Monthly Archives: July 2011

What Do You Think?

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you couldn’t help but notice I made a change! I’ve been working on it for a while. I realized all the blogs I read have a very different feel from my own. I wanted to give mine the kind of look that attracts me. It took a bit to figure out what I wanted, but I think I like the new look. I will probably make some tweaks. We’ll see.

So what do you think? Good? Bad?

I’ve been at this blogging thing for about 15 months and I am still learning a lot. Want to know what I’ve learned?

  1. I really like to write! I think I always knew this, it just got lost in the busy, chaos of my life.
  2. It takes time to put my thoughts together. I can’t post as often as I would like. I have too many other commitments right now…
  3. I like to know people are reading what I write. I don’t know why it matters, but it does. I am very thankful for those of you who take the time to read my posts.

So, now I have a favor to ask of you. Two actually.

  1. Would you leave a comment telling me what you think of my new design? Just click on “Leave a comment” at the bottom of this post.
  2. Consider subscribing to my blog. Just enter your email above on the right and I will automatically email you when I write a post. And it lets me know you’re reading:).

I will keep writing, whether anyone reads or not. Because it’s filling a need for me! But I would love to know if something I write is touching someone else.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for letting me know you were here! And happy Friday!

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The Segway and Lessons I Learned

I bought my first Groupon! I’ve looked before, and heard from lots of people that they are great deals. I just hadn’t found the one I couldn’t resist. Until earlier this month while I was making vacation plans. I decided to look at what might be available in Galveston, TX where we were headed. I was shocked to see a Groupon for a Segway tour – Half Off! Let me back up  a bit.

My boys have a bit of an infatuation with Segways. They have talked countless times about how awesome it would be to ride one. They have talked about how they work and how it would feel to ride one. But they are expensive! And I am frugal! I carefully plan our vacations to be fun and frugal. And yes they can be both:).

I called Hubby to see if he agreed that it was a must buy/do. He agreed and I purchased! A one hour Segway tour for five people for half price.  And it was the best $125 I’ve spent in a really long time! Here’s how it went…

We scheduled the tour for Tuesday afternoon. We chose not to tell the kids what we were going to do. We just said there would be an “event” at 3:30 Tuesday. They really wanted to know what it was and did lots of guessing. It was fun and a little scary. Fun to see what they thought it might be and scary because a) they might guess it and I wouldn’t be able to cover or b) they would guess something way better and then this wouldn’t seem like a big deal. So I told them they couldn’t guess anymore, ’cause I’m mean like that. So Tuesday morning we wake up to what? RAIN! It wasn’t a yucky morning, just drizzly. But the longer the day went on, the harder it rained. I was pretty bummed thinking we would be out in the rain cruising the seawall. Not what I had pictured.

We decided we should tell the boys what it was, you know, to let them look forward to it for a little while. But we made them play 20 questions to figure it out. They were stumped for quite a while. I think the clue that tipped them was “does it have two wheels?” When we said it was not a motorcycle they were stumped. Until Middle Son screamed, “Segway?!” When we said yes they all erupted! Pretty happy boys. Which totally made my day as a Mom. I love being able to do things my boys don’t expect – in a good way:).

But it was still raining.

We closed the curtains and watched the first half of the last Harry Potter movie so we would be prepared for the final movie in the theater. When the movie was over, we opened the curtains and {insert singing choirs} the rain was gone! We lucked out. The rain subsided and the clouds parted. And the sun came out! It was a beautiful afternoon.

We had a great time, traveled 12 miles up and down the seawall. It was super fun and scary. I learned a few things in this Segway experience.

