December 31, 2008

Attack of the Multitudinous Toys

Hello. I do believe it's been a while since we've chatted. How are you? How's the family? Did you over-eat at Christmas dinner, too?

This last week has found me up to my elbows in train tracks, ABC magnets, puzzle pieces, and Mr. Potato Head parts. Which is to say Caleb had a very merry Christmas. =) Actually, we all did.

Here's what our livingroom looked like Christmas Eve:

A pup tent all ready for exotic adventures, a train set, and a little stuffed kitty hiding in the Christmas tree. Caleb adores kitties.

And that, friends, is the cleanest my house has been since December 25th. Because about twelve hours after these pictures were taken, the grandparents showed up. Our home has looked like a tornado-hit toy store ever since.

I really can't blame the grandparents. After all, they asked me what to get him for Christmas. They just followed my suggestions; sheesh, people really shouldn't listen to me half as much as they do. Haven't they figured out that I'm crazy?!? How else would you explain why I wanted puzzles and magnets for my son?
Small wooden pieces that get stuck under the fridge, in the laundry basket, and in the diaper pail. Should've stuck with Veggie Tales and Elmo dvds. Nice, safe, easily organized dvds.

What was I thinking?? Sheer madness, friends. I've got it bad.
Actually, I know what I was thinking. I was thinking ahead. You know, ahead to where Caleb starts learning to read and oh how fun those ABC magents will be when he starts sounding out words. Ahead. To those leisure mornings where Caleb and I do puzzles together and then, when we're finished, we sing the Clean Up song and put everything neatly away. Ahead. To where Mr. Potato Head provides not only quality toddler entertainment, but the chance to teach our son the parts of the body.
Ha ha.
I should've stopped while I was "ahead." And stuck with those DVDs.
But I'm mad, remember? Mad as Mad Martigen. As the Mad Hatter. Mad mad. Mommy mad.
That, and I'm an over-achiever. But you didn't hear that from me, ok? I like to pretend I don't have any problems or issues, and if you'll just pretend along with me, we'll all get along peachy. Ok?
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled Caleb has new toys. We were due for an infusion. The barn set and the pretend keyboard were getting pretty boring. Now I have plenty to rotate in and out and Caleb will be busy for a while as he discovers everything his new toys can do.
I do miss our livingroom floor, however. It's kinda become a good friend, and I get a little nervous when I can't see it.

So if you don't see me for a while, I'm probably hyperventilating in the bathroom. Or, you know, trying to make organizational order from the chaos. Ooo, my home-maker senses tingle even as I write this. A challenge! Mom v. The Toys. A battle of wits to the bitter end! Who will be the victor?


Ok, that's all for now. I don't want to scare you off for good. Also, I need to take a nap and start emotionally preparing myself for Saturday. Why, you ask?

Because Saturday, dear friends, is Caleb's birthday.

December 24, 2008

A Christmas Meme Just For You

I saw this Christmas Meme ( I have no idea how to pronounce that . . . Mem? Meem? Meh-Meh?) over at Thoughts and Whatnots and decided to give it a go. I've been getting to know LeAnna over there (Hi! Hope you don't mind I stole your Meme!), and this looked like such fun. So here you go, a Merry Christmas Eve Meme from me to you. =)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper!!! Lots and lots of it, too! Bags are too easy to peek into . . .

2. Real or fake tree? I prefer real; I grew up with a real tree every year. But alas, we have a fake one. Easier to care for, not such a fire hazard, or so my husband tells me. ;) Sure miss that pine smell, though. =(

3. When do you put up a tree? Since it's fake, right after Thanksgiving . . . I guess there's something good about a plastic tree. =)

4. When do you take it down? By Valentine's Day, if I'm lucky. Kidding, kidding! I only did that one year . . . no, usually after New Years. Before, if I'm really with it. Which does happen on occasion.

5. Do you like eggnog? Bleh! Absolutely NOT! I don't eat anything with "egg" in the title, except maybe egg rolls. That goes for omlettes and quiche, too. *Makes sour face*

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Anything American Girl. From about 10-14 years old, I played with my Molly doll. =) One Christmas, I got Molly's radio and matching pajamas that my mom had made.

7. Hardest person (people) to buy for? Usually my dad.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My mom, my husband, my son . . . the list goes on.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yep. In fact, I have two. My pewter Precious Moments one sits on the window sill above the kitchen sink and my clay one from Peru is in the bathroom.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I didn't know you could email Christmas cards . . . I mail mine. Never mind they might be a bit late from year to year . . .

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A Barbie clothes set. I never had barbies growing up; course, the relative who gifted me the barbie clothes didn't know that . . . I was still bummed.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Christmas Carol, both the Muppets version and the one with George C. Scott made in the 1980s.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Depends. When I was into crafts and such, I'd start making gifts in September. If I do baking gifts, not till December. But on average? Prolly October/November. That totally didn't answer the question, did it?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. Of course not! What sacrilege! What heresy! Now I have re-gifted a wedding present . . . but that's different. Totally.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Um, everything? All things sweet and chocolate-y and peppermint-y.

16. Lights on the tree? Wasn't aware another camp existed . . . are there really people who don't put lights on their trees? Can we say a prayer for them?? Oooo, unless they're blind . . .

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night. I like Celine Dion's version, but I've heard many other good ones.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home. With family. =)

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Probably. But I'm too lazy to list them here. I remember Dasher and Prancer and Cupid were always my favorites. (Cupid is a reindeer, right?).

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Nothing currently. Hoping to find something on sale after Christmas and put it away for next year.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas pajamas are opened Christmas Eve. Presents wait till morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The traffic! I can't go food shopping without playing bumper carts with people on every aisle. And don't even ask me about the parking lot . . .
23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? Every year we add an ornament to commemorate something important from our year. A star with two bears for the year we were married. A rocking horse picture frame for Caleb's first Christmas last year. A diploma for the year I graduated college. Etc.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and my special corn fritters. Mmmmmmm! Oh, and Mom's apple pie. Darn it! Now I'm hungry.

25. Favorite Decorations? All of 'em. =) I don't have a favorite. They come out of their special box each year after Thanksgiving and decorating is like getting reaquainted with old friends. Well, ok, I guess I especially like my two Christmas Boyd's Bears.

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? I would love a renaissance-period dress, complete with hat. Not that I dress up all that often, but hey, it's Christmas and I'm allowed to dream, right?

Merry Christmas, everyone! Now I'm off to work some Christmas magic with Jason; we have a train set to put together and a pup tent to put up. Our livingroom is going to look like a toy shop (Or Ikea . . . either way. =)

December 22, 2008

Update, Update!

Another rainy day. Wonder if it will rain on Christmas? I was going to take Caleb to the park this morning, but we had to settle for Barnes 'n Noble instead. They have a train table there in the kids section and Caleb loves moving the little engines around the track. =) He even shared with the other little kids. *Sniff, sniff* My baby's growing up!

I spent a good part of the weekend resting and getting my strength back from the episode in the hospital. That little two day adventure really took it out of me; but thank the Lord, I am feeling better. Thank you all for your prayers! I appreciated them so much!

While I seem to be out of the woods, health issues aren't over yet. I have two doctors appointments scheduled for next week, on the advice of the ER doctor who treated me. Since he couldn't pinpoint exactly what was wrong with me, he wants my family doctor to run some extra tests, bloodwork, and all that jazz.

Yippee for me. =p Better to be safe than sorry, right?

In other news, several of you have been asking me how my step-mom is doing. I am happy to report that Anne is doing well. She has one of the more curable types of leukemia (APL, I think it's called), so she is expected to make a full recovery. When she's supposed to make said recovery is still up for debate, however. The doctors hope to send her home the first week of January, but a lot depends on her white blood cell/platelet counts. These continue to fluctuate and until they stabilize, she's going no where.

I talked to Anne today and she said to tell you all thank you for your prayers. She has felt every one of them. All things considered, she's doing pretty darn good. =)

We attended our church's Living Nativity last night. So fun! The story of Christmas all brought to life with real animals and people playing the vital roles of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, and wise men. Even a Herod in a richly decorated throne room! The best part was seeing a real baby in the manger and then, further down the "tour", a little one year old boy crawling around in the hay while the wise men came and presented gifts to him. =) Seeing it really helped me remember why we celebrate and why I love this holiday so much.

December 17, 2008

So maybe I should've had a flu shot . . .

