Thursday, August 30, 2007

Aliens Have Abducted my Child

And they've programmed her replacement to say: "Mom, can I please do a handwriting lesson today?"

Hello, Aliens! If you want me to believe this creature is my child, you are going to have make her say things that my child would actually say!


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Blessings

You have all shared some great thoughts in answer to my question about blessings. I've been thinking about it quite a bit. For a long time, actually.

I began thinking about it back when I was regularly posting to my blessings blog. If you don't know what that was, it was simply a place where I recorded my blessings (almost) daily with the goal of recording 3600 for the year.

As time went on, I realized that many of my blessings were very superficial things. Individual food items made the list more times than I care to count. Stuff that made me happy. Stuff that "worked out" for me. But even as I typed some of those things into the post, I wondered if they were really blessings at all.

Was that brownie really a blessing because I enjoyed it so much? What if I was already full when I ate it? Does enjoying something automatically qualify it as a blessing? In truth, wasn't I taking advantage of the abundance of food God has placed around me? Wasn't it really just self-indulgence?

When Paul and I were buying our first computer, we both spent some time praying first and, individually, we came up with the same amount of money that we were willing to spend. We shopped around once or twice, but we didn't find anything in that price range that met our needs. So we bought a more expensive computer.

I could have walked around and told everybody what a blessing my computer was because now I could e-mail my family and I could shop for deals online. But God, if I dare say so, might just have raised his eyebrow at me and said, "Blessing? I didn't give you that computer. You took it for yourself!"

Paul and I spent some time in prayer after that decision. And it began with our confession that we did not exercise faith when we made the purchase. It wasn't a blessing. It was our greed.

We are blessed, no doubt, to own a computer. But that is not my point.

What I am really mulling over is the lifestyle that we live. By "we" I mean my family, but I think this applies generally to Christians living in this culture.

I wonder how much we have fallen prey to the "I need stuff" mentality without even realizing it. We often refer to material things as blessings, because, I think, we want to express how grateful we are for owning them. We call ourselves "blessed" when we look at our house and our car and when we consider our ability to go to Starbuck's anytime we want, or buy the latest DVD.

And I'm not saying those things aren't blessings... if God really GAVE them to us. But how often do we let God choose to bless us as opposed to just taking things because we can.

And is it really a blessing if the latter is true?

More on this later. Until then, shoot back some more of your great thoughts.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weigh In

I didn't gain or lose this week. I half expected to be WAY up this week, so I guess I can be pleased with not gaining.

I exercised a bunch, but eating wasn't great. I have felt really tired. REALLY tired. I wonder if the new workout I am doing is too intense, if I am not getting enough iron, or if it's just a PMS thing. I started taking my multivitamin again. If I can just remember to do that each day...

Current weight: 139.0 lbs

Total lost since beginning the challenge: 9.5 lbs (and feeling like I need to remove the "I've lost 10 pounds" button from the blog!)

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Lord, Have Mercy

Seriously. I'm asking for mercy.

I was planning on starting school next week, after Labor Day. Paul returned to his teaching job today, so I thought we'd take this week to settle ourselves in, get ourselves back to "normal," and then start with lessons after we'd all adjusted.

Then Ms. Boo B.E.G.G.E.D. to do some lessons today.

Where is my child, and what is this new one doing in my house?

I didn't want to put her off, since the desire was obviously there.

So I took all three of the kids and sat them at the table. We got out our bins and each of them loaded theirs with their books and their pencils and whatever else they needed for "school." I laid down the rules for "table time," which is what we are calling it... it's optional for Mr. Bug (4) and Ms. Bao (2.) Obviously for Ms. Boo (6), this is not the case.

Things went well. At first.

I did Ms. Boo's first math lesson. Mr. Bug joined in for a while. Even Ms. Bao tried to sing the math song along with us. But then, Bug decided he liked Ms. Bao's tiles better, and joined in with her to play (after I had to disrupt the fight that ensued because, hello, two-year-olds aren't exactly excited about sharing.)

When the math lesson was over, Ms. Boo wanted to play with the tiles too. The end result was not pretty. I don't really want Boo and Bug to just play with the educational manipulatives, but that is about all Bao can do, and when she does, they want to also. So, somewhere along the way, I am going to have to get them used to the idea of using the manipulatives only when mom is giving instructions with them.

