Friday, December 29, 2006

This and that and some other stuff

First, I want to say thank you for all the kind comments about my Wordless Wednesday post about my mom. I was 10 when she passed away. It wasn't until I was an adult and had kids of my own that I realized just how much I lost when she died. My mom was one of the friendliest, most giving people I've ever known. Even when I was 10 years old at over 5 foot tall and 100 plus pounds, she used to tell me I'd never be too big to cuddle in her lap. She died of breast cancer, so as a friend of mine would say, go get those mammies grammed!

I am officially ready for the holidays to be over. New Years eve at 911 is really not a fun place and I'm dreading it. Last year, between midnight at 7 am, our center answered about 3000 calls. To compare, most nights we answer around 1000, give or take a couple hundred. The supervisors were happy that we never went over 40 calls holding at one time. If for some reason you find that you need to call 911 on new years eve, please remember not to hang up if you get the recording that says all lines are busy. Work has been interesting lately - on Wednesday we had a rash of guys calling the non emergency number asking for "Monica." Apparently, Monica gave her would-be suitors the phone number to the police instead of hers. It was kind of funny to hear them say "The POLICE??? This is the police?? Oh man! She got me!" In other work stuff, I'm kind of nervous about this dispatch training thing. For one thing, when it gets busy, I really struggle. I feel like I'm not fast enough and my brain is too old to learn to get faster. Part of it is lack of sleep due to working nights, but right now it's my only option. And on top of that, my trainer is going to a different shift so I'll be getting a different trainer. I'm just not real sure about the person my supervisor has chosen. I sat with her one night when my first trainer was sick, and she barely said anything to me. So any spare prayers would be appreciated :) I'm not going to give up yet, but man, feeling inadequate is not fun. Now I remember why I hated 911 training so much.

So, are you the New Years Resolution making kind of person? Me, not so much. If I make them, I always break them right away. But I think that's because they're really ME things. "I'm going to lose weight" "I'm going to stop smoking" "I'm going to..." kinds of things. But I do have a hope for the new year. Within this past year I think I've finally come to understand what it means to trust and obey God, and that obedience is a form of worship. Took me long enough! But in this new year, I want to be able to trust and obey even more. Because it really is a cycle - when you trust you obey, and when you obey God, you find out you can trust Him. I'm finding that it really does lead to God's best for us. That's where I want to be.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

WW - In loving memory

Linda Jean Childers ~ January 3, 1941 - December 28, 1977

I miss you Mom, see you when I get Home

Visit the WWHQ!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Blessings

  • Everybody loved their presents. Here's Sassy with her favorite...
  • The food. OMGosh the food.
  • The scenery for our Christmas dinner...
  • The fun. We laughed and played and had such a good time.
We have so much to thank God for, and I do, I am so very blessed. I think I have the most wonderful kids on the face of the planet. Well, most of the time I think that anyway... :)

There's just one thing though... I want to know WHY everytime they come into contact with fruit salad, they have to start singing that Wiggles song!?! Even the 17 year old!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Final Countdown

Well I still have a few more gifts to buy/wrap, but that shouldn't be too bad. And I still have to get the groceries for our Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner is going to be a bit weird non-traditional this year. I have to work the night before and Christmas night, and I'll have to sleep somewhere in there so.... Here's how I'm thinking the day will play out:
7:15 am - Arrive home from work, get breakfast started, and get everyone up to open presents.
8:00-12:00 - Nap while the bigger kids get some of part of our dinner prepared.
12:00-1:00 - Get ready to leave the house to go on our... Christmas day picnic! That's right. The menu for Christmas dinner is - Steak, baked potato, corn on the cob, and fruit salad enjoyed somewhere on the side of a mountain! For dessert, chocolate chip cheesecake! The activity for the day will be hiking up the side of that mountain.
5:00-9:30 - Try my best to get some more sleep before it's time to go back to work. Here's praying for a boring night at 911, but Christmas can be iffy - families+alcohol=not always a good thing!

I do have a lot to do between now and Christmas, and I bet the rest of bloggydom does too. May you all have a blessed Christmas full of wonderful times with those you love. It's not about the presents or the bows or the cookies baked to perfection - it's about letting the people around you know that you love them. So get busy! :)

Merry Christmas!!

She's going to make a fine mother someday...

Ok, so apparently Sassy has learned that if she asks her older sister DQ for something repeatedly, the answer will eventually be yes. Asking more than once with me more often than not gets one sent away rejected, but I suppose there has been a random time or two when I've given in changed my mind and recognized the merit in the request. But pretty much when I say no, I mean NO. But you know what they say, when kids behave a certain way, it's usually mirroring what they see in their parents and now I'm really afraid! Because This morning Sassy kept asking DQ if she could use DQ's hot air corn popper to make popcorn. Over and over, repeatedly. DQ kept saying no. Finally, DQ said yes. So Sassy got to popping. DQ jumped up, ran in the kitchen demanding to know what Sassy was doing. "I'm popping popcorn! You said I could!"

DQ's response? "When I said yes I was just trying to shut you up! You need to learn that when I say yes, I really mean no!" The worst part was, she was serious!

Oy, time to reexamine my parenting skills! Yikes!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

WW - Tree Treasure

Ok, so this is not quite Wordless, but, indulge me this once :)

I didn't participate when other people were posting their tree treasures and linking up somewhere... I can't even remember who was hosting that, but I do have some I'd like to share.

I'm not sure where we got this one, but we've had it for a very long time, since my 21 year old was about 5. A lot of my older ornaments got ruined the summer before last when the kids left the pool water on and flooded the basement. Twice. I'm over it...

My bestest friend in the whole world gave me this one, probably around the same time we got the crayola bear, so this is an older ornament too. She said the piggie with it's head in a barrel is her because she was tired of hearing Christmas music! I think of her whenever I see it. Love you Sarah!

This one was given to me by a friend from church who is moving away in March. I think it's one of the cutest things we have on the tree.

This picture isn't so clear, but it was the best I could do... This one was in a set of 3 sent to me by one of the May Moms either last year after we lost all our ornaments, or the year before, which was the first year after my ex-husband was arrested and Christmas was particularly rough. It's very special to me.

This one is new this year - I made it.

All the ornaments ON the tree are very nice, but I like the ones UNDER the tree - they seem to have taken up residence there!


Dont forget to the visit WWHQ for more Wordless Wednesday fun!

Monday, December 18, 2006

ABC's Blogger Style

I've seen this a few places, most recently at Janean's, so I thought I'd play along...

A - Available or single: Single.
B - Best Friend: Sarah and Becky
C - Cake or Pie: Usually cake, but mostly I'm just a sugar fiend.
D - Drink of choice: Water. Used to be Dr. Pepper, but I've mended my ways.
E - Essential Item you use everyday: Lappy, my laptop. Doesn't everybody name their computer?
F - Favorite color: GREEN
G - Gummy Bears or worms: BEARS! And only one brand will do - Haribo! I'm only a little addicted.........
H - Hometown: Born in Barberton Ohio, but hometown is Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
I - Indulgence: Haribo Gummy Bears, occasionally really good chocolate, and Books. I love books.
J - January or February: I have a kid with a birthday in January, and one with a birthday in February... so can't choose by that... I'd say... BOTH! Because they're both winter, and winter in Phoenix, yeah, that's why I put up with the summers!
K - Kids: 5 kids, ages 21, 17, almost 15, 9 and 6. Their names aren't important, I can never remember them when I need to anyway! Growing up, I was VICKIESUSIEVONDACONNIESTOPTHAT!! Same thing :)
L - Life is Incomplete Without: Faith and Family
M - Marriage Date: I think I'll stay single a while, thanks
N - Number of Siblings: Three older sisters.
O - Oranges or Apples: Both! Love the little clementines though :)
P - Phobias or Fears: That I will die before my kids are grown.
Q - Fave Quote: I don't think I have a favorite.
R - Reason to Smile: My kids
S - Season: Depends on where. If it's Phoenix, winter, hands down. If it's Cleveland, then fall, but I hate what comes next!
T - Tag 3 or 4 people: Nah, just play along if you want to!
U - Unknown Fact about Me: Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I studied to become a respiratory therapist. I changed my mind after watching someone die from emphysema.
V- Vegetable You Don't Like: Lima beans. GAG!
W - Worst Habit: I'm a slob.
X - X-rays: Plenty, last one was to check on the location of a kidney stone - OUCH!
Y - Your Fave Food: Ohhh, hard to pick a favorite, depends on my mood. Chocolate is ALWAYS high on the list though!
Z - Zodiac Sign: It's all a buncha bolony, but I'm a leo

a leo.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And yes...