Hello friends! I'm home!!

Home, as opposed to the ER and the Hospital. Where I spent yesterday and most of today. =(

What was wrong with me? Well, the doctors still aren't real sure. Their best guess is that I had food poisoning or a nasty flu bug. Lemme tell ya, friends, I've never had anything like it before. And I really hope I never do again.

Yesterday was NOT fun. Not the being sick part and not the waiting-in-the-ER-for-three-hours-before-being-admitted-part.

But hey, this time yesterday the doctors thought I might have apendicitus (sp?) and that I would have to have surgery. Obviously, because I'm home typing this and not in a recovery room somewhere, that didn't happen. God's grace.

Then there was my "neighbor" in the ER bed next to me. We were separated by a curtain, but curtains don't exactly afford a lot of privacy, especially when it comes to overhearing doctors and nurses. After an hour, I knew he was in there for diabetes, and I'm sure he knew I was having abdominal pain. After Jason left last night to go home and sleep, my neighbor and I talked for forty-five minutes through the curtain about life, our families, our medical histories, and the weather. The nurses thought that was quite funny, the two of us having a conversation without being able to see each other.

But hey! what are you going to do when there are no rooms for you in the hospital and you can't sleep in ER because they won't turn the blaring lights off or stop pricking you for blood? Believe me, you'd start talking to curtains too! I mean, er, the people behind them . . .

Troy (my neighbor) was more of God's grace to me last night. The hospital is a pretty lonely place at 11:30 pm.

So anyway, I'd appreciate your prayers that I recover ok and that this episode isn't indicative of a deeper issue. Because, as I stated above, the doctor never really nailed down what was wrong with me. And if you think of it, pray for Mr. Troy, too. He's in pretty bad shape with his diabetes.

Thanks you guys!

December 10, 2008

We're not a bunch of Grinches . . .

Today is December 11th and already the holiday season is in full swing. Our tree is decorated, our stockings are hung, pine-scented candles burn, and even the weather seems to be cooperating. =) I've watched "White Christmas" twice and I'll be showing "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to my ESL class later this week.

No doubt about it. No denying it. Christmas is here.

And while I enjoy everything this season has to offer, I love it for one more reason. It is the season of giving.

I love to give. When I was ten (and making all my Christmas gifts by hand), I planned to give four gifts each to my mom, dad, grandparents, and best friend. I have the old secret Christmas notebook to prove it. Four gifts each, proving that a) I am an over-achiever, and b) I seriously love to give.

Think I outgrew that trait? Ha. Just ask Jason. He'll tell you I'm still an over-achiever. =)

And I still love giving. It's one of my spiritual gifts. And I have a spiritual-gifts-multiple-choice-test-paper-thingy from church proving that, as well. =) I'm bona fide.

I'm also addicted. Whether I'm mailing money to feed hungry children or making free glyphs for our guildies in WoW, I get this tingling-y happy feeling from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Every. Single. Time. Better than caffeine.

Good thing I married Jason, or else I'd be broke right about now. Jason does not have the gift of giving. That's not to say he doesn't enjoy gift-giving. He does. Just not to the same break-out-and-start-dancing-in-the-rain-while-singing-at-the-top-of-your-voice way that I do. Which is good. He brings balance; he also makes sure we still have money for things like food and rent and all that.

So with all the joy to the world flitting about our home this Christmas season, you might be surprised to hear that we aren't giving gifts this Christmas. Not to our family and not to each other.

Gasp! Shock! What the . . . !

Now before you write me off, or stop reading, or hurriedly cover your children's eyes for fear of what they might see, let me explain: this is all God's fault.

The Lord has been doing a work in my heart. A work that started last Christmas and has been quietly, unobtrusively going on for the past twelve months. Last Christmas, we had no money. Literally. We had enough, praise God, for the important needs, but no more. We told our family not expect presents. I think we scrapped enough money together to get our son one small thing. That was all.

And oh! how I struggled. How could you have Christmas without presents? Would the holiday even come if you had nothing under your tree? I felt poor. I felt humiliated. I certainly didn't feel very Christmas-y.

Then a strange thing happened. December 25th arrived. And like the Grinch observed: "It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. I puzzled three hours, till my puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch, er, I thought of something I hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," I thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Christmas 2007 wasn't ruined as I had feared. We had a wonderful day, full of family and good food and a little boy who thought the wrapping paper and bows were the best part of the gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. =) The day was still beautiful and special.

Fast forward twelve months. This year we have more money. We have money to buy presents, anyway. But when I sat down to start my gift list last month, something stopped me.

Maybe it was the realization that our pantry is full of food and our closets are full of clothes. Maybe it was the realization that all our needs are met every month, and many of our wants are, too.
Maybe it was the thought that the friends and family I planned to buy presents for were in the same boat: all needs and many wants already met.

Maybe it was God who brought all these things to my mind.

Suddenly, the idea of lavishing more stuff on those who really didn't need it felt shallow somehow. Why do we give gifts after all? Well, because it's tradition. And as I so foolishly believed last year, you can't have Christmas without presents. Right?

I'm not so sure about that anymore. So this year, we Neuhausers are trying something new. We are spending our Christmas money on items from this catalog and we've asked our family to do the same.

Now if I were a super-spiritual type person, I'd have three Bible verses listed here on how Jesus told us to help the poor and why giving is so godly at Christmas time. Heck, maybe I'd even use the Three Wise Men as an example, just for good show. But I'm not super-spiritual, and I'm NOT going to tell you that you should be doing what we're doing.

Simply put, our family is thankful to Jesus that He so faithfully and abundantly provides for us. We want our Christmas gifts to make a difference to the people who receive them. I'm not writing this so that you guys will think "Wow! How philanthropic those Neuhausers are! How sacrificial! How godly!" Absolutely not. And before you get any other weird ideas, yes, we are still planning one or two surprises for our son to find under the tree. We didn't go off the deep end completely. =) I just wanted to share with you what the Lord has shared with me; it's been a hard lesson, but you know what? My enjoyment of the holiday season hasn't diminished at all.

And with a Christmas party next week, my last night of teaching tonight, and Christmas Eve approaching, I still have plenty of opportunities to scratch my gift-giving itch. Granted, most of the giving will involve food, time, and energy, but that's ok with me. =)

Merry Christmas, ya'll!

December 5, 2008

V is for Vendetta and F is for Fugue

Last night, our home fellowship attended PLNU's annual Cider Celebration. The Cider Celebration has become a tradition for Jason and I; we were at Point Loma for the very first celebration six years ago; we had just started dating "officially" and Jay came down to visit me before finals. I knew friends in the choir, and hey! cider's always good, right? So we went.

And we've gone every year since (except for last year).

Beautiful music, silly campus campy-ness, snow machines, hot cider, dancing reindeer, what's not to love?

One thing comes to mind: Bach.

As in the composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Never before has Bach invaded our dearly beloved Cider Celebration. Tchaikovsky and Brahms, yes. Bach, no. But last night, he showed up.

Oh the Horror!

See, I have a long-standing grudge against Mr. Bach. I hate his fugues. I used to play piano, back in high school, and for my senior recital, I decided to play his Fugue in C Minor. Don't ask me why. I'd heard the first few bars in an old Amy Grant song; like the sadly naieve person I can sometimes be, I thought to myself "Awww, how pretty! I should play that!"


I spent the next six months practicing that dumb fugue. Minor keys are difficult to begin with, but I personally believe Bach was insane when he wrote this. Most of the great composers were. In addition to the minor key, Fugue in C Minor is supposed to be played allegretto or fast. But no matter how hard I practiced, Bach continued to beat me. My fingers flew, but they never landed quite right on the keys, or quite fast enough. I loved playing (and still do), but that music made me wonder why I'd ever started piano in the first place. I cried many tears during those six months.

On recital day, with all kinds of encouragement from my piano teacher and my family, I sat down and played that Fugue.

And lost track of a few bars. Forgot where my fingers were supposed to be. Rushed the ending.

And I've hated Bach ever since.

So when the choir sang another of his great works last night, I set my jaw and wrinkled my nose and endured it. (Incidentally, the song they sang didn't make much sense, either, so now I'm wondering if Bach was ever in his right mind).

After the concert, as we stood around talking, I declared to Allyl how much I detested Mr. B. She stared at me in shock, herself having played flute in high school, and asked me why.