Then I tried to make lunch and I burned the grilled cheese.

And forgot to put the cheese in.

So, basically, I employed the most labor-intensive method possible for making toast.

And if you are alarmed by the fact that the authorities within the state of Ohio are entrusting a complete air-head with the education of her three young children, let me reassure you:

They allowed me to teach everybody else's kids too.

In the mean time, the house is completely trashed. The kids' room, which we repainted several weeks ago, needs trim, a closet door, and a regular door (all waiting in the garage for their paint and saws and nails and such.) And the closet needs to be rearranged to hold all of their stuff.

In fact, every closet door in our house needs to be replaced. And we need a new front door too. These are also waiting for us in the garage. (Say a prayer for us, people.) Don't even get me started about the fan in the family room that STILL needs to be replaced.

And the homeschooling area that needs to be completely overhauled.

And the spare room that is now filled with all the stuff we moved OUT of the kids' room (all three of them are now in the same room... don't ask me how this happened, it just did) needs to be packed up, trashed, or relocated.

There really is stuff everywhere, and it sorta feels like I can't even put things away.

And, strangely enough, the laundry and dishes just seem to keep reproducing.

So, what I am telling you is, I might not be blogging again until next summer.

School has started, and I am already behind!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Could Elaborate, But I'll Just Ask

How much of what we call "blessing" is really just self-indulgence?

This question is not meant to be rhetorical. I'd like to hear your thoughts.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why Didn't I Know About This?

Ms. Boo, who is now 6 years old has been a crafter since she was old enough to hold scissors. If a box sits around too long, she'll turn it into something. (Rarely is it identifiable, but still - it's something.) When she was just a wee child, about three or so, she asked me at breakfast one day, "Mom, what craft will we be doing today?"

As if mothers have a schedule.

Of craft projects.


You see, it makes all kinds of sense to her six-year-old mind that, uh yeah, you do a craft, like every day.

And believe me, her world spins slightly off center when she doesn't get her daily fix.

So, in the crafty world she inhabits, it is completely within reason that her mother should:
  1. have supplies on hand at all times. Never mind that she doesn't always know what she needs for a particular project. If she doesn't know what she needs, she just tells mom and mom can figure it out. (NOW, preferably.)
  2. think of a suitable craft for a a six-year-old whenever the six-year-old can't think of one herself. (NOW, preferably.)
  3. help her with the craft. (Oh, and, NOW, preferably.)
And did I mention that she expects mom to do these things NOW? Because she does.

The thing is, I get it. I was just like her when I was a kid and it was beyond frustrating when I could not make something because I didn't have a good idea, or I wasn't big enough to use a tool, or we didn't have what we needed for the job. So, I get it, I really do.

But being on this end of the frustrated crafter's demands is a little draining, even for someone who loves crafting.

So, who, WHO I ASK YOU? Felt it was a good idea to keep this a secret from me?

Oh, sweet mercy, we are CAMPING OUT at the Home Depot once a month so we can GET THERE AS SOON AS IT STARTS! WE CAN'T WASTE TIME! IT'S HOME DEPOT DAY!

We went to our first Kids Workshop at the Home Depot at the beginning of the month. REAL HAMMERS. REAL NAILS. They even gave the kids a REAL APRON. And my daughter made a REAL CRAFT CADDY.

Did you get that? A CRAFT CADDY! Because what on earth would delight a crafter more than crafting a craft caddy? I don't know. But, my lands, she was pleased.

And so was her mom. You know why? It wasn't the popcorn or the sucker or even the shiny pin for her new apron. What pleased her mom was the fact that she wasn't making another useless foam magnet or sequined picture frame. No, she made something practical out of real wood and... get ready for this... it was FREE!

Mr. Bug also enjoyed himself immensely. Because, did I mention there were REAL hammers and nails and all?

I'm telling you, if you haven't been, you need to check this out.

I've heard Lowe's has a version of this too...

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Because a Week Full of Goat Cheese, Artichoke Dip, and Pound Cake do not a Successful Weight-Loss Make

Well folks. The eating was off the charts this week.

I'm back up to 139 as of Monday morning. So I gained 2.5 pounds this week, leaving me at 9.5 pounds lost since beginning the challenge.

I liked 12 better.

I am hoping to lose 15 by the end of the challenge.