That's how we do winter in Arizona - light jackets, sunshine, and Christmas programs outside!

Holiday Program

My daughter's class singing Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. She's the one who says "like pinocchio!"

Holiday program

My son's class and part of their holiday program :) He's the 2nd one from the right

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Because I have to do something...

One of our officers has a 6 year old boy that has recently been diagnosed with cancer. The communications bureau where I work is trying to raise money to help with medical costs that the insurance doesn't cover. I'm going to be making lanyards and donating all of the money to this family. If anybody out there in blogland wants one, just give me a hollar and let me know what color you want. Below are two examples, and the one on the bottom is available. They are $15, and I'll ship for free. My email is phxflurry@gmail.com




Conversations from the Car

DQ (age 14):MOOOOOOM!!! Sassy was in my room going through my stuff!
Sassy (age 9): Don't worry, I'll stay out of your abyss, I've had my fun.

***
DQ: So, who would you rather be, Scrooge, or the Grinch?
Me: Gee, I d...
DQ: I'd want to be the Grinch. Then I wouldn't have to wear clothes.

More Adventures in 911

Last night was my 911 night again.

Lately I've had a bunch of people calling the non emergency police number and say "Yeah, I need an ambulance." I ask "Umm, do you realize that you've called the police?" They say "Oh! Is there another number I should call?" "You might try 911..."

Last night there was one caller who made me laugh. He sounded pretty tipsy, he was reporting hearing shots fired. It went something like this:
Me: 911, what is your emergency?
Tipsy Guy: I just heard about 3 shots!
M: Ok, what's your address?
TG gives me his address
Me: Did you hear any glass breaking, any arguing, or anybody screaming?
TG: No, I didn't hear anything except it sounded like it came from across the street at the 7-11 parking lot. I hope nobody there got shot. Of course, you know they won't sell me anything anymore.
Me: Hmmm...
TG: Not bread, not milk, not cigarettes, and not even.... BEER!
(Gee, imagine that!)
Me: Wow, so, did you see any cars leaving the area?
TG: No, I was watching my TV. I didn't see anything. I was watching the news, but I hate to watch the news these days, so much bad stuff. I wish MASH was on instead.
Me: Well do you know if there is gang activity in that area?
TG: I don't know about that but one guy just about run me clean over! I was about to cross the street and he come whippin around the corner like a bat outta you know where! These people just don't watch where they're goin!
At this point I'm shaking my head. I ask him if he wants us to send officers to speak to him, get his name, which he spells in our phonetic alphabet - you know, David-Robert-Union-Nora-King, I'm not even sure how he was sober enough to do that. Then I told him "We'll let the officers know, if you see or hear anything else, or find out someone's been injured, give us a call right back, ok?"
TG: Sure thing! Ciao Baby!

BABY? HE CALLED ME BABY?! Well that's not as bad as the one time a caller told a coworker "You know what, you been sweet, but I don't like your style, so bye bye Miss American Pie!" and then hung up on her. Interesting job, this :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

See more Wordless Wednesday fun at WWHQ!

Monday, December 11, 2006

What I learned at work this week

I learned that at 5 am, when I'm really tired, it's a bad idea to try to say one thing and read another at the same time. So the call type I was trying to dispatch, a 901H (said 901Henry) got mixed up with the direction I was reading and came out as 901 henwy. Over the air.

Another thing I learned is that mild dyslexia is magnified at least 10 fold when I'm tired. When trying to repeat the time over the air at 4:57 AM is not an easy thing for me to do.

The third thing I learned is that when you combine the first two lessons in a short period of time, the officers WILL razz you :P

Friday, December 08, 2006

When you think of the nativity...


Is it all warm and fuzzy?

From backdoorbible.org

Excerpt from "At Arms Length"

Author Unknown

Dear Flavius,

It was one of those early spring days when the sun barely holds back the chill of the wind. By the time the sun disappeared, it might well have been winter again. I was supposed to be in Bethlehem for supper, but the narrow mountain roads were crammed with people. You were too young to remember but that idiot in Rome had called for another census. Everyone was rushing to the place of their birth so they wouldn't be fined. It had already been dark for a few hours when I reached the Inn and there were no rooms available.

I knew the innkeeper, he was a crook like the rest of them and amazingly a room was found when a denarius "accidentally" fell from my hand onto his table. As I was taking my donkey to the stable, I heard some loud shouting and crashing. The innkeeper was throwing some poor fellow out of his room to make a place for me. So what, I thought, one of us has to sleep out in the cold and better him than me.

I suppose it was all that noise that kept me from hearing the baby crying. But As I reached the mouth of the cave that the innkeeper called his stable I heard it clearly. There was no question about it. There was a baby in there squalling like I'd never heard before.I hadn't brought a torch because it was an uncommonly bright night and I couldn't see into the shadows. Now that I think about it, it was one of the brightest nights I can remember. As I stood peering into the darkness the wind shifted slightly and the full stench of the place hit me so I gagged. That fool innkeeper hadn't cleaned the stable in months from the smell of it. I remember thinking, If I put my donkey in here he'll probably get worms, that's what finished off my last one and they weren't getting any cheaper. But alas the donkey needed food and water, so I ventured in, holding my breath.

There in front of me was a man clumsily balancing a screaming, squirming infant in the crook of one arm. He was trying vainly to wash the child with his free hand. The baby had just been born and even in the darkness I could see he was sill covered with blood. The father was dipping a cloth into a trough of filthy water meant for the animals. It was icy cold and each time the rag was applied to the baby's body, he screamed even louder.

The man didn't see me until I was directly in front of him. He jerked suddenly and almost dropped the baby as my presence startled him. We stared at each other .... Finally he asked, "Are you sleeping here too?"... I responded, "No, I'm only here to put Herod to rest"..... "Herod!", he exclaimed... "Yes", I said, "That's my donkey", hoping for the big laugh I usually got when I told people I called my donkey Herod. But the man said nothing and went back to afflicting his child.

I pulled my beast toward a stall full of hay and almost tripped on the baby's mother lying their in a crudely conceived straw bed. She was nearly a child herself. Her wispy hair was matted to her head with perspiration. The birth had obviously not been easy. She was as pale as marble and if she was breathing, I could not see it. I jerked Herod away from her and pulled him towards another stall. The woman occupied the only vacant one, so I shoved Herod into a cramped space with another donkey. They immediately began braying and biting each other.

It was not right for me to see a woman so barely covered especially right after giving birth, so I hurried back to the man careful not to look at the pathetic girl. I asked," Friend, where is the midwife?"... "There is none.", he moaned, "I couldn't leave her alone long enough to find one. It all happened too fast." ... "Then who delivered the child", I added. ... "I did", he responded, " I don't know how, I just did it."

I should have kept my last question to myself but something made me ask, "Is the woman dead?". He pierced me with a look of animal fear. And with a choked cry, handed me the baby and rushed to his wife. He cupped her pale face in his big hands and soon I heard them whispering together.

In the mean time, I was puzzling over how to hold the infant. I had seen them held, but had forgotten just how. I finally settled on putting one hand under his head, grasping his ankles with the other and holding him out at arms length just in case something should happen. I moved the child into the light near the opening of the cave. His face, purple and swollen from struggling out of the womb was even more contorted as he bawled. I wondered what sort of life a child like this could have, born with animals in a cold dark stinking cave. How many thousands come into the world like this? How many survive? How many live out their days begging, stealing, being slaves, field hands or shepherds? How many wish they never were born? I was glad when the man came back and took the child out of my arms.

"Thank You, the woman is all right", he said. He didn't seem very sure of that however. "We had to travel a long way today and the pains began while we were still on the road. It was very hard for her. There was no room in the inn. We were too late." He stared at me for a moment and almost asked me something. I looked away relieved he didn't ask. Slowly, large dark tears began to form in his eyes and then travel down the lines of his face . With choked emotion he added, "This is no way for my child to be born, no way!".