  1. My balance isn’t as good as I thought it was. They do a little training inside the store before you go outside on the machine. They demonstrated how to get on and off, go forward and backward, turn, go fast and most importantly how to stop. I watched several people before it was my turn. I took a hold of the handlebars {is that what you call them?} and stepped ever so carefully with my right foot. So far, so good. Then I gingerly lifted my left foot up and set it on the platform. Then I felt a sensation that I can only describe as a convulsion as I wobbled forward and backward, jerking harder each time. I can only imagine what I looked like. Based on the looks on my guys’ faces…hilarious! They were kind enough not to double over with laughter like I’m certain they wanted to do. I appreciate their restraint. Our guide quickly stabilized me with the handlebars and said, “Stop pulling.” To which I replied, “I’m not trying, its instinct. I’m gonna fall.” It was all very glamorous and not at all embarrassing.
  2. I’m not a risk-taking teenager anymore. I distinctly remember having the thought, “what the hell was I thinking?! I have no business doing this!” We hadn’t even left the parking lot. And we had to maneuver out to the street, drive a couple blocks in traffic, cross another intersection and navigate amongst the walkers, cyclists and tourists on the seawall. And then I look up and see my boys flying back and forth in the parking lot, swerving around and screeching to a halt right in front of me. As we started out on the road I seriously thought they should have provided us with gloves, elbow and knee protectors instead of just helmets. Someone could really get hurt doing this. Someone like me! I’m pleased to say, I survived with no injuries and all Segways were returned undamaged. {Thank goodness considering the pages of waivers that we signed before we left!}.
  3. Standing completely balanced on both feet for an hour and a half is exhausting! I didn’t think it would be, but about a mile into the ride {or was it a drive?} the arches of my feet started to cramp. But you can’t just lift a foot and shake it out. {Refer to my first lesson} So you just work thru the pain. And then the calves start to cramp up. And the muscles are really getting fatigued. And I’m still just standing. Not running a marathon, not cycling a hundred miles. Just standing. I was thinking, “I’m a total wimp!” Along with, “are we ever gonna stop?!” I know the boys were not experiencing the same thing. They were way ahead of me, swerving in and out of traffic, making me want to pull out my Mom voice. I think I only said, “you know if you wreck that we have to pay $5000 to replace it!” once during the whole ride. Pretty good if you ask me. I certainly thought it more than once.

Overall, it was an awesome experience. Only once did I truly believe I might die. But I didn’t. And a few hours after I told Oldest Son about it he explained to me how he had figured out what happened. How the Segway had to tilt to accommodate the speed since the motor….blah, blah, blah…science-y words….blah, blah, blah….makes perfect sense. I just smiled, content in knowing I survived and not really caring why.

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Filed under Family, Randomness, Travel

Spray Sun Screen…No Thank You!

Our family vacation took us to Galveston Island this year. We love spending time on the beach, but this is the farthest south we have been. It was a great trip, but we learned  a valuable lesson. Spray on sun screen doesn’t work. Not the way I would expect it to anyway. I thought spray sun screen could be sprayed on. Technically, it can. However, you might want to reconsider this if I had pictures I could show you of our family members who used spray on sun screen. Unfortunately, none of them would consent to being photographed {let alone allow me to post a pic here!} You see there is a step involved with spray on sun screen that isn’t obvious from the name. I think you have to rub it all over after you spray it on. It doesn’t say that in the name. It’s called spray on sunscreen. That should mean you spray it on. Shouldn’t it? And before you ask, I don’t know what the directions say. I shouldn’t have to read the directions on sunscreen for crying out loud. It’s not rocket science! {Which by the way is weird to say considering the current state of our country’s space program. Will the meaning of the phrase change? Time will tell. But I digress…} I should be able to put sun screen on my family without having to read the directions. Spray sun screen should be sprayed on.

So that’s what we did. My husband dutifully sprayed it all over Youngest Son’s back chest and down his arms. After we had been at the beach for a while I sprayed it on Hubby and Oldest Son. Middle Son, being the uber-responsible boy he is applied four times during the day. I think this may have been key. We spent four and a half hours at the beach that day. It was beautiful. And oh so hot! We didn’t get an umbrella – umbrellas are for wimps.

As we packed up to go home, I noticed lines on Youngest Son’s back. It looked like he had leaned against something; you know the way a chair back can leave marks on your back? Just three red lines going diagonally down his back. When we got back to the hotel, and I noticed they were still there. Hmm…that’s strange. Then I notice the stripe down the top of his arms. What the heck?!

Oh, no. “Hubby, you suck at applying sunscreen! Look at his sunburn!” Clearly, he didn’t spray it evenly. If you spray it evenly, it would give you good coverage. He must have just done it quickly. And then I looked at him. And I burst out laughing. We all did. Hubby was striped too! And so was Oldest Son! Clearly we both failed at applying. But really? If it’s spray on shouldn’t you be able to spray it on and not end up with stripes?

If I had known that’s how it worked I might have had some fun with it. You know, draw smiley faces on their backs. Maybe a cute little heart?  Something more creative than stripes! So now you know. Have fun with your spray on sun screen, but if you actually want protection from the sun you’ll have to get dirty. Go the old fashioned route and rub the sunscreen on with your hands.

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Filed under Advice, Travel

Mission Trip 2011

I went on my second mission trip with our church youth in June. We went to East Garfield Park Chicago as part of the DOOR program. On a recent Sunday, the youth led the service and I shared a little about my experience. This is what I shared.

