your eyes are bloodshot and puffy
  • it takes too much effort to make toast
  • you can't actually focus on your daytimer
  • you're frustrated that caffeine has no effect on you
  • you can't be bothered to mention that the striped/floral/polka dot outfit your daughter picked out doesn't match at all


  • you pick up a pen to sign said daughter's homework and have no idea what your name is

Friday, March 13, 2009

Life without Laptop

When Scott's company bought him a laptop, he beqeathed his old one to me.

Oh, Joy! I finally had the freedom to disconnect from a desk as so many others had done before me!

But as of yesterday, all I can do with my laptop is stare at it, uncharged and cold.

We're not exactly sure how, but the section of power cord that connects to part of the surge protector thingie (real technical, huh?) was damaged by...?

We don't know what (or who)! There are teeth marks and it's been chewed down through the layers, breaking and exposing the itty bitty wires within. It's in a spot right by the power block thing where we couldn't miss it, so it's unlikely it happened before now and we never noticed it.

I don't *think* Emma would do it and to me, the teeth marks look too small. But they do look bigger than a rodent's. We don't have rodents anyway.

We've haven't had any small children over in ages and ages, so other suspects have been ruled out. It's just the strangest thing!

A new part has been ordered and will hopefully arrive next Thursday, which seems like a very long time away! So until then, I'll polish up my tethers to the desktop and remember to enjoy the larger screen.

The big picture (hahahahahaha! get it? screen? picture?) is that I will remember not to take forgranted the ease and portability of my ancient and comparatively heavy trusty laptop.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SO Not Delicious Carpet Cleaning

I am so thoroughly disgusted. If you live in this area, do not call Chem-Dry for your carpeting cleaning needs

I did my research. I called three companies, comparing rates and environmentally sound practices. Chem-Dry was a few dollars more expensive, but I felt better about their cleaning style.

Now just so you understand the entirety of the situation, let me share the numbers with you.

I have just under 1000 sq. ft. of carpet. I was quoted at 36 cents a foot, thus the total would be $360. I was told, though, that that was just an estimate based on approximation of carpet footage. Ok, no problem. I get that.

So when the dude gets here and tells me the bill will be $500, I'm surprised. I have him take off my bedroom and the sewing room to reduce that price, my goal being to get back to the original quote. When that wasn't enough, I had him take off Emma's room. Still not enough.

That's when I figured it out. I asked, "You're still charging me 36 cents a foot, right? That's what I was quoted at." He said, "No, it's actually 46 cents." He had a little smirk on his face when he said it, too. Huh? I thought maybe I was mistaken, but I found my notes from the original phone call and no, I was correct.

Calling their head office, I spoke with the same guy who quoted me. He explained that they were charging me the "hot water" rate since that's what my carpet needed. (He only quoted the standard rate, never even alerting me to the possibility of a different cleaning system.) He wanted to talk to the head carpet cleaner and when they were done, the carpet cleaner tried to explain it to me again.

I told him to finish the room they were in (Hayley's) and leave. I no longer wanted their services. They'd already started the hallway, so they needed to finish that and they offered to do Emma's room for free. Apparently the stairs needed to be done, too. I let that one go, though, since they *really* needed cleaning.

Well, the total cost went from $500 to $150, for one room, the hallway and the stairs. I just wrote the check. They know I won't be calling again. They know I'm upset.

So let me repeat:

Do not call Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaners!

Oooh, I wish I were registered with Angie's List. I would so give them a virtual throttling.

You guys know what a pain in the a** it is to prep a house for carpet cleaning. Pick up the toys, move the lighter furniture, make the beds, clean the kitchen so you can cover the counters with random plants and other decor... I spent an hour running around making it all happen thing morning. (Scott's sick so I didn't ask him for help. I let Hayley, with her newly broken arm, get out of picking up her room and making her bed. Emma? Well, it was just easier to get her to focus on getting ready for school.) At least now my house is picked up. Guess it's a good time to dust it, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Bella: Broken, Brave and... Giddy?

Hayley and Em went to Fred Meyer's this afternoon to purchase an all-important box of Popsicles. Hayley's Bella tendencies apparently joined them and pushed Hayley right off her scooter. She tried to catch herself -- with her hands and wrists, apparently.

Now normally, if one of the girls gets hurt while out playing, they call me immediately. (I always make them take my cell if they go farther than around the block.) They've called for scrapes and bruises, but never anything serious.