We all just sat quietly in the dark for a few moments, none of us sure what to say. Even the baby had ceased crying, probably exhausted. The woman then called from her bed and instructed the man to get the swaddling clothes out of one of their baskets. She instructed us in a thin tired voice how to wrap the boy in the long cotton strips. I held a scrawny leg out while the man wrapped it and then took it over to show the woman. "Too loose", she said, so we started over this time binding the child as tightly as if he were being prepared for death.

When we finished, only the child's face peered out of the cloths. The man took the child to his mother to nurse but she was asleep again, hardly breathing. He laid the baby in the manger where the animals who usually occupied the stall ate from.I decided it was time to leave and as I backed out of the stall the man said, "Thank you". "It was nothing friend", I responded as I backed out of the cave. I almost added "Congratulations" but it didn't seem appropriate under the circumstances.

The moment I passed through the entrance to the cave I turned around and ran full face into a big sweaty shepherd. There were four others behind him all puffing and panting as if they had been running. Behind them was what must have been 300 sheep filling the courtyard of the inn. "There's no room in there!", I said as convincingly as possible. "Go somewhere else." ..... "Yessir Yessir", they replied bowing low, but as soon as I turned my back they and half the sheep rushed into the cave. "No matter", I said to myself as I walked to my room. And as I went I wondered who would die first as the night grew colder, the mother or the child.



God's best

It may be cliché to say it, but God sure does work in mysterious ways.

Almost 3 years ago, right before my ex-husband was arrested, I found out my first husband (I refer to him as BH, short for ummm, Butthead, which sadly, was my nickname for him when we were married. Don't worry, his nickname for me was worse. Gee, such a surprise that marriage failed...) was getting remarried. That part didn't bother me. At all. I was happy for them. But then shortly after their wedding, the news broke that she was pregnant. This hit me HARD. Not because I wanted him back, oh heavens NO! She could have him! The thing that bothered me was that my family had fallen apart (or so I thought at the time) and his was growing and happy. I had just lost a husband and two stepsons, and he gained 3 stepkids and a pregnant wife. And they seemed to have and be doing all the things I couldn't convince him to do or get while we were married. But I played the adult and suffered in silence, only asking God how He could do that right then. Why was my nose being rubbed in it? This all happened in July, right around the time I found out some new information regarding what my ex-husband put my daughter through. That was the time when my depression and anger were probably at their worst - in fact, it was around that time that thoughts of causing an accident that I hoped would be fatal (for me) crossed my mind once or twice. Fortunately it was pretty easy to see that knowing my luck, it wouldn't be fatal and things would suck worse afterward. So I guess I wasn't *that* depressed.

Now let me say, I have to admit that that marriage failing was 90% my fault. I could give you all the reasons, but suffice it to say that I was irresponsible in a lot of ways. He was too. We ALWAYS had money problems, and I resented him for it. I resented that after almost 10 years of marriage he was still working the same dead end job that he hated, and was not making any more per year than when we got married. He had no desire to make things better at all. I resented that everytime a financial problem came along, he ran to his mother to bail him out. And his mother did.

I'm not saying it's bad to need help now and then. I've had to rely on being helped a lot, especially after my husband's arrest. I'm not ashamed to admit when I can't do something by myself. What I am saying is that eventually people need to learn to accept their own responsibility for the self made messes in their lives, and quit expecting other people to fix it for them. And they need to learn how to avoid making those mistakes that caused the mess in the first place.

Well, sometimes when you don't learn a lesson the first time, you gotta go back and repeat the lesson until you get it.

Time went on and the jealousy of their new family faded, I got my job and got wrapped up in that and taking care of my kids, and things have settled down nicely.

Today though, my daughter told me that her step mother called to tell her that they were once again struggling financially, and Christmas was going to be lean. DQ even mentioned somethin about the possibility of them losing their house. I felt and feel badly about that, although I can't say I'm surprised.

As I thought of their situation, I remembered that jealousy for the first time in a very long time. And I could almost hear God saying "See? You felt jealous and wondered how I could do that then. I didn't do it, they did it without Me. But you didn't need to feel that way, I had you the whole time. That was never My best for you." Wow.

And as I've been thinking and praying for their situation, I know God's got them too. He never promised things would be easy and bad things wouldn't happen. I know first hand bad things happen even when it's not the result of our own mess making. But I also know first hand that God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. Even the things that hurt. And even the messes we make ourselves. He wants to give us more than good though. He wants us to have His BEST.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Work stuff

Had an interesting night the other night at work - we had officers catch an armed robbery suspect who had stolen a car at gunpoint about 40 minutes before that... very cool... even cooler when they found another car in front of the guys house that had also been taken at gunpoint. This is a bad guy they caught. Sometimes the good guys do win!

I'm starting to get a little frustrated in my training. I keep trying to remind myself that I felt the same way when I was in 911 training, that I'd never get it. Nothing like training to make one feel as dumb as dirt and totally inadequate. My trainer is patient, but I can tell she's expecting me to be catching on a little quicker. We're in week 7 of training that usually lasts 6 months or so, and I keep reminding myself of that... but still I'm wishing I were getting this better. For the first time since training started, I'm glad to be in 911 tonight where I know what I'm doing :)

There is, however, comic relief always at this job, in both 911 and on the radio side. In 911, you gotta laugh when people call to report UFO's or claim to be communicating telepathically with their dead girlfriend who's mad because she was decapitated and they can't find her head... However in radio, we have one precinct of officers who have apparently watched "SuperTroopers" one too many times, and keep meowing in the background when other officers are trying to clear over the radio. You should have heard them when they got called to a burglar alarm at a veterinarian's office, and the responsible person said to cancel it because it was probably just a cat wandering around the building...

OMGosh! A bloggy award!!



Grafted Branch at Restoring the Years has started her own awards, and OMGoodness, she gave one to me! I'm touched and honored! Thank you so much! I won for Most likely-to-make-you-smile blog title :) If I can make someone smile, then that's a great thing!
GB, you certainly made me smile today, thank you!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

I wish I could take credit for this picture, because I really like it, but it was taken by my 14 year old daughter. The girl has inherited her momma's love for taking pictures! Thank heaven for digital cameras with no film to buy or develop!

See more Wordless Wednesday fun at WWHQ!

"If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all" - Eeyore

Not me, but my daughter, Allison, the 21 year old. That's about how she's feeling about her car right now.

She got it in February. She traded in her ugly old white Ford Taurus for a cool, cute red 2005 Dodge Neon. 5 days after she got it, someone hit her. Dented up the driver's side. Nobody was hurt, it was relatively minor but still over $2000 to fix, but the other driver's insurance paid.

Then the check engine light started going on, and she's never been able to get that resolved.

And then someone stole all 4 tires from her car and damaged the underside badly when they dropped it back on the ground.

Then when it came time to need air conditioning, she discovered the a/c didn't work. Have you ever been in Phoenix in July? Have you ever been in a car without air conditioning in Phoenix in July?


Here's what her car looks like today.... apparently her roommate misjudged the distance and scraped up against a pole. I don't think I've ever seen a car with such bad luck!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holiday Meme

I've seen this floating around on a bunch of blogs, and since I've already done it twice for different email groups, I figured what the heck? All I have to do is copy and paste my answers and PRESTO! A blog post with very little work!! Play along if you feel like it, it's fun!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

Hot chocolate please. Some mint in it is nice.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

He skips our house because we prefer to focus on the babe in the manger :)

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Colored please on the tree, none on the house. I'd like to decorate the outside of the house, but then never do...

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

No.

5. When do you put your decorations up?

Whenever I darn well feel like it! Usually around December 15th. This year it will be December 8th.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

We don't have a set meal for Christmas, lately it's been fettucine alfredo. This year, since I have to work the night before and the night of, I'm thinking steaks grilled out at the park would be nice :) (See song below in previous post...)

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:

The one that stands out the most is the look on my sisters face when she got a huge huge box that had several smaller boxes inside, and it took her forever to get to her present, which was a star sapphire ring.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I was about 8 and figured it out. There was a box that said "Magnavox" in my moms closet, and lo and behold, the record player from santa also came in a box that said "Magnavox." I felt tricked and deceived and stupid for believing it. I was pretty upset about it for a long time.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Yes.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?