Well, now you know. ;)

Wishing you a very Merry and Bach-free Christmas this year, friends. :)

December 3, 2008

An Addendum to the Post Below (the one with singing elves)

As evidenced by my earlier elfy post, both Caleb and I needed naps today. Neither one of us got one, however, and the inordinate amount of silliness resulting from said lack of sleep couldn't help spilling over into BloggieWorld.

Hence, the dancing Neuhauser elves. =)

Jason only had a small heart attack when he saw it. =) =)

(I defended myself by telling him that the dancing and music kept our cranky, sleep-deprived son from crying . . . a good enough excuse in any parent's book).

Now it's much later, and Caleb is sleeping. Finally. =) But, quite obviously, I am not.

Tonight was my first night back at work in over two weeks. I was greeted by Roy, who wanted Spanish lessons (go figure!), Annie who sings while she writes, Kaitlyn who continually bugs me for pictures of Caleb, Green who likes to pronounce "covet" with the stress on the second syllable, and Ryan who decided Ratatouille was the movie we should watch Friday night.

Just a typical night for me. =) It's good to be back.

I apologize I haven't been on Blogger much lately. My muse has gone missing and I hesitate to write without it. You wouldn't like my un-inspired posts, methinks. Methinks you might just go running for the hills and erase every trace of this website from your hardrive.

But fret not, friends. My muse never goes missing for long. I'll find it one day when I'm not looking, next to the bananas or under a pile of bills. You'll be the first to know when it returns, ok? Promise.

What I Do When My Son Won't Nap

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

November 27, 2008

Thoughts on this rainy Thanksgiving Night

Tonight I'm having one of those rare moments where my family's already in bed and I'm the only one up.

Scents of apple pie and turkey still drift through the house, memories of an unexpected family dinner a few hours ago.

Outside, clouds wheel and roll about the sky like a flock of birds, darting here and there. The air is clean, cold, and wet, a testimony to the wild amount of rain we've had the last two days. Finally, finally it begins to feel like fall around here. It smells like it, too, inside and out. I'm savoring the sensation.

Tomorrow will bring a new season. The advent, the excitement, the approach of Christmas. As per tradition, we will decorate our home this weekend with red and green and gold. Time to trade in my pumpkin pie and apple crisp candles for more seasonal scents, such as pine and cinnamin. And Jason will try to explain to Caleb that Christmas trees ornaments do not make good building blocks.

I can hardly wait. (said in a serious and non-sarcastic tone of voice). This is my favorite time of year.

And while many people will be waking up tomorrow to Black Friday sales and delicious leftovers, Jason and I are waking up to a car trip, hospital visit, and yet another change of plans.

But tomorrow isn't here yet. It's still Thanksgiving, for another hour and a half.

So I intend to be Thankful for the next hour and a half; maybe even just a bit longer.

For a God who loves me, even when I fail and when I am weak.

For a Savior who stands by me, even when the Devil and his world jeer at me for the choices I make.

For a husband who is helpful, faithful, and honest, no matter what.

For my precious son, who makes me laugh, makes me cry, and who blesses my heart every single day.

For the material blessings I enjoy and all-too-often take for granted.

For the immaterial blessings, such as friendship and laughter. My life is filled with them both.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you!

November 24, 2008

Moment by Moment, Peace by Peace

Caleb and I went to the Wild Animal Park this morning. Our passes expire on Sunday, and with the cooler weather, I wanted to take him one more time. We had such an amazing time. We got there around 9:30 and had the new Discovery Station all to ourselves for about a half hour. We played with plastic African animals, colored pictures, and built towers of small wooden blocks. We visited the elephants, the meercats, and the ducks. We went for a hike through the conifer forest and Caleb happily played in the dirt with a couple of sticks for about another half hour (honestly, I've never seen a kid so happy in dirt as Caleb =).

The park was quiet, peaceful. The weather was perfect. And I knew, I just knew, He had orchestrated it all. As we drove home, Wizards in Winter ran through my head while Caleb fell asleep in the backseat. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is fast becoming a new favorite around here; their Christmas music, while un-traditional, is nonetheless beautiful. I ordered one of their CDs from Amazon the other day and I can't wait for it to get here.

Wizards in Winter, which you can listen to here, has been my theme song this week. What with everything going on with Dad and Anne, this upbeat music has helped lift my spirits over and over. And, well, I just absolutely love this song. =) So as I drove home today, with this song in my head, I thanked God for a wonderful morning, good mommy-kiddo time with my precious son, and for all the little ways His grace manifests itself. I needed this morning.

This afternoon, we found out Anne does have leukemia.

The doctors don't know what type or what stage, but yes, it's leukemia. They want to start "treatment" (which means "chemo") later this week. She's pretty scared right now, and my dad isn't handling things too well, either. They are, as Anne said, taking things "moment by moment".

Your continued prayers are highly coveted commodities right now. And you know what? They're already working. When I talked to Anne this afternoon, I felt the same peace, the same Presence I felt this morning at the Wild Animal Park. And I know, I know that God is here with us. No matter if we are laughing with our children or crying with our family. He's in the midst of us. I've never been more certain of anything.

So thank you, friends, for your support and prayers. Keep 'em coming!

November 23, 2008

Holding Our Plans Loosely (and more prayer requested, please)

Hey friends . . .

So I need to apologize for the panic-mode post I wrote last night (for those of you who never saw it - I deleted it today - keep reading). I wrote that post in haste, without having all the information, and now I need to correct what was said.

(Note to self: Act, don't react. And taking things to God in prayer before flying off the handle isn't such a bad idea, either)

Anne has not been diagnosed with leukemia. Not yet, anyway. The doctors don't know what's wrong with her. She's undergoing a ton of tests right now as they try to figure things out and she will probably be at the hospital several more days at least.

Her condition is still pretty serious, so we would very much appreciate your continued prayers. Her blood platelet count is dangerously low. For those of you who don't know, platelets are what make your blood clot when you get a cut so that you don't continue to bleed. Anne's platelets have been low for a while, because she started bruising all over her body about a week ago, (that's what initially alerted her and my dad that something was wrong). She is also having bad headaches and trouble breathing when she's on her feet for any length of time. She's completely quarentined right now, so no one who's sick can come near her and she can't leave her room at the hospital.

Sooooooo, she still needs prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. The doctors are doing a bone biopsy tomorrow on her hip to determine if its leukemia or something else entirely. We're hoping for the "something else entirely" option.

Obviously, this has changed our holiday plans, and I'm planning at this point to drive out there Thursday by myself and stay with her and my dad for a few days. Jason is going to stay home with Caleb because, let's face it, a three foot tall tornado is not really a good idea in a hospital ward. I can better help out my dad and Anne if I don't have to watch Caleb, and Caleb will be easier to take care of here at home instead of in the desert. Maybe not the most ideal situation, but then, Anne in the hospital isn't really ideal, either.

So that's where we're at now. As Mishel wrote recently on her blog, we're holding our plans loosely. Things could change at a moment's notice, and we're trying to be ready if and when they do.

Thanks in advance for your prayers. We really appreciate them.

I'll keep ya'll posted.

November 19, 2008

Taking Care of Business

Happy Wednesday, ya'll!

I'd like to take a moment and introduce you to my friend Allyl over at La Petite Maison. Her blog focuses on chic home decor for nifty thrifty prices. She definitely has an eye for beautiful designs, so check it out! (I have added her blog to my sidebar, too, for your surfing pleasure).

The second thing I'd like to mention is this useful Christian website: Plugged In Online This site is also on my sidebar now; Plugged In gives Christian reviews for all current movies out in theaters, including violence, spiritual content, language, sex, etc. Not only are the reviews helpful, but they are well written too. Sometimes I find myself LOL-ing as I read simply because the writers obviously have fun with their job.

Last weekend was a heap of fun! My previous doubts notwithstanding (what a great word, huh?), we managed to pull off our visit to the Star Trek exhibit. Even though Caleb refused to take a nap that day. Even though, by the time we arrived at the museum, he was incredibly cranky. Even though he fell asleep in my arms while we looked at the various authentic costumes of our favorite characters. =)

Yep! We still had fun. Jason and Kevin took turns letting him ride on their shoulders. He climbed around Sulu and Chekov's seats on the bridge of the original Enterprise.