The DOOR staff shared the same message with the adults – that if we were not uncomfortable at least three times that week they hadn’t done their job. I am pleased to report, they excelled! I spent much of the week outside of my comfort zone. A big part of that was just being responsible for 6 Johnson County teens in Chicago. They are good kids, they just aren’t used to having to watch their surroundings they way we did there.

I was uncomfortable when I was told I would be navigating public transportation on my own with my group first thing Monday morning. Baptism by fire! I haven’t used public transportation since I was a teen – and that was a few years ago. I like my car and I like traveling on my schedule. I’m not used to having to hurry to catch a train to get where I need to be on time. Or having to leave an hour, or even two, before I need to be somewhere since that’s how long it will take by train and bus. And making sure all 7 of us were on the same train was a bit stressful.

I was uncomfortable with how much of an issue race became throughout the week. It was obvious that my reality is very different from residents of East Garfield Park, Chicago. My view of the world and how it works is very different because of the life I have been given. That’s challenging stuff.

But I was most moved by Mama Brenda. On Tuesday night, Mama Brenda, a member of the Board of DOOR, spoke to our group. She was a dynamic black woman who could easily hold the attention of a room full of teens and brought most of the adult to tears…in a good way. I couldn’t tell you all she said, but I can tell you what I felt. I felt like I was experiencing what it must have been like to listen to Jesus preach. To hear him implore us not to be complacent. Hear him telling us, “this is not ok! It’s not ok that children don’t have food to eat. It’s not ok that young people are being killed by each other. It’s not ok to see stories of murders on TV and think, “glad I don’t live there.”  It’s not ok for us to come back to our comfortable homes, our nice cars, our safe place and do nothing. As Christians and as human beings we need to be outraged at what is happening in our city and do something about it. God didn’t call us to a week of mission so that we could go back home, check that off our list and continue life as usual. God calls us to Greatness through Service.

God calls us to learn the names of those in need. To look people in the eyes and show them genuine love. And when we do that, our eyes can be opened to see the face of God in them. We didn’t go to Chicago to take God into the City; we went to open our eyes to the face of God in others.

And as I was thinking about this last night, I got uncomfortable again. It’s been a month since the mission trip. I’ve been swamped at work, busy planning for the vacation we are leaving on in a couple hours and I’ve been complacent. Change is not easy, but thank goodness our God is patient.

So I am adding to my To Do list. Find a way to make a difference in my community. It will be a challenge to figure out how to fit this in with everything else our family has chosen to do, but we will figure it out. It may take a while, but its something we have to do!

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Filed under Faith, Family

From To Do to DONE

I’m a list maker. Have been for as long as I can remember. It gives me a sense of control I think. I can’t rely on my memory anymore….it’s terrible. So, if I write it down there’s a chance it will get done. As long as I don’t lose the list. I had a list at work this week. It was a doozy. I wrote it on Wednesday and divided it up by days. But, instead of crossing things off, I just kept adding to the list.

That’s a bit of a bummer. I’ve been known to add things to my list just to be able to cross them off.  That feels good. But adding without getting things done doesn’t feel so good. It feels overwhelming.

I am pleased to report this entire list got done! That never happens! I always have carryover items. I just have to rewrite the list when it gets too messy. Even if everything isn’t done. I like clean lists. So having a list completely done is rare. And it feels awesome!

So now, I’m off to enjoy my weekend. Without a list hanging over my head. {sigh}

It feels so good.

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Freedom

Our kids just returned from spending the better part of a week visiting both sets of grandparents. It was a first for us – not them visiting their grandparents, but driving themselves there and back. Oldest Son is 17 and a really responsible kid. About a month ago I realized Hubby and I were headed out-of-town for the weekend and hadn’t thought about what the kids would do. They could have stayed home by themselves. But it was the 4th of July weekend. That means Clear Lake. I grew up spending summers there with all the cousins gathering at the grandparents for the parade and then heading to the fireworks in the evening. This became a tradition for our kids too. The boys and I would head up there and spend a few days with my parents. I have lots of fond memories that could only be made better if Hubby had been able to go more often. {Unfortunately, his job kept him home many years.} But once I started working full-time it became harder to take that time away and they don’t get up there near as often.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity. So Saturday morning they loaded up the car for a “teenage road trip” as Youngest Son put it! I was fine until he said that. Made me second guess our decision for a short minute:). They went, they spent time with both grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and they made it back safely. And they had a good time! I’m so glad that my teenage sons still enjoy spending time with grandparents! I would be so sad if they didn’t.

