Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This one's for the ladies the other gender reads this...well, Sweet Man may, since I added his email to the Feedburner....cuts down on the redundancy of our days....

But I digress....

I am not a feminist. I willingly accept my role as volumptuous woman, to domesticate and to be cherished... and protected to some extent. My Sweet Man may disagree, but I rarely have a problem with the submission part of marriage. (This is an off-the-cuff assessment of marriage for me...need to express my role as woman a little better, at another time perhaps. Don't jump down my throat, s'il vous plait.)

And as such, I often take for granted the minutiae of getting a job done. I ask Sweet Man to do something and he does it, eventually. I look at a project as a whole, not the mini-steps along the way that can be foiled by any number of problems. But today without a male counterpart and kids in tow, I roared. There were challenges today that other days I would have gladly deferred to the expertise and brute strength of another. But I didn't really have that choice. And not having that choice was good for me.

You may remember, I came back from Wichita for two reasons: my momma and that blasted pool.

Today the daunting task of cleaning and filling the pool loomed. This is a job usually reserved for Sweet Man...he starts up the season and I enjoy it...arbitrary and now I see it's unfair.

My fantastic FIL had helped me Thurs. to clean the wood all around the pool as I drained the swamp while my fantastic MIL kept my babes. He finished his task and I was almost done but decided to return in a couple of days to finish draining. So at noon Saturday, the babes and I arrived and immediately I opened the drain valve to continue the emptying of the last few inches, hoping I wouldn't flood my downhill neighbors. No chance of that, since the drain was not working...hmmm...clogged? I tried to blow out the line from either end...even braving the stripped screws to remove the drain grate. I started to realize that the pipe from the drain was actually uphill from the rest drain. And the drain was higher than the corners of the pool....hmmm...who engineered this? No time to blame...gotta find a way.

I remembered a small pump sitting on the garage shelves and ran to get it. Don't know much about pumps...but I put my waders on (to ground myself : ) threaded the hose on, and plugged it in. It cheerfully whirred away and Bug was all too happy with the job of making sure there was green water pulsing out the end of the hose. Actually, he was all too happy to spray his sister with green water.

I called Sweet Man to glean some Shop Vac knowledge and he suggested siphoning the drain line to get it going, which consisted of filling the drain line with water from the garden hose and then running it downhill; it would work regardless of the height of the for about 15 minutes I tried that...looking foolish filling the line and then dropping it to run up the steps to push more water to the drain so that the flow would continue....didn't happen. I stopped running.

Okay, pump kept working and I knew I could walk away from it for a while. I decided to throw in another task...the kids and I painted the front porch (that blue is one of my all time favorites.) That was interesting...and fast...and now finished!

Ran up to check on the pool...and there were just green puddles remaining. I bent down and Shop-Vac'd each one and hoisted the full Vac up to the pool deck to dump it 3 times. That brought back Spring Valley memories of watching the guys hoist 5 gallon buckets of muck with rope and muscles to get the concentrated biomass out, yuck.

Oh, my back...bending to suck up puddles and standing to lift the Shop Vac up over my head to dump it over the edge of the pool deck...I don't think I've ever wanted a beer more....

Bean, turn. on. that. clean. water. (She waited all day to do her part.) Slipping and sliding commenced in the barely skimming water. We did it. (Insert maniacal laughter...mawahaha!)

All of this to say that this is a big victory for me. My choices at many points were walking away and finding someone else to take care of this mess OR figuring out a way to get it done. I usually give up at the first sign of difficulty...but today, it was Jesus and me...we were gonna do this. Between curses and prayers we did. My fantastic neighbor, John (who will be plumbing the pool works - thank you!) looked over his fence and said, "The pool looks great!" Roar!

Bring on the next challenge...hold that thought...I see a few already on the horizon....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


We arrived home Wed. night, safe and sound. 

I'm so glad we hustled back because Thursday, I was able to go with my mom to a couple of important appointments. The kids stayed with Grandma and Grandpa J. Sweet Man had a long weekend break so I picked him up from his flight that evening.