And now, I bet you're wondering why there aren't pictures. Wellllll, the museum wanted us to pay for professional photography and wouldn't let us take our own. =( That was the one downer of our trip. But lack of pictures notwithstanding (this shall be my new favorite word, I think), we all enjoyed ourselves and Kevin wants to come back and visit the rest of the Air and Space museum.

That was last weekend. Now I'm sitting here at my computer, thinking about this weekend and next, specifically about Thanksgiving. You know, that turkey holiday? Well apparently, it's right around the corner. A fact I failed to realize until yesterday. =) Funny how the holidays seem to sneak up on you. Sneaky sneaky holidays.

We are heading out to my dad's for Thanksgiving, something we've been doing since we got married. The desert is beautiful this time of year. I'm hoping it will be cold, since San Diego still labors under the delusion that it's July. Go away, heat!

Anywho, those are my Wednesday thoughts to share with ya'll. Hope you're having a good week!

November 12, 2008

What Happens When the Cape Comes Off?

There are days when I am Super-Mom. I wear a red cape and knee-high boots. I fly around La Mesa kissing boo-boos, shopping for food, cooking gourmet dinners, cleaning dust specks off my ceiling fan, chasing my son and his evil twin, coloring super-hero pictures. All with my hair neatly in place.

But, as Mr. Incredible says, every super hero has an alter ego. Even the red cape and boots need to be washed periodically. So what happens when they come off?

Well. Sometimes balls get dropped. And let me tell ya, I let a real big one go bouncing this week.

See, there's this Star Trek exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Air and Space. I'll admit I'm a little more geeky about ST than Jason is, but we both figured hey! it'd be fun to go, right? I mean, how many chances do you get to actually sit in Captain Picard's chair???

Oh, be still my heart!

We've been planning to go for months now. And we decided to get Jason's best friend Kevin, in on the whole deal since he's a Trekkie, too.

So our plans are made, the date is set. We are all excited.

Except that, in the midst of the anticipation of seeing a real transporter chamber and the deck of the original Enterprise, I forgot one little detail. A three-foot, blonde-headed detail.

I completely forgot that I would need childcare for Caleb while the three of us are out gallavanting around the galaxy. Bounce goes the dropped ball . . .

Not very Super-Mom-ish.

I'm so used to having Caleb along wherever we go; the thought didn't dawn on me until Monday: Hey maybe it would be a good idea if Caleb stays with someone rather than running around highly expensive T.V. props. Then I went into panic mode. Call Ashleigh. Call Mom. Call Amy.

No one can watch him. The ball keeps bouncing . . .

Maybe I should have called the National Guard instead. Hmmmm, anyone have that number?

There is a moral to this story. Ready? Here it is: Never, ever, ever take that cape off. Wear it till it rots. That's the only way to ensure childcare in times of need. Even Super-Moms have trouble catching dropped balls.

But lest I leave you in the Depths of Despair, I will tell you what I told Amy: we can probably take Caleb with us if no other option presents itself. Three adults should be able to handle one small child, right? Right?? (feel free to reassure me here, frineds).


Knowing my son, he'll be comandeering a space shuttle and commanding his own away mission if we're not careful. Either that, or he'll break said transporter chamber and Scotty won't be able to beam anyone up.

Let's just hope he'll be satisfied sitting in the Captain's chair and wearing his own com badge. =)

November 9, 2008

Hello's and Good-Bye's: Not sure I'm good at either

The weather can't make up its mind today. It's cloudy. It's sunny. It's cloudy again. Oh here, let's throw some rain around while we're at it. About the only thing constant is the wind.

But I don't mind. The weather can stay moody. I love it. =)

Today's a little more special than the average Sunday; today we are welcoming back to San Diego some very good friends of ours. Greg and Amy and their son Josiah moved to Nevada about six months ago. We were sad to see them leave; Greg had been leading our home fellowship for several years and Amy and I had become good "mommy" friends (our boys are only 4 months apart). =)

Now the Lord has seen fit to bring them back into our lives. And I am very thrilled about that, dontcha know? Toe-tapping-with-impatience-can't-wait-to-see-them thrilled. Caleb will have his old play buddy back, and we will all get to meet little Zeke who was born in August.

But even as I rejoice at this unexpected turn of events, I'm a bit down about another.

Because another set of really good friends are leaving.

Shawn and Natalie, along with little Elizabeth, are moving to Pennslyvannia on Tuesday.

And I am more than just a little sad about that.

I've known Shawn for almost ten years. I originally met him on my first missions trip in 1999. We both went to Peru with Teen Mania and kept in touch afterwards. His travels took him to Texas, Alaska, and finally to my little hometown of Yucca Valley. He worked for my dad for a year, learning wood-working and cabinetry. It was Shawn who found the Nazarene church where I would eventually meet Jason. In fact, Shawn met my husband before I did. He started bugging me to come visit this new church, and I remember Shawn telling me "I met this really great guy at Young Adults. I think you'd like him."

He was, of course, talking about Jason. =) I visited the church, fell in love with it (and with Jason, incidentally), and the rest is history.

Fast forward about three years. Jason and I had been married about six months when Shawn got engaged. He'd found himself a beautiful young lady from PA whom he was excited for us to meet.

Enter Natalie, stage right.

She and I immediately hit it off. I blame our common love for Jane Austen and the same exceptionally silly sense of humor we share. (fuzzy galloping caterpillars, Batman?). Yep. The giggle girls. That was us. Erm, is us. We're still silly. That hasn't changed.


She asked me to be her maid-of-honor. I said yes. They were married eight months later. We continued to talk, despite living in cities 180 miles apart. Over the last three years, we've become the best of friends.

You can understand why I'm in no hurry to say this good-bye.

God works in mysterious ways, doesn't He? I can see His hand at work, bringing Greg and Amy back to us. I can also see His hand in moving Shawn and Natalie back east. Funny that He should do both within two days of each other.

Natalie, I'm sure gonna miss you girlie. You guys will be in our prayers as you drive across the country and start a new life in PA. Don't worry. One day I'll forgive you for moving so far away. ;-) You know, when Elizabeth gets married and I get an invitation in the mail to be the wedding coordinator. Just kidding, just kidding. Seriously, I think I'll forgive you much sooner than that. You'll hear your cell phone ringing one day soon and I'll be at the other end, burnt dinner in hand, yelling incoherently about meatloaf and car windows and that new recipe for Jerk Chicken you gave me. :) I love you, girl. God bless you guys.

November 6, 2008

Thursday Thankfulness

Hey friends! Happy day after the day after the Election! Happy no-more-political-phone-calls day! =)

I'm not going to say anything about the election here. I have too many thoughts swimming around my head about it, and I'm not sure I could get anything coherent down on paper. But check out what Ashleigh and Mishel had to say. They have pretty much summed up what I'm feeling. Thanks, you two, for those posts!

You know what I'm really feeling today? Thankfulness. I know Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, so I will beg your indulgence in these pre-Thanksgiving thanksgivings. But seriously, I'm so grateful today, friends.

For my God, who is mighty and sovereign over ALL. I've been playing worship music all morning and let me tell ya, I'm so happy to belong to Him. I have such peace knowing He is in control. I don't have to be. He's got it all covered. (Whew, if that isn't a load off my shoulders . . . ;)

And secondly, I'm thankful for this:

. . . my family. I am a blessed woman.

October 31, 2008

Grand Tour, Pt. 2

Today I deemed this particular room of the house picture-worthy. So now you guys get to see. =) I give you The New & Improved Bedroom/Den:

Yep. Our T.V. now lives in the bedroom. =) See the rack of Cds and DVDs on the wall? We're even organized about it! And if you're wondering about the interesting dresser arrangement in the first picture, well . . . my dresser used to next to the bed just like Jason's . . . but a certain young man wouldn't stop spelunking on top of it and that had to stop. This mommy can only pick up chapstick, buttons, and alarm clocks off the floor so many times before enough's enough. =)

Happy Halloween everyone!

October 29, 2008

What Would Shakespeare Say About October 31st?

To dress up for Halloween or not to dress up? That is the question.

Normally, I wouldn't care, but since the holiday falls on a Friday, I will be teaching class that night and thought it might be kinda fun to go in costume.

What do ya'll think?

October 28, 2008


My husband is home. =) We are all very happy about that, dontcha know?