So imagine my surprise when they get home from Freddie's and Emma rushes in saying Hayley hurt her arm. I'm thinking, "Yeah, right." This girl gets hurt 20 times a day (I'm really not exaggerating) and no longer do I take her injuries seriously.

Hayley came in a moment later, not crying, not hysterical, not playing the drama queen. She simply held out her wrist and said, "I fell on it and it hurts." Sure enough, it was swelling and didn't look quite right. It was just past 5pm, so I called Urgent Care to see if the x-ray dept. was still open or if we'd have to go to the hospital. It was open, but there was an hour wait to see the doctor first.

Not wanting to wait, I told Hayley to take a bath and when she was done, we'd go. Not so smart as it turned out. Scott took her and after they checked in, he called to say the wait was now 2 1/2 hours! Emma and I ate dinner, then went over there so he could come home and eat. (I brought Hayley dinner in a Tupperware.)

When we left three hours later, Hayley's wrist and forearm were firmly wrapped up. Two fractures. Two! I tell ya, that Bella!!!

The weirdest thing about this whole evening is that she's thrilled to death to have a broken arm. Huh? Giddy, even. She kept saying, "Cool!" and giving me the thumbs up sign as I was talking to the doctor. In my maternal reasoning, I'm guessing it's because of all the extra attention she'll garner. That and the fact that she's now excused from band for several weeks!

Before I close, let me explain the Bella reference for those of you not familiar with the insane and intense love affair tweens and teens have with the Twilight phenomenon. Bella, the main character, is clumsy beyond belief. So clumsy, in fact, that it seems accidents and incidents look for her.

That would be my Hayley. My Bella.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Messy and Unashamed

I've been thinking about this topic for quite some time, but hadn't gotten a chance to write about it. Today provided the perfect inspiration...

The other day, my friend, Julie, and I arranged to go to Ikea today. (The D____ household has been losing breakables by the day and I needed to replenish.) Julie suggested I come pick her up so I could see her home. She loves her home and is so proud of it.

"Well," she clarified on the phone. "It's messy, so if you don't mind, you're welcome to come over."

"Like I care!" was my response.

So this morning, I got the grand tour of Julie's house. She was right -- it was messy. But it didn't matter in the least! She wasn't embarrassed and I certainly didn't care. So in my mind, I will always think of her as Amazing Julie.

I have to say that being invited into chaos was a pleasure. Wives and mothers (not to be exclusionary, but I really don't think husbands/dads have this issue) almost always insist the house be spotless before any adult can come over. We all know that kids don't care, so other people's kids can safely enter. But when a parent comes to pick up that kid, sorry, but it's the foyer and only the foyer you get to see.

Here's a little side story of my own personal cleaning neuroses... For years, I was best friends with my college roommate. We'd lived together, so she knew that while I wasn't crazy messy, I also didn't see the need to sterilize everything. Thus, I didn't feel the need to clean everything when she came over. I'd hoped that not cleaning was in the definition of best friends. But it wasn't. She was a neat freak and had a tendency to clean my house when she came over. She saw it as helping. I saw it as a personal affront to my housekeeping skills. So as years passed, I tried harder and harder to make my home absolutely perfect before she came. Now imagine me 7 months pregnant with Emma, on the floor cleaning, actually scrubbing, the baseboards! Even I realized I was going too far to please her. She shouldn't have cared. I shouldn't have cared.

Why exactly do we care so much? Honestly, all our homes get messy. It's called living in them. Why are we so ashamed that the laundry went from the dryer to the couch three days ago? That there's a pot in the sink everyone's trying to ignore? That there are fingerprints on the windows, toothpaste globs in the bathroom sink and dirty socks on the stairs?

Maybe it is the mindset of unfailing and absolute cleanliness that previous generations held so dear. I can't imagine my Grandma K. even thinking about dumping her load of freshly dried whites on the couch.

Maybe we're just plain embarrassed. After all, messiness equals imperfection and a certain sense of laissez faire, even laziness. No one ever wants to be labeled as lazy.

Seriously, though, can wives and mothers ever be considered lazy? With all that we do, with all that we accomplish, the word "lazy" should be deleted from the dictionary of our lives. We're not being lazy when the beds are unmade or a pile of laundry sits on the floor in front of the washer for a few days. Such things are simply not the highest priority.

Nor should they be. Let's think about that...

"Kids, should I play Monopoly with you or dust the house?"

"Hey, everyone! The floors didn't get scrubbed today, so let's do that instead of cooking and eating dinner!"