Pray for me, y'all.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reality is Setting in

The kids have spent the better part of last night and this morning preparing "lemonade." This lemonade consists of a pitcher of water into which they put half of a lemon and stirred it around for a while.

Ms. Boo-6 came to me this morning and asked if I could make a sign that said "A dollar and ten cents for a cup."

The TV table is out in the yard flanked by three lawn chairs.

It's the typical summer undertaking of the average American kid, but the reality is setting in for Ms. Boo. She hasn't sold anything all morning. Unfortunately, for her, she is much more disappointed than the average kid.

You see, she was trying to earn enough money so that her teacher daddy wouldn't have to go back to work.

Very sweet.


Monday, August 13, 2007


All of my regular readers laughed when I announced my new diet to the world.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Well, who's laughing now, people? Who's laughing now?

Current weight: 136.5 lbs
Lost this week: 3.5 lbs
Lost since beginning the challenge: 12.0 lbs

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Vital Survival Information Should You Ever Unexpectedly Get Stuck in China

This coming week is my last week of Chinese class, and I have to do a short presentation. In preparation for it, I started looking through the lessons from the text which we will not cover. I was hoping to find a word or two that I could use in the presentation.

I knew as soon as I started reading that I'd be blogging about this.

Here are some of the sentences that are contained in the book. Commit them to memory, folks, you never know when you might need them...

Chu men gen zai jia bu yiyang, gafan shi jiu shi duo - "Going on a trip is not like staying at home, you'll certainly have more problems to solve."

Wo de xingli hen da, yi ge ren ban bu dong - "My luggage is so big that I can't carry it myself."

Yiyuan qianbian xiu lu, qiche dao bu liao yiyuan menkou - "The road is being repaired in front of the hospital, so the car can't reach its gate."

Chule qu shixi de yiwai, dou lai le - "Except for those who have gone to do field practice, everybody is here."

Si ge xiao bao buru liang ge da bao hao - "Four small parcels are not as convenient as two big parcels."

Wo changwan jiu gai nimen le - "I've finished singing. It is your turn now."

Ni ba zui zhangkai, wo kankan - "Please open your mouth and let me have a look."

Ta yi chu men jiu shuaidao le - "No sooner had she left the room than she fell down."

Ni kanjian Hezi le ma - "Have you seen Wako?"



Friday, August 10, 2007

Believe Me, I Scare Myself Too

It's been on my mind ever since I posted it. I knew people were going to try to "explain" it to me... even though I think I already "get it." But now I just can't let it go.

I mentioned that I could not figure out how a person could lose two and a half pounds overnight without using the bathroom, and drinking a cup of tea. Someone left a link to an article about glycogen storage. It was interesting, but it didn't answer my question.

Because this is a simple application of the Law of Conservation of Mass: it doesn't matter where your food goes or what it turns into inside of your body. If you don't poop it, pee it, sweat it, flatulate it, sneeze it, puke it, cry it, or ooze it in some other manner, you will weigh the sum total of all the food you've put in your mouth. End of story.

Here is a way to visualize it:

Step on the scale. It says you weigh 100 lbs. (And, by the way, I might have to get catty about that.)

Now find a bag of marbles and weigh it. The scale says the marbles weigh 2 lbs.

What would you weigh if you stepped on the scale while HOLDING the bag of marbles? (I'll give you time to calculate.) If you said 102 pounds, you are right.

Now, think of every piece of food that you eat as a bag of marbles. Some folks have been known to call these marbles "atoms," but we'll call them marbles here because marbles don't make people want to run to the nearest corner, curl up in a ball, and start rocking back and forth while repeatedly muttering "Please don't make me do chemistry. I never did like chemistry."

So, you and your marbles weigh 102 pounds. Now step off the scale and open the bag of marbles. Put some in your pockets. Put a few in your underwear. Hold the rest in your hands. Just make sure you have all the marbles on your person, somewhere... and we'll agree that I won't ask you where you put them all, okay?

Now, step back on the scale. How much do you weigh?

102 pounds.

Rearrange those marbles any way you want. Make new groups, LET THE MARBLES MINGLE! It doesn't matter. No matter where you put the marbles, you will still weigh the same. (In other words, store it as fat, store it as glycogen, make a new cell out of it... it just doesn't matter. All the atoms you ate still weigh the same, even if they've been re-grouped and made into something new inside your body.)