Sunday we splurged and bought passes to Sea World (from Costco, where they are significantly cheaper), then spent the day there just the three of us. We had such a good time! Caleb is old enough now to watch the animals and is even showing a curiosity and interest in them. So after the Shark Encounter, the Seasame Street Playground, and lunch, we decided to try a show. We don't generally take our son to shows because he generally doesn't sit still. But since it was way past nap time, we decided to try our luck and hope he'd be too tired to climb around much.

Thus, 2:30pm found us sitting in the bleachers at Shamu Stadium waiting for "Believe" to begin.

Now, I just want to say that I have a lot of respect for the trainers who work with the killer whales and other animals featured in amusement park shows. The time and effort that goes into these 30 minute productions is incredible and the results are awe-inspiring and amazing. We certainly Oooed and Ahhhed our fair share on Sunday.

That said, I was disappointed with "Believe." Why? Because of the not-so-subtle humanistic tones it incorporated. The theme of the show is about believing in your dreams, in yourself, and making your dreams come true. Not a bad theme at first glance, right? Well, I could write a whole 'nuther post about why those goals are misdirected, misinformed, and faulty. But what really smacked me upside the head Sunday was the secondary but powerful theme of being one with nature.

Sea World has taken evironmentalism to a whole new level. Now I'm all for renewable energy, recycling paper and plastics, and being a good steward of the earth's resources. But this show pushed the equality of animals (the killer whale specifically of course) and humans like nothing I've yet seen.

A number of things bothered me about the show, but mostly I didn't like the music. I may not be a professional DJ, but having Zoo passes for four years and Sea World passes for two has taught me a thing or two about animal shows: you always use catchy, loud, upbeat music. The crowds love it; they clap along and cheer. They sway and stomp. Kids jump up and down.

Not so with "Believe." The only catchy song happened when the crowd chanted "Shamu, Shamu" and then waited to be splashed. The rest of the music was slow, reflective, inspirational, and - dare I say? - worshipful. That was how Jason described it. And that was exactly the mood it created. "The earth is our mother" flashed across the big screen at one point. "Two species trying to connect as one" went the lyrics to one of the songs that played while the trainer, dressed like a killer whale, spun around in circles with his trainee. "One heart, one world . . . "

On and on it went. As Jason put it, the show was designed to feel uplifting and inspiring, but uplifting to what? To animals and humans? To our own power? To creation? That was the obvious purpose, but for the two of us who know better, the show felt just a wee bit empty.

So now "Believe" has got me thinking. What would it look like to have an animal show where, instead of worshiping creation, we worshiped the Creator? Think of it. The killer whales would still jump and spin and splash, but maybe to the tune of "Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin:

"From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea

Creation's revealing Your majesty

From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring

Every creature unique in the song that it sings

All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.

You are amazing God

All powerful, untameable,

Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God"

Instead of the Circle of Life and We Are All One mantras, these words could flash across the big screen:

"Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst forth from the womb? . . . for I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores . . . Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you walked about and explored their depths?" (Job 38:8, 10, 16).

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20).

"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (Rom. 8:19-21).

Then, for the finale, a rock version of "All Creatures of Our God and King." =)

Sound a bit campy? Cheesy? Well, friends, if Sea World can get away with Kumbaya and millions pay to watch it, why couldn't we create a show that would inspire us to look at God as the Creator and the Glory of the animal kingdom?

I wish such a thing were possible. Giving glory to God and viewing man as separate from the animal are rather unpopular ideas in our culture. If I had the money (and such an endeavor would require a lot of it) and the time, I would love to create my own Noah's Ark Theme Park/Zoo.

Hmmmmmm . . .

Maybe I will someday. And if not here on earth, maybe I'll get that chance in heaven.

October 21, 2008

Confessions of a Lonely Housewife

And now my friends, a list. A list of what I've done to pass the lonely hours without Jason. Ahem.

  • Let's start with housework. I know this will sound crazy, but hey! this post is titled confessions of a lonely housewife, right? So Confession #1: When I am stressed, worried, avoiding something or bored, I clean. Yep. Batty, I know. I clean for comfort. I find it very therapeutic. Except for bathrooms. I hate cleaning bathrooms. No matter how stressed I am, bathrooms get cleaned last. Dead last. If they get cleaned at all . . . but that's a confession for another post. Ahem. So yeah. . . the point of this entire paragraph is to say that my house is pretty clean at the moment. Even the bathrooms. Which is saying something (Not sure what it's saying exactly. Maybe something like "Jason had better come home soon because if I run out of things to clean, I'm going to go bonkers").

Next on the list is music, which is actually going to become a sublist all its own. I don't usually listen to a lot of music in the house. In the car, yes. In the house, not so much. Don't know why that is, but hey, we'll call that Confession #2. This week however, I have had music on constantly. I don't care for silence much and neither does Caleb. So here's what we've been enjoying:

  • Amy Grant's two Christmas albums "Home for Christmas" and "A Christmas Album." Classic music that I absolutely love, even if Halloween is still a week away.
  • A worship iTunes playlist I've been compiling for over a year now. Favorites include "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" arranged by Charlie Hall, "Strength Will Rise" by Brenton Brown, "The Blessing" by John Waller, and "You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman.
  • The soundtrack to Broadway's "Jekyll and Hyde." Yep, dusting off a dearly loved favorite. I blame this on my students, though. They are reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for class right now.
  • Music from the Apologetix band, the movie "Anastasia", Riverdance, Pirates of the Caribbean, swing music from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Newsboys, which is all in my iPod and what I listen to at the gym.

Ok . . . other things I've filled my time with this week:

  • WoW (big surprise there, huh?)
  • Finding, diagnosing, and fixing car problems
  • Catching up on emails
  • Snuggle and tickle time with Caleb
  • Running various family members to the airport (I've been to Point Loma and back three times this week already, and will go once more to pick up Jason on Friday).
  • Teaching

Confession #3? I haven't really been that lonely, because I haven't had much time to be. Part of that was planned. Part of it wasn't. And I think the Lord had something to do with the unplanned stuff, because He knows I need to keep busy. Which brings me to Confession #4: I've been spending extra time with Jesus this week.

The real confession here is that while I am a follower of Christ and love Him with everything I am (at least I try to), I find it very hard to write about Him here on my blog without sounding preachy or self-righteous. And since those are the last two things in the world I want to come off sounding like, I just don't mention Him much around here at all. Which, of course, is not the best course of action either.

This is something Jesus has been tapping me on the shoulder about lately: not being afraid to be a Christian and to share my faith with the people around me. Oh sure, it's easy to do in Bible Study. We all thump our chests and exclaim how mighty and wonderful He is in rich, dulcet tones. But it's another matter entirely when I'm in a room full of Korean junior highers. They don't thump their chests about Jesus. In fact, they don't thump their chests about anything, unless it's over the latest hip hop album or American Idol wanna-be. And since they don't, I don't either. I don't relish looking like a crazed gorilla in front of them.

As for this blog, sure I can be silly and funny and entertaining when I write about Caleb's latest boo-boo, my she-woman award of the year for curtain hanging and such. But when I try to share what God's been teaching me, my words POOF! right off the computer screen. I can't think of anything to say that doesn't sound just plain stupid.

So I struggle.

During those extra times with Jesus, though, He's been encouraging me to work on this area of my life. I used to be content with just loving people like Jesus did. But now I'm starting to realize that love without Jesus is like cake without sugar: bland and useless. Jesus is the Lord of Love. If I love people, but don't ever tell them where that love comes from, what have I accomplished? Basically, I've just been a nice person. The world is already full of "nice people." If I want to be a true follower, I will give that glory to God. Instead of allowing people to see me as a nice person, I want them to see me as someone who loves them because God loves them. Because they are made in His image.

Does this make any sense?


Now you know why I shy away from blogging on spiritual issues. My words poof. Bye-bye words.

Anyway, last confession of the night. I'm no longer lonely, because I'm no longer alone. =) Dearest Natalie and her darling daughter have come to my rescue this week and are staying with me until Friday. And now that this post has become much longer than I originally intended, I feel I have been neglecting my guests (translation: Natalie is getting bored with her Veggie Tales movie and keeps coming out to the livingroom to see if I'm done). =) So now I'll bid you all adieu. Later, friends!

October 19, 2008

And now I give you The Kitchen

Well friends, I've been promising pictures. Now here they are! I give you the New and Improved Kitchen/Dining Area:

Ok, so the kitchen wasn't rearranged, but I did get a new curtain for the window above the sink. And I'm very proud of that curtain. Hung it myself. =) 'Course I had to show ya!