Friday was a scramble to work on the Neal Ave. muck puddle and get a camper packed and on the road. Hurry up, so we can slow down!!! Whewww...but worth the relaxing weekend. Between fishing and naps, I found myself with no one to look after...didn't really know what to do with myself. Fishing, naps, swims, campfire, and eating were the agenda. And big sunburn for my red-headed babes! We took my parents' camper which was a different kind of camping...less pack up? yes....easier? haven't decided yet. We may try to take it again to Creation next month. 

Friends, as always, filled in our gaps of forgetting things, losing track of children, and getting back on the road...thank you, friends.

Monday, Grandma and Grandpa J hosted a Memorial Day cookout in the Valley. Fun.

And today, Sweet Daddy was on a 9am plane back to Wichita for a few weeks. I need to get my emotional bearings together...tackle a big project, figure out what life in Mt. Vernon looks like, and stop missing my Sweet Man so much again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day...

We're in the Valley with lots of family around...eating, playing Bocce and dominoes, throwing water balloons...maybe planning a trip to the pool.

Have a great day in this great country....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

greetings from effingham

I sure am wordy these days, huh? But I'm in this "time is moving so fast...I don't want to miss anything" stage and so some posts are just for me...but you can enjoy them, too.

We did indeed leave Wichita this morning...9am, but we managed to squeeze in another hour at the children's museum and a farewell trip to the Y on Monday. Here are pics if you're interested.

Slide at the Y

I called this a karate machine, but it's really a kickboxing machine...three towers with three pads each. A pad lights up and an alarm sounds and you punch or!

And now after a long day in the car, we made it to my goal destination ~550 miles today. These babes of mine are road warriors...we played our own version of Grandma J's "find it" game...we looked for flags, crosses, and oil "bumpers" (or wells.) We added Port-a-Potty's through the construction zones. Tally, so far, is Bean 16, Bug 21. 

The first leg of our trip was through some of the most beautiful land I've ever seen...other people think so to. It's called "The Flint Hills." Breathtaking. Take a look. (And yes, that is my sunroof....)

Green rolling, hills and cattle as far as the eye can see...seriously, no houses or other roads...pristine.

This is the cattle bridge over I-35 with cattle pens on either side. 
Yes, a bridge for the cows to cross the highway.

As we got closer to our destination, I kinda ruled out getting a hotel with a pool. This momma has had enough swimming for a while...hard to believe. So I "VZ navigated" for a park and found a perfect one for getting wiggles out. 

Long day...neither Bean nor I slept well last night. Now, baths and bed. Ahhh....

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Okay, tantrum's over.

It's T-1 day in is a tally of events of the last 2 weeks:

Trips to the Y: 7 and counting
They have a cool water slide that's just exciting enough but safe for all. And, they have a family workout room with cardio machines for moms and dads, virtual exercise bikes, Dance Dance Revolution kiosks, 2 Wii kiosks, and a karate machine - a fave for all of us. Maybe I'll get a pic tomorrow....

Multiple visits to 3 different parks

Two excursions to the River Festival (music, rides, fair food...)

an afternoon at Exploration Place - a children's museum linked in The Works' association - score!!! That membership keeps paying off.
Bean with her hands on the Van de Graaff generator. It's a family tradition...there is a pic of me doing this in my HS Senior yearbook.
(Sweet Daddy insists its called a Tesla coil - ptooey)

Bug making a bubble around himself
And one AA baseball game -
the Wichita Wingnuts (I know, unfortunate) v. the Lincoln Saltdogs
Wichita tromped them and we saw the mascot "Spinner the Squirrel." Bean kept asking where the "Skirl" went. (Double score - our River Festival admission buttons got us into the festival and the game days later. And would have gotten us into the museum if we hadn't used our Works' membership.)

I really like Wichita, may have mentioned that...Tornado Alley...Sweet Man is becoming a little busier with a tally of 3 storms now. He will be joining us for Memorial Day weekend (camping, hopefully...if we get that $#!!& pool under control) and then he'll be back here.
The kids and I will be staying home through July 11th for the wedding of two of the sweetest people we know. Yay!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crazy is catching up with me

Caution: Bi-monthly vent session/agonizing navel-gazing ahead...proceed without judgment, please.