Ummm, with my hands? Nothing particularly fancy, just ornaments we've collected over the years that mean something. Although I lost a lot of the hand made ones the year before last when the kids flooded the pool and then the basement... that was sad, but I'm over it. And I have since gotten a plastic tub to store my ornaments in. Duh...

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?

Detest, despise, dislike intensely, downright LOATHE entirely!

12. Can you ice skate?

You're kidding, right?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

It was a stocking stuffer - a red plastic donkey sitting on a black base that when you pressed it, the donkey collapsed. I don't know why I liked it so much, it was a cheap Woolworth's stocking stuffer. But my mom got it for me, and I think when she did, we were aware that she might not have many Christmases left.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

Being with family, celebrating the Greatest Gift of All.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

I'm easy to please, but my favorite usually contains chocolate.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Not having any traditions that get in the way of concentrating on what Christmas is supposed to be about.

17. What tops your tree?

A star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?

Both :)

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?

Silent Night. My mom and I would sing it together at different times throughout the year. I remember doing a jigsaw puzzle with her, singing Silent Night. And it wasn't anywhere near Christmas.

Now of course, it's the song we sing at the Candle Light service at church on Christmas Eve, and I start bawling every time. I cry for missing my mom, who died 3 days after Christmas when I was 10, and I cry for all the blessings God has given us, not the least of which is that we've made it trough another year. The song just holds a lot of meaning for me.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?

I can take them or leave them.

21.Do you like Christmas music?

Yes, but by 3pm on December 25th, I'm ready to not hear it again for another year. There are two Christmas songs I really can't stand though, and that's Blue Christmas (UGH like fingernails on a chalkboard! Particularly as performed by Elvis!) and Christmas Shoes. I'd hate it even if my mom didn't die three days after Christmas. It's schmaltzy and manipulative and the only purpose is to get to your emotions. But that's just me. :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Weekend Randomness

Because it's my weekend even if it's not yours yet. I'm off Thursday and Friday nights right now, so this is technically my Saturday evening, even though it really is Friday morning. Don't think about it too much, it will make your brain hurt. At least, it does mine. Anyway, I've got a lot to do this weekend.
  • I have to do laundry. Does anybody know for sure if there will be laundry in Heaven? I really pray the answer is no, because man, I think with 5 kids I've had enough of it here on earth!
  • I have to continue my Christmas preparations. Gotta buy cards, get stamps, get our pictures printed... Still have some presents to buy for my kids, and presents for the Christmas Angel program at work. The Communications Bureau of our police department, which is where I work, has adopted several families this Christmas. It's a wonderful thing, and I'm so excited to be able to participate, especially when you consider that two Christmases ago, we were the family that the Employment Services Bureau adopted.
  • I have to go grocery shopping. Oh how I despise it :P
  • I have to return the item I got scammed with thru eBay. Seriously. Paypal said that if I return it they will refund my money, because the thing doesn't work. It's a cell phone. Because my son's broke, and he found this phone on eBay. We got the phone, found it didn't work, then contacted the seller assuming he was honest. A couple days later, seller is no longer a registered user. GRRRRR. Lesson learned though, hopefully the address paypal provided is correct (it's not a PO Box!) and paypal will refund all of my money.
  • I have to clean my house. ............... Ok, well I think I can get the rest of the list done!

A real 911 call

Wednesday is the day I get to be in 911. The rest of the days I'm in training for dispatch. In some ways, I really like and look forward to Wednesdays. With a little over 2 years experience, I actually know what I'm doing in 911. I'm still learning dispatch and sometimes it's easy to feel in over my head or frustrated, even though overall I am doing well and I do really like it. On the other hand, in dispatch I don't have to talk to citizens on the phone, only officers. And sometimes, I like it better that way. This past Wednesday night, I could tell when I first sat down it was going to be one of those nights, because my 2nd or 3rd call went like this:

Me: 911, what is your emergency?
Very Inebriated Sounding Caller: Umm, I don't really have an emergency...
Me: Well, what's the problem, why are you calling 911?
VISC: Can you tell me... (long pause)
Me: Yes?
VISC: Can you tell me... What day it is?
Me: You are calling 911 to find out what day it is? Do you have an emergency?
VISC: No, I don't have an emergency. But is it Tuesday or Wednesday? Or is it Thursday?
Me: Sir, I need to keep this line free for emergencies. You'll need to call information or look at a calendar.
Then just as I was about to hang up... VISC: I do have an emergency! I need to know what day it is!!
*CLICK*

Thursday, November 30, 2006

And with the first real cold night of the year comes...

Fire alarms. Lots and lots of fire alarms.

It's pretty common to get a lot of burglar alarm calls when it's stormy and windy outside, but last night we got tons of calls where people said "There's a fire alarm going off in my building..." After about the 5th one, I couldn't figure out what that was all about, so when I transfered it to the fire department, I listened for a little bit. People were turning on their furnaces for the first time since February or March! Makes perfect sense! But it sure did keep the fire department hopping!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brrrrrr!!!

I guess it's finally winter! So break out the sweatshirts people, because it's only 53 degrees outside! BRRR!

And now, because it's officially the holiday season, a song for you, Phoenix style -

Sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland:

Palm trees wave, are you listenin'
In the pool, water's glistenin'
A warm sunny day, we like it that way
Livin' in a Phoenix wonderland

Gone away is the blizzard
Here to stay is the lizard
A warm sunny day, we like it that way
Livin' in a Phoenix wonderland

In the desert we can have a picnic
Cactus, sand, rattlesnakes and sun
Christmas dinner is an old tradition
We'll have pinto beans and tacos by the ton

Later on, we'll perspire
Temperatures rise even higher
A warm sunny day, we like it that way
Living in a Phoenix wonderland

(Author unkown to me - words courtesy of my daughter's preschool 5 years ago!)

Wordless Wednesday

Visit the Wordless Wednesday Headquarters for more!

Click on the picture to see it larger and for an explanation

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Because I live with a bunch of kids...

I just can't help messing with my kids! Sassy started it!! We were sitting in a fast food restaurant because the older two aren't going to be home for dinner and I'm too lazy tired to cook for just the three of us (about 4 hours of sleep today...) and she started the "OMGosh! What's that?!" thing out the window with the "HAHA! Madejalook!" SO I HAD TO DO IT. She got up to go to the restroom, and when she came back I said to her "I didn't spit in your drink, honest!" and I had that fake guilty look on my face. Because really, I didn't touch her drink. But telling her I didn't kind of freaked her out. She didn't know whether to believe me or not. It was the absolute funniest thing to see her try to decide if she wanted to take a sip of her drink on the off chance I had actually done something!

That was way too much fun, and I can't way to try it on my 17 year old! Because I'm just mature like that :D

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Church quandry

I love the people in my church. I LOVE them! And as evidenced by my roof, I think they love me too. But I think I want to leave my church. But I don't want to leave my church. I've been thinking about this for quite some time now, and my mind was made up, I was going to leave. But I haven't found another church that feels like home, and I can't seem to break away from this one.

Why I want to leave:
I have issues with the senior pastor. Many things are done after surveys are taken to see what people want. He uses gimmicks heavily - they had a series on inviting people to church and they called it I2 - invest and invite. Then they had a class on Wednesday nights that they called D3 - Digging Deeper with Dave. I cant recall any of the others at the moment, but these are but two examples. Much of the stuff he talks about comes from books other than the Bible, and uses a lot of canned curriculum. He also doesn't make much of an effort to know his congregation. Every time I have approached him, he's said "well, it was nice to meet you!" Ummm, I've been going there for 7 years... and with what we've been through, you'd think he would at least remember that.

I have issues with other pastors. One of the other pastors there has avoided me like the plague since my ex-husband was arrested. Not even "how can we pray for you?" The one day he sat down at the same table where I was for Wednesday dinner because he wanted to sit by someone who just happened to sit at the table where I sat first, he could not face me. As soon as he got the chance, he bolted as fast as he could. I don't understand this behavior. It was obvious uncomfortable "ok well umm, Igottagonowbye!"

I have issues with how the church as a whole treated my ex-husband after his arrest. They abandoned him. Now, I know what he did was horrible and hard for us humans to understand, and that pastoral staff is HUMAN. However, as the body of Christ, if they couldn't help him, they should have found someone who could. He was aching for some guidance from Godly men and got NONE, and took that out on me. Yes, I shouldn't have let him, but I was very vulnerable at that time.