So the grand tour's begun . . . although you'll have to wait for the rest. The kitchen and dining area are the only clean parts of the house right now. ;) The rest is *almost* there. Almost back to normal.
Well, as normal as can be with a husband 3,000 miles away. Which, come to think of it, is probably why I'm on blogger in the first place, putting up pictures of curtains and other such nonesense at 9:30 at night.

Sheesh... he's only been gone one day and I'm already going loopy. Or maybe I was already like that. Hmmmm. Well, I am listening to Christmas music and it's only October. That's probably proof enough that I'm loopy all on my own. Maybe another proof would be that I'm trying really hard to think of something interesting and witty to write, but nothing's coming to mind, so I'm just stalling now, not wanting to end this post and go back to my quiet, albeit Christmas music-filled house.
Yep, I'm loopy. I'll admit it. Whew, glad that's off my chest. Anyone know of a good 12 step program for people like me?
Ok, ok, ok. I'm going. See? This is me, going. Going going gone. Bye-Bye.

October 18, 2008

The Week of the Comedy of Errors

Laugh with me, friends. Laugh, because if you don't I might have to cry. It has been one of those weeks.

Have you seen the Veggie Tales "Jonah" movie? Remember the part where Bob the Tomato keeps getting hit in the head with the guitar because Junior's dad isn't paying attention? When Junior's dad (does this vegetable have a name? Cuz I can't recall . . . ) is confronted with his unconscious guitar bashing, he apologizes to Bob and says "Wow, I'm sorry. You know, I'm usually quite dexterous in the car."

Well, that's how I felt this week. Only not in the car. I'm usually quite dexterous in the kitchen . . .

I was late for work Monday night. First time. How was I supposed to know that when you make meatloaf (a recipe, by the way, that I've made countless times before WITH NO PROBLEMS), that you aren't supposed to completely fill the loaf pan? How was I supposed to know that the bubbling meat would drip and ooze and leak onto the bottom of the oven and start a fire?

Well, between the smoke and the smell, I learned. Don't ever underestimate meatloaf. It is a force to be reckoned with. Or as was the case Monday night, a force to be dealt with, cried over, cleaned up, thrown away, and replaced with KFC.

(as if allergies haven't been bad enough around here, I had to go and smoke up the house. My eyes watered for two days. I had to burn candles all day Tuesday to finally get the nasty smell out).

So yeah. That was Monday. Obviously, I needed to clean out the oven before I could use it again, because the drippings were wrecking havoc on the oven's delicate state of mind. But since I was already running late for work Monday night, I simply threw dinner out, ate my KFC and promised myself I would clean it "tomorrow."

Only I didn't. Because as I posted earlier, I have been busy cleaning the house all week, trying to get it put back together before Jason leaves for MA and Natalie comes to stay. Pictures need to be rearranged, books and CDs need a new home, etc. etc. The life of a busy housewife, right?

So I, erm, forgot about the oven.

Until last night. When I tried to make dinner yet again. Before work.

Laugh with me, friends.

Yep. The un-clean oven smoked up the house again. I was late for work again. Dinner was saved, but that's because dinner never made it into the oven in the first place.

But here's the hilarious part: after I'd loaded Caleb into the car to go out for Taco Bell, my car starting making funny noises. Not funny ha-ha. Funny uh-oh. Like someone had been stuffed into the glove box and was knocking to be let out. I'm dead serious. That's what it sounded like.

So I frantically call Jason, who is himself running late having worked overtime at his job, and implore him to hurry please, because not only can I not make dinner in my kitchen, I can't even go out for food. We are going to die of starvation. I have six Korean kids waiting for me to teach them English idioms and hopefully (they pray) take them to Starbucks afterward. In my car with the person hiding in the glove box.

Laugh with me, friends.

Now it's today. We put Caleb's carseat in Jason's car for the time being, since I can't take my car to the shop until Monday. And we drove out to Point Loma for a family day at the cliffs with Santana's for lunch.

Ahhhhhh. The birds sang, the salty breeze blew, and kid behaved, and . . .

I broke Jason's car window.

In WoW, a /facepalm would be appropriate here. Which is what I did. In real life.

How was I supposed to know the window would go *crunch* when I rolled it down??? A sickening, glass-shattering-sounding *crunch*. See, Caleb was fussy and I wanted him to enjoy that nice salty breeze. Well, he did alright. Because then the window wouldn't roll back up. Lots and lots of breeze. Now he's fussy because of the wind in his face.

Make up your mind, kid! Mommy's gotta stop breaking stuff!

Actually, the damage isn't as bad as we initially thought. The window is ok, intact and all. Not really sure where all that spine-tingling noise came from, but whatever mechanism keeps it up has broken and now as we drive, the window slowly rolls itself down. Yep. Fun times, friends. Fun times.

What with Jason leaving tomorrow, and my newly acquired ex-Midas touch, I'm a little worried what my husband will find when he comes home.

I have hope, though. Tomorrow is Sunday. First day of the week. And my prayer is that this week of comedy of errors will be at an end. That everything will go smoothly and perfectly while Jason is away. The birds will sing, the breeze will blow, windows won't go crunch, children will not get dirty, food will not set fires in the oven, that perfection itself will settle on my household and I will sprout angel wings.

Until then, however, feel free to keep laughing. I know I am.

October 13, 2008

Nope. That Ain't Makeup!

So I think Caleb will be dressing up as Harry Potter this Halloween. See?

He already has the famous lightning scar! No, that's not makeup.

Unfortunately, those marks are the real deal. Caleb got a little too friendly with our bed frame this morning while watching Cars. Metal frames and small boys do not go well together. Just in case you thought otherwise . . .

We love our "new look" here at home. The new arrangements are, however, making a clumsy boy out of our son. He's not used to all the new furniture positions, as proven this morning when he ran/hit/smacked into the bed frame. It'll take some adjustment on his part to re-learn where everything is. Hopefully we can keep those bruises to a minimum, though. I wouldn't want ya'll thinking I'm a bad parent or anything. ;)

In other news, I'm working hard to get our house back to normal this week. I'm not only doing this because I'm an organizer-bug and can't stand clutter, but because Jason is leaving this weekend for his first ever business trip. =)

*fanfare plays in the background*

(and just so's ya know, that fanfare was because I'm proud of him, not because I'm excited to get rid of him).

Yep! His work is sending him to Cambridge, MA for six days. And I am really proud of him. He works so hard! This trip is quite an event for him, even if he's going strictly on business.

So it'll just be me and Caleb next week. Oh, and Natalie and Elizabeth. Ha! I bet you thought I was gonna wing it alone for a week, right? Yeah, I'm not that adventurous (no laughing, Ashleigh, please). So dearest Natalie and lovliest Elizabeth are coming to keep us company while Hubby's away.

Anyway, time to start dinner and put away a few more pieces of "junk" before teaching tonight. The house is really looking super and we're all thrilled with the changes so far. I'll try to post pictures later this week. Happy Monday!

October 11, 2008

Busy Neuhausers

Evening, folks. Guess what we did today? We moved!

. . . furniture, that is. =) Ha, I had you going there for a minute, didn't I? Nah, our address is still 5821 Loopyville Rd., Crazytown, USA. But the configuration of our house is completely different from what it 12 hours ago. For example, I am typing this here posty from our livingroom.

Jason and I have been talking about "rearranging" for over a month now and until last Tuesday, we couldn't come up with a plan that we both liked. But then Jason, my utterly brilliant husband (yeah, I just married him for his brains ;), hit upon this great idea, and after an all-day moving adventure,

Caleb has his own room!!! For the first time in his little life, he has a bedroom. All to himself. =) And I am very, very excited about that. Can you tell?

We made other changes today, but I'll save those for a picture post. I wanted to get pictures up here tonight, but, well, our house looks like we just moved in. Go figure. Junk everywhere.

Not very camera-worthy. So. Ya'll will have to wait until we can put our home back together and find a place for erm, all our junk. =) Then I'll give ya'll the grand tour of our very much improved apartment.

And Natalie, I am very glad you are coming next week. There's no way I'll have this mess cleaned up in two days. =)

October 8, 2008

The Chocolates are on Me Tonight, Guys

Apparently, I look like Johnny Depp.