"I think I'll sweep the front porch instead of heading out to buy milk and toilet paper this afternoon."

Or perhaps we refuse to admit to our messiness because of guilt. If we don't put every dish in the dishwasher right after we use it, put the clothes away as soon as we fold them or scrub the toilets before the water ring starts growing, we women feel inadequate as wives and mothers -- that we're not doing the best we should be.

And, of course, there's the ever present feeling of inferiority. You know the vicious cycle I'm talking about. I visit Sally's house which she has just spotlessly cleaned because I was coming over. I automatically assume that this is the way she always lives. Her house must always be this clean! Why can't I keep my house so tidy? I wonder how she does it? But do I ever ask! No way, Jose! That's admitting to an imperfect home. And if I did ask, she'd never admit that she just spent hours and hours excavating the furniture from under all the dust.

Let's stop this cycle! Let's admit to each other that our houses are not clean! And that, unless someone is actually coming over, we generally don't care! That's not to say we should never clean, just not for guests!

Let's all follow Amazing Julie's lead and stop worrying about what our homes look like. Let's show our true selves (and homes) to other people. Can you even imagine how much stress will be eliminated? I'm almost giddy just thinking about it!

But the question remains... Do I have what it takes to not clean next time I'm expecting company?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Delicious Daughters

You may notice that over on the side bar, I have way more Delicious Details about Emma than I do about Hayley.

Just to clarify because I know she reads this blog (hi, Hayley!), I don't post the many funny things Hayley says because this is an open forum. Some of her friends read this (hi, Miranda and Leslie!) and someday sooner than I'd like, the Queen Bees of high school will be reading it, too, looking for fodder.

The last thing I want to stem from this blog is the embarrassment of my pre-teen daughter. So as hard as at is to not post certain things, I refrain out of respect.

What with the upcoming years of Queen Bees, Facebook (of which I wholeheartedly disagree with) and those rumor-spreading books (I can't remember what they're called), I'm not putting any stories (great as they may be) out there that might even slightly be construed as embarrassing.

So there. You're out of luck, Queen Bees of the future!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I am the Champion! (Come on, sing it with me!)

'\o I am the Champion! No time for losing... o/'

That's right, folks!

You're very own Delicious As Pie blogger has won the St. Andrew Lutheran Church Annual Chili Cook-off for the second year running!!!

I posted the recipe for White Chicken Chili just last week. Remember how I didn't get a shot of the finished product because we ate it so quickly? Well, that was nothin' compared to those hungry Lutherans!

I made a double recipe and there was but a thin scraping on the bottom of my crock pot remaining by the time I got there. Granted, I had to teach a Lenten class right then and didn't get there till the whole cook-off was over, but still! I was hungry and I wanted some chili!

I didn't get to try anyone else's either since it was all packed up and gone by the time my class was out. What a bummer!

Scott made me laugh, though, because he had completely forgotten about the chili cook-off. He drove all the way home (church is half way between home and work) and only realized what night it was when the chili-scented house was empty! After a mad dash back to church, he was too late for chili, too.

So as the Lenten service started in the sanctuary, he and I sat in the narthex scraping out the last bits of chili from my crock pot. (Good thing I keep a spoon in my purse for such emergencies! LOL) We only managed a few spoonfuls, but man, it was delicious!

Included in my winning prize pack were two dish towels (chili pepper themed, of course), a "Two Hot to Handle" pair of hot sauce and a green chili pepper decoration.

The whole thing is just so ironic -- we eat very little spicy food around here!

Now lift your glass of wine (or water or soda or, in my case right now, orange juice). Here's to winning! *Clink* And here's to all the makers of the other delicious (so I heard) pots of chili! *Clink* It's the fellowship that really matters. We have such a fantastic congregation -- fellowship is a joy of which to be apart.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank you, Jesus! (said with Gospel zeal)

The x-rays I had done back in December showed not only a kidney stone the size of a walnut, but also an ovarian cyst the size of an orange.

My urologist (I feel like a seventy-year old man when I say that) immediately said, "That's not my specialty, but you should get it looked at right away."

Oh, great, I thought. What this time? But I comforted myself with knowing that if it was a surgery-requiring issue, I was already having surgery for the kidney stone -- maybe I could kill two birds with one stone and have both issues tackled at once. (And save on the anesthesia bill!)

Well, "right away" in the medical world is about two months. That's how long it took to get an appointment with a gynecologist. So much for my dual surgery plans!