I have issues with how things went after the church did start responding to my ex-husband. After a year, there were people who started to write to him. Then they would come to me and tell me how holy and spiritual he was. If he was so holy and spiritual, why was he still being so nasty to me? They were totally snowed by him. I worry about church leadership that can be that easily manipulated and duped.

I disagree some very important points of their theology. Nuff said.

Why I stay:
I like working in the nursery every other week, huggin' on babies and givin' em back when I'm done.

The kids have friends there. Sure, they'd make friends anywhere, but they've grown up at this church. The children's programs are great, even though the high school leaves a ton to be desired. My high school senior refuses to go there (he disagrees with their theology too.) He goes to a different church regularly, so I let him choose for himself.

The people. My church class that just replaced my roof. My friends there.

That's about it... except... let's be honest... guilt feelings. They've helped me so much, how can I leave now? This church is the reason I still have a house to put a roof on! I feel guilty for wanting to leave.

Typing it all out, my reasons for staying are lame compared to my reasons for going. It's a no-brainer on paper really. So why don't I feel more peace about going? And as much peace as I don't have about leaving, I don't have it about staying either. Please pray for me if you don't mind... for wisdom, and for peace one way or the other. Thank you!

Small Victory

And I do mean small! This morning at work my trainer had to run down the hall (our euphemism for going potty!) so she had one of the operators working an info channel (where officers go to get tow trucks and wanted person information) just listen to me, but not sit by me. While my trainer was gone, one of the officers in my area said he'd been waved down by a man who thought there was someone in his back yard. The officer gave me the address, and I did everything perfectly without help, including asking for more officers to go to that address. I've been having a hard time with knowing when to ask for more officers to respond, so the fact that I did it myself, without being told, is a very good thing :D Maybe I can do this job after all... :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

A touching story, get out the tissues

Carlos over at Ragamuffin Soul and his wife are in Korea adopting a baby boy. They've got the whole trip chronicled in video and posted on his blog. Yesterday's installment includes meeting their son for the first time. It's enough for a Hallmark movie of the week, I'm telling ya, only without the schmaltz! :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

See more at Wordless Wednesday headquarters!

click on the picture for more information

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I quit.

NaNoWriMo that is. I was on track, I had almost 27,000 words, but a few days ago, I just decided to stop. To take a whole month and devote most of my spare time to writing, especially a month that contains things like Thanksgiving, was just a bad plan for me. So, because I don't want to feel like I should be writing instead of playing with the kids, or writing instead of doing other things I like, like beading, or writing instead of getting an extra hour's sleep, I quit.

And I feel good about that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Tale of a Thanksgiving Past

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of the year. What's not to love? Good food, family and friends, football, and best of all, no gifts to stress over!

So two years ago, the first thanksgiving after my ex-husband was arrested, I was kind of dreading it. I have no family in town, and felt it would be really awkward to spend time with his family. So I was really relieved when some friends from my church group invited us over. They also invited another family from the group. Now family W has a 4 kids, I have five, and family M has 6. Yeah, that's a lot of kids. Each family has a teenage son, and these three boys are best friends. They call themselves the Three Musketeers, we call them the Three Stooges, but, as they would say, whatevs.

The weather for Thanksgiving in Phoenix is usually just *gorgeous* (This is the reason we endure the summer!) and there is usually a lot of outside activity going on. So, two years ago, these three boys decided that they wanted to build a club house. And then they decided that they wanted to build it underground. So teenager from family W asks "Dad, can we dig a hole in the yard?" Dad W answers "Sure son, just make sure you stay away from the back wall." Ok. So after a wonderful meal, these three boys start scouting out locations and making plans. The adults and some of the younger children wandered inside the house to play games and have dessert while the boys did their thing.

A little while later, Teenager W comes inside covered in mud. He was followed by my teenager, who was also covered in mud, and teenager M, who was clean as a whistle. Teenager M was muttering under his breath "I told them not to, they wouldn't listen, it wasn't my fault..." So teenager W approached Dad W and says "Hey Dad, umm, where's the water line into the house?" Dad W looked at the teenagers, thought about dirt+water and said through gritted teeth "WHY?" Teenager W looked sheepish and said "Well, there's only a small hole in it, it's only leaking a little bit..." At this point Teen M got louder with his "I told them not to, they wouldn't listen!" And Mom M and Mom W just started howling with laughter. Dad W was not as amused.

The three boys spent the rest of the day digging a trench and helping Dad W replace the water line. We literally hosed them off when they were done.

This year for the third year in a row we will be having Thanksgiving with these two families. So now we have a new Thanksgiving tradition - we hide all the shovels before we give God thanks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thankful

Because it's almost Thanksgiving, and because my family and I have been so very blessed, I am going to keep adding to my list of things for which I am thankful. I'm hoping to reach 1000 by the end of November.

Wanna play? Let me know in the comments and we can link up.

1) God's loving care for us. Each and every thing on my list, always comes back to this!
2) My oldest daughter, Allison
3) My 17 year old son
4) My 14 year old daughter
5) My 9 year old daughter
6) My 6 year old son
7) The fact that they've all been really healthy, no major medical issues with any of them.
8) The fact that all of them are good thoughtful kids.
9) My job. Yes, I'd love to be able to stay home with my kids, but if I have to work, at least it's a job I love and is important.
10) A house to live in
***
11) My friend Sarah
12) My friend Becky
13) My sisters
14) My church family
15) My cats Zorro and Chloe
16) That we have food to put on the table
17) Phoenix winters
18) Mountains to hike
19) Amazing sunsets
20) Breathtaking sunrises
21) The smell of the desert after it rains
21) Rainbows (I know there's 2 #21's... just seeing if you were paying attention. Really! Plus, ummm, sleep deprivation? Can I blame that?)
22) Storm clouds
***
23) Friends who are willing to be God's hands and feet
24) Warm running water
25) Electricity
26) Good books
27) The internet
28) Email buddies
29) Blog buddies
30) Chai tea
31) Songs that kids sing
32) Music
33) Hugs
34) Photographs
35) The telephone
***
36) Babies to squeeze in the nursery at church
37) I don't have to take any of those babies home with me.
38) Holiday pay
39) Overtime pay
40) Holiday and overtime pay for the same day
41) The evap cooler (yes, in November, I am still trying to cool my house!)
42) Grown children who are able to stop at Costco for their mother and buy the good chicken nuggets.
43) Having a child who works at a movie theater (can we say free movies?)
44) My camera
45) My pillows
46) My bed
***
47) Clean water to drink
48) Access to medical care if we need it
***
49) That this old dog is learning new tricks, at least at work
50) My trainer at work for dispatch. I lucked out!
51) Kids that still like to snuggle
52) One kid who LIKES to do homework
53) Kids who love to read
***
54) The supervisors on my shift at work
55) The freedom I have at work to do pretty much what I want between calls
56) Email
57) My laptop
58) The fact that my kids don't use my laptop!
59) That my kids have nice friends on the street to play with
60) That when my kids play together, they laugh and laugh and have the best time
61) The FBI
62) Plea bargains
63) Chocolate
64) Mint
65) Chocolate and mint together!
66) Gummy bears
(But I'm not thankful for guacamole.)
***
67) Kleenex
68) Sudafed
69) Warm apple cider
***
70) Paid sick time
71) non-leaking roof
72) warm showers
73) Showers that actually drain
74)
To be continued....

Lisa has a daily thankful list and mouse is trying for 1000 too... What are YOU thankful for?!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

They're at it again

And my 14 year old is sleeping through the whole thing...

An interesting blog post

If you participate in NaNoWriMo, please read this post.

Me, I don't think I'd have the nerve to let anybody read what I wrote, so I'm good! :)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bloggy Blahs

I guess the bloggy blahs have hit me. I'm having a difficult time coming up with things that are worthy to post.

Partially because I've been so busy. Between training at work, having 4 kids at home, trying to participate in NaNoWriMo and just general everyday life, there's not been a whole lot interesting going on.