As in, Johnny Depp from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Annie informed me of this fact tonight during class while we studied homonyms. I suppose I don't mind toooooo bad. After all, I am the world's biggest choco-holic. 'Course, I am the world's biggest choco-holic girl.

*shakes head in silent amusement*

She comes up with the craziest stuff sometimes. Like saying "trouble-makers" was a Biblical name when we played Scattegories last Friday. Or that Justin Timberlake was a famous female. I'm still laughing over that one.

Annie just cracks me up. I can always count on her to make me smile. Even if she thinks I look like a famous male celebrity. And I figured I'd share this all with you tonight because it's more fun to laugh with friends than to laugh alone, right? So the chocolates are on me, guys. Eat your hearts out. Just don't fall into the chocolate river, ok? And when you sing the song, make sure you say "Charlize and the Chocolate Factory."

October 7, 2008

Whaddaya know? I have triceps!

Well. Well.


Remember when I posted my overwhelming joy at going to the gym back in June? Oh yes, I was so excited. Visions of toned muscles and old clothes that fit again danced in my head. I was on a roll, going two nights a week and once on the weekend.

(Moment of honesty here: I planned to go once during the weekend, but I think I only did that once. Total.)

Well that was, oh let's see, four months ago?

*Insert nervous giggle here*

Yeah, my big visions never happened. I got sick one week. We went on vacation another week. Caleb refused to stay in the Kid's Klub, no matter what I tried. Then came my part-time job. No more nightly trips to LA Fitness for me. Not unless I wanted to teach English to six hyper-active junior highers while running a treadmill. Ha.

Cancelling my membership started to look like my only option. Then I talked to Jason and we decided I should give it one more try. Or rather, we should let Caleb give it one more try.

So I did. Yesterday. And . . .

. . . my kid actually stayed in the kids area THE WHOLE TIME!!! I got through my entire routine without one call over the loudspeaker. This was a huge answer to prayer, friends. Huge. My son, for whatever reason, had decided that LA Fitness was Hades itself. You'd think with all the toys and blocks and cars there that he'd find something to do for an hour. But no. I usually didn't get through ten minutes before:

"Attention all LA Fitness members. Would Miz Neuhauser please come to the kids klub and pick up her emotionally-shattered son?"

So. When he stayed the whole hour yesterday, I practically jumped up and down singing my Hallalujas to Jesus for keeping my son busy, and more importantly, happy. As I said, huge answer to prayer. =)

But then I woke up this morning . . .

I guess I really do have triceps. They're screaming their existence loud and clear today, along with my deltoids, rhomboids, and other 'oids I don't even know the names of.

Major owwie time.

'Course, that didn't stop me from going back today to work my legs and thighs. =) Tomorrow they can commiserate together with my arms and shoulders about how badly I abuse them.

And Caleb? Today was a little rougher, but we got through it. Hopefully, hopefully he'll acclimate. Because, ya know, I like knowing my muscles are really there.

October 5, 2008

A New Season, A New Look

Hey friends! Using some of my new digital scrapbook supplies to create a new look for fall around here! I'd like to thank Ashleigh for the tips on templates and signatures (still haven't learned how to make your name a link to your blog . . . but I'll get there!). It was great fun chatting with you on various bloggie topics the other day. =)

Anyway, this new blog look isn't finished yet, but just wanted to give ya'll a heads up!

October 2, 2008

O Autumn, Wherefore Art Thou?

Cool weather descended upon East County last week, riding air currents down from the north like a sort of invisible weather highway . The air turned crisp, the nights felt chilly. Autumn had arrived. Last week.

In the spirit of the season, I pulled out my fall decorations from the closet. Out came the leaves, nuts, squirrels, red-and-gold dish cloths, pumpkins and gords. Oh yes, fall was here and I was ready to celebrate. Last week.

But this week . . . the weather's played a trick on me. Summer came back to chase Fall away in a seasonal game of tug-o-war. It's hard to feel all autumn-y when it's 90 degrees outside every. single. day. =( Last Friday, I stocked up on frozen cookie dough, pie crusts, and other ingredients in anticipation of the happy baking days ahead.

Sadly, I haven't baked one thing yet. I just can't justify adding 400 degrees of heat to our house when our little A/C unit is already working so hard to keep our apartment liveable. Dinners have been relegated to the crockpot and stovetop until further notice, and my frozen goodies are waiting quietly, patiently in the freezer for Summer to give up the game and go away.

A lady at bible study yesterday said that Summer did this every year, and that until the Santa Anas have blown through, we won't see real autumn weather. Well, the winds have been blowing a lot these last two days, so I am hopeful my favorite season is not far off.

O Autumn, Autumn, wherefore art thou, Autumn?

September 29, 2008

Bubbling on the Back Burner of my Brain

Just some thoughts on my heart and mind today as I go about my Monday business. . .

The cry of all distorted things:
"Why hast thou made us thus?
To bear the anguish which life brings;
Why didst thou not love us?"
So marred that God himself must weep -
Fit only for the rubbish heap.

The cry of every breaking heart:
"Why were we born for this?
Evil alone is made our part
And nothing of earth's bliss.
Why didst thou give us human birth
If we may know no love on earth?"

The cry of each despairing mind
Ascends before love's throne:
"Behold us, God! or art thou blind?
Can we be blamed alone?
If thou be there, then answer us,
Why make us? or why make us thus?"

And love's voice answers from a cross:
"I bear it all with you;
I share with you in all your loss,
I will make all things new.
None suffer in their sin alone,
I made - I bear - and I atone."

--from Hannah Hurnard's "Mountains of Spices"

September 24, 2008

He Can't Moo Like a Cow . . .

. . . but you should hear him roar like a tiger!

Several of you have asked me recently how Caleb's speech is progressing. Well, the good news is that it is progressing. Slowly.

They say that imitation of parents and mimicking animal sounds are a good indication that your child is close to talking. And when they say "animal sounds", they generally mean tame, domesticated animals like cows, pigs, sheep, cats, and dogs.

But not Caleb. Oh no. Domesticated animals just don't do it for him. His very first animal sound? "Rrraahhh!"

I'm not joking. I caught him roaring one afternoon a few months back, right out of the blue. I don't know where he picked it up; he just started doing it. He'd see a picture of a lion or a tiger, and start growling. "Rrraahhh!"

That was a few months ago. Now? Still no farm animals for him. He hisses like a snake. Hoots like an owl. Baas like a bighorn sheep. The culprit behind these obviously-wild-and-out-there-animal-noises? Well, you see, I found this book . . . and let me tell you friends, this book is amazing. It's an alphabet book that pictures animals native to North America for every letter. Not only that, it also depicts these animals in real life drawings, in different national parks around our country. One national park for every animal. The illustrations are incredible. Caleb loves it. =)

And what animals do we find under O, R, and S? Yep, you guessed it! The Elf Owl, the Rattlesnake, and the Bighorn Sheep. Caleb's favorites.

Of course, he probably wouldn't be making those sounds today without some help from Daddy. Jason has faithfully read this book to Caleb every night when I'm at work, making the sounds, and more importantly, making it fun. (For example, under T, we find a tarantula. Wellllll, ok, so spiders don't make noises. But they sure can tickle!!).

That's not to say that both Jason and I haven't tried to get Caleb into the whole farm scene. You know, Old MacDonald and all that. He's just not into it. He's more of a Noah's Ark kind of boy. =) Which is fine. The fact that he is actually making animal noises of any kind is, as I said originally, progress.

As for imitating parents? Not much of that yet. I *think* he says "Ah dun" (all done) when he's finished eating. Sometimes. And he will sign for "more" juice or food.

But eh, slow progress is better than no progress at all. And since I can't seem to get our doctor and insurance company to agree on assessment and/or therapy for Caleb, I guess I'll be thankful for what I've got right now: one little tiger who's adorablely cute, no matter what sounds he makes. =)

September 23, 2008

When in Korea . . .

It's 7:00pm on a Monday night. My students are late as usual. I slip off my Sketchers and pad up the stairs of this nunnery-turned-dormitory. Korean custom dictates removing your shoes before entering someone's living space. Since the upper room I teach in on Mondays is flanked by the rooms my female students live in, I dutifully attend class barefoot.

Around 7:25, Emily and Yuri come trudging in. They profusely apologize for being late and blame our ever-changing schedule for their tardiness (this excuse, though often-used, is still sadly plausible).