(Please understand, I am so thankful for all the help, patience, and counsel we have received from all of you. I do not want to be thankless. I want to be honest and real. This self-centered post is really to help me try to sort this all a diary entry. Rhetorical.)

When it comes to big life stuff, my decision-making skills are poor, to say the least. I grind away at possibilities, stay up late mulling, ask the grocery cashier what she thinks, and then beg my husband to just tell me what to do. I don't like making a bad decision. I don't like people thinking I am making a bad decision. And I am terribly uncomfortable being the stop for the buck, the end of the line, the one holding the proverbial bag and having to defend my decision. I want someone else to defend me. I want to feel that I am not on my own swinging in the breeze. When we come right down to it, I want someone to blame if "you know what" hits the fan. Can you say "co-dependent, passive-aggressive?" Can you say, "Grow up!"?

I do have to make decisions...all the time. Just like everyone. So now, if I have to make one, I scrunch my eyes and just jump. And spend a few days, looking over my shoulder, wondering, did I make a good decision this time? Please? Sometimes I even change my mind and drive everyone around me n.v.t.s. NUTS!

So I made a decision to travel home...worked out a way to efficiently use up the contents of our fridge (eat, eat, and keep eating!) got an oil change for the road, started packing, and communicated those plans. You know, got my head around the logisitics of it and locked it in.

Now that I am committed, why is it that last night in the dark...the thoughts creep in and start to distort my circumstances...while my husbands snores (really, have you heard him?) peacefully away and the darkness overwhelms? I sound so dramatic, but at the time, it really was. I was isolated and afraid, and my thoughts swirled. Anxiety led to more anxiety. "What are we going to do about...? and what about.....?" It built until I broke and asked God if I could just crawl into His lap. And I finally went to sleep. 

It has happened often enough throughout the years, that I can recognize it for what it is...intense irrationality. I can tell myself it won't last all night; just ride it out and life will look differently in the light of the new morning. Or, God-willing, the episode will even be forgotten.

But last night, it may have been a little different, like there was some truth in it. The anxiety lingers faintly. These are thoughts that have been circling but not landing in this brain. And all surround the circumstances of our new gypsy life.

1. How is this gypsy life affecting the kids? Does moving around every few weeks get to them? Is their sense of security threatened? And not having Daddy around all the does that affect them? Are there enough constants in their lives to anchor?

2. We have not been in one place long enough to get the babes involved in dance, art, music, soccer, karate, etc. (Well, we were home long enough, but didn't realize it soon enough...such is this life.) How do I raise well-rounded people when I am not particularly proficient in those areas and can't hand them over to someone who is? 

3. How do I mitigate the mental exhaustion of an almost constant stream of evaluation: where is the best place to be today? With Sweet Daddy on the road? stay in the hotel for the day? go to a park? Stay in the Valley? In Licking County? 

4. And what do we need to maximize our day? groceries, intellectual stimulation, rest, coffee, new socks, companionship, alone time, cash, exercise, fun, discipline, a potty...? And how and where do I find what we need in this place that I barely know?

5. We've left our old life behind...and our friends. We can try to make friends where we are at any given time, but we have friends, that we love and miss. I keep thinking that when we are home, we can plug back in, but it's not quite the same. And we do not live in Licking County anymore. I need to get that through my head. It's different.

6. (This one is so stupid.) The Neal Avenue POOL...ugh...our neighbors must be shaking their fists at the sky for leaving 10,000 gallons of mosquito goodness within 10 feet of their backyard. We have got to get home to do something about that stupid pool that we probably won't even use this summer. Grrrrr.....

and the big one....
7. My momma is sick...and it's real...and I can't do anything from here or there.  

Last night, in the dark, it seemed easier to just stay here and ignore the challenges of coming home.

I have learned through Celebrate Recovery that I have a delay on my feelings; it takes me a while to recognize how I feel about a given situation. I have a wise friend who asks me how I'm doing, how this life change is affecting me. I answer..."We're good. It's a fun life. It has its challenges. I love it." And I do love is fun and challenging. But why are these latent feelings waking me up? And do I need to take them seriously?