Jesus, though, had a different plan in mind.

My new gyn. is amazing. I loved her instantly. She took plenty of time to explain all possible scenarios (even the scary ones), but didn't leave me feeling terrified -- just prepared. She told me that when they find cysts like this, they usually wait six weeks just to watch for changes.

And since the requisite six weeks had passed (eight, actually), she sent me for another ultrasound to see if anything had changed.

Sure enough, the cyst has almost completely disappeared! The doctor gave me a call yesterday to let me know. I could hear the relief in her voice. "I was almost 100% sure," she told me, "that you were headed for surgery." Cysts are random; they come and go. Ones as large as mine was usually don't go, though, unless through surgical means. (And she had told me initially that if they had to operate, she would likely take out the ovary as well. If anything at all look even a little funny, she'd take the other one as well.)

So... thank you, Jesus! (Again, say that with Gospel zeal!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Delicious Fabric and Impressive Willpower

You know how sometimes you see fabric and sewing accessories (or something else you love) and you have to buy it and then you aren't nearly as shocked at the total cost as you should be, but are more surprised that you actually bought all the great stuff?

Yup. That was me yesterday.

I went into Craft Warehouse just to get a couple card making things and I came out with...

So. Much. Fabric!

I just fell in love with it all!

I found an apron kit, including pattern and fabric. It was so '50's looking I just had to buy it. Or as my wonderful friend, Melanie, would say, "It just fell in the cart!"

Then I absolutely couldn't resist a pattern for a Manhattan Bag. (I have a thing for tote bags.) I had to choose six different fabrics for the bag and I just had the best time! I found a pack of fat quarters in browns and pinks that was exactly what I had in mind! Won't these patterns make a fantastic bag?

I also found this wonderful display of tea towels with directions on how to trim them with fabric. The towels themselves are solid colors, but it was so much fun picking out trim fabrics to match! I thought I would make a bunch for this year's Intern Auction at church. Plus... they'll make fantastic gifts!

Staying on task (working, kids, Girl Scouts) yesterday afternoon took even more willpower than not eating chocolate cheesecake when at The Cheesecake Factory. (Or so I would imagine!) But I prevailed! I didn't even peek in the sewing room door to look at my new treasures. Impressive, huh?

But those fabrics and patterns are now calling my name -- I hear it coming down the stairs all fluttery and pastel -y. Adios, dear readers! I'm off to sew!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Blog? What blog?

A few weeks ago, I started working again for Scott's company, Lariat. Part-time, great salary, work from home, set my own hours... It doesn't get any better than this!

Yet I curb my enthusiasm for working because I've given up time to write my book. If you'll remember, several Mondays ago I came up with a weekly schedule allowing for both book and Lariat. And, of course, time for Delicious as Pie. It worked for that first week, but not since. Even have given up two to three hours of sleep a night, there is just not enough time for everything. I've even been too occupied to put fingers to keyboard and type more than a once-a-week diversionary blog post for you.

I wish it wasn't that way. There are so many things I want to blog about! But employment is a very good thing for me.

In this horrid economy, with unemployment, foreclosures and a seriously scary stock market, I've been handed a fantastic job. Why wouldn't I work as many hours as I can? The money I make will make a dramatic difference in our goals... paying off bills, saving for retirement and college, padding our savings account, tithing a bit more to the church each month, putting away money for a vacation or the flat screen tv Scott desperately wants.

Yes, there are way too many options, most of which are equally important. Scott makes a great salary and we're making significant progress on our bills. (I'm not too proud to say that we racked up some substantial credit card debt while trying to survive the start of Scott's Midwest sales career.) But my extra salary can, and will, make a difference in our future.

But money aside, there's another huge reason for working again: none of us know what tomorrow holds.

God forbid something happen to Scott and I'm left to raise the girls on my own. Even with the life insurance we have, I'd still have to go back to work. Imagine (or maybe some of you don't have to if you're already living it) that you're trying to find a decent paying job when you haven't worked in ten years. Imagine trying to find that when unemployment rates are as high as the stock market is low.

In a nutshell... Not. Gonna. Happen.

I seriously cannot come up with a decent reason not to work for immediate salary as opposed to a book that might someday get published and might someday make a little bit of money. The job with Lariat wins out every time, so...

Interacting regularly with other adults? Really great. Earning a good salary while doing so? Absolutely fantastic. Current additions to my resume? Priceless.