The only way to lose weight is to lose marbles. BURNING ENERGY ISN'T WHAT MAKES YOU LOSE WEIGHT. "Burning energy" is the term we use when we mean "break the bonds that are holding atoms together." In other words, we need to use energy to pull apart the marbles that are stuck together. But pulling them apart doesn't make us weigh less. Excreting them does. In order for us to lose weight, a molecule of fat, for example, has to be pulled apart, made into smaller pieces, and sent OUT OF THE BODY. (The ultimate out-of-body experience, eh?)

But I didn't do any major, uh, marble removal that night... yet I lost 2.5 pounds!

So the question has been sitting in the back of my head for over two weeks now. Brewing. Gaining information. Resulting in furrowed brow and far-off looks as I pondered: How in the world is it possible to lose weight while you are sleeping? I know we are always giving off water vapor, but it didn't seem like water vapor could account for the entire loss I experienced that night.

And then it hit me: Breathing.

Yes, you can lose weight by breathing.

It's brilliant.

Because here's the deal: We inhale oxygen (made of 2 oxygen atoms.) But what do we exhale? Carbon dioxide, which is the same two oxygen atoms, but with an extra carbon attached. So, with every breath, we are actually losing weight by getting rid of some of our carbon marbles.

I needed to check this out, so I stayed up way too late last night looking for some basic information and calculating the amount of carbon lost by the average person in a day.

Oh, I am not kidding.

I used the value that Wikipedia lists as the volume of carbon dioxide exhaled in one day by the average person. The temperature of the gas will affect the volume, but I used average room temperature, and also average atmospheric pressure. From these I used the Ideal Gas Equation and the atomic mass of carbon to figure out how much carbon that would be in grams. Then converted to pounds.

My temperature and pressure values were only estimates, and I suspect they throw the results off. This guy gets a different mass than I do. And I did not try to correct for the fact that the gas we exhale is generally warmer than room temp. But, from what I calculated, I determined that the average person loses 0.49 pounds every day just by exhaling carbon dioxide. (There you have it! Scientific proof that we are all losing our marbles!)

Adjusting that to reflect the six (probably fewer) hours that I was sleeping, allows me to conclude the following:

The average person loses NOWHERE NEAR 2.5 POUNDS of exhaled carbon while they are sleeping!

BUT, what I did learn is that if I don't eat or drink all day and make sure that I keep up with my breathing, I'm pretty much guaranteed to lose about a half a pound!


Someone call the marketing gurus... I've got a new diet to share with the world!

The Breather's Diet?

No, I got it -

How to Lose Weight in 1000 Easy Breaths

(I'm gonna be famous...)

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bet You Never Knew the Macedonian Call was Actually an E-mail

The phone rang around noon today and a woman from church was on the other end.

"How's it going?" she asked.

I figured it was just one of those pleasantries, so I answered "fine" and waited for her to get on with why she called.

But "how it was going" was why she called.

You see, this morning she received an e-mail. It was from my husband, who is currently on a mission trip in Macedonia. It seems he asked her if she would be able to take the kids for a little while so I could get time to study for my Chinese quiz this evening.

Why, yes indeedy.

She picked them up at 12:30 and dropped them off at 4:15. While they were gone, I studied at Panera, and even got a chance to stop in at Target and find purse (shopping? in PEACE?) to replace the one that broke last week.

So, whomever of you have been praying, I humbly thank you.

And, in case you were wondering, I won the battle of the wills last night. After a few failed attempts at putting her back down to bed, and several subsequent negotiations through the closed door, the SCREAMING child finally decided to lay quietly, and was asleep within minutes. At 11:30 pm.

Hopefully, three days in a row of night-time tantrums will be all that is required to teach her that the mama ain't kidding when she says "do not get up, and do not scream."


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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Single Parenting? No Thanks

Paul is gone this week.

My sister was visiting from Connecticut, but left this evening.

Dealing with the S.C.R.E.A.M.I.N.G child at bed time was easier when there was another adult in the house. It obviously helped me keep my cool, but it was also nice to just be able to walk in another room and not have someone YELLING AT ME. AND REQUIRING EVERY LAST OUNCE OF MY TIME AND ENERGY AND SOMETIMES NOT EVEN THAT IS ENOUGH.