So, let's immediate family is safe, well-fed ;), dry, warm. Most bills are paid. And we are loved...I am thankful. Really. Wah!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Two Powers

We have found a fantastic church here in Wichita.  Bug and Bean had so much to say on the way home about the puppet show, the inflatables and yes, even the lesson they learned in the Kids' Area. Last Sunday's sermon at New Spring church was great.

The senior pastor gave the sermon and two times he said, (paraphrasing) "The first time Christ came, He died on the cross. The next time He comes, He's taking over." 

The statement reminds me of an article I read in Christianity Today (April 2009) called "Serving a Two-Handed God."  (Click and read it, I urge you.) The author illustrates the two powers of God...the demonstrative power to create, heal, smite, etc. (the Right-hand of God) and the submissive power of "turning another cheek," refusing the temptation to save Himself in the desert or on the Cross (which is referred to as the Left-hand of God.) The article goes as far as describing "the power of Good Friday" and "the power of Easter Sunday." 

Here are some questions for me (and you if you wanna think about them after you read the article!!!): What is power: a strike in an attempt at order or the withholding of might? How am I seeing the power of God? For what kind of power do I ask when I pray? What kinds of examples of God's power can I recognize in my life?

The meditation of the two powers has helped me grab a foothold on the age-old question of "Why does Almighty God allow such evil?" Don't ask me to articulate an answer just yet, thank you. And don't ask my husband either unless you are ready for an expository analysis of the symbolism of Star Wars or the Matrix...uh, yea. (Actually, the English major in me totally gets into those discussions.)

In other news: Our time in Wichita grows short. The babes and I will be leaving Tuesday to head home. (Better let the Valley know they should prepare for an invasion, or maybe I just did....) Don't know when we will join Sweet Daddy again, but we will probably not be back in KS for now. Bummer, 'cuz I really like it here, like really more than Hoo-ston, even. As always, I reserve the right to change life plans for myself and those in my charge...wielding the little control I have...HA! But I do have to catch you up on a little fun we had this week...later.

Signing off, 
the Queen of the Ellipse

Sunday, May 10, 2009

First Weekend in Wichita

My weekend included:

the coolest yarn shop I've ever seen

a new project for me
(I know, so edgy with my color choice)

a playground: a river runs through it...ahh well...
I told them to just take off their shoes and not get too wet...right....

a new book

a trip to a festival

(Bean loves her some Port-a-Pottys)

a Mother's Day massage from my Sweet Man

lunch at my new favorite place

a few tantrums evenly distributed throughout, 
just to keep it real

phone calls to our own sweet mommas



good weekend. 

Friday, May 8, 2009


My Bug is challenging me in old ways and I just can't get a handle on it. Maybe some advice, please? In 3 particular types of situations we lose all ration and reason with each other. When he becomes scared or frustrated, he crumples...psychologically and sometimes physically. A classic example was when he received a pitching machine and became so frustrated that he couldn't hit each ball exactly the way he wanted, he threw his bat and a full out fit. 

Or when he feels like he's being teased, usually by his sister.

Or today, we were at a park and Bean had to go to the bathroom. No one else was around, so I was helping her into the restroom, intending to kind of straddle the door to keep an eye on each of them. Well, he became scared about being left alone on the playground. Okay, come with us. He passed an old mouthpiece on the ground with gunk growing in it. He saw it and freaked out and ran wailing and whimpering. At which point, I just told him to sit down, he was being ridiculous. 

See, I am so intolerant, that I just tell him to sit and be quiet. My reaction is intensified if I think others are being imposed upon. And it's happening all the time. Is it our new life? It has happened since he was three and I keep thinking he'll grow out of it. What can I do? 

I want to let him experience and work through his own emotions...I think I'm just learning to do that...but he becomes so irrational. And I have no compassion or patience for it....Help! It is a #2 on my prayer list.