I have no pictures, despite texting and reminding them to take lots of pics for me. I’m hoping the gramma or aunts got some for us!

While they were gone Hubby and I went to a friend’s wedding for the weekend. We had a lot of fun hanging out with friends and staying in bed til 11 am! We planned our vacation and talked and just enjoyed being. We went to “breakfast” and a great little diner before heading home. It was so unusual to be able to do whatever we wanted. We could sleep in because no one was expecting us anywhere. We could eat breakfast at 12:30, because no one was complaining they were hungry. And we could take our sweet time getting home, because there was no one waiting on us, nowhere we had to be. I know that is normal for some people, and it was for us at one time in the way, way past – you know, BC {before children}.

But we’ve had kids for close to 18 years! There is always someone needing something from us. There is always a deadline or another commitment. Usually 2 or 3 other places we are supposed to be at any given moment. Our days are planned out, there’s no spontaneity. It’s all about efficiency, priorities and commitments. Don’t get me wrong, I picked this life and I wouldn’t change it for anything! I love my kids and am having a total blast raising them. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

But what we got this weekend was a taste of FREEDOM. And I liked it. It was refreshing. it was relaxing. It was…free-ing!

After breakfast, I put my dishes in the dishwasher. And when I came home from work in the evening, there were no dishes piled in the sink. How strange is that?! And when I picked up the living room before bed, I got up in the morning to a clean living room! Weird. I did realize I may become a workaholic when our kids move out. I brought work home 2 of the 3 nights and worked thru supper and right up until 11:30 or midnight. It was easier to get sucked in when no one was counting on me at home. Hubby and I chatted over dinner, but he went to bed early and I was free to do the planning I couldn’t get done during the work day. It was smooth. And odd. And very, very quiet.

When I told Middle Son and Younger Son this tonight, they didn’t appreciate it. When I explained how, while they were gone no one expected me to know where their blue shirt was {ok maybe Hubby did:)}. No one asked what was for dinner or if I had picked up gummy worms at the grocery store. No one wanted anything from me. They looked a little hurt. I quickly told them, “but I really love you guys and I’m glad you’re home!” They just looked at me and Middle Son said, “I’m really feelin’ it Mom.”

My bad.

Truth is, I miss them terribly when they’re gone. I enjoy being around my kids. I know, that might make me a strange mom. I can handle that. It is what it is.

But I also enjoy not being responsible for anything now and then. I’ve tasted freedom and I liked it! And I can wait. It’s like a little glimpse into my future. My empty nest future. I think we’re gonna be ok.

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Filed under Family, Lifestyle, Parenting

Summer of Plumbers

One of our kids needs to become a plumber. That’s all there is to it. We’re on our 3rd plumbing related incident of the summer. Today’s has been the most frustrating.

The first is the shower that won’t quit leaking. Three of us have tried to tighten the screw in the hot water knob to no avail. It appears fixed…for a minute. Then the dripping begins a gain. And each time I think it drips a little harder afterwards. I shudder to think what our water bill will be this month!

The second was a leaking gasket between the stool and tank in our bathroom. I discovered this one when I stepped on the wet bathroom rug. It took some investigation to figure out what was going on. Then I discovered the floor tiles were mushy. Thank goodness they are the peel and stick kind so an easy fix. For now there is a bowl under the leak until we can take it all apart and replace the rubber washers. I think that will fix it anyway. I hope.

Last night when I reached in the ice maker for some ice, my hand hit a solid cube. Apparently the ice maker is just making water. The tub that catches the ice was full of water that had frozen. But not before it ran over the edge and onto the bottom shelf of the freezer. Fortunately, the freezer is still freezing. So we cleaned it out and turned off the icemaker and went to bed. When Oldest Son came home I had him double check it. Thank goodness for that!

The water was flowing at a steady stream out of the ice maker and the tub was full and flowing onto the bottom of the freezer again. So, at midnight we emptied the upstairs freezer and put everything in the chest freezer downstairs. Oldest Son shut the valve to the ice maker and we put two tubs under there just to be sure. And we went to bed.

This morning we woke to water running from the freezer and all over the floor! Such a mess. Clearly the shut off valve is worn out. So now we have a valve to replace and an ice maker to fix.

Which takes me back to the need for one of our sons to be a plumber. And it would probably be good if one was a mechanic as well. We could probably save a fortune in repair costs with just those two!

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Filed under Frugal living, Home Improvement, Money