Yuri is missing her books. Emily looks ready for bed. To rouse them, we play an old verbal game from my childhood:

My name is Ashley
My husband's name is Al
We live in Albany
And we sell apples.

The names change for every letter of the alphabet and before long, both girls are giggling and wide awake.

At break time, Emily offers me a sample of a Korean soda named "Milkies." She's surprised when I like it (tastes a bit like our cream soda); then she promptly pulls a Japanese soda (called Ramune) from the fridge and pours me a glass.

When in Korea, right?

Mondays are oddball nights for me because I only have two students. Wednesdays and Fridays are much more lively because my class increases to six, with a proper mix of boys and girls, and we all have a good time.

But even though our class schedule continues to fluctuate like stock on Wall Street, Monday nights show no sign of changing. So I'm back at the drawing board, trying to come up with new ways to keep my students interested.

After all, we can't drink foreign sodas and play American Girl-inspired games every Monday, right? Even if we are barefoot . . .

September 22, 2008

A Lesson from the Pomegranates

--from Hannah Hurnard's book "Mountains of Spices."

"Love is the one basic law on which the whole universe is founded, and by obeying that law, everything abides in harmony, perfect joy, and perfect fruitfulness. But when it is broken, disharmony immediately results and then come miseries and evils of every kind."

"We are one in needing love,
(Let us true love show)
Only love's sun from above
Makes our spirits grow.
'Love us!' this is our heart's need,
'Let us love' - and live indeed!

We are also one in this,
We must love or die,
Loving others is true bliss,
Self-love is a lie!
Love of self is inward strife,
Love turned outward is true life."

Hannah Hurnard's two books Hinds Feet on High Places and its sequel Mountains of Spices are my two favoritest books in the world, next to the Bible. I re-read them every so often, maybe once a year, and always always always, without fail, I learn something new from them.

Today, I was pricked by this lesson from the Mountain of Pomegranates: true love turns outward. See, I practiced self-love this last weekend, and it did indeed produce "miseries and evils of every kind."

I find that whenever I allow my pride to dictate my emotions or my responses to a given situation, I always get myself in trouble. It's true. Satan would like me to believe that self-love is the road to happiness. But it's not. I am most unhappy when I am trying the hardest to live for myself.

You'd think I'd have learned this lesson by now. But no . . . Jesus must keep reminding me again and again that "self-love is a lie!" (sometimes I wonder if the apostle Peter was an ancestor of mine; we certainly share the same stubborn short-sightedness). But praise God! His grace is sufficient and my Lord is a very, very patient Man. =)

If you're wondering where I've been this last week, well, I've been right here. =) Right at home, right at my desk, just not on Blogger. Here's what's new:

On the teaching front, my boss informed me (after my last post) that Starbucks would have to be an extremely "once in a while" thing, because too many other kids were being left out and whining to her about not getting to go. Soooo, I am doing my best to adapt and still keep the classroom alive and effective. So far, so good. We played Life last Friday after lessons; the students loved that! And Wednesday, I'm going to have them watch a fragment of "Ratatouille" and then answer a question sheet on what they saw.

Here at home, I continue my abstinence from WoW (mostly). Jason and I were on quite a bit this weekend for the annual Brewfest event, a holiday that happens Sept/Oct in game. Blizzard put in a special holiday boss this year that drops a rare kodo and ram mount. =) Other than that, I haven't been on the game because . . .

I am scrapbooking again!!! I have officially taken my hobby digital; Jason helped me find a good software and then, of course, I spent some time shopping for digital supplies online. =) I am lovin' this! Whenever I have time, I just sit down at the computer, press a few buttons, and wallah! I have scrapped a page or two! No mess in the livingroom, no fighting with Caleb to stay out of my paper, stickers, etc. No nuthin'! I've started working on my senior year of college photos and already I have that album half done. As I said, I'm lovin' this. Don't know why I didn't go digital years ago . . .

That's pretty much been life around here lately. Now that the fall weather is finally settling in, I will probably get out my baking pans and plan some cookies and muffins soon. Boy, do I love this time of year!!!

Happy Monday to ya'll!

September 14, 2008

In Which She Learns How to Effectively Herd Cats

I've learned the secret, friends. Herding cats isn't all that hard. You just gotta know how (and by cats, I mean junior highers, of course).

The secret? One little word: Starbucks.

Friday night was business as usual with my students. Two of them were out on a school trip until late. Of the other four, not one came to class on time. When we eventually did get started around 7:20 pm (and that's early for us, friends. Never mind that class is supposed to start at 7pm prompt), I began preaching TOEFL reading strategies to four kids who proved it is possible to sleep with your eyes open. That is, when they weren't whispering to each other in Korean.

As I said, business as usual.

Now to be fair, these kids have already had a full day of school and a two hour homework session with another tutor. By the time I get them, I can almost smell the smoke coming from their tired, overworked brains. And of the four TOEFL sections I teach, reading is the most boring.

But you should have seen their eyes light up when someone mentioned "Starbucks." Instantly, I was flooded with various variations of the question: "Teacher, can we go to Starbucks?"

For about five seconds I had their complete attention. Silence, a rarity in my classroom, reigned uninterrupted. That's when my own personal light bulb went on.

"I'll make you a deal," I said. "We can go to Starbucks tonight if you guys work hard and finish your questions. And we can make Starbucks a regular thing, if you guys come to class on time, and work hard at your lessons. But going will entirely depend on your behavior."

After the cheering and the parade in which I was enshrined as the local goddess of hope and compassion, my students' heads bent busily over their books. That rare Silence continued. And if one of the students dared to speak, in either English or Korean, the other four hurriedly hushed him.

"Shhhhh," they'd say. "Starbucks." Then the Silence would ensue once again.

Visions of frappuchinos dancing in their heads must be a powerful motivator, because their work was exemplary. Most of them answered the questions correctly, and I had no more behavior issues for the rest of the class.

Hmmmm, Starbucks. Who would have thought? And all this time I thought I needed a good sheepdog.

September 6, 2008

I've been on a sabbatical . . .

To the tune of I've Been Working on the Railroad:

I've been taking a sabbatical
from the game of WoW
Haven't played in o'er a month
you guys should be so proud!

Well actually, I played today. With Jason. First time in . . . ages. We played for two hours, and I remembered how much I love this game, how much fun it is, and . . . how addictive it can be.

See, in the last month I've really been in touch with what we call "rl". "RL" stands for "real life" and is usually boo-hooed in our chat as a hindrance to game play (always as a joke, of course . . . we're not THAT crazy).

I'm not the hard-core gamer I was before Washington, friends. Actually, my little sabbatical started before WA. About two weeks before we left, I just stopped playing. No raiding. No questing. No nuthin'.

Shocking, I know. I'm sure a few of you doubted I had that kind of resolve. =)

I blame Jesus, actually. I think He pulled me away from it, encouraged me to "take a step back" and look at life. Our trip to Washington helped. No WoW for a week. You know what? I didn't even miss it. So when we came home, I just stayed off. Oh, I logged in once or twice to empty my mailboxes and say hi to a few guildies. But the desire to play just wasn't there.

And you know what? RL isn't so bad. In fact, it's quite amazing. Instead of raiding 2-3 nights a week, I now teach 3 nights a week. I spend nap times reading, writing, or sleeping myself. I'm researching digital scrapbooking. I'm sending query letters out to literary agencies. I'm reconnecting with old friends via email and Facebook.

I know this will come as no shock to most of you, but I guess I just didn't realize how much time I spent playing that game. How much time it sucked from other worthy pursuits.

Now, to be fair, World of Warcraft didn't invade my home and hold me hostage. I could easily blame Blizzard (the company who produces WoW) for creating a game so addictive I was simply overpowered. Isn't that the human way? Blame our choices on outside influences?

It may be the human way, but I'm learning it's not God's. I chose to play, and I chose how often and for how long. The more I said yes to WoW, the more I said no to other hobbies, pasttimes, and opportunities.

Well, that's changing friends. Over the last month, I've discovered life outside the virtual fantasy wonderland and I like it!

So now the only thing left for me to decide is what I will do with Imara, Ilyssa, Ijandra, and Ireena. I've prayed about canceling my account entirely. I am still praying. I do not believe the game itself is evil; rather, "moderation in all things." But I'm taking great pains that I don't allow myself to be sucked in again. Can this happy, vibrant "RL" I've discovered peacefully coexist with a little bit of WoW thrown in here and there?

I guess we shall see.