P. S. He just woke up from a nap, walked over to the trash can and peed in it......Lord, help us. I'm signing off....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sound waves

I love listening to the radio...probably because growing up in our house, there was always a radio on, sometimes in addition to a TV (that's my dad  ;)  . 

Weekdays are for talk radio and weekends are for NPR: Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and This American Life. I know ~ I've always been a little eclectic in my tastes...Deadhead who has always leaned to the right and has loved Jesus for more than half her life (and tried to follow Him the last 10 years) for me, this is consistent.

This weekend my Sunday/Monday drive to Kansas enabled me to listen to several solid hours of each. I've always recognized the contrast in world views, but back to back and so many hours of was stark.

I love and appreciate the humanity and the stories featured on This American Life. The humor and compassion used to illustrate the forgotten and sometimes tragic always compels me. But days later, I haven't gotten over the repeated theme of secular humanism I hear in those stories...mainly, the idea that there is an evolution of morality...that with the years and generations, man becomes better.  And eventually we'll get it right.

It's just false...I know that left to my own devices, I am not good. Nothing good lives in my head, in my actions. You know, that whole  Romans 7  conundrum. If I was not compelled into the Light each moment, I would be one doughnut-eatin', slack-jawed, TV-watching, angry, judgmental, jealous, no-good momma with kids who were bent the same way. Some of you have experienced glimpses of this momma. I'm even leaving the really bad stuff off the list. That is my default mode ~ appealing, n'est-ce pas? Wanna share a cup of tea with her?

The only thing that brings me to good is the Holy Spirit knocking on my heart saying, "You tried this once and it didn't turn out so good" or "How many people will you hurt if you do this?" (There are many more examples of Holy Spirit whispers, I'm sure.) Some call that a conscience ~ I believe it is further confirmation for the existence of Our Creator. My dad once asked me if I had ever done something that no one would ever know about, but still felt rotten and couldn't easily get it out of my mind? "That's God," he said. 

And even that is too easy to ignore. Even so, those propensities creep in and need to be fenced in. Some days the darkness is easier to beat back than others, and some days the lights are out. Hence my need for Godly fellowship (love you, Jesus freaks,) reading the Word (ahem...consistently, not my forte,) and attending Celebrate Recovery (hooray!!! that's a story for another day.) 

I'm not a historian or an anthropologist, but I don't believe that the collective soul of humanity has made any improvements. Are we still allowing the killing of babies? Are children still sold into the hands of lascivious deviants? Am I not at any moment a few decisions away from being in the pits of addiction or despair? Yes.

We are not becoming better ~ I need a Voice to remind me there is more and better offered to me and a Hand to haul me out of my pits. We all do.

Monday, May 4, 2009


We had a fairly uneventful trip from St. Louis to Wichita. We woke up at 7:30 our time, (6:30 St. Louis') ate breakfast, and went for another swim. (Hush yourselves, swimming danger after eating is a myth. At least, I think.) We left the hotel around 10 and drove and drove and drove. Very easy drive...70 W, take a left in Kansas City. I drove through Kansas once before with my friend, Heidi, on a trip to Breckenridge, CO...Kansas was 35 mph through an ice storm. No problems like that today, though....

It was smooth sailing down the Kansas turnpike...really beautiful...until I heard my fuel light ding. Duh, forgot to fill up, but no worries, still had 35 miles or so to go. I kept my eyes peeled...lovely rolling, green hills, lots of cows, dropping mileage. And no exits, who knew? Once I had dropped below 10 miles, I began to come up with 2 or 3 contingency plans: coast as much as possible, wait on the side of the road for help, walk to the town with babes in tow, stop at a farm and depend on the kindness of strangers or the fistful of 20's I'd offer in desperation.

Oh, yeah...and pray...

I GPS'ed for gas stations...the nearest one was 6 miles to the exit and another 12 beyond the turnpike. Seemed my best bet, so I took the exit, rolled through the toll both with 2 miles of gas to go. As I paid, I asked the woman in the booth if there was a station closer. "No, honey. I'm in the middle of nowhere." She was nonplussed in my crisis; must see it often. 

I drove...and then "0....". Just keep driving, just keep driving.