Partially because I started having a blog crisis of sorts when I read a post on a popular blog that stated something along the lines of motherhood is the art of deception. The post was about how this mother lies to her son on a regular basis and tricks him. The comments started about how funny it was, and the different lies people tell their kids all the time. And people who responded saying that they do their best not to lie to their kids were met with some harshness. I was one of those people who said they preferred not to lie to their kids, and the blog author emailed me privately and said "I'm sorry if it wasn't clear, but this was totally tongue in cheek." I understood that, but it still bothered me that a widely read blog would encourage lying to one's children. I have very vivid memories of feeling dumb when I figured out my parents were lying to me, so I don't do it to my kids. I don't ever want them to feel stupid. So many people were piping up saying "I do that too!" So... if the author was saying it tongue in cheek, and doesn't really mean that she lies to her son like that... then she's lying to her readers. So then I got to thinking, is that was blogging is about? All of these really funny posts you read, are they embellished and enhanced just so people will find them funny and keep coming back? That's not the kind of person I am, and it's not the kind of blogger I am. I want to surround myself with people who are genuine, both in life and as much as possible, on the internet. So I find myself a bit disillusioned at the moment and not as interested. I'm considering what am I trying to accomplish with this blog? What's the point? Is this the best way to accomplish what I want to? What I think God wants me to? I haven't figured out the answers to those questions yet.

So, if anyone has any words of wisdom, I'd love to hear them :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An interesting question



Los at Ragamuffin Soul posed an intersting question today - Say you were given a piece of paper and a pair of scissors and were told to think of one word that describes what God is teaching you lately. Then you had to cut out something that represents that word, what would you cut out? Why?

I would cut out a person because I need to do more to love His people, the least of these. God took care of me when and my family when I could not do it myself. Now I need to give to others what has been given to me.

What about you? What would you cut out? Why?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

See more at WW headquarters!

Anybody want a cat?

That cat that found us? The one that refuses to leave, or even go outside... She really is a sweetheart, we love her just to pieces. But there's this problem...

So, the other night I was sleeping, minding my own business, when I hear this tiny "meow." I did what anybody who has only two nights a week to sleep like a normal human being would do - I ignored it. But then I heard it again, only louder and longer. I tried to ignore it again, but then it became apparent that it was only going to get louder. I got out of bed thinking "There better not be a cat in my room!" I turned on the light, looked at the clock, 3 am. GRRRRR! Looked at the door, and sure enough, THERE'S A CAT IN MY ROOM! So I start toward the door, and the little... ummm... SWEET FLUFFY LITTLE KITTY... darts under the bed! NOOOOO! It took me a few minutes to get her furry little posterior end out from under the bed and toss her out the door, where our other cat was sitting waiting. Oh well, these things happen, and I was so tired, that I was sure I'd fall right back to sleep. I was right, I did. But a few minutes later, I hear the mewing again. And banging. Yes, banging. She's knocking on the door to be let back in. HA! Not stinking likely! But she bangs, and bangs and bangs on the door, until she got tired of it I guess.

Well, now she seems the think this is her throne room or something, and demands to be let in! I'm trying to sleep here and I got this teenager cat banging on my door! Then of course, when I do open the door, she's all sweet and cuddly and *sigh* who can resist?
Never mind, I think we'll keep her a little longer, you know, to see how it goes...(because in truth, while some days I'd like to sell her to the migrant blueberry pickers, she's got a few of us wrapped around her little...ummm...paw!)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Aww, he really does care

Because he loves me so much, my 6 year old had some very important words of wisdom for me just now while I was cooking.

"Mom, be careful. You don't want to cut a vein or an artery. You'll bleed heavily."

I asked him where he heard about arteries and veins, because I'm pretty sure when I was 6, I didnt know what those were.

He said "From the dictionary."

I'm not sure whether to be proud of his wonderful grammar, or afraid of the fact that the boy reads the dictionary.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm REALLY thankful for...

These guys.

My roof has been in terrible shape since I moved in to this house 7.5 years ago. For 5 of those years, my ex-husband pretty much ignored it hoping it wouldn't get worse (HA!) It has gotten worse. When he was arrested, the people in my church group really stepped up to be God's hands and feet for us. Two and half years have passed, and I haven't been at church regularly at all because of my work schedule, but these people continue to pray for my family. Today, a bunch of them showed up to rip the shingles off my roof. That's right, they're putting a new roof on my house. They raised the money, and volunteered the manpower, and I had no idea until they showed up. One family even brought everything these guys would need to have dinner! I'm amazed, blessed, and grateful.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

See more at The Wordless Wednesday Headquarters

Feeling grumpy?

Here's the cure!



You just can't help but smile, even if it's not your kid :D

Monday, November 06, 2006

Prayers for a little girl

My job frequently gives me things to pray for, and today there's something that could use a LOT of prayer. I'm not going to say what happened, but there's a 5 year old little girl named Elisa who could use all the prayer she can get, if one or two of you wouldn't mind.

Thanks

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This is Good

My Name Is I Am

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking.
"My name is I Am"
He paused. I waited. He continued.
"When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WAS.
"When you live in the future with its problems and fears, it is hard.
My name is not I WILL BE.
"When you live in this moment it is not hard. I am here.
My name is I AM."
Author Unknown

Friday, November 03, 2006

How far have you gotten?

Part 1 - Christmas shopping! Done yet? Picked up a couple things here and there? Think about what you are going to buy/make for whom? Wondering where the other 10 months of the year went, because you can swear it was just Christmas last week?

I have a confession to make. I usually do my Christmas shopping in December. LATE December. Like, usually around the 22. For a long time it was because we lived paycheck to paycheck with very little left over for anything. That was when we had the money available that we could spend. And then, well, it was just because I was am disorganized.

So please don't faint when I tell you, I started my Christmas shopping last week!! Even BEFORE halloween! Are you proud of me?! And, if that's not enough to make the people who truly know me say "who are you and what have you done with the real Connie?" I've even got AN ORGANIZED SYSTEM! I have a set amount for each child that I have available to spend, so I've made envelopes with each kid's name on it and put the money inside. I keep a running total on the outside of the envelope of how much I've spent so I know how much is in there, and when I buy something for that child, I put the receipt in the envelope should I need to return something later on.

We're not going to discuss Christmas cards though.

Part 2 - NaNoWriMo! Are you playing? So far I'm having a blast! This is my first year. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. My word count as of this post is 6285. How far are you?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

HAH!

I was looking through pictures I have stored on CD today and came across this. So come on, let's see your kid pics!!


Stripes

We don't make a huge deal of Halloween, but I do let my kids dress up, and I usually end up taking them to the fall carnival type thing held at our church. It's usually a ton of fun for everybody, kids and adults alike. It's what we did on Tuesday. I was tired to begin with, and then DQ threw a hissy fit (we don't call her Drama Queen for nuthin'!) so by the time we got there, I was already having kind of a rough day. Maybe that went into my reaction when I saw the man in stripes.

He was standing at the table by the entrance, greeting people and handing out maps and goodie bags. I recognize his face from being at that church for 7 years, but I don't know his name. I'm sure to most people, his costume was clever. I didn't find it to be so though, and I was hoping my 6 year old wouldn't make the connection of what the man's costume was. He was dressed as a prisoner. The thing was, he had an actual set of clothes from the local county jail. The black and white stripes, the red letters that say "Sheriff's Inmate - Unsentenced" - it was the real deal. The only thing that was missing was the pink underwear and pink handcuffs mandated by our fine sheriff, but that's a rant for a different day. I don't know if my reaction would have been different if it were a fake costume, or perhaps clothing from a different jail, but I felt a stab of pain shoot through my spirit when I saw his outfit. See, it was the same set of stripes that my now ex-husband wore for almost a year, and it's what he was wearing the last time I saw him. I said hello to this man at the church festival, accepted the map, made small talk... asked him how ever did he get his hands on that get up, but deep down, I was hurting. The memories seeing that uniform brought back...

Then I started having an internal argument with myself. It went something like this:
OUCH! It hurts to see that uniform...
Oh stop being a baby! You're healed, remember? It's all in the past!
But certain things still trigger certain feelings, I can't help it.
You CAN help it, don't let it bother you!
Quit being so mean!
Quit being such an idiot!
and on and on... :P

As we walked through the church campus finding other things to do, my thoughts veered away from the stripes, and the kids had fun as usual. I was still in a not so great frame of mind, but I didn't think about the man in the stripes much until I tried to take a nap before work. I was surprised at how strong the emotional response was at that. They're just clothes! But when I really thought about it, what those stripes meant...