Right now, the child is "crying it out" in the only room that she can't get herself out of... which also happens to be the bedroom the other two kids normally sleep in. The other two are in my room tonight, and the third one COULD be, if she would just STAY there. Without screaming.

They were all in the living room last night, and so SCREAMING child was also sent to the bedroom when she decided to have a fit.

And if it isn't enough that I have a screaming child on my hands, I am already wondering how, logistically, this is going to work out in the future because the other kids will, at some point, have to start sleeping in their room again.

She doesn't want me to leave her. She never had this problem until we moved her out of the crib... which was the perfect place for letting a child cry it out. Until, of course, they have such a tantrum that they actually kick one of the spindles clear out of the crib and then can crawl out of it at will. This happened one day in a non-bedtime related tantrum. And we kept using the crib, which she happily stayed in during sleeping times, but would immediately crawl out of when placed there to have out her tantrum.

And I just don't know what to do anymore. Is she upset Paul is gone? Do I just cut her some slack and sit with her until she falls asleep? Or will that just make it harder to break her of the habit in the future... when there is no place to put her from which she can't escape?

Of course this doesn't even address the part about "Hi, I have been with you nonstop ALL. DAY. LONG. And now it's eleven o'clock and I am going to need just a few minutes to myself before I go to bed or I might just lose my last shred of sanity, thank you very much."

And I'm supposed to exercise tonight too.

Which, under any other circumstance, I would welcome the reprieve from. But tonight it makes me just a wee bit angry...........................


I'm Tired

I am so tired. This week has been so busy.

So. Very. Busy. And I have a child who is not cooperating with the busy schedule by not going to bed before 11:30 pm. And screaming if I don't stay RIGHT. THERE. WITH. HER until she falls asleep.

So. Very. Tired.

I almost forgot to post my weigh-in. And, the fact that I am posting the previous update at the same time as my weigh-in should just show you how tired I am.

Did I mention I am tired?

I am up one pound this week, to 140.0

I am not on track to do much better this coming week. We'll see how it turns out.

Check out all the other participants in the weight loss challenge.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Because I am a Devoted Servant, People

I can't let my bloggy peeps down you know. Especially when they are taking time enough to leave a comment and, in so doing, ask a question.

Well, Luisa asked a question about the sign that appears in this post.

She asked: Hey, what are the asterisks for?

I was slightly taken aback by this question. First, because I didn't think the self-proclaimed Grammar Fascista would end a sentence with a prepostion.

Second, because I had no idea what the answer was. This might not seem like a big deal, but that sign, as it so happens, is located in my favorite donut shop. (It used to be number two, but is now the default #1 since my #1 favorite donut shop closed down. Let us now observe a moment of silence, please............)

It seems that I get a little, uh, distracted when I am at the donut shop. The sheer delight, I suppose. The chocolate cake with chocolate icing is delicious. The cherry turnovers are fab. And don't even get me started about the custard-filled. Oh, the custard filled.

So, imagine with me, will you? Piping hot coffee. The soft, moist goodness of the chocolate cake donut. I'm sure I noticed it as I was throwing my head back and rolling my eyes in sheer delight. The sign. With - is that an apostrophe? No, surely not... This cannot be: Where am I going to find a new favorite donut shop? I can't have a favorite donut shop with a sign like THAT!

All of this to say that I was distracted. The donut, the coffee, the APOSTROPHE! And of course, I immediately started composing a post about the apostrophe in my head.

What those asterisks were about was not even on my radar...

But the Fascista wanted to know.

And I live to serve.

So back to the donut shop I went. Made a special trip just to find out. Of course when I got there, and the lady behind the counter asked me what I wanted, I felt too silly to declare "What I want you cannot give me. I am on a quest for knowledge."

So I ordered. But WHAT I ordered doesn't matter. (Except for the part about sweet-mercy-it-was-so-good.)

And now, I am happy to report that the asterisks refer to the flavors that are also available in sugar-free.

Now, sweet readers, you can all put your minds at rest for having this burning question answered. Please know that I am willing to make these sacrifices in order to help you maintain your peace of mind.

I know. You're welcome.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Reuniting Stolen Apostrophes with Their Rightful Owners One Blog Post at a Time

This is a STOLEN apostrophe:

Thanks to my diligent detective work, the apostrophe can now be returned to its rightful word:I'm tearing up just thinking about it...

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