I must have driven 14 or 15 miles with the "0" glaring at me and my heart pounding. But it was like Hannukah...He made the oil last...Hallelujah...another catastrophe averted. Thank you, Lord. My thirsty van got its fill at the BP.

We rolled in to Wichita an hour later and reunited with Sweet Daddy at his office and followed him to the hotel. We're gonna be just fine here...pull-out couch in our room, other families with kids, complimentary breakfasts and dinners available, free visits to the Y around the corner. Yes, just fine.

BTW - Go see my momma's page on 's site. It is a great way for her to keep info about her treatment up to date, accurate and on her terms and for those of us who love her to remind her.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

St. Louis

Editorial note: the "gag" order has expired. At the beginning of this blog thingy, I asked you to refrain passing on the address to others...I was being shy and decidedly childish...but let's get real...anyone is welcome...just continue to extend grace to moi.

We traveled today and have landed in St. Louis...right on schedule. It helps that we lost...or does it work? Whatever...St. Louis time is one hour less than it says on my van's clock.

Bean was sleeping when we crossed into the city and saw the Arch on the horizon. Bug and I decided to not pass up the tourist opportunity, so we found a parking spot and woke her up. Not knowing much about it, I asked Bug if he wanted to go up inside the Arch if we could. He asked if there were stairs or elevators...."Don't know. Let's find out," I said.  To which he replied, "If it's an elevator, we might have to go upside down." Pretty logical.

It was an excursion just right to get the wiggles out.  One hour and $20 later, we had walked around a lovely park, pottied, traveled up the tram into the Arch, and gazed out at the Mississippi River and city from the observation deck. There are 2 trams with tiny, 5 seated "pods" that go up each side and unload passengers at the observation case you're wondering. (Mimi, you would have had the willies in that pod.) 

So glad we stopped. Bug was really excited and thanked me frequently from the top of the Arch until we arrived back at the van...pleasantly uncharacteristic and well worth it. 

Tonight we're staying at a Hampton Inn just west of St. Louis...very nice. After a swim and a little hot tubbin' (and a few tantrums from Miss Bean,) we are tucked in. We'll see Sweet Daddy after a 6 hour drive tomorrow. I hope I remember that I do not need to nosh continually each one of those 360 minutes.

Our plan is to stay in Wichita for 2 or 3 weeks and then the kids and I head home, even if Sweet Daddy moves on to another assignment. I don't want to get too far away from home.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Yesterday, I sort of checked was a "no shower for Momma, too much screen time" kinda day. 

But this morning confirms again why I am a blessed momma.

It started as a rainy morning here in the Valley. We were snuggling, watching news and discussing plans for the day. Bug cozied up to me and said,"Mom, can we finish the Charlie book?" We've been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and as of last night we had 3 chapters left. All the rascals had been picked off and only Charlie and Grandpa Joe remained with Mr. Wonka. How could we stop there, you ask? It was 9:30, Bean wasn't paying a lick of attention, and I was drifting off to Sleepytown ( ;), MLG.) 

So, snuggling to finish a great book is my idea of a fantastic morning...yes, Bug, we shall finish the book and we did. Oh, I do hope he is becoming hooked on reading.

After a few rounds of Hi-Ho Cherry-O (my least favorite boardgame ever, ugh...,) I went outside to retrieve something from the van...I make endless trips out there, especially now that I am "packed" to hit the road...and discovered this little guy. 

A rescue mission ensued, mostly to protect him from Bean...she's like that Looney Tunes character who loves creatures 'til they hurt. We got our boots on and made a trip to the spring and let "Sally the Salamander" go back to his family.

The sun made its appearance. A little further down stream we played with sticks and "seaweed" and sang "Do, a Deer." My kind of morning...we're in a beautiful place with wonderful people taking care of us. 

Grandpa J just got back from turkey hunting and brought back...mushrooms...Grandma J is smiling.

I'm heading to see my momma get some more news and see if I can start "shoveling" a bit. I may even see my little brother and a few good friends.

I love my life...can I start to love the challenges..? Maybe. God is good, all the time. No matter what. I can be sure.