Seeing him in those stripes the first time was so hard. It wasn't like we had this awful nasty marriage and I was glad to see him go. I loved him very much and you just don't turn that off overnight like a water faucet. Christ's cross was for this too, and I was pretty sure God still loved him. So the first time I saw him in the stripes, I knew they meant he'd never be home again. While I wasn't sure I wanted him to be, I was sure I didn't want all that had happened and was about to happen. The last time I saw him was at his sentencing hearing on February 11, 2005. He was wearing the same stripes and shackles. So much had changed since the first time I saw him dressed that way. That last day I chose to keep silent in court rather than make any kind of statement, because anything I could have said would not have inspired the judge to have mercy. Every time that I saw him in those stripes was so emotionally charged - from the day he begged me not to divorce him to the day he was finally able to put in words out loud what he did to my daughter. From the first time I saw him without freedom to that last day when we learned he would not be free again for the next 30 years.

Everytime something comes up that I react to strongly, I spend time chastising myself for not being farther along the road of healing. But this time, eventually I remembered that it's not a destination, it's a journey. Some things are going to be harder than others. I've been trying to force myself to be healed. Then I remembered some other stripes. The ones Jesus bore on the Cross - for MY redemption and MY HEALING. By HIS STRIPES, we're healed! Why do I always forget that?

Thank God for stripes.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

Ever been licked by a giraffe?

See more at Wordless Wednesday's home

Monday, October 30, 2006

Drumroll please....

What a crazy weekend it's been. I must confess I failed miserably in the Christ-likeness department this weekend. And it was silly, really. At about noon or so on Saturday, my internet and phone stopped working. The friendly representative of the company who provides those services informed me that it would be Tuesday before anybody could get out to fix it. Let's just say I was not happy. I was nice to the people on the phone, but wow, was I crabby and not fun to be around. Part of it was genuine worry about leaving the kids home overnight without a phone. Part of it was withdrawl from not being able to check my email :P Hooboy, I've still got a LOT to learn. Anyway, I called again Sunday morning after work, and they said they'd try to get someone out there sooner but couldn't make any promises. When I got home from Church and the bi-weekly Costco run, the repair person had been here and gone and all was right with the world again :P So now I'm still trying to get caught up on email and blog reading and stuff, because I do have to sleep occasionally.

But now, without further delay, I have a book to give away. I wrote the names of everybody who expressed interest, put them in a paper bag, and my lovely assistant Sassy drew a name. And the winner is...................

Erna! Please email me at phxflurry@gmail.com with the address to which to send the book and I'll get it in the mail.

I wish I could give one to everyone who wanted one! Thanks for playing :D

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What does God want from me?

After my former husband was arrested, for a long time the pain was so intense, I did well to get out of bed everyday. Then after a while I started to feel guilty because everything was pretty much about me and my kids. Every prayer I had was something along the lines of "Oh God, HELP ME!" I felt like I should have been giving to the poor or volunteering at soup kitchens. In reality, I was still doing well to get out of bed! Then my Sunday school teacher was teaching from Revelation, about what God wanted from the different churches. God chastised them all for something they were or weren't doing, except for the church in Smyrna. That church was being persecuted and going through a really rough time. The only thing God had for them was encouragement and a promise to those who overcome. I knew then after reading that portion of Revelation, that what God wanted for me at that time, in that season of my life was simply to persevere and overcome. I didn't quite understand at that time just how much there was for me to persevere, but things got a lot worse before they got better. I was so thankful that God gave me permission to do nothing else for a while but to heal and help my children heal.

I was talking to my sister on the phone the other day. She's older than I am by about 9 years. She's always been the one with it all together. Or at least, she's able to give the appearance of having it all together. Apparently she doesn't. She had a laundry list of high drama situations she was dealing with in her life, including being separated from her husband. I offered to do anything I could to help, and she said just listening was enough. When I got off the phone, it occured to me how calm my life is right now. Since the divorce was final in early October, I haven't heard from my ex husband at all. It's been so nice. That was a huge source of stress that now is gone. There was the stress of the training class, but I recognize my own responsibility for the drama in my life and know I put a lot of that stress there myself. The on the job training is stressful, but you know what, I can leave that all at work. It does not effect me when I go home. Working nights is stressful, but that's just how life is, I'm at least 20 people down the totem pole from being able to get on day shift, so why let it bug me? There's kid stress - that one was mean to this one, this one won't get his clothes out for the morning, and the other one seems to have lost all of this one's school shirts. Ok maybe it's not totally normal kid stuff, but it is just kid stuff. So, wow, things are relatively drama free. And then I realized, you know, I feel good. I'm happy. My kids are happy. Life is good. I am blessed. We have persevered and overcome!

That's not the end of the story though! I have persevered and overcome, but... all this non-drama is boring. Being a Christian should NOT be boring! So now I'm praying - What next Lord? What do you want me to do? It's a tough and scary prayer, to pray for God's will and not mine. But that's what I'm praying for tonight. It's time for me to give back. Pray for me please as I seek Him.

And now I want to share the words to this song I have running through my head:

Look what You've done, by Tree63

Look what You've done for me
Your blood has set me free
Jesus my Lord look what You've done for me

I haven't been the same
Ever since that day I called Your name
Yahweh
Yahweh Look What You've done for me

What can I do for You my Lord?
I want You to know my heart is Yours
It's not a question of what You can do for me
But what can I do for You my Lord?

Up to Your cross I crawled
Now I am standing teen feet tall
Jesus my saviour look what You've done for me

Free at last I'm free
I owe You my life completely
Yahweh
Yahweh look what You've done for me

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Little Vindication

So we were all in the car this afternoon, and the 17 year old says "I never want to go to work again." I asked him if he meant to his job (he works at Wendy's) or if he meant never ever at all. He meant never ever at all. I laughed at told him about this conversation with DQ, his 14 year old sister, where she says her life would be so much easier if she had a job! He turned around and said to her "ARE YOU MAD? Your life would SO NOT be easier! Ohmigosh, I can't BELIEVE you think that!" Then he turned to me and said "Kids! They think they know everything!"

I was pretty much speechless at that point.

A recipe for you

We've been calling this Chicken, rice and salsa (or CRS for short.) I know the recipe had a different name when I found it online about 4 years ago, but I've modified it a lot since then. My children just love this dish, and always beg me to make it for birthday dinners or when they have friends over. In fact, my kids friends have begged their mothers to make this for their birthday dinners, and then I've had the mothers calling asking for the recipe :) So, here you go!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (you can use less if you need, it's a good way to stretch things.)
3 cups of uncooked rice
2-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese depending on how cheesy you like things (I use a cheddar/monterey jack mix)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 15oz jar of your favorite salsa (I buy the huge jar at costco and use half, but it only comes in medium there and may be a little spicy for kids tastes.)

Cook the rice according to directions, mix together the soups and the salsa, then in a 9x13 baking dish, layer rice, chicken, salsa mix, then cheese, rice, chicken, salsa mix and cheese. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted to your satisfaction. This recipe serves about 6-8 people.

Serve with a salad and tortilla chips.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

And so it begins

14 year old DQ was having a craving for apple juice. This is after a day of "Mom, I need a check for $25..." "Mom, I need $5 for..." "Mom, will you get me an ipod for Christmas..." So, as I tend to do occasionally, I told her to get a job. DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SAID TO ME?!?! She said, and I quote "Oh my gosh Mom! Do you know how much easier my life would be if I could get a job?!" I, of course looked at her like she had three heads and wondered aloud if she even had a clue what she was saying. Well, of course she did. She's 14! She knows EVERYTHING! She began counting the ways in which her life would be easier if she had a job and her own house. SO! I am marking down this date, and her words, and 20 years from now, Lord willing, I'll check back in with her on this subject. I surely didn't say anything of the sort to my parents, no... (don't roll your eyes at me like that, someone may step on them.) When I informed her I was going to blog about the ridiculousness of the idea of things being easier when she had a job and a house, she said "Fine! Then when I make my millions of dollars, I'll buy a mansion for everybody but you!" That's ok, mansions are too much work to keep clean. I just hope she's nice to me when she chooses my retirement home. :D

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book Review - Straight Up by Lisa Samson

DISCLAIMER: Lisa Samson does not and has not paid me for any review I have posted on this blog, no matter how flattering or how many there are. Honest. I just really like her style of writing!

But I did volunteer to review this book on my blog in exchange for a free copy! :) I definitely got the better end of that deal! For what it's worth though, impatient me did go out and buy a copy when it released in September. I'm glad I did! The extra copy? We'll talk about that later.

I wrote for a review on Amazon.com:

For me, it's about the characters. I just can't relate to the girl who was raised in a Christian home, whose parents stayed together, who saved herself for marriage and pretty much lived happily ever after with a few frustrations along the way. I've never met anybody like that in Lisa's books, and it's one of the things that keeps me coming back for more. I've always been able to see little bits of myself in the characters that Lisa creates.
That is absolutely true for cousins Georgia and Fairly in Straight Up. Wasted potential, missed opportunity, inability to deal with certain aspects of life... they both find their own ways to numb the pain of the inability to deal, and they both face the consequences for their choices. These are people you meet every day. We've all been Fairly or Georgia at one time or another to some degree. There are consequences, but there is also grace from God, just sometimes it doesn't always look the way we think it will.

I'm not going to give anything away, but when I first finished reading the book, I wasn't sure I liked the way it ended. But I thought about it, and the more I thought, the more I realized that any other ending would have been wrong.

The other thing about Lisa's writing that gets me every time is the words she chooses. For example:
Jazz drives me crazy. Crazy like New Orleans on a day so hot the heat rises into your nostrils and steams your brain like a peach dumpling. You feel the humid heat waves as they spill onto the pavement from the lips of a saxophonist who loves his horn more than any woman he's ever met because the horn never disappoints him. He may disappoint himself, his woman, his mother, and the holy church, but the horn stays true and pure and loving, shining into his heart with a brassy passion, licking his soul tenderly, lapping up his affection like crème de la crème.
Is that not an amazing word picture?

All in all, Straight Up is a beautiful story of mistakes, misunderstandings, grace and healing. I highly recommend it.

Now, since I do have two copies of this book, I'm going to give one away. Here's how it works - I'd like to give it someone who has never read one of Lisa's books. Let me know by commenting if you are intersted, and in a few days I'll draw a name.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wordless Wednesday early again

Coffee Pot Rock, Sedona Arizona

See blogroll in my sidebar for more Wordless Wednesday fun!

Just stuff

1) Yes, I did change the blog colors. I was bored with the other color scheme :) I'm trying my absolute hardest to figure out how to make my own template and get it up and running myself, because I'm geeky like that, but hasn't been working out well for me. But, I'll keep at it till I figure it out. Part of that is lack of patience to actually read any instructions... One of these days, though, I WILL make my own blog design!
2) Thank you Julie, your comment on my post yesterday made a lot of sense, and made me think. It was the way of looking at things that I needed to make sense of some things :) Brenda, I like that quote!
3) After a month of being able to behave like a normal human being and obey my body's circadian rhythms, I'm back to the vampire lifestyle, minus the fear of garlic and desire to bite necks. Last night was, umm, interesting, and that two hour stretch between 5am and 7am when it was time to go home was so hard. But it was also my first night in training for dispatch where I actually got to be doing the job instead of having information thrown at me in a classroom setting. It was kind of fun! There is SO MUCH to learn! My trainer and I were not dispatching really, we were on one of the info channels that the officers use when they need a tow, or a cab, or just general information. So it's a little slower so there's more time to figure things out.
4) Anybody know what to add (besides water) to make a stew less salty? I thought I saw a trick somewhere that there was something you could add that would take away some of the saltiness. Anybody know? Quick? ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday's Maybe I'm Missing Something

Ok, I'm not all that bright politically speaking. When I was in 7th grade and Mr. Sanford explained to the class the basics of the republican and democrat philosphies, I picked one that sounded closest to what I thought made sense at the time and stuck with it. To this day, I still identify more closely with that particular party than the other, but I've never really gotten into politics. It doesn't make sense to me to get so worked up about the fact that your party didn't win whatever seat it was, or that this party controls that and that party controls this, because these things have always gone in cycles. Soon, things will reverse, they always do. It just seems like every election season, it's the same thing - lather, rinse, repeat.

I was at the home of a very dear friend of mine recently, and she was looking over the information about local propositions in the upcoming election. She said to me "You know how I choose which way to vote sometimes? I look to see who is for something, and if certain people are for it, then I'm against it." Literally, if someone in that other party were going to vote for something, she would vote against it. What if it's a really good idea and could help people? That seems kind of silly to me.

I've noticed that with other things too. This friend for a while supported a group that helps children in Africa, but stopped when she found out that groups from the other party supported that cause also. And here in blogworld, I noticed that same idea. A cause to raise funds for medicine for AIDS victims in Africa is being called socialist by bloggers who proclaim themselves to be Christian. Why? Why is trying to help people a socialist cause? What am I missing? Is it because people on the other end of the political spectrum support it? Are we so busy making politics our God that we forget we're supposed to behave like Christ? You know what I think? I think that if Christians (myself included) behaved as Christ would, there wouldn't be a NEED for "humanist" or "socialist" organizations to step up and help their fellow man. We should all be caring for the least of these, regardless of political affiliation!

P.S I really hate being political, I'm sure I'm going to offend someone... so if that was you, SORRY!

Ego boost!

A couple weeks ago when we were at that Peacock Park (aka Sahuaro Ranch Park) I took some really good pictures of my kids. I added a little fuzz around the outside of the pictures and they look great! I finally got around to ordering prints from walmart.com last night, and went to go pick them up today. The lady at the counter said "I'm sorry, we can't reprint professional pictures." I said "Umm, they aren't professional, I took them myself." She didn't believe me! Then she said "well, since they're already paid for, I'll give them to you, but just this once."

WELL! That certainly boosts my ego a bit, but uhhh, what happens when they won't print my pictures?! I guess I can always just take memory stick into the store and print them out there so they can see where they came from. But darn, what a pain. Still, it made my day that she thought my pictures were professional :D

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The least of these

For a long time, I've been meaning to get together small packages to give to homeless people we see on the streets. For one reason or another, probably laziness is the biggest reason, I haven't done it. Yesterday on the way to the kids' play (opening night was Friday, closing night was Saturday) we passed by a man on the offramp of the freeway, and he was holding a sign that said hungry. My 6 year old questioned why that man was standing there, and why he was hungry. I explained to him that not everybody had places to sleep or food to eat. Snugglebutt wanted to take the man to get him something to eat right then and there. We continued on to the play. Have I mentioned that the play was Godspell? As we passed this man, I kept thinking of seeing Matthew 25:31-46 acted out on the stage by these kids. The words "whatever you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me" echoed in my head. And then this morning I saw Grafted Branch's post and I knew I had to get off my lazy hind quarters and DO something. See, I've been so worried about money, but then I decided to not worry, to trust. And you know what? It's all ok. We have enough, plus some. So, after church, the 3 younger kids and I went to Wallyworld and decided to DO something. We came up with 8 bags consisting of water, tuna and cracker kits, slim jims, trail mix, crackers, gum and an index card with a Bible verse on it. We chose Philipians 4:6-7, it's my life verse :) It's not much, but it's something. And after dropping off the 17 year old off at his job, we went driving looking for someone we could give a bag. It didn't take long in this big city. There was only one that we could actually get to, but we're going to go out every weekend till these bags are gone, and then make more and do it again. I'm also going to keep a bag in the car for when I'm on my way home from work. 50% of the time, there's someone there by the entrance to the freeway. My kids have had an absolute blast picking the things out for the bags, putting them together, and thinking about where we could go to find people to give them to. And they want to do more. One of them even suggested we have a couple them sleep over. How sweet! In some ways, I wish I were innocent enough to want to bring these people home with me.

So I'm sharing this to pose a question, because I'm a big believer in doing good in secret, to not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. I want my reward to be in heaven :) but I want to ask - what are you doing for the least of these? If you're not doing anything, it's not too late! I want to encourage you! Let's get the blogworld out there doing something! :) If you have something you do on a regular basis, I want to hear about it. I want more ideas! How do you